A Tale of Two Princes; OR, Why Does Canada Have a Monarchy and Will You Please Abolish It?

Oh dear.

What to even say about this book? Where to begin?

I guess first I must thank Kait for bringing this book to my attention. This was really truly quite the read.

And thank you to all my friends who listened to my live reactions. You made reading this worth it.

For everyone tuning in, this is a review of A Tale of Two Princes by Eric Geron. A word of warning: this is not positive, nor is it spoiler-free.

And of course, disclaimer, I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, this doesn’t change my opinions. All quotes are taken from the arc and subject to change

Alright, now I guess let’s begin with the premise: Canada has a monarchy.

That in itself is so much, but the way this was executed…. even worse.

So, why does Canada have a monarchy? How old is it? How does this monarchy work?
All of these are truly fantastic questions, that the book of course does not answer. We are given the backstory that the new King (the Queen of England’s eldest son!) and Queen of Canada fled England in a move dubbed “Frexit,” “in hopes of escaping the scrutiny of the English press.” Because they woke up each morning to “a new disparaging headline… about Mum being a lowly commoner from Canada.” (If you were wondering, she’s white.) So they were “prepared to leave the Royal Family and relinquish their official titles,” but apparently the Canadian prime minister “recognized that Canadian love for the Royal Family was good for business. (Our official merch alone contributes greatly to Canada’s bottom line.)”

I don’t even know what to say about this. I guess that I thought the cost of a Royal Family could not simply be made up for with an ???official merch line??? Also the fact that the new King of Canada was the Crown Prince of England. It’s okay though because he was born on Canadian soil!!

There is a mention later that the king’s role is of a checks-and-balances sort to “[make] sure everything is in the best interest of Canada. His role is to provide something called royal assent, which brings parliamentary bills into law. And his rubber-stamping of everything.”

Again, why is this necessary though?? Why is there a Canadian monarchy??? It’s mentioned in just a throwaway line that they transferred the powers of the governor general over to him, but once again I am asking why?????

This book isn’t actually about them though, but their sons: Edward, raised by the King and Queen as Crown Prince of Canada, and Billy, raised in Montana as a cowboy. They end up meeting in New York City (because of course this book about two Canadian princes has to spend most of the page time not in fact in Canada), and this is where the drama comes in.

It turns out that Billy was actually born first and is the true Crown Prince of Canada. (He was raised as a cowboy because his cowparents were in Montreal for a wedding a week before the due date and then the baby decided to show up early and they rushed to the hospital, the same hospital that the King and Queen were at. The Queen was actually pregnant with twins, though they didn’t let the press know this. Cowbaby and the older Princebaby both had complications and were rushed off to the NICU for emergency surgery. Unfortunately Cowbaby died, but here was a mixup and the nurses told the Queen that her baby died, and Cowmom was given the Princebaby and raised him in Montana.)

The twins’s birthday is coming up, and because they’re turning 18, the Crown Prince is supposed to do an Investiture Ceremony. Edward, of course, has been preparing for this his whole life, while Billy has possibly never even been to Canada before. But of course they can’t just have Edward be Crown Prince. That wouldn’t be right. Must follow tradition!!

So they introduce Billy to the public as the long lost new Crown Prince of Canada, and he ends up coming out as gay. (This is after a bunch of Edward looking disparagingly at Billy and thinking about how “Billy is the straight version of [him].”) The Royal Advisor, Gord, is not pleased with this, says “That’s why we must have to do everything in our power to assure the line of succession will continue, to promise that the royal lineage won’t be snuffed out after only two generations, and to pledge that Billy isn’t going to be pushing a gay agenda.” (Yes, he is the villain.)

Edward is upset because his crown was just stolen by a guy who “isn’t even Canadian” (not exactly incorrect, but also can we talk about how the King himself is hardly Canadian?), and also because he’s realizing he could have been out this whole time, and also now that Billy’s “coming out makes it feel impossible for me to ever come out, like he’s stolen my thunder by coming out first.”

There’s a bunch of plot with them not getting along that I’m not going to go into the details of because this review is already going to be long enough.

Another thing I really hated about this book was just how many times the word maple was used: one-hundred, ninety-eight (198!) instances. This includes Billy’s best friend giving him “a pair of maple leaf tighty-whities” for the Investiture Ceremony. In a turn of events that everyone appreciates I’m sure, this is plot relevant.

So at the Investiture Ceremony, after he’s been given the scepter, the crown, etc. Billy’s pants rip. In front of everyone. So everyone gets to see the maple leaf underwear.

The Firm then uses this as an excuse to oust Billy from his position as Crown Prince:

The Firm, along with the prime minister, has determined that Prince Billy is not fit to rule and will be stripped of his titles, patronages, security, and funds. Noncompliance will result in the Canadian monarchy as a whole being dissolved. The prime minister has called for a section 41 amendment vote at the House of Commons to push through this change in law so that HRH Prince Edward will be heir to the Crown of Canada.

By this point though Edward has realized that really, Billy deserves the Crown.

There’s a plot involving a woman Edward was fake dating, Fi, that results in Edward “hoping Fi will forgive [me] for what I’m about to say” (that he’s gay) just a few mere paragraphs after he gets mad at her and breaks up with her for ruining Billy’s life via leaking some photos. And then he spends entirely too long agonizing about how bad he feels for “lying” to her. I hate this entire plot line and the way Fi is treated in the story, where she’s essentially looked down upon for being ambitious, but also suffers no consequences for her actions that harmed Billy. It seems like the author is trying to portray her as complicated, but he entirely fails.

Anyways, after this all occurs, he sets out to restore public opinion in hopes that will make the parliament change their minds and not take the crown away from Billy. This doesn’t exactly work/is abandoned in favor of other plot, when they learn that Gord has been the villain the whole time and is super homophobic. Of course, he was responsible for the sabotage of Billy’s suit that resulted in his underwear being shown to everyone and thus the decision to strip him of the crown.

In an unsurprising turn of events, they get a recording of Gord confessing and run over to the House of Commons to stop the vote. They arrive too late, with the House already voting unanimously in favor of changing the line of succession so Edward has the crown back. When they show the King the video of the confession though, he says, “Our royal adviser is to blame for Billy’s incident. Therefore, Billy’s title will be reconferred.” Like it’s that easy and the vote didn’t matter whatsoever, which frankly doesn’t make sense and seems in incredibly poor taste, given Canada’s long history of colonialism. Of course this book doesn’t want you to actually think about that.

Later in the book, the King issues an Official Communication that in addition to saying press secretaries will undergo proper sensitivity training and a diversity officer will be hired (lmao), says “It took an important vote to change the Succession Law. We thank Billy for his patience as we awaited his confirmation to the line of succession. We have sincerely apologized to him for any upset.”

This line of course is incredibly confusing because they’re referring to the vote that would have taken the Crown away from Billy, yes??? The vote that did in fact unanimously give the crown to Edward for the few minutes before the King decided to just throw it away???

Anyways.

So the Firm ends up apologizing publicly and privately for this whole thing, which seems incredibly far-fetched, but whatever, not this book’s worst offense.

And this is described as a “new age for the monarchy.”

So, to return to the topic of the monarchy.

Billy is set to be future king, but Edward needs a role I guess, so he suggests that he becomes Billy’s official royal adviser, you know because the last one turned out to be totally homophobic.

“We can arrange that,” Dad says. “It’ll be nice to have a royal adviser who isn’t trying to oust the Crown Prince through latent homophobia. I like this!” “Even better-a royal adviser in full support of equal rights.” All this time, I was being groomed by someone with inherent bias and homophobia.

A few pages later, there’s this gem:

It’s truly time for a monarchy that supports all within its walls. A time of progress. A time of inclusion. And now, the Canadian monarchy will flourish as was first intended, with no one left to set us off course. We’re here to stay. If there’s any more homophobia, or hate of any kind, we’re on it.

This is of course an incredibly idealized and pinkwashed sentiment of what a monarchy is and does.

In the author’s letter at the beginning, he says:

I also wanted to shine a light on what homophobia looks like today… This is the true villain in my book, the force actively working to keep the main characters from reaching their happily-ever-afters.

Because homophobia and the monarchy definitely don’t operate hand in hand.

With this in mind, I want to discuss this book’s disgustingly pro-monarchy sentiment. Repeatedly anti-monarchists and homophobes are put in the same sentence, implying that they are on a similar level of bad (not to say that the anti-monarchists are bad; they absolutely are not. The book just views them that way)
Even though this Canadian monarchy is only 18 years old, and arguably the people of Canada did not and do not want it, this book repeatedly shovels down the reader’s throat, how fantastic it is, and how it’s for “the good of Canada” that Billy or Edward is the future ruler and doesn’t mess this up.

A smaller group of protestors holding antimonarchy signs is exactly what the Royals fear. Gord told me at one of our lessons that the Canadian monarchy continues to be in fine standing, despite the many loud voices of dissent. When Mum and Dad first moved to Canada, there was a movement by the francophone population to abolish the monarchy altogether. Other factions hoped the “silly tradition” would phase out. The majority of Canadians saw the establishment of a new monarchy as a tremendous step backward for the country. But the votes at the time shockingly showed otherwise.

There is one singular time that a monarchy is even implied to be a bad thing: “Interesting how Gord’s not going over the British Royals’ colonial past, racist present, incest…” This of course is never brought up again, and there is no thinking critically about the Canadian Royals. They are perfect and exactly what Canada needs, what would Canada do without them?

The pro-monarchy sentiment even goes so far as to have Edward view it as a good thing when a group of monarchy fans swarm and pull a teenager with an antimonarchy sign to ground. I wish I were joking.

Something in the crowd catches my eye: a random teenager waves an antimonarchy sign, but then the HeirHeads swarm over him, pulling him to the ground. He disappears underneath the crush of bodies. Leave it up to the fervent fans to wipe out any haters. Now that I’m looking, I notice there’s a small smattering of antimonarchists at this end of the street, and a few antigay protestors parading around and waving signs at the opposite end of the street, both groups drowned out by chanting and yelling HeirHeads. Hopefully the fans continue their crowd control.

While this book is bad, it could have, to some degree, have been saved if it ended with the abolition of the monarchy, but of course it didn’t.

Assorted Other Complaints:

The way the author would scrub a single digit of a serial number off of characters:
Eliza II, Queen of England
Liam, Duke of Cambridge
Caroline, Duchess of Cambridge
Harold, Duke of Sussex
Maitaine, Duchess of Sussex
Ryder Russell and Blaire Ivy

For some reason though the author didn’t do this with Lil Nas X or Ariana Grande, who appear in the book as themselves.

It is mentioned that the city of Toronto gives Casa Loma to the King and Queen “as a gift for the new monarchy” because you know, turning a tourist attraction into a private residence for the monarchy really benefits Canada’s bottom line. But of course, the merch line must more than make up for it, right?

The Daily Maple
Being set in Canada, of course it had to have its own version of the Daily Mail. The only writer for the Daily Maple is Omar Scooby. Of course it is not explicitly stated that Omar is Muslim, but as that is a name most often used by Muslim families, it does not feel like a far-fetched conclusion. Why couldn’t the author have chosen a whiter name to play the role of tabloid writer?

There are no queer women in this book.
In the author’s letter, he says:

In drafting A Tale of Two Princes, it was important for me to create something not only for those who are out but also for those who are not out and who are not queer.

Of course I take no issue with the for those who are not out portion. That’s fantastic. But the part about those who are not queer is interesting. Going through the queer characters in this book, we have a lot of gay men and then one nonbinary person, who I am not convinced isn’t nonbinary solely to save the book from complaints of there being so many gay men and zero (0!) queer women. (Obviously, I am still complaining.) Edward does end up saying “perhaps queer fits better for me” because said aforementioned nonbinary person is his love interest, which basically just reads like he’s gay but thinks “gay” as a sexuality is incompatible with liking a nonbinary person, which feels weird.

In any matter, this all makes it seem like the author cares more about writing for straight people than queer women.

Of course, the weirdness surrounding queerness does not stop there. I will lay out the first two sentences of the last chapter without comment because I think they speak for themselves:

It’s a perfect last Sunday in June as the rainbow carriage we stand in glides past Stonewall Inn. The crowds cheer, and cops on motorcycles with pride flags flowing off the back drive in front of us.

This scene also mentions that people are holding signs that say #Twinces, and my personal favorite Love Twins. Much like the rest of this book, it’s clear the author didn’t actually think about the implications of this.

In conclusion, thank you if you made it through this long review, and

Meme of Bernie Sanders stating 'I am once again asking you to abolish the Canadian monarchy'

Five Books I Read and Adored This Year; OR Sakina has the Best Taste

Hello! It’s the end of the year, and I read quite a few absolutely fantastic books this year, and a significant portion were at the recommendation of my dear friend Sakina, so I’m making this blog post to highlight those.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

The cover of The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

This book is one of the most beautiful, quiet and soft fantasy books I’ve read in my whole life. Sakina read this back at the beginning of spring as the world started to really turn upside down, and when I finally read it, I just felt so soft and happy. I’m sure you’ve heard lots about this book by now, but its quiet perfection really cannot be overstated. Read Sakina’s review here.

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

This book is just phenomenal. Sakina and I kind of buddy read it (she started it first and was absolutely raving about it so I then started it and then finished it before she did). It’s one of the best YA fantasy books I’ve read in my whole life, and I am obsessed with legitimately everything about it. Read Sakina’s review here.

Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross

Cover of Sisters of Sword and Song by Rebecca Ross

I had read one of Rebecca Ross’s books a few years back and enjoyed it but wasn’t particularly obsessed with it, but when Sakina started raving about this one, I knew I had to check it out. After much persistence from her (seriously so grateful for her persistence), I read it, and I am obsessed. This book surprised me with how much I ended up loving it, and I’m already thinking about rereading it. Check out Sakina’s review here.

Thorn/The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani

Cover of Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Slightly different from the rest of the books on here, I read Thorn because of Sakina and another friend who both know how much I want actually good retellings of The Goose Girl, which this book is. I really really liked it, but the book I’m actually obsessed with is the companion sequel, The Theft of Sunlight, which unfortunately Sakina still has not read (she has an arc smh. let’s shame her). It hit so many of my favourite fantasy tropes and things, and I need the next book so bad. Read Sakina’s review of Thorn here.

Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

Cover of Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

I’d heard about this book a lot, but predictably, I kept off pushing off picking it up until finally Sakina was like, I’m going to read this. And as she started reading it and raving about it, I picked it up and loved it. It’s the sort of book I’ve been looking for for a long time. You can read Sakina’s review here.

That’s the end of this blog post. What were some of your favourite reads of the year? Do you have a friend whose reading recommendations you always trust because you know they have the absolute best taste? Talk to me in the comments, and Happy New Year. I’m so proud of you for making it to 2021. We can do this.

Just Like That Blog Tour

Hello and welcome!
Today I’m bringing you my review for Just Like That as part of the blog tour.

I was provided a review copy by the publisher via Netgalley but my opinions are my own.

About the book:

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Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to 
Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take
up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya
Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.
Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.
Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.
To find the love they’ve always needed…
Just like that.
In Just Like That, critically acclaimed author Cole McCade introduces us to Albin Academy: a private boys’ school where some of the world’s richest families send their problem children to learn discipline and maturity, out of the public eye.

My review:

I first heard about and read Cole McCade’s books after Cockygate, and while I’ve still only read His Cocky Valet and His Cocky Cellist, I thoroughly enjoyed them both. After now loving this book, I know I have to get myself together and read the rest.

I didn’t actually mean to start reading this book when I did, having been a little apprehensive about the whole “man who made his teenage years miserable” thing, but I had nothing to worry about. And once I started this book, it was impossible to start.

From beginning to end this was a perfect, tension-filled, engaging book. I cannot rave enough about the tension, both sexual and not. It was absolutely immaculate and every so often, I’d have to set the book down so I could process and deal with it.

I also really loved the way this book was about grief and living. I hadn’t expected it, and I don’t want to say too much, but just like the rest of it, it was very well written.

All in all, Just Like That was an incredible book and I’m so excited to read the next book set at Albin Academy.

About the author

Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently
residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats.
He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts:
Website & Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Tumblr
Instagram
BookBub
Facebook Fan Page

Buy Links
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple Books
Google Play
Kobo

 

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

I’m notoriously bad at actually doing this, but despite a bunch of setbacks with WordPress (I’d like to fight), I did manage to actually complete this, this year. So let’s dive in! This tag was created by Ely and Chami.

Best Book You’ve Read So Far

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

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Spoiler alert: this isn’t the only time this will show up in this post, but I can’t not put this on here. It’s the perfect, heartwarming, atmospheric book I needed this year, and I’m already looking forward to rereading.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far

Queen of Volts by Amanda Foody

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I don’t want to get into spoilers, but this was truly a great conclusion. It didn’t let me down at all, and also a character was dealing with diminished hearing in one ear, and as someone who’s also been dealing with that this year, it was incredible to read.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

The Archer at Dawn by Swati Teerdhala

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I absolutely loved The Tiger at Midnight, but for some reason I still haven’t read this. Hopefully I will get to it soon.

Most Anticipated Release(s) For The Second Half Of The Year

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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This is a Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, and I’ve been so excited for this book ever since I heard that description. And now early reviews have been coming out, and everyone is loving it so I desperately hope I do too.

The Burning God by R. F. Kuang

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An eagerly anticipated finale, I’ve got a hunch this book will rip my heart out but I’m ready for it to do so.

A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

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I was already excited for this book, but then I read the excerpt that dropped with the cover reveal here and,,,, yeah

Biggest Disappointment

Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

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I think what makes this even more disappointing is that for me, I know exactly why this didn’t work, and I just think it would have been a better book if those changes had been made. You can check out my review here.

Biggest Surprise

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

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I didn’t have any expectations going into this book, so when I picked it up and found myself flying through it, thanks to Tiffany D. Jackson’s incredible writing and the micro cliffhangers at the ends of chapters, I was in awe. This is an incredible book, and I highly highly recommend picking it up when it comes out in September.

Favourite New Author (Debut or New to You)

Melissa Bashardoust

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In addition to Girl, Serpent, Thorn I finally read Girls Made of Snow and Glass this year, and loved both so much. Melissa Bashardoust writes beautifully, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Newest Fictional Crush

Kuvira from The Legend of Korra

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Sexy lady villain, need I say more

Newest Favourite Character

Linus Baker

He is the protagonist of The House in the Cerulean Sea, and I love him so much. Really any and all of the characters in that book can go here.

Book That Made You Cry

Loveless by Alice Oseman

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Admittedly, I went into this book with low expectations. Thankfully, I did really like it. Additionally it did a thing that was incredible and wonderful and made me so happy I cried. Read it when it comes out soon!

Book That Made You Happy

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

Yes, this book again. But really, I can’t answer with any other book. This book is truly so heartwarming and made me so happy.

Favourite Book to Movie Adaptation You’ve Seen This Year

Little Women

Granted, I couldn’t think of any others I’ve watched this year, but Little Women really was incredible. I loved the choices made in adapting it, and it made me cry.

Favourite Review You’ve Written This Year

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Speaking of Little Women, I wrote a pre-review for Jo & Laurie because I’m personally offended they’d publish this bs before a book with a queer Jo. Additionally, the way the original synopsis was phrased was really gross. You can find that review here.

Most Beautiful Book(s) You’ve Bought This Year

The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

I read this book last year as an ARC, but it came out while I was in Prague. I’m a huge fan of the UK cover, which is even more beautiful than this image shows, so when I went to London I bought it.

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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It’s the same story with this book. It was incredible, and when I saw what the UK cover looked like, I knew i had to buy it.

What Books Do You Need To Read By The End Of The Year?

Literally every single book in ARC Purgatory, but Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker, Kind of a Big Deal by Shannon Hale, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab, and The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix. The last three books are by some of my favourite authors for a long time, and then I keep hearing about Gideon the Ninth, and if you know me, you know I love vampires.

How has your reading been going so far in this time of pandemic?
I hope you and yours are doing well and you’re staying safe.
Until next time,
Gretal

Foul is Fair Blog Tour – Review

Hi! Today I’m pleased to bring you a review for one of my favourite books I read in 2019, as part of the blog tour leading up to its release.

Foul is Fair_Cover

Hannah Capin’s Foul is Fair is a bloody, thrilling revenge fantasy for the girls who have had enough. Golden boys beware: something wicked this way comes.

Jade and her friends Jenny, Mads, and Summer rule their glittering LA circle. Untouchable, they have the kind of power other girls only dream of. Every party is theirs and the world is at their feet. Until the night of Jade’s sweet sixteen, when they crash a St. Andrew’s Prep party. The night the golden boys choose Jade as their next target.

They picked the wrong girl.

Sworn to vengeance, Jade transfers to St. Andrew’s Prep. She plots to destroy each boy, one by one. She’ll take their power, their lives, and their control of the prep school’s hierarchy. And she and her coven have the perfect way in: a boy named Mack, whose ambition could turn deadly.

Review:

Going into this book, I was incredibly excited because contemporary Macbeth with a girl getting revenge against the boys who raped her, and thus I was also a little worried it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Fortunately, it lived up to them and more than exceeded them.

Jade was the ideal protagonist for this story, and I’m obsessed with her. I know a lot of people might have issues with this story, as it’s a revenge fantasy, but I think we have so many male revenge fantasies, where the only role of women is to serve as plot fodder. It’s incredible to have one for us.

One of my favourite parts of this book is the incredible way Hannah Capin translates and elevates Macbeth to fit into the story. It’s done with absolute perfection, and I cannot imagine any way it could have been accomplished better.

I do recommend checking out the content warnings for this book, but I think they’re in the front of the book (they at least were in the earc), and that’s excellent.

So if you’re looking for an elevated feminist retelling of Macbeth, look no further and pick up Foul is Fair. I personally can’t wait to get my hands a hold of a copy.

 

Hannah Capin

About the author:
Hannah Capin is the author of Foul is Fair and The Dead Queens Club, a feminist retelling of the wives of Henry VIII. When she isn’t writing, she can be found singing, sailing, or pulling marathon gossip sessions with her girl squad. She lives in Tidewater, Virginia.

Tamora Pierce Readalong

Hello!

I’m so excited to announce that my friends, Sakina and Mackenzie, and I are hosting a Tamora Pierce Readalong this year.

I’ve been a huge fan of Tamora Pierce’s books since I was a child, and I became friends with Sakina specifically because she posted a very informative wonderful blogpost about How to Read Tamora Pierce. You can find that here. And Mackenzie also made one which you can find here!

Also you really should just check out their individual blog posts on the readalong because theirs are better! Here’s Sakina’s and here’s Mackenzie’s.

So how is this going to work?

We’re starting with her books set in the Tortall world, mostly because those books are a lot easier to find than the Emelan ones.

Instead of putting a time frame for each book, we decided to go by series, as you can see in this excel spreadsheet. We’re reading in publishing order, starting with Song of the Lioness on January 20th.

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If you don’t yet own Song of the Lioness, Mackenzie is hosting two giveaways for a bindup of the first two books, open internationally where book depository ships. You can find them on her Instagram and Twitter.

While we’re at it, here’s my Instagram and Twitter, and here’s Sakina’s Instagram and Twitter.

How will we discuss it?

We’ll be using #TPReadalong on Instagram and Twitter, so definitely use that and tag us in your posts if you want to discuss. We all love these books so much and are eager to talk more about them with new and returning fans.

 

If you have any questions, you can leave them below or @ us on social media. I’m so excited for this reread.

 

– Lady Knight Gretal of Goldenlake

F/F Books I Read in 2019

No one asked for this, but I decided to deliver it. Just a (not so) short list of the f/f books I read this past year. I hope you enjoy!

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My Fake Canadian Wife by M. Hollis

  • 3.5 stars
  • While I enjoyed this a lot, I wish it were longer
  • representation: Brazilian lesbian mc, pansexual li

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Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

  • 4 stars
  • all the tropy sapphic goodness and geology puns
  • representation: bisexual mc, lesbian li

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These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

  • 4.5 stars
  • murder, magic, and queerness. what more could you want?
  • representation: lesbian mc, bisexual li

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Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

  • 2.5 stars
  • ugh. Lou was so annoying and also I hated the romance
  • representation: bisexual mc

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King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

  • 4.5 stars
  • So I hate the m/f ship that seems to be developing, but the f/f one has all my uwus.
  • representation: fat bi mc

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Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

  • 3.5 stars
  • the first chapter of this book was terrible, but after that I really enjoyed it
  • Sri Lankan mixed lesbian mc, Japanese-American li

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power

  • 4.5 stars
  • just a whole ride. I love it
  • representation: queer mcs, mc with one eye

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The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

  • 4 stars
  • so good and different
  • El Salvadoran gay mc, depressed li

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Heavy Vinyl: Riot on the Radio

  • 4 stars
  • I don’t love music but this was pretty fun
  • lesbian mc, two f/f couples, Black mc

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The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

  • 4 stars
  • so good but so terrifying
  • representation: sapphic mc

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

  • 4 stars
  • I loved the beginning more than the end, but overall pretty great
  • representation: unspecified queer mcs

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Tarnished are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

  • 4 stars
  • It’s sci-fi but I still enjoyed it a lot
  • representation: lesbian mc, queer mc, aroace mc

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Going Off Script by Jen Wilde

  • 4.5 stars
  • I love it. Gays fight straight washing; a novel
  • representation: anxious gay mc, Indian-American li

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Rated by Melissa Grey

  • 3 stars
  • only one straight couple and neat world building but come on do we really need more one dimensional stereotypical antagonistic cheerleaders?
  • representation: Black mc, bi mc, queer Latinx mc, queer Japanese-American mc with disordered eating,

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

  • 4 stars
  • I really liked the gladiatii aspect
  • representation: bi mc

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The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale

  • 3 stars
  • again, I just don’t really care for music. also there was way too much jealousy in this for me
  • representation: lesbian mc, bi mc

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The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

  • 4.5 stars
  • I really loved this and need book 2
  • Black mc (probably queer), important f/f side couple

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Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

  • 4.5 stars
  • so good ugh
  • representation: queer Malaysian mc, Asian setting

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The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

  • 5 stars
  • this was just incredible. you can see the Twelfth Night influence, and I’m just obsessed
  • representation: queer mc, queer li, mental illness

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Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan

  • 3.5 stars
  • this felt like a bridge book and there were too many actions scenes for my liking
  • representation: queer Malaysian mc, Asian setting

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Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki, Illustrated by Rosemary Valero O’Connell

  • 4 stars
  • Laura Dean really sucks
  • representation: Asian lesbian mc

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Orpheus Girl by Brynne Rebele-Henry

  • 3 stars
  • ugh this book annoyed me. short and underdeveloped
  • representation: lesbian mc

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The Weight of the Stars by K. Ancrum

  • 4 stars
  • I was confused at times, but this was so good. K. Ancrum is an incredible writer
  • representation: queer mc, queer Black biracial li

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

  • 3 stars
  • this was so disappointing and annoying
  • representation: bisexual mc

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Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

  • 5 stars
  • I just really want the sequel y’all
  • representation: bisexual mc, autistic lesbian li

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What Kind of Girl by Alyssa Sheinmel

  • 3.5 stars
  • discussion of dating abuse. I really enjoyed how it was written
  • representation: queer biracial Mexican mc with anxiety and OCD, Black li

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The Rise of Kyoshi by F. C. Yee

  • 4.5 stars
  • It’s an ATLA novel, how could I not love this
  • representation: bisexual Asian mc

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All the Bad Apples by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

  • 4 stars
  • glorious and feminist. I just really loved this
  • representation: lesbian mc

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The Athena Protocol by Shamim Sarif

  • 3.5 stars
  • queer spy book!!
  • representation: queer mc

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We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding

  • 3 stars
  • I just wanted more, couldn’t connect
  • representation: bisexual mc

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Look by Zan Romanoff

  • 2.5 stars
  • really couldn’t connect and felt the story started in a weird place
  • representation: bisexual Jewish mc

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On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

  • 4 stars
  • sometimes I was confused because they did look a little similar
  • representation: queer mc

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This is How you Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

  • 3 stars
  • so not my genre or a writing style that I enjoy
  • representation: it’s f/f

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Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee

  • 4 stars
  • so cute but also made me quite anxious
  • representation: bisexual mc

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Late to the Party by Kelly Quindlen

  • 4.5 stars
  • I had the best time reading this. they really felt like teens
  • representation: lesbian mc

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Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

  • 4 stars
  • didn’t love it as much as Mask of Shadows but still so good
  • representation: biromantic asexual mc

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This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi

  • 3.5 stars
  • I wanted a different f/f relationship than I was given but what’s new
  • representation: Mexican mc, Lebanese-Arabic Muslim mc, mcs with depression and anxiety, queer mc

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A Town Called Noelle by M. K. Hardy

  • 4 stars
  • Hallmark can choke, but this book is wonderful, the perfect tropy f/f Christmas book
  • representation: gay mc, queer mc

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We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

  • 4.5 stars
  • ugh still so good on reread
  • representation: queer Latinx mcs

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We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia

  • 4.5 stars
  • comparing sex with a woman to a baptism? so iconic
  • representation: queer Latinx mcs

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Mangos and Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera

  • 3.5 stars
  • I wish there were more baking
  • representation: Dominican lesbian mcs

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Blood Countess by Lana Popović

  • 4 stars
  • if you’re looking for a fucked up f/f book, this is it
  • representation: lesbian mc, bisexual li

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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

  • 3 stars
  • yeah this book was not my cup of tea. the main character was so slow to realize things, and the romance developed way too quickly
  • representation: Black lesbian mc, Black lesbian li

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The Gay Girl’s Guide to Ruining Prom by Siera Maley

  • 4 stars
  • a great high school lesbian romance
  • representation: lesbian mc, lesbian li

What f/f books did you read this year? What f/f books do you recommend?

Five Star Reads in Five Words 2019

Two of my friends were doing this (@aforestofbooks and @midsummernightsread) and they dragged me into doing this, so here we are. I opted not to include rereads, so these are just the 5 star reads I read for the first time in 2019.

Red, White & Royal Blue

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squeal worthy romance; history, huh?

Wilder Girls

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wild, queer, trippy, body horror

King of Fools

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shaking things up, such pain

The Dragon Republic

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oh wow that ending though

Technically, You Started It

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so well done and Fun

I Wanna Be Where You Are

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Cutest and ballet without eds

The Last True Poets of the Sea

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Twelfth Night inspired, I cried

The Black Veins

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Found family, the Best banter

The Rise of Kyoshi

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Kyoshi gets a girlfriend, YAY

Foul is Fair

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Macbeth, revenge,  boys fucking suck

Late to the Party

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solidarity, queer, they’re real teens!

The Electric Heir

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excuse you, I’m in pain

Today Tonight Tomorrow

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I miss Washington and rain

Crown of Feathers

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Tamora Pierce vibes, phoenix riders!

 

What books did you give 5 stars to in 2019? Let me know in the comments, and I hope you have a great day.

Worst Books of the Year

I actually wasn’t going to do this post, but then I remembered just how much I hated a book and decided I needed to talk about it, so here we are.

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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

The more I think about this book, the more I annoyed I get. It had so much potential, but ultimately fell flat. I can think of only one tiny moment I actually enjoyed, and it was at the beginning of the book and not plot relevant. I think one of my biggest issues with this book is how it attempts to do the found family trope but fails so hard. They don’t even all meet until super far into the book, and I have no idea why they feel strongly about each other. Additionally, this book doesn’t really have a plot which seems as if it should be character driven, but since all the characters are one note, that doesn’t really work. So yeah, did not enjoy this one.

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Bloodleaf by Crystal Ren Smith

It’s no secret that I hated this book. I wrote a very long rant review of it that you can find here, so I’m not really going to get into it. Check out my review if you want to know just why I hated it so much.

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The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

This book didn’t elicit as strong of feelings from me as the rest of the books on this list, but it did bore me a whole lot. Also The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is used as a comp title, and I personally think you maybe shouldn’t use it as one if there are zero queer characters in your book. And lastly, the fact that the main character was So Upset and whatever about the fact that she was distantly related to Vlad the Impaler? Please why. It’s absurd and makes no sense. I’ve really enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s contemporaries, so I think maybe she should stick to that genre.

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The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

This book along with the next two books I talked about in a post you can find here, but to be brief, this book didn’t work for me because of how antiquated it felt from the references to the stereotypical villianization of cheerleaders. I do not recommend.

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American Royals by Katharine McGee

This was just so bad. All the characters were despicable, the plot was derivative. Also what happened with slavery and Native Americans was really glossed over/not at all mentioned, and given that it’s about if the USA had a monarchy, I feel like maybe that should have been discussed.

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One of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus

I had a miserable time reading this, I couldn’t tell any of the characters apart, and it was just all bad. Also, what teenager doesn’t know what endgame means??

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Greythorne by Crystal Ren Smith

This is disappointing because through most of the book, it was actually exceeding my expectations. There were more living female characters and my favourite character aka the one female character who survived the first book and wasn’t the mc nor a baby was revealed to be queer. But then the author killed her off and that’s total bs. I’m still upset.

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Ruthless Gods by Emily A. Duncan

aka just how many times can Malachiasz be referred to as a boy in one book

Granted, this is the ARC, but the word boy is used 189 times. As I read this book, it became very apparent that it was being used in reference to Malachiasz an awful lot. So I decided to count. He is referred to as a boy 133 times. I want to scream. It’s blatant propaganda to make him seem like a better person and I hate it so much.

Also Serefin’s romance had no buildup and was annoying.

 

 

Anyways, thanks for reading. I hope you had a great 2019, and here’s to a fantastic 2020.

Snarky Mini Reviews of Books I Should have DNFed

I’ve read several books this year that were a drain on my energy, but I don’t have enough to say about them to make a full on rant review like I did for Bloodleaf. Here are those reviews 🙂

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American Royals by Katharine McGee

I went into American Royals hoping it would be better than the author’s first book, The Thousandth Floor, but honestly it might have been worse. Probably the only thing it has going for it over that one is the one non straight main character doesn’t die at the end of the book, but it’s only because there isn’t one. Don’t worry though; Katherine McGee still loves to make marginalized people have great falls (one of the few people of color in this book is a Japanese girl who is in a coma). There were zero characters I was rooting for, and the plot was utterly predictable and derivative. I don’t recommend it.

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The Babysitters Coven by Kate Williams

The Babysitters Coven had a promising description and cover, but wow did its insides fail to live up to both of those. The author was inspired by The Babysitters Club, and you can definitely see that in the way the book doesn’t seem to be for the modern teen in the year 2019. There are numerous ancient references that feel out of place. Additionally this book thinks it’s feminist and yet reduces the cheerleaders down to stereotypes who get into a physical fight with our main characters over a guy. All in all, this book doesn’t fit up to the 2019 standard, and I don’t recommend it to anyone except I guess people with nostalgia for The Babysitters Club. Maybe.

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Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

Jennifer Dugan’s debut novel, Hot Dog Girl, is a fun romantic comedy set in an amusement park following a girl in a hot dog costume. It really would be the perfect sapphic romcom if only the author hadn’t chosen the wrong ship. There is an excellent set up for one ship, from the tagline of the book to their relationship at the start of the book, but the author chooses the simpler, more boring friends to lovers ship. Some people will like this book and this ship. Unfortunately I am not one of them.

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One of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus

While not outright problematic like the revenge suicide disguised as a murder mystery story that is One of Us is Lying, One of Us is Next is still terrible. From the three first person point of views that are impossible to distinguish to how incredibly boring this mystery/thriller is to the fact that we are supposed to believe a teenager in the year 2020 doesn’t know the meaning of endgame, it is all horrible. Karen M. McManus’ third novel, and it is just as terrible and boring as the first two. I do not recommend her books at all.

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re having a great day and have been reading better books this year than I have 🙂