The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave | Book review

Hello There

As I am beyond excited for autumn and Halloween, I started on my Halloween reading… In August. One of the books I was eyeing the most for Halloween was The Deathless Girls, which is a f/f reimagining of the brides of Dracula. I was lucky enough to be approved for an e-ARC of it and read it as soon as I could (I was so excited!). It’s coming out next week in the UK, so I thought I’d share my review of it with you all today!

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The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Published on September 19th 2019 by Orion Children’s Books

Summary:  Gothic, intoxicating, feminist and romantic – this is the breathtakingly imagined untold story of the brides of Dracula, by bestselling author Kiran Millwood Hargrave in her much-anticipated YA debut.

They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.

On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.

Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.

They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate…

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MY THOUGHTS ON THE DEATHLESS GIRLS

I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Deathless Girls sounded like such a promising read, perfect for autumn: who wouldn’t want to read a f/f reimagining of Dracula, which gives a voice to the voiceless? In Dracula, it is mentioned that the vampire has three brides, two dark, one fair. The Deathless Girls is the story of two of them.

From the first few words, The Deathless Girls is a brutal story and doesn’t shy away from the realities of history. It follows Lil and her twin sister Kizzy, which see their family and community slaughtered and burned to the ground on the eve of their seventeenth birthday, before they are enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, ruler of the land. They are then taken away to his castle, where they become serving girls and eventually cross paths with Dracula.

As expected, this novel is full of gothic elements and I really enjoyed reading about them. It goes from the darkness in humans’ hearts, which can be filled with hate and prejudice without any reason, to the more supernatural gothic elements, exploring the myth of the vampire. All in all, the setting was believable and was great for a book you’d read during autumn or near Halloween.

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At its core, The Deathless Girls is a character-driven story, but I unfortunately didn’t connect much with the main character, Lil. I liked reading about her enough, but it never went beyond that, which is a shame. I was also really looking forward to reading about her relationship with her twin sister Kizzy, but their relationship was more told than showed, so I couldn’t understand the love they had for each other. Speaking of Kizzy, I didn’t like that she was depicted as the almost perfect, always right, almost superior to everyone else,prettier twin that everyone has to follow! It was really cliché and didn’t help me to connect with the characters either.

I have to be honest though, as this book is about the brides of Dracula, I had huge expectations on how the author would deal with the vampire myth. I think she did a great job… for the little bits we got. I expected most of the book to focus on the vampire myth and to pick up on Dracula’s story soon enough, but it wasn’t the case. The Deathless Girls is a slow-paced book and sure, it focuses on the backstory of two of Dracula’s brides, but you have to wait about two thirds of the way through before the vampires are mentioned. That being said, the last hundred pages of the book were amazing, as they were gripping and finally focused on the myth of the vampire. It was chilling and exactly what I expected from this book, but I’d have liked to read about that before.

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The Deathless Girls is much more of a backstory book that doesn’t involve vampires that much, and while I didn’t expect that, there are some parts of that I enjoyed. Indeed, Lil and Kizzy came from a traveller community, I really liked how it was explored. I find it to be a very interesting topic, as it is rarely touched upon and the author discussed the prejudice people from settled communities can have towards the traveller ones. The novel also mentions folklore of the travelling communities, which was great to read about, but I’d have liked to know more about that. I understand that in part, as the girls are ripped away from their homes and in a way of their identity, but it’s only a very small part of the story when you consider the summary, and that was a shame for me.

To be honest, most of the book felt abrupt and rushed to me. I found the romance really sweet and I really liked Mira, but would have liked more build-up for some scenes to make it believable. Like I said, the vampire elements come into play only in the last third of the book, and so do The Deathless Girls themselves. This novel felt like such an interesting idea, but I didn’t really like its execution: I found the final decision of the main character to be barely explained and anticlimactic, plus the final bride of Dracula was barely mentioned in the epilogue, getting two lines and not even a real name, which I found a bit ironic.

Overall, I liked this book, but am a little frustrated. I wish this book had been longer, so it had gotten more build-up, because it ended up being underwhelming. This story was such a great idea, had a diverse cast of characters, but I felt like everything was rushed to go to the end, but because of that, I didn’t have time to get invested into the characters, the story or what was at stake for them. Still, I think readers will enjoy it more than I did and that it works well as a Halloween read.

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Are you planning on reading this book or have you read it already? Do you have recommendations for books with vampires?

lots of love

My Autumn bucket list 🍂

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Hello There

It might be early September, so it’s still technically summer, but I’m all set for autumn. It’s a Sunday afternoon, it’s raining outside, I’m curled up in a blanket and our kitten Peter is sleeping next to me, so it certainly feels like autumn already.

Autumn is by far my favourite season and I’m so happy it’s coming back in the northern hemisphere. We got a quick temperature drop over the past few days and I’m not sure how long it’ll last, but I’m loving feeling colder and slowly switching to my autumnal wardrobe. Because of that, I already started thinking about my autumn bucket list and thought I’d share it with you today!

This autumn, I want to…

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  • go on walks
  • have cozy reading parties while it rains
  • go to a pumpkin patch
  • have a Harry Potter marathon

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  • do a Halloween-themed 24 hour readathon
  • have an autumnal picnic
  • make my own pumpkin spice latte
  • watch spooky (or not) movies and TV shows

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  • decorate the house for autumn
  • go apple picking
  • organize a Harry Potter-themed party
  • rewatch Charmed

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  • start a new knitting project
  • walk on fallen leaves
  • take part in Inktober
  • carve a pumpkin

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  • dress up for Halloween
  • reread The Diviners series
  • drink hot cocoa outside
  • bake Halloween cookies

That’s it for me today! I shall now make myself a cup of coffee and go back to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina… see, someone is definitely in the mood. Have a lovely Sunday!

Do you have anything on your bucket list for autumn or spring, depending from where you are in the world?

lots of love

Wrapping up the #NEWTsReadathon2019 ✨ | August wrap-up

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Hello There

HAPPY BACK TO HOGWARTS DAY!

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Everyone is on board the Hogwarts Express, getting excited for a new school year in the most magical school and I’m not among them… Because I have graduated from Hogwarts and am now a Magizoologist! 😱

In August, I participated in the Magical Readathon hosted by Book Roast, a month-long readathon based around the exams students take at Hogwarts. I was studying to become a Magizoologist and managed to pass all my exams! I thought that I’d wrap it up today and of course, share my passing grades. 😉

To become a Magizoologist, I needed to get an Outstanding in Care of Magical Creatures and an Exceeded Expectations in both Charms and Herbology. I *really* wanted to get an Outstanding in everything though, and that’s what I did, so here are the books I read to pass these exams!

♡ Care of Magical Creatures

  • Archenemies by Marissa Meyer, 3/5 stars
  • Thor, Volume 1: The Goddess of Thunder by Jason Aaron, 4/5 stars
  • Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, 2/5 stars

♡ Charms

  • The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty, 5/5 stars
  • Thor, Volume 2: Who Holds the Hammer? by Jason Aaron, 3.5/5 stars
  • The Door by Magda Szabó, 3/5 stars

♡ Herbology

  • King Lear by William Shakespeare, 4/5 stars
  • A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood, 2.5/5 stars
  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon, 4/5 stars

I am so happy to have passed all these exams, I was quite the reading machine in August and that’s how… I finished my required reading on August 15th. After that, I studied a bit harder to get an Outstanding in everything (see above), but also decided to pass additional exams (can you tell I’m a Ravenclaw, studying for exams I don’t even need to pass?!).

hermione-library.gifSo anyway, I also got an Outstanding in both Astronomy and Divination, plus an Exceeded Expectations in Ancient Runes.

♡ Astronomy

  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol. 3, by Naoko Takeuchi
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  • The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins by Jason Aaron

♡ Divination

  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol. 4, by Naoko Takeuchi, 4/5 stars
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, 4/5 stars
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, vol. 5, by Naoko Takeuchi, 4/5 stars

♡ Ancient Runes

  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, 3.5/5 stars
  • The Deathless Girls by Karen Millwood Hargrave, 3.5/5 stars

August was probably my best reading month so far this year in quantity, but my ratings went from 2 stars to 5 stars, so it was quite a mixed bag. My highlights of the month in terms of reading were The Kingdom of Copper, my first five-star read since March, but also Nevernight, which I had been putting off for the longest time but adored! ❤️

All in all, this readathon was a lot of fun once again. In the end, I passed everything I needed to, I graduated from Hogwarts and am now free to be a Magizoologist and wanders the world with magical creatures! I sure will participate in the Magical Readathon next year!

What did you read in August? What was your favourite book of the month?

lots of love

July 2019 Reading Wrap-Up + Favourites

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Hello There

Ah, July. July was the first month of my holidays/after I finished everything and it’s been a tough one. My mental health was all over the place for most of the month and while it improved a bit, I still struggle a lot with it. It’s been a really weird month, but I’ve tried. I’ve been more creative like I wanted, I went to the sea many times, which made me feel better and I created myself a new routine, which helped a bit as well. Here’s to hope that August will be better!

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July wasn’t off to a very good start when it came to reading, but I started using a reading tracker a week into the month and it helped a lot. I love tracking how much I read each day; it motivates me to read every day and to read a lot again. I haven’t read as much as usual this year, so I haven’t turned to reading as much as I used to, which made me a bit sad. Last month, I went with the flow of what I wanted to read the most because I needed to be all excited about reading again, I’m starting to feel that way again, which is amazing. Here are the books that I read in July:

  • Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier, 4.5/5 stars
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, 3.5/5 stars
  • Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier, 4/5 stars
  • The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier, 5/5 stars (reread)
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, 3.5/5 stars
  • The Pale Dreamer by Samantha Shannon, 4/5 stars
  • Sailor Moon, vol. 1 by Naoko Takeuchi, 3/5 stars
  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty, 5/5 stars (reread)
  • Sailor Moon, vol. 2 by Naoko Takeuchi, 3/5 stars

I’m glad I reread some of my favourite books, because it’s what I needed, plus reading more of Juliet Marillier’s works was everything, she’s becoming one of my favourite authors for sure!

favourites

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TV SHOW // This Is Us (NBC)

For the third month in a row, my absolute favourite of the month was This Is Us. After two months and a half of binge-watching the show, my best friend and I are finally caught up with This Is Us, which breaks my heart a little bit, as it means I have to wait until September 24th for the next season (thank God I follow the cast on Instagram and they’re currently filming). At this point, I have embraced the fact that I cry during every episode of the show and that it means the world to me. Considering how tough the past few months I’ve been, I don’t know what I would have done without this show, it teaches me so much and always gives me hope. Truly one of my all-time favourite shows. 💛

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BOOKS // Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series

I absolutely adored Daughter of the Forest when I read it back in May and I was so excited to get to the rest of the first trilogy. I read Son of the Shadows and Child of the Prophecy in July and fell in love with them as well: Juliet Marillier’s writing is magical, I adore how she weaves folklore into her novels and her main characters are so memorable. I barely ever binge-read book series (the last time I did it was for Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy), but I really didn’t want to leave Sevenwaters behind and I’m happy I read these books almost back to back. I am longing to go back to Juliet Marillier’s medieval Ireland, so I’ll probably get the Blackthorn & Grim series or the rest of the Sevenwaters books soon.

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MISC. // Lemons 🍋

I’ve been all over lemons for the past few months or so, and it’s all because of… This Is Us (yeah, sorry for mentioning it again). There is a quote in the show about how there is no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade and I’ve been trying to live by it every day (truly, I live by so many things I hear in this show). Because of that and because I’m obsessed with yellow anyway, I’ve been putting lemons in everything in my life, whether I’m actually making lemonade, wearing clothes with lemon patterns, baking lemon cake (my favourite, it was meant to be!) or sewing a lemon tote bag (see above, I can’t wait to finish this project!). Lemons remind me that everything is going to be okay and I’ve really needed it lately.

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TV SHOW // Las Chicas del Cable (Netflix)

I started watching Las Chicas del Cable in June to help improve my Spanish and I ended up binge-watching it quite quickly, I love it so much. This Spanish show, set in the 1920s-1930s, follows four women working as cable girls in a phone company and it’s so addicting! They always get caught up in big dramas and it talks about so many important issues. One of my favourite things about this show is the friendship linking the main characters, they have each other’s backs through every situation and it makes me so happy. It even has queer characters, which I feel is still rare in period dramas and makes me love it even more. I totally recommend it, the fourth season is coming out on August 9th and it’s going to be everything!

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MUSIC // Six the Musical

If you know me, you probably know that I mainly listen to musicals or music I hear in movies, so of course, I had to fall in love with a new musical in the past few months. This one is about Henry VIII’s six wives, so as I’m a history nerd and am really interested by this era, of course I adore it! It was recently announced that it was coming to Broadway and Australia and it makes me so happy, it deserves it so much. I’d love to see it live someday. 💜

Looking Ahead

I am hoping that August will be a better month than July for me, I am looking forward to many small things, so fingers crossed that will be the case. Here are my goals for August:

  • participate in the N.E.W.T.s readathon
  • finish to rearrange everything in my room
  • continue to be more creative
  • practice Spanish every day
  • start learning Danish again
  • it would be great if I registered for my driving license, but we’ll see about that…

What about you? How was July? Any new favourite books?

lots of love

Magical Readathon 2019 — N.E.W.T.s TBR

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Hello There

I am beyond excited that August is around the corner, because with August, the Magical Readathon is coming back and it is time to sit for my N.E.W.T.s!

The Magical Readathon was created by Book Roast on YouTube and it is a month-long readathon based around the exams students take at Hogwarts, which happens twice a year, once in April for the O.W.L.s and once in August for the N.E.W.T.s. You can even pick a wizarding career and choose your O.W.L.s/N.E.W.T.s depending on it, which is so much fun. I already participated in April for the O.W.L.s and adored it, so I’m really excited to pass my N.E.W.T.s. I’d recommend to check G’s video announcement for the N.E.W.T.s, it has all the information you need.

Without any surprise, I am studying to become a Magizoologist and I need to study Care of Magical Creatures (I need an Optimal to pass), Charms (I need an Exceeded Expectations) and Herbology (I need an Exceeded Expectations as well). Overachiever as I am, I really want to try to get an Optimal in everything, so we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, here’s my TBR for the N.E.W.T.s!

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A: book title that starts with a letter AArchenemies by Marissa Meyer

I read Renegades last year and absolutely adored it: I loved that it was about people with superpowers and the two main characters are amazing. I had been aching to read its sequel, but hadn’t found the perfect occasion to do so yet (so many books, so little time), so when I saw this prompt, I knew I had to finally get to it. I am so looking forward to going back into this world and well, at least I won’t have too long to wait until Supernova‘s release.

♡ E: book under 300 pagesThor, Volume 1: The Goddess of Thunder  by Jason Aaron

I’ve been planning to read these comics for the longest time, but now that they have announced that Natalie Portman was coming back to the MCU to become the Goddess of Thunder, I have to. In this 2014 comics run, Thor is unworthy and Mjolnir lies on the moon, unable to be lifted, until… a mysterious woman grasps it and takes Thor’s mantle! It sounds so good and I mostly read comics about superheroines, so it’s perfect for me!

♡ O: read a book with a bird on the coverOnce Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is one of my favourite books of this year and I am so looking forward to reading more by Diane Setterfield. Once Upon a River is her newest release and follows the discovery of a girl’s lifeless body, who later returns to life and is claimed by three families. It seems to be quite dark and atmospheric and it combines folklore and science, so I’m really intrigued about it.

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♡ A: read a book that you think has a gorgeous coverThe Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

The City of Brass was one of my favourite books of last year and helped a lot to get me into a huge fantasy slump, because I loved it too much. This fantasy book is inspired by Middle East folklore, set in 18th century Cairo, and follows Nahri, a con woman who accidentally summons a djinn. The Kingdom of Copper is the second book in the trilogy, its cover is stunning (it’s the UK cover if you’re wondering, it wins!), and I’ve been rereading the first book to be able to get to it, so I’m really excited!

♡ E: read a comic/graphic novel/manga — Thor, Volume 2: Who Holds the Hammer? by Jason Aaron

Of course, after reading The Goddess of Thunder, I will have to finish reading this comics run, as there are only two volumes! It is perfect for a month-long readathon, as I have longer reads like The Kingdom of Copper to get through.

♡ O: read a paperback book — The Door by Magda Szabó 

I won this book in a giveaway hosted by my friend Anna @ AnnaofBookingham on Instagram and I’m so curious to read it, because I know she adored it! This Hungarian novel follows Emerence, a domestic servant, that young writer Magda takes in, and the relationship they develop for the next twenty years. I can’t wait to discover it and to chat with Anna about it!

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A: listen to an audiobook — King Lear by William Shakespeare

I’ve been trying to read one of Shakespeare’s plays every month this year (I’m two plays behind though, oops), so I definitely have to read one of them in August and I adore to listen to them via audiobooks, as they have entire casts and sometimes background noises. They also are really quick to go by, as the audiobooks usually last three hours, so it’s perfect for a readathon. This time, I’m giving a try to King Lear and I’m really excited, I’ve heard amazing things about it!

♡ E: read a book between 350-390 pagesA Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

To be honest, the second I heard this book was set in Cornwall, I knew I had to read it. I’m fascinated with Cornwall (thank you for that, Daphne du Maurier) and I’m always really excited to read books set there. A Sky Painted Gold is also set during the 1920s and is about Lou, a young woman who stumbles into the world into the glittering world of the Cardew family. Lucy @ Lucy the Reader has been raving about it for months and she said it was perfect for summer, so I’m all about that!

♡ O: read a book with a flower on the cover The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

I read The Bone Season earlier this week and I really liked it, I found the world to be fascinating and I can’t wait to get back into it, because the second book, The Mime Order, sure sounds promising. This series is about Paige Mahoney, who is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, in 2059. Her job is to scout information by breaking into people’s minds, a power… which is illegal. I am so excited to get more into this series!

So that’s it for my TBR for the N.E.W.T.s! My Optimal reads for Charms and Herbology aren’t my top priorities, but fingers crossed I can get to them and maybe other books. In any case, I’m so motivated to prioritize reading in August.

What are you planning to read in August? Are you participating in this readathon?

lots of love

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

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Hello There

Just like that, it’s already July and we’re halfway through the year! I thought that to reflect on what I’ve read this year so far, I’d do the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag just like last year, because it is such a fun tag to do! This tag was originally created by Chami and Ely. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

♡ Best book you’ve read so far in 2019

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Without hesitation, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, which also made it to my favourite books of all time! My words can’t do it justice, but from the very beginning I fell in love with it and it has everything I love. It’s a diverse fantasy novel with a queendom and dragons, does one need more? I also adore these characters so much, it has one of my favourite couples ever (and probably my favourite f/f romance) and I miss them so much, there is a 99% chance that I’ll reread it before the end of the year.

♡ Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019

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I haven’t read a lot of sequels to be completely honest, but I adored The Wicked King by Holly Black so much! It was such a strong follow-up to The Cruel Prince, it made me discover more of the world, it had such compelling politics, I adore Jude and I finally made up my mind: I do love Cardan as well. I am so excited for The Queen of Nothing to be released in November, I can’t get enough of this series.

♡ New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

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Honestly, I can’t believe I still haven’t read The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty, what have I been doing? The City of Brass was one of my favourite books of last year and I’d really love to reread it before moving on to its sequel, hopefully it’ll happen this summer!

♡ Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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I already mentioned it in a recent blog post, but I have been anticipating The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier for so long now! This one is the first in a trilogy about warrior bards, which is the coolest thing ever, I am so hyped for it! I love how Juliet Marillier weaves folklore into her stories, I’m sure it’ll be beautifully done here once again.

♡ Biggest disappointment

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Unfortunately, I didn’t really like The House at Riverton by Kate Morton and I’m still so mad to have been disappointed that much. It was blurbed as perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and as I had loved The Lake House by the same author, I was confident I’d love this one too. Well… That wasn’t the case at all, I was so underwhelmed and rolled my eyes too many times.

♡ Biggest surprise

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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which is my second favourite book of the year! While I was reading this book, I couldn’t put it down and read way past my bedtime. It is a gothic novel about stories and uncovering the truth, no matter how bad it can be. Diane Setterfield’s writing was spectacular and it had such a gloomy atmosphere I adored. I have yet to watch the movie adaptation, which stars Olivia Colman, Vanessa Redgrave and Sophie Turner (what a cast!), I am so excited.

♡ Favourite new author

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I wouldn’t say I have a new favourite author just yet, but I might feel differently about it in a few months. However, I feel like Juliet Marillier could make it to this list in the near future. I adored Daughter of the Forest so much, it was splendidly written and it’s one of those books that I feel will stay with me for a very long time. I started reading the follow-up to Daughter of the ForestSon of the Shadows, a few days ago and while I’m not far into it, I adore her writing and it makes me feel at home. Her upcoming book is also my most anticipated release for the second half of the year, so yes, I do believe she could become one of my favourite authors!

♡ Newest fictional crush

As a matter of fact, I don’t really have any new ones? That’s a bit weird for me, but okay. 🤷🏼‍♀️

♡ Newest favourite character

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I don’t have any new fictional crushes, but wow do I have a new favourite character! I adore Eadaz uq-Nāra from The Priory of the Orange Tree with all my heart. She’s such a clever, loyal and strong character and I can’t help but admire her. I even named one of my cacti after her, that’s how much I love her (okay, now I want to reread Priory even more).

♡ Book that made you cry

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Definitely Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Once again, I was a little bit too invested into this story and characters, so I cried during the book, but also for quite some time after finishing it, because I couldn’t believe that it was over and that Daisy Jones & The Six weren’t actually real people. Taylor Jenkins Reid is such an amazing writer.

♡ Book that made you happy

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Gilmore Girls is one of my favourite TV shows ever, so I was so happy to read Lauren Graham’s memoir Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between). Reading her book felt like catching up with a friend and I adored reading about so many of her experiences. My favourite parts were of course the chapters dedicated to Gilmore Girls, what was it like to film it through the years and what was it like to go back to it years after it ended. It was also full of pictures and seeing Lauren through the years and the cast together was everything.

♡ Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

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These two beauties, The Priory of the Orange Tree and Spinning Silver (and I loved them both, so that’s a win), I could stare at them all day long.

♡ What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

There are so many books I want to get to before the year ends, but my priorities are to read more of Juliet Marillier’s works, to finally get to The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and to continue reading Robin Hobb’s series, The Liveship Traders being the next one I’ll get around to reading.

So that’s it, so far I’ve had an amazing reading year and I’m so happy I’ve discovered so many *books, especially The Priory of the Orange Tree and The Thirteenth Tale, which are my newest favourite books.

What are your favourite book(s) of the year so far?

lots of love

June reading wrap-up + favourites

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Hello There

From the moment June started, I told myself that it would be the best month of the year so far for me and in so many ways, it certainly was. June was quite a busy month: I finished my master’s thesis and defended it, which means that I’m done with my studies, I moved out of my apartment, I did some job hunting, I read a lot, I spent time with my loved ones, I visited museums and I finally had time to breathe. June made me so happy and I really hope the rest of this summer will be as amazing.

what i read

As June is Pride Month, I dedicated all my reading to LGBTQIA+ books, just like last year and it felt amazing! Here are the books that I read:

  • The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde, 3/5 stars
  • Going Off Script by Jen Wilde, 3.5/5 stars
  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, 4/5 stars
  • The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, 4/5 stars
  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, 4/5 stars
  • I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver, 4/5 stars
  • The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie, 3/5 stars
  • Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, 3.5/5 stars
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins, 4/5 stars

It was a pretty solid reading month, I read so many different genres, but somehow I ended up missing fantasy a lot, as I didn’t read many books in that genre. My favourite book of the month actually was Girls of Paper and Fire, so it makes sense, in a way. I loved the characters in this book so much (Lei and Wren, my babies), as well as the world-building and I so need to get my hands on the next book after that cliffhanger!

favourites

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This Is Us

I already mentioned falling in love with This Is Us in my May wrap-up, but of course I had to mention it again and I’ll probably talk some more of it in my July wrap-up, as I’ll be done with season 3 and all caught up by then. The very minute June started, my best friend and I were watching it, which clearly was a sign that this month would shape to be an amazing one. After I turned it my master’s thesis, my reward was finishing season 2 (and what a reward it was, considering how much I cried) and that’s all I needed. After a three week long break, we started watching season 3 on Saturday and oh my, how we had missed it. While it makes me cry every other episode, it is a show that feels like home and one of the few that capture my attention for hours. It definitely is one of my favourite shows of all time.

Learning Spanish again

It might seem a little bit weird, but the moment I was alone after turning up my master’s thesis… I got really bored, because I didn’t have a goal nor was I learning anything new anymore. People laughed it off when I had said I would miss it somehow, but it’s true. Because of that, I decided to dedicate some of the time I had on my hands to learn Spanish again, I actually used to be better at it than in learning English (how the tables have turned, in six years) and I was missing it. I’m using Duolingo a little bit every day to revise, which is fun and I have started watching TV shows in Spanish. At the moment, I’m watching Las Chicas del Cable, which is amazing, and I’m looking forward to watching Alta Mar (I watched the trailer three times because it sounds so good!!).

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The exhibition about Berthe Morisot in the musée d’Orsay

I was super excited about this exhibition, because it is all about Berthe Morisot, who was among the founding members of the impressionists… and the only woman in the group (there were other women who became impressionist painters, of course, but she was the first). A few months ago, I visited the Marmottan-Monet museum and saw so many of her paintings in one room, which was amazing, but an entire exhibition about her? It was all I wanted. I loved seeing so many of her works there, learning about her life and her art process and I walked out of there with a biography about her. I adore her art and admire her so much, I cannot wait to go back there over and over until the end of the exhibition.

Looking Ahead

For now, I am on holidays and will be until I find a job, and I’m so looking forward to enjoy that time to do everything I usually put off (I cannot wait to have a job, though!). My main goal for July is to be more creative, which can mean everything and nothing. I want to draw, to work more on my bullet journal, to continue learning oil painting with my mom (that’s something we started doing a few days ago), to sew the tote bag I saw in a magazine. I’d like to dedicate more time to research and plan my WIP (I wanted to jump head first in Camp NaNo, but realized that my novel wasn’t ready for that just yet thanks to Susan Dennard’s latest newsletter), as I’ve been putting it on hold for months now. I want to read fantasy novels because I have missed it, I want to catch up on my TV shows and to go to the movies all the time, I want to enjoy my time with my loved ones. In short, I want to make the most out of these holidays.

How was June for you? What was your favourite book of the month? Did you discover any new favourite things?

lots of love

My most anticipated book releases of this summer

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Hello There

Summer is here, so is the heat (at least in France, that is), and with that also comes so many new book releases! I haven’t dedicated any blog post to my most anticipated releases since last winter’s releases and I have missed it. Per usual, this list is mostly made of historical fiction, because that’s one of my favourite genres. It also features my second most anticipated release of the year, which I have been waiting for TWO YEARSI cannot wait to get to it, it is SO close now. Without further ado, let’s dive into this list!

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♡ Heartstopper: Volume 2 by Alice Oseman

Published: July 11th 2019 by Hodder Children’s Books

Genres: graphic novel, contemporary

I (finally) read all of Alice Oseman’s works last year and she quickly became one of my favourite authors.  I used to read Heartstopper as it updated as a webcomic online, but I decided to try to wait for every volume to be released as physical copies now, so I’m so excited to finally continue reading Nick and Charlie’s story, they are the cutest!

♡ The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Published: August 13th 2019 by Putnam

Genre: historical fiction

To be honest, I’m always there for YA historical fiction and this one seems amazing, it follows Jo Kuan, who works as a lady’s maid for a cruel woman by day and is the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie” by night, which leads her to write about fixed ideas on race and gender. It’s also a coming-of-age story about a girl trying to figure out her past and to stop living in the shadows and I’m so excited about it!

♡ The Dragon Lady by Louisa Treger

Published: August 13th 2019 by Bloomsbury Caravel

Genre: historical fiction

I stumbled upon this book on Netgalley and stared at it for a minute, because I was so intrigued. It follows the fictionalized life of Virginia Courtauld from the 1920s to the 1950s, who is ostracized by society because she’s a divorcée at the time of Wallis Simpson. She rejected the submissive role women were expected to play and started a new life with her second husband in Rhodesia… Where someone shot her. WHAT? I’m already so curious about this novel, also why did she have a dragon tattooed on her leg? I’ve got to know.

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♡ The Harp of Kings by Juliet Marillier 

Published: September 3rd 2019 by Ace

Genres: fantasy, historical fiction

OKAY, so this book is my most anticipated read for the second half of the year, I waited for it for two years, it sounds absolutely perfect. In two words: warrior. bards.* That’s it, that’s all, that’s the name of the trilogy and I’ve been silently screaming about it for so long, but now it’s finally there! Juliet Marillier’s works are beautifully woven with folklore and it sure looks like it will be the case here, once again. It’s about two siblings who want to join a team of elite warriors and end up taking part in a mission to retrieve an ancient harp (!!), how exciting does it sound? I recently read Daughter of the Forest by the same author and adored it so much, so I cannot wait to get to The Harp of Kings (and in the meantime I can catch up on her other works).

*Fun fact: I haven’t played in forever, but my Dungeon & Dragons character is a bard with white hair and purple eyes (yes, she looks like Daenerys Targaryen), so you can imagine how much I need this!!

♡ Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab 

Published: September 3rd 2019 by Scholastic Press

Genres: middle grade, paranormal

I don’t usually read middle grade novels, but I really enjoyed City of Ghosts and I’m looking forward to reading its sequel! Cassie’s parents go to Paris for their TV show, but Cassie ends up accidentally awakening a frighteningly strong spirit. I’m a little bit on the fence as it is set in France and it always scares me a little, but it’s Victoria Schwab and it features the Catacombs, which I’ve always been scared to go to, to be honest. I’ll probably wait until Halloween to get to it, it is the perfect time to do so!

♡ The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Published: September 10th 2019 by Redhook

Genres: historical fiction, fantasy

This debut novel is about January Scaller, who lives in a mansion with her guardian, when one day she finds a strange book, which tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. This book, set in the 1900s, has strange truths about the world within, as well as a story that seems to be intertwined with January. Truly, who doesn’t love a book about books? I’m always there for those. I am so intrigued by this novel and I adore the cover, so I cannot wait to get to it!

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♡ His Hideous Heart, edited by Dahlia Adler 

Published: September 10th 2019 by Flatiron Books

Genres: short stories, retellings, horror

Here’s another book I will probably saving up for Halloween! His Hideous Heart is a YA anthology edited by Dahlia Adler and is made of thirteen short stories which are retellings of Edgar Allan Poe’s works! Anthologies can be quite uneven, but I love that they help me discover more authors. Out of the thirteen contributors, I only read Kendare Blake’s works, so I’m quite excited to read her story and I’ll be able to discover the others’.

♡ The Testaments by Margaret Atwood 

Published: September 10th 2019 by Chatto & Windus

Genres: dystopia

I still can’t believe that Margaret Atwood is actually publishing a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale? I’m not quite sure what will come of it, but I am so excited, especially since it gives me an excuse to reread it! The Testaments picks up fifteen years after the previous book, and I’m so curious to see what will happen!

♡ The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Published: September 19th 2019 by Orion Children’s Books

Genres: fantasy, gothic, retelling

I didn’t know about this book until Samantha Shannon mentioned it on her Instagram, but wow, I need it now. To sum it up, this book is the untold story of the brides of Dracula, which is so intriguing, and once again… perfect around Halloween! I adore reading rather dark YA, so this one is right up my alley and apparently, two of the girls will fall for each other? How is in not in my hands already?

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♡ Bone China by Laura Purcell

Published: September 19th 2019 by Raven Books

Genres: historical fiction, gothic

I read The Silent Companions by the same author last year and adored it, so now I have to read everything she writes. Bone China and follows Louise, who has moved into the house with her father, a doctor devoting himself to controversial medical trials, while she learns tales of fairies that hunt the land. Forty years later, Hester comes to work in the house as a nurse for Louise and discovers what happened there. I love the gothic atmosphere of Laura Purcell’s books, so I cannot wait to get back to her words and it’s set in Cornwall, which I’m always there for.

♡ The Confession by Jessie Burton

Published: September 24th 2019 by Picador

Genres: contemporary, historical fiction

I adore novels that follow perspectives in different timelines, which answer to each other, so of course, I cannot wait to get my hands on The Confession, plus I had adored The Muse! On one hand, this book is set in the 1980s, when Elise meets Constance, a successful author whose novel is being turned in a Hollywood movie. Elise follows her to LA and at a party, she makes a decision that will change her life. On the other hand, three decades later, a woman named Rose seeks answers about her mother who disappeared when she was a baby and Constance might be the one to hold it.

So that’s it, those books are my most anticipated releases for July, August and September! I hope I’ll be able to get to most of them as soon as possible, so many of them sound perfect for Autumn, so it looks like I’ll already have a TBR for that time of the year.

What about you? What are your most anticipated releases of this summer?

lots of love

Five LGBTQIA+ movies and TV shows I would have needed as a teen

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Hello There

When I posted my bullet journal pages dedicated to my TBR and my to (re)watch list for Pride Month, several people commented and messaged me about the latter, because they didn’t know many movies or TV shows with LGBTQIA+ characters and I realized that for a long time, it was my case as well. In discovering and coming to terms with my sexuality, movies and TV shows had such an important place: it’s by feeling represented that I became more confident about myself and accepted myself, more than this blog post is letting on. It got me thinking how I wish I had had some of these movies and TV shows sooner, because they inspired me while I was in my twenties, but would have been perfect for my teenage self. So today, I thought I would share my top 5 with you all. I already rewatched most of them for Pride Month and it’s been making me so happy.

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One Day at a Time (2017)

Ever since the first season aired, One Day at a Time took a spot in my favourite TV shows of all time and I am beyond happy it exists (and so crushed they cancelled it, why?). It depicts the everyday life of the Alvarez family and talks about such important topics, among which the LGBTQIA+ community, anxiety, immigration and so on. Elena Alvarez became such a role model to me early on: she’s such a smart young woman, she’s vegetarian, feminist, suffers from anxiety attacks and she fights for what she thinks is right. She figures out her sexuality over the course of the first season, comes to terms with being a lesbian and comes out to her family, which was everything to watch. She inspired me while I was in my twenties and I know she’d have inspired me to be my best self, to raise my voice even more, had I known her as a teenager.

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Love, Simon (2018)

I watched Love, Simon at the exact right time in my life and it’s one of the reasons it means so much to me. I had really enjoyed the novel, but oh my, in this case I love the movie so much more. The first time I watched it, it was my first Pride month knowing myself, so watching it made me feel like everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be okay. That scene where his mom tells him that now he gets to release his breath, that now he gets to be himself like he hasn’t been in a very long time means the world to me. Last summer, I spent so many days telling myself that I was more and more like myself every day and it changed so much, so I’ll always be grateful to have Love, Simon, I feel like everyone should watch it.

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Everything Sucks! (2018)

Everything Sucks! is the reason I started coming out to my closest friends, it’s as simple as that, and it’s why I was so upset when Netflix cancelled it. It’s a TV show set in the 1990s, which parodies teen culture, and follows teenagers from the A/V and drama club, who are forced to come together. I wrote a blog post about it last year and one year later, I still adore and miss Kate and Emaline. It shows how Kate struggles with her identity and sexuality, and in the end, she (spoiler alert) gets the girl. I needed to watch two girls fall in love in high school, so learning that they had cancelled it felt so unfair, I cried so hard… Then it made me feel brave and I came out to my best friend. The show also inspired me a lot, because the novel I’ve been working on since December is set in that time period and is about two girls who love Star Wars, are waiting for The Phantom Menace to come out AND fall in love with each other. So yes, that’s what this TV show means to me.

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Booksmart (2019)

It’s funny how I’m terrible at watching movies on my own at home, but Booksmart came out a month ago, I already watched it twice, and I cannot wait to rewatch it again. It’s a teen movie following best friends Amy and Molly, as they decide to catch up on all the parties they missed while they were studying in high school. It’s absolutely hilarious and ridiculous, the characters are so relatable and it has a f/f romance. I was beyond happy that Love, Simon came out last year and that we got to see a m/m romance, but I also really needed to have a rom-com with young women as the lead relationship. To be accurate, this movie is more about friendship than romance, but it was the first time I got to have that in a rom-com. It made me smile so much and I want to rewatch it over and over, just like Love, Simon, so that’s amazing. Plus, it was directed by a woman, so cheers to that!

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The Bold Type (2017)

Last, but not least, The Bold Type is following three young women who are in their mid-twenties, but I really wanted to include it, because I would have loved to look up to Kat, Jane and Sutton as a teenager. I already dedicated a blog post to the show, but while the three of them inspires me to be my best in my professional life and to fight for my dreams, they also made me realize that it’s okay if I haven’t figured out some things about myself just yet, that I have time. More than that, seeing Kat, one of the main characters, exploring her sexuality hit so close to home. When I started watching the show, I was going through similar events and feelings, as she was in the first season, so seeing her embracing it all made me so happy and even prouder of who I am. I wish I could have watched it as a teen.

Writing this post made me feel a bit emotional, but I’m really happy I got around to it, because these movies and TV shows mean so much to me.

I haven’t had time to dedicate a blog post to my favourite books with LGBTQIA+ characters, but my top three are of course The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, so there you go for some recommendations!

Are there any movies/TV shows you wish you had had as a teen?lots of love

Pride Month TBR 🏳️‍🌈

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Hello There

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH! 🏳️‍🌈

As you might remember, I dedicated all of June 2018 to reading LGBTQIA+ books to celebrate Pride Month and I had such an amazing time doing that! So this year, that’s what I’m doing again.

A few days ago, my best friend and I were talking about Pride Month and she told me that we should do a 24h readathon for Pride Month, which is an amazing idea, as I haven’t been reading as much as usual this year. I also discovered Eloise @ Eloise Writes‘ blog recently and she’s doing a Pride Month readathon called Reading it queer, so I got really excited about that and made a whole TBR for it (what a surprise). The goal is to read at least one book with LGBTQIA+ representation, but you can also pick what you want to read based on nine reading prompts, which is what I’m doing!

So without further ado, let’s talk about the books I’m planning to read this month!

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» f/f relationship – Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

I really wanted to read this book for Pride Month last year, but I ended up running out of time and being quite intimidated by it, so I really want to get to it this year. Tipping the Velvet is a historical fiction novel set in the Victorian era and follows Nan King, an oyster girl, who is fascinated by music-all phenomenon Kitty Butler and eventually meets her, which lead them to start having feelings for each other. I’ve seen so many people rave about Sarah Waters’ novels and I cannot wait to finally discover her debut, it sounds absolutely amazing.

» own voices author –  Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

This book has been all over the book community in the past few months and it got me quite intrigued! Girls of Paper and Fire is an Asian fantasy about Lei, who is chosen to become one of the King’s concubines and is being trained in the palace in order to do so. However, she does the unthinkable and falls in love with another girl and this forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that could shake the foundation of her country, Ikhara. I cannot wait to finally know what the hype is all about!

» bisexual character – The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

I read Jen Wilde’s Queens of Geek two years ago and I really enjoyed it, so it is time for me to continue reading her books. The Brightsiders is about Emmy, a bisexual teen rockstar, who has to pick her life back together after being labelled the latest celebrity train wreck. This is my first read of the month and while I haven’t read much, I’m really enjoying it so far!

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» asexual or aromantic character – The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee

I was waiting for the perfect occasion to read The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy and at last, I have found it! This novel is a follow-up to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, but follows Felicity Montague, a young woman in the 18th century, who wants nothing more than to enroll in medical school. When  possibility opens, Felicity leaves on a ship for Germany with a mysterious girl and becomes part of a perilous quest. Mackenzi Lee is one of my favourite YA authors and one of my biggest writing inspirations, so finally reading this one is going to be amazing, I already know it.

» recommended by a friend – The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

I read The Abyss Surrounds Us a while ago, but never got around to continue, probably because I don’t read post-apocalyptic novels very often. One of my uni friends recently read and adored the duology, so she motivated me to continue and it’s happening this month! I mean, this is a f/f post-apocalyptic duology with lesbian pirates and sea monsters, what else do you need?

» a book with additional rep – The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins

This novel set in 1826 follows Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, as she goes on trial because she was accused of her employers’ murder, but no one really knows the truth. Frannie then tells her story, which starts in Jamaica and continues with a forbidden romance in England. It sounds like such a gripping novel, so I cannot wait to dive into it and figure everything out!

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» a genre you don’t normally read – Going Off Script by Jen Wilde

It might not look like it in this post, but I rarely ever read YA contemporary novels. The last one I read was Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel and that was in… November 2018, so that’s why Going Off Script fits in this category. As I was saying, I’m trying to catch up on Jen Wilde’s books and the blurb for this one is “A TV writer’s room intern must join forces with her crush to keep her boss from ruining a lesbian character”, so basically, yes, YES, I am reading this. I love the settings of Jen Wilde’s novels so much.

» m/m relationship – Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This is everyone’s newest favourite book and I need to know why, it is everywhere. Red, White & Royal Blue is about Alex, the son of the President of the United States, who is forced to become friends with his nemesis, Henry, Prince of Wales, as it could help British/American relationship as well as his mother’s reelection bid. However, they end up falling for each other. *gasps* So we’re talking about enemies to friends to lovers, which is my favourite romance trope, I hope I’ll love it!

» trans or non-binary character – I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

Last but not least, I’m really excited to discover I Wish You All The Best, another book I kept seeing everywhere even before its release! This one is an own voices novel about Ben, who comes out to their parents as nonbinary and is thrown out of their house afterwards. Moving in with their sister, Ben wants to go by unnoticed, but meet Nathan, who becomes their friend, then their feelings for each other change as they grow closer. It’s been said to be both heartbreaking and joyous and has such amazing ratings on Goodreads so far, I can’t wait!

What are you planning to read in June? Are you participating in any readathon?

lots of love