Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
Publication Date: April 21, 2005
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre:
Adult Fantasy
Rating:
5 Stars
Audio Narration:
5 Stars
Steam Level: 🔥

Elantris (Elantris, #1)

Synopsis:

Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod. Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling.

Arelon’s new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris. Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping — based on their correspondence — to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.


DISCLAIMER:
This book was bought by me, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


NON SPOILERY REVIEW

Not that anyone is surprised, but I loved this book. This is Brandon Sanderson’s first published work and I love how different it is from his other novels. This book focuses primarily on political intrigue rather than the magic system (which I found so interesting and would love to learn more). I loved the reimagined idea of zombies! Elantris is within the Cosmere so it’s an important book to read!

This book is driven by the characters. While there is a lot of world building, the plot/characters are what really bring this story together. Raoden is the biggest cinnamon roll of all time, Sarene is such a strong, fierce, intelligent woman, and Hrathen is… well.. you’ll find out! The mystery surrounding what happened to Elantris will keep you turning page after page. Although like many of Sanderson’s work, this book does not focus on romance, but it does have a star-crossed lovers trope going on (that trope is my favorite!) The relationship between Raoden and Sarene is just so sweet and genuine and they’ve never even met.

If you haven’t read Sanderson yet and are wanting to dip your toes into an adult fantasy, this or Warbreaker is a good place to start!

This book is available now at most book retailers, in store or online! Brandon Sanderson’s next book in the Cosmere, Stormlight 4 (untitled at the moment) arrives November 2020 and is available for preorder!

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Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Audio Narration: 4 Stars
Steam Level: 🔥🔥

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but in fact, she’s one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. Varin runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.


DISCLAIMER:
This book was gifted from PenguinTeen as a gift due to Four Dead Queens being nominated for a GoodChoice GoodReads Award! This in no way impacts my review; all opinions are my own.


NON SPOILERY REVIEW

Wow! This standalone book totally swept me away! I haven’t read a royal fantasy in a while and it really took me by surprise!

I was intrigued by the mystery surrounding the murder of the four Queens and the story of Keralie, the thief entangled in the murders front the get go! This book was fast paced and kept my attention chapter after chapter. Some of the twists I never even saw coming! I listened via audio and I absolutely loved the narrators; they did a phenomenal job and brought the characters to life! I really enjoyed the romance as well. I think the story could have functioned well without it, so what we did get was cute and exciting!

I think it’s important as an adult reader to meet books where they are. I am rating this book as if I were 16 years old, and my teenage self would have LOVED this book (my adult self does too!) There are some moments of more mature content but nothing I wouldn’t let a young teen read!

This book is available now at most book retailers, in store or online! Astrid Scholte’s new book THE VANISHING DEEP arrives March 3rd, 2020 and is available for preorder!

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Wild Wednesday – WWW

 

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and brought back by Taking on a World of Words.

Rules are to just answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading: Well Met by Jen DeLuca
This book is CUTE. I am only a few chapters in and I am such a sucker for those steamy, adult romcoms! I’ve already found myself laughing. It’s giving me Fix Her Up vibes with it’s character driven, spicy romance that I am a sucker for!

Recently finished: The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland
This book was on my radar because again.. sucker for fast, cute romance! It was a free audible membership listen for December!  This was an enjoyable fast paced Christmas novella and is definitely an adult read in language and content! I really enjoyed the characters and I already miss them! This was perfect for my desire to read a little holiday book!

Overall Story : ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨
Characters: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Steam Level: 🔥🔥
Audio Narrators: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reading Next: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
This book was sent to me by my friend Erin (IG: @story_hoarder). Her and I send each other books and ARCs to read and she said this one would be perfect for me! I am so excited to finish up Well Met to start on this one! Here is the synopsis from GoodReads!

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.”




I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday and get a lot of reading done!

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Topic Tuesday – Hype Disappointments and Ratings

Today for Topic Tuesday I want to talk about some of the books that just didn’t live up to the hype for me and how I rate them. I feel like people think that Goodreads is the place to tell everyone how you feel personally when really we should be focusing mostly on critically – the characters, the plot, the setting… it drives me crazy when someone KNOWS they don’t like this author, or this genre and they rate the book poorly. “I don’t like adult romance so 1 star.” Like ? Why are you even reading it? Just say, “not for me,” and don’t rate it because you didn’t really give it a fair chance because you already didn’t like it!

I don’t believe that it’s fair for us to also rate books that are for an audience that isn’t for us poorly.  I’m a 31 year old, I’m not middle grade, or YA so when I rate a YA book and it’s too juvenile, I rate it as if I were that age. How would I feel back then? I see people on Goodreads reviewing books like City of Ghosts saying its too young and giving it 3 or less stars. Excuse me?!

I’m not trying to make this a negative Nancy post but I do think it’s important that we are honest with ourselves and our audience. I think we need to remember that authors are people to and we can’t bash them or rate their books poorly if we read it when it wasn’t marketed towards us. So with that being said, here are some books that for me, critically and personally, did not live up to the hype regardless of the issues listed above.


  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – There are so many problematic themes in this book just for the sake of being problematic. I have zero interest in reading TWK and QoN.
  • After by Anna Todd – Again, problematic and abusive themes that don’t really get addressed… it’s romanticized.
  • The Mortal Instruments by Cassie Clare – Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE THE INFERNAL DEVICES, but I cannot get into TMI. I’ve tried multiple times. I think the writing is poor and there is a weird taboo relationship theme going on here.
  • Dark Age by Pierce Brown – I am so beyond disappointed in this book. I was bored for so much of it. This adult scifi definitely needed some more meat.
  • The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young – Another book that felt like it had zero plot. I didn’t connect to any of the characters.
  • The Fever King by Victoria Lee – This book was just all around bad. It was promoted as a YA scifi/fantasy but I wouldn’t want my young teen kids to read this. The inappropriate language was flippant and unnecessary and seemed to be there for show. The plot had mega holes.

Now, although these books didn’t work for me personally or critically, that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you! I am a FIRM believer in people reading, no book should be shamed (unless it’s ridiculous… yall know what I mean), so if The Cruel Prince makes you happy, I’M HAPPY FOR YOU! I want you to be excited and to celebrate reading in any capacity!

I’m back posting this because I forgot to publish it yesterday LOL!

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Rules for Vanishing – Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 24th, 2019
Genre: YA Paranormal/Horror
Rating: 3 Stars… maybe

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Synopsis:

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.


DISCLAIMER:
This book was borrowed from the library. All thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

Rules for Vanishing is the first “scary” book I’ve tried reading since I decided to try The Cabin at the End of the World. I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep and I began reading.

Honestly, I felt like the first 30% of the book was amazing. I loved the different format of this book, set with narrated video surveillance,  documents, text messages, voice recordings… the build up of this story kept me petrified in bed. Every noise that this old house made scared me so much that I almost couldn’t sleep.

The main characters begin their journey to find Sara’s sister, Becca. Once they reach the road and go through their first few obstacles, that’s where the story ended for me. I felt like the suspense just drifted away – no longer keeping me locked in a state of panic. Things were somewhat predictable, the “horror” wasn’t horror to me… I just felt bored. This book had so much potential for me and I feel like if I were 13 or 14 this book would ruin me! But, I am 31, definitely not a young adult anymore and we have to remember these things as we rate and review books.

Does this book work for YOUNG adults/teens? Yes!
Does this book work for me as an adult? No.

And that’s okay! I wish the author would have spread out some of the real horror she packed into the beginning of this book. The last part just fell flat for me!

This book is available now at most book retailers, in store or online!

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The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: March 12th, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars

The Near Witch

Synopsis:

The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.

If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company.

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life.

But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.

As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy.


DISCLAIMER:
This book was purchase by me. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


REVIEW

Alright y’all… this might be the first book from Schwab that I actually am not super impressed by. I realize that this book went out of print and I realize that this was her first novel… but to be honest, I think this would have worked better for my mind as a middle grade read. I think labeling it as YA just doesn’t suit the book and actually makes my opinion on it less favorable.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a 3 star – which to me is a decent book. It’s likable, the plot moves forward, there’s aspects of the story I enjoyed… but it was just missing something. Everyone says it’s “atmospheric” but honestly that’s where it stops. There’s the town Near in which kids go missing, there’s the Moor.. and that’s  about where the story ends.

Lexi and Cole were characters who felt one dimensional – I found a hard time caring about them and their mission. The romance felt meh, honestly not even necessary to me. I pushed through because I wanted to know more about the story and I did enjoy the ending because the action picks up.

I will say, the audiobook is AWFUL. I’m a huge audiobooker and it was so weird. The narrator kept putting inflection on the last word and had this strange AF tone. She was supposed to be portraying a young woman but sounded so old. I don’t know, I think that may have had an impact on my reading experience and how much I enjoyed this book.

I think it would be a perfect spooky read for middle school! So if you have a child who likes spooky but wants to be able to sleep at night, this is a good one for that!

This book is available for now at most book retailers, in store or online!

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14th, 2019
Genre: Adult Fiction/Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

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Synopsis:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.


DISCLAIMER:
This book was purchase by me. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


REVIEW

People had been telling me to read this book FOR-EVER! I mean, every time I was looking for a rec for adult contemporary they’d tell me to read this. I am so glad I did.

This book is HILARIOUS. I have not laughed so hard during a book in so long. The writing style is perfect and sounds like real conversations people would have. The hate-to-love trope is one of my favorites (except for bully romance). The main characters are totally likable and I cannot stop thinking about it.

I first read the e-book and then I listened to the audio. The audio made this book come to life and made all of the jokes 10x funnier! Olive and Ethan get into some prime shenanigans and the *villain* is someone you wouldn’t expect. I was all over the place with this book.

I really wish there was more steam though. This book is perfect if you’re looking for steam but not the smut! I also didn’t super love the conflict part – I was so angry and I felt like it actually just could have done without that and it still be an enjoyable book!

This book is available for now at most book retailers, in store or online!

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Soulwalkers by Cassidy Thomas

Soulwalkers by Cassidy Thomas
Publisher: Little Big Books
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2019
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis:

Kia LaStrauss can see into your soul with the touch of her hand. She can see your fears, desires, wants. She can see your past. Your present. Your future. She is a Soulwalker. 

New Orleans is the city Kia calls home: a city of revelry, jazz, wonder, and magic. She grew up listening to stories of magic and mysticism, but they were just stories… or so she thought. After experiencing two visions of the future, Kia learns of the existence of Soulwalkers, and that she is one of them. With the help of her mentor Ian, she begins to learn what she is capable of, and the consequences of her newfound power. But even Ian cannot prepare her for what she will discover. 

Kia is thrown into a world once unimaginable, where the touch of a hand could kill her and every new discovery can change the course of her life forever. 


DISCLAIMER:
Thank you Cassidy Thomas for this free finished copy to read and review. This is no way shapes my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

I really enjoyed this YA urban fantasy! I love stories that center in New Orleans because the world-building is always so rich. Within this world, we have Soulwalkers, people who can see your soul with a touch… however, there is a balance to this magic system. This adds a level of stress to this ability, throwing me for a loop when you learn about Kia’s first walk. This book explores more magic than soul walking but I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprises! This book has many twists and turns, some totally unexpected! This is a super quick, exciting read and I would recommend this to anyone who likes books you can devour in a sitting!

I liked the multiple points of view as I’m always wondering what everyone is thinking other than the MC. It just gives a book more depth to me.

***could be considered spoilery***

I enjoyed the romance aspect as I’m a total romance sucker. The only thing I think can be worked upon is the term of endearment. Ian would call Kia kid when they had a “mentor/student,” relationship but once it was more it seemed a bit demeaning. Calling the person you’re interested in as “kid,” isn’t for me, but honestly I think it could just be my own opinion! Other than that, I was totally rooting for the characters!

This book is available for preorder on Amazon and will be available 12/3!

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Wild Wednesday – WWW!

This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and brought back by Taking on a World of Words.

Rules are to just answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently reading: Soulwalkers by Cassidy Thomas
This book is an urban fantasy set in New Orleans! Kia learns that she is a Soulwalker; she can see the past, present, future, hopes, wants, dreams, etc in a person’s soul… but that doesn’t mean anything is set in stone. I am about halfway through and I am enjoying it! I really like the setting as I love NOLA! We don’t have enough stories written in that place. I am already finding myself attached to some of the characters but I have a feeling the author is not going to give us much mercy! This hits the shelves December 3rd, 2019 and you can pre-order the Kindle edition right now for $1.99!

Recently finished: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
The Wicked Deep is a story about three sisters who were drowned after being accused of being witches. The sisters posses the body of young women in the town and lure men to their death by drowning as revenge for what happened to them. This book has plot twists all over the place and it was perfectly witchy for October. I wrote about some of the problematic themes in my Tuesday post but other than that, I felt like it was a decent read! Solid 3.5!

Reading Next: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
I’ve been seeing this book around Bookstagram for a while now so I think it’s time for me to dig in.

Synopsis:
Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life


I hope everyone had a marvelous Wednesday! Tomorrow I’ll be talking about some of the upcoming releases I am excited for!

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Topic Tuesday – Problematic Themes in Literature

Hellllllo everyone! I hope everyone is having an amazing Tuesday! I had to wait until nap time before I could jump on! Below is a triggering topic, so if you are triggered and upset easily, please do not continue reading. I want my blog to be a safe space for everyone! It’s going to be a doozy!


After reading The Wicked Deep, I wanted to talk about problematic themes in literature. Now, I’m not one to get offended easily. I have gone through a fair amount of trauma in my past, which I am very open out; thankfully for me not a lot triggers me into panic. However, there are some topics that make people upset. There are many problematic themes like violence against women, rape, abusive partners that make it into our books.

I for one do not like reading Bully Romance, which is a huge reason as to why I did not like the After series. The reason why I don’t like it is not because of the topic itself, but it’s because sometimes those themes do not serve as a vehicle for the plot. Sometimes these characters are just shitty to be shitty and I can’t stand behind that. With books like The Cruel Prince, Jude and Cardan are SO MEAN to each other and there really isn’t much reason for it other than to be a dick (in my opinion, don’t @ me LOL). In After, Harden and what’s her face (I forgot already), were abusive to each other and then they would make up and then everyone would just gloss over it. They would have intense sex and then all is forgiven until they are screaming at each other in public and emotionally manipulating each other. That is NOT okay for me.

What I mean for a problematic theme to be a vehicle for the plot, is that it has to be addressed in some way and have a meaningful impact on those characters. There are many books out there that talk about race and prejudice and we see those characters go through some tough stuff, but it gets resolved. Someone learns something from it. The aggressor realizes that it’s NOT okay to behave this way. Most of the time, especially in YA literature, we don’t see it addressed – everyone just sweeps it under the rug.

Now to The Wicked Deep. If you haven’t read it, don’t read this paragraph as I will be discussing spoilers. The Wicked Deep is about the spirit of 3 dead sister witches who inhabit the body of girls and lure boys to their death out of revenge from their drowning. Penny, the main character, has what I believe is sex with the main love interest, Bo. Later on it is revealed that it is a sister witch, Hazel, inhabiting her body and she used Penny’s body to get close to Bo. The author literally swept this under the rug. No one even talked about how fucked up that was, not even Bo! Hazel says, please don’t tell Penny what happened, I will leave the good memories for her. Like ? Then we are not told if Bo reveals the truth, which I’m sure he doesn’t since the ending he’s still obsessed with Hazel even though he’s with the real Penny.

That is rape you guys. Penny did not consent to this. It doesn’t matter that she was unaware and that a witch possessed her. It doesn’t matter that Hazel left the “good memories.” Penny could not consent. I am not pointing all of the blame on Bo as he did not know at the time, but I do think it was his responsibility to tell her the truth once he knew and she was Penny again. I had a long conversation with Kibby (www.somethingofthebook.com IG: @somethingofthebook) about how wrong this, in fact she’s the one who initially brought it up and I was like wait no, wtf, I didn’t even think of this!

If the author were to have made Bo reveal what happened and discussed how wrong that was even for a freaking paragraph, I would be singing a different tune. This is how we perpetuate rape culture. It is NOT cute that Bo and Penny are now together and Hazel is a ghost in the wind still whispering she loves him. NO! It’s like Bo got to have his cake and eat it too (thank you Kat IG: @kathardistywrites for this phrasing because it’s PERFECT).

Don’t get me wrong, I still think this is an enjoyable book, but those things need to be fixed. We cannot keep sweeping these problematic themes under the rug. They have to be there for a reason, it has to drive the plot forward. I heard people are boycotting Ninth House because of a problematic theme but then from others I hear it’s addressed in the story. It’s okay to have traumatic events in book! What’s not okay is acting like it’s normal and not discussing the issue for those characters and for the readers.


Well,  thank you all for reading my rant if you’ve made it this far! How do you view problematic themes in literature?

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