Mini reviews and DNFs: Daisy Jones & The Six, Raybearer, and more

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is the first contemporary fiction novel I’ve read since 2018! I thought this was good, I probably won’t ever reread it, but I am looking forward to the TV adaptation.

Things I like

  • complex, feminist female characters
  • examines complex, tough issues (abortion, drug addiction, alcoholism)
  • realistic, messy relationships
  • oral history format


  • cliche ‘band breakup’ story, but my connection with the characters kept me involved

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Raybearer is a West-African inspired fantasy novel, and I cannot believe it’s a debut. I’m so impressed by the writing, world-building, mythology, and magic system. If I read this a few months earlier I would have loved it even more, but in the last month I’ve started transitioning to the adult genre and YA hasn’t really grabbed me. However, I did enjoy this. I look forward to reading the next book(s), and I highly recommend this!

Things I like

  • the writing is phenomenal
  • world-building, mythology, magic
  • asexual and bisexual rep
  • dynamic in the counsel is fascinating
  • the cover is gorgeous, and I saw somewhere that it features fabrics/patterns from the different nations in the book, which is so cool!


  • didn’t feel very connected to the characters- the internal narration was mostly dedicated to the plot, and I would have liked to hear more about the characters’ feelings
  • I got major polyamorous vibes from the council, and I wanted to see more of it, but hopefully in the next book it will be explored more when the characters are older

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

DNFed at 21%

I wasn’t going to read Midnight Sun, but the hype totally drew me in. I mostly blame it on Twilight Tik Tok. So I tried, and it was just so bad. If it was a shorter book I might have been able to soldier through, but it’s over 650 pages and I just couldn’t do it. We’ve just moved beyond the need for the ‘girl is so beautiful but doesn’t know it’ and ‘she’s not like other girls’ tropes. It would be interesting if this was modernized a little bit, with some old tropes thrown out, but I get that’s not really possible when you’re just telling the same story from years ago from a different POV.

The 13 by M.M. Perry

DNFed at 11%

I was drawn to this because it reminded me of Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner, which I loved. Unfortunately, the beginning didn’t grab my attention. I read some reviews that said it got better, but I just didn’t want to put in the time to see if that was true. The main reason why I DNFed this is because of the dialogue. There are sentences like, “we’re max compat, yeah” and it just pulled me straight out of the story. There was so much lingo thrown around that wasn’t explained, so I had no idea what was going on.

Review: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

dear martinDear Martin by Nic Stone

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 210

Favorite quote: “You can’t change how other people think and act, but you’re in full control of you.”

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

My Thoughts

This is such a relevant novel. Anyone who likes YA, and even those who don’t, should read this. This book tackles serious issues in an incredibly moving way.

I rarely read contemporary novels, and if I do read contemporary they’re hardly ever from a guy’s perspective. So reading Dear Martin from the perspective of a young, modern, boy was different for me. I enjoyed the writing though, and I liked the story. This definitely isn’t a relaxing read. Reading about racists and gun violence could never be relaxing. But I am so glad this story was told, because I think people can learn a lot from Justyce, SJ, Manny, and even Jared. In my lifetime I have encountered Jareds. One in particular comes to the forefront of my mind. A college athlete in one of my classes did a presentation on how he was at a disadvantage in sports because he’s white, and that’s racist against him. So there are Jareds all over the world, and unfortunately most of them probably won’t change like Jared-in-the-novel did.

Overall, this was a wonderfully relevant novel. Even if you’re not a reader, pick this up! It’s only 200 pages, and I guarantee you’ll walk away with a new perspective.

“You ever consider that maybe you not supposed to ‘fit’? People who make history rarely do.”

Review: Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

lovehateLove, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

My rating: ☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (2.5 stars)

Pages: 281

Favorite quote: “My love for you is deathless.”

Book Summary (from Goodreads)

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

My Thoughts

I am giving this 2.5 stars. Everyone has been raving about it, and honestly I just didn’t like it that much. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary novels, so already I was taking a risk reading this. I thought about giving it three stars, but 2 stars for me means that is was okay, not good. It was an okay novel. Definitely not a bad one, but just okay.

I appreciate that this is an own voices novel. I’m trying not to critique the family dynamic too much because it is an own voices novel, but it did seem a little cliche to me. Actually, a lot of this book followed the standard contemporary romance template. There’s the main character, who’s shy and doesn’t really party and go out with boys, but all of the sudden has multiple love interests. There’s the rich, beautiful, flirtatious best friend. And of course there’s the ever-present swimming scene, where the main character and her love interest have to go swimming in some secluded location, the guy has to turn around while she gets in the water, and the sparks fly.

Love, Hate, & Other Filters ultimately wasn’t anything special for me. I think it had the potential to really dive deeper into some of the issues surrounding Islamaphobia, white supremacy, and hate crimes, but it didn’t. While I wish it would have done more with those themes and less with the romance, at the same time I do respect that this is the story of one high school girl, and that’s the way the author chose to portray it.

“It’s selfish and horrible, but in this terrible moment, all I want is to be a plain old American teenager… who isn’t a presumed terrorist first and an American second.”


Review: Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

long way downLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds

My rating: ☆☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (4 stars)

Pages: 320

Favorite quote: “Are you coming?”

Book Summary (from Amazon)

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

My Thoughts

I saw this book at work one day and decided I was finally going to read it. I was initially hesitant to pick this up because it’s written in verse, but I actually enjoyed reading it so much. Long Way Down is definitely a fast read. I think I read it in maybe an hour.

I was only a few pages in when I started to tear up a little. Long Way Down is incredibly moving and impactful. I think the fact that it’s written in verse contributes greatly. If you’re not a fan of poetry or verse, I would still recommend reading this.

Too often the victims of gun/gang violence are overlooked and forgotten. This is especially true of the victim’s families. Long Way Down gave a raw, insightful look into what happens to those affected by gun violence and the loss of a loved one.

I am actually going to have the opportunity to hear Jason Reynolds speak this March. I can’t wait to get a book signed by him and to hear what he has to say.

“but if the blood

inside you is on the inside

of someone else,

you never want to

see it on the outside of



Review: Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

wild beautyWild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

My rating: ☆☆☆/☆☆☆☆☆ (3.5 stars)

Pages: 339

Favorite quote: “Everyone’s broken. The only difference is how.”


Book Summary (from Goodreads)

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

My Thoughts

When I started reading Wild Beauty, I was not into it. The beginning was confusing because all the characters were introduced in a few pages, and I couldn’t keep track of what was going on. Because the characters were introduced to quickly, it took a long time for me to actually care about them, but eventually I did. Everything happened very slowly in this novel. Details about the past and backgrounds were released sporadically. I’m not really a fan of this type of world-building because it takes so long for a clear picture of the world to form, and during that time I’m just confused.

One of the things I’ve heard people praise about this book is how beautiful the writing is. There were a lot of descriptives in the writing, but it didn’t really make the like the story any more. Describing the kinds of flowers doesn’t add anything to my imagination simply because I don’t know anything about flowers. I really loved how the character’s internal monologue was written. It was so beautiful and made my heart hurt at times.

I did like the magical realism in this novel. I believed the powers the Nomeolvides women have, and I really liked how the story ended. I also love how the land was almost a thinking and feeling entity. There wasn’t some huge finale. The ending/resolution was simple, but I still loved it. Overall this was a fun read, and by the end I couldn’t put it down!

“And when she was done with him, when she was through wrecking him, she slept.”

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters
by Francesca Zappia

My rating: ★★★★★/★★★★★

I received Eliza and Her Monsters in the May OwlCrate box, and I was really happy with this book choice. I don’t read much contemporary, so I love it when book subscription boxes include contemporary because it allows me to branch out from my usual fantasy reading habits. Normally when I receive a book from OwlCrate, it takes me a while, sometimes months, to get around to reading it. But for some reason, I just really wanted to read Eliza and Her Monsters, so I started it the very next day! I finished this book in two days, so clearly I loved it a lot! I was immediately drawn into the story and the characters, and I found this to be a refreshing and completely relatable contemporary novel. I’m sure most of us don’t run a weekly webcomic like Eliza, but her emotions and feelings throughout the book are so relatable, and I’m sure that nearly all teenagers have felt like her at some point.
This novel also dealt with social media and the online world and how older generations don’t fully understand it. I thought this was very interesting, because I think that the way Eliza keeps the extent of her webcomic a secret from her family is probably very similar to the circumstances of many kids/teens/even older people today. I feel like lots of bookstagram accounts, and even super popular twitter accounts, or just Instagram models etc. don’t tell their families about how popular their accounts are, so I just found this theme to be a very real one.
Eliza and Her Monsters also contained drawings throughout which was so cool! They were drawings from Eliza’s webcomic, Monstrous Sea. It also included snippets of Wallace’s written transcription of Monstrous Sea, which I really loved. Another interesting thing about this book is that it mentions the novels The Children of Hypnos, which Eliza and Wallace both love. Fun fact, you can actually read The Children of Hypnos! Since I loved Francesca’s writing so much, I can’t wait to catch up on this!

Follow me on Instagram to see my unboxing of the May OwlCrate box! @maevereads

Check out Francesca Zappia’s website and read The Children of Hypnos here or here!

Buy Eliza and Her Monsters using my Book Depository affiliate link and get free shipping!