bookbabereads's reviews
185 reviews

A Lesson in Vengeance, by Victoria Lee

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dark emotional mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

Dark Academia is a genre I’m always fascinated with but don’t read enough of. Out of most LGBT ones I have read recently, this one was authentic in its queer characters and allowed them to exist with their identity without it becoming cliche or just a footnote representation. With a hint of meta self-awareness, A Lesson In Vengeance is a study of an unreliable narrator, that in turn causes the reader to question the realities of fact, manipulation, or teenage pranks. 
 
Mental health is represented here as complex and nuanced, building off the meta self-awareness of Felicity’s own thesis of how women’s “hysteria” and mental health is represented in the horror literature. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the Dalloway School and how feminist literature played a big role in the character's personalities and interests. I enjoyed this one, but the ending left me wanting a little bit more or a better explanation. There were a few questions unanswered and the motivation of some of the character's actions left me unsatisfied. 
 
This is a twisty, thriller for fans of Dark Academia who want to see LGBT representation and touch on the stigma of mental health (though, this could have been explored a little more in-depth). 

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The Ones We're Meant to Find, by Joan He

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adventurous challenging dark emotional mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

 
 
 
Have you ever read something so beautiful that it broke your heart?? The Ones We’re Meant to Find was so profound and captivating. The writing is delicious. The narrative unfurls delicately. It’s a book that only a truly gifted storyteller could write. This felt like a Black Mirror episode meets Westworld meets Studio Ghibli and the near-future dystopian world-building is dream-like from start to finish. Dealing with topics such as climate change, autonomy, freedom, and the consequences of your actions, this amazing story of two sisters trying to find each other set to the backdrop of the dismal realities of the climate crisis far exceeded my expectations. He utilized the dual perspectives in such a brilliant way that unfolds the twists in an unexacting way and allows you to feel the depths of Cee and Kasey’s relationship. Even if you are not a fan of science fiction/fantasy, the human connection, and the sister relationship surpasses the world Joan He has created. 
 
I don’t want to give away too much from this novel as the journey of reading it is best savored without knowing anything about where this story will take you. 
 
Trouble Girls, by Julia Lynn Rubin

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dark emotional mysterious sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.0

Didn't live up to the hype. 

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All Boys Aren't Blue, by George M. Johnson

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challenging emotional funny hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

5.0

She's Too Pretty to Burn, by Wendy Heard

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dark mysterious tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

 She's Too Pretty To Burn by Wendy Heard

I want to start this review off talking about Audiobooks. I listened to STPTB and found the alternating POVs harder to keep up with. I wish I would have physical read this one because I think it would have made it more enjoyable. I am a firm believer that Audiobooks are just as much reading as reading can be. Obviously, if you don't like the narrator, or the set up does not lend well for narration, it can take away from the story. 

This novel had all the right ingredients to create something I would love - wlw, thriller, desert, photography, art, and chaos. Overall, it was captivating, and I had to know the outcome. As I read, I had to keep in mind the Dorian Gray inspiration, it made it easier to connect to what was driving each character. Without the knowledge of it being inspired by Dorian Gray, I think the motivations for the characters would be lost on the audience. They are morally gray, at times unlikeable, and their own motivations are never fully explained. Starting en media res, there is a hint of what is about to unfold and each chapter twists and turns and it keeps you guessing and wanting to get to the end just to know how it all happens. 

A quick, fun read, this thriller certainly kept me guessing until the end. 



Honey Girl, by Morgan Rogers

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Witches Steeped in Gold, by Ciannon Smart

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adventurous challenging dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0


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Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell

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emotional funny hopeful lighthearted medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

The May Queen Murders, by Sarah Jude

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dark emotional mysterious sad tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

 
The May Queen Murders has been on my TBR list for over a year now. I don't remember exactly where I saw the title mentioned, but it struck me as something I would enjoy. "Dark, dangerous, and drippingly gothic," has been used to describe the book. Lately I have been reading dark-fantasy, mysteries, or something with an element of horror. Sarah Jude's novel, The May Queen Murders did not disappoint. 

Like most books on my TBR list, I see the cover, see a quote or quick description, and decide it sounds like something I want to read. More often than not I don't read reviews, summaries, or anything else about the book. I just go with my gut. I was pleasantly surprised by this title. I knew there were sapphic and horror elements, but not much more than that. Similar to the Village, Rowan's Glen is commune like and a self-sufficient town, set apart from the modern world, a town full of old-fashioned superstitions, traditions, and secrets. "Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night."


The best part of The May Queen Murders's for me was the overall vibe, it's a Southern Gothic horror mystery that really delivers on both the horror and the mystery aspects. I was so intrigued and drawn in by Rowan's Glen and its residents, traditions, and murders. From the title to the prologue, the entire experience felt ominous. At times there are silvers of hope and falling in love, the backdrop of spring creating a false sense of security when the realty of the story is sinister. Written in first person, the secrets unfolded as if you are experiencing them yourself. I was constantly anticipating the next bad thing that would happen. There were a few too many twists making things hard to keep up with. It was a very atmospheric and eerie read that managed to be quite gripping at times and the end payoffs are worth it. If you're looking for an unexpected, spooky read, I suggest adding this to your TBR stacks.

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The Crowns of Croswald, by D.E. Night

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adventurous mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

As a fan of Harry Potter and a middle-grade librarian, it's hard to find new titles that encompass the world-building and empathy of the Potter series. The Crowns of Croswald is a fast-paced, refreshing, middle-grade alternative. It is safe to call Harry Potter a classic, but given the recent opinions of the author, I think many people are looking for alternatives to share with their children. It was also refreshing to read something written by a woman of color and have the protagonist be a girl. Middle-grade fantasy holds a special place in my heart and I will absolutely be buying this series for my library. 

Everything about the imagery of this first in a series was so vivid and easy to put yourself there. Like most fantasy, there was new world-building to learn, but D.E. Night makes it accessible and easy to digest. It's exciting and new and left me wanting more.