Mini Review Monday #77

I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, the most recent of which was last week. In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve previously read and am now ready to share my full thoughts about.

First up, I’d like to talk about Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle. Thank you so much to Usborne for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Prince Jones is passionate about music and romance, dishing out relationship advice on his Love Radio show. But his own love life is looking kind of quiet… until he meets Dani Ford. Dani isn’t checking for anybody. She’s focused on her plan to move to New York City to become a famous author, and avoiding dealing with what happened at that party a few months ago.

When the two meet, sparks fly – but Dani’s not looking to get derailed. So she gives Prince just three dates to convince her that he’s worth falling for… sometimes the best love story is the one you write yourself.

Publication Date: 26th May

TW: sexual assault

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Love Radio is a gorgeously romantic story with a nuanced and emotional core to it. 

I love how much of a love letter to Black culture this book is, particularly celebrating  Detroit and its history, music, films and hair. These all form central strands of the narrative and adds to the celebration of Black joy and love that this book embodies. It is wonderful to see this sort of achingly romantic and heart-warming representation. This book just glows with joy, love and an authentic warmth that fills your heart. 

At its centre, we follow the lives and stories of Dani and Prince. Both of these characters were so easy to connect to, had very distinctive voices and were facing their own struggles. The way LaDelle really digs into these issues of class, disability and trauma is so well-executed. It adds this extra emotional layer to the book, without feeling like it is there for mere show or spectacle. Instead, it adds texture and three-dimensionality to their lives. LaDelle has obviously put the work in with these issues, with a sensitive and nuanced depiction of these issues. They do not fully define our characters, but they are an important aspect of their journeys in the narrative.

I adore the relationship that forms between Dani and Prince. Their romantic gestures were pulled straight out of fairy tale romances, perfectly tailored to the other person and showcasing their personalities perfectly. It was like the best rom-com you’ve seen, brought to life lovingly by LaDelle. Their dialogue and chemistry was off the charts, with plenty of subtle hints but also grand moments that set off fireworks. 

Love Radio was an effervescent spark of joy and love in my life that I thoroughly recommend.

Next up, I’d like to talk about Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen. Thank you so much to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

There’s always a price for defying destiny.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the court as Seer with her cleverly phrased – and not always true – divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not-charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip her of her title once he’s crowned.

After the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse about the prince’s future bride. Her wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t protect her against fate – nor the doomed attraction growing between her and the prince…

Publication Date: 26th July

TW: blood, murder, violence, self-harm (for magical purposes), injury detail, death, war, racism, sexism, classism, fire, body horror

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Violet Made of Thorns was a spunky, highly entertaining YA fantasy that I’m sure will be a smash-hit. 

It has been a while since I have sat down and just read a YA fantasy book. This one filled every last box on my ticklist. I mean, we have an interesting and developed fantasy world, full of court politics and fascinating magical abilities. We have an exploration of the power of prophecy, which is personally one of my favourite abilities, and this allows for a thought-provoking exploration of fate and the price of defying it. It has that classic fairytale vibe, but unlocks a totally new and intriguing story. 

On top of this, you have a fantastic protagonist in the form of Violet. I loved how unlikable she was at times, prickly, defensive and out for her own survival at all times. She had such an arresting voice that really hooked me in and made me root for her, despite her actions at times. Behind that facade is a scared child, always cautious of being abandoned once more. She is trying to survive and navigate the shifting sets of power within the court, particularly with nefarious plots going on beneath the surface. Also, the dynamic between her and Cyrus was so good to read. It was enemies to lovers, with an emphasis on enemies, but it just sizzled. Every scene crackled with the tension and unspoken longing between the two, disguised with insults and political machinations. Add into that dynamic the deadly curse Violet foresees and you truly have a recipe for success. 

Violet Made of Thorns was a scorching YA fantasy that perfectly matches the heatwave sweeping the country. It is fiery, fantastic and ferocious with a protagonist you will not forget.

Finally, I’d like to delve into Cuts Both Ways by Candice Brathwaite. Thank you so much to Hachette Children’s Group for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

London is all Cynthia knows, so when her parents abruptly uproot the family after a traumatic incident, to a place where there is only one bus an hour and the faint smell of horse manure continuously permeates the air, it’s a culture shock, to say the least. As is transitioning to a private school.

At her new school, Cynthia is one of the only black students. Goofy Thomas, her white lab partner, immediately takes her under his wing. He’s kind and sweet, and her parents are pleased – someone like Thomas will be good for her ‘future prospects’.

As much as Cynthia likes Thomas though, she can’t help noticing Isaac, the only other black student in her year. He is aloof and doesn’t seem to like her, but there’s something about him she cannot quite get enough of…

But when it turns out both boys have been keeping secrets from her, secrets that link back to the life Cynthia thought she had left behind in London, she realises that not everything is as it seems.

Will Cynthia be able to forgive the lies and follow her heart?

Publication Date: 4th August

TW: death, murder, violence, racism, grief

Goodreads | Waterstones

My Thoughts:

Cuts Both Ways is a riveting mixture of contemporary, romance and mystery that completely captures your mind. 

I was not expecting the beautiful depiction of grief at the centre of this story. This is a story about loss, longing and reconciling the person you thought you knew with the reality. Brathwaite has created this really touching and authentic depiction of grief. It is an all-consuming cloud at times, but it also sometimes melts away for a moment. Cynthia is emotionally vulnerable and open in a way that makes it impossible for you to not fall in love with her. Her process of grief is so detailed and realistic, striking a chord with me. 

Brathwaite also does not hold back in the searing depiction of classism and racism that defines much of the narrative. The way these hateful ideologies are woven into the very fabric of elite institutions and society is broken apart and carefully depicted. It is shown as an insidious, unconscious force at times and a brazenly hateful show at others. The multiple microaggressions and snide comments thrown towards Cynthia highlight the way this is so normalised within society. Brathwaite challenges them on page, but also lets their impact sit with the reader, confronting the lived experience of so many people. 

However, this is also a book focusing on relationships, from familial to romantic to platonic. These are all weighted equally, with considerate exploration and interesting character dynamics. You learn so much through subtle character interactions or minor details in the background of a scene and I adore that attention to detail. This is a fully fleshed-out world. Ultimately, Brathwaite emphasises how your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself, leaving the book with an impactful message of empowerment and self-respect. This is a book that will mean so much to so many readers and deserves every single bit of love. 

Cuts Both Ways deserves the world. It is a book that challenges, but ultimately validates and uplifts its readers.


4 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #77

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