Friday, November 13, 2020

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Title: Rent a Boyfriend
Author: Gloria Chao
Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: November 10, 2020
Pages: 400
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher
Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

Chloe Wang hires a fake boyfriend, Drew Chan, from Rent for Your 'Rents to take home to her parents during the holidays. However, who would have known that she will fall in love with Drew. Sometimes love can be found in the most unexpected places and situations.     

Chloe wants to appease her parents and to get away from Hongbo Kuo. While her parents try to set up an arranged marriage, Chloe wants to make her own choices. Drew takes on the job as pretend boyfriend in order to earn money so he can pursue his dream being an artist. 

From the first page, I feel in love with Gloria Chao's writing. It reads effortless and smoothly. I love Chloe from the start and understood exactly how she feels when she has those internal monologues. Rent a Boyfriend is written in two POVs with Chloe and Drew alternating chapters. Chloe and Drew both are hilarious. Their reactions to what Chloe's parents have to say are priceless. I couldn't stop chuckling when reading the novel.

I can understand how Chloe feel about the expectations her parents pave for her. Although my parents let me choose my own path in life, I can relate to typical Chinese expectations and wants for their children. Chao's incorporates humor within the novel and showcases cultural differences between Chinese culture and the western culture. I appreciate her subtext regarding certain Chinese traditions and concepts. Things like mentioning mooncake points instead of brownie points makes the characters more believable. 

Rent a Boyfriend is a heartfelt contemporary novel where family expectations, finding yourself and cultural identity collide. Join Chloe and Drew on a love adventure they didn't know existed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-Bookish Hobbies

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten non-bookish hobbies. The following bookish hobbies are in no particular order. 

1. Baking and cooking - I love baking but I am starting to like cooking much more lately. I love stumbling upon recipes and trying to create scrumptious dishes. Not only is baking and cooking fun, but you save so much money eating at home and you can tweak the recipe to your liking. Also, it's always fun to cook and bake with loved ones.

2. Needle Felting - I stated needle felting when I attended a workshop at a Harry Potter Convention. I was hooked! There is something satisfying stabbing wool to create an ornament or a little figure. It's a create way to relieve stress and to create something new!

3. Playing Animal Crossing - I am a new fan to Animal Crossing and can I say that I am obsessed with Animal Crossing New Horizons! It's so much fun and I am enjoying being able to visit friends virtually since we cannot visit people during the pandemic. The game has been a life saver and has helped me greatly during these unprecedented times. Also, I love the seasonal events! So much fun!

4. Drinking tea - I love drinking tea during the colder months. I am very fond of loose leaf tea. I like to relax with a steaming mug of delicious tea whether it be a strong black tea to a soothing green tea. Tea invokes memories for me. It brings out the emotion and it's pauses time. I love meeting up with friends for afternoon tea during non-pandemic times. Nowadays, I love to curl up with a book while drinking tea.

5. Walking outside - I love walking outside especially during autumn. The crunch of the leaves, the brisk autumn air, the eye-catching foliage and the sweater weather is everything that I can wish for in a perfect walk.

6. Listening to music - Music definitely makes me feel better. I feel more at peace when I can open Spotify and play a song I want to hear or when I discover a new artist. I have been enjoying K-Pop lately and have been obsessed with groups like (G)I-dle, Blackpink and Dreamcatcher. I am also a huge fan of The Harp Twins. Camille and Kennerly are so talented! They cover metal/rock music and they also do covers of fandom related songs as well with harps! Lately, they have been creating their own music which features their Nordic heritage. 

7. Traveling - I do miss traveling and I hope to travel more once the pandemic is over. There is something intriguing and inviting when you visit a new place. There is so much to explore and to take in. I love learning about the history and the culture of new places I visit. 

8. Trying new restaurants - Speaking of traveling, one of my favorite things to do is to try out all the yummy food and drinks at restaurants. My husband and I love eating the local fare. However, we also love trying new restaurants near where we live too. Yum! Food is life and makes me happy!

9. Craft beer - My husband and I love going to brewery tours and trying out craft beers. We even got married at a brewery and had our reception at a biergarten! I do like a good pint! Cheers!

10. Sleeping - I have to admit that I love sleeping in and on days that I can, I will sleep in pretty late. I am not much of an early bird but I can say I am more of a night owl. 

What are some of your favorite non-bookish hobbies? Do we share any hobbies?

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Publication date: October 27, 2020
Pages: 448
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher
Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster series…

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Nonna Maria has warned Emilia and Vittoria about the seven ruling princes of Hell and how they must stay away from the Malvagi's followers. Descended from a Goddess, through the di Carlos maternal line, Emilia and Vittoria are witches. They are known as the Daughters of the Moon. Their family is one out of 13 witch families in Palermo.

Although Emilia and Vittoria love listening to the stories of Nonna Maria, they don't take her seriously when she tells them not to go out or to be careful. The clashing of two cornicello necklaces long ago has been kept a secret between the twins for about ten years and Nonna tells the girls they must keep the amulets separate at all costs. 

Most of the novel occurs when the twins are 18-years-old. The prologue occurs when they are eight. As the Gates of Hell weaken over time, a prince of Hell emerges when he is summoned through a spell. The seven sins become the seven princes of Hell, each able to travel through different realms. It happens that Wrath travels to Palermo and Emilia becomes bond to him via a crescent moon/snake tattoo. Readers also learn more of the other princes of Hell has Emilia encounters them. 

The Kingdom of the Wicked is written in first person through Emilia's point-of-view. As Nonna tells Emilia to find forgiveness and acceptance into her her heart, Emilia wants to avenge what happened to her sister. Extroverted Vittoria has been hiding secrets from introverted Emilia and Emilia does whatever it takes to find out the truth. 

Kerri Maniscalco transports readers to an enchanting world in Palermo, Italy where witches hide in secret and dangerous demons roam. Maniscalco's intriguing and atmospheric descriptions tantalizes all the senses. Not only is there mystery in the air but I enjoy reading about Emilia's love for food and the family's trattoria, Sea and Vine. If you love fantasy books with descriptions of food, this is the one to pick up. Not only is Kingdom of the Wicked full of magic, witches, demons and food, but a strong family bond is vital.

I find the notion of turning each of the seven sins into a prince of Hell fascinating and creative. The way Maniscalco describes each prince physical descriptions and their actions is perfect! She captured each sin within an entity. However, the dialogue between Wrath and Emilia seems forced at times and sometimes unrealistic.

Although Kingdom of the Wicked is a fantasy novel, Maniscalco infused her Italian heritage and a family restaurant into this novel. It's great to see how her family lives within the pages of the Kingdom of the Wicked and how her family is an inspiration for the creation of the book. I cannot wait to pick up the next book in the series. I highly suggest this novel to readers who enjoy the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber and All that Glitters (Enchantée) by Gita Trelease.

"Magic is a living, breathing entity; it thrives on the energy you give it. Like all forces of nature, it is neither good nor bad - it simply becomes based on the user's intent. Feed it love and it blossoms and grows. Nourish it with hate and it will deliver hate back to you tenfold." - Notes from the di Carlo grimoire

"Nightmares didn't last forever. I just had to make it through the night."

Monday, October 5, 2020

Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman

 Magic Lessons
Author: Alice Hoffman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: October 6, 2020
Pages: 416
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher
Rating: ☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from

In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Where does the story of the Owens bloodline begin? With Maria Owens, in the 1600s, when she’s abandoned in a snowy field in rural England as a baby. Under the care of Hannah Owens, Maria learns about the “Unnamed Arts.” Hannah recognizes that Maria has a gift and she teaches the girl all she knows. It is here that she learns her first important lesson: Always love someone who will love you back.

When Maria is abandoned by the man who has declared his love for her, she follows him to Salem, Massachusetts. Here she invokes the curse that will haunt her family. And it’s here that she learns the rules of magic and the lesson that she will carry with her for the rest of her life. Love is the only thing that matters.

Magic Lessons is a celebration of life and love and a showcase of Alice Hoffman’s masterful storytelling.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Magic Lessons is the prequel we have all been waiting for! Readers finally get a glimpse of Maria Owens's story and how the Owens's curse began. For those who are familiar with Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic, you are in for a treat.

Maria Owens was abandoned as a baby in front of Hannah Owens's home. Hannah is gifted at the Nameless Art and acted as a mentor for Maria as Maria grew during childhood. However, Maria did have a chance to find out who her birth mother and birth father are. Unfortunately, they were not all about raising Maria as a family unit due to a complex situation back in the 1600's. Maria eventually sees the harrowing death of someone she looks up to, gets sold in servitude on a boat to Curaçao, works hard to pay off her debt for freedom as a child, falls in love with a man who lives in Salem, gives birth to a child from said man, tries to locate this man in Salem, only to find out he was using her.

What Maria didn't know was that her daughter's father is actually a well-known man in Salem, MA who is married and has a child. Her heartbreak grows while a curse is a-brewing, as readers are immersed in the world of chaos. When I was reading this novel, I was silently rooting for Maria and Samuel Dias even though I know Maria steadfast in finding Faith's father.

Alice Hoffman has a gift in storytelling. She is able to narrate such a wonderful novel. Hoffman weaves historical fiction and magical realism within Magic Lessons. The pacing is steady and spans many years from when Maria was a baby to her adult years. I did enjoy reading sections where we see Faith's perspective when she flourishes helping others with the Nameless Art. Through hard work, love, regret, revenge and heartbreak, Maria lived a difficult life but she always tried to find the light beneath the darkness. She has escaped death several times. Unfortunately, her curse lives among the Owens's women for centuries to come. 

Monday, August 31, 2020

Hunting November by Adriana Mather

Title: Hunting November
Author: Adriana Mather
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 5, 2020
Pages: 368
Source/format: Hardcover//Purchased
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Synopsis (from

Surviving a few weeks at the world's most lethal boarding school was one thing. But now comes the real test: Can November Adley find her missing father before her enemies find her? Subterfuge is the name of the game in this thrilling sequel to Killing November, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Hang a Witch.

After surviving a crash course in espionage at the mysterious Academy Absconditi, November has only one purpose: finding her missing father. Along with fellow student (and heartthrob) Ash, November follows the clues that her father left, embarking on the deadliest treasure hunt of her life. The first clue is in her hometown, where old friends beckon and unexpected enemies lurk around every corner. The second clue is in Europe, where revelations about her family's history will plunge her into an international web of deception, lies, and intrigue. The third clue is deep in enemy territory, surrounded by the most skilled assassins and master strategists, and where everyone wants her and her father dead. Can one girl with limited training infiltrate a centuries-old organization that is powerful enough to topple empires? November only knows that she'll do whatever it takes to save her father . . . or die trying.

M Y  T H O U G H T S 

Hunting November takes place immediately after the events that occurred in Killing November. November and Ash are on the lookout for November's father and both are granted permission to leave Academy Absconditi. However, the duo must be careful who they interact with and who they trust because the Lions are out to kill them. 

After returning the her hometown, November tries to piece clues together with the help of Ash. Starting her hunt in Connecticut, the duo heads to Edinburgh and London where they meet new faces and reunite with familiar ones. If you've read Killing November, you are in for a treat with reading Hunting November. Although the novel is not set primarily at the boarding school like its previous counterpart, Hunting November is still full of adventure and mystery. Instead of proving herself in front of her classmates, November must outwit the most skilled assassins and strategists of the Strategia.

The pacing of the novel is super fast and there is a lot of action. When I read Hunting November, I am thinking about the cinematography; it truly reads like a movie. The world building of the Strategia world is fantastic while it blends in very well with the modern day normal world. Adriana Mather has elevated the stakes in this novel. Sure, in Killing November, November had to dodge death from a murderer on campus. However, in Hunting November, there is a bounty over several heads and the Lions will not stop until they get what they want. 

November has matured since the start of the first book in the duology. However, the most growth I've seen in a character in the duology is definitely Aayra. She has transformed from from a devious snake to something more complex. She yearns for a true friend and a challenge, which she sees in November. I am also growing more fond of Matteo in this sequel and of course I still love Ash. 

I highly recommend Hunting November and its predecessor for readers who love action, adventure, boarding schools, alliances, betrayal and mystery all rolled in one. Readers will devour this novel if they enjoyed reading the following series: Harry Potter, The Vampire Academy, Bloodlines and/or Stalking Jack the Ripper.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Unravel the Dusk Blog Tour: Review + Moodboard + Favorite Quotes

Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours for this opportunity to showcase the beautifully written Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim. Unravel the Dusk is the sequel to Spin the Dawn, which is part of The Blood of Stars duology. If you are looking for an adventurous and fast-paced fantasy, look no further. This is the duology you need to pick up! I included some of my favorite quotes and a moodboard down below. Check out the rest of the #UnravelTheDusk blog tour for mood boards, favorite quotes, creative features, playlists and more!

Title: Unravel the Dusk
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 7, 2020
Pages: 368
Source/format: ARC//Giveaway via Elizabeth Lim
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo

Rating: ☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.
Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.


"We were like the sun and moon, sharing the same stars and the same sky."

"If dying is this beautiful, then I wish I were a tree too. I'd be happy to die and be reborn in the spring."

"Plum blossoms are the first flowers to bud after winter," I remembered. "They're a symbol of hope and purity."..."And new beginnings," Edan said quietly.

Images from and


Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, "Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that's kinda cool!" But after one of her teachers told her she had "too much voice" in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel -- for kicks, at first, then things became serious -- and she hasn't looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | Instagram 


Unravel the Dusk is the sequel to Spin the Dawn. After Maia Tamarin completed Lady Sarnai's last tailoring request of sewing the dresses of Amana, Maia has unlocked a new version of herself that she did not know she would find. And no, it's not the Imperial Tailor position but something more powerful yet deadly. Not only does everyone know that she is not Keton Tamarin but she is battling a demon within her.

With Edan in hiding and Lady Sarnai unwell, Maia is A'landi's only hope for peace. However, things don't go as planned with the wedding and two kingdoms are at war. Although the love story between Edan and Maia is not as prevalent in this installment of The Blood of Stars duology, their bond is still strong. Readers do not encounter Edan in the flesh until the second half of the novel. Edan's and Maia's love for each other never wavers. Maia, however, becomes closer to Ammi. The female friendship between Maia and Ammi blossomed slowly and is an excellent addition to the novel. As Maia's only female companion, Ammi is able to help Maia in many ways that contrasts to Maia's other relationships. But Maia is worried that the demon within her will harm Ammi.

Unravel the Dusk emits a darker tone compared to Spin the Dawn. While the predecessor is a mask of wonders, Unravel the Dusk shows the true colors of humanity and what everyone is capable of. We see the character development of multiple characters. We see how vulnerable yet powerful Lady Sarnai is. She is a multi-faceted character that I would love to read a companion novel about. Readers see how Ammi forgives Maia even though it took a while for Ammi to regain trust between the two ladies. Seeing Maia with her family is heartfelt and warming. Readers can see how they care for each other deeply no matter what.

Of course, Maia shows the most development of all. She has changed a lot compared to when she was working in her father's shop to competing in the competition to become the Imperial Tailor to even crafting the dresses of Amana. However, the most important test of character is how she handles the demon within her. Every day passes by and the demon inside her grows stronger. Maia fights the fire inside consistently even though demons and ghosts beckon her name to return to the Forgotten Isles of Lapzur. Can Maia overcome the demon and gain control or does she embrace the demon within? The more magic she uses, the harder it is to resist the call of darkness. The war and chaos in the novel parallel with how Maia is at war with herself. She is trying her hardest to overcome the demon's desires of destruction.

Elizabeth Lim expands on the already fantastic world-building that was set in Spin the Dawn. The map included in both Spin the Dawn and in Unravel the Dusk helps readers understand where everything is located in correlation to one another. Lim's expansive details of each landmark are memorable in both novels. Unravel the Dusk is divided into three sections, one for each dress of Amana. This is important regarding how Maia unleashes the power of each dress and unlocks their true potential.

Unravel the Dusk is enrapturing and picks up a notch in The Blood of the Stars duology. Join Maia on a journey where she fights the demons within her and still stays true to herself. Warning, there is human possession in this novel.

There is still time to pre-order this Unravel the Dusk! Check out this pre-order incentive as well!


Check out this awesome giveaway. The giveaway ends on July 7th (Philippine Standard Time). Nicole's Novel Reads is not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Good luck!


Check out  Caffeine Book Tours for links to each blog.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Girl, Serpent, Thorn Blog Tour

Thank you to Flatiron Books for inviting me to be part of this amazing blog tour! If you are looking for a beautifully written fairytale that defies the typical tropes, read further for more information regarding Girl, Serpent, Thorn. This is a story that will change how you view fairytales and for good reasons.

Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Author: Melissa Barshardoust
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo

Rating: ☆☆☆☆


There was and there was not... So begins Melissa Bashardoust’s utterly transporting new YA novel, GIRL, SERPENT, THORN (Flatiron Books; on sale July 7th, 2020; Ages 12-18). In this richly imagined fairytale, Bashardoust puts a modern spin on the Shahnameh, a Persian epic with parallels to “Rapunzel,” and draws inspiration from other classic stories like “Sleeping Beauty” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” The result is a captivating coming-of-age novel filled with princesses, demons, and fairies—a tale that is at once thrillingly fantastical and deeply human.

In the vast kingdom of Atashar, a young princess lives a hidden life. Cursed from birth with a deadly touch, 18- year-old Soraya finds herself forever confined to her chambers, shrouded from the eyes of the public and forced to keep her distance from friends and family alike. Her sole comfort is her private garden of roses and thorns, the only living things that don’t wither at her touch. But with each passing year, Soraya has grown more isolated and increasingly tormented by dreams of the Shahmar, a young man whose anger and dark desires twisted him into a demon...and with poison, loneliness, and resentment flowing through her veins, Soraya worries that perhaps she, too, is more monster than princess.

As Atashar prepares for the wedding of her twin brother, Sorush—the heir to the family throne and the sun to her shade—Soraya is presented with an opportunity to speak with a captured div, one of the demons who may hold the secret to breaking her curse. The div, Parvaneh, is not at all what Soraya expects: Beautiful, mysterious, and intriguing, Parvaneh seems more than willing to aid Soraya in her quest...for a price. Now, after a life lived in the shadows, Soraya must decide whether she’s finally ready to step into the light and determine her own destiny. Together with the dashing soldier, Azad—the only person, besides Parvaneh, who isn’t afraid to stand too close to her—Soraya sets off on a journey that will force her to confront her greatest powers, her deepest desires, and her most frightening vulnerabilities.

With exhilarating narrative turns and an unforgettable heroine at its center, GIRL, SERPENT, THORN is a brilliantly told story of family, self-discovery, and love in all its forms.


With crystalline, sometimes sensuous prose, [Bashardoust] digs into her characters' motivations and manipulations, deftly keeping readers on the hook until the final, stunning turn." — Booklist starred review

“Surefire for...readers fond of princesses capable of embracing actual demons as well as the inner sort.” — School Library Journal starred review

“Bashardoust’s exceptional attention to folktale structure and Soraya’s hard-won acceptance of herself make for a lyrical, inspiring read.”— Publishers Weekly

“An alluring feminist fairy tale.” — Kirkus

“Girl, Serpent, Thorn is YA literature at its best.”— BookPage

“Gorgeously written and quietly enthralling tale of family, monsters, and the things we do for love.” —S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass

“A deliciously lush fairy tale of a novel. I was swept away by Bashardoust’s prose and found myself losing track of time as I read, turning every page, sinking into her magnificent world, wishing it would never end. At its heart, it’s a book about a girl who may be monstrous claiming her own power, filled with twists and a fascinating queer romance that stole my own heart.” — Patrice Caldwell, editor of A Phoenix First Must Burn

“The queer, good-monster book of my dreams.” — E.K. Johnston, author of Star Wars Queen’s Shadow


Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairytales and their retellings. She lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Melissa is also the author of Girls Made of Snow and Glass.


Girl, Serpent, Thorn opens up with a story within a story. The story told as the opener is actually a true story that a mother tells her firstborn daughter, Soraya. Cursed, Soraya harbors a poisonous touch that kills any living being and thus is isolated in the shadows from others. The royal family is preparing for the wedding of the young shah next month. The shah is actually Soraya's twin brother, Sorush. As twins, Sorush is known as the Creator, one born of hope, and Soraya is known as the Destroyer, one born of doubt.

As Sorush gets ready to marry childhood friend Laleh, Soraya feels even more abandoned. Soraya is desperate to find more about her curse. However, the only being she thinks can help her is someone who was captured and is held as a prisoner in the palace. Melissa Bashardoust introduces readers to a world where not only Soraya's secret is hidden behind walls but Soraya finds love with someone unexpected. With a guard's help, Soraya is able to blend within the people and is able to navigate the world.

The world-building opens up new frames of mind. There are new places among Atashar to explore and new beings to meet. The characters we meet in the Girl, Serpent, Thorn are characters you want to get to know better. Some of them, you would like to befriend. While each character may have different intentions, many want to help Soraya. However, when Soraya finds a way to extinguish her curse, she will need to decide whether it's worth it to risk others' lives. Throughout the novel, Soraya learns self-acceptance and self-worth. Things may not seem as they appear and many characters possess secrets that can be deadly. Join the journey of family, loyalty, and betrayal. Immerse yourself in a world where the divs and humans hold secrets that can literally kill.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a captivating character-driven novel where there are many unexpected twists and turns. The novel is a wonderful, unique fairytale woven with Persian elements and Zoroastrian beliefs where love interests and character's paths are not so obvious. As Soraya battles between good and evil, she paves her own path and it's up to her to decide whether to be a princess or the monster that some people see her as. She becomes somewhat of an anti-heroine in her own story. Soraya is a strong woman. She is curious. She is headstrong. And she seeks knowledge. She has a weapon that wields such power but what type of woman does Soraya want to be? Will she betray her own family so she can lift the curse? To read more about Soraya's story, pick up Girl, Serpent, Thorn.