6 Books Written by Women About Women: Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! I thought I’d write about women writing about other empowering women, whether they’re based on facts or fiction. Are there any books you’re specifically reading this month for Women’s History Month? Are there any you’ve read and would suggest to other curious readers? This list is curated from my TBR shelf on Goodreads.


Circe by Madeline Miller

If you’re unsure of who Circe was, I’ll go ahead and briefly summarize her. She was the daughter of Helios. She can turn mortals into animals, and is banned to a secluded island for turning a nymph into a sea monster. She was described as walking to the beat of her own drum. Circe was a free spirit, and didn’t really care whether what she was doing was good or bad.

This book is about her having to rise up and fight for what she loves most. She also has to choose if she belongs with the Gods or with mortals. I’ve heard so many great things about this one, and I’m hoping it’s just as good as The Song of Achilles by the same author.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

This book follows Beryl Markham, a Kenyan aviatrix, who flew solo over the Atlantic Ocean. She didn’t stop there, though. She trained racehorses and wrote her own memoir. She was raised by her father and was a wild child, throwing her into many disastrous relationships. She attracts a community called the Happy Valley who also live by their own rules, and amidst the community is a man who changes her life . . . Denys Finch Hatton.

You’ll see that I have another Paula McLain book on this list, and that’s because I love her writing. I’m so excited to see how she writes about an aviatrix rather than someone who’s dealing with war. Beryl just seemed like a tough woman who chased her dreams when it seemed impossible. I’m all about that!

Euphoria by Lily King

This is loosely based on the famous Anthropologist, Margaret Mead. It follows three anthropologists (a married couple and another random man) in the jungles of New Guinea. They begin to create their best work, but it doesn’t come without fierce love and jealousy, threatening everything they have.

I recently finished King’s newest novel, Writers & Lovers, and I really enjoyed it. I know the writing style isn’t for everyone, but Lily King does such a great job at creating flawed, passionate characters. I’m hoping that this is no different! Beyond further research, I’m not entirely sure that this is 100% about empowered/empowering women, but it’s based off a famous, powerful figure, so I thought I’d add it.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

This novel is about Janie Crawford, a fictional character, who is determined to become her own woman during the ’30s. It takes her through a journey of three marriages and going back to her roots.

I read this in high school, and as a book that I was forced to read, I really enjoyed this one. I definitely want to reread in sometime soon. I guess this month would be as good a time as any. I just think Janie is a strong woman, and I highly recommend you give this a read.

Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

Martha Gellhorn, one of the many wives of Hemingway, also happened to be a journalist and travel writer. This book follows her relationship with Hemingway and how it impacts her own dreams and aspirations during the Spanish-Civil War. Although, she does become one of the greatest war correspondents.

I loved this book when I read it back in mid-2018. I’d love to reread it and see if my thoughts have changed. I do remember her going through such turbulent times with Hemingway while also being an independent woman.

Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter

This novel is based on Leonora Carrington, a famous surrealist artist during the ’30s. She actually just died in 2011, which I had no idea she lived to see the 2000s. The novel also includes other artists of that era. She creates work that is based on her own life, and is recognized by her real name. Unfortunately, war looms over her and impacts her life greatly. The love of her life is taken away from her, and they have to find a way to reunite. They stumble upon an art collector who helps artists escape to America.

This just sounds so good, and it’s right up my alley. It’s historical fiction involving art. I don’t think I’ve read one that has let me down, yet. Leonora just seems like a strong woman who can handle anything, at least I hope so! This one actually isn’t out until April 6th, but I definitely want to read it. I’ll let you all know what I think when I do.


That’s it for this post. I hope you all are lifting each other up! Let me know if you have read any good books that would work well for this month! Thanks for reading.


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Book Review of The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr.

400 pages

Published: 1/5/21 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

ISBN: 9780593085684

Genre: Historical fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

*Click on photos to view original source.

“A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.

Isaiah was Samuel’s and Samuel was Isaiah’s. That was the way it was since the beginning, and the way it was to be until the end. In the barn they tended to the animals, but also to each other, transforming the hollowed-out shed into a place of human refuge, a source of intimacy and hope in a world ruled by vicious masters. But when an older man—a fellow slave—seeks to gain favor by preaching the master’s gospel on the plantation, the enslaved begin to turn on their own. Isaiah and Samuel’s love, which was once so simple, is seen as sinful and a clear danger to the plantation’s harmony.

With a lyricism reminiscent of Toni Morrison, Robert Jones, Jr. fiercely summons the voices of slaver and the enslaved alike to tell the story of these two men; from Amos the preacher to the calculating slave-master himself to the long line of women that surround them, women who have carried the soul of the plantation on their shoulders. As tensions build and the weight of centuries—of ancestors and future generations to come—culminate in a climactic reckoning, The Prophets masterfully reveals the pain and suffering of inheritance, but is also shot through with hope, beauty, and truth, portraying the enormous, heroic power of love.”



Triggers: Rape, abuse (physical, mental, emotional), lynching, death / murder (adult and child), animal sacrifice, slavery, racism, manipulation, loss of a loved one. Proceed with caution.

This was a difficult book for me to rate, not that the rating of a book like this is important. The importance comes from the incredible messages this story delivers. The main issue, and probably the only issue, I had with this book was the confusion I felt after finishing a few of the chapters. I’m not a critical reader, and sometimes I feel like because of that I shouldn’t review books. There’s always a little bit of impostor syndrome in me. Regardless of what kind of reader I am, I couldn’t give this five stars due to the reason mentioned. I couldn’t quite catch on to the concept. I don’t know if I should know more biblical references to understand it, but this book didn’t really do anything to ease the confusion. But, it’s incredible other than that.

There are a lot of characters to follow with this one, so taking notes couldn’t hurt the reading experience. I didn’t get them confused at any point, which I can always appreciate with a story of this stature. I will note that you don’t only follow the slaves. Following the whites of the story is very cringe and rightfully so. It’s also hard to read as far as content. There were points where I wanted to put it down for good, but not in a “I hated the book” way. It’s just so heartbreaking that these events happened/still happen. If I could snap a finger and make it go away, I would.

I don’t want to forget to mention the highlight of the book, the LGBTQ+ representation. That’s mainly what the story is about—Samuel and Isaiah (The Two of Them). I don’t think we got to see enough of them and their relationship because there are so many characters, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t deeply care for them. They didn’t always see eye-to-eye, but the love and admiration they had for each other was commendable. Oh, the ending will get to you if you end up loving these characters. It’s a tragedy, for sure. I was actually prepared for that, and I hope that I can prepare you for that if you haven’t read this yet.

This won’t be a book that everyone will enjoy based on how it’s written, and the fact that it’s character-driven. Sometimes character-driven books aren’t for me, but this one was well done. It wasn’t my favorite part of this novel just because there were so many characters. I just appreciate the message and the honesty. It’s heartbreaking, harrowing, brutal, admirable, and powerful.

Is it revolutionary?

I would think that’s also based on preference. It’s not for me but it’s damn near. It just seemed so original from anything I’ve read. The writing itself isn’t hard to understand. There’s great description and dialogue. I read that some people thought it was slow, but I was flipping pages like a madman. The relationships between the characters are incredibly fleshed out. I think it’s an important novel for our modern day, and whether or not you enjoy it subjectively, it undoubtedly packs a punch.

My favorite quotes:

“She knew that they purchased everything except mercy.”

“The scars lined them the way bark lined trees. But those weren’t the worst ones. The ones you couldn’t see: those were the ones that streaked the mind, squeezed the spirit, and left you standing outside in the rain naked as birth, demanding that the drops stop touching you.”

“Water done wore away at her stone, and the next thing she knew, she was a damn river when she could have sworn she was a mountain.”

“Whenever and wherever nothing encounters something, conflict is inevitable.”

“But how? How could they not need more of everything: more love, more life, more time?”

“How dare nature continue on as though his suffering didn’t even make a dent, like the bloodshed and the bodies laid were ordinary, to be reduced to fertilizer by insects and sucked up by crops. No more than cow dung in the grand scheme. Same color, too.”

“There could never be peace, only moments in which war wasn’t overwhelming.”

“I ain’t rotten fruit; I a man.”

“No one would remember her name, but she had become a larger spirit now: head bigger, hips wider, and whatever the hurt. All the ones who had come before her simply pumping through her heart and they had found a place to be in the caverns of her throat. There, she recalled her voice.”

“Only one question: What to do when the cavalry arrives? Only one thing to do: With every drop of blood: Rebel!”

“Robert Jones, Jr., was born and raised in New York City. He received his BFA in creative writing with honors and MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. He has written for numerous publications, including The New York TimesEssenceOkayAfricaThe Feminist Wire, and The Grio. He is the creator of the social justice social media community Son of Baldwin. Jones was recently featured in T Magazine‘s cover story, “Black Male Writers of Our Time.” The Prophets is his debut novel.”

His website


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Book Review of The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

371 pages

Published: 2/4/2020 by Dutton Books

ISBN: 9781524746025

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.

Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.



Triggers: Forced marriage at a very young age and everything that goes along with it (sex, pregnancy, etc.), sexism, death, grieving the loss of a loved one, physical abuse, and the mention of rape.

I’m really sad this wasn’t a five-star read. I went in with the highest of expectations, I promise. I know that everyone views a book differently, but I almost felt like I had to enjoy this. However, this book is still important. I recommend you read this because it is well-loved and I recognize that it’s a good book as far as purpose and content.

I’ll start with what I did enjoy: Adunni, the main character, and the writing. These two aspects of the novel kept me in the story (as much as I could be). Adunni is a strong narrator / protagonist, and there’s no doubt she’ll be a great influence to many women, even though she’s a teenage girl. She pushes through many, many obstacles that most will never be able to imagine. She’s incredible, and if you don’t want to read it for anything else, read it to experience Adunni’s determination.

The writing style was hard to get into. I almost couldn’t understand what the characters were saying, but it obviously makes sense considering it takes place in Nigeria. It’s about a teenage girl who has never been to school. She’s extremely smart, though. I was just so impressed with how well Daré executed the writing. I would read more from this author because of that.

The reason for the three-star rating was the plateau in plot and the bland side characters. I think I expected a different story than what the book offered. I shouldn’t blame the book for that, but regardless of what happened, the plot plateaued for pretty much half the book. I thought we would experience Adunni going through school, but we don’t. The ending sets up for that, which is great in its own way, but it didn’t work for me.

The characters had no personality. They were very dry and unmemorable. They just fit in molds for this kind of story, as bad as that sounds. I just didn’t think they added anything to the story. I never wanted to pick it up and read about how these boring characters made Adunni’s life hell. I just wanted to DNF so badly.

I understand why people love this. Please do not take offense to my overall opinion! I respect this book for the lessons it shares. I’m sure it’ll be great for the majority of people. Please go pick it up if you’re interested!


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Book Review of Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

Get a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters #1) by Talia Hibbert

384 pages

Published: 11/5/2019 by Avon

ISBN: 9780062941220

Genre: Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

“Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

• Enjoy a drunken night out.
• Ride a motorcycle.
• Go camping.
• Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
• Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
• And… do something bad.

But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…”



Triggers: Chronic pain (fibromyalgia) and discussion of abuse (physical and verbal).

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon for the early digital copy in exchange for honest review!

I’m pretty much two years late with this one, but it’s better late than never. *he he* I’m trying to make 2021 a better NetGalley year. Cheers to that. *holds up non existent champagne glass*

Anyway, let’s talk about the book that I didn’t like as much as I’d hoped. Let’s start with the positive, though.

I enjoyed the writing, the steam, and the discussion this book brought to the world’s attention. It doesn’t go into extreme detail about Chloe’s chronic pain, but it’s definitely brought up. She talks about how if the pain is below a 5, then she needs to kiss the feet of the universe. It bums me out that people actually have to live that way. I wish those people better days ahead.

There’s also discussion about Red and his ex, Pippa. He talks to Chloe about how she was actually abusive, but he never paid any attention. He just thought she was a brat. It just proves how much men are kind of looked over when it comes to abuse, and that also makes me sad. I hate that this particular topic is swept under the rug most of the time. We as a society need to be better about that.

What I didn’t like was Red and Chloe’s relationship as a whole. They were so up and down that I didn’t know what to think half the time. I couldn’t even tell if they wanted to be together. One minute they were so in love, then they were at each other’s throats over small mishaps and miscommunications. It was mainly Red that blew up because of the pretentiousness of Chloe. I couldn’t see the chemistry between the two of them, and I think that just about ruined the book for me. There are cute moments though. I will be the first to admit that some lines they share with each other are sweet.

No. No. This was the sort of moment she experienced, lists, worries, razor-sharp shyness and all. Bravery wasn’t an identity so much as a choice.

She chose him.

I would read more Hibbert, and I plan on continuing on with the series. This one in particular just didn’t work for me. That’s not to say that it shouldn’t get all of the buzz it receives, because I totally understand where everyone is coming from. If you think that you want to read this one, then go ahead and give it a whirl. I’m just hoping the next one is better.


Talia Hibbert is a USA Today bestselliing author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate.

She writes sexy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include beauty, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm. She also rambles intermittently about the romance genre online.

Talia self-publishes via Nixon House and is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.


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Book Review of The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi – New All-Time Favorite!

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

248 pages

Published: 8/4/2020 by Riverhead Books

ISBN: 9780525541608

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Amazon | B&N

“What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom. 

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.” 



Triggers: Cheating, mention of rape, sacrifice of an animal, homophobia, physical abuse, bullying, sexism, rioting, miscarriage, death.

When I started this book I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as everyone else. It took me a minute to really get into the story. However, that ending made tears fall from my eyes, so I knew it was either going to be four or five stars. Upon further thinking, it was definitely a five-star read! If you’re looking for black authors to read for Black History Month, this would be a fantastic place to start.

The amount of heartbreak that happens while reading this novel is extreme. The control and oppression that Vivek is shown makes me so upset. His family / community never give him a break. He could never truly be who he wanted to be. You only get glimpses into Vivek’s brain, understandably, but you’ll want more as the story progresses. It’s hard only seeing through the lens of his family. You mainly get Osita’s point of view, and you’ll understand why if / when you read it.

It’s mind blowing to me that men with longer hair are even seen in a different light. It’s just hair, but different cultures assign it different meanings. This one gives men with long hair a bad connotation, but I’m so proud of Vivek for standing up for himself. I’m also happy that his mother, Kavita, sticks up for him as well. She struggles to understand what’s going on with Vivek, but she tries to see where he’s coming from. She just wants her baby to be okay. Sadly, he’s taken from the Earth far too early.

He was hiding in everyone else’s house as if he didn’t have a home. We didn’t know anything about our own child’s life.

There are parts in here that involve the two cousins, Vivek and Osita, that made me uncomfortable. I just didn’t expect it to happen. It’s a very intimate relationship, but you have to understand that Osita is one of the few people who allow Vivek to be Vivek. Osita obviously wants to protect his cousin, but he knows he’ll end up doing what he wants to in the end. Emezi definitely explores this relationship and turns it up a notch.

Can we talk about Mary and Ekene? I hated them with every fiber of my being. After reading about what happened when Mary took Vivek to church, I could have thrown the book (my iPad) across the room. I wanted to rage through my town. I just wanted to give Vivek a big hug.

I’m so happy I gave this book a chance. It explores so many kinds of relationships (familial and romantic). There’s so much sadness and heartbreak, but there’s a light at the end of the very dark tunnel. Some characters even experience growth—Kavita mostly. I just want everyone to experience this book, but I know it’s probably extremely triggering for so many people. I just think it’s so important to read. I haven’t read anything quite like it. If you think you can handle all of the triggers, then I recommend you read it with an open mind and open heart.

Akwaeke Emezi (b. 1987) is an artist and writer based in liminal spaces. Their art practice is located in the metaphysics of Black spirit and uses video, performance, writing, and sculpture to create rituals processing their embodiment as a nonhuman entity/an ogbanje/a deity’s child. 


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Book Review of Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

320 pages

Published: 3/3/20 by Grove Press

ISBN: 9780802148537

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

Following the breakout success of her critically acclaimed and award-winning novel Euphoria, Lily King returns with an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman.

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, moldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfill her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.

Writers & Lovers follows Casey–a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist–in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humor, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.


Triggers: The death of a loved one, grieving, harassment.

“I have a pact with myself not to think about money in the morning.”

Wow, this book definitely took me by surprise. I almost put it down, but I opted for the audiobook instead. I don’t know if it made the writing come alive, but I couldn’t stop listening to it. I ended up loving Casey as a main character. She’s such a strong woman who is chewed up and spit out by life. She loses her mother, her best friend. Grieving the loss of a parent has to be the hardest thing to do in life. I can’t imagine.

I thought the side characters were also pretty interesting. Oscar one of the guys she talks to has two kids, and I loved how much Casey cared for them. She wanted what was best for them, and Oscar honestly made me question how well he took care of them. He also tried to push Casey into thinking golf was the route she should take. I remember him mentioning that if you have the talent, then you should put it to use. Stupid. I hated him, long story short.

Silas. Oh, Silas. He had been through loss before, and I think that helped him connect with Casey. He understood more of what Casey was feeling. I wanted more of Silas, but we definitely got more of Oscar, unfortunately. Although, I’m happy with the ending. It may have wrapped up too nicely, but I thought it was refreshing to see Casey get some relief, some closure.

A book in the library said that some Canada geese may travel as far as Jalisco, Mexico. My mother will like that, the long exhilarating trip, the foreign landing. But others, the book said, will stay where they are for the winter. Those geese are already home.

Overall, I would recommend the book if you can handle a character study. It’s very raw and emotional. I didn’t really care for the beginning, but I would definitely go back into in with a different perspective now that I completed it. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, certainly with the writing style if not anything else. It’s an acquired taste. I had to get used to it. There are a lot of nice quotes from this one. I just thought it was a well-rounded novel.

Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad. Lily’s new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, being named an Amazon Book of the Month, on the Indie Next List, and hitting numerous summer reading lists from The Boston Globe to O Magazine and USA Today. Reviewed on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, Emily Eakin called Euphoria, “a taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace.”


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Book Review of The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang

654 pages

Published: 8/6/19 by Harper Voyager

ISBN: 9780062662637

Genre: Adult fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Amazon | B&N

*Click on photos to view original source

“In the aftermath of the Third Poppy War, shaman and warrior Rin is on the run: haunted by the atrocity she committed to end the war, addicted to opium, and hiding from the murderous commands of her vengeful god, the fiery Phoenix. Her only reason for living is to get revenge on the traitorous Empress who sold out Nikan to their enemies.

With no other options, Rin joins forces with the powerful Dragon Warlord, who has a plan to conquer Nikan, unseat the Empress, and create a new Republic. Rin throws herself into his war. After all, making war is all she knows how to do.

But the Empress is a more powerful foe than she appears, and the Dragon Warlord’s motivations are not as democratic as they seem. The more Rin learns, the more she fears her love for Nikan will drive her away from every ally and lead her to rely more and more on the Phoenix’s deadly power. Because there is nothing she won’t sacrifice for her country and her vengeance.”


Trigger warnings: Rape, self-harm, vivid descriptions of the dead (adults and children), drug use, vivid murder scenes, war scenes, PTSD, abortion, human experimentation, sad animal death, loss of a loved one. Just proceed with caution if you pick up this series. It’s pretty dark and brutal.

Wow, this book was one heck of a feat.

If I thought the first book was a lot to handle, this one really turns it up a few notches. It’s very action-packed and fast-paced, yet it’s not at the same time. It felt like it took me eons to finish, and that’s one of the reasons I gave it a lower rating than the first book. I’ll get into my other reasons later. Let’s get into my review.

I guess I’ll start with why I enjoyed this one, and why I’ll be finishing the series. I don’t know how I couldn’t finish this series considering how invested I am after reading 1,000+ pages of it already.

The writing is pretty much the same as the last book. The writing is well done and pretty easy to understand, as I said in my review for the first book in the series. There’s a lot of character development and world building to be had with this one. You may want to take notes if that’ll help you.

My favorite characters ended up being Kitay, Suni and Baji. I will tell you to not fall in love with any characters because Kuang doesn’t care about your feelings, apparently. She really ripped my heart out a few times throughout the novel. Now I see what everyone was talking about. I’ve read this one before and all of it went over my head. I’m happy I paid attention this time around.

It’s not about who you are, it’s about how they see you. And once you’re mud in this country, you’re always mud.

Rin really gave us the run-around with her development. I would be so proud of her one moment and so frustrated with her the next. I can’t believe how much she didn’t see what was happening within the Dragon Republic. Like, did she meet Vaisra? I could tell the moment she spoke to him that he would drag her through mud! Oh, it made me want to throw the book. I can’t tell if I’m going to like Rin by the end of the series. Only time and 640 pages will tell.

Okay, moving on to what really got under my skin with this one.

First off, “Tiger’s tits.”

THAT PHRASE GIVES ME SECONDHAND EMBARRASSMENT. STOP USING IT. I swear it was on every page. Every page. It’s not funny, and it never was. Can we all agree?

There are so many characters introduced in the book that my head was spinning. They were all connected / related / whatever else you can be with another person. I almost gave up. I couldn’t tell who was against who because it would change so quickly. It’s just many pages of back-and-forth between armies, warlords, Gods, etc. I just couldn’t get with it.

What had seemed like an easy victory was about to turn into a bloodbath.

And, for the grand finale that we all saw coming……..it was too long. Maybe I’m not used to long fantasy novels since I don’t read them. I’m also in for a rude awakening when I read The Stormlight Archive series by Brandon Sanderson. Like I said, it felt like a lot happened yet nothing at all. I was wishing for it to be over with. I loved the beginning and the end of the book. Let’s just condense the middle and I’ll be a happy camper.

Overall, I think this had middle book syndrome. I think it’s preparing for one heck of a finale. Well, that’s all I can hope for. It may take a bit of a break before jumping into that one, though. I read the first two back-to-back. I will say that I could probably read this series a third time and learn something new each time. That’s another positive that comes from this series. If you can handle the brutality of it, then I say go pick up the first one!

Side note: When Rin is learning how to use the fire inside her, and she hurts Kitay, it reminds me of when Aang hurts Katara in Avatar: The Last Airbender when he’s trying to fire bend.

Rebecca F. Kuang is a Marshall Scholar, translator, and the Nebula, Locus, and World Fantasy Award nominated author of the Poppy War trilogy. She has an MPhil in Chinese Studies from Cambridge and an MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies from Oxford; she is now pursuing a PhD in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale. Website: rfkuang.com


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Reading the Forward Collection Series from Amazon

Hello, friends! I hope you’re having a good week.

This week, while watching BookTube, I watched BookswithEmilyFox reading this collection of short stories from authors I recognized. I don’t typically read science fiction, but I’m trying to branch out. Anyway, I had such high hopes for this collection. It didn’t really come through for me but that’s okay. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, and I went in blind to every story. I’m not going to give you much information about each book because I found it fun to go in blind to each one, and I think it would benefit you as well.


Ark (Forward Collection #1) by Veronica Roth

39 pages

“On the eve of Earth’s destruction, a young scientist discovers something too precious to lose, in a story of cataclysm and hope by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Divergent trilogy.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A very average short story that tried to be more thought provoking than it probably needed to be. I understood where the author was coming from, but I didn’t think it worked with this specific short story. There was no background on the characters except for the little bit the author offers us. Samantha, the main character who helps with the Ark Project in Svalbard, is very melancholy in nature while not at the same time. I received mixed signals from her. It seemed like a very dark story with the end of the world looming over the few people left on Earth, meanwhile it was a story filled with hope. It’s a good contrast, but I think I needed a long story if that’s the case. Overall, it was an okay start to this collection. It’s a rocky journey from here, though.


Summer Frost (Forward Collection #2) by Blake Crouch

75 pages

“A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This one, by far, is the creepiest short story in this collection. I hate the thought of AI becoming smarter than humans. The dry, scientific writing works for the story, otherwise I wouldn’t have given it four stars. I thought there was a lot of good discussion about gender and how we as humans assume gender so easily. No, there’s not a lot of character development, but the uneasiness this book provides really makes up for that. The downfall of this short story is the ending. I found it to wrap up at the last second and it seemed a little cheap. I know this wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’d say go ahead and read it if you want to feel uncomfy for an hour.


Emergency Skin (Forward Collection #3) by N.K. Jemisin

33 pages

“What will become of our self-destructed planet? The answer shatters all expectations in this subversive speculation from the Hugo Award–winning author of the Broken Earth trilogy.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Ugh, I thought for sure this would be my favorite one out of all six stories. Honestly, it’s at the bottom above The Last Conversation by Tremblay. I will give it points for how eye-opening this one is. There’s a good discussion about how terrible humans are to the Earth. I thought the point of view worked, but I was extremely aggravated by the “voice inside your head.” I understood why that was there, but there had to be a different way to do it. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I can’t raise my rating. There’s a lot to unpack in this story, so if you’re interested, then I’d recommend you give it a shot.


You Have Arrived at Your Destination (Forward Collection #4 by Amor Towles

46 pages

“Nature or nurture? Neither. Discover a bold new way to raise a child in this unsettling story of the near future by the New York Times bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is my favorite one from this collection, and I’m just as shocked as you are. I thought this one had the best character development, plot, and unsettling dialogue. The only thing that made me drop a star was the ending. I don’t think I understood what it all meant. It’s one of my pet peeves with books. I hate being intrigued just to catch “eh” feelings at the end. It makes me want to scream. Anyway, it was my favorite……that’s all.


The Last Conversation (Forward Collection #5) by Paul Tremblay

56 pages

“What’s more frightening: Not knowing who you are? Or finding out? A Bram Stoker Award–winning author explores the answer in a chilling story about identity and human consciousness.”

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This book didn’t slap, and that’s putting it kindly. I don’t even know what I read and why, but I’m not here for it. There was nothing intriguing about this! I don’t want to drag this anymore, so I’ll just end it with: don’t read this.


Randomize (Forward Collection #6) by Andy Weir

28 pages

“In the near future, if Vegas games are ingeniously scam-proof, then the heists have to be too, in this imaginative and whip-smart story by the New York Times bestselling author of The Martian.”

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The amount of conniving characters in this one was a nice change of pace since it is the last story. There’s quantum physics, casinos, and random number generators. If that doesn’t make you want to read it, then I don’t know what will. I thought the writing was fine. I think this one has the lowest rating out of all of them, but I’m not really sure why. I still recommend it.


If I had to rank them from most favorite to least favorite:

You Have Arrived at Your Destination, Summer Frost, Randomize, Ark, Emergency Skin, and The Last Conversation.

If you’ve read any of these, you should let me know your thoughts in the comments.


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The Anti-TBR Tag

A popular book everyone loves but you have no interest in reading?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A classic book / author you don’t have an interest in reading?

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway / Ernest Hemingway, himself. I’ve never had an interest, and I didn’t even do the required reading in high school.

An author whose books you have no interest in reading?

I’m going to name a few: James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, Cassandra Clare, and Mark Z. Danielewski.

A problematic author whose books you have no interest in reading?

I read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher in high school, and I’ve never had interest in anything else by him anyway.

I had one of Sherman Alexie’s books on my TBR this year (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), but I don’t feel compelled to read it after reading about how he’s been racist and how he acts terribly toward women. Check out this blog post if you want to know more.

An author you have read a couple books from and decided their books are not for you?

Sorry to anyone who is a die-hard fan, but Stephen King is just not for me. I read It, Sleeping Beauties, The Institute and didn’t enjoy any of them. I tried reading Rose Madder and The Long Walk, but I couldn’t get into them. He’s just not for me and that’s okay.

A genre you have no interest in OR genre you tried and couldn’t get into?

Erotica or magical realism. I’ve tried to read from both genres, and I just don’t think they’re ones I’ll ever fall in love with.

A book you bought but will never read OR a library book you borrowed but returned unread?

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling. I think I have better odds of reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

A series you have no interest in reading OR a series you started but have dnf’d?

I have no interest in reading the Nevernight series. I’ve tossed around the idea of it, but it’s probably not going to happen.

If I don’t enjoy Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire, then I’m giving up on that series. It just isn’t for me, and really wasn’t for me the entire time. The only ones I enjoyed were the first and third one.

A new release you have no interest in reading?

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston. I didn’t care for Red, White & Royal Blue, and I don’t even have interest in her new one. McQuiston was one of those hyped authors that I thought I had to read from. I initially gave her first book four stars, but later realized it was more like a 3 or lower.


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How I Defeat a Reading Slump

I hit reading slumps quite often throughout any given year, and I’m not sure why or how. I know that everyone is different as to how they get out of a slump, but this post is just some tips and tricks I use to defeat one.

Step Away.

I never try to force myself to read. If I start multiple books and don’t make it past the first chapter, I put everything down and focus on something else. I’ll work on a puzzle, watch movies, watch YouTube, bake, etc. Sometimes, that’ll happen for weeks, months, but I don’t let it get to me. Reading, for me, is usually for entertainment and relaxation.

Switch Up Format.

Sometimes a reading slump is that big of a feat. If I start to get tired of physical books, I’ll switch to an eBook. I’ve actually been drawn to eBooks lately. I think a lot of it has to do with portability and the fact that eBooks are cheaper (usually). My wallet appreciates that the most. Audiobooks are usually paired with either format. I love me a good audiobook, but I struggle to just listen to an audiobook.

Switch Up the Genre.

I think this pretty much explains itself. Either I put the book down that I’m struggling with or DNF it, and I’ll pick up something from a new genre. I will typically crawl to historical fiction—it’s my happy place (most of the time).

Watch BookTube.

I think watching someone talk about books makes me want to read. If I’m going to step away and watch YouTube, then I can stand to watch some of my favorite BookTubers. This doesn’t always work, typically my last-ditch effort, but it doesn’t hurt the slump.


Do you have any tips and tricks to defeat a reading slump? Jot them down in the comments if you want to share.


If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog and other social media. Be respectful and happy reading!

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