🏆 Top Reviews - November 2019

:tada: Help us congratulate the winners of the monthly BookishFirst Top Review Award! Each winner receives 100 bonus points for their thoughtful responses to the books that went on sale this month. You could be next! View our tips on how to write a good book review.

Click the arrows below to read the Top Reviews for these November books:

The Deep by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

"Beautifully Written" by @quirkycatsfatstacks, 5 stars

Read the review on BookishFirst by @quirkycatsfatstacks!

It isn’t every day that you get to see a novel with this many coauthors. Rivers Solomon was the main writer for The Deep. But there were several other people involved in this project as well, including Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes. If that isn’t enough to get you interested, keep reading.

The Deep is a new take on the tale and lore of mermaids, or the wajinru. In this powerful story, mermaids come from the pregnant African slave women who were thrown from slavery boats. The children they gave birth to were perfectly suited to the water, and thus to continue in this new life.
But memories are a tricky thing. Especially when an entire culture is born from pain and suffering. That’s where Yetu comes into play. She’s the historian of her people, meaning she holds all of the memory and pain of their ancestors.

It’s a painful job – literally – but it is how things have always been done. But that doesn’t mean Yetu can’t find a way to make a change. To find a healthy way to hold on to the past, while living in the present.

“‘It was like dreaming,’ said Yetu, throat raw. She’d been weeping for days, lost in a remembering of one of the first wajinru.”

The Deep was a powerful and beautiful story. It was so full of emotion and conflicting needs. In many ways, that brought this entire underwater world to life, because life is full of these conflicts. This tale has simply pulled them to extremes.

I was honestly pretty blown away with The Deep. The amount of emotions that they were able to infuse into a relatively small novel…it’s impressive. It was powerful and deep (no pun intended), and dark and beautiful. In short, it was perfect.

I love mermaid novels, so it was basically a given that I was going to try out any novel that had a unique take on their history and lore. And I can honestly tell you that the marketing was true for the Deep. This novel wasn’t like anything else I’ve read. On the one hand, I love that. But on the other hand, I need to see more of this, and ideally see it soon.

Yetu was a fascinating character, and I would gladly read several more novels about her, given half a chance. And I know that I’m not the only one feeling that way. I’m sincerely hoping that this will be the first in a series, as opposed to a standalone novel. Fingers crossed!

Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao

" A Witch, A Curse, True Love and Crimson Flowers" by @yaykisspurr, 5 stars

Read the review on BookishFirst by @yaykisspurr!

The Buzz

I enjoyed Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and I was excited to read about a “good” couple rather than an evil villain set in the same world. And I do like the idea of this being a companion novel and not a third book in the series.

While the cover isn’t drawing me in I do find it pretty and it gives the feel of an old fashioned fairy tale which is definitely the tone of Song of the Crimson Flower. I don’t hate the title either, it fits with the titles for the others in the series.

The Premise

We get to see a different side of blood magic when a nobleman’s daughter cruelly rejects an orphan physician’s apprentice in Song of the Crimson Flower. Bao gets cursed due to his love and is embroiled in a family feud that is rooted in a coming drug war.

I really enjoyed the fairy tale feel of this story. It’s set in the same Asian based fantasy world as the Rise of the Empress duology so it has that old fashioned feel of a folklore or fairy tale. And we get a witch, a curse and true love that revisits some of the powerful characters from Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix.

The entire journey in Song of the Crimson Flower is really heartfelt and showcases both Bao as a physician’s apprentice and what a lovely wife Lan would make for him. I also really enjoyed Commander Wei and his little romance! Friendship and camaraderie was highlighted along their journey and the war aspect brought tensions high.

My Experience

I was really taken with Bao, our curse victim. First I love orphans and his parentage plays a big part in the story. But that is just a jumping off point. Bao is awkward, anxious and sooooo adorable!! He gets himself into a really bad situation and its all due to love and admiration. I really loved how he wasn’t a macho man but was sensitive, poetic and compassionate. He really made me want to root for him and I gladly followed him as he learned about his past.

Lan makes a major mistake, but for once I was really sympathetic to her. Anyone caught unawares like she was wouldn’t have reacted well. And I loved how she chose to come back from it and commit to doing whatever was in her power. Many would feel like the time frame of the story makes this an instalove story but I felt like Lan was so genuine in how her awareness of Bao totally changed her attitude toward him. She really captured my heart.

Song of the Crimson Flower is a lovely epilogue to the Rise of the Empress duology. We meet a new couple who must navigate a curse, learn the history of the crimson flower and befriends many of the old heroes of the land. If you enjoyed the duology then you’ll need to snatch this up and see how it all ends!

The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer

" witty, clever, and full of mischief" by @onemused, 5 stars

Read the review on BookishFirst by @onemused!

Witty, clever, and full of mischief, THE FOWL TWINS is a spin-off of ARTEMIS FOWL that easily stands on its own. The Fowl Twins have just turned eleven, and they are quite different/unique from each other. However, this is part of what makes them such a great team.

One night, when they are home alone, they encounter a troll with a seemingly crazy story. This leads them on a crazy quest, complete with acronymed organizations, fairies, and nuns. These new characters and series easily stand on their own merit and are highly readable with or without having read the ARTEMIS FOWL series.

What I loved: There are so many clever phrases and discussions here that make the book rather amusing all the way through- even for adults. The plot flows well and everything is very well described, making the whole world and the mythological creatures come to life. The twins themselves are quite unique and endearing, making them perfect main characters for this journey. Fans of ARTEMIS FOWL and/or middle grade fantasy will adore this new spin-off.

I will say that this book is better for older middle grade readers, due to length and some of the jokes and such that would make it suited to a younger YA/older middle grade crowd.

Final verdict: Full of wit and enjoyable characters, THE FOWL TWINS is quite the fantasy action/adventure, and I would certainly recommend for older middle grade readers. Whether you have read the ARTEMIS FOWL series or not, this charming book is a great journey!

Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.

The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard

"Such a delightful romance!" by @sassycat, 5 stars

Read the review on BookishFirst by @sassycat!

This was such a delightful romance! I had read a couple of favorable reviews for this book so I knew that I wanted to read it and was thrilled to get the chance. I don’t read a ton of historical romance but I do tend to enjoy them every once in a while so I was ready to give this Beauty and the Beast story a try. I was swept away by Thane and Astrid’s story and didn’t want to put the book down for any reason.

Astrid is considered a spinster at twenty-five after a scandal during her first season. Her entire focus on her sister’s happiness and wants to make sure that she is able to make a good match. Imagine her surprise when her uncle makes plans for Astrid’s sister to marry the man that caused her scandal. The only way that she can have any influence is to find a husband so that he can take over as Isobel’s guardian. Astrid knows the right man for the job.

Thane fought in the war and came back scarred. So many scars that people call him a beast, stare, and don’t want to be around him. The scars on the outside are only the beginning. His personality is a little rough and he can be rather short with his staff and those around him. When Astrid shows up with her plan, he is less than impressed.

I loved these two! Astrid was incredibly smart and didn’t hesitate to make any sacrifices necessary to ensure the well-being of her sister. She didn’t think that she was any less capable than any man and resented the fact that she had no rights. Thane liked to act gruff but he really had a soft heart underneath it all. He pushed people away because he didn’t want them to have to deal with the scrutiny of being with the beast. I felt like the personalities just fit together and they had fantastic chemistry.

I would highly recommend this book to fans of historical romances. It was such a joy to watch Thane and Astrid fall for each other. There were more than a few moments that I couldn’t seem to stop smiling. I definitely plan to read more from Amalie Howard in the future!

I received a review copy of this book from Entangled: Amara via Bookish First.


Such a cool idea. Congrats all!

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Congratulations to the Top Review Award Winners!

Love this! Congratulations!

Thank you! It is such an honor to have my review chosen. Congrats to all!