Queer Girls, Dragons, and Rescue Missions | Shatter the Sky Book Review

YOU GUYS. I have been waiting (im)patiently to post this book review, because it’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! But I wanted to wait until release day, which was on Tuesday. Shatter the Sky by Rebecca Kim Wells is a must for anyone who likes fantasy, strong female characters, and LGBTQ+ representation.

Also, I’m borrowing an idea from Lydia of Noveltea for this review. She includes a section in all of her book reviews for why she chose the book, and I thought that was a really good idea, so I’m adopting it myself.

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About the Book

Raised among the ruins of a conquered mountain nation, Maren dreams only of sharing a quiet life with her girlfriend Kaia—until the day Kaia is abducted by the Aurati, prophetic agents of the emperor, and forced to join their ranks. Desperate to save her, Maren hatches a plan to steal one of the emperor’s coveted dragons and storm the Aurati stronghold.

If Maren is to have any hope of succeeding, she must become an apprentice to the Aromatory—the emperor’s mysterious dragon trainer. But Maren is unprepared for the dangerous secrets she uncovers: rumors of a lost prince, a brewing rebellion, and a prophecy that threatens to shatter the empire itself. Not to mention the strange dreams she’s been having about a beast deep underground…

With time running out, can Maren survive long enough to rescue Kaia from impending death? Or could it be that Maren is destined for something greater than she could have ever imagined?

  • Goodreads | Amazon | 304 pages (I think my review copy was longer, but maybe the font changed?)
  • Release date July 30, 2019
  • I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I Chose This Book

I basically lost my composure when I saw the mention of a girl stealing a dragon to rescue her girlfriend. UM, SIGN ME UP, PLEASE. I put in that review request faster than you can say “Claire, I think you’re a little too obsessed with dragons,” and then I jumped through the ceiling when I got approved.

My Thoughts

I feel like I’ve been looking for this book my entire life. It was a masterpiece. I can’t stress enough how fantastic it was. It’s Malinda Lo meets The Goose Girl with a little bit of Game of Thrones thrown in.

The world building was incredible. The history and geography of the world was super well planned, and I felt completely immersed. I would love to see a map. Maybe that will appear in the finished book.

That leads in to the main strength of the book, which is the diversity. As you can see from the cover, the main character is non-white. She appears Asian on the cover and that’s how she is described. Her love interest, Kaia, has dark curly hair and darker skin, as do most of the Zefedi. It’s so realistic to have different people in different parts of the world not look all alike. The culture was really well-developed, too. Maren has to figure out how to fit in.

Kaia and Maren. Ah, they really are the sweetest. I can’t describe how happy I am to have a prominent lesbian couple in a fantasy novel. It melts my heart into a puddle of gay butter. And Maren is bisexual! (Or pansexual.) The one thing I was not keen on is that there’s a bit of a love triangle, which I never enjoy. And bi people tend to be stereotyped as promiscuous or more likely to cheat, so the love triangle doesn’t do any wonders to help debunk that stereotype. That knocks half a star off.

The plot is all over the place, and I mean that in the best way – I didn’t predict a single thing. Maren’s goal at the beginning is to rescue Kaia, but it gets amended several times throughout. That’s because of the outstanding characterization. Maren grows SO MUCH throughout the book and I am SO PROUD of her. She goes from being a shadow of her girlfriend to being this amazing, independent, strong-willed, powerful character and it’s truly amazing to read about.

And, dragon bonding? I’m 100% here for it. The Aromatory is an absolutely fascinating concept and plot point, and I’m super impressed with Rebecca Kim Wells’ creativity.

Honestly, this is one of the best books I have read all year, and I can’t recommend it enough. Thank you so much to NetGalley for the ARC. It did not influence my review; I genuinely LOVED this book.

My Rating

4.5 stars, rounded up to 5
★★★★★

Book Review: Mindfulness for Students

I’ve been fortunate enough to be approved for a variety of titles on NetGalley lately, and I’ve enjoyed so many of them that I wished to start reviewing them here on my blog. For those of you who don’t know, NetGalley is a website that provides advance digital copies of books to readers in exchange for an honest review.

It’s an amazing experience getting early copies of books. It makes me feel like a professional reader, if such a thing exists. I’ve reviewed about 20 so far, and I will start posting the reviews around the publication date for the book.

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About the Book

Mindfulness for Students by Natasha Kaufman

Life can be tough. With so many decisions to make at such a critical time, it’s easy to feel weighed down. What’s more, there is the pressure to gain good grades, to find a good job, to be a good person. Your mind may feel clogged up with no way to filter your circulating thoughts and pressures. From a young age we are taught the significance of a solid education and a fruitful career, yet with such an emphasis on academic and monetary success we often fail to prioritise a healthy mind and body. It is essential to know how to deal with life’s many challenges; Mindfulness for Students will help you.

Through insightful ideas and personal anecdotes, this book will introduce you to the many benefits and applications of mindfulness – from mindful breathing, eating, exercising, sleeping, studying and communicating. There will be opportunities within each chapter to have a go at mindful meditations ranging from three to twenty minutes. There is no right or wrong approach, just what works for you. Mindfulness is a way of being, and this book will help you lay the foundations for a mindful future. Choose to be mindful and live your life in the moment, living fully and wholeheartedly, aware of self and others.

Goodreads | Amazon| Published July 2, 2019
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts

An excellent overview of mindfulness and meditation written especially for college students. This book does a great job introducing readers to the main concepts of being mindful. It has several chapters about different aspects of college and how you can incorporate mindfulness into it.

Every few pages the author offers a quick meditation exercise you can try. I was pleasantly surprised to find a section on using mindfulness to tolerate chronic pain. I tried the meditation that was suggested and found it quite helpful.

The main idea of this book is just to be okay with what’s going on, even if it’s uncomfortable. That’s a really valuable lesson and the book did a good job explaining it. I would really recommend this to any college student who’s struggling with stress, no matter how mild they may say it is. Everybody can benefit from this.

My Rating

4/5 stars
★★★★☆

What books have you been reading lately?

A Pride Month Book Review

In celebration of Pride month, I wanted to share a fantastic book that I just finished with you guys. I recently joined NetGalley, where you can request ebooks in exchange for a book review, and I discovered this gem. I’m an LGBTQ+ ally, as you know, and I always want to learn new things…so I couldn’t request this anthology fast enough. Here’s the cover and description! 🌈🌈🌈🌈

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About the Book 🌈

“Love Beyond, Body, Space, and Time” is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman trying an experimental transition medication to young lovers separated through decades and meeting far in their own future. These are stories of machines and magic, love, and self-love.

Goodreads | Amazon | 125 pages
Where I got it: I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. I wasn’t required to post this review on my blog, in fact…I just liked it so much that I wanted to!

My Thoughts 🌈

An amazing and thought-provoking collection of short stories, essays, and poems. I learned a lot from reading it. All of the stories feature LGBTQ2S+ characters who are indigenous. I can’t speak to the accuracy because I’m a white person but it was really interesting and all the authors put a lot of heart into their stories.

Here are brief thoughts on each of the contributions.

Beyond the Grim Dust of What Was: This was a dense but interesting essay that included a bunch of books to check out. And how cool is it that the person who wrote this teaches at my university? I may have fangirled for a bit.

Returning to Ourselves: Again, pretty academic. An essay, not a story. Neither of these were super interesting, but they have a lot of good information.

Aliens: Wow, what a start to the anthology. This writing style took some getting used to, and I’m not sure why it wasn’t told from the main character’s point of view, but this was great. 4/5 stars ★★★★☆

Legends are Made, Not Born: This was a sweet, quick little story. Auntie Dave is an intriguing character. I never felt fully involved with it, mostly due to the writing style, so 3/5 stars ★★★☆☆

Perfectly You: RIGHT IN THE FEELS. Reminded me of San Junipero from Black Mirror. This was absolutely amazing! Lesbian main character. 5/5 stars ★★★★★

The Boys Who Became the Hummingbirds: This read more like a legend or a fairytale than a short story, which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not my preferred style to read. 3/5 stars because the writing really is beautiful. ★★★☆☆

Né Łe: This story is so cute, this one was especially well done. It’s about dogs and lesbians, and neither the dogs nor the lesbians die for a change, thank goodness. 5/5 stars ★★★★★

Transitions: I really liked this one. Interesting main character and I love plots involving medical trials. I wish this story had been longer because the end kind of leaves you hanging, but at the same time you have a pretty good idea of where it’s going. Trans woman main character. 5/5 stars ★★★★★ [TW: transphobia]

Imposter Syndrome: I had a hard time following the plot of this. Lots of interesting ideas but too much happened in too short a page count for me to keep up. 2/5 stars. ★★☆☆☆ [TW: violence & sexual assault]

Valediction at the Star View Motel: More lesbians! I liked the characters quite a lot and it’s a really sweet storyline. Would definitely read more about them. 4/5 stars ★★★★☆

Parallax: I was surprised to find a poem in here, but it was a good conclusion to the anthology I think. I’m not much of a poetry fan to be honest but this deserves 4/5 stars. ★★★★☆

In conclusion, this was a very well-assembled anthology that’s strong on the #ownvoices category. I highly, highly recommend it.

Overall Rating: ★★★★
Or, 5/5 rainbows 🙂
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It looks like the book is only $5 on Amazon which is a pretty good deal. So if you’re looking for some Pride reading you may wish to check it out.