oh so many betrayals | review corner

by - 2:00 PM

Hello there! To say that I've been in the biggest reading slump of my life feels like an understatement. I've been struggling since May to find the motivation to pick up something to read and with the year coming to a close I'm feeling the self-imposed pressure to catch up on my reading goals. 

A couple years ago, I started a Twelve Days of Christmas  posting schedule leading up to December 25th (which I always never completed) and after much debating thought I'd try to revive that for this year on a much smaller scale to help me get into the holiday spirit because December's work schedule has been driving me insane. I've been slowly reading more and that's led to a bunch of books that I haven't gotten to share my thoughts about so here is day one of my FIVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2021 series where I attempt to post every day from now till Christmas.

pages: 298 | source: own, physical
publication date: August 17th, 2021
genre: ya, mystery, dark academic
rating: 5.7/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

To say that I was excited for this book was an understatement and I was so honored to be part of the street team #SinclairStudents to promote Katie Zhao's first venture into YA. Dark Academia has always been an aesthetic that I've appreciated from afar, but never quite got into so I was really hoping this would be the book that made all the pieces click together. How We Fall Apart follows a group of students at the prestigious Sinclair Prep in their senior year when the top student Jamie Ruan is found dead. Her former best friends are immediately the main suspects and an unknown individual called the Proctor is slowly revealing each of their darkest secrets to the public.

I wanted so much to love this book especially after knowing what the author's vision was behind the story. As a group, Asian Americans are often depicted as exceling students without acknowledging the cultural struggles we face so a story that shines light on that had me super excited. The pacing and storyline are incredible and I flew through the entire book in one sitting but something felt missing. While I could understand the characters' motives, Nancy as the MC just felt so overly ambitious and cutthroat. That was an aspect that was largely promoted in the story prior to its release but compared to the other characters, Nancy felt extreme. 

Since that's 100% a personal perspective, I can only say that I wish I loved this book as much as everyone else did. It could also mean that the ruthlessness of dark academia might not be my cup of tea. Regardless, this is an incredibly gripping story and if you're a fan of dark academia I'd highly recommend!

ultimate verdict - will you do anything to be on top?

pages:  449 | source: own, physical
publication date: November 17th, 2020
genre: ya, historical fiction, retelling
rating: 6.7/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

So...this book took me almost an entire year to finish. When I say that attention stresses me out, I don't quite expect it to spill into the books I'm reading but it happened with These Violent Delights. Chloe Gong's debut has quite literally taken the internet by storm and truly cemented Juliette and Roma's supremacy in YA retellings. A retelling of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliette, the story follows the Montagov and Cai gangs in 1920s Shanghai as a strange madness and monster are stalking the streets. From stabby daggers, dividing loyalties, commentary on social structures, and of course angst, this is one of those stories that delivers on the hype it has generated. 

Each character is brilliant in their own way and there's really nothing that can be said otherwise. The writing is so immersive that this story really reads as if you are in the bustling streets of Shanghai with the fear of the madness and the tension between the White Flowers and Scarlet Gang. The author wove together Shakespeare's source material with her own and crafted a story that has all the elements to make it as timeless as its inspiration. This is a novel that I know I will want to revisit again and just experience as a whole because the characters have become so dear to me and the story itself will feel brand new and exciting with each read.

ultimate verdict - can love and hate truly separate?

pages: 336 | source: library, audio
publication date: August 17th, 2021
genre: ya, fantasy, retelling
rating: 4.3/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

I was severely on the fence about picking up this sequel after feeling very meh about Raybearer, but I decided to try it as an audiobook to see if my opinions would change. In short, I really wish I liked Redemptor because it has all the elements of a story that I would enjoy. We've got an immersive world, well developed characters, and a storyline that captivates the reader right from the beginning which makes it deserving of all the praise it has gotten. But I just struggle with Tarisai. This is one of those frustrating moments where everything is essentially perfect about the story but I just could not click with the main character. 

The story picks up following the events of book one with Tarisai struggling to understand her new role as a Ray alongside Dayo and honoring her bargain to end the sacrifice of children redemptors. Her character development throughout the story highlighted the struggles of power and the alienation plus anxiety of burdening oneself to fix the world so vividly that it felt like such a real experience. In some cases, the narration of the audiobook was fantastic because it made everything so real but it also took away from the reading experience because I couldn't stand to be in Tarisai's head so much. Despite struggling to get through this, I did end up enjoying the last 25% of the book when Tarisai actually experiences the Underworld and I have to admit that Jordan Ifueko is incredibly masterful in how she brings loose ends and themes and ties them all together. 

In the end, I'm on the fence once again on if I should try and read this physically but in the meantime, I'm still curious to pick up anything of the author's future works because her storytelling is simply fascinating and fingers crossed I'll click better with her future characters.

ultimate verdict - betrayals of the heart bring more pain than the weight of the sun

I'll admit, I'm quite proud that I managed to write three reviews in one post because I haven't done that in forever. It feels a bit strange to start with a more "ominous" category for day one but I can promise that day two will bring a lot more sunshine into the mix. If you've read of the books mentioned, please let me know what you thought!

What is your favorite book that features betrayals (in a non-spoilery sense)?

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2 Comments

  1. I've only read TVD but I have How We Fall on my TBR! All of these books some awesome though- this year I've been in the mood for darker books so I'll be sure to pick them up :)

    Tasya // The Literary Huntress

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    1. Definitely let me know what your thoughts are when you do!!

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