Mini ARC Reviews: Girl Made of Stars (A New Favorite that Made me CRY) & Isle of Blood and Stone (Surprisingly Entertaining)

I love books that go beyond my expectations.

I mean, who doesn’t?? It means a lot tp ME, because usually, books end up being worse than I expected and I get hit by disappointment like no other.

But this time… IT WAS THE OTHER WAY AROUND.

I liked these books better than I thought I would??? Surprise!!

Girl Made of Stars was one of my most anticipated releases of the year (I saw that my request had been accepted at school and struggled not to scream) and it was even better than I had imagined. So SO GOOD.

And I honestly didn’t expect much out of Isle of Blood and Stone besides an average fantasy (especially since the beginning was slow) but it ended up surprising me and being much more entertaining than I’d suspected!!!

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GIRL MADE OF STARS

Ashley Herring Blake, publishing May 15, 2018

Girl Made of Stars

This book destroyed me. There is no other way to say it. This book destroyed me and it destroyed the chances of all other books this year because I have no doubt that this will be one of my favorite books of the year, if not my MOST favorite.

It is that good.

Let me put it this way: I haven’t cried over a book since 2016. This book made me sob.* I teared up so many times. And then I reread the book two days after I first read it.

I don’t cry over books!! Tears do not stay on my face for the whole last third of books!! And I certainly don’t reread books two days after I first read them!!!! THIS BOOK IS A BIG DEAL.

I just… have no words about how much this book affected me. It’s so beautiful and poignant and gorgeously written and I can’t wait for everyone to read it, because it is 10000% worth it. Even if you feel like you’re dying inside.

*Okay so maybe not actual sobbing but I CRIED A LOT.

This story is really, really heavy. (See end of review for list of trigger warnings.) It talks about rape and other forms of sexual abuse, also tackling issues of victim-blaming, sexuality, gender identity, and more.

So it’s no surprise that this is a hard-hitting book. And it’s not just hard-hitting. It’s like… shoving and pushing on you all at once. It’s really intense, but it’s intense in a way that makes it so GOOD. And POWERFUL. And MEANINGFUL.

This book follows the story of Mara, whose twin brother Owen is accused of raping her best friend, Hannah. It’s about learning who to believe in and what to believe in. It’s about facing the past and figuring out how that will shape you in the future. But most of all, it’s a story about healing from things that you never thought you could get back up from.

We have Mara, a girl who is trying to recover from the past while dealing with the present, and wondering what it means for the future. The way her thoughts and emotions are written is so RAW, and it’s just so beautiful to see her finding her way up from the bottom of an abyss she never thought she could escape.

This book relies a lot on character development—another reason why I fell so deeply in love with it—and all the side characters are written just as beautifully as Mara:

  • Owen is portrayed as a boy who’s trying to reconcile with what he’s done, but his actions are never excused. This is the brother that Mara has loved her whole life, but she has to accept that someone so close to her can do something she’s against.
  • Hannah is written as a girl devastated by what’s been done to her by Owen, and what’s continually being done to her as a society that will never believe her, but what’s also evident her growth and her strength and her ability to keep getting up even when everything brings her down.
  • And finally, Charlie (Mara’s ex in the beginning to something else at the end) is a genderqueer character who uses she/her pronouns, who is struggling to really define herself and trying to find the bravery to express herself in a way that she needs to. I connected so much to Charlie that it literally made me cry.

Even girls made of stars are captives, bound at the wrists and traded like property. Even girls made of stars aren’t asked, aren’t believed, aren’t considered worth the effort unless they can offer something in return.

Even girls made of stars buy into those lies sometimes.

Mara and Charlie’s relationship is honestly so, so beautiful. (Also a reminder not to call this f/f because even though Charlie uses she/her pronouns, she is still genderqueer!!!) It’s about learning to come to terms with their own identities, but also learning how to support each other at the same time. It means a lot to me for a lot of personal reasons.

I honestly can’t even think of anything else to add? Mostly because 1) I’m still destroyed and trying to work through my feelings over this, but also because 2) this book is about flawed people working through their flaws, and yet it is written almost flawlessly.

Just… PLEASE READ IT. It is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read and it means so much to me beyond the fact that it made me cry. It is just BEAUTIFUL and STUNNING and an honest-to-god love story to every single person who is discovering who they are, how they fit into society, and learning to love whoever they turn out to be.

Trigger warning: rape, sexual abuse and assault, anxiety/panic attacks

★★★★★

thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the review copy in exchange for an honest review! this did not my affect my opinions in any way. 

all quotes are from an advanced copy and may differ in final publication.

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ISLE OF BLOOD AND STONE

Makiia Lucier, publishing April 10, 2018

Isle of Blood and Stone (Isle of Blood and Stone, #1)

This book… ended up surprising me!! After reading the first few chapters, I was really sure that it would end up to be really average and meh, but it was actually better than I’d thought it was???

Let me be real here: This has a lot of flaws. It is definitely not a perfect book. (I even took off a half star my original rating after I thought about it.) But the thing is:

IT WAS SO ENTERTAINING.

At first it was slow, and kind of boring, and I couldn’t really connect to the characters. (Still couldn’t by the end of the book tbh.) But then something changed and I was so entertained?? For at least half of the book, I could feel my adrenaline pumping and I was ALWAYS on edge.

(It was slightly terrifying tbh.)

Isle of Blood and Stone follows the story of a young man named Elias, whose friends discover maps that could have possible clues as to how two princes and his father disappeared from the kingdom of del Mar eighteen years ago.

Elias is an interesting character. To be quite honest, he was kind of bland?? Mercedes (the love interest) had more personality than him, and HE’S the main character. Regardless, I still enjoyed reading from his perspective and seeing where the story would go.

Speaking of which: THE PLOT. It started out really slow and almost boring in the first 100 pages, but then suddenly, the stakes were raised and I was genuinely excited and nervous to see where it would go. I mean, I guessed the “bad guy”, but there were all these tiny little things that I hadn’t expected and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!

Like literally for the whole last half of the book, I was always on edge and could feel my heart pounding, just so ANXIOUS about what would happen next. (I mean it was also 2 in the morning and I was paranoid.) But it really was engaging, after the first 100 pages.

This story is really a “whodunit” kind of murder mystery, but mixed with fantasy elements and also BIG EMPHASIS on family and found family (AND ALSO MAPS—unfortunately my ARC didn’t have a map since it was an ARC) and I thought that whole mix made for a really intriguing story.

I don’t think that the characters were developed enough for me to be really invested in them, particularly because the beginning was really sloooooow. (Also, I’m a little ??? because it seems like none of the characters were diverse and I’m really suspicious???) But I do think that overall, this was a REALLY entertaining book and I honestly can’t wait for the sequel.

★★★☆ [3.5]

thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the review copy in exchange for an honest review! this did not my affect my opinions in any way. 


shall we chat

have you read any of these books? did you like them? what books have you cried/teared up/sobbed over? are you an emotional reader or nah? what have you been reading lately??? and ISN’T MY BOOKSHELF SO PRETTY AAAHHHH

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13 thoughts on “Mini ARC Reviews: Girl Made of Stars (A New Favorite that Made me CRY) & Isle of Blood and Stone (Surprisingly Entertaining)

  1. Yes, I’m definitely an emotional reader. I cried reading Gone With the Wind and honestly I was so affected that it put me on a reading slump. I tend to remember the most the books that made me cry: The Book Thief, The Kite Runner, The Serpent King, Goodbye Days, We Were Liars – and it doesn’t have anything to do with how I was feeling – my tears were based solely on my emotions from reading these!

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  2. im still so confused why gmos is covering up your beautiful face?? like why is it even there?? it doesn’t deserve to be?? and you are so lucky i dont trash gmos whenever you talk about it! like i just be like ITS!! TRASH!! but i don’t say that bc im NICE :))) anyways im so glad a book made you feel emotion for once, you deserve this!! books!! that!! you!! like!! isle of blood and stone looks cool i guess 🙂

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  3. have you read any of these books? –> yes, i read gmos
    did you like them? — no
    what books have you cried/teared up/sobbed over? –> paper butterflies and the kite runner
    are you an emotional reader or nah? –> depends
    what have you been reading lately??? –> SEIGE AND STORM AND ITS SO BORING I CRY
    and ISN’T MY BOOKSHELF SO PRETTY AAAHHHH –> its pretty but not as pretty as you 😉

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  4. I haven’t read either of these, but Girl Made Of Stars sounds so beautiful and heart-wrenching. I’ve just read Face by Benjamin Zephaniah and that’s really powerful and real and diverse and just awesome. I’m about to start reading Hazel by Julie Hearn – it’s hi-fic, but personally I love that genre and I can’t wait. Suffragettes! Mystery! It sounds great. XXX hope you’re okay???

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  5. I think the last book I cried over was Me Since You in 2014 (I am not a crier while reading even though I am an emotionally invested reader). I’ve been on the fence about reading Isle of Blood & Stone since I’ve read quite a few mixed-negative reviews of it. I’ve been on a fantasy kick lately so I might try it, but if it’s too slow I’ll probably DNF it.

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  6. Lovely reviews, May – and congratulations on getting these ARCs, this is amazing!! 😀 Girls Made of Stars looks and sounds really good, but I’m not sure I will ever read it, because of the heavy topics and all of these trigger warnings, haha. I’ll have to give it some thought but I am so glad you enjoyed it so much and that it made you cry! I love books that make me feel all of the emotions as well.
    Isle of Blood and Stone also sounds quite interesting, too bad the beginning was a bit slow, but at least it picked up so yay! 😀

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  7. Great reviews, May! I really want to read Girl Made of Stars! I love it when books make me emotional, even though sometimes it happens too much…I tear up a lot while reading.😂(Years ago, I even cried while reading Aliens on Vacation, which is most definitely NOT a sad book in the least.) Also, YOUR BOOKSHELF IS GORGEOUS AHHHH❤️

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  8. Great reviews May! I’m so so happy to hear you enjoyed Girl Made of Stars. I already wanted to read it but now? I NEED TO. I WANT A SUGAR PERSON WITH LIKE NO GROSS STUFF JUST SOMEONE WHO BUYS ME BOOKS AND WANTS NOTHING IN RETURN PLEASE. Or just a good, free library that has all the books *cries* That latter option is actually preferable because ew interaction with said sugar person

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