A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow – A Book Review

As a kid, I was enamored with mermaids and all things underwater fantasy. So, as soon as I saw this beautiful cover, I was immediately drawn to this novel. It’s shorter than most books I read, but that didn’t mean it lacked any of the detail I usually find in longer novels.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow is a tale of two best friends (and basically sisters), Tavia and Effie, who struggle with both typical high school drama and siren related drama. There is a whimsical blend of mythos and reality that I really enjoyed, especially sense it brought up mythical creatures that I don’t think I have seen often in past books that I have read. Usually I get a little bored when a character goes on constant thought spirals in between dialogue, but every spiral had something insightful to add to the narrative, so I thoroughly enjoyed those bits.

Warning: The rest of this review may contain spoilers…

Here is a little bit about the book:

Art by Alex Cabal

Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

Here is what I loved most about this book: The magic and the self acceptance. Magic is something interwoven with modern society in this novel, and I absolutely love it.

A Modern Twist on Mythos

First of all, that gargoyle? Amazing. There are some wonderful twists that involve this stone character, and I highly recommend reading this novel if you’re wondering about what exactly those twists are. (Minor spoiler: The gargoyle isn’t who you think they are…)

Next on the mythos list, the siren. Sirens are hated and feared, which makes it hard for Tavia to truly be herself. A sirens voice holds power, and the people are afraid of it. It is seen as an excuse to paint a victim of murder as a villain despite the lack of evidence. This is part of the main conflict that Tavia faces because after her favorite social media influencer comes out to announce that they are a siren, which furthers the tension between Tavia and her father.

Lastly, there is the true form of Effie. I won’t spoil that because it was so much fun to see the little clues throughout the novel, which elude to the big twist at the end. The big reveal is one of my favorite parts of this novel and it definitely tops the cute dialogue between Tavia and the gargoyle.

Self Acceptance

There isn’t much for me to say about this particular part, except that I adore seeing these two girls grow throughout the novel. The ending is honestly just the beginning of the sisters’ story, and I think that is the perfect way to end it.

Here is my rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Lily has no bad angles 🙂

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – A Book Review

With the Coronavirus continuing its world tour, a road trip is the last thing you want to embark on. Lucky for you, my dear reader, Wayward Son incorporates an exciting (and very dangerous) road trip across the US to visit an old friend! It’s also perfect for your pride reading list if you are looking to add any last minute reads for the month of June.

This book is absolutely adorable, and I can’t wait to dig deeper into what I loved about this second novel in the Simon Snow series.

Warning: The rest of this review may contain spoilers…

Here is a little bit about the book:

Cover illustration by Kevin Wada

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun.

The main things I would like to cover about this book is three things: The relationship between Simon and Baz, the insane vampire cult, and the slightly annoying ending that made me throw the book down in frustration (don’t worry, this wasn’t a negative reaction, I promise).

A Crumbling Relationship

Throughout the entire novel, Baz and Simon struggle to grasp where they are at in their relationship and if it is going to end. The action continuously pulls them back to each other, but it leaves them wondering why they are unable to remain that passionate for each other when they aren’t fighting for their lives.

This inner turmoil they both face was interesting to read and is one of my favorite parts of this novel. It explores what happens after the “happily ever after” moment that occurs at the end of the first novel. This conflict between the two is never resolved, so I hope that this remains a major part of the third novel.

Oh, by the way, there’s a vampire cult

Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend, finds herself on a retreat that is being run by a group of vampires that are looking to acquire the abilities that the magicians hold. This adds yet another layer to the action and I enjoyed theorizing about this mysterious cult, which goes by the name of NowNext. With the way this book ends (which I will get to in a minute), I wonder if these vampires will continue to pose a threat to Simon and his crew of mages. Despite NowNext’s apparent defeat at the end, there could still be some villains leftover to wreak more havoc.

The ending tore my heart out

Now nothing insanely dramatic happened at the end (I won’t spoil that for you, don’t worry), but it felt so abrupt that I couldn’t help but drop the book wonder what I just spent so much time reading. It wasn’t a deal breaker for me, but it still hurt when I realized just how long I would have to wait for the story to continue.

As an avid reader for most of my life, endings like these are not new, and yet they never fail to make me cry out in frustration. Mild spoiler: It’s a very cliche cliffhanger and I’m not a patient person, so that is why it hurts me.

Here is my rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Lily and I will be impatiently waiting for Anywhere The Wind Blows….

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender – A Book Review

As someone who is still questioning their own identity, this book was very helpful with accepting and loving myself. I’ve been called things that, to this day, still sting, so I very much enjoyed the discussion of different identities that this book brings up. Felix Ever After is probably number one in my list of favorite reads for 2020 (there’s still time for it to be dethroned, but I honestly doubt that will happen).

Warning: this review may contain spoilers…

Here is a little bit about the book:

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

There is so much that I loved about this book, that is impossible for me to cover every single thing in this review. From the romance, the self discovery, and the rollercoaster of emotions that I felt while reading this – there was nothing that I disliked about it.

The sort-of love triangle that leads to self-discovery

Felix falls for both his best friend, and his enemy. He misjudges those relationships throughout the novel, and it results in many awkward conversations and a bit of social distancing from the two guys he is crushing on. It forces Felix to rely on himself alone for validation, and it helps him to find out how to love himself. Another thing it helps him with is this “niggling” that persists throughout the novel, which causes Felix to second guess his identity.

One major conflict for Felix is his portfolio, which he struggles to find a theme for. After the temporary loss of his best friend, Felix loses himself in self portraits. The description of each one captivated me, and it honestly brought me to tears to read about how happy Felix felt when he lost himself in his painting.

Don’t get me started on the emotional rollercoaster that is this book…

Felix Ever After will you have you laughing one second and then crying to next. If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. It’s just such a cute romance between Felix and Ezra, and the growth of each character is just so beautiful. I was so happy that Felix was able to really love himself and his identity before he figured out his relationship with Ezra, which I think is an important message to give to the youth. Self confidence is something that I struggled with a lot while growing up, so I think middle school me would have benefited a lot from this book.

Here is my rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thank you for reading this review! If you’ve read this novel too, feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments! I enjoy seeing other’s points of views on what I have read.

I’ve got plenty more reviews on the way, so feel free to follow my blog to be notified about any new posts!

Lily gives Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender a 6/5!!

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager – A Book Review

I was very excited to read Riley Sager’s latest thriller, and this one did not disappoint. It was nearly impossible to put this book down. If it wasn’t for Lily’s insistence at getting fed exactly at 6am in the morning and 5pm at night, I would have completely ignored my daily routine to finish this novel.

Before I get into the full review, I would like to apologize for my absence. My university switched to online early in March, and with that switch came the loss of my job at the library. It’s been a struggle to deal with my depression during this time of isolation (especially when all of the cats in the house get very ill and need around the clock care), but I have finally gotten back on my feet and have been using this newfound free time to work even more on writing my first novel!

Warning: This review may contain spoilers…

Here is a little bit about the book:

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into Baneberry Hall, a rambling Victorian estate in the Vermont woods. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a nonfiction book called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon, rivaling The Amityville Horror in popularity—and skepticism.

Today, Maggie is a restorer of old homes and too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she also doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist. When Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall after her father’s death, she returns to renovate the place to prepare it for sale. But her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the past, chronicled in House of Horrors, lurk in the shadows. And locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous thanks to Maggie’s father. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself—a place filled with relics from another era that hint at a history of dark deeds. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of her father’s book, she starts to believe that what he wrote was more fact than fiction.

The main thing to note about this novel is the use of a book within a book, which is used to switch between Maggie Holt and her father. Maggie’s sections of the novel are spent trying to find out the truth of what happened the night her family fled the Baneberry Hall. Her father’s sections are told through a novel that he wrote about their time in the supposedly haunted house, titled House of Horrors. While her father’s tale is mostly fiction, there are sprinkles of truth that Maggie discovers when she returns to Baneberry Hall after the death of her father.

Ewan, Maggie’s father, narrates House of Horrors. Each spine-chilling event is then mirrored in some way in Maggie’s return to Baneberry Hall. I found this to be one of my favorite parts of the novel, because it showed how despite Maggie’s disdain for her father and the book he wrote, Maggie herself was much like her father. She too fell into the history of Baneberry Hall and found herself losing touch of reality.

I spent a lot of my childhood religiously reading all sorts of ghost stories, so I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter of House of Horrors. Maggie’s POV, on the other hand, took a more logical look at the so-called paranormal activity of Baneberry Hall. I myself do not believe in the supernatural, so I did enjoy everything being debunked. In order to not spoil major parts of the novel, I won’t be going into exact details of the mysteries being debunked.

While the ending was definitely a twist, I wasn’t very shocked by it like I was hoping. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ve read so many thrillers now and with the english classes I have been taking, I notice that I pay a lot more attention to details in the narrative. It was because of this that I was able to form some theories as I read and it also helped that I took notes whenever I read what I thought could be a clue as to how the book would end.

This is definitely a book I would recommend if you’re looking for a thriller that incorporates supernatural elements. I wouldn’t go into this book expecting any actual paranormal activities to take place, and my advice is the same with every thriller: everyone is a suspect, even the most minor of characters.

Here is my rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you for reading this review! If you’ve read this novel too, feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments! I enjoy seeing other’s points of views on what I have read.

I’ve got plenty more review on the way, so feel free to follow my blog to be notified about any new posts!

Just a casual photo of Lily being cute to end this review…

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I loved every minute of this book and I can definitely see myself buying my own copy in the future. It was beautifully written and impossible to put down.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers.

Here is a little bit about the book:

38746485 An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States.

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. 

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

What I enjoyed the most in this novel was Michelle’s writing. Her voice shone through and I loved how personal and real it was. She acknowledged that living in the white house was a privilege and talked about the perks that came with it, but she also talked about the negative aspects of being First Lady. I didn’t think it was possible for me to admire her more than I already do, but this novel proved me wrong.

My favorite part out of the entire book was when Michelle was told that she wasn’t Princeton material, but instead of listening and going for a different school, she continued to work harder until she got accepted to Princeton despite what her counselor said. It really inspired me to work even harder to achieve my goals despite how impossible it feels. She proved that anything is possible, and I’m thankful for that.

I was hooked throughout the entire novel, and I found it nearly impossible to put down (Sadly, the real world took priority). It’s down to earth and relatable, which I enjoyed immensely.

There isn’t anything that I disliked about this book. I’m not a huge fan of politics, so it was great to read that Michelle felt the same. It was fast-paced and never boring. Michelle has a way with words, and her amazing personality shines through them throughout this wonderful read.

There isn’t much left for me to say about this book other than I highly recommend this book. It’s amazing and I look forward to rereading it many times in the future.


Rating: 6/5

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