Mirage, by Somaiya Daud || This could be the sci-fi enemies-turned-lovers Sapphic romance we deserve (& a giveaway)


Title: Mirage
Author: Somaiya Daud
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Copy: Digital ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty–and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Review:

If I’m being totally honest, a lot of my expectations weren’t met – and I mean that in the best possible way. Somaiya Daud’s #OwnVoices, Moroccan-inspired dystopian debut novel delivered in a myriad of ways I never could have foreseen. Although I was expecting a thrillingly paced, adventure-filled narrative with incredibly high stakes and hard-hitting action, I found myself easily entranced by Daud’s wonderfully lush prose and charming cast of diverse characters.

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Mini Reviews || 5 poetry books from female voices that need to be heard!

Hey, everyone! It feels like forever since I last did mini reviews by batch. I have never really been great at writing concisely, so I’m generally more comfortable with longer and more comprehensive reviews. However, with a total of 54 read-but-unreviewed titles, my review backlog has gotten pretty daunting and overwhelming – hashtag the struggle is real.

For this batch of mini-reviews, I’ll be sharing five poetry collections from female voices that definitely need to be heard by more people! Four of these poetry books were written by women of color, namely, Blue Bird by Magda Ayuk, milk and honey by Rupi Kaur, Women of Resistance by multiple authors, and Sisters’ Entrance by Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud. Unfortunately, I decided against finishing Women of Resistance, which was definitely one of my more anticipated poetry titles in this batch. The details of my reading experience with it will be elaborated later in my review. Here we go!



Title: Sisters’ Entrance
Author: Emtithal Mahmoud
Genre: Poetry
Copy: Digital ARC
Rating:

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Synopsis:
2015 World Poetry Slam Champion and Woman of the World co-Champion Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud presents her hauntingly beautiful debut poetry collection.

Brimming with rage, sorrow, and resilience, this collection traverses an expansive terrain: genocide; diaspora; the guilt of surviving; racism and Islamophobia; the burdens of girlhood; the solace of sisterhood; the innocence of a first kiss. Heart-wrenching and raw, defiant and empowering, Sisters’ Entrance explores how to speak the unspeakable.

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Review || Chasing Mindy, by Carla de Guzman


Title: Chasing Mindy
Author: Carla de Guzman
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Copy: Digital
Rating:

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Jasmine “Mindy” Capras, born right in the middle of eight, equally unique siblings, has been dreaming of exploring Paris on her own. No crazy (but totally well-meaning!) family. No generic tours and boring tour guides. Unfortunately, when Mindy finally gets to go to Paris for a week, her mother insists that she meets up with Javier Tiangco, who happens to be studying in Paris for his MBA. The same Javier her mother, together with Javier’s mother as a faithful accomplice, has been trying to set her up with.

But while Mindy is dramatic and has a tendency to yell at things when her siblings are brought up, Javier is taciturn and boring. The two of them spending a week in Paris together? It doesn’t sound like the best idea.

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Review (and giveaway!) || The Bone Witch, by Rin Chupeco


Title: The Bone Witch
Author: Rin Chupeco
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Copy: Digital
Rating:

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Synopsis:

The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland… and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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Review (and giveaway!) || The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo


Title: The Poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Poetry
Copy: Paperback
Rating:

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Narrated in verses, The Poet X is a compelling story revolving around the life of young Afro-Latina Xiomara Batista. As Xiomara struggles with obeying the laws of the church, and negotiating between the person she wants to become and the daughter her mother demands her to change into, she writes down all her thoughts and frustrations onto the pages of her notebook like prayers. In doing so, she is eventually introduced to slam poetry, in which she discovers both her voice and the strength to finally speak up.

Before anything else, I feel the need to disclose that Dr. Seuss aside, I have never read a story told in verses before. From the get-go, my reading experience with The Poet X was definitely a strange one – and of course, I mean this as a compliment. I was worried that perhaps the unconventional narration would distract me from the events in the story or would confuse me every now and then, but I am pleased to say that it was never the case. If anything, the almost lyrical quality to the narrative made me even more engrossed by the story’s events.

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Review (and giveaway!) || Esme’s Wish, by Elizabeth Foster


Title: Esme’s Wish
Author: Elizabeth Foster
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Copy: Digital
Rating:

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Esme’s Wish follows the story of a 15-year-old girl who questions the reason behind the sudden disappearance of Ariane. Although most folks in their town have accepted this loss, Esme refuses to believe that her mother simply got ‘lost at sea’ and thus embarks on a journey to uncover the truth. Eventually, Esme accidentally stumbles upon the canal city of Esperance – the make-believe fantastical place her mother often talked about.

Here’s the thing: I prefer my fantasy stories thrillingly paced and jam-packed with action. I prefer plots that move along rather quickly and stories that involve a lot of action occurring simultaneously. Think Marvel and maybe Game of Thrones infused with tons of energy drinks. Esme’s Wish was not much of these things, if I’m being completely honest.

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Review || Start Here anthology from #romanceclass


Title: Start Here
Author: Agay Llanera, Bobbi Moran, Motzie Dapul, Danice Sison, Barbie Barbieto, H. Bentham, Ella Banta, Yeyet Soriano, Katt Briones, Brigitte Bautista, Ronald S. Lim
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Anthology
Copy: Digital
Rating:

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* For Philippine residents, purchase a paperback edition by filling up this form.

Synopsis:

There’s a first time for everything. Gate-crashing a K-pop concert with an oppa in a business suit. Taking shelter from the storm with the girl you’ve been meaning to shake off. That kiss that blurs the line between friendship and something more. A one-night stand (or, is it?) with your best friend from across the hallway.

Dive into these 10 stories of first encounters – unapologetically queer, happy endings required, with a smattering of that signature #romanceclass kilig. Whether you’re recalling your own firsts or out there looking for one, there’s a story in here for you.

So, go on.

Turn the page.

Start here.

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