Mini Reviews and Moodboard: Only a Monster & Tahira in Bloom

Hey Guys!

Before we jump to the reviews, I just wanted to know how do you prioritize reading ARCs? Do you, like, choose them based on the pub date/length/mood? Because the number of books on my to-be-reviewed list keeps getting higher and higher as weeks pass by. I want to read another 3 books and post the Caraval trilogy and The Green Bone Saga review by 2021, but with all the works this week and the next, I’m not sure if I’ll manage to pull it off. So let me know.

About the Book

Title: Only a Monster • By: Vanessa Len

Publishing on: 17 Feb 2022  • By: Hodder & Stoughton

Pace: Medium • Pages: 416 • Age: 15+

Series: Monsters #1 • Genre: YA Fantasy

Song: Six Feet Under by Billie Eilish

In every story there is a hero and a monster.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

Then a Good Samaritan attempt gone wrong sends Joan spinning through time, and her life quickly begins to unravel.
Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers.And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.


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I received a copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

REP: Chinese-English (MC), m/m relationship, Biracial SC (Chinese-Kenyan)

I picked this book because it was an Urban Fantasy about two star-crossed lovers. There are things I liked and disliked in the book so let me get the pros out of my way first and then move to the cons. 

Only a Monster isn’t a story about heroes or sidekicks, but monsters- monsters who can time travel and absorb people’s lives with a single touch. While every monster family can time-travel, each family has its own characteristic power. Together they are an invincible force.

Where there are monsters, there are monster-hunters. Usually, they are the heroes who are here to save the human race but the author has reversed the roles for us by giving us the story from a monster’s POV.

I was struggling with the first half and was almost going to DNF the book because the characters weren’t growing on me and too much was revealed in the first few chapters. But things picked up in the second half and made me finish the book. Time-traveling in the second half was unique in a way that made me enjoy the magic system in the book. It stood out from all that happened in the plot.

The core of this book is time. So many theories about time and timelines were intriguing and made me want to read more about the time-traveling of this world. Which is why I’ll be reading the next book.

Coming to the cons, certain elements in the plot overshadowed all the best parts of the book. There were too many unknowns that went unexplained. Many terms and names were dropped without elaborating what or who they were, leaving us in a void, just like Joan. Nobody took the time to sit down and explain to her how things worked in their (monsters) world.

Another thing that put me off was how repetitive Joan’s grief sounded. I know repetition is a tool many authors use to emphasize a character’s actions or emotions, but here it became stale after a point. Be it grief, anger, or love, none of them expressed in the book transpired the emotions it was meant to deliver. Besides this, not a single character stuck with me. I couldn’t overlook the lack of character development since it goes hand-in-hand with the plot.

To conclude, despite things that didn’t go well, this is a good debut. Time was fluid, intriguing, and explored differently. I see a lot of potential in this magic system so I’m looking forward to reading the next book. Don’t let my rating stop you from picking this book. If you like reading time-traveling Urban Fantasy with a pinch of romance, then this is your book.

Real monsters look like me and you

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
Content Warnings

About the Book

Title: Tahira in Bloom • By: Farah Heron 

Published on: Nov 1st 2021  • By: Skyscape

Pace: Fast • Pages: 318 • Age: 15+

Standalone Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Song: Fifteen by 2050

Life is full of surprises in a winning novel about a girl dreaming big during one unexpected small-town summer.

When seventeen-year-old aspiring designer Tahira Janmohammad’s coveted fashion internship falls through, her parents have a Plan B. Tahira will work in her aunt’s boutique in the small town of Bakewell, the flower capital of Ontario. It’s only for the summer, and she’ll get the experience she needs for her college application. Plus her best friend is coming along. It won’t be that bad.

But she just can’t deal with Rowan Johnston, the rude, totally obsessive garden-nerd next door with frayed cutoffs and terrible shoes. Not to mention his sharp jawline, smoldering eyes, and soft lips. So irritating. Rowan is also just the plant-boy Tahira needs to help win the Bakewell flower-arranging contest—an event that carries clout in New York City, of all places. And with designers, of all people. Connections that she needs!

No one is more surprised than Tahira to learn that floral design is almost as great as fashion design. And Rowan? Turns out he’s more than ironic shirts and soil under the fingernails. Tahira’s about to find out what she’s really made of—and made for. Because here in the middle of nowhere, Tahira is just beginning to bloom.

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I received a copy of this book from Skyscape courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.

Rep: Indian-Canadian Muslim (mc), Black (mc), Pansexual (sc), Black Lesbian(sc)

Just when I was about to quit reading Romance, I found a book that was adorable beyond words.

Tahira in Bloom is a story about an aspiring teen fashion designer and influencer who has to come to terms with life when her best-laid plans go wrong. 

If I had read this book in my pre-blog era, I’d have seen Tahira as someone who was shallow, obsessed with numbers, filters, and aesthetics. I’m not famous as Tahira or an influencer like her, but I can relate to what it means to stick to aesthetics.

Each character in this book has a personality. That’s one of the things I liked about Tahira in Bloom. Despite coming across as a person who is highly concerned about her online image, Tahira didn’t throw attitude in real life. She was humble and cared about her friends. But she was an overachiever no matter what she did.

Rowan was the grumpy neighbor who misjudged Tahria from the beginning. He is the best friend/brother/boyfriend anyone could have asked for as an mc. He is a romantic at heart and does cute stuff that isn’t over the top but is very thoughtful.

There’s also Rowan’s queer sister, who is a sweet, down-to-earth booklover. It was cute to read about the symbolism behind all the flowers she gave to people. She became my favorite character in the book by the end.

Unlike stereotypical Indian parents, the Janmohammads were keen on fulfilling their daughter’s dream. There were times when they were obsessed with Tahira’s dreams (more than her) and were projecting their wishes on her, but they came around soon. The book portrayed Indian parents in a positive manner which is something I like to see in books. They were also progressive Muslims who had broad views of their religion.

Since both the main characters are people of color, the book highlighted racism in academia and the fashion industry. But coming to the Indian rep, very few things indicated that she was an Indian. So if you’re looking for more Indian rep, there’s less of it.

Don’t dismiss this book thinking it’s a fluffy romance because there’s more to it. Tahira’s life takes a complete turn when she agrees to intern at her aunt’s boutique in a small town in Canada. Every relationship was realistically represented. Tahira’s existential crisis in the second half did change the tone of the book, but it was a wake-up call for her to ponder about phoney people who would do anything for clout.

If you like grumpy-sunshine, small-town romances, Tahira in Bloom will leave you smiling.

I’m used to looking at stars that are far away, Tahira. Not blindinly bright right in front of me.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
TW // Gaslighting, Microaggression and Islamophobia mentioned, Cyberbullying, Body Shaming.

“We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read.”

Jules Verne


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