Monday, February 22, 2021

     
MILK FED by Melissa Broder
Publication: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Scribner,
Simon & Schuster CA
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: ★★★★

A scathingly funny, wildly erotic, and fiercely imaginative story about food, sex, and god from the acclaimed author of The Pisces and So Sad Today.

Rachel is twenty-four, a lapsed Jew who has made calorie restriction her religion. By day, she maintains an illusion of existential control, by way of obsessive food rituals, while working as an underling at a Los Angeles talent management agency. At night, she pedals nowhere on the elliptical machine. Rachel is content to carry on subsisting—until her therapist encourages her to take a ninety-day communication detox from her mother, who raised her in the tradition of calorie counting.

Early in the detox, Rachel meets Miriam, a zaftig young Orthodox Jewish woman who works at her favorite frozen yogurt shop and is intent upon feeding her. Rachel is suddenly and powerfully entranced by Miriam—by her sundaes and her body, her faith and her family—and as the two grow closer, Rachel embarks on a journey marked by mirrors, mysticism, mothers, milk, and honey.

Pairing superlative emotional insight with unabashed vivid fantasy, Broder tells a tale of appetites: physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual longing, and the ways that we as humans can compartmentalize these so often interdependent instincts. Milk Fed is a tender and riotously funny meditation on love, certitude, and the question of what we are all being fed, from one of our major writers on the psyche—both sacred and profane.



Broder may take some getting used to, especially by people with sensitive palates. I was lucky enough to borrow an audio version from Libby to accompany me during my reading. Narrated by Broder herself, I get to experience how this book should be read and felt firsthand. The story is witty, fragile, and weirdly engaging, all at the same time. MILK FED is told by Rachel, a 24-year-old talent agent and stand-up comedian with an eating disorder. Her problems stemmed from her mother’s aesthetic expectations. Rachel talks about (almost) everything in a vividly tactile manner -yogurt, energy bar, and her sexual imaginings. And she went to some excesses handing out her issues in prickly means, too.

Emotionally damaged, Rachel carried up sensitive issues that, often than not, were badly addressed. She temporarily detoxed herself from her mother, as her therapist advised, but refused to confront her other problems. Her spiral was alarming. And then, she met the yogurt goddess named Miriam.

Miriam is everything un-Rachel. She is bossy, confident, religious, family-oriented, and (most of all) a foodie. Although everything is told from Rachel's perspective, it is both cute and painful to see them together. While Rachel projects Miriam as a motherly figure, she also objectified her in her sexual fantasies, which is one of those issues that were nippily wrapped up. Her problem, though, has nothing to do with her sexual preferences or orientation. She is struggling to pour from an empty cup. Rachel needs to be comfortable in her own skin.

MILK FED is unapologetically raw, a sensory overload, where words are lavishly applied. I do recommend it to anyone else who gravitates toward the damaged and weird.


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About the Author:

Melissa Broder is the author of the novel The Pisces, the essay collection So Sad Today and four poetry collections, including Last Sext. She has written for The New York Times, Elle.com, VICE, Vogue Italia, and New York magazine’s “The Cut.” Her poems have appeared in POETRY, The Iowa Review, Tin House, and Guernica, and she is the winner of a Pushcart Prize for poetry. She lives in Los Angeles. Photograph by Petra Collins.




*Thanks to Scribner, Simon & Schuster Canada for the physical ARC in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.

Book Review | MILK FED by Melissa Broder

Monday, February 8, 2021

   
THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPERANCE OF AIDAN S.
by David Levithan
Publication: February 2, 2021
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction
Rating: ★★★★


Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonizing days of searches, and police, and questions, and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply. . . impossible. But it's the story Aidan is sticking to.

His brother, Lucas, wants to believe him. But Lucas is aware of what other people, including their parents, are saying: that Aidan is making it all up to disguise the fact that he ran away.

When the kids in school hear Aidan's story, they taunt him. But still Aidan clings to his story. And as he becomes more of an outcast, Lucas becomes more and more concerned. Being on Aidan's side would mean believing in the impossible. But how can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?



I look forward to reading Middle-Grade books the same way I anticipate an actively participated lecture. Learning from the students -bringing out their expectations and takeaways- is a constant gratification. This book is not different from that.

Aidan went missing for six days. The whole town went looking for him. They scoured the woods, asked people, and even the police were baffled. Until one day, his brother Lucas found him in the attic, wearing the same pajamas.

At the onset, this book may seem about Aidan and his Narnia-like adventure –the place, the people, and the creatures. Looking deeply, this is about a family moving on from a tragedy. As a mother myself, I understand his parent’s fear. The possibility of losing a child is a nightmare no parent would choose to go through. And more often than not, fear leads to anger and impatience. (Thanks, Yoda.) Similar to any post-tragic events, support is vital. I respect how flawed and honest Aidan’s parents are. And I admire their humility to seek help from others and see the importance of working as a team. I appreciate Aunt Brandi and Officer Pinkus for letting Aidan be true to himself. Above all, I love Lucas’ composure in all these, his understanding that Aidan needed a sympathetic listener more than anything.

This book is also about community and our level of tolerance for one another. Moreover, this is about feigned benevolence -on how we can hold a prayer vigil for a lost boy today and then viciously demand the truth the next day.

It was a bittersweet ending, but overall, I believe the takeaway is more than an engaging read. It was enlightening.


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About the Author:

David Levithan is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.







*Thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers​ and Netgalley for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.



Book Review | THE MYSTERIOUS DISAPPERANCE OF AIDAN S. by David Levithan

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Welcome to my stop for the BAD HABITS Blog Tour, hosted by @TheWriteReads. I am very thankful and excited to be part of this.

     
BAD HABITS by Flynn Meaney
Publication: February 11, 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: ★★★★


Alex is a rebel with a purple fauxhawk and biker boots.

St Mary's Catholic School is a strict boarding school where she's currently trapped.

Despite trying everything she can to get expelled, she's still stuck with the nuns, the prudish attitude and the sexism.

Fed up with life inside the hallowed halls of St. Mary's, Alex decides to take matters into her own hands. She's going to stage the school's first ever production of The Vagina Monologues.

Which may be a challenge, as no one else at St Mary's can even bear to say the word 'vagina' out loud...


BAD HABITS is laugh-out-loud funny. Flynn Meaney’s supply of metaphors is impressive. And the Catholic school environment brought up some very familiar scenes from my grade school days.

Alex Heck’s semester goal is (...ummm) not to finish the semester. In her junior year, she wants nothing but to get expelled and go home to California. She tried her best –alcoholic and sexual escapades, vandalism, etc. Her words, not mine. She’s not a catholic boarding school material, but St. Mary’s is not ready to give up on her. Determined to have her way, though, the girl decides to stage her very own production of Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues.

The school is not going to make anything easier for Alex. She needs to battle the administration in every turn and breakdown a culture of prude-ness. Kate, her French-braided, Laura Ingalls Wilder-look-alike best friend, can’t even say vagina out loud. The mention of Tampons sets Hockey boys sniggering. While Alex grudgingly made alliances and compromises, she still has more to bone up.

Alex is smart, with quick bad-ass comebacks every time. Her literary references are remarkable. Somehow, her protests are viewed as mere misbehavior because Alex is also impulsive, unruly, and foul-mouthed. For someone who is screaming for change and equality, Alex has her own biases. And so, I enjoyed how her friends (basically, everyone around) keeps her grounded. These second characters are marvelous around her. Despite all her flaws, Alex cares for people and self-reflects when needed.

A fun and inspiring read, asking readers to look deeply inside and break barriers. I recommend.


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About the Author:
Flynn Meaney is the author of The Boy Recession and Bloodthirsty. She studied marketing and French at the University of Notre Dame, where she barely survived the terrifying array of priests and nuns, campus ghosts, and bone-crushing athletes who inspired Bad Habits. Since completing a very practical MFA in Poetry, she works for a French company and travels often between New York (when she's in the mood for bagels) and Paris (when she's in the mood for croissants).






*Thanks to Penguin and The Write Reads Tour for the egalley in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.



Blog Tour | BAD HABITS by Flynn Meaney

Monday, January 11, 2021

A long time ago, my maternal grandfather used to talk about the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. In so many words, he had described it as horrible three years. He was a newly-graduate Agricultural engineer then. And being educated, the Japanese officers forced him to teach school instead, where he eventually met my aboriginal grandmother. So, good things sometimes emerge from horrible times. While most people want to count off those three years of suffering, my grandfather cannot and will not because of love.

Why share this story? Well, we all experienced the Year 2020. Horrible things happened, and although we wanted to count them off, we can’t. Our frontline heroes deserve to be remembered and honored. We continue to thank those who provide us with relief from depression and worries each day. For me, it’s Twitter, friends, and family, and books. A colleague, who lives alone, brings in coffee for us on days we have to come for work. He said that still seeing us face to face allows him to hope despite the mask and the 6-feet gap. And I have to say that we’ve now perfected smiling with our eyes. Also, I was relieved that my students like my playlist during tests. Thanks, Tones and I, for Dance Monkey!


Don’t get me wrong, my fears are still here, but I have hope as my shield. For 2021, I have resolved to soldier on despite the odds. Overcome. Yes, I believe it is a fitting word for me this year. And that’s what I hope for everyone as well.

By the way, The Page Walker turned eight (8) this year, another reason to be thankful. And I am grateful for my readers, for the publishers, publicists, and authors who collaborated with me all these times. Godspeed!


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MY WORD FOR THE YEAR 2021

Saturday, January 2, 2021


Hi! By now, everyone must have jotted down their anticipated books for the year 2021. I am excited to share mine too, but I need to share my favorite reads from 2020 before all else.

My Best List is shorter this time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I disliked the rest. In fact, I gave sixteen 5-star ratings for 2020.

WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS by Andrew David MacDonald - This book managed to squeeze in huge topics –alcoholism, poverty, healthcare, abuse, and equal opportunity for everyone. MacDonald employed a witty and affecting narrative that engages the reader straightforwardly. He emphasizes the essentials for security, as well as human growth and development.

ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman - This book fleshes out people’s inner turmoil. Backman carries us into a narrative that allows us to see human vulnerability, including ours. And cleverly sways us to look at the dreariest of circumstances in a different light and challenges us to flex kindness all the time.

BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse - This book is the first in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy. Every detail of this book reveals in-depth research and rumination –the worldbuilding, the plot, and the ensemble of characters. Rebecca Roanhorse wrote a powerful starter.

MISS BENSON'S BEETLE by Rachel Joyce - How can a search for a beetle also be a discovery of one’s self? Of determination? Of friendship? This book has incredibly managed to provide me with the answers. Rachel Joyce can unfold life in small details -her stories are funny, poignant, and hopeful. And I would recommend her anytime.

If you have read these books, please share your thoughts. And if you have not picked them up yet, I highly encourage you to do so. Stay well and safe, my friends, and happy reading!



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*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.



Circus Mirandus
Who Speaks for the Damned
Lalani of the Distant Sea
The 19th Christmas
The Secrets of Love Story Bridge
When We Were Vikings
The Love Story of Missy Carmichael
The 20th Victim
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Chivalry
Dear Mrs. Bird
Of Literature and Lattes
Miss Iceland
Lost Autumn
Warren the 13th and the 13-Year Curse
Fox 8
Bells of Prosper Station
Writers & Lovers
Love Lettering
Piranesi



BEST READS FROM 2020

Monday, November 30, 2020

LORE by Alexandra Bracken
Publication: January 5, 2021
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★★

HER NAME WILL BE LEGEND.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.

Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths. Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods. The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees. -Publisher


LORE is a tale worth witnessing.

In New York, the hunters are converging to hunt the Greek gods of old. Thousands of years ago, nine have staged a failed revolution against Zeus. As punishment, Zeus created the Agon, a hunt. Every seven years, these gods will fight in their mortal vessels and hunted down as prey to any ancient hero’s descendant. The successful hunter will ascend to immortality, gaining the slain god’s power.

Lore, orphaned, and hurting, was sought out by a wounded Athena to face her destiny. She spent years trying to avoid the hunt. She wants out. But Lore also wants revenge.

Okay, it sounds like the Hunger Games for the gods. Yes and no. Winning the hunt and gaining power is not the end. There are more at stake. Alexandra Bracken cleverly created new mythology from the backbone of ancient Greek and carefully slipped in issues that affect the world today –capitalism, social injustices, and morality. I feel a current moving thru these pages, pivoting on a complex plot and intriguing characters. Readers will want answers, and I cannot wait to start my 2021 reading year witnessing this book’s ascent.


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About the Author:
Alexandra Bracken was born in Phoenix, Arizona. The daughter of a Star Wars collector, she grew up going to an endless string of Star Wars conventions and toy fairs, which helped spark her imagination and a deep love of reading. After graduating high school, she attended The College of William & Mary in Virginia, where she double majored in English and History. She sold her first book, Brightly Woven, as a senior in college, and later moved to New York City to work in children's book publishing, first as an editorial assistant, then in marketing. After six years, she took the plunge and decided to write full time. She now lives in Arizona with her tiny pup, Tennyson, in a house that's constantly overflowing with books.

Alex is a #1 New York Times bestselling and USA TODAY bestselling author. Her work is available across the world in over 15 languages.



*Thanks to Disney Hyperion for the advance book excerpt in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.



Sample Review | LORE by Alexandra Bracken

Friday, November 13, 2020

  
SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS by Robert Repino
Publication: April 21, 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction / Fantasy
Rating: ★★★½


Spark is not your average teddy bear. She’s soft and cuddly, sure, but she’s also a fierce warrior. At night she fulfills her sacred duty: to protect the household from monsters. But Spark’s owner Loretta is growing up and thinks she doesn’t need her old teddy anymore.

When a monster unlike any other descends on the quiet home, everything changes. Children are going missing, and the monster wants Loretta next. Only Spark can stop it. She must call upon the ancient League of Ursus—a secret alliance of teddy bears who are pledged to protect their human friends. Together with an Amazon-princess doll and a timid sock monkey, the bears are all that stands between our world and the one that lies beneath. It will be a heroic chapter in the history of the League . . . if the bears live to tell the tale. -Publisher




Through Sir Reginald, Spark learned all about the League of Ursus. And with her mentor to train her, she had the confidence and readiness any protector should have. But the monster that appeared in Loretta’s bedroom is something different altogether. It comes in the night, while the kids are sleeping, crawling from the darkest corner of the room. It has a distinct power to open portals in different locations and cancel all the sounds in any place it occupies. And while most monsters only feed on their prey’s fear, this one drags them away where no one has gone before.

Robert Repino gave life to a story most kids hold on to -that their teddy bears are more than just toys -they are loyal companions. Bears serve. Bears watch. Bears Protect. Always and forever. Spark knows the oath by heart, and she means to do everything to protect Loretta, her dusa. The very premise raised plenty of questions. How did the teddy bears realize that they are protectors? Instead of addressing it, the story chose to focus on the deep love these bears have for their humans until their final light, on kids standing strong for their siblings, that friendship matter, that being afraid is not cowardice, and that compassion should still rule at the end of the day.

SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS has enough scare and challenges to entertain its middle-grade audience. A perfect read for Friday the 13th. Spark is the kind of friend kids would like to have. Also, Matthew and Loretta’s motto is something everyone should hear – “Keep dreaming, and keep trying!”

Book #2, Spark and the Grand Sleuth, is out on March 23, 2021.


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About the Author:
Robert Repino is the author of Mort(e), Culdesac, and D’Arc, which make up the critically acclaimed War with No Name series (Soho Press). He holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and teaches at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop. He lives in New York City where he works as an editor at an academic publisher. This is his middle-grade debut. Robert had two special teddy bears when he was growing up: Bear and Blue Bear.




*Thanks to Quirk Books for the printed copy in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | SPARK AND THE LEAGUE OF URSUS by Robert Repino

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

  
PET THAT DOG!
by Gideon Kidd and Rachel Braunigan
Publication: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Quirk Books
Genre: Activity Book for Children
Rating: ★★★★★


From 11-year-old dog-loving Gideon Kidd of the viral Twitter account I've Pet That Dog comes a guide for young readers to befriend and care for dogs of all shapes, sizes, and personalities!
-Publisher


Want to know how many times a kid asked us if they could pet our dog, Rue? Many, many times. Sometimes it can get funny when they come at her running with their arms wide open and shouting “puppy, puppy, puppy.” Meanwhile, Rue thinks they want to play tag, then starts running around, hiding and peeking out of bushes, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. And sometimes, she can get so excited it’s hard to get her settled enough again to get petted. This first-hand experience taught us that there are plenty of kids out there who love to pet dogs that are either too eager or too shy to ask.

Thanks to Gideon and his mom, Rachel, for sharing PET THAT DOG! It’s a handbook on how to befriend and care for dogs. It comes in an interactive format with fun facts, a dog tracker, and a checklist. The book also has some beautiful illustrations of interesting dogs Gideon met before.

Undoubtedly, plenty of kids and future dog owners will learn much from this book, and this could be a fun family activity too.

*The book is ON SALE NOW, purchase your copy and send your receipt to Quirk Books by October 27, 2020 to get a free sticker sheet and a bookplate signed by Gideon. For more details click here.



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About the Author:
Gideon Kidd is a 12-year-old boy from Iowa. He loves dogs and hopes to meet and pet as many as he can. He asked his Mom if he could start a blog in 2016, when he was 8 years old, documenting each dog he petted. He began posting his pictures and stories on Twitter in April 2018, and now he has pet over 1,000 dogs and has over 300,000 Twitter followers. Rachel Braunigan is Gideon's mom. A social worker turned stay-at-home mom, she has four sons. Rachel assists Gideon with his project by taking pictures, and helping in the never-ending quest to pet more dogs.




*Thanks to Quirk Books for the printed copy in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | PET THAT DOG! by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan

Monday, October 12, 2020

  
BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse
Publication: October 13, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Gallery / Saga Press
Genre: Historical Fantasy / YA
Rating: ★★★★★

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created an epic adventure exploring the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in the most original series debut of the decade. -Goodreads




BLACK SUN is so immersive, I came up fully soaked in awe!

The worldbuilding is vast and vivid. This book is the first in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, wherein the readers are introduced to Meridian, a continent so unique yet also very familiar -from the clothes down to cacao as currency. Although the book is Pre-Columbian Americas inspired, hints of Polynesian culture are present too. Since Polynesians share the same origins as the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, it’s fascinating to see familiar things –seafaring, knife and pole fighting, and the sun-eating bird.

The plot is taut and fast-paced. The storyline kept me engaged throughout, from the propulsive opening to the cliffhanger ending. Every scene awakens and builds emotional connections. And Roanhorse certainly knows her political maneuverings very well. They evoke the primal instinct to react for self-preservation and social justice.

The ensemble is very inclusive –race, gender, status, impairments. Intriguing, social stigma has no place in this book. Each character is fascinating, representing a strategic purpose. Like the plot, they are manifold, continually unfolding to give the reader a broader image of the premise. Here, romance can be abstract, but not unsatisfying, nor less heart-rending.

Every detail of this book reveals in-depth research and rumination. Rebecca Roanhorse wrote a very powerful starter and the best book I have read this year. Kudos to John Picacio for this lovely cover I am shamelessly coveting for my bookshelf. Lastly, I want to point out that this is not “a little closer to great.” THIS IS GREAT, Ms. Rebecca. Congratulations! 




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About the Author:
Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes bestselling and Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Her novel Trail of Lightning (Book 1 in the Sixth World Series) won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy Finalist. It was also selected as an Amazon, B&N, Library Journal, and NPR Best Books of 2018, among others. Storm of Locusts (Book 2 in the Sixth World Series) was a Locus Award Finalist and was longlisted for the Hugo Award. It also received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, and was named an Amazon, Powell’s, and Audible Best of 2019. Her novel, Resistance Reborn, is part of Star Wars: Journey to The Rise of Skywalker and a USA Today and NYTimes bestseller. Her middle grade novel Race to the Sun for the Rick Riordan Present’s imprint was a NYTimes Bestseller and received a starred review from Kirkus. 

She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pup. She drinks a lot of black coffee. Find more on Twitter at @RoanhorseBex.


*Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the uncorrected proof in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobook! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | BLACK SUN by Rebecca Roanhorse

Monday, October 5, 2020

  
THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN by C.L. Polk
Publication: October 13, 2020
Publisher: Erewhon
Genre: Historical Fantasy / YA
Rating: ★★★★

From the beloved World Fantasy Award-winning author of Witchmark comes The Midnight Bargain, a sweeping, romantic new fantasy set in a world reminiscent of Regency England, where women’s magic is taken from them when they marry. A sorceress must balance her desire to become the first great female magician against her duty to her family.

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors comes calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken? -Publisher


In THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN, C. L. Polk takes us into a patriarchal society that doesn’t encourage women to practice magic, let alone seek learning, and be a magus. Beatrice Clayborn is bent on pursuing higher education by secretly gathering and learning all the grimoire she could find. Even with everything at stake, including her family’s estate and livelihood, Beatrice cannot abide by giving up her magic for marriage.

A society of women fighting for gender equality has number and influence behind them, but it’s quite different when you are alone, and the world seems to be closing up on you. Beatrice’s confidences were few, and her choices even fewer. Her merger with Nadi completes her character. It made her more curious and incipient. In truth, all the characters are varyingly curious. Every woman in this book has a role to play. Each felt the brunt of societal repression and chose to react in different manners.

This new idea of women subjugated because magic risks the unborn child inside their mother’s womb is ingenious. And adding the complications of first love / true love into the mix made this an even sharper read. These hefty subjects handled impressively-well with a blend of magic, sacrifices, and pivotal choices. Even more impressive are authors, like C.L. Polk, ushering the fight for gender equality into fiction.

Keen and imaginative, THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN is a very engaging read.


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About the Author:
C.L. Polk is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed debut novel Witchmark, which was also nominated for the Nebula, Locus, Aurora, and Lambda Literary Awards. It was named one of the best books of 2018 according to NPR, Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Review, BookPage, and the B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog. She lives in Alberta, Canada.






*Thanks to Erewhon Books for the uncorrected proof in exchange for this unbiased review.
*This post is a part of the monthly linkups organized by Lovely Audiobooks! You can click here to check it out and be a part of it.


Book Review | THE MIDNIGHT BARGAIN by C.L. Polk