Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy.
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults
I haven’t read a memoir in forever, and wow did I forget how much I enjoy them. I just wanted to preface this review by stating that I think there’s a lot to be learned from memoirs, a lot of lives and stories to be shared through these works. We all have our own experiences and journeys, and having the honor and privilege to read them is wonderful.
With that said, I highly enjoyed this memoir. Within the first two chapters I found myself reflecting on my own life, upbringing, past traumas, childhood, etc. to see what happened in my own life. Getting to read about Johnson’s was a journey, for sure.
One important aspect about this memoir is that (almost) every chapter is filled with love. He expressed that numerous times about how his family was so full of unconditional love for one another, which I think is a truly beautiful thing. I love seeing it in fiction, but love hearing about it more in real life. He expresses how even though his family knew his secret from the time he was young, they never forced him to be anything other than himself, and they accepted him regardless of anything. I loved seeing that dynamic, for sure.
Johnson talks a lot about being Black in this book, and it was another prime example for me as a white woman to understand another part of the Black experience, if I may call it that. I think that Johnson connecting so heavily to his heritage and culture was something that was inspiring to see, and once again allowed me to reflect on my own dynamics not just in my family, but of the environment around me. I will say that even though I don’t understand on a fundamental level what his experience of being Black was like, I still appreciate being able to have a glimpse into what it was like – and continues to be – for him.
He also talked about what being queer and his sexual identity was like as a young Black boy growing up in New Jersey, and he stated multiple times that he hoped other young, queer Black kids would also be able to see themselves in his words. I think seeing his journey of identity was eye opening. As an adult, I’ve been struggling with “labeling” my own sexuality, even though I hate labeling myself for that specific category. This book is giving me a lot to think about and to understand that it’s okay if you don’t get it right away.
I think it’s also important to note that he talks about some traumatic times, including sexual abuse, so please be aware of that going into this novel (it’s not until much later on in the manifesto). I definitely felt uncomfortable, but only in the sense that I knew he was opening up a dark portion of his past that I feel I was not meant to see or know. If it helped him, though, I’m glad it was in there, and if it helps others work through their own traumas, I’m glad it’s in their for them (and you), too.
From family, to friendships, to sexual identity, to Blackness, to much more, I found myself captivated by this memoir. I have been reflecting a lot on myself, and how I’m digesting the memoir to understand what it’s like for Black LGBTQIAP+ people out there.
The writing is very straightforward, and he gives a lot of stories into his background to give weight to the words he shares with you as the reader. I think that’s part of what drew me in so steadily is because I could definitely feel his voice through the pages.
Overall, I think it’s a great book for anyone to read, understand, listen, and reflect on themselves and their own identities and such.
I’m conflicted on rating a memoir, given it’s about a person’s life, but for the purposes of this review:
So each team has a total of five books to read (this is including the group book for their specific team), and each group has a special ability granted to them by one of the characters in their movie!
Here’s the prompts and how many points they’re worth:
Jasmine: a book that features royalty – 10 points
Aladdin: a book that includes romance – 10 points
Magic Carpet: a fantasy book – 10 points
Jafar: a book that sucks you in as if you’re in a trance, and one you must read only at night/in the dark – 25 points
Abu: this is the group book: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell – 50 points
Our special ability is granted by, you guessed it, Genie! Our special ability allows us to DNF a book if we’re not liking it and keep our points for that specific prompt, excluding the group book.
I’m pretty excited because for my TBR I picked books that I think are going to be really fun to read – and they’re all ebooks, which makes me feel like I’m reading faster, even though I’m probably not lol
Here’s my TBR!
Jasmine: Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Aladdin: The Risk by Elle Kennedy
The Magic Carpet: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Jafar: The Wicked King by Holly Black
Abu: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
I’m going to take it easy this month and only participate in this readathon. Last month kind of overwhelmed me, haha!
Can you keep one jump ahead of the bread line? One swing ahead of the sword? Or are you going to be swept under by the Cave of Wonders? (If you’re participating in this readathon, let me know and tell me what team you’re on!) Which book are you most excited to read in August?
Hey guys! How’s it going? So I’ve been thinking about how I can be more active in the bookish community, and one way I thought about it a quarterly reading wrap up! I read a lot of webtoons and comics, and I’m slowly picking up the novel reading habit again, but instead of doing monthly wrap ups, I’d do quarterly and talk about the titles I’ve been actively reading or given a chance.
So quarter one was filled with a bunch of webtoons and some bookish goodness, and I’ve liked the majority of what I’ve read. So let’s jump into the webtoons first, shall we? I’ll show my ratings as I go, even though most of these series aren’t done yet for the webtoons.
Dogged by pain and misfortune from the very beginning, Shin-Ae decides she wants nothing to do with people nor anything to do with romance. Although content with her unsocial, boring, loveless existence, her lifestyle is challenged after she ruins an unsuspecting strangers’ clothes.
I Love Yoo by Quimchee is one of my favorite webtoons to date. It’s one I’ve kept up with for a long time and I can’t wait until it picks back up again! (Quimchee is taking a well-deserved break right now.) But there’s been ALL KINDS of drama and one big reveal that will be coming up but was sort of introduced and OOF I NEED TO KNOW WHO SHE IS. And also: new best boy??? I’m 10000% here for it.
Witness what the gods do…after dark. The friendships and the lies, the gossip and the wild parties, and of course, forbidden love. Because it turns out, the gods aren’t so different from us after all, especially when it comes to their problems. Stylish and immersive, this is one of mythology’s greatest stories — The Taking of Persephone — as it’s never been told before.
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe is my new favorite obsession. Not only is the artwork super different and beautiful (like each character is represented by a different color and it’s lovely), but the story itself is amazing. I love, love, love myths and so the retelling of one of my favorites is just pure perfection. There’s cute moments, frustrating moments, sad moments. It’s a great story and I highly recommend it.
Seven boys. Best friends. Their fates intertwined through the good times together, but also the tough times, as they have gone their separate ways and suffered greatly as a result. When all is almost lost for these boys, one is given a special chance to go back in time and help his friends fix the mistakes that led them down this path. He’ll do anything to save them, but can he? Or is he too late?
Save Me by Big Hit Ent. & LICO is about BTS and, being a BTS fan, how could I say no? I mean, I was saying no at the beginning, but then I couldn’t stop my curiosity and now I’m hooked because it tells the story between their music videos and why certain things happened. It’s super good so far. If you’re a BTS fan and you’re trying to piece together the mystery of their music videos, then this comic might be a good read for you.
Sori is a special young girl – kind, caring and principled well beyond her years. Unfortunately, these are NOT the personality traits generally celebrated in middle school – especially Sori’s, where she’s bullied mercilessly for defending the defenseless until she herself becomes a target. To escape, she transfers to a new school where the same old problems begin to play out all over again – that is until a mysterious trail of letters leads Sori on a magical scavenger hunt through the hidden world that exists right below the surface of her new middle school. The mail trail is the work an anonymous guardian angel, whose mission seems to be to provide a soft landing for Sori at her new school. But who is this person? And why did he choose her? With each letter, secrets are revealed and bonds are formed – as Sori learns about friendship, flora, fauna and finding the good in people in this strange new environment.
Your Letter by Hyeon A Cho is SUCH a great story so far. Seriously, not only is the artwork lovely af, but the story itself is just so pure and something that I didn’t realize I’d been wanting until I read it. Of course I’m hoping for a romance to blossom between the two main characters, but also I love how their friendship started over this one boy. It’s sweet and sentimental, but also has consequences of actions and it’s just… Just read it.
Getting crushed by your crush. Coming out to your parents. Learning that your sister is your biggest dating rival. High school sure does have its share of twists, turns and moments of high drama. To get through it all with your smile and sanity intact, you’re going to need some friends. Really good friends. Friends like Johnny, Mariel, Gaby and Martina who, one way or another, will find a way to get through their teenage years together.
The Four of Them by Mai Hirschfeld_ is a coming of age story about four teens just being teens and dealing with relationships, whether they be romantic, familial, or platonic, school life, emotions, and more. It’s another sweet series that I’m really loving and the artwork is so lovely! And, as the description says, there is drama and I’m really interested to see how the different threads of drama unfold as time goes and how far into their teenaged lives we get to see.
Edith is not your typical heroine. She struggles with her confidence, her morals, and life in general by not only holding herself to high standards, but her men as well. Enter two less-than-perfect men: one who may be the Prince Charming she’s been waiting for to deliver a fairy tale ending, the other a brash reality check who does NOT believe in happily-ever-after. What will Edith do? Will she sacrifice her standards? Or keep searching for that mythical white knight who may or may not exist in the first place? Funny, messy and sexy, Edith’s journey is relatable to anyone who’s ever left their heart on the battlefield of the dating world.
Edith by Swansgarden really surprised me. One day I was just browsing around the site and saw this unique art style and decided to take a peek. Well, not only do I love the art style, but this story is so different from what I’ve been reading because it deals with an older protagonist (like in her 20s or something), and there’s a lot of mental illness, tough decisions, forgiveness – or lack thereof, and more. The story is a little bit mature in theme, but it’s definitely something to check out if you’re interested.
An ancient warrior created a pact to keep the world at peace. After ages, this pact still stands because of the spirit warriors who guard it. Aigon’s dream is to join these warriors, but unknown to everyone, the pact is about to get broken by a group of rebels hiding in plain sight
Spirit Warriors by Yaruno ad L.Bobler follows a group of kids who are looking to become spirit warriors (shocking, I know), and how they each go about finding their spirit and how they train and learn to master the power associated with it. Of course, it doesn’t seem to work out with every student, but it’s very early on in the series and I’m really interested to see what happens. It’s kind of cliche and predictable, but also just really good. If you like fantasy, check this one out!
In school, Tooru is known as “The Prince”. He’s smart, popular, and can have anyone he wants. So why is it that he can’t think of anyone but Yamamoto, the plainest, dullest guy in the entire school?
Plain Boy & Prince by amanduur is the cutest and cheesiest and most glorious thing I’ve read. Seriously, I’ve been giggling and laughing so much and it’s just the cutest thing. It’s a boys’ love story following the Prince of the school who instantly falls for the most dull looking boy, and how the dull looking boy starts to also feel the feels, and just… go read it before I fangirl like crazy, thanks.
“Monsters can’t feel love” they say. Well, I think otherwise. “There’s a person I like… but other than the problem that she’s a girl… I find out she’s a monster!”
Monsters Don’t Blush! by Flowerfully is another super cute story that is a girls’ love story that follows a girl wanting to tell her crush how much she likes her, but she’s often blocked from getting near the girl to let her know how she feels. It’s very early on in this series, but I can’t wait for the next update because, just like the Plain Boy & Prince story, there’s much giggling and cuteness to be had.
This is going to be separated into two parts: Book I’ve read and books I’m currently reading.
Books I’ve Read
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.
To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.
In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black was a book that hadn’t been on my radar until I saw literally everyone reading it. When I started to read it, I wasn’t all that into it. I felt the writing was super choppy and didn’t really encapsulate everything that was going on in every scene. I didn’t really feel for the characters until the last third of the book. Honestly, the end of the book is what saved this from a two star rating because THAT ENDING THO. Overall it was a good read for the latter part of the book and it definitely made me excited to read the next book.
Everyone says opposites attract. And they must be right, because there’s no logical reason why I’m so drawn to Colin Fitzgerald. I don’t usually go for tattoo-covered, video-gaming, hockey-playing nerd-jocks who think I’m flighty and superficial. His narrow view of me is the first strike against him. It doesn’t help that he’s buddy-buddy with my brother.
And that his best friend has a crush on me.
And that I just moved in with them.
Oh, did I not mention we’re roommates?
I suppose it doesn’t matter. Fitzy has made it clear he’s not interested in me, even though the sparks between us are liable to burn our house down. I’m not the kind of girl who chases after a man, though, and I’m not about to start. I’ve got my hands full dealing with a new school, a sleazy professor, and an uncertain future. So if my sexy brooding roomie wises up and realizes what he’s missing?
The Chase by Elle Kennedy was kind of a let down for me because I really loved her Off-Campus series that I read a few years ago. I saw the main protagonist, Summer, was a pretty whiny individual. Yes, she had some mental health issues and dyslexia, which was nice to see in a novel, but her overall character was just… too… whiny. That’s the best way I can put it. And I felt like Fitz was super two dimensional. I wanted to know and see more of his computer/video game side, but alas, we only got brief glimpses of it. I’m more interested in reading the second book in this Briar U duology, but we’ll see how it goes.
The Art of War meets “The Artist’s Way” in this no-nonsense, profoundly inspiring guide to overcoming creative blocks of every kind.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is a self-help kind of book that talks about ways to break through to your inner creative and really make the best use of your time with it, but, uh, I didn’t like this book. At all, or much at all.
It boasts a lot about showing you how to break past those blocks and be creative, but the most I got out of it was, “stop procrastinating and just do it.” I actually DNFed it because it was just not for me. This doesn’t mean you might not find value in it – you might! My husband liked it much more than me and said I’d like it, but alas.
Books I’m Currently Reading
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is one of my current reads and I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have been. Not only did it hook me from the first chapter, but it’s feeding my inner vampire heart because, yes, there are vampires and they’re different from other kinds of vampires I’ve read about, and just yes, please. I’m about 35%-ish through the book right now and am definitely enjoying it, but there are some things that I’ve been questioning as it goes that I’ll talk about in my review when it comes.
I recommend it if you’re looking for an urban fantasy adult read with witches, vampires, mystery, and magic.
Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.
It has been centuries since the fall of the 10 consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Wars were fought for them, and won by them. One such war rages on the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where 10 armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.
Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.
Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan’s motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson is the first book in the Stormlight Archive and OOH BOY, is it a long book. I’ve been listening to the audiobook for months now (it’s over 45 hours long), but it is SO good. The world building is phenomenal, the characters are awesome, the plot is intricate and complex, and it’s quickly (or not so quickly, given its size lol) become one of my favorite books – and I’m only 71% of the way through it! I am, however, in part four, which is the last part, so the end is coming for this first book and I am not ready for it.
If you’re looking for a high fantasy novel that you can really dive deep into and be stuck in for a while, then I definitely recommend this book. And I especially recommend the audiobook because the voice actors do a very great job with their roles.
Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone. . . .
A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes
Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a fan favorite, as I’ve noticed, and I got 40% of the way through before I stopped. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it – I was, for sure! – but I just wasn’t in the mood to read it at the time. I do plan on picking it back up soon, though, so look forward to that review when it comes! What I have read so far, though, is action packed and very dark and it speaks to that darker part of my soul, so it’s very much appreciated.
If you’re looking for a heist book with a lot of unlikely people coming together, definitely pick this up.
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.
When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.
There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Circe by Madeline Miller is a story that takes place in the world of the gods, and though I’m still fairly early on (only 5% of the way through) it’s really good so far. I was bored at work one day and decided to look this title up and read a sample because I’d been hearing good things about it, and boy, am I hooked. The writing style is different, but full of a life of its own. It’s got cruelty (as the gods are very cruel), loss, humanity, and that’s just within the first early section of the book.
If you’re looking for a myth retelling – or a unique myth story – check this one out!
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug.
She never expects to fall in love with beautiful Prince Po.
She never expects to learn the truth behind her Grace—or the terrible secret that lies hidden far away . . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a fantasy story that I’ve been interested in reading for a long time, but had never picked it up until I watched Hannah from A Clockwork Reader on YouTube recommend the book to someone who might be looking for a romance in fantasy. And, well, if you know me, you know I love both of those things, so of course I picked this up (luckily my husband owns the books so it was easy enough to get).
I’ve only read the first chapter, but I already have SO many questions! It’s already off to a fast start with many characters and abilities that I can’t wait to learn more about.
If you’re looking for a YA fantasy with romance, check out this companion series! I hear not every book focuses on the romance, so you might find a book that fits your tastes more.
AND THAT’S IT! Wow, I’ve actually been reading a lot more than I thought I was lol I’m also glad that I’ve enjoyed most of the books I’ve read so far this year. I actually find it interesting that when I’m reading lately I’ve got a more critical eye and I’m finding more faults in things than I was when I first started blogging. It’s crazy, but I’m liking that I’m being more honest with myself about my thoughts on books.
What have you been reading lately? What was your favorite and least favorite book from the first quarter of the year? What would you recommend to me? Let me know!
Well hello! I hope you’re doing well and happy spring!
So, I had a realization at the time I began writing this that I currently have books for different times of the day/scenario I’m in:
A book for daytime reading
A book for before bed reading
An audiobook for driving
This makes me feel like I’ve reached a new level of nerd lol
Anyway, I find it interesting because my reading habits aren’t what they were a few years ago when I first started blogging and really getting into the reading scene. Now I read mostly webtoons, like Your Letter and Lore Olympus, but I’ve been trying very hard to get back into novels again.
I know part of the reason I’ve been struggling is because I’ve been overwhelming myself very easily with wanting to do all the things, but not having enough time or energy to do them, so I just… don’t. So, I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort recently to just pick something up that sucks me in and go with it.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson has been one of those books for me for months now. Yes, months. I don’t know if you know this, but the audiobook is over 45 hours long, and I really only listen to it on my 25-30 minute drives to and from work. And then sometimes I don’t even listen to it at all for a few weeks so I can listen to some music instead.
The story didn’t hook me right away because I had tried to start it a couple of years ago, but failed, so when I started anew? Oh yeah, I was hooked, and now I’m at the beginning climax of this installment of the series and I AM HERE FOR IT. The characters and world building are fantastic, and the voice actors who read the books do a phenomenal job acting out all the parts and such.
So since I’ve been having such great luck with the audiobook, especially lately, I then realized I am in one HELLUVA mood for romance. And I’m not talking that cheesy stuff (but, I mean, I also won’t say no to it if it grabs my attention lol), I’m talking about a slow burn or steamy or just passionate type of romance read. And that’s where Graceling comes in.
I recently watched a video by Hannah of A Clockwork Reader on YouTube about five underrated series she thinks others should definitely get more hyped about, and in it she mentioned the Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore and talked about how the first book in particular has a much heavier focus on the relationship and romance aspect than the others.
And I happened to remember my husband owned a copy.
So of course I made him dig it out of boxes for me and I started it and it’s already got me hooked. I wanted to start really winding down more when it’s time for bed and not be on the computer or have my phone in my face, so I decided to make it my before bedtime read.
Besides, studies have shown that reading before bed can be very beneficial to your health, such as reducing stress, higher creativity levels, and more brain power. So if you’re not on the read before bed train, hop on! You might find yourself in a much better mood the next day as a result of it.
And then I have my daytime reading. I’ve discovered a way to read at work without having a physical book behind the counter because sometimes it’s so incredibly slow that I don’t have a customer for a half hour or more at a time, so instead of just sitting there and browsing news articles I don’t care about, I open a book through Amazon on the Kindle Cloud Reader app on their website.
To access it, simply go to your latest digital purchases, click on the book you want to read, and then click the green “Read Now” button. If you’re on a computer, it’ll take you to the Cloud Reader for easy reading. Just be careful using your left and right arrow buttons because I’ve noticed that that messes with the page formats, so you’ll have to actually click the next button on the screen to go to the next page.
I decided the day before publishing this, in fact, that I was going to sample A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness because I had continued to keep seeing it pop up all over the place, and so I decided to give it a try. Well, as of the time I’m writing this, I’m only one chapter two and hooked. Of course I’m going to continue to read it once I’m home after work, but still, I have options to read when I’m at my job.
So though my reading habits have changed a lot over the last few years, I’m doing my best to not give up and to keep going back to the stories I love, the stories I want to read and live, and the stories that my heart desires. And what better way to do that than to find different ways to incorporate those stories into different facets of my life?
What books do you like to read before bedtime? Are you a nighttime reader? If not, do you read when you wake up during breakfast? Do you listen to audibooks on your commute to work? Or do you just read whenever you want and not have designated books for certain times and scenarios during the day? Tell me all the things!
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.
THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.
Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.
I initially didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book. I had seen the cover pop up on Amazon and I thought it was going to be another cheesy, trashy romance novel. I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis before jumping into reading a sample – and immediately being hooked to the story.
This story features two races: the Gauris, who are human, and the Kai, an ancient non-human race with gray skin, black claws, and lamplight yellow eyes. A Gauri girl – one raised in a noblewoman’s position but one of little importance – is married off to one of the Kai – the second born prince, one who is unimportant as his older brother has already secured his place for the throne and has several sons to rule after him. The two are repulsed that they have to marry the other as each race finds the other revolting in looks and customs alike, but when Ildiko and Brishen meet unsuspectingly that they were to later wed, the two have a connection of sorts that later comes into play in a great way.
Ildiko and Brishen have a very slow burn romance as they don’t expect anything from each other at first, and instead find good friends in each other at first, talking to one another, picking on each other as friends do, and I think that was so sweet to see at first. As time passed and the two faced different kinds of trials together (such as dinner with Brishen’s mother), their feelings for each other grew into more than just friends, and eventually those first opinions they had on one another’s appearance – of Ildiko think Brishen looked like an eel, and Brishen thinking Ildiko looked like a hag – changed and they saw the beauty in each other physically, yes, but mostly through their personalities and morals and I thought that was a breath of fresh air to read about. It felt natural and progressive and I highly appreciated it.
As for the rest of the story, there were politics, some action scenes, and little hints of what was to come in the next novel, and I felt that the story was fast-paced, but not so fast-paced that we missed out on anything. I do, however, wish there were more action scenes and that some scenes had been expanded, but then maybe it would have taken away from the magic of it all.
I felt that both Ildiko’s and Brishen’s characters were mature, but I kind of wished to see more of them develop and whatnot. Ildiko was proper, quick-witted, and kind. She always was above the expectations of the Kai, much to their surprise, and I liked that about her. She was stubborn enough to always try and not give up, but not so stubborn that she made poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Brishen was so unlike his parents, which was nice because his parents aren’t the greatest, and had a sense of humor, and a caring compassion for his fellow Kai and Ildiko. I found that they melded well together and that I craved to see more interactions between them.
Though this book was sort of a quick read, I found that I could really dive into the world and really feel for the characters. I’m already reading the second book and let me tell you: I’m getting the action I craved from the first.
If you haven’t picked up Radiance yet, I highly recommend you do if you’re looking for a slow-burn romance set in a fantasy world.