Category: romance

(WP) Meet Cute: Overdue Books Edition

(WP) Meet Cute: Overdue Books Edition

Valentine’s Day, all! I hope you enjoy!)

The day started with being late:
Liz had slept through her alarm, leaving her no time for a shower. She stopped
at a drive-through for an iced coffee, finger-combing her hair as she waited.

found herself wishing that she’d had the day off today, but she wasn’t that

was so much to do after work: errands, laundry, house-cleaning.

               The day
had only just begun and she was already stressed out beyond belief.

took a sip of coffee and set it in the cupholder. Something in the backseat
caught her eye: a bag of library books that were a few days overdue already.
She’d have to stop on her way home.

into work with two minutes to spare, she grabbed her coffee and bag and headed
inside at a brisk clip.

worked at one of the country’s top literary magazines as a writer, and she
loved it. Getting paid to write? It wasn’t much better than that.

office was already buzzing, and she waved quickly, walking to her office.

Shoving her hair up into a messy
bun and holding it in place with a pencil, she sat at her computer, eager to
get started.


The day went by in quick dollops:
an hour here, fifteen minutes there. She was so busy she didn’t have any time
to watch the clock. When three thirty hit, she clocked out, already making a
note to stop for another coffee.

She had no plans to stop moving;
she would treat herself to a nice dinner and maybe a glass or two of wine. Without
thinking, she was grinning to herself. Today might have started on a rough
note, but it didn’t have to end that way.

She’d never minded being by herself;
she liked being around people, but she was just as content being alone.

She got in the car and began to
drive, making a mental list of all the things she had to do. Laundry, cleaning
the house, balancing her checkbook and paying the bills.

If she hadn’t stopped for another
caffeine fix, she would’ve forgotten about the library books in the backseat.

She put her new coffee in the
cupholder and drove to the library, which was on the other side of town. It was
a stately stone building, with three stories and ivy on its face; it reminded
Liz of a woman’s long tresses.

It felt like home, like safety.

If she wasn’t already so busy, she
would’ve lingered. But perhaps she could later in the week.

She grabbed the heavy bag of books
and put it on her shoulder, locking the car and striding into the library.

She was so absorbed in her own
thoughts that she collided with a broad back, hard, and she and the poor person
she bumped into crashed to the carpet.

“Oh, my God! I’m so sorry!” Liz
spluttered, feeling her cheeks heat. Normally, she was alert to her
surroundings, but she’d just been so distracted and flustered today. “I should’ve
watched where I was going!”

The person she’d knocked over was a
man, with a golden-red goatee and glasses. He was wearing an olive-colored Henley
and dark jeans. He was blushing as well.

“It’s okay!” He said, and much to
Liz’s relief, he was grinning. He’d been holding a pile of books, and they were
scattered on the floor; Liz’s own bag had been dropped and several books had
spilled out. “I shouldn’t have been standing right here, in front of the doors.
Way to cause a traffic jam!” He laughed, and Liz’s heart melted at the sound;
it was so warm and jovial, a big belly laugh.

Liz scrambled to her feet and began
to help him gather his things. He was still kneeling on the floor, and he
reached for a book; it was one of the same that Liz had, and their fingers brushed

She pulled away as if shocked, and
quickly put her own books back in her bag. Realizing she’d put one of his books
in her bag by mistake, she held it out to him, smiling self-consciously.

“First, I bump into you and
practically run you over, and then I try to take one of your library books! We
really haven’t started on the right foot, have we?”

He laughed, taking it from her. “Really,
it’s fine. And after all, it’s not every day a pretty girl bumps into me. What’s
your name? I’m Rhys.”

“I’m Liz. It’s great to meet you,
Rhys.” She frowned to herself for a moment, then took the plunge, screwing up
her courage before she lost it.

“After I turn in these overdue books,
would you like to go out for coffee with me? My treat. It’s the least I can do
after running into you like that.”

“I’d love that, Liz.”


Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi Review


Title: Outrun the Wind

Author: Elizabeth Tammi

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

               Everyone who knows me knows that I am a complete mythology junkie, but the one I know best happens to be Greek. I’ve followed Elizabeth Tammi on Tumblr since I first made my blog there, so when I found out that one of my favorite followers wrote a book revolving around Greek myth and female romance, I was sold. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while, after I had to do another complete overhaul, and once I realized that it had holds on it, I pushed it to the top of my stack as soon as I was finished with The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel. This book was highly enjoyable, full of heart, romance, painful tension and high stakes, and I really loved the romance between Kahina, one of Artemis’s hunters, and the legendary Atalanta, the girl so fast that she orders footraces, only agreeing to marry the man who can beat her. The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was that since it was set in ancient Greece, the dialogue and speech were a bit too modern for me, and it made it hard to really get into the story. Nonetheless, this debut was strong, romantic, and painful, and I look forward to more from this promising author!

               Kahina is a huntress in one of the goddess Artemis’s band, and there are only two simple rules: Never disobey, and never fall in love. After being rescued from the Oracles of Delphi, Kahina is glad that she has a place among the goddess’s chosen, despite the fact that her prophetic powers still linger. But when a routine hunt goes wildly awry, Kahina finds herself breaking the first rule to save the legendary huntress, Atalanta. In order to regain Artemis’s favor, she is sent to Arkadia, where the woman she saved is revealed as nothing less than the ruler’s daughter. For her part, Atalanta is still reeling from the disastrous hunt and her father’s insistence on marriage, she isn’t quite sure what to make of Kahina, but their relationship deepens into something more than friendship. The two young women join forces to devise a perilous game to avoid marriage, and suitors flock to the city, eager to best one another for the princess’s hand. But when the man responsible for both of the girls’ past pain arrives, the game turns downright dangerous…

As I said, this book was really good; I was only vaguely familiar with the myth of Atalanta before now, and I really enjoyed the sapphic reinterpretation of the Greek classic. The point of view went back and forth between Atalanta and Kahina, and it was really nicely paced; I was constantly guessing what was going on, and one of my favorite parts of the book was the girls’ budding relationship. I really liked how they were both huntresses, bound by rules that neither of them could control, but drawn to one another and each forced to face their demons. And the romantic tension between them was so deliciously painful; it was a great counterpoint to the many men who had it out for Atalanta throughout the novel. Feminist retellings for the win! I also adored the ending, and who the villain turned out to be; I wasn’t expecting it at all, it was a welcome surprise. The only thing that I didn’t really like was that the dialogue and writing were a bit too modern for my taste; it really made the book hard to read for me at times. But this is a strong, heartfelt debut from one of my favorite people ever, so I can forgive the small mistakes. I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Tammi has up her sleeve next! The bottom line: A romantic and beautifully written spin on one of Ancient Greece’s earliest myths, I loved Outrun the Wind, though there were times where the dialogue didn’t seem to match the setting or time. Nonetheless, I really loved it! Next on deck: The Lady’s Guide to Pirates and Petticoats by Mackenzi Lee!

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa …

Title: The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow

Author: Alyssa Palombo

Age Group: Adult

Genre: Romance/Horror

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Hey, guys! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while; with the holidays and my life getting crazy, I’m a little bit behind. But I’m back now! I hope everyone had a fun, safe holiday with friends, family, and food, and of course, books! I’m ready for 2019 and everything it has in store for all of us.

I heard of The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel through a Facebook ad; Sleepy Hollow was one of the very first American folktales I’d ever heard as a child, so anything involving that is instantly on my radar.  The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel is a gorgeously written romance combined with creepy, spinetingling horror, and overall, I really enjoyed it, though I wished that the book focused more on the magic aspect rather than the love triangle between Katrina, Ichabod Crane, and the local paragon, Brom Bones. Nonetheless, this was a beautifully written, expertly paced, and transfixing romance wrapped up in dark legend and magic. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her work!

In the sleepy village of Sleepy Hollow, in the wake of The Revolutionary War and George Washington’s presidency, Katrina Van Tassel is exceedingly well-read, more interested in books and learning than in finding a husband. But that all changes when the new schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane comes to town. Bonded by a love of books and music, they quickly form a friendship that deepens into true love, and the pair begin a forbidden love affair. Meanwhile, Brom Bones, the local hero, is also vying for Katrina’s hand in marriage. But the legend of The Headless Horsemen still lurks inside the minds of the town’s residents, and when Ichabod disappears, Katrina is determined to find out what really happened to her beloved. But when she begins searching for answers, she discovers that some things are better left buried…

This book was really enjoyable; it was meticulously researched and finely written. I loved the gothic feel of the writing and the small, gossipy town of Sleepy Hollow, and all of the characters, especially headstrong, independent Katrina, and her best friend, rumored to be a witch, Charlotte. But honestly, I was expecting more. I was hoping that the focus would be more on the dark magic and the actual legend of the Headless Horseman, rather than the love triangle between Katrina, Ichabod, and Brom Bones, who really made me think of Gaston, a la the animated Beauty and the Beast, but I really liked it. The romance was really sweet and grew into something really beautiful, and I enjoyed the way that the local legends and magic were wrapped into the narrative. I really liked the ending. Despite this book not being exactly what I expected, I really enjoyed it, and I’m really looking forward to more of Palombo’s work. The bottom line: A gorgeous, romantic historical tale that draws inspirations from one of my very first American folktales, I really liked The Spellbook of Katrina van Tassel, and I’m looking forward to more of her work! Next on deck: Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi!

(WP) A Most Unlikely Pair

(WP) A Most Unlikely Pair

               “Daughter of mine, what have you done? You’re an Elf princess, and now you would lower yourself to marry a commoner? And an orc, at that? Have you lost your mind?”

The Elven King, Caindathor, sat on his high throne, staring down at his only child and heir. Perhaps this was his own fault. He’d always been indulgent, obsessed with making his daughter happy, decorum and station be damned, but this was going too far. This could not stand. How could she rule with an orc at her side? True, their two races had been in a tremulous peace for the past decade, and as a gesture of good faith, he’d taken on several orcs, male and female, to be knights, squires, and handmaidens.

But the last thing he’d possibly expected was for his daughter to fall in love with one.

“It’s too late, Father,” Meerena replied, in a high, gentle voice. “I have made my choice. This is who I wish to marry.” Though she was obedient in most things, this was something that could not be negotiated.

“After all, was it not you who said that we needed to do something lasting to show that orcs and elves are at peace? What better way to show that than a marriage?”

“Don’t talk to me of politics, child, not when this is entirely personal!” Her father spat, feeling his cheeks heat in his frustration. “Your life is not your own, however often I indulged you when you were young. I forbid this. I am King, and will be until the gods see fit to take me to the next world, and you will obey me.”

“Would you really take her away from me? I love her, Father.” Meerena pleaded, kneeling in a quiet swish of silk, her forehead pressed to the fine velvet runner that ran the length of the room. “Can’t you understand that? You and Mother—”

“Your mother was an Elf,” The king said, speaking around a painful lump in his throat. Though elves were known for being extremely long-lived, she had contracted an illness from an outsider right after Meerena had been born, and had died as a result; it had been years, and he’d never gotten over it. In fact, he’d never remarried.

“Will you please just meet her? Give her a chance, Father. I love her, and my choice should matter!” Her voice rose, her cheeks flushed and her eyes flooding with tears. “Please! Talk to her. We’ll have dinner tonight and I know you’ll change your mind.” She stood up and walked up to his throne, kissing him lightly on the cheek; her long, brown hair brushed his face, and she left the throne room, leaving her father stunned.

But the least he could do, he supposed, was listen, and give this orc woman a chance.


“Are you sure about this, Rena?” Her orc paramour, Gasbog Borbum, frowned, sitting on her bed, smoothing the covers instinctively, swallowing hard. This Elven world that she now found herself in was completely different from her own culture, and to fall in love with its only princess…

She’d known what she was getting into, but she still trembled with fear at the thought of meeting its monarch.

“Surely your father does not approve of this match. You didn’t consult the astrologer, nor the matchmaker, and–” Despite herself, she’d picked up on the Elvish way of speaking, silvery and proper, and it sounded as though it were being shredded through her teeth and tusks.

“Will you stop worrying, Gasbog? He will love you once he meets you. He’s only blinded by his own prejudices, and he will leave it behind. I’m not giving you up.” She turned to her, fierce and bright as a distant star. “I don’t care what the stars or the matchmakers say. I love you, and you will become my wife, whether my kingdom permits it or not.” Gasbog knew that tone; Meerena was like a dog with a bone, once she got an idea in her head. But that was one of the many reasons that she’d fallen for her.

She would be proud to stand by her side, on the throne or otherwise. Of course, that was discounting the fact that the king may well send her away, back to the mountains and swampy bogs of her home.

It had been accidental, really: Meerena had happily taken her as a handmaiden upon the orcs’ arrival to the kingdom, and Gasbog found herself lingering, aching to take in some of the princess’s light. They’d shared meals and conversation, and soon it had blossomed into something more: secretive, shared glances, stolen kisses in dark alcoves and in front of the fireplaces. But her princess had wanted more, wanted to make their relationship public, wanted to show her people and the world that she had an orc on her arm, never mind that she was ten feet tall with massive tusks and hundreds of kills to her name, many of them Meerena’s own people. Shame, it seemed, would be Gasbog’s eternal companion, a shadow in comparison to the joy she’d found in loving the next elf queen.

How could she do this? This was insane, even by her life’s standards. She’d been in battles before she’d even reached adulthood, knew the languages of her forefathers, had been sent to the palace as a gesture of goodwill, an olive branch of sorts. But now, she was to prove her love in front of one of the most powerful rulers of all. Someone who hated her, more than likely, and had every right to do so.

She was dressed in her best tunic, adorned with bloody, crimson runes, and she flexed her fingers, wishing that she wasn’t quite so nervous. She’d even gone so far as to attempt to file down her tusks, and she’d asked one of her other orc handmaidens to help her dye them a pretty, rosy pink.

“You look lovely, by the way,” Meerena added, who was herself resplendent in a gown of deep plum, so dark it looked nearly black, her emerald tattoos seeming to glow, even in the dim light.

“Thank you. That’s a lovely color on you,” Gasbog replied, feeling her lips curve up in a smile at the compliment.

“Shall we go to the dining hall?”

This was it. There was no going back now. She’d made her choice, and she did not regret it. She would walk inside that hall of royals with her head held high and accept her fate.


(WP) Ghosted by Love

(WP) Ghosted by Love

               If the spirit was being totally honest, he’d began haunting people out of sheer boredom. Being dead, when you couldn’t move on, just wasn’t fun. All the things that had made being human memorable, food and sex and warm embraces in the arms of a loved one, were, day by day, lost to him. Time had stretched into long, immeasurable dollops; he had nothing else left to do. And part of him was more than a little bitter. It just wasn’t fair, to have left the human plane so quickly. And nowadays, barely anyone remembered who he used to be. All he was now was a horror story, a cautionary tale told when the moon was high and humans were feeling daring.

                It disgusted him, to think that he’d been made little more than a joke, so it made him feel better, to take his frustrations out on the living. You had to take your fun where you could find it, when you were currently in limbo.

               His maudlin thoughts were interrupted by some noise on the lower floors: laughter, running footsteps, a joyful shriek; a flash of rage sprang to life in his chest, and in a flash, he was on the bottom floor, following the sounds. How dare these humans intrude on his private brooding? How dare they be so happy, so carefree, so alive?

It wasn’t fair.

For a while, he just watched, hovering above them, rage and bitterness festering inside him, an infection that he was helpless to stop.

The couple in question was a pair of young men; maybe in their late teens; they were chasing each other across the house, not seeming to notice the thick layer of dust that had built up on the furnishings, nor the thick, silvery spiderwebs that had spring up in every untouched corner; it made the spirit remember that this house, so grand even in its old age, had once been a home, hadn’t always been the cage that now kept him contained for many a long year.

How odd, the brief but bright light that seemed to emanate from the two young men. Life was so fleeting, and the most tragic thing about it was that no one realized after it was over. His rage dimmed slightly, kept him from pouncing on the couple. They weren’t the first to intrude on his final resting place, nor would they be the last. Something bitter and sour climbed up into his throat, coating the inside of his mouth, and he wished he could spit.

The two men were entangled in each other’s arms, kissing shyly at first, then deeper, and a sigh escaped one’s lips before he pulled away. He looked up, almost as if he could feel that they were being watched.

“This isn’t exactly the most romantic place to hook up,” He told his lover, smiling crookedly. “I mean, aren’t you creeped out? I feel like someone’s watching us.”

The speaker appeared as though he were bathed in light; it made his dark olive skin seem lit from within, and when he smiled, the ghost could see freckles scattered like pale stardust on his nose, cheeks, and forehead. His eyes reminded the ghost of the wood behind the mansion, a golden amber that made him think of clover honey, and he was dressed in a red and black flannel shirt with a black sweatshirt underneath, and denim jeans that looked so stiff that they were brand new.

He was gorgeous, and immediately, the spirit coveted this beautiful boy for himself: the ache that sprang up inside of him was so intense that he almost disappeared under the force of it.

What was this feeling, anyway? He hadn’t felt it in years, and was so shocked by it that it did not even feel familiar. There was barely an echo from his time alive, and for the first time in centuries, he was frightened, aflame with so much emotion he could make anything sensible out of it.

So much for haunting these fools. The joke was on him; it had been they, in the end, who haunted him. He could’ve laughed at the irony of it all.


When We Caught Fire by Anna Godbersen Review

Title: When We Caught Fire

Author: Anna Godbersen

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance

Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

Anna Godbersen first won my heart way back in 2005, my freshman year of high school, with her bestselling Luxe series, so when I found out that she was writing a brand new standalone, revolving around a love triangle and the Great Fire of Chicago, I was so excited. She became one of my favorite authors with her first series, and I was so happy that she was finally writing another book. I reserved it at my library, and after another library haul return, I put it at my stack. It took me almost a week to read it, as my life has been insanely busy recently, but I really enjoyed this book: rife with romance, betrayal, disaster, both social and natural, secrets and danger, When We Caught Fire took one of my least favorite tropes: the love triangle, and framed it within one of the most horrifying natural disasters in history. When We Caught Fire was beautifully written, captivating, frightening, and surprisingly informative. One of the reasons that I so love historical fiction is that I can learn about things that happened before my time, in my favorite format: A story! When We Caught Fire is one of my favorite books of 2018. Lush, beautiful, and more than a bit painful, I expected nothing less from Anna Godbersen, and I hope that there’s more to come from her!

Emmeline Carter, Anders Magnum, and Fiona Brynes all come from different walks of life. Emmeline longs to be a wealthy, admired socialite, and that dream is all but realized when she becomes affianced to one of Chicago’s richest scions. Fiona is her maid and best friend, and she is hiding secrets of her own; she has been secretly in love with their best friend, Anders, a fierce boxer and their childhood friend. But there’s a dangerous catch: So, too, is Emmeline. As the three former friends try to hide their secrets and reconcile their feelings for one another, another sort of fire is beginning to build, literally. As Chicago is swept up in wild, uncontrollable flames, these three friends must do everything to survive and achieve their dreams, or everyone that they love just might go up in smoke…

               I really enjoyed this book! The prose was gorgeous, lush, and captivating; I was entranced from the first line. The pacing was breakneck; I was immediately drawn into the dangerous, glittering world of early Chicago. I also loved the characters and the way the point of view moved between them: Emmeline, desperate for social standing and a romance straight out of a novel, Fiona, the lowly lady’s maid who longs for more in life than her class affords her, yet fiercely loyal to Emmeline, even as a young man comes between the two women, and Anders, the girls’ childhood friend, desperate to do right by them both even as their budding loves tear the three of them apart. But even more than I loved the character dynamics, it was so interesting to see an all-too familiar trope, the love triangle, framed within a survival scenario. I haven’t read much about the Great Fire of Chicago before this point, but to see it within the story, beautiful and deadly, was captivating, even as I wanted to turn away. The pacing really picked up as the fire swept through the city; the whole time, I was freaking out, hoping and praying that the characters I’d come to love would make it out. And that ending! It was so beautiful and bittersweet; by the end of the novel, I was in tears. At times, there were so many different names it was difficult to keep up; my only complaint was that I wish there had been a character list at the front of the novel. Nonetheless, Anna Godbersen makes a fantastic, exciting debut, reminding me of just how much I love historical fiction; I cannot wait until her next book! The bottom line: Bittersweet, gorgeously written, and meticulously researched, I loved When We Caught Fire, even though at times, it was hard to keep up with. Next on deck: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver!

(IP) An Invitation

(IP) An Invitation

young woman knelt before her, one hand held out in invitation, long silver
tresses turning pink in the dying evening light. The sacred symbol inked onto
her forehead glowed faintly, pointed ears twitching.

this what you wanted?” She inquired, tilting her head to the side. “An escape from
everything you’ve never wanted? I can’t promise that this will be easy. But
surely it’s better than not having a choice.”

other girl stared up at her, brow crinkling slightly. “You can’t be serious.”

first, she’d thought that this young woman—this sly, beautiful fey girl with
pointed ears, a secretive smile, and the most impossible of it all, a way out—had
been a dream, a figment of an overtaxed mind after a long day of working in the
village. She’d been sitting on the riverbank, resting her hands in the cool
water. Then she heard twigs snapping behind her. She’d whirled, only to find a
lovely girl staring at her, a basket of herbs in her arms.

Matilda had been entranced; she hadn’t had a chance. And it appeared that the
girl, whose name was Rin, was just as fascinated with Matilda. After that, they’d
met in that same spot, every night, to share their days, or at least their

hailed from a land that for Matilda only existed in stories and fairy tales,
and even in her own language, it was practically forbidden to discuss. But for everything
she’d heard, Rin was nothing like she’d imagined, and now here they were, with
Rin inviting her into her world.

blinked, and she smiled, her whole face glowing when it stretched across her

“Why would I not be, Matilda?”

“I couldn’t,” She replied, shaking
her head and pulling away before she could think through her response. “I… I
should stay here.”

“Is that what you want, Mattie?”
Rin asked, and Matilda’s heart fluttered at the nickname. “Do you wish to stay
here? I’ll support your decision. It’s just that… You seemed so unhappy.”

Matilda’s eyes filled with tears,
and she put her head in her hands; she could not deny the truth of that
statement, not to herself or her only friend. Her first friend.

What awaited her if she stayed
here? A life of drudgery, a miserable marriage to one of the men in the
village, inevitably followed by offspring, and then working until she was old,
and finally died. The bleakness of the future that lay ahead of her made her
heart weep.

She might not have known what lay
ahead, but Rin was offering a way out, an escape she hadn’t dared to dream of.
A future in which she had a choice, and had a chance to make her life into
something that she was proud of. She would never get something like this again.

When she turned around, Rin was
beginning to walk away, the faint rose glow of the portal painting her in soft

“Rin! Wait!” Matilda cried, and she
ran after the other girl. She grabbed Rin’s hand and clasped it tight; Rin
smiled, delighted, and kissed her fingers.

“Come, my love. Come home.”


Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore Review

Title: Blanca and Roja

Author: Anna-Marie McLemore

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I’ve been a huge fan of Anna-Marie McLemore’s work since I read her debut novel, The Weight of Feathers, and I read her third book, Wild Beauty, for my book club a few months ago. So, when I heard that she was writing a diverse, mashup retelling of Snow White, Rose Red and The Wild Swans, I was so excited. I ordered it from my local library and it’s been sitting in my library stack for a while; after I couldn’t renew it anymore, I dove into it right after I finished Muse of Nightmares. (Well, after I was finished mourning the painful end of that series. But moving on.) I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, as I haven’t really read either of the fairy tales that the story was inspired by, but I was blown away. With lush, gorgeous prose, diverse characters that felt so real that I felt that when I finished, I was saying goodbye to a beloved group of friends. Blanca and Roja is the most brutal and beautiful of McLemore’s novels, captivating and tender and full of every kind of love you could possibly think of. A deliciously bittersweet exploration of sisterhood, first love, and sacrifice, I will never forget Blanca and Roja; I feel like they’ve burrowed into my heart and soul.

Blanca and Roja are two sisters, best friends, and rivals, because ever since they were tiny, the women in their family have been cursed: One sister is doomed to become a swan, taken by the flock that live nearby, and she must live out the rest of her years as a bird, while the other is untouched. This is the way things have always been, and how it always will be. Blanca is sweet, gentle, delicate, everything that her sister, Roja, is not. Roja is sharp-tongued, tomboyish, brash, loud, and curious. They know their fate, even when it means sacrificing everything. But things become even more complicated when two different people emerge from the wood near their home: Yearling, who has spent the last year as a bear, and is drawn to Roja in spite of hiding his own secrets, and Page, someone whose identity is as unclear as their motives. As the time draws near for one of the girls to gain wings and the other to remain human, the girls begin to wonder if they can, in fact, change their destinies, and find everything that they’ve denied themselves.

This book; it was amazing, a beautiful, bittersweet triumph of family, especially sisterly bonds, love in all of its forms, magic, and most importantly, agency, and the courage to change your fate, even when it seems that all the odds are stacked against you. The pacing was breakneck, the prose so gorgeous that more often than not, I was rereading lines, absolutely in awe over it, but even more than that, I was head over heels for the characters that she so lovingly created. I was utterly spellbound by this book, and I was so happy to finally be reading a diverse, gender-nonbinary fairy tale retelling; this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life! I also really enjoyed the way that the point of view bounced between Blanca, Roja, Yearling, and Page; I loved that everyone was giving perspective on what was happening. I also liked the other characters: Roja and Blanca’s parents, Page’s loving, if confused, family, Yearling’s grandmother, mother and father, and cousins; each character was fleshed out beautifully and I was captivated. But honestly, the ending was what really got me. I cried through most of the book, but it was the worst when the book ended. It was so bittersweet, shocking, and unexpected; my heart was broken and then stitched back together all at once. Easily one of the best books of 2018, and I will never forget Blanca and Roja! The bottom line: A tender, beautiful, and brutal fairy telling retelling involving forbidden love, diverse and non-gender binary main characters, and the bonds of family, especially sisterhood! My favorite book by Anna-Marie McLemore, and one of the best books of 2018! Next on deck: For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig!

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