Original picture by Brenda Godinez
I feel like I've been an absolutely sucky blogger lately, presenting tons of mini reviews posts and such, BUT I CAN EXPLAIN. In the past two months I've read tons and tons of amazing books and I want to talk about ALL of them, especially the more underrated ones like the following three novels, so it's been hard to concentrate on full reviews.
I also know damn well I'll never have the time to write full reviews to all the books I want y'all to hear about, so mini reviews it is for today's three beauties. I brought you these three books in particular, because a) they were fantastic (duh), b) I only ever heard about one of these outside of twitter, so the rest might be new for those who aren't really active there and c) THEY ARE SO UNDERRATED AND THEY DESERVE ALL THE LOVE.
As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South—to spy for the Union Army.
Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton's Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet—risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause—and an undeniable attraction—Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy's favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost—even if it means losing each other . . .
Add on Goodreads.
Add on Goodreads.
This book, y'all, this book was amazing. It was my first book by Alyssa Cole, but it certainly won't be my last, because she's an incredibly talented writer, skilled at making her readers feel what her characters are feeling.
Reading about the American Civil War, about the mistreatment of black people was incredibly heartbreaking and angering, especially considering that black people - as well as other minorities - to this day, face oppression. This book showcases why #ownvoices novels are so very important, I don't believe a non-black person would have been able to create such a raw and honest story centering around the Civil War.
Elle was one hell of a protagonist, one of my favorite of this year for sure. She was incredibly brave and so so SO strong. I think, many times we associate strength with physical strength - which she did have to a certain capacity - but being strong is so so much more than that. Day after day, Elle was hurt, degraded and treated as nothing, but she kept on working towards her goal: to help create a country where people aren't enslaved, aren't unequal because of their skin color. She was fierce, incredibly smart and loyal - someone you definitely want on your side. Someone you wish the best for, because she was so pure at heart despite everything that she went through.
The romance was also well-written - Elle and Malcolm had fantastic chemistry and I loved to see that Malcolm would have never pushed Elle, he waited until she was ready to be with him. They formed one hell of a pair, and I'd actually love to see them appear in the future books to get a glimpse of what they're up to.
The one problem I had was that the writing didn't grab me, which resulted in the book not 1000% grabbing my attention for a while at the beginning. BUT!!! this might be on me for 2 reasons: 1) I read this for the 24 in 48 challenge and this was the point where I was honestly just so tired of reading itself, and 2) I rarely rate books with 3rd person point of view 5 stars, I've always preferred 1st person. Because of this, I definitely plan to reread this one before the sequel comes out/I pick it up to see if it really was just my mood.
Until then, it is 4 bright starts for this diverse HF novel with one of THE strongest heroines of all time.
Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.
With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.
Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?
To tell you the truth, I originally wasn't very interested in Want. I mean, it sounded cool, but I've never been that much into Sci-Fi, so I usually need a bit of a push to give a chance to any book from this genre. That push came when I saw people praise the author for creating this super-amazing, tight-knit group of friends and a freaking realistic futuristic setting/world -Taipei, to be exact. YOU GUYS WERE ALL RIGHT!! All of that is true.
The world-building was scarily realistic, because we're pretty much going into this direction already. In Want people need to wear special suits, so they can breath clean air all through the day, and won't die before the age of 40. Of course, only the wealthy people can afford this, who don't give two shits about the less fortunate dying before their eyes. Those who could do something about stopping further pollution won't, because that wouldn't be good for business... I mean, is that not realistic??
The plot, as you could probably guess from the blurb, is very heist-y, as Jason and his friends set out to literally destroy the main factory of Jin Corp. Because of this, the plot is incredibly fast-paced, full of action and excitement, evened out by breaks to further develop the characters and their relationships.
Speaking of the characters, Zhou's group of friends was #squadgoals all around. They all had their unique set of skills to add to the group and worked together so well. One tiny problem, though - they were so fantastic they actually outshone Zhou for me. I mean, he was really nice and he was very complex in many ways, but he was kind of the most boring in his friend group?? (I'm sorry Zhou, truly.)
Lingyi and Iris were easily my favorites - they were so damn cute together - I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP ANY DAY. I loved them on their own AND together, as well, and they had this one scene in particular that just made my heart burst. Basically, I'll read an entire series about these girls, because they were goals.
Another of my favorites was Victor who was kind of quiet and serious, but he would have your back like the amazing friend he was if need be. He actually used to date Lingyi before she got together with Iris, and he still isn't 100% over her, but he's so precious and he roots for them and wants the best for them and aww, Victor was fantastic. He is also the one you go for fashion advice, because he knows how to dress dammit.
As for the main romance - I liked Daiyu for sure, buuuut I didn't like the romance. It was just so boring, and, for me, hard to believe that Zhou, someone who despised the rich, would fall for Daiyu so soon. Also, I don't believe that from all rich people all around the world Daiyu was THE ONLY ONE who cared about the poor. If everyone is so horrible - which, fine, I'd actually believe, because people can be horrible in real life - than why was she the only one who was still good??? Especially with the kind of upbringing she had... that was super-hard to believe.
That said, Want is a freaking important book to read, especially today when some people choose to ignore the damage we are causing the environment every single day. It is a book that will start important discussions, that raises questions that need to be asked without ever sounding preachy. As a strong 4 star read I'd 100% recommend it.
Jay na Thalang is a demanding, driven genius. He doesn’t know how to stop or even slow down. The instant he lays eyes on Maria Lopez, he knows that she is a sexy distraction he can’t afford. He’s done his best to keep her at arm’s length, and he’s succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
Maria has always been cautious. Now that her once-tiny, apocalypse-centered blog is hitting the mainstream, she’s even more careful about preserving her online anonymity. She hasn’t sent so much as a picture to the commenter she’s interacted with for eighteen months—not even after emails, hour-long chats, and a friendship that is slowly turning into more. Maybe one day, they’ll meet and see what happens.
But unbeknownst to them both, Jay is Maria’s commenter. They’ve already met. They already hate each other. And two determined enemies are about to discover that they’ve been secretly falling in love…
I've wrote a mini review about Courtney Milan's Hold Me a few weeks ago, so you guys might know that I fell in love with her story-telling skills back then, and was very much looking forward to Hold Me. Maria, a trans woman, who we've gotten to know in Hold Me as Tina's best friend and roommate is the main character in this one, and boy, did she make me want her to be my real life friend.
Maria was every bit of a girly girl and she was proud of it dammit, she would NOT let anyone bring her down and make her feel bad about herself. Literally all through Hold Me I was in AWE of Maria - she went through some horrible shit, but she didn't let that ruin her life. And when people judged her for caring about her looks, SHE DIDN'T GIVE A SHIT, BECAUSE IT MADE HER HAPPY AND IT'S HER BODY. And seriously, why would you judge someone for their appearance?? FUCK YOU IF YOU DO.
Jay, the hero made me so fucking mad I was raging. He assumed he "knew" Maria because of the way she looked, and I wanted to slap the shit out of him for the way he treated her. BUT THEN he developed so freaking much, and realized just how freaking wrong he was for judging women based on their looks, he admitted to being wrong and apologized, WITHOUT bringing up any excuses for the way he behaved EVEN IF HE DID HAVE SOME. But he realized they didn't matter, because he hurt Maria, and he could have easily hurt other women with his prejudices, as well.
All I can say is that Courtney Milan has done it again! 5 stars AND one of my all time favorite books of ever. She's one hell of a writer, and I'm SO READY to read all her books in chronological order.
Have you read any of these? Did I make you want to read them?? What's your favorite underrated diverse novel?