​Review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 22:

I didn’t want the prince from the folktales or some milk-skinned, honey-eyed youth who said his greetings and proclaimed his love in the same breath. I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones.

My Review:

The first thing I noticed about The Star-Touched Queen is the gorgeous cover. The blurb looked really good and came recommended by Aentee at Read At Midnight, so I read it for the Lumos prompt in the #DAReadAThon. It also fulfills the January prompt of Diverse Reads 2017, which is to read a book based on or inspired by a diverse folktale, culture, or mythology.

Immediately after opening this book, I noticed something different about it: the Acknowledgements are at the beginning where usually I find them at the end. I decided to mention this in the review because it surprised me and struck me as more sincere to have them at the beginning. With what wasn’t said, it told me, “Before you read what I’ve poured myself into, let me acknowledge those who helped me get it from me and into your hands.” I really loved that and appreciate that it was done this way.

The world building is exquisite. An amazing amount of detail is given through Maya’s experiences but it doesn’t tak away from the flow of the story at all, but actually adds to it and pushes it along. The details are unique and creative while still staying true to the source material.

The characters are continually developed through the story, which makes it feel natural and gives everything a nice flow. The characters also build upon each other in beautiful ways that further the story. My favorite character is probably Kamala because the dialogue is just brilliant. In fact, the dialogue throughout the story is brilliant, but Kamala brings an extra unashamedly wicked element to it.

The Star-Touched Queen is an absolutely stunning novel. I’m honestly already planning to reread it later this year. I can’t wait to read more from Roshani Chokshi and I’m especially excited for the publication of her upcoming sequel to this book, A Crown of Wishes, on 28 March 2017.

Overall, I rate The Star-Touched Queen 5 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of The Star-Touched Queen and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Roshani Chokshi, visit her website.


​Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 4:

I believed that as long as I followed my training, nothing could go wrong.

But some things are stronger than years of lessons.

The draw of fire.

A longing for freedom.

Or a girl on a red horse.

My Review:

First, let’s look at this cover. It’s gorgeous and I’m totally in love with the font! It’s what sucked me in and made me read the summary. “A princess with a forbidden magical gift is shipped off to a neighboring kingdom to marry a prince, but she has to choose between her duty and her heart when she falls in love with his roguish horse-training sister instead.” Obviously, after a summary like that I had to read this book. But you, my fellow bookworms, know how it is with the TBR piles and the such… so I never got around to it until the #DAReadAThon pushed me into reading it for the Stupefy prompt and the Beat the Backlist Challenge pushed me to kill off some of my ever-expanding TBR pile. I also recently joined the Diversely Booked Book Club, which happens to be reading Of Fire and Stars for January. Everyone I saw speaking about Of Fire and Stars on social media showered it with praises. Now, I feel like I should have read a few of the Goodreads reviews before selecting it because I’m pretty disappointed.

The characters are very two-dimensional. There is minimal development even on the two point-of-view characters, Mare and Denna. For secondary characters, the development is literally non-existent. Everyone is either good or bad with no grey area or depth to be found anywhere. I was especially disappointed in the lack of depth of both Thandi and Alisendi because they had such important roles to the main story. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about them aside from Thandi’s unwillingness to listen to reason and Alisendi’s hope that her sister will stuff herself into the role that has been forced upon her by her station.

The world is much like the characters within it: falling sadly flat with little description of it aside from the separation or unity of Affinities and the Six Gods, who are not elaborated upon beyond the affinities they represent. Hints are given as to the existence of a specific “order” in which the Gods should be displayed based on religious sect, but the actual order and representative colors are never given. Almost no elaboration is given to regional cultures, languages, or daily life. Vague hints are given to climate differences of different regions as well as regional preferences for a single specified god of the six available for three of the regions discussed.

The thing that bothered me the most is the plethora of questions that stuck with me at the end of the story, especially since it didn’t seem like the author was really trying for a cliff-hanger. How did the information get out of the castle and into the two rivaling factions ears with such speed and accuracy? How was the Directorate able to capture so many of the Recusants when they couldn’t even figure out where their new meeting location was? I also have a question as to why the author picked who she did as the villain, but to ask openly would spoil the entire book and I try so very hard not to post spoilers in my reviews. Needless to say the end, like much of the rest of the book, left me frustrated.

The only thing I really enjoyed about Of Fire and Stars was the romance between Mare and Denna, but even that left something to be desired. I will admit I spent most of the book anticipating the romance between the two of them, which carried me through much of the story by itself. Said anticipation (and my curiosity of where the story would take the two of them) allowed me to read the book in only a day. Out of that curiosity, I might read a sequel if it were published but I’d likely stick with the library instead of purchasing it. The idea behind this story had so much promise and the follow-through just wasn’t up to my expectations of it.

Overall, I rate Of Fire and Stars 2 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of Of Fire and Stars and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Audrey Coulthurst, visit her website.

If you’re interested in joining the Diversely Diverse Book Club (which you should because it’s awesome), you can find more info about it in Katsyxo’s introductory blog post.

​Review: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 76:

Okay, first of all, Oreos absolutely qualify as a food group. Second of all, they’re the ONLY food group that matters.

Page 269:

White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.

My Review:

I was so emotionally overwhelmed by the awesomeness that is the conclusion of this amazing book that I had to step away froom it for a bit before being able to write a review. I’m still a bit overwhelmed but I’d like to write this before beginning another book so it’s still fresh so here we go!

The characters were so well developed, realistic, and easy to relate to. I absolutely loved seeing the different relationships that developed between each of the characters and helped to better define the characters themselves. I feel like the relationships hinted at greater issues being addressed, but I might be reading too much into it right now.

The world is built well enough that I was able to put myself into it, though I’ve only been to the Atlanta area once and remember nothing of the trip. The descriptions given were so vivid without being rambley (totally a word) at all and I felt like I was literally sucked into it.

The story was excellent from beginning to end and I didn’t want to put it down, though life forced me to a few times. The main character, Simon, struggled quite a lot during the story so I worried a little about how well the story would conclude, versus simply ending and setting up for a sequel. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that worry was unnecessary because Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda concludes so completely as to leave room for no questions. I’m still totally swooning over this book. I can’t wait to read more from Becky Albertalli!

Overall, I rate Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda 5 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Becky Albertalli and her work, visit her website.

I read this book for the Impedimenta prompt of the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon because it has been on my TBR since it was first released.

For that same reason, I read this book for the #BeatTheBacklist Challenge.

​Review: I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai 

Goodreads Synopsis:

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 31:

Jinnah said, “No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men. There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”

Page 138:

“At night our fear is strong, Jani,” he told me, “but in the morning, in the light, we find our courage again.”

My Review:

As the title suggests, this book needs a Trigger Warning for Violence.

This is a non-fiction book, which puts it outside the normal scope of books I would read for review but I had trouble thinking of any other books that would fit the Reducto requirements in the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon. I’m honestly glad I read it because even though it was a little difficult to follow at some points, I learned so much about a culture I now realize I knew nothing about.

The way Malala describes her surroundings is perfect because I was able to at least vaguely picture what Swat Valley might look like. Throughout the book, I felt like she was writing with a sense of longing for her home in Swat and the friends and family she grew up with there. There are times when the story jumps around a little while circling the main timeline but it feels more reminiscent than anything else.

Reading about Malala and her determination was incredible and empowering. She went on living day to day knowing there is a good chance there would be violence against her because she speak up for what is right. She continued to speak up, knowing the Taliban were asking for her death. Even after being shot, her goal is to return and continue fighting for education. She’s an incredible young woman and we could all learn from her. She has inspired me through the telling of her story.

This book highlights many things, including that it’s incredibly important that we realize words have power. Those holding the swords fear those wielding pens, so the old proverb must be true. The pen is mightier than the sword.

Overall, I rate I Am Malala 4 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

Malala has started a non-profit organization to further the cause of universal access to education. For more information about the Malala Fund, visit their website.

I read this book for the Reducto prompt in the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon.

Have you read I Am Malala? What is a book that inspired you?

Joining the Diverse Reads Challenge 2017

Mishma is one of my favorite bloggers so when I saw that she’s co-hosting a challenge I had to at least look at it more closely. When I found out it’s a diverse reads challenge, I had to join it. If you’re curious about it or would like to join the challenge too, check out the sign up page.

I also love that there’s a mini challenge to read specific types of books each month. Definitely head over and give it a look!

I’m still sort of focusing on the #DAReadAThon right now so I haven’t gotten my full TBR together for this challenge, but I have started a Goodreads shelf and I’ll keep that updated with the books I’m reading for this challenge. 

What challenges are you taking part in this year?

​Review: A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut, Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing—until one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 16:

Just because we can see the problem doesn’t mean we aren’t part of it.

Page 65:

This is what I dream will happen when I meet my Mr. Darcy. That at first we don’t see each other’s flaws because we are blinded by love. Then the clouds will clear away and we will see them. No one is perfect. But we will focus on happiness because we know we are meant to be together.

Page 76:

Friendships are complicated. Friends have power. Friends can break your heart.

My Review:

I’m going to go ahead and let you know up front that this book needs a Trigger Warning for Rape.

The story is told from the perspectives of Emily and Belinda. This gives a unique perspective of more than one side of the complicated situation they find themselves in. The characters are all so well-developed, believable, and relatable that it’s hard to process that they’re works of fiction and not living, breathing people who I know.

The world of the story was built up just enough that I could drop myself into it without really taking much time to develop it formally. The places used are so common that my mind automatically filled in any details it wasn’t given based on what was.

The story itself was beautiful and painful all at once. Having survived assault, I wasn’t quite ready for some of the parts of this book, but seeing the characters deal with the situations as best they could was helpful to me as well. Belinda is such a brave young woman in ways that I find myself wishing I was. This was an absolutely brilliant story about how our first impressions are often incorrect and we can never truly know anyone before taking the time to try understanding them.

I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from A Step Toward Falling because I realized I haven’t really read many books with main characters who have disabilities. For that reason, I don’t think I could have found a more perfect book than this one because, while the whole of the story is complex and has multiple talking points, one of the greatest points is that disabled people are people. Just like people who aren’t disabled, disabled people worry and learn and love. While they might do those things differently and for different reasons than non-disabled people do, the point is that they do them.

Overall, I rate A Step Toward Falling 5 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of A Step Toward Falling and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Cammie McGovern and her work, visit her website.

I read this book for the Expelliarmus topic of the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon.

​Review: Black Iris by Elliot Wake (writing as Leah Raeder)

Goodreads Synopsis:

The next dark and sexy romantic suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Unteachable.

It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn’t worth sticking around for.

If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.

She’s not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.

But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it’s time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.

Which was the plan all along.

Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.

She’s going to show them all.

Favorite Exerpts:

Page 1:

In the deepest throes of depression, when sunlight is anguish and the sky throbs like one big raw migraine and you just want to sleep until you or everything else dies, you’re less likely to commit suicide than someone coming out of a depressive episode. Drug companies know this. That’s why antidepressants have to be marked with the warning MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.

Because what brings you back to life also gives you the means to destroy yourself.

My Review:

I’ll go ahead and say upfront, this book needs a Trigger Warning for graphic violence.

The world of Chicago and the surrounding area is given just enough details in the story to make me feel like I’m there, though I never have been. The world building is done in such a fluid way that it doesn’t interrupt or take away from the story, but rather builds alongside it and adds to it nicely.

The characters are developed and redeveloped, changing constantly based on plot points that come out and explode at specific times, much like a New Year’s fireworks show. Getting to know them again and again at each drastic new change is beautiful, if a little nerve wracking.

There was a conversation at one point where Laney and her mother are talking where the mother explains the reason she hates medicine is because it makes her feel dead inside. I related to this statement on such a deep level that I had to put the book down for a little while and process before coming back to it. I also saw a lot of myself in Blythe for most of the story: the bipolar swings and impulsiveness that are so much of who she is. I believed diverse representation in books was important before reading this, but now I feel that belief to my very core because I’ve never before been quite so well represented as I am in Black Iris.

The story was quite a bit darker than I was expecting and there were so many plot twists I was constantly on my toes. I couldn’t put it down because I was constantly wondering what would happen next. Black Iris is a beautifully disturbing must-read. I can not wait to read more from Elliot Wake.

Overall, I rate Black Iris 4 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Order a copy of Black Iris and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to get your hands on a copy are:

For more information about Elliot Wake and his work, visit his website.

I read this book as a part of the Dumbledore’s Army Read-A-Thon. I chose this as my Expecto Patronum because it has a main character who is bisexual and has bipolar disorder. These both have a great personal significance to me.