Nicole Reads

Nicole Reads

Consumed with wanderlust. Dreams of writing her own novel. Devours books. Fluent in Spanglish. Intersectional feminist.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Fence #7 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad
Fence #7 - C.S. Pacat, Johanna Lindsey, Joana Lafuente
Omg does Aidan like Harvard? I AM DED. This is so cuuute. These are getting much more interesting or at least I’m more captivated.


4 Stars
Fence #6 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad
Fence #6 - C.S. Pacat, Johanna Lindsey, Joana Lafuente

I really enjoyed this one! Finally, you got to see another side of Seiji and Nicholas. This made me laugh and I really needed it.

3 Stars
[REVIEW] Fence #5 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad
Fence #5 - C.S. Pacat, Johanna Lindsey, Joana Lafuente

It has its good points. It was good to see Seiji sweat but at the same time, I want to smack Aiden for being a manipulative asshole? Meh.

3 Stars
[REVIEW] Crown Anthology, edited by Analog de Leon & Gabriel Sage
Crown Anthology - Analog De Leon

I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"Do not reduce yourself
to anything less than
who you are meant to be,
so that your heart will not engulf people
who are not meant to survive 
within its vastness."
(pg. 105)

This anthology is definitely a mixed bag. Some of the poems resonate with me, some feel hollow, some aren’t very well written and others are a big wtf. The good thing is most of them seem short and the collection is remarkably easy to read through. The foreword by Tyler Knott Gregson was eye-roll worthy. A bit trite, to be honest. But then again I’ve never connected with his poetry. I feel as if some of the poems were trying too hard to be inspirational, while others rang truer to me. Of course, this is very personal and not everyone responds the same. I just expected to feel more and not less.

4 Stars
[REVIEW] The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
The Duchess Deal - Tessa Dare

*dreamy sigh*

I am happy there are authors like Tessa Dare that give me just what I needed when I needed it. I am drowning in work and graduate work and a looming thesis, so I had to read something that made me laugh with the bonus of making me feel warm and fuzzy. This was just it, like a warm slice of apple pie.

The characters are flawed, yet you love them dearly: Emma is so sweet and brave, Ashbury has quite a temper, but he is witty and delightful. Their chemistry was undeniable, and all you wanted was for them to tell each other those three words. I alternated between "squee!" and a barely contained giggle fit while I read. Also, the secondary characters were amazing. Emma's friends (who are the protagonists of the coming books) are so different and uniquely interesting. I loved the butler, Khan; he was as loyal and as witty as our hero.

If you need a pick me up, definitely read this book.

2 Stars
[REVIEW] Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill
Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul - Nikita Gill

I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

‘Heroes are meant
to be forged golden
from the blaze.’
(pg. 14)

I was very excited when I got approved for this book. It has all my favorite things in the title: feminism (yay!) and fairytales (yay!). And that cover? Swoon-worthy. The reading experience, however, was more… meh. The concept is good, it’s just not executed as well as it should be. The themes are repetitive, and nothing is structured or cohesive. This is supposed to be about fairytales, but then we take a turn into reality, dealing with eating disorders (that particular poem hit a little close to home) and then we jump back into fairytales. Some of it works, most of it doesn’t, at least for me.

The word choices are also a little bizarre. For example, in ‘Why the Sun Rises and Sets’ she speaks about 'cinnamon people' and that just made me uncomfortable. There’s this entire debate that people of color’s skin shouldn’t be described with food because it fetishizes and dehumanizes them. Another word like “amber,” for example could've been used here instead.

I also struggled a lot in particular with the short stories. The “lesson” behind each is anything but subtle, it hits you over the head with its message over and over again. You see this clearly in ‘Two Misunderstood Sisters.’ She creates backstories for some Disney villains (like Gaston and Ursula and Lady Tremaine) and again, I think this is poorly executed. She plays with the theme that no one is born evil, that evil is learned because of untreated trauma or wounds, and I kinda get it, but it also seems like she’s excusing their behavior? This is particularly displayed in ‘How a hero becomes a villain’ which is Gaston’s poem.

Not everything is bad, though. I enjoyed ‘An Older and Wiser Little Mermaid Speaks.’ This poem is what expected this book to be like. It’s powerful, and it’s evocative, in a way that the rest of the material wasn’t for me.

3 Stars
[REVIEW] Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
Heart's Blood - Juliet Marillier

It's a lovely book. Well written romance, fleshed-out sympathetic yet imperfect characters all around and plenty of tension and scares to have you skip ahead because your poor heart will give out in anxiety. The setting is so vivid you might want to run off to Ireland to see if you can find your own castle filled with the helpful yet scary spirits.

However, and I am frustrated that I feel this way, I didn't love it. I wanted to. It certainly gripped me enough that I read for six hours straight. But I found it way too easy to disengage. Perhaps because I had just DNF'ed Deathless with its ridiculously dreamy prose but a lackluster story. Here, we had a great story but the writing--to me--was so wordy and excessive that I found myself skimming to get to the point. 

The dog dies in the end. I wasn't expecting this, and it made me burst into tears for 15 solid minutes.

(show spoiler)
3 Stars
[REVIEW] Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson
Miss Buncle's Book - D.E. Stevenson

Surprisingly delightful and fun read populated with lovely (and some hateful) characters. It was very slow at the beginning, the jumping back and forth between different perspectives in the same chapter made me dizzy. Then it picked up the pace along with the tension. There were times where I wanted to skip ahead because I was so frightened of what might happen to poor Barbara 

but no need to worry because it all ends well for her and for many characters that we warm up to.

(show spoiler)

Overall, this book kept me happy, amused and fairly distracted.



Reading progress notes


12% - This is nice but a little slow. Having a hard time with the violent perspective jumps, lol.
36% - Still moving along albeit slowly. It is picking up the pace just a tad.
53% - Damn it, Dr. John. I was about to say that I liked you but then you said that the book had to be written by 'a very simple-minded person--a woman' and now I want to smack the crap out of you.
75% - I think Sally might be my favorite.
5 Stars
[REVIEW] The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient - Helen Hoang

I loved, loved, loved this book then again, I love a book that makes me feel, and this one made me feel so many things, all colliding within me at the same time. Easily my favorite romance novel read this year. All I want to do is squee!

I wanted to ignore people so that I could read, that's how much I loved it. Somehow it hit all my favorite things, some that I didn't even remember that I liked. 

Do you want love and light and fluffiness but also angst? Read this book.



Reading progress notes


page 19
...the most stunning pair of soft brown eyes.

My heart melted a little.
page 63
Holy hell *fans self*
page 114
omg that was HORRIBLE and AWKWARD. Poor Stella.
page 194
He’s giving her a gift. For all the birthdays where he didn’t know her.

page 205
I just let out a scream. HELL NO. WHY.
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America - Firoozeh Dumas

I really enjoyed this audiobook and the heartwarming stories it contained. I also really enjoyed the narration by the author, her amazing pronunciation in French made me super jealous. I loved her heartwarming and hilarious tales about her parents and her family; it made me wish I knew them in real life. 

I picked this audiobook at random, and I'm glad I did because it helped me disconnect from reality which, considerating the state of the world, is a welcome respite.

!!! spoiler alert !!! Review
3 Stars
[REVIEW] What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 8 by Fumi Yoshinaga
What Did You Eat Yesterday, Vol. 8 - Fumi Yoshinaga

It made me sad that Shiro’s parents uninvited Kenji to their New Years celebration. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this volume. Their brownie recipe seems a little complicated, though.

4 Stars
[REVIEW] The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1) by N.K. Jemisin
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms - N.K. Jemisin
The priests' lesson: beware the Nightlord, for his pleasure is a mortal's doom. My grandmother's lesson: beware love, especially with the wrong man.

I really enjoyed this which isn't hard to believe because I devoured it in 24 hours. 

The worldbuilding is well done (even if I was confused at some points), the prose was delicious at certain points which thrilled me. I fell for the problematic Nahadoth, and my heart broke for Yeine. Don't know if I will continue with the series but hot damn, I really liked reading something so original. I also enjoyed how awesomely subversive it was.



Reading progress notes


1% - My loan from the library expires soon and because of dentist appointments and other things, I totally forgot about it until now.
6% - This is legit scary, in a good way. 
9% - Hot damn, I'm in.
18% - It is important to appreciate beauty, even when it is evil.
22% - I am scared for T'vril. Or maybe afraid of him? I don't know yet.
70% - There is so much happening that my head is spinning. I feel for Yeine.
76% - "Do with me as you please, Nightlord," I whispered.

Holy crap.
79% - Love can level the ground between mortals and gods, Yeine. It's something we've learned to respect.
90% - WHOA.
5 Stars
[REVIEW] The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Bear and the Nightingale - Katherine Arden

I loved this book. Hell, I don’t even know what to say about it except I want to gush. I read this in 24 hours and I can tell you that it was completely worth it.

My poor heart is aching.

It is such a beautiful, heartbreaking story that grabs you and never lets you go. There is not a single character I hated (well, Konstantin aka Frollo cause it’s practically impossible to like him). Every character was fleshed out and you felt for them, you knew them, you grew attached and worried about them. 

The prose is lovely and atmospheric. Even if right now the heat is sweltering, through Arden’s words I traveled to a wintry Russia full of mystery and snow. It’s so easy to dive into the world and the story and want to stay there forever, to the point that you will resent anyone that tries to distract you.

I loved the lore, the commentary on women’s lives during this era, the familial bonds that tied the story together... I loved it all.



Reading progress notes


5% - The prose is lovely and the book is so atmospheric. I’m half in love with it already.
17% - I’m intrigued with the stranger. And I’m terrified for Pyotr’s family. I think his marriage won’t be a good one.
22% - Oh, Olga. I feel for you and your wish for a raven-haired prince. And I feel for Vasya.
30% - Hating Konstantin already.
41% - This fucker is in love with her, isn’t he?
81% - "Nothing changed, Vasya. Things are, or they are not. Magic is forgetting that something ever was other than as you willed it.”
84% - "All around them was winter, the shroud of bitter snow, the earth like iron, the river like blue marble."

This prose. Can I marry it?
90% - I'm in tears.
4 Stars
[REVIEW] The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air) - Holly Black
Holy hell. I need to pick up my jaw from the floor. This book is full of twist and turns, it zigs when you think it's going to zag and now I'm a jumble of emotions.
Reading progress notes
pg. 49 - Jeez, this bullying is anxiety-inducing. And also rage inducing for good measure.
pg. 97 - I am really tense right now.
pg. 148 - Jude is just asking for trouble and upping my anxiety. Also, I don’t trust Locke."
pg. 172 - My face throughout the chapter I just read: D:
pg. 200 - *jaw drops*
pg. 242 - I cannot believe this is happening but I like it...?
pg. 280 - Oh, Jude. Even I know that he's saving Cardan out of interest.
4 Stars
[REVIEW] Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Cuckoo Song - Frances Hardinge

I didn't know what to think but there is such beautiful melancholy attached to this book. How grief can break up a family, how memories bind them together, how the world falls apart and rebuilds itself. I loved every character, they were a breath of fresh air. They felt human to me. Deeply flawed but it didn't stop you from caring for them, it didn't stop you from understanding that behind their unreasonable behavior, terrible pain accompanied it. 

And the prose? Oh, the prose! It's still amazing to me how an author can wrap a blanket of familiarity around you or destroy your heart using words.

4 Stars
[REVIEW] What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 7 by Fumi Yoshinaga
What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Vol. 7 - Fumi Yoshinaga

That first chapter nearly broke my heart because it's so damn beautiful. I also loved seeing Kenji making the meals in the last chapter. They are so good at taking care of each other in their own way.

currently reading

Progress: 20/234pages