THIS VICIOUS GRACE by Emily Thiede – double review!

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?


Title : This Vicious Grace
Author : Emily Thiede
Series : The Last Finestra (book one)
Format : ARC / audio
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA fantasy romance
Publisher : Wednesday Books
Release Date : June 28, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating : ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

I wish I could say that this was bad or awful in some way because then at least I would’ve felt something for it. But instead it was just aggressively kind of monotonous and slow and boring and vague (or hard to grasp) and, finally, predictable. The last one isn’t always a bad thing but it didn’t really help when combined with the rest.

What felt, at first, like a fresh and interesting setting quickly shifted into window (hah, you’ll understand if you read this..) dressing. I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around the worldbuilding and the curse or the mythology, whatever it is, because it just didn’t get enough attention. See aforementioned window (again, snicker) dressing.

To me, this felt like the author wanted a bodyguard romance, with some magical stakes, and then built up around that. And to be fair, the main pitch I saw was Serpent & Dove (which I have not read) meets The Bodyguard. So it’s definitely a big part. And if that’s more or less all you want, I think you’ll be satisfied. But while the romance does feel stronger than the rest, it’s only relative because the weak world and (despite the pitch) complete lack of tension or high stakes around it — both in the sense that there isn’t that many times he’s needed as a guard and also in the world-ending-event stakes. It is tasty in the sense that the dude is tortured and it’s a slowburn and there’s the whole taboo “no touchy” element at play and yes it was the best part of the book but, again, it’s all relative. And I would’ve preferred equal parts of both.

While I appreciate the element added near the end when it comes to the MC trying to solve the riddle of how she might save the world, overwhelmingly the rest of the cast of characters just didn’t stand out beyond their base archetype. And, in some sense, the solve that Alessa comes up with kind of goes hand in hand with how these characters ultimately end up : interchangeable.

I won’t even go into the sibling dynamic because that infuriated me.

Also, there was a priest/religious conflict that gave me Winternight vibes but in a very try-hard watered down way (the character, not the author, I mean). I’ll be curious to see if anyone else picks up on that. But actually I think watered down is a good all-around way to describe the story. I needed more lemons, and a whole extra heaping of sugar, in this glass of lemonade.

Having said all that negative stuff, however, I will probably read on if this is a duology (please be a duology) but if it’s a trilogy.. time will tell.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
The evil saviour
Deadly touch
Connection and hugs

This Vicious Grace is a story with an Italian world at the centre. Pasta and baked goods feature but this isn’t a recognisable world we know, it is one full of grey characters, a chosen fighter in the Finestra Alessa and a daunting day of reckoning ahead.

Alessa had a deadly touch and she was matched into coupledoms with chosen individuals to leech their powers. It was a pretty sick parasitic relationship but she was forced into it. It was a sad state of affairs witnessing Alessa’s life, with no family who cared, guardians who had a job to do and no friends surrounding her. Her loneliness was palpable and sad. This made the appearance of a friend something meaningful.

The read was very ebb and flow for me. Early investment was there and it got more exciting for me when Dante appeared and from halfway. But, I didn’t feel fully into the story or the characters and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

I didn’t love This Vicious Grace but I think many will.

The narration was very good, strong execution of accents for the dialogue and that delicious Italian intro for each chapter start.

3 stars rounded up. Thank you to Hodder Books for the review copy.

KATZENJAMMER by Francesca Zappia

From acclaimed author Francesca Zappia, American Horror Story meets the dark comedy of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis as Cat searches for a way to escape her high school. Katzenjammer is a tale of family, love, tragedy, and masks—the ones others make for us, and the ones we make for ourselves. Eerie and thought-provoking, this novel will haunt fans of Chelsie Pitcher’s This Lie Will Kill You and E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars. Features illustrations by the author throughout.

Cat lives in her high school. She never leaves, and for a long time her school has provided her with everything she needs. But now things are changing. The hallways contract and expand along with the school’s breathing, and the showers in the bathroom run a bloody red. Cat’s best friend is slowly turning into cardboard, and instead of a face, Cat has a cat mask made of her own hardened flesh.

Cat doesn’t remember why she is trapped in her school or why half of them—Cat included—are slowly transforming. Escaping has always been the one impossibility in her school’s upside-down world. But to save herself from the eventual self-destruction all the students face, Cat must find the way out. And to do that, she’ll have to remember what put her there in the first place.

Told in chapters alternating between the past and the present, Francesca Zappia weaves a spine-tingling, suspenseful, and haunting story about tragedy and the power of memories. Much like the acclaimed Eliza and Her Monsters, Katzenjammer features black-and-white illustrations by the author throughout the novel. Fans of Marieke Nijkamp’s This Is Where It Ends and Karen McManus’s One of Us Is Lying will lose themselves in the pages of this novel—or maybe in the treacherous hallways of the school.


Title : Katzenjammer
Author : Francesca Zappia
Format : ARC
Page Count : 276
Genre : YA contemporary / horror / fantasy
Publisher : Greenwillow Books
Release Date : June 28, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ .5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

Welp, this decides it. I’ve gone from loving Eliza and Her Monsters, my first experience with this author, to being perplexed and uncertain of how I felt (Made You Up) to truly actively disliking everything else (Now Entering Addamsville and, of course, this one). I think Zappia and I have to part ways.

First off, the list of triggers for this book are rather plentiful, so please go find a full list. But in broad strokes we have violence (various types, including gun violence), body horror and gore (again, a variety), bullying (you guessed it, various kinds), and more.

I expected, from the pitch, that this was to be all kinds of strange and dark and surreal but after a certain reveal.. I feel even stranger about the whole experience. I don’t think books with heavier subject matter or darkness need a happy ending but sometimes there’s something. For this book? Don’t expect anything.

While it is doubtlessly creative and sometimes the weirdness was.. winsome, even almost endearing, on the whole I just don’t know what to do with this whole experience. Normally my one-stars are very distinctly in the “I hated this” category but this didn’t inspire hate. It just didn’t work. And it’s not for me.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

JUNIPER AND THORN by Ava Reid

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

As the last true witches living in a city shifting from magic to industry, Marlinchen and her two sisters are little more than tourist traps as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate their tyrannical, xenophobic wizard father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. While at night, she and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theatre, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

But as Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while the city flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


Title : Juniper and Thorn
Author : Ava Reid
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : Fantasy/Horror
Publisher : DelRey UK
Release Date : June 21, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

Headlines:
Sinister family
Enchanted garden
Gore and abuse

Juniper & Thorn was the kind of read that felt like a Grimm fairytale, dark, sinister and twisty. Set on the edge of the Steppes, in a growing city with affluence and poverty alike, this story centred on the Vashchenko family, a wizard father and three daughters with magical powers. Marlinchen was the youngest daugter, the protagonist of the story and she had a rather miserable existence.

This family…oh my, what a complete mess of impaired connection, built on resentment, guilt, grief and greed. What do you do when your family puts you at risk? It took a lot for Marlinchen to have her eyes opened and this story was her journey. Please check the content warnings below.

I never knew what was around the corner in this book but despite the dark and desperate themes, it was soaked in hope for Marlinchen and her friend Sevas. The story brought sneak attacks of gore, abuse, mild horror (but I could cope with it) and you need a strong stomach in certain moments. It evoked such a sinister atmosphere.

One of the things that was fascinating about this book was the curious creatures that populated the Vashchenko estate. You never got the full view of them but they added to the creepy feel.

Ava Reid has sealed her talent with Juniper & Thorn. I’m a fan of her imagination, writing and characterisation.

Thank you to DelRey UK for the review copy.

CW: abuse, sexual abuse, grooming

HALF A SOUL by Olivia Atwater

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

Bridgerton meets Howl’s Moving Castle in this enchanting historical fantasy, where the only thing more meddlesome than faeries is a marriage-minded mother.


Title : Half A Soul
Author : Olivia Atwater
Series : Regency Faerie Tales #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : Historical Fantasy
Publisher : Orbit Books
Release Date : June 30, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
If historical romance met The Cruel Prince…
Light and fun

I knew almost immediately on starting this book that I was going to thoroughly enjoy it. It was engaging, light and fun but with depth to the characterisation and story. The characters felt fresh and three dimensional and I loved the MCs.

Dora had half a soul and as such, I saw parallels between how her character was written and some people’s experience of neurodiversity. She was was loveable just as she was and although some of the people around didn’t appreciate her lack of emotionality, she leapt off the page to me. The Lord Sorcier was such a grump sliced with oddity and integrity…I loved him too.

This story had every regency London feel even though there was an alter-location in Faerie. The ton, the sensibilities and proprieties brought that essential vibe of those times. It was interesting for sure to see this intersect with an acceptance of magic and fae existence.

The plot was totally engaging and the development of Elias and Dora’s friendship was just lovely. I was here for every moment. I’m so glad this is a series and I can’t wait to read more.

Thank you Orbit Books for the early review copy.

THE SILVER CHAIN by Jion Sheibani

Uplifting and unputdownable, a coming-of-age verse novel about family, mental health and the healing power of music.

Azadeh is a budding violinist on a music scholarship at an expensive private school, dealing with all the usual trials of being sixteen: trying her best to fit in, keep up and have fun. Then as her mum’s mental health spirals out of control, Azadeh’s world starts to unravel. Her friendships fall away, and as much as she and her dad try to keep a lid on everything, their problems insist on taking over. Feeling alone, it’s her violin that finally helps Azadeh to find her way back to her friends, herself and even her mum.

A beautifully packaged, highly important and irresistible novel about mental health struggles and the solace we find in music and rhythm, friendship, family and honesty.


Title : The Silver Chain
Author : Jion Sheibani
Format : Physical
Page Count : 352
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : June 23, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Headlines:
Told in verse
Parental mental illness
Poles apart friendships

There was a lot to unpack in this story told in verse. I really enjoyed the format where some sections were more lyrical than others, and some more straight narrative. Azadeh was something of a prodigious violinist, having a scholarship at a private school. In fact, Azadeh’s family were from humble means setting her apart financially from her peers but also in term of her heritage. Azadeh had a Persian father and I think an English mother although I wasn’t certain. Azadeh had some longings towards her origins that seemed unfulfilled.

Azadeh sought solice in her music, her violin, the notes, the message of the music. When things went wrong at home however, she lost her connection to music for some time. That seemed to untether her own mental wellbeing.

There were some slightly toxic friendships in this book, some lack of cultural understanding from friends and racist microagressions. Azadeh found this hard to navigate and it was uncomfortable to witness.

There was a strong storyline of mental illness and while that was good representation, I didn’t always feel that it was fully unpacked. It felt a little unfinished in the end from that perspective.

The most enjoyable aspect of this book was in it’s narrative style of verse. I found it very easy to read and listen to.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.

2022 MID-YEAR BOOK FREAK OUT

Well, we made it! We’ve survived the first half of 2022. At least.. we hope you’re surviving. If nothing else, maybe this tag will distract you for five to ten minutes and give you something of a reprieve.

Here we go!


What is the best book you’ve read so far in 2022?
M : I’ve had a crop of 5 star reads so far this year and it’s hard to choose. So I’m going with Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood which releases in August and The Blood Traitor by Lynette Noni.
H : I’m picking two (no, this isn’t a loophole) because one is an ARC that won’t be out for mooonths and the other is already out. Respectively those are Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle (out October fourth) and Book Lovers by Emily Henry.

What is the best sequel you’ve read so far in 2022?
M : The Blood Traitor by Lynette Noni finished The Prison Healer series on as much of a high as it started.
H : The Long Game by Rachel Reid.

What’s a new release you haven’t read yet, but want to?
M : I’m looking forward to Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta.
H : Per usual, I consulted our Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases of 2022 list and, with exception to those not released yet, I’ve once again read all of mine (the Mhairi doesn’t count as I was dumb and used the UK release date), which isn’t hard as the majority were listed for fall (and, since posting that, a few have even been bumped to 2023, not salty at all). Therefore, I’ll be going with The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes by Cat Sebastian and A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall.

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?
M : I’m looking forward to The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik.
H : Nonaaaaaa (aka Nona the Ninth) by Tamsyn Muir. And also The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik because oh boy that cliffhanger from last year was rough.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
M : I’d been meaning to get around to The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix and when I did, I was incredibly disappointed by the story and in particular, by the characterisation, misogyny and how all the women were written.
H : Neither are my lowest rated of the year (so far..) but the first one I was disappointed about — though it’s likely due to my own expectations on what it was supposed to be and the vibe — was Home Field Advantage by Dahlia Adler. The second I’m including is one that isn’t out yet but I’m The Girl by Courtney Summers just really let me down. Sadie this was not.

What has been your biggest surprise?
M : Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus was the kind of book I didn’t know I needed, but that I’m all the richer for.
H : I’m going with Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel. It’s a feminist retelling of a Hindu epic and I went in knowing nothing about the content or the author (debut alert!) and came out appreciating both very much.

Do you have a favorite new author (debut or new to you)?
M : Patricia Briggs has been my find of the last two years. I’m currently reading two urban fantasy/PNR series by her and loving every minute of it.
H : Even though I just highlighted a debut author, I am hesitant to call them a favourite until I read another release, so.. I’m going with no, I have no new favourites, debut or otherwise.

Who is your newest fictional crush?
M : Hart from The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen and Levi from Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood. These guys are both definitely grumpy.
H : He isn’t a new crush but my reread had me re-crushing on him and that’s James Mycroft from Ellie Marney’s Every series.

Who is your newest favorite character?
M : Six Thirty from Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Intrigued by that name? Go read it.
H : Hall from Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle.

What book has made you cry?
M : A book coming out in August The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy by Megan Bannen had me mush-crying twice. Highly rec this fantasy rom-com.
H : Almost everything I read makes me cry. Better question would be which book didn’t make me cry. But the ones that stick out the most are also the ones I’ve liked the most (correlation?) and those are : Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle and Book Lovers by Emily Henry.

What book has made you happy?
M : The Takeover by TL Swan. A total escapism read from a new to me author.
H : Heartstopper : Volume Four by Alice Oseman, I think, has made me the happiest.

What’s the most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)?
M : Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman was really pretty with gorgeous edges.
H : I don’t think I’ve bought a single book this year! Yikes.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
M : I intend to be up to date with the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, I want to start one of Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy series and start The Poppy War series.
H : These will be familiar titles for those of you who are familiar with our TBR posts but I would like to complete The First Sister trilogy by Linden A. Lewis, the Seven Devils duology by Laura Lam & Elizabeth May, and (a reread of) Phèdre’s Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey.

credit for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out tag goes to :
Chami → https://youtu.be/EB8OrYHBvM8
Ely → https://youtu.be/X_Wh0rPGfRg


We’d love to know how the half way point of the year has you feeling about books you’ve read and anticipated. Any highlights so far? Any big disappointments? Tell us your feels.

THE SEAWOMEN by Chloe Timms

Everyone on this island has a story. This is mine.

Esta has known nothing but Eden’s Isle her whole life. After a fire left her orphaned and badly scarred, Esta was raised by her grandmother in a deeply religious society who cut itself off from the mainland in the name of salvation. Here, fear rules: fear of damnation, fear of the outside world and fear of what lurks beneath the water – a corrupting evil the islanders call the Seawomen.

But Esta wants more than a life where touching the water risks corruption, where her every move is watched and women are controlled in every aspect of their lives. Married off, the women of the island must conceive a child within their appointed motheryear or be marked as cursed and cast into the sea as a sacrifice in an act called the Untethering.

When Esta witnesses a woman Untethered she sees a future to fear. Her fate awaits, a loveless marriage, her motheryear declared. And after a brief taste of freedom, the insular world Esta knows begins to unravel…

The Seawomen is a fiercely written and timely feminist novel, at once gothic, fantastical and truly unforgettable.


Title : The Seawomen
Author : Chloe Timms
Format : Physical
Page Count : 320
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Hodder Studio
Release Date : June 14, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★.5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

4.5 stars

Headlines:
Feminist, fantastical, fuming
Misogyny wrapped in religious abuse
Impeccable description, atmospheric

What a debut this book is. It was fresh, tense and the themes were dark and sad but it was a read that will stay with you and impact you. The story encapsulated the experiences of a young girl, Esta as she journeyed into adulthood. This island she resided on was set in a dystopian future but in a community that had removed themselves from the world to live in a bigoted, patriachial and abusive religious community, all about control.

This story evoked such an impressively described setting. I immediately began to imagine St Kilda or the Faroe Islands until later I realised the setting was more Shetlands or Orkney. The life this community lead was miserable and fearful…they were fearful of the seawomen. The sea was seen as evil to women and women were treated like potential witches of old.

How the story rolled out was unexpected, how Esta evolved as she grew was the kind of situation you couldn’t look away from, willing her on, telling her to persevere and not capitulate. There were a few men that had moments of empathy and Bennett was just about the only reasonable man. The women were not a community because the men in power caused a divisive atmosphere.

The second half of the book had me glued to the page, hoping for Esta, wanting her free.

I highly recommend this book for all my feminist reading friends. It has everything, a touch of dystopia, a touch of fantasy and a bucket load of great writing.

Thank you to Hodder Studio for the review copy.

THE BLOOD TRAITOR by Lynette Noni

She’d failed them. All of them. And now she was paying the price.

Kiva thought she knew what she wanted-revenge. But feelings change, people change . . . everything has changed.

After what happened at the palace, Kiva is desperate to know if her friends and family are safe, and whether those she wronged can ever forgive her. But with the kingdoms closer to the brink of war than they’ve ever been, and Kiva far away from the conflict, more is at stake than her own broken heart.

A fresh start will mean a perilous quest, forcing mortal enemies and uneasy allies together in a race against the clock to save not just Evalon, but all of Wenderall. With her loyalties now set, Kiva can no longer just survive-she must fight for what she believes in. For who she believes in. But with danger coming from every side, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, does she have what it takes to stand, or will she fall?


Title : The Blood Traitor
Author : Lynette Noni
Series : The Prison Healer #3
Format : eARC
Page Count : 482
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Hodderscape
Release Date : June 14, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Trope check goodness
Unforgiveable?
Page-turner

I am so incredibly sad this series is over but then I couldn’t help race-reading this because it was so unputdownable. Picking up immediately where we were so cruelly left at the end of The Gilded Cage, this installment rushed at my brain like a whirlwind, grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

Jaren, Jaren, Jaren, Kiva, Kiva, Kiva. Oh the longings, the emotions, the hurt, it was a lot of everything and at this point, I was so invested in this couple that I had to let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding (I’m just messing with you) when they were on the page. The plot was so rich with found family goodness, I simply adored the cast of characters that found themselves on a quest. Tripp was a little more in the background but he still brought light when he was there.

It was so good to finally see the Corentine-Vallentis and other royal family stories go full circle, finding answers to series plot points and Noni delivered so well on these elements. Nothing was rushed, everything was carefully crafted and the journey readers have been taken on felt so worthy of these three books.

Also that last line of the book…precious.

I could definitely read a novella epilogue for these characters, pretty please?

Thank you to Hodder Books for the eARc and the ride!

LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.


Title : Lessons in Chemistry
Author : Bonnie Garmus
Format : ebook
Page Count : 392
Genre : Historical Fiction
Publisher : Transworld Digital
Release Date : April 5, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 


Micky’s 4.5-5 star review

Headlines:
Here for Six Thirty
Raging misogyny
Gratitude to all the feminists before me

What an utterly brilliant read Lessons in Chemistry was. It was funny, with so many lines making me laugh out loud, it hurt my heart in numerous parts, it made me feel angry but it was overall wonderful. A read for all genders who are feminst.

This era of feminism (1950s) isn’t one I’ve reflected on much but life was damn difficult for those crossing very set boundaries. Elizabeth Zott, chemist, feminist and one prone to bold, frank speech had her work cut out. The tale took us through her life in a male-dominated academic profession, falling in love, family and fighting to find her place again. It was sweeping, captivating and full of immense hope. Zott never meant to be funny but she was.

This read was equally challenging as it was amusing. Elizabeth Zott experienced things one never should, as did other women in this piece. I want to say nothing about the other character in this book that sold the story one chapter at a time, because if you read this, you need to discover this character as it arises (sorry for the mystery).

I finished the final pages in utter tears. I’ve been thinking ever since about how I have strode on in academia, yes facing misogyny, but nothing like Zott did. I was able to apply for and complete a PhD and be respected for my work and contribution to knowledge without thinkng there’s a man behind it. I am grateful to every women that has strode before me on this journey.

What a book, a total must-read.

Thank you to Transworld books for the review copy.

CONFESSIONS OF AN ALLEGED GOOD GIRL by Joya Goffney

Monique lives a perfect life – a preacher’s daughter and the girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But it’s not that simple. She’s torn between her parents who want the pure virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, her boyfriend breaks up with her, spurring Monique to discover she has a medical condition that makes her far from perfect and she concocts a plan to fix her body and win him back.

With the help of her frenemy, Sasha, the overly zealous church girl Monique’s mum pushes her to hang out with, and Reggie, the town’s bad boy, Monique must go on trips to unknown and uncomfortable places to find the treatment that will help her. But in doing so, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad at all.

This is a powerful journey towards loving yourself, about body and sex positivity, with heart, humour, family intrigue and a dynamic and delicious love triangle.

Contains explicit references to sex and sexual health.


Title : Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl
Author : Joya G0ffney
Format : eARC
Page Count : 314
Genre : Contemporary YA
Publisher : Hot Key Books
Release Date : May 3, 2022

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Sex positive
Growing up in church
Confidences and friendships

This is one of the best examples of a sex-positive story I’ve ever read and this is hugely important in contemporary YA. Goffney crafting an impactful story that was also threaded with lightness so that it didn’t feel heavy. I blasted through this book in a day and I loved it.

Monique found herself under significant pressure to have sex, while also wanting to, but not being able to. There’s a physical condition afoot that was really good to see amongst these pages and while there were characters that were shady (hello Dom, I did not like you) there were a bunch of great characters in Reggie, Sasha and Aunt Dee. There was a whole layer of complication to this story about being brought up in a straight-laced church household where the parents were hugely unrealistic about life, sex education and natural adolescent development. I couldn’t decide if I really hated these parents but I guess it just diluted to dislike.

Reggie, the man of young men, I loved this guy on the page. His understanding, his humour, his respect were everything. I loved how these two brought great character growth in one another.

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl was a YA read of the year for me and I highly recommend.

Thank you to Hot Key Books for the early review copy.

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