Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Rating: ★★★★

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Review:

Thank you to Melissa Bashardoust, NetGalley & MacMillan Audio for a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

I was thoroughly shocked that I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. I am not a fantasy lover, but I really loved this story. There was a lot going on, but I’ll tell you, I think the narrator of this audiobook was the biggest reason why I loved it so much.

This was the first Melissa Bashardoust novel that I’ve read. I feel like the synopsis says as much as it can without giving anything away, but I will still blown away by her writing. As I was reading, I feel like this was either a two-story book or a trilogy wrapped into one book. The main reason why I gave this story a 4-star rating instead of 5-stars is because it was paced a little slow. In the beginning, I had a harder time getting into it, but as I listened on, there were plenty of interesting things going on.

There were a lot of things that will test your emotions in this novel. Between Soraya’s battles and the love story behind the main trope, you’re going to be wondering how everything fit so perfectly together. It was truly spectacular to be able to keep up with everything that was going on because of the writing and how everything meshed together so well. If this were to be turned into a movie, I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

“Sometimes the princess is a monster.”

Now, onto the narrator of the audiobook. I received this as a part of NetGalley moving into audiobooks from MacMillan Audio. The narrator, Nikki Massoud, truly made this story come to life while listening to it. She made those twists and turns in this novel really amazing with her voice and it sounded like I was watching a tv show versus listening to an audiobook. I will gladly listen to all of the books that Nikki Massoud has narrated.

Overall, this book was very good and I recommend it to be picked up if you haven’t yet. It was recently listed as a 2020 Best of Goodreads nominee and that is all the more reason to get this book. If I could possibly recommend, if you’re an audiobook lover, definitely listen to it!

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating:
★★★

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Review:

Thank you Hannah Orenstein, Atria Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

As a former gymnast, I was very excited to read this book. When I say former gymnast, I mean when I was 5 and had all of the aspirations of being an Olympian one day. Obviously, that never happened, but I was very into the idea of this kind of book. A romance mixed with a gymnastics twist? Sign me up.

This was my first Hannah Orenstein novel and I enjoyed it. There were some things about the writing that I was a little bit unsure of, but it overall was a cute story.

The story was a overtaken with gymnastics. I love gymnastics, but that was really the main focus of this novel. I am a romance novel lover, and I was looking forward to having the romance surrounding the gymnastics since that’s what this book was classified as. There was a hard time with me trying to merge the two plots of gymnastics and romance.

I appreciated the hard sides of gymnastics and reading about how hard it is to become an Olympian. I liked reading about the different characters and how interesting their lives with gymnastics was.

I also appreciated Hannah Orenstein including harsh topics like depression from losing a dream and the issues that come from emotional abuse from a relationship. I think that this was a very important part of this novel.

Overall, this novel was pretty good. I gave it a 3 star rating because it was right in the middle for me. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t terrible. I would consider this book more of a contemporary fiction, not a contemporary romance. If you like gymnastics, I’d definitely pick this one up.

October 2020 Reads

I read 5 books in October! I enjoyed most of them and I’m excited for what November will bring! I didn’t have any 5 star ratings this month.

  • Winning My Best Friend’s Girl by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #8)
  • Rules for Dating Your Ex by Piper Rayne (The Baileys #9)
  • On the Rocks by Aria Cole
  • Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
  • In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Heart Bones by Colleen Hoover

Publication Date: August 19, 2020
Publisher: Hoover Ink, Inc.
Rating:
★★★★★

Life and a dismal last name are the only two things Beyah Grim’s parents ever gave her. After carving her path all on her own, Beyah is well on her way to bigger and better things, thanks to no one but herself.

With only two short months separating her from the future she’s built and the past she desperately wants to leave behind, an unexpected death leaves Beyah with no place to go during the interim. Forced to reach out to her last resort, Beyah has to spend the remainder of her summer on a peninsula in Texas with a father she barely knows. Beyah’s plan is to keep her head down and let the summer slip by seamlessly, but her new neighbor Samson throws a wrench in that plan.

Samson and Beyah have nothing in common on the surface.

She comes from a life of poverty and neglect; he comes from a family of wealth and privilege. But one thing they do have in common is that they’re both drawn to sad things. Which means they’re drawn to each other. With an almost immediate connection too intense for them to continue denying, Beyah and Samson agree to stay in the shallow end of a summer fling. What Beyah doesn’t realize is that a rip current is coming, and it’s about to drag her heart out to sea.

Review:

Every time Colleen Hoover puts out a new book, an angel gets its wings. Each and every book she has written has its own different story which makes me love her that much more.

Ever since I read my first Colleen Hoover novel, she has become one of my favorite auto-buy authors. She’s just so great with her words that I’d be confident in saying she’s my favorite author. She can write about adults, she can write about teenagers…she could write about anything and I’d still read it.

Damaged people recognize other damaged people. It’s like a club you don’t want a membership to.

This story was insane from start to finish. Beyah up and leaves her life in Kentucky and moves to a beach town in Texas with her father. She is headed out to start her life in a few short months, but until then, she just needs somewhere to stay. In the synopsis, the “unexpected death” that is referred to was absolutely shocking and heartbreaking. I felt like I was going through a loss myself. I felt for Beyah because this is such a traumatic thing, but it’s so sad how real of a life experience it was.

Samson’s character was moody and secretive. I really enjoyed the quietness of it all. You think one thing and it’s so far from the reality of their lives. It truly is a testament of “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Starting this book, I had no idea what to expect. From the first chapter, I was shook to my core. Colleen’s description of an “unexpected death” was putting it lightly. I will say that, unfortunately, too many people have seen this exact moment, and I was very moved by the way it was described. The moment wasn’t too graphic, but absolutely got the message across.

Beyah is one of my favorite characters in a book ever. She is 19 years old and is forced to grow up. We all go through difficult traumas in our lives and I connected with her through my own moments that I’ve experienced. Nineteen is still so young and I hate that things like what happened to her actually truly happens in people’s everyday lives. Beyah made this entire book just with herself. I could just learn about her and nothing else and this would’ve still gotten a five-star rating from me.

The mystery of this book was another plus for me. The way people meet, the way they are the way that they are, it’s all covertly explained. It’s shown in a way that you won’t get until you’re finished the book and you think back on it.

Samson was a whole other entity himself. Every time he would open up, I simply could not figure him out. I had no idea what was going on with him and still had no idea even towards the end. The ending surrounding him…phew I was in my FEELINGS!!

Overall, this book was phenomenal at the very least. The angst, the secrets, the romance, the ending… Colleen Hoover really hit it out of the park with Heart Bones.



The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Publication Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Rating:
★★★

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

Review:

There were many aspects of this book that I enjoyed. I am not someone who enjoys “historical” books, whether that is in the 1950s or not. However, I think this book was very “timely” and relevant to current situations. It was a story that I hadn’t heard before and that made it all the more interesting to me.

Starting in Mallard, Louisiana, we learned about the Vignes sisters, Stella and Desiree. Their main goal was to leave the town of Millard. After they did, we take a look into their separate lives as one of the sisters passes off as a different color. You see how different their lives become pretty quickly. Desiree moves back to Mallard with her daughter after leaving her abusive husband. I thought this was going to be the most significant part of this book, but then we move on from that quickly and have a plot change.

Stella’s life went different because she “passed” off as white. We see the differences pretty quickly and how significant they were. She develops a friendship with a Black family across the street, but she was so scared to be found out. You can see how her life is so complicated because she’s pretending to be someone she’s not. Personally, I think this was the best part of the book. There was a lot of switching up, but this part had the best detail and information throughout.

There was something that felt off to me in this book – and that was Jude and Reese. Reese is a transgender man who passes as a straight cis man to others. I feel like there were times where trans-passing and racial-passing were classified in the same category and I’m unsure I liked the way that made me feel when reading. This section of the book confused me quite a bit, especially when giving detail about their lives socially. I didn’t understand how the acceptance levels were portrayed in this book at all.

Overall, I think without all of the extras that this book gave me, I would’ve rated it higher. The plot being switched up multiple times wasn’t good for me and just the overall feelings I got from Reese and Jude made me rate this book lower. This was a powerful book, but definitely just not for me.