Saturday Smalls — July 6th, 2019

This week’s mini review round-up includes the following:

  1. adult romance novel
  2. YA fantasy graphic novel
  3. adult nonfiction poetry collection
  4. MG fantasy graphic novel

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TITLE: The Right Swipe
AUTHOR: Alisha Rai
GENRE: Romance
AGE RANGE: Adult

SYNOPSIS:
Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules. Only there aren’t any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night… and disappears. Rhi thought she’d buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won’t fumble their second chance, but she’s wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

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Rhiannon Hunter worshipped at the altar of no man.

Sometimes, ratings and reviews are hard, and this is one of those times, because this is probably one of the most “meh” 4-star reviews I’ve ever given a book. I can’t find any good reason to lower it to 3 stars because it objectively has so much good stuff going for it, but when I think back on it — having finished reading it several weeks ago now — it feels like the sort of book I’ll forget about pretty quickly.

Rhiannon’s a likeable heroine and Samson’s enjoyable enough as a hero (if a bit bland). There’s a lot of conversation around some really necessary and tough topics, like the treatment of pro athletes regarding sports-related injuries, and the way assault/abuse survivors are often cornered into keeping quiet about their abusers, especially when the abusive person is someone in a position of power.

All of that said… I don’t know, something about it just never fully “clicked” for me, but I’m leaving this at 4 stars because it does have a lot going for it. I really loved the diverse range of characters (Rhiannon is black, Samson is Samoan, Rhiannon’s bestie/housemate/business partner is Thai-American and fat, her assistant is Indian and queer… everyone important in this book offers some sort of valuable and beautifully done rep), and because it’s the sort of book that I will happily recommend to others even if it wasn’t the perfect read for me.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
4stars

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TITLE: Witchy
AUTHOR: Ariel Slamet Ries
GENRE: Fantasy
AGE RANGE: YA

SYNOPSIS:
In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning. Witchy is a comic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?

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I love when I pick up a graphic novel and, within just a few pages, know that I’ve found a new favorite series to follow (at least, I’m assuming it’s going to be a series, based on the ending). Witchy takes place in a magical world where each person’s power is dictated by the length of their hair. Having watched her father burned when she was a child due to his hair being deemed too long by the government, Nyneve spends her life hiding who she is in hopes of going unnoticed by the army.

The art style in this is fun and light, but the plot has a lot of nuance and subtle heaviness to it. There’s an oppressive militia/government, a lot of hurting children and families, and something suspicious going on in the way the kingdom of Hyalin’s history is steadily being rewritten and erased. There’s also a ton of gorgeously effortless diversity, including characters of color, casual queerness, a trans girl, and more.

Between the cast of characters, the plot, the world-building, and a certain snarky talking raven, I loved Witchy a whole lot, and I really hope I’m right in my expectations of a sequel, because I definitely need more time with Nyneve and her friends in the kingdom of Hyalin.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
5stars

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TITLE: Aphrodite Made Me Do It
AUTHOR: Trista Mateer
GENRE: Poetry
AGE RANGE: Adult

SYNOPSIS:
Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite will make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

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To sing of love
is almost always
to sing of war.

This is easily one of the best poetry collections — maybe the best — I have ever read.

I am older than the poets
and I am older than the pens.

I am older than the stars
and the ocean I crawled out of.

It’s a story of assault, and survival, and having our stories rewritten without our consent. It’s worship and blasphemy, anger and heartache, capped off with tenderness and self-love and learning to cherish yourself no matter how many people in your life have failed to do so.

I belong to no one. They never wrote that part down.

Among all these other things, it’s an incredible view on many infamous women of mythology, and it gives a voice to the sides of their stories that we all too often overlook. It plays a strong parallel to the sides of stories from everyday women today society would have us overlook, too, and it’s powerful. Don’t miss out on this one.

They made a monster
of Medusa as well.
Hated how loud
her trauma was.
Couldn’t believe
she had the audacity
to not take it lying down.
They made a war-ground
of her body
so she made one
of theirs.

TWs: assault, homophobia, transphobia

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
5stars

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TITLE: The Tea Dragon Festival
AUTHOR: Katie O’Neill
GENRE: Fantasy
AGE RANGE: MG

SYNOPSIS:
Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

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I’ve loved everything I’ve read from Katie O’Neill so far, and this was, of course, no exception. It was so lovely to return to the world of the tea dragons, and I can’t even describe how pleased I was that, despite mostly following new characters, we get to spend a little more time with (much younger versions of) Erik and Hesekiel. ♥

This was every bit as precious as I thought it would be, and it added in something new: sign language! Some of the characters actually use a mixture of spoken word and American Sign Language when they talk, and there are even ASL resources in the back of the book. It was such a sweet, lovely form of inclusion for Katie to add and just made me love her work that much more.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
5stars

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Just a 26-year-old children's librarian trying to juggle motherhood, grad school, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

One thought on “Saturday Smalls — July 6th, 2019

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