Review: WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF by Elana K. Arnold (2017)

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Year Release: 2020
Source: Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: abortion, animal death, attempted sexual assault (author’s note), vomiting

I took Elana K. Arnold’s Revision Season course last fall, so before getting into the book itself, I felt like I had an insider knowledge of its revision cycle. I got my ears into the audiobook and dove right in.

This work follows Nina Faye as she navigates her teenage years with the social pressures as they relate to autonomy and sexuality. Her mother tells her that there is no such thing as unconditional love, and Arnold explores the different modes of love during key moments of Nina’s life. It feels like the contemporary precursor to Damsel, so if you enjoyed the brutally honest way it explored its topics through fairy tale, you will enjoy this.

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2021 Bookish Hype Train

2020 was trash, but brought us many, many gifts in terms of books that came out. Here are the presents coming to us in 2021 that I’m personally far too excited to read.

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February 2020 Reading Recap

February2020RR

I am so ahead on reads and somehow feel behind. These last few months have been rough for me, but I am so glad that 2020 continues to deliver incredible reads which provide some kind of escape.

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ARC Review: RED HOOD by Elana K. Arnold (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2020
Source: Edelweiss ARC

Read an ARC acquired via Edelweiss
Trigger warnings: gore, murder, sexual assault (off-page, but heavily implied)

I devoured Damsel—Arnold’s other take on classic tales—last winter break. The way the story examined common tropes of princess narratives blew my mind, so naturally, I couldn’t wait for Arnold’s next work. Red Hood uses Little Red Riding Hood as a vehicle for a tale examining feminine power, menstruation, and how to survive in a world that protects awful men.

Though mostly downplayed, I really liked the fantasy elements in this. The villains in this book are men who have the inexplicable ability to turn into wolves. Bisou, our main character whose introspection and journey we follow through a second-person narrative, magically has the ability to sense when these men are afoot, and when wolves attack. I wish this element had been more explored from a world-building standpoint, but it very much fit what Arnold seemed to be doing with the narrative.

I especially admired how Bisou and her friends gain more agency as the story progresses, turning into a coven alongside Mémé, Bisou’s grandmother and parental figure.  The atmosphere here is also exquisite. Arnold works magic when it comes to melding contemporary and real-life fears with the terrors of the fantastic. The mysterious wolf attacks are horrifying, but so is the awfulness that is being a girl in high school.

A must-read for fans of more literary prose and loose but terrifying takes on classic fairy tales.

February 2020 TBR

Here are my intended reads for February.

Hard Copies

  • Conspiracy of Ravens (The Shadow #2) by Lila Bowen (Library Borrow)
  • The Fortress by S.A. Jones (ARC)
  • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey (ARC)

Kindle

  • Finna by Nino Cipri (ARC)
  • Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst (ARC)
  • Flotsam (Peridot Shift #1) by R.J. Theodore
  • Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal (ARC)
  • Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold (ARC)

Audiobooks

  • Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith
  • The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
  • We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Plus two books I offered to beta read. Wow, this month is busy.

2020 Bookish Hype Train

2020 Bookish Hype Train

I did a lot of good reading in 2018 and was introduced to new favorite people, authors, and series. Here is a list of 19 books I’m really excited to read or see out in the world.

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Reading Recap: December 2019

Dec2019RR.pngIn December, I made it a small goal to get my Currently Reading List down to zero. While I failed at that, I got most of the way there, even reading two additional books. I start 2020 with a four-book-long backlog, which honestly, it pretty good. Anyway, here is the last recap of the year.
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