The unspoken pressure of writing #ownvoices reviews

Recently, I’ve been kind of stressed.

Particularly surrounding writing my review on a particular book called Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed which most of you have undoubtedly heard of in the YA book community.

I started writing it a while ago, way back in January, because I read it then and I was so excited! I have almost all of it done, yet… I just haven’t been able to publish it.

I’m HELLA NERVOUS. And stressed. And it’s ridiculous, cause, well, it’s just a book review, right? I’ve never had troubles posting a review before.

THIS POST IS ALREADY STRESSING ME OUT

But see, the thing is, Love, Hate, & Other Filters is one of the FIRST times I’ve written a full-length #ownvoices review (on an #ownvoices book). (I’ve previously read Saints & Misfits though which I also identified with, but didn’t write a full review on.)

Sure, yes, it’s extremely freeing to be able to write on something that’s so close to what I’ve lived through myself, and I of course want to share my thoughts on a book that may (or may not have) properly represented marginalized people.

But the thing is, it hasn’t been that easy for me.

And that’s what I wanted to talk about, because this topic has been stressing me out and making me panic every time I read over my review, and that’s not okay. 

Why writing ownvoices reviews are stressful.

In theory, sure, yes, I just write a normal review, you know, just like I would any other review, yes? Which is still hard but whatever

Yet that’s the thing: I feel like I can’t treat it like any other review because I’m writing from an #ownvoices perspective. I don’t know if it’s just me putting unnecessary and invisible pressure on myself, but somehow, writing this review on Love, Hate & Other Filters is infinitely harder than me writing a review on any other book.

Why? Well, let me give you a list because otherwise this will be an even larger mess.

There is a social expectation that you know what you’re talking about/ are a trustworthy source on the representation in a novel.

Slkwejflkjwkjefj this drives me crazy because I know I’m totally guilty of also relying on ownvoices reviews to be a reliable source on marginalized rep in a book. It makes sense, of course! The best people to speak for a book’s rep on a minority population are the people who are part of that minority, not people who have no experience living as part of that group. Of course. You can’t ask a human what it’s like to be a turtle, you can’t ask non-marginalized people what it’s like to be marginalized. Simple.

Yet, I feel like that also places so much pressure on the ownvoices reviewer to be 100% correct and reliable on what they’re saying, because other readers who are not part of that minority will look to the reviewer for indication on good rep.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but … am I the only one who sees that unspoken pressure there?? It feels like there’s much less room for error for those reviewers, especially because there’s not always many of them in the first place, and so there’s more pressure to be “right”?

I would feel AWFUL if I said something (that I believed to be true) and a reader trusted me on it, only to have it be perhaps contrary to other valid opinions, or if someone was harmed while reading the book. (*More on this later!)

Not to mention…

Everyone has different experiences.

Just because I’m a Muslim, it doesn’t mean my experience as a Muslim is identical to every other Muslims out there. Just because I’m a POC, it doesn’t mean my experience is identical to other POCs.

We all have different experiences.

I just feel like, with some things, there are people who have a preconceived notion of what the experience of a particular minority should be like, and can enforce those notions on the book, even when it might not be so for the author’s or the character’s experience?

Especially with an #OwnVoices novel, the author is sharing (some version) of their experience, or their background, or knowledge. So if my experience doesn’t match the one in the book, does that automatically mean the book is in the wrong? Or that I am? That either one of those experiences are invalid?

No.

But the issues comes when reviewing, making that distinction between your OWN experience affecting your opinion of the book versus the book itself.

Of course we have every right to dislike a book if the rep was inaccurate. But can you always truly ascertain if the rep was such based on your own experiences? Just because I didn’t see myself represented in the narrative, how can I say that the rep wasn’t good/bad? When there are so many different experiences for everyone, or if the book is ownvoices?

So many rhetorical questions, I know, but seriously, this is the heart of the issue I face, content-wise.

I feel like, because books featuring diverse leads are so hard to come by, we put all our hopes and expectations for what we WANT to see on the few diverse books (for a particular minority group) that ARE published. And when they’re not met, we’re disappointed.

Which is 100% valid as well! Everyone deserves to see themselves represented in books! And it’s normal to want to project your wishes on a particular book when those types of books are so far in between.

But one book with a marginalized main character, is just ONE BOOK with a marginalized main character. It’s not fair to ask one book to represent all of us when there are so, so, SO many different experiences out there.

Who’s to say my experience is wrong, or someone else’s opinion is wrong? No one. Everyone’s ownvoices experience is allowed to be different. It doesn’t make anything less valid.

See, if we take Love, Hate & Other Filters as an example, I personally did not fully relate to the Muslim rep. It felt brushed aside, and didn’t always take it very seriously, despite being a huge selling point of the novel.

But every Muslim’s experience is different! Can I truly say that, because I didn’t personally relate to Maya’s actions and thoughts, that it was bad or inaccurate? I don’t feel like I have that right. I speak for MY experience, not for anyone else’s, so who am I to say, really.

Because sometimes, the things the reviewer is attacking or criticizing are things that someone else relates to, and that can be hurtful! I’m not saying not to be honest; our opinions as reviewers are valid and you shouldn’t have to hide them.

But there has to be a way to express your own feelings and experiences without belittling or looking down on other experiences; you don’t need to sacrifice your honesty to be considerate.

Relating to certain representation where most people don’t or not relating to certain rep where most people do

Jjkjaksdjklasjd being a black sheep is already difficult enough, okay. I think in this community though, it is possible to find others that feel the same way as you about any book, even the most popular ones, but at the same time, there’s always that odd discomfort when everyone is raving about a book or everyone is disliking a book that you hated/enjoyed.

It’s just awkward???!

And as rebellious we all like to think ourselves to be, that want to fit in and have people with the same feelings as you will still be there, you know? At least for me.

That’s true for any book, but it becomes even more so with diverse books where there’s also the question of proper representation. Of course I want more diverse books, but I don’t want them at the cost of misrepresenting anyone? It’s just such a disservice, and so harmful, and just DON’T DO IT.

But this ties back into the whole different experiences thing, because what one person didn’t enjoy, or thought was inaccurate, could actually be something that resonated with you a lot. Or it could be the other way around, what they loved was something you didn’t enjoy at all.

And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, at all! Different perspectives are crucial and important and they’re all to be considered.

BUT IT’S STILL STRESSFUL TO BE A BLACK SHEEP.

Especially with the whole feeling like you’re meant to be a reliable source on this? What if you loved it but someone else/majority hated it, or vice versa? Of course it’s valid, but it’s also incredible nerve-wracking. 😳😅😂

The fear of backlash + being hurt from other reviews

OF COURSE I want to share my thoughts on the book. OF COURSE my opinions are valid, and acceptable. OF COURSE I should be free to express my opinions without worry. I know this.

But the internet can be VICIOUS, and, although I’ve never had to deal with a hateful comment in the blogging community myself (because y’all are so lovely!!), I certainly don’t want that to change now, and I don’t want to be on the receiving end of someone’s hate. I just don’t.

Rationally, I know that probably won’t happen, that I’m making this out to be bigger than it really is, but writing that review is personal, to me. I don’t often talk about my culture or background, ethnicity, or religion, because I haven’t always been that comfortable with discussing it. I haven’t always gotten the best reactions in the past.

I see things in other reviews, for any book, where reviewers comment on things that were ‘unrealistic’ or that they hated about the main character. And the thing is, sometimes, and this ties back to my last point up there, I related to that aspect they hated so much. Maybe it’s exactly what I do myself.

So yeah, not gonna lie, that freaking hurts. A lot. Even if I know it’s not directed towards me, or that it’s unintentional, when it comes to part of my identity, ouch, okay. That’s all I’m going to say.

I’m not trying to gather pity or suddenly make your paranoid if you’ve criticized a character for something others might relate to, (because God knows I’ve probably done this as well)!! But another stressful thing is worrying about how people will take the review, if you’ll be accepted, or if people will claim your opinion as invalid?? IT’S SCARY.

That’s honestly one of my biggest fears when it comes to reviewing, for any book; that I may unintentionally hurt someone due to my own biases and experiences. Please tell me if I ever do this!! It is never my intention, I swear. 💕

Basically, to sum it up:

  • Social expectations are freaking HARD; there seems to be a sort of expectation that because you’re #OwnVoices, you know what you’re talking about and many people look to you for the green light which means there’s a smaller room for error
  • Everyone has different experiences which make it difficult to accurately comment on the rep; the question is, if the rep doesn’t match what you’re familiar with, is it still okay/good rep?
  • Being the black sheep is stressful when there’s a smaller community of OwnVoices readers; liking rep others dislike or disliking rep others like leads to possible backlash or insecurity
  • Tying everything together: with social expectations, the complications of considering more than just your own experience, and facing the opinions of others, who may or may not agree with you, writing that review can be extra difficult

So will I ever post my Love, Hate & Other Filters review? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s probably one of the most personal reviews I wrote, ever haha and I’m not sure how comfortable I am with it yet? (Maybe after the reactions on this mess of a post haha. )

But I hope this post explains more on why that is? I don’t know if this is only a me thing, if I’m imagining this pressure when it comes to writing an ownvoices review? (These could totally apply for non-diverse review-writing as well; it’s just that I personally struggle the most with this one.)

I tried to make this post as cohesive as possible, and I want to just say as a disclaimer this is just MY OWN EXPERIENCE. You can of course disagree with me, but please be respectful!! My heart probably couldn’t take it otherwise 😂 (Underneath my scary exterior, I’m actually a huge baby)

I would be seriously impressed if you managed to stay interested in this whole post for the entirety of it!! I’m sorry if I rambled, if I was contradictory and confusing. What are YOUR thoughts? I know I am basically TOO PARANOID and might be *slightly* (hehe) overreacting about this, but I really would love to know what you all think.

If you’re part of a minority and have read a book representing yourself, have you ever felt this sort of pressure? If you’re not part of a minority, but are a book reviewer, have you ever been a black sheep in the book community? (Feel free to spill which book it is!! *waggles eyebrows*) Should I still post my LH&OF review? 

Spread some book love: what is a diverse book you read that you loved, or that represented you?! I’m taking recs!

Talk to me!!! I want to hear from everyone, don’t worry if you’re part of a minority or not, what are your thoughts?!

(I know this post is me overreacting as usual but shhh it’s still stressful)

Advertisements

Blogging confessions: Sneaky things all bloggers have done hoping no one would notice

In the past, I’ve been known to expose myself quite frequently.

Especially when it came to book blogging habits. (I just love to hop into graves I created myself, apparently.)

And well, would you look at me now! Again! Exposing! Myself!

Why do I do this to myself

But it’s okay, because I’m dragging you all down with me!! Unless this list does not apply to you, in which case a) You’re making my title a lie, excuse me, I DO NOT LIE. and b) Are you sure you’re not lying???? *side eye*

1. Saying you’ll read a book someone recommends and coincidentally never mentioning it ever again

HAHAHA.

Ha.

Well. You see. In my defence, I don’t intentionally NOT read a book I get recommended! I just… forget!

I AM A GOLDFISH and I literally won’t remember anything past 2 days, okay. (Yes, exams were difficult.) It doesn’t mean I didn’t like your recommendation or something!!

I just.. consistently forget?

*Tiny whispers* Though sometimes I’m just not actually interested in the book but I feel too guilty to say that when someone loved it so much ……. *hides*

2. Stalking previous comments in a non-stalkerish way

If you say you’ve never stalked comments on someone else’s post, I’m 99% sure YOU ARE LYING.

Generally no one will know (or care) if you stalk the comments! That’s okay! It’s just entertaining to see what other people thought on a topic, and maybe they offer some useful information as well?

BUT THEN.

It’s when you accidentally press “like” one someone else’s comment while stalking the comments without having commented yourself and then you’re exposed as a somewhat stalker??? WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK.

nothing

You’re sneaky and all clever as you go giggling* through the other comments UNTIL IT’S NOT.

*Okay hopefully that’s not what you’re doing because that’s kind of creepy but hey, this is a mostly judge-free zone.

3. Editing a comment we wrote on our blog or deleting it completely

I don’t think I’ve ever deleted any of my own or anyone else’s comments? I haven’t edited anyone’s comments either (can you do that?) but I’m going to sheepishly confess I’ve totally edited my own comment before.

It’s not anything bad, I swear!! And I don’t change the general idea of what I wrote originally, so I’m not deceiving anyone! 😂 I just… typos are frustrating okay??? And sometimes I want to add onto what I said originally and so I go back and add it?

DOES THIS MAKE ME A DECEITFUL PERSON????

(Please don’t answer that)

(I don’t think it does?? If it makes you feel better, I do it 0.0008% of the time anyway, which is to say I hardly do.)

My question is, does the person who I’m replying to notice if I changed my comment? Like, will they still receive the original comment? Probably, right?

Oh darnit people have witnessed my non-sneaky sneakiness

4. Not fully reading a blog post (and accidentally writing a comment that shows utter ignorance)

Ahahah…. oops.

I… don’t always read full blog posts? I feel kind of guilty for admitting that, but I would totally understand if people didn’t read my full posts (especially when they’re long as heck), and I’m already exposing myself so why not!

I do try to read full posts as much as I can, though!! I don’t intentionally decide, oh, hey, I’m not going to read the full post of so-and-so for so-and-so reason, because usually it’s completely arbitrary and up to my mood and how much time I have. 😅

Generally people won’t be able to tell? (If you don’t read my full post, I generally won’t know?)

YET. One time.

Oh god, I still cringe.

I feel so guilty!! This hasn’t happened to me recently, this was like in 2015? Somehow, I read-skimmed a post about a book, okay. Normal things. And then I go to comment, because it was a good post and everything, and then I comment about a WHOLLY DIFFERENT BOOK.

The sad thing is, the titles weren’t even remotely alike, apart from the fact they both had “All the” .

HOW DOES THIS EVEN HAPPEN.

Oh yes, because I am an absolute IDIOT.

(My memory strangely remembers this so well?? I’m scarred for life, apparently.)

5. Post something, delete it, and then post it again at another time or date 

HAHAHA okay I’m going to confess I’ve totally done this before. If you’re one of the people who’ve noticed the same post of mine come up twice, well… now you know.

But to be fair, one time it was because my scheduling thing didn’t post it on time and posted it super late, and hardly anyone saw it?? (Obviously you guys were deprived of a masterpiece*)

So I sneakily just deleted it and posted it the next day at a regular time, and, well, I actually had people reading it? Sooooo I don’t see the downside of this other than it seems kind of suspicious… sorry???

Also there was that time I accidentally posted a draft without realizing… Sigh. And people wonder why I’m paranoid, geez.

*Hahahah. WP was probably trying to tell me something yikes. 👀

6. Unfollowing a blog 

I don’t actually unfollow blogs often, because I’m wayyyyy too lazy to go through my 100+ blogs followed list to unfollow people, and I just don’t see the worth in spending my time on that tbh.

But the times I did, I swear you’d think I was comittting some sort of crime????

(I’M NOT, JUST TO BE CLEAR.)

It’s this super stealthy affair of me deciding how long it’s been since they posted and sneakily pressing that unfollow button and having the wrath of the bloggers come down on me and–

Yeah, no, not really. I just press unfollow. But I do hope they don’t notice?? 

8. Reading multiple posts from a blog without commenting/Liking posts without reading them.

Honestly, there’s not really a way for the blogger to know if you’ve been reading the post at all so it’s pretty easy for bloggers to get away with liking posts without having read them? Or reading without commenting?

But I mean… I don’t think anyone goes into a blog post thinking to themselves, “hehehe I’m going to be super sneaky and not actually read their posts or comment” because UM???? What the heck, pal. Why would you even. It’s fine to not comment or read a post, but don’t actively plan not to? 😂

I totally get how sometimes you’re just not in the mood to comment or read so you may just like it and leave! And it’s okayyyy! It’s not a super bad thing!

I’m just paranoid and feel bad afterwards in case the blogger is secretly wondering why I didn’t comment on their posts??

I don’t think like this so I have no freaking clue why I keep imagining other bloggers doing so?? MY MIND IS JUST… ODD, someone save me from it.

9. Deleted old posts because they were trash in need of being hidden away from the world for protection

Hahahah, okay I can hardly look at my old posts?? I haven’t deleted a lot of them, but I low-key really want to do that 😂 I’ve totally had posts I deleted though before, though I can’t really remember why??

They were probably just reaaalllly bad posts and well, GOOD RIDDANCE.

See: there are two types of bloggers: one, is the type who just started blogging either knowing what they were doing, or didn’t know but seemed like they did. This type, have pretty decent posts.

And then there’s the other type: the one who did not know what they were doing and seemed like they didn’t know what they were doing! That’s me!

My posts weren’t all BAD*, but… I didn’t enjoy writing them as much as I enjoy writing my posts now? I did sooooo many memes, and wow, was it a mess.

So delete they go!! And no one notices either, which is ultimately perfect.

SEE, I’M VERY SNEAKY.

I would make a wonderful spy.

*Hahahahahahhahahahha I’m so funny

(Yes, for the extra perceptive people, I cheated and skipped #7 .. ending on 8 is just such an ugly thing, okay, I can’t just end on 8 things???? STOP EXPOSING ME)

What are some of your blogging confessions??? Have you done anything here? Do you ever like posts without reading them? Have you ever edited or deleted one of your own comments? EXPOSE YOURSELF WITH ME.

I hope your Friday is amazing and you’re doing well!! ❤

All about the fam: Types of families in YA // ft. lists and books

My family, is kind of infuriating.

(Sorry sis, you too.)

I love them, but they’re also the ones who get me the most angry/mad/sad/frustrated and sometimes it makes it really difficult to see the love part of the relationship!

But recently, my father got an injury after falling unconscious for a few minutes (thankfully he’s doing a lot better now) and it just made me remember how nuanced and complex familial relationships are?

I could claim my parents as super overprotective and that I don’t like them, but deep down a) only I can call them that and if it’s anyone else does, beware and b) I do love and appreciate my parents a lot and I would never want to lose them.

Which is why I love seeing family dynamics explored in books, because even if I can’t relate to it myself, there is probably someone who does, and there’s just so much you can do with it?

So that’s why, I’m talking all about different types of families + books that feature them especially in honour of Family Day here in Canada!!

If you’re still “meh” about family, well, let me just toss my casual mini-list at you and bribe you with chocolate.

    • You can get jealous be happy over how amazing the family is
    • You add to your character’s development (since family or the lack thereof can shape a lot of our character?)
    • You add tension! Do the siblings seriously hate each other because one betrayed the other? Do the siblings have differing values that one has to sacrifice for? Do you have a rebellious teen with conservative parents? USE THE TENSION.
    • Good families are as great as having 100 chocolate bars –> THIS IS A FACT.
    • Having bad families but ones that are nuanced and not just bad is good too!! (Because (sadly) not everyone has good families!)
    • Um, it’s more realistic?? Most people generally don’t just have… NO family at all? So you know, having some sort of family member might be a good start if you’re aiming for relatability*?
    • Cause I said so
    • Bye

*WHY ISN’T RELATABILITY A WORD. It should totally be a word. Also my font size isn’t changing and I’m disgruntled @ WP.

1. The loving Weasleys

Yes, the Weasley’s have now become a type. And I mostly define it as the supportive (and loud) family! It doesn’t necessarily have to be as large as the Weasleys (it could be) but generally they’re just super loving and caring and the sweetest!

  • Features a Molly Weasley, aka the caring and protective elder who will allow no harm to their children
  • Can be an actual mom or just the person taking care of the whole family (JULIAN 😭)
  • They’re amazing
  • Also features the Weasley children: more than 2 kids I’ll say?
Well, sweet when you’re not on Molly Weasley’s bad side.

Obviously Harry Potter, but apart from that, some other books are:

         

Click on the covers to be taken to Goodreads!

HI I LOVE JULIAN

AND STARR

AND SIMON

AND I FORGET THE LAST BOOK BUT IT HAD A GOOD FAMILY

Also shoutout to May on showing how to centre multiple images!!

2. The single parent dad syndrome

Soooo many YA novels have single parents!! Which, to an extent is totally fine, because we’ve gotten some AMAZING single parents in YA lit that I adoreeeee. (Namely, Lara Jean’s dad) Some characteristics of this family:

  • Dad usually ends up being super awesome dad or a not-so-great-dad
  • Parent may or may not improve over time in the eye of the teen as a mutual understanding develops
  • Features either a MIA or dead mother or possibly divorced parents
  • Can also be a single mother but I was too lazy to find books that apply

         

3. The good vs bad/evil sibling contrast

I just finished a book and am currently reading a book that both features this sort of relationship, so this one really stuck out to me! When done well, this is actually quite interesting. (Though I recommend not reading two books back to back with this trope hahahahaha)

Some of its characteristics:

  • Usually seems to be Good Brother vs Bad Brother but isn’t always (can also be Good Sister vs Bad Sister or Good Brother vs Bad Sister or vice versa; many options!)
  • The main character falls for the Good Brother/Sister or has to choose between both
  • (Not much of a hard decision, but hey, maybe evil people just aren’t my type)
  • “Bad” can be the “I am a roguish troublemaker who wants to seduce you” type or the “I’m plotting to murder you in your sleep” type
  • Or both?

         

Most of those books feature the evil type of brother but there’s also Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare or Tiger’s Curse series by Colleen Houck for the bad-boy/good-boy sibling love triangle aspect!

4. Abusive parents 😦

Where’s my heart, you ask? Oh, just smashed into pieces on the floor there, no biggie.

But seriously, abusive parents or parents with (untreated) mental illness who mistreat their children breaks my heart SO MUCH, especially knowing how it could very well be the reality for many people in real life. I CRY.

Listen, if anyone reading this is an abuse survivor: YOU ROCK and you’re amazing and I love you. And I wish I could send you all the love and support you deserve. ❤❤❤

         

Bad Romance: Tw for abusive romantic relationship (emotional), verbal abuse –> there may be more that I missed so please be careful! This is not an easy read. Stay safe. ❤

A List of Cages: TW for very graphic physical/sexual/child abuse (I legit want to sob)

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue: Not as graphic or present as the other two books, but Monty has an abusive father

The Young Elites: Not as present as the first two books either, but Adelina’s father was horribly cruel to her.

I’ve also heard Starfish deals with an abusive household, but I haven’t read it yet and don’t know too much about it?

5. All about siblings

Ah, siblings. What an annoying intricate relationship they have.

I have a younger sister, okay. She’s tiny and fierce and very very annoying!! But I love her.

Seriously, sibling relationships have my absolute HEART okay. They can be so precious and equally vicious and that is amazing. Who else can hurt/love you as much as a sibling? A book NO ONE.

  • Both biologically related siblings or otherwise (step-siblings, foster siblings, etc)
  • Low-key my favourite out of the different familial relationships here
  • SO MANY OPTIONS
  • Also see the good and evil sibling
  • It pulls at your heart so much seeing siblings either sacrifice for one another or stand up for each other???
  • Also younger siblings wrecking havoc
  • So precious in books
  • (But annoying irl)

         

Fact #1: Lara Jean, Margot and Kitty are the best sisters ever ❤

Fact #2: Kell and Rhy aren’t related by blood but they’re the most amazing brothers ever

Opinion #1: I didn’t particularly like L&L as much as I’d hoped but YES to diversity and sister-brother relationships

Opinion #2: Vanishing Girls was so good???? Hi, sibling rivalry but also SISTERS. I have a younger sister and I love reading books about sisters okay

6. The “means-well-but…” parent(s)

I think I identify the most with this one haha.

These are the parents who you know have their heart in the right place, but there’s always that “but” where their intentions don’t always work great with their actions. Unfortunately.

More mini-lists!

  • Featuring a teen who disagrees with the parents’ values/opinions (gasp! teens forming their own opinions!)
  • Sadly this is a reality for me
  • Also occasionally ft. parents you feel bad for because the teen is so mean to them but you know the parents are only trying to help
  • Also ft. parents you dislike because they’re being super unreasonable (ughhghghgh)
  • They’re not horrible parents but they’re not always completely good ones either?

         

GUYS AMERICAN PANDA AND REIGN OF THE FALLEN ARE SO GOOD FKSJFKLJSFSD *shoves books into your face*

Hahaha I was planning to get to 10 buuuuut I’m hungry and I want to go eat lunch sooooo I’m going to end it there!! :))) That’s a good 24 books for you guys to read, right?? GO READ THEM. *chases you down with a chocolate bar*

What other types of familial relationships have you come across in books? Have you read any of the books I listed? What are your thoughts? What’s your favourite type of family explored in books? Any other book recommendations?

LET US DISCUSS!

(Also happy Family Day to those celebrating!)

Snacking on mini-reviews: Iron Gold & Batman!

Today is a very monumental day.

Why, you ask? Well, you see… I actually have reviews written!! And I’m posting them (near) the month the book was read!! I haven’t written reviews in foreverrrrr and I’ve been super excited for this post so I can screech about books to you guys again! Because I haven’t done that in a while. *hides* I also have a full-length review coming on Love, Hate & Other Filters sometime! omg I know WHO AM I

The first one to start with, is, of course: IRON GOLD because I loved it so much I want to cry okay bye.

I buddy-read the with my dear friend Kat @ Life and Other Disasters, and it was the best! We read at a pretty similar pace, and we exchanged thoughts pretty consistently despite the time difference which was great! ❤

My review will be completely SPOILER-FREE for this book and not very many spoilers for the previous books? (But I recommend skipping to the conclusion part if you haven’t read this series!)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Goldis the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

  • The action! Was! Non-stop!
  • Seriously, there was so much happening, even my short attention span had to pay attention okay
  • SEVRO IS MY CHILD and I don’t care if he’s 30-something now. MY CHILD FOREVER.
  • LYRIA IS MY NEWFOUND CHILD. AND LIAM. My family from Lagalos deserve the world ❤
  • Seriously why is everyone treated so badly tho, I just want to shield my babies k?
  • Real life issues tackled like prejudice against groups of people because of what other people from that group has done, discrimination against less privileged classes of people
  • I FELT MANY THINGS. Heartbreak! Sadness! Terror! Disgust! Anger (so much anger) All the good things!!
  • Victra is still my bae (but she low-key needs to chill 😂)
  • Mustang has to make so many hard decisions and :(((
  • Darrow, too! (Though major side-eye to his stupid decisions)
  • Volga is so precious and pure ❤
  • I LOVE Cassius okay 
  • I want me a fox named Sophocles
  • The technology talk probably flew over my head half the time, but it was still SO COOL
  • THAT CLIFFHANGER

Wow this review is utterly unhelpful and just me fawning over the characters.

No one is surprised.

  • I’m not going to say in term of plot or anything, but CHARACTERS because ahhhh LYSANDER.
  • He killed me. One of the most fickle characters ever, a child in a man’s body who, truth be told, should’ve died 10 years ago. His POV was one of the most frustrating out of all of them, and, not gonna lie, it made me less interested in reading his chapters
  • Like, his self-righteousness and superiority complex is honestly so frustrating? His tendency to also do the exact OPPOSITE of what he should do also drove me insane
  • Especially after that ONE THING THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED BUT THAT STILL KILLS ME
  • Also Ephraim, dude. Just ’cause bad things happened, it doesn’t give you the right to do bad things to other people or have other people become the casualty of your stupidity. Fix your mistakes, PUH LEASE.
  • Even with this, though, like can I just 👏 Pierce Brown for creating such nuanced characters??
  • UM THAT CLIFFHANGER KILLED ME OKAY

The first half of this series is AMAZING, and this book definitely lived up to the expectations set from the past books, even though there were certain characters *cough* Lysander *cough* I didn’t like as much! There’s also tons of action, political tension and characters doing stupid things… all the fun stuff!

If you want to read a more in-depth review, I recommend checking out Kat’s review which was super insightful! 🙂

But basically: go read this.

(But also you could wait for the other books to be released because if you’re a gold fish like me it’s going to be painful to remember events. Thankfully the fifth book is being released later this year though!!)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

  • SUCH A SHORT BOOK. Wow. Bless. I finished this in like, a day and didn’t have to sacrifice my soul for once! What magic.
  • MARIE LU.(Her writing couldn’t save this book though. Unfortunately.)
  • Action-y parts were fun to read! because the rest of the book was boring
  • ……
  • Bruce’s friends! I forget their names though.

I’M SORRY, THAT’S ALL I HAVE..

  • So short, BUT SO LONG. Like it’s a short book overall, but the majority of the book was Bruce drooling over intrigued by Madeleine and it just felt SO DARN LONG. And boring. Ughghghghgh.
  • But also it was a bit ~too~ short???? Where is the development? Where is the anything? I don’t know, there wasn’t enough time, man.
  • I’m so contradictory darnit.
  • Speaking of which, BRUCE. My boy. As sweet you are with your naivety and all, WHY are you so dumb. Just why.
  • Like:

Everyone: Madeleine is manipulative and will use you and lie to you. STAY AWAY.
Bruce: But what if she’s telling the truth tho?????
Me: -__-

  • I wasn’t.. that surprised by the ending??? The end part was probably the most interesting part to read and I did like reading it, but the predictability, man. It might just be me, though. I think I’ve read too much of the same kind of twists. Not a bad thing!! Others could totally be shocked, it was still well-written and not a flaw of the book!! (Just my flaw??)
  • Madeleine fell flat. She had the potential to be super awesome, and maybe under different circumstances I would have loved her, but through Bruce’s POV? NOPE. She’s under the guise of being ~super complex and special~ (NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE) and I was basically indifferent to her and the interactions between her and Bruce. Oops.
  • I want to simultaneously slap Bruce TO WAKE HIM UP and also pat him on the head and give him a hug? Poor kid’s too naive but also too dedicated to being ~good~. He should go chill and eat ice cream. So should Madeleine.
  • Character development?? Where art thou? I CAN’T SEE YOU. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • There was plot! But it got lost as swiftly as Bruce got lost in Madeleine’s swoony and calculating dark eyeballs.
  • What the heck did this review become

I’m so salty omg forgive me.

I liked…. a few things? Mostly that it was short and the author is Marie Lu. But, you know. That counts.

But truthfully I don’t think you’re missing out on very much if you don’t read this? But that’s my very small, inconsequential opinion because you could still enjoy this very much! DON’T LET ME STOP YOU.

But personally I’m super disappointed I didn’t love it more, especially since Wonder Woman was one of my favourite reads. (GO READ IT GO READ IT.) I’d recommend reading Marie Lu’s other books, Warcross or The Young Elites or Legend, instead, those ones were more ones I enjoyed!

HI DID YOU READ THE RED RISING SERIES YET CAUSE YOU SHOULD.Will you shout about Sevro and Darrow and Victra and everything with me???

Have you read Batman? I’M SORRY FOR MY SALTINESS. 😂 Did you enjoy it, or did you find yourself disappointed like me? (Join me in my saltiness, I’m scared to be alone.)

Do you like these kinds of mini-reviews? It’s been so long since I’ve done a review, I low-key don’t know how to write one anymore???

LET’S CHAT BOOKS! What are you currently reading?? Also how was your January/ how is your February going? I had a ton of Valentine’s Day posts planned for this month and I’ve gotten to posting 0% of them oops, but I hope you guys have been doing well since I last spoke to you!