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Toil & Trouble | Anthology Review

If witchcraft is the voice of women rising free and powerful (to change the world, make it ours, on our feet instead of on our knees) then I wish to be a witch more than anything. - Elizabeth May, Why They Watch Us Burn

I had really mixed feelings going into this: on the one hand, I love the idea of queer witch stories, but on the other hand, I have a notoriously bad track record with enjoying anthologies. I love the idea of anthologies and I love a lot of short stories, but often times with anthologies, I only find two to three stories or authors that I really enjoyed reading.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed most of the stories and fell in love with about eight of the fifteen stories. I have a full breakdown of every story in the collection over on my goodreads, but here I just want to geek out about all of the stories that I loved.

Part of what was surprising to me about the ones that I loved was that all eight of them are from authors I've never read before. Since reading their stories in this anthology, my TBR has gotten, ahem, quite a bit bigger. Or, at the very least, it got majorly reorganized.

My absolute favorite, favorite stories were: The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma, The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord, Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May, The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert, and Beware of Girls with Crooked Teeth by Jessica Spotswood.

  • The One Who Stayed: This is my favorite story in the entire anthology. I am absolutely in love with Nova Ren Suma's writing. She writes an amazing short story, and she had my full attention throughout the whole story.
  • The Gherin Girls: The sheer number of witch sisters in this anthology is amazing, and I loved most of them. But of the sister stories, this was my favorite. I loved all of the sisters in different ways, but I loved Nova. Like, she shaved her head when she got into a serious relationship with a dude so that people wouldn't assume she was straight. I love a bi protaginst.
  • Why They Watch Us Burn: So, so amazing and well-written. The allegory, the story, everything about this was perfect for me. This also has a real cute F/F romance.
  • The Truth About Queenie: After this story, I'm officially bumping up Colbert's book on my TBR. I absolutely fell in love with her writing. This story was very much real life with a touch of magic, which is one of my favorite ways for magic to be in stories. It also felt very Practical Magic, which I loved.
  • Beware of Girls with Crooked Teeth: Oh, I love an unlikeable, morally grey female main character. Also, it felt like a period drama? Which super appealed to me. 
My other favorites were Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore, Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer, and The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Tally. 
  • Love Spell: So, now I understand the absolute love for Anna-Marie McLemore and her writing. The writing itself is absolutely gorgeous, and I love how she incorporates Spanish into her writing. It just exists, she doesn't translate or explain it, it's just part of the story. Also, the family relationship in this book hit me right in the heart. Gonna go read all her books ASAP.
  • Afterbirth: This was the historical, Crucible-esk story that I wanted going into this. I loved Cremer's writing, and I'm kind of sad that her other novels don't sound super appealing to me.
  • The Legend of Stone Mary: I feel personally blessed that Robin Tally has so many other books for me to read after this. The writing wasn't my favorite, but there was nothing wrong with it either. However, the storytelling and the plot of this story kept me so engaged.
I'd also like to give a quick honorable mention to Zoraida Córdova's Divine Are the Stars. I didn't love this one as a short story. I loved the roots of this story, the magical realism, the relationships, but it was just too short? I wanted this to be fleshed out more, so I think I'll really love her full-length novels.

My average rating for this anthology is closer to a 3.5-3.75, but I bumped it to a 4. Because while there were a handful of stories that I really didn't like, the ones that I enjoyed I absolutely loved. So, if you're wanting some good, queer witch stories leading up to or on Halloween, this is a great choice.


Getting Back Into Blogging | Recently in Reading #4

"Recently in Reading" is a feature on my blog that I created myself, although I did adapt it from the Goodreads Tag and made it into a feature that I could do semi-regularly on my blog!

I'm so happy to be back on the bookish internet, and after rounding up all the best books I've read in the year I've been away, I thought this would be a good way to catch you up on the recent goings-on of my reading and bookish life before jumping back into everything.

I recently finished Obsidio, the last book in the Illuminae Files by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. I've been following this series for years, so I was really anticipating this finale. (So much so that I bought it release day and then waited almost six months to read it.) I'm simultaneously very happy with how it ended but so sad that it's over. We will get another space trilogy from this writing duo next year, but . . . it just won't be the same.

Currently, I am a few stories away from finishing the Toil & Trouble anthology, which I've surprisingly been loving. I've also been making my way slowly through Stephen King's Full Dark, No Stars, which I started during Spookathon but never finished.

The best comics I've been following issue-by-issue and picking up from my local comic book stores have been Margaret Stohl's The Life of Captain Marvel and John Allison's (yes, the John Allison from everyone's favorite Giant Days) By Night, both of which I have been loving.

I've been reading a lot of comics while I was away, and one that was recommended by one of my favorite comic writers Kelly-Sue DeConnick and recently released the first issue is Man-Eaters, a satirical comic (almost similar in tone to The Power by Naomi Alderman) where women when on their period turn into man-eating cats. I love it so far.

Novel-wise, I recently heard great things about A Heart in a Body in the World, which I know almost nothing about. I also loved Brandy Colbert's story in Toil & Trouble, and I saw that she has an upcoming release, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, which has an amazing cover and I also know nothing about. Similarly, the cover for Hello Girls dropped recently, and I don't need to know anything else because I'm already in love with it.

Nonfiction November starts soon, so I want to finish what I'm currently reading before then. If I have time, I also want to start some of my semi-recent acquisitions (What If It's Us, Fierce Fairytales, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing) before or during the month of November.

Recently, I made a trip to Nashville for a signing of What If It's Us, where I also picked up a copy of Anna-Marie McLemore's Blanca & Roja. While I was in the area, I also traded some books at the used book store, and I found a bunch of things that I've been wanting to read for ages. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a sci-fi that has amazing reviews and has the found family trope, which is my favorite. Also grabbed some recent fantasy releases, The Queens of Innis Lear and Spinning Silver, as well as Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace.

I'm not entirely sure what I'll buy next, but it'll either be The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes or a nonfiction book that I grab during the month of November.

Last week, I went to the local stop on the What If It's Us book tour, and I got to meet up with book friends that I haven't seen in ages. It was so nice to catch up with them, and it was so nice to see Becky and Adam again.

Another thing I've been loving (though my wallet hasn't) has been going to my local comic book stores. It's been a great way of grabbing new comics that I wouldn't have heard of otherwise.


One Year of Favorites | Tomes Project

I've been gone for a while (almost exactly a year, in fact) and that's been for a lot of reasons: school was far too stressful, issues with medications, and just general gloominess. But in the time I was gone, I still read quite a lot (over 50 things just this year, in fact) and most of them I really loved because I've mostly stopped reading things just because everyone else is reading it. If I finish it, I've got to love it.

I've also been watching a lot of movies, and I've been tracking them on letterboxd, which is a goodreads-esk equivalent (with half stars!) for movies. (You can follow me, if you'd like.) And I may end up incorporating more movies/tv type content here as well, so if you're interested in that, let me know.

Either way, here are the 21 books, two complete series, and a handful of comics that I've been loving in my time away from blogging (ordered by read date).

END OF 2017

  • JANE, UNLIMITED - Kristin Cashore: 4/5 - Oh my gosh, I loved this so much. It's the most unique book I've ever read; it's multiple universes plus a 'choose your own adventure' story that bends genre. So lively and fun.
  • DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES - Seanan McGuire5/5 - Probably one of the ones on the list that I continue to think about the most. This was everything that I wanted from this series--a dark, portal fantasy fairytale. The even numbered books of this series are the ones that show the students from Eleanor's school finding their doors. I love those stories, and McGuire writes them so well. In addition, this has some really powerful writing and messages about gender norms and the restrictions and expectations that we put on children that I think about on a regular basis.  
  • THE PRINCESS DIARIST - Carrie Fisher: 4/5 - I didn't grow up on the classic Star Wars trilogy. I never really cared, to be honest, but one of my earliest memories is seeing Episode II in theaters. I only got into the series when the new trilogy premiered in 2015. And, this provided a lot of context to those movies and that fandom that I hadn't known. When I started reading this, I was the same age as Carrie's diary entries from the first movie, and there was a particular connecting power in that for me. 

  • MARCH, BOOK THREE - John Lewis: 5/5 - An absolute must-read non-fiction graphic memoir series that takes place during the civil rights period, with flashes of the "current time" of 2009 on the day of Barak Obama's inauguration. 
  • THE POWER - Naomi Alderman: 4/5 - This is another one that I continue to think about on a near-daily basis. While not my favorite book or the most well-written book for me, this has fundamentally altered the way that I not only interact with the world but also with my own ideas and beliefs. 
  • LONG WAY DOWN - Jason Reynolds: 5/5 - Actually the only one on this list so far that I've reread. I read this both in print and on audio, and while both great, I would definitely recommend the print version because this is a book in verse, and Reynolds' poetry is very visual in nature.

SO FAR IN 2018

  • ALL AMERICAN BOYS - Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely: 5/5 - Jason Reynolds is a fantastic author, and I love his work. This is a complex look on police brutality against black people in America. It was written a few years ago now, but it's still very relevant and taught me a lot of things. 
  • THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO - Taylor Jenkins Reid: 5/5 - I literally cannot talk about this book without going on for about three hours about it, so I'll keep it short. This is my book, I've never connected to anything like I've connected to this. I've never felt that type of ownership over anything before, so much so that I cannot listen or read people talking about how much they love this book because it's just such a personal story for me. I absolutely loved this, and it's my favorite book of probably ever.
  • THE REFRIGERATOR MONOLOGUES - Catherynne M. Valente: 5/5 - Another book that has fundamentally changed my outlook on things. In this case, comics and superhero movies, of which I consume a lot. This is a series of short stories parodying the "Women in Refrigerators" trope. Here are some resources for you to look deeper into the topic (Vox article on Gail Simone, wikipedia page, WiR website) but basically, this is the plot device where, disproportionately, women are killed, injured, driven insane, or depowered for the advancement of the men in the story. It's a thing that happens a lot in comics, and *cough cough* especially recently in big superhero movies.
  • THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS - Leigh Bardugo: 5/5 - Bardugo is a queen. I love her. These are the dark fairytales that I've always wanted and never got until this.
  • WE ARE OKAY - Nina LaCour: 4/5 - I read this when I was in an especially dark period, and Marin was so incredibly relatable to me, and the arc that she goes on in this book really helped me.

  • Crazy Rich Asians trilogy (I - II - III) - Kevin Kwan: 4/5 - *screams for seven years about how much I love Astrid Leong*

  • Binti Trilogy (I, II, III) - Nnedi Okorafor: 4/5, 4.5/5, 3.5/5 - Such a phenomenal series of sci-fi novellas that stars a young girl, Binti, who is the first in her family to leave their village, their planet in order to go to university. I consumed these, and they're so great.

  • IF THEY COME FOR US - Fatimah Asghar: 5/5 - Absolutely beautiful and stunning and incredibly eye-opening and relevant poetry. I actually bought my own copy recently so that I could go through and mark it up. The best poetry I've read in the past year.
  • THE HATE U GIVE - Angie Thomas: 5/5 - You've all heard of this, you all love it, and the only reason it took me so long to read was that I specifically wanted to listen to the audiobook, and the waitlist from my library was ridiculously long.
  • SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES - Caitlin Doughty: 4/5 - My family was low-key concerned about me when I was reading this, but this is a really good book for anyone looking to know more about the death industry and what happens when you die. This is something I know that I will go back and reference as I need, and it's another that I continue to think about.
  • IN ORDER TO LIVE - Yeonmi Park with Maryanne Vollers: 5/5 - Another that I'd been meaning to read for years, but felt that I needed to due to current events. This is a terrifying recount of Yeonmi's life and her escape from North Korea. An absolutely necessary read, especially now.
  • THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE - Heidi Heilig: 4/5 - At the time, I really needed something to lift my spirits. I'd been reading a lot of really heavy material at the time (see: above) and this was a really fun YA romp with pirates, time-travel, and myths. Oooh, I loved it, and I'm hoping to read the sequel soon.

  • UNDEAD GIRL GANG - Lily Anderson: 4/5 - It was a girl gang with witches. I couldn't not enjoy this.
  • BRAIN ON FIRE - Susannah Cahalan: 4/5 - Another memoir that was terrifying and gripping. This was Susannah's recount of the medical mystery that surrounded her at 24. A really amazing story that's incredibly well-written.
  • CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE - Tomi Adeyemi: 5/5 - Speaking of well-written, I'm low-key shook after this book. So, so amazing, and another one that only took me so long to read because I was waiting for the audiobook from my library. (Sidenote: Bahni Turpin is now one of my favorite audiobook narrators of all time, she always does an amazing job.)


  • BINGO LOVE - Tee Franklin: 4.5/5 - This is one I'm gonna recommend my goodreads review for because this was a really important and beautiful story, but I had some issues with it that I go into there.
  • BITCH PLANET - Kelly Sue DeConnick: 4/5 - KSD is a phenomenal writer. I love her so much, and when I heard we were getting more of this comic soon, I picked up the first volume of this. It's definitely more mature than the others on this list, so maybe don't pick this up if you're not keen on nudity (purposeful, not excessive or super sexualized) and violence.
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL (2012) - Kelly Sue DeConnick: I'm like crazy excited for the new movie, and I loved the 2015 run of Captain Marvel, so I've been making my way through Carol's backlist. It's been so much fun, and if you're looking for a place to start with Carol before the new movie comes out, this is a good place to start.
  • GOLDIE VANCE, VOL. 3 - Hope Larson: 4.5/5 - Queer Nancy Drew. Fight me, it's so much fun.

  • THE LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #1-2 - Margaret StohlHave I mentioned that I'm excited about the Captain Marvel movie? (The trailer drops today, and I literally can't handle the excitement.) This is exceptionally well-written, and issue #3 comes out this week. *can't handle the excitement*
  • BY NIGHT #1-2 - John Allison: When I was picking up the previous comic from my local comic book shop, I saw this and John Allison's (see: GIANT DAYS) name and immediately bought the first two issues. It's a wild, supernatural ride, and I'm really enjoying it.

That was a lot, and if you've stuck around in my absence then I really appreciate you. If you're new, welcome! I hope you stick around. I'm dipping my toe back into blogging for now but I'm looking forward to coming back to this world. I've missed it a lot. 
(I am working retail right now, so I'm a little dead inside but we're all good.)


Guessing My Next Favorite Book | Five Star Predictions (1)

Hello all! Welcome to my first five-star prediction post! If you're unfamiliar with the concept, this is a post where I look through my physical, owned TBR books and guess based on reviews, synopses, author, etc. which ones I think will be five-star reads. This has recently made the rounds on the BookTube community (I've made a playlist of some of my favorites). I absolutely love the idea and wanted to bring it to my blog. It's a great way for me to get excited about reading books that I already own instead of constantly pining over books that I don't own or books that I have from the library. 

For these posts, I've provided goodreads links and (when applicable) reviews that made me want to pick up the book originally or a review that made me think I'd enjoy the book. I don't know how often I'll do these posts, but I'm thinking of doing a wrap-up after I read each of these books and telling you what I thought of the book and whether or not it became a new favorite. Today, I'll be sharing six books from my TBR shelf that I think will be new favorite reads.

This is the first book in an adult science fiction/fantasy trilogy that I haven't heard much about but what I have heard has been absolutely phenomenal. This won the Hugo Award in 2016, so clearly people like it. Additionally, this is a fantasy book that's written by a woman of color, which is basically a rarity in the genre, so I'm hopeful that this won't be your average interesting world-sexist characters pitfall that many fantasy books are prey to.

I don't know too much about the world. There is a magic system, and it has something to do with preventing earthquakes? (Don't hold me to that.) But, in this world, instead of four seasons there are five seasons. And that fifth season always brings a certain apocalyptic aspect (i.e. acid rain). This book starts at the beginning of that fifth season.

I've heard this has complex, amazing female characters, which is a breath of fresh air for fantasy. I'm so excited to pick this up.

I won an ARC of this book, and I still haven't read it. *hides face in hands* But, I've been putting it off because I think I'll really like it and then want to read all of McLemore's backlist.

If you don't know this about me, I'm a Spanish major. I've read a lot of short stories and poems and a few books in Spanish and from Hispanic authors. They're always among my favorites. The writing is lyrical, often there is a magical realism element, and there's usually a strong family influence.

In addition to having all of those things, the main character in Wild Beauty is bisexual, which makes my little heart sing.

In a similar vein, this is book that has been translated from Spanish and into English. This one, however, is the first book in a trilogy that takes place in Barcelona, Spain during the 1940s. I have had this book on my shelf for years, and it's one of the only books I'll ever say that I'm ashamed I haven't read.

So this a book about books. It follows a boy who goes into a bookshop and gets one book by this author. After finishing the book, he searches for other works by this author only to find that someone has been destroying all of his works.

I'm excited to read this book, but I know that I need to be in a specific mindset to read this one. It's also one that I'd love to reread in Spanish after finishing the English translation just to see how they differ. (Because I'm a nerd.)

There's no specific review or person that's made me really want to read this. I just want to read it because it's Leigh Bardugo. I haven't finished the Shadow and Bone trilogy, so realistically, it'll be a while before I can get to this book.

This is a collection of fairy tales and stories that exist within the Grisha world. These are stories that the characters would know and are referenced in the text. It's almost like The Tales of Beedle the Bard, but better because it's Leigh Bardugo and there are some stunning illustrations in this.

Everyone loved Ng's previous book Everything I Never Told You when it released a few years back, and so when it was announced that she was releasing a new book, even people who hadn't read her first novel (AKA: me) were excited about this release.

I got this through my Book of the Month subscription because I knew that I needed to read it. Immediately after its release, it got countless rave reviews, got picked up for Reece Witherspoon's book club, and Ng even went onto Seth Meyer's late night show to promote the book. I don't know too much about this apart from that it takes place in a suburban town called Shaker Heights. This is one of those books that I don't want to know much about before going into it because I feel like it'll be best discovered whilst reading.

A book that stays at no.1 on the New York Times young adult bestseller list for 30+ weeks is there for a reason, and I think it's bound to be a favorite. At this point, most everyone in the book sphere has at least heard about, if not read, this book already. I feel like I'm one of the only people that hasn't read this book yet, and I'm experiencing major FOMO.

As far as a five-star read goes, I'm really hoping this sticks that rating. Everyone has absolutely loved this book, even if they didn't give it a full five stars. I want this to be a five-star so badly, so here's to hoping that it is.

Have you read any of these books? Which one should I pick up first? (I feel like most of you will say THUG.) Tell me all your thoughts down in the comments!


October Currently Reading + #Spookathon TBR

Currently Reading is a monthly feature on my blog, where I catch you up on the books that I'm currently reading (or at least attempting to read). Usually this goes up on the second or third Friday of every month, but it's going up on a Saturday this month because I got swamped with school.
This month's currently reading is going to be a bit different because there are some upcoming readathons that I wanted to talk about since this week is actually my fall break so I'll have more than thirty minutes a day that I can read.


  • DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES: This is my current audiobook. I am about halfway through it since it's only around five hours long. This is the sequel to Every Heart a Doorway, which I read recently and liked but didn't love as much as everyone else because it was a book that circled around the idea of portal fantasy without any actual portal fantasy. This is everything that I wanted the previous book in this series to be. This is a portal fantasy (aka my favorite subgenre of anything ever) that tells the story of Jack and Jill, two twin sisters that we meet in the first book. It's creepy and atmospheric and an absolutely delightful look at gender roles.
  • THE POWER: I mentioned this book in my last post, and I have now officially started it. I'm about 100 pages into this, and it's so intriguing. The basic premise of this that suddenly young girls start developing an electric-esk power that can inflict others with pain--even death--with a flick of their fingers. Suddenly, women have the power and men lose control. It's told from four perspectives of people around the world as this phenomenon grows. I'm really liking this one, and I want to finish it ASAP. 
  • PELUDA: This is a poetry book that I got approved for on Netgalley. This is from a spoken-word poet that I absolutely love, Melissa Lozada-Olivia. It's funny and personal and self-deprecating. I'm going to try and finish this today. 
  • MARCH, BOOK THREE: I keep telling myself that I'm going to read this, and I keep putting it off because I know that this last volume will have the heaviest material. If I don't at least start this during Zoe's 24-hr readathon, you all have permission to send me annoying gifs on Twitter.


  • FULL DARK, NO STARS: I picked this up for a few reasons. This fits with the challenges read a book with a spooky word in the title (dark) and read a book with orange on the cover. I also wanted to read this because one of the novellas in this collection, "1922", is being released or was just recently released on Netflix, and I really want to watch it because I refuse ro watch It until it releases on DVD so that I can watch it from the comfort of my own home.
  • MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: Another movie that's releasing soon, this doesn't really fit any of the challenges, but I want to read it. I've never read a Christie book before, and I want to read this before the movie releases in November.
  • BIRD BOX: I recently read and loved Josh Malerman's A House at the Bottom of a Lake, which is a short but incredibly atmospheric and gripping story. The story was brilliant, so I want to read more of his books. This is the most popular one; I hear people rave about this constantly. I know almost nothing about it, but I think it takes place completely in the dark or the characters are blindfolded? Something like that. It sounds eerie and atmospheric, and I adore Malerman's writing. 
  • HORRORSTOR: This is another book that I don't know much about. (It's the best wat to go into thriller/mystery books, okay?) This I think would qualify for the read a thriller challenge. I could probably also count this as read a book about a childhood fear because I was terrified of everything as a child. Among the countless fears was getting trapped in a store overnight, like getting left behind in a store and being locked up there for the night. I don't know, few of my fears made sense. But I believe this is following IKEA-type employees who volunteer for a graveyard shift at the store. Why? Because they're in a horror novel.

What are you guys reading this weekend? Are any of you planning on joining in on Spookathon? If you've read any of the books on my TBR, please tell me what you thought of them down in the comments!


If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio | Review

For those of you unaware, this is a literary/general fiction book that’s also kind of a mystery/thriller. It’s not wholly a mystery, and I would debate calling it a thriller at all.

The premise is this: it’s 1997 and there are seven friends who are in their fourth year of the (Shakespeare-only) drama program at their university, and at the beginning of the book one of the friends—our main character, Oliver—is getting released from his 10-year prison sentence for something that happened in their final year of school. This book goes back and forth between 1997 Oliver and the 2007 Oliver that is explaining what really happened that year to a now-former police officer who just wants to know the truth.

Before we delve into my thoughts on this book, I need to put out a content warning for a few things that happen in this book: physical violence, suicide attempt, overall poor representation of sexuality, mention of an eating disorder.

If you’re curious about the discussion on sexuality, I’ll have to direct you to my goodreads review of this book since both the author and the novel treat sexuality as a plot twist and a spoiler. I personally don’t agree with this. Sexuality should never be a plot twist, whether your book takes place in 2017, 1997, 1827, or 4207. Rio’s handling of sexuality is almost entirely why I gave this book 1 star.

In my goodreads review, I also break down in detail each of the content warnings above, so please go check that out if those are things that will affect you.

NOW. Onto the actual review of the book.

Even if I could push aside my feelings about Rio’s poor treatment of sexuality (spoiler: I couldn’t), then this would have been at most a three star read but more likely a two and half. On my rating scale, 2.5 is just average and a 3 is average but still enjoyable. With a different ending, this could have been a three. Take out the “sexuality is a plot twist” aspect and this would easily have been a four star read.

This is the debut novel from Rio, and it shows in the writing. There are certain plot conveniences that happen because this story is told in first person and Oliver needs to be privy to certain information to make the story move forward.

Also, in a clear attempt to not use the phrase “I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding” Rio uses “I breathe out a breath I didn’t know I was holding” which made me stop reading for a solid two minutes because I was laughing so hard.

Story-wise there’s nothing horribly original here. Many people (almost everyone) has compared this to The Secret History by Donna Tartt, but I haven’t read that book. While not able to speak with any level of expertise on the topic, based on reviews, there are a striking number of similarities between the two, but there is no mention of Tartt in the Acknowledgements or the Author’s Note so the similarities could be coincidental.

However, instead of classics, this group is obsessed with Shakespeare. So much so that they often have whole exchanges in which they are quoting the Bard like a conservative Christian would quote the Bible. When it's just a line thrown into the dialogue, it's not distracting and usually quite clever, but when they get into multiple page-long exchanges at too many points in the story, it's very easy to just skim over them.

It also made me feel very pretentious and frankly bad that I've ever enjoyed Shakespeare. I feel like I need to go wash my mouth out with As You Like It.

Would I recommend this? No, I gave it one star. If you really want to read it, I’d tell you to go ahead and read it for yourself. The things that bogged down my reading experience may not hinder yours at all, but they were things that I hadn't seen mentioned in reviews and had I known them, I wouldn’t have read this book.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published: 11 April 2017 by Flatiron Books
Format - Length: Hardcover - 352 pages
Source: Library
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Goodreads | My Goodreads Review
Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.


End of the Year | Book Tag

It's officially Fall! *throws leaves into the air*

Even though it's still 80 degrees outside and humid as all get out in the southern US, it's still technically fall, which means being stressed from school and being stressed because I've completed none of my reading resolutions for the year.

This tag was originally created by Ariel Bisset, and I'm a little bit in love with it. (And, true to form, I have more than one answer to almost every question.)


Are there any books you started this year that you need to finish?

  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: Nothing says my aesthetic like true crime and serial killers. I must have watched too much CSI as a child (shoutout to my mom) and have always been fascinated by murder and serial killers. I always make my way so slowly through nonfiction, but this is genuinely so interesting.
  • WELCOME HOME: This is an anthology all about adoption. The reason I haven't finished this one is due to the sheer amount of stories in this collection. So naturally, there are a few that I wasn't a huge fan of, but I think this is just me discovering that I don't really enjoy anthologies. 
  • JURASSIC PARK: Jurassic Park is one of (if not my all-time) favorite movies. I got about halfway through the book this summer and just . . . quit for unexplained reasons. I was really loving it, but I think it's just so similar to the movie that I was wondering why I was reading it. But I must finish it.

Do you have an autumnal book to transition into the end of the year?

  • IF WE WERE VILLAINS: This award actually goes to the book that I'm currently reading, which is M.L. Rio's debut novel. This is a literary fiction/thriller book about a group of seven friends that all go to this pretentious Shakespeare-only drama college in the Midwest. It's okay. I thought I'd love it more than I am, but perhaps it gets better. It does give off very autumnal-esk vibes because it does take place in the fall, but it doesn't read like most thrillers where you're constantly wondering what's happening because the narrator knows what happened. It's interesting, and I'm curious to see how it ends.

Is there a new release you're still waiting for?

  • THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING: I don't know much about this book, but with E.K. Johnston, that cover, and Victorian I don't want to know anything before going into this one.
  • FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW: I am a huge Star Wars nerd. I love the movies, the comics, the books, everything. This has so many amazing authors attached to this, and I'm so excited to read this before the movie releases.

What are three books you want to read before the end of the year?

  • MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: This movie comes out fairly soon, and despite my skepticism around Johnny Depp, there are so many other amazing names attached to that movie that my dislike of him will just have to be pushed aside for the sake of Daisy Ridley, Josh Gad, and Leslie Odom Jr.
  • WILD BEAUTY: Bisexual latinx main character, beautiful cover, latinx author. I do not need to know anything else.
  • SIEGE AND STORM: This was going to be pushed to my 2018 TBR, but with the announcement of the Nikolai book, I need to read this book ASAP.

Is there a book you think could still shock you and become your favorite book of the year?

  • THE POWER: This is blurbed by Margaret Atwood? And it's supposed to be a very interesting and thought-provoking look at the patriarchy and feminism. I just got my copy of this, and I'm so excited to dive into it.

Have you already started making reading plans for 2018?

  • No official reading plans, but a goal from this year that I will logistically never finish is that I wanted to read all the books I got in my Book of the Month boxes. I want to carry that over to next year and continue making my through all the books I have left on that list.

And that's it! What fun. So, so many books to read before the end of the year. Have you read any of these? If you have, be sure to tell me what you thought of them down in the comments. And be sure to tell me the books you're excited to read in the last few months of 2017 so that I can make my TBR longer.