I have another batch of arcs from Book Expo to review today, but since these were all released on the same day, I figured I’d group them together in a miscellaneous post rather than by genre like I’ve done in the past so I can get them out in a timely manner. I have a YA contemporary, a middle grade fantasy, and a historical romance to cover in this batch!
Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Pride is pitched as a Pride and Prejudice remix, reimagining the beloved classic but moving it to Bushwick, where Elizabeth Bennet is now the Afro-Latina Zuri Benitez, Fitzwilliam Darcy is the black Darius Darcy, and gentrification is changing the neighborhood.
I really wanted to love this book because I think it’s such an original take on one of my absolute favorite books, and I was really excited to see such a diverse retelling. Unfortunately, though, I didn’t love it. I think I need to just give up Pride and Prejudice retellings because it’s virtually impossible for them to live up to the original for me, and I spend too much of the story making sure the retelling hits the right notes and comparing it to the original. Maybe if I read the retelling a second time I could stop overanalyzing it and just enjoy it for what it is, but I’m generally not motivated to reread Pride and Prejudice retellings, just Pride and Prejudice itself.
So this book kind of already wasn’t going to work for me before I even picked it up. I will say, though, that this is probably the most unique retelling I’ve seen, and Zoboi did an amazing job modernizing the story and moving it to Brooklyn. I really appreciated how diverse it is and how much the Benitez family’s heritage plays a role in the story. I have to admit, though, that I had a hard time with the slang in this book. Teens could easily speak like that and I would have no idea, so I can’t say it’s unrealistic, but it seemed a little over the top to me. I can usually get the rhythm of slang/dialect the further into a story I get, but something about the language in Pride never quite settled for me.
Overall I did enjoy this story, but I found myself spending too much time comparing it to the original. Now that it’s released, though, I’m excited to see what others think of it, especially those who don’t have as strong of a connection to Pride and Prejudice as I do.
The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes
Fans of Percy Jackson or mythology-based fantasy are definitely going to want to pick up The Storm Runner, which follows Zane on his adventures after discovering that he’s the son of a Mayan God and has been prophesied to release the god of death from his eternal prison—something the other gods are eager to prevent him from doing.
I enjoyed this book so much. I just really liked Zane and following him on his journey, and I thought this story was really well plotted. I definitely didn’t see the ending coming! Plus it was really cool to learn more about Mayan mythology, and Cervantes did a great job bringing it to life with this story. And shoutout for physical disability rep in a middle grade novel! Zane has a limp and needs a cane to walk because one of his legs is a different length than the other (because of his godly parent, of course), and it just added another layer to an already amazing book. This serves well as a standalone, but I’m so glad there’s going to be a sequel because I’m not ready to be done with this world yet!! Sorry there’s not much concrete analysis going on here, I just really enjoyed this book.
Also, major kudos to this whole Rick Riordan Presents imprint! I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of reading about kids who discover one of their parents is a god and learning about all kinds of different mythologies, and it’s so awesome that the books are all own voices. I can’t wait to see what other books the line has in store!
For the Duke’s Eyes Only by Lenora Bell
I think all you need to know about For the Duke’s Eyes Only is that it’s a historical romance following a lady archaeologist nicknamed Indy. How awesome of a premise is that?! (Indy is Harrison Ford’s nickname in Indiana Jones, for those who don’t get the reference.) If you want a bit more detail, India was betrothed to Raven as a child and had every intention of marrying him until their family and circumstances tore them apart. Decades later, he’s become her professional rival and she can’t stand him. But they’re forced to work together when a valuable historical artifact goes missing, and of course romance ensues.
I received a copy of For the Duke’s Eyes Only from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a review.
I enjoyed this book so much! I thought Indy and Raven were great characters, and I will forever love the banter that Lenora Bell writes. It literally made me race through this book in a day!
I will say, I wasn’t sure that I liked the history between these two characters all that much. Raven really hurt Indy, and while he did it for the best of reasons, I still thought she was too quick to forgive him. And I didn’t think he was consistent in trying to either keep her away for her safety or win her back. I think I’d have liked the story better if he’d picked one or the other.
I also thought the mystery, as thrilling as it was, was tied up a bit too neatly at the end. Like, they didn’t solve it because of their skills, but because of an accident. They’re both really smart and capable characters, and I would have liked to have seen their abilities lead to solving the mystery.
While I do want to identify these two drawbacks, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. Seriously, I finished it in a day! And might have snuck in some reading at work because I just couldn’t stop! This is a great romance, and I can’t wait to add the finished copy to my collection.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
I just want to briefly mention this book here, as I know I’ve mentioned my plans to read my arc copy, but I actually wound up DNFing it. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a tricky book to describe, but basically, Evelyn Hardcastle dies at a house party, and Aiden Bishop is given seven days and seven different bodies to inhabit in order to solve her murder.
I enjoy a good mystery, but I was just so confused as to what was happening in this book. I easily could have pushed passed that if I was enjoying the characters, but I didn’t like any of the characters that were introduced in the 150 pages I made it through, plus the general atmosphere of the book, which I’m sure many will love, just wasn’t working for me. I might have wound up enjoying this by the end, but I didn’t want to have to force myself through another 300 pages of something I wasn’t excited about, so I decided to put it down and move on. I’ve heard rave reviews from other bloggers, though, so if this sounds intriguing, it might be worth picking up.
All of these books are on shelves now, so what are you waiting for? Go read them!
And don’t forget, some of the books I’ve previously reviewed are now on sale or will be soon, including Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness, Intercepted by Alexa Martin, and A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe!