The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

The Good Luck Girls follows the story of five girls and their escape journey to find freedom in the brutal land of Arketta. With a hope to get rid of their cursed markings, they will have to face a long trip full of demonic creatures, ruthless monsters, and not to mention the forces that chase them for a murder that one of them accidentally committed.

Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale in this stunning fantasy adventure from debut author Charlotte Nicole Davis.

Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst

THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It’s going to take more than luck for them all to survive.
 
 
Thank you The Nerd Daily, Tor Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. The Good Luck Girls was published on October 1, 2019 and available on Amazon, Book Depository, and other book retailers.

what is it about?

The story started in a brothel called Welcome House, where the five girls lived and tried their best to survive after being sold by their family to get money for a living, pay debts, or simply because it was seen as the better way because the brothel offered food and roof to stay. It was the sixteenth birthday of one of the girls, Clementine, and it marked her transformation from being a daybreak girl where she’d need to do daily chores, into a sundown girl where she’d started to accompany clients at nights, commonly called as brags. It was supposed to be her Lucky Night, until she accidentally killed her very first client. Her older sister, Aster, who’s already experienced the ugly side of being a sundown girl, realized that there was no way for them to get out of this unfortunate event without getting punish unless they run away and leave the brothel. With the other three girls, Mallow, Tansy, and Violet, Aster lead the escape journey not to just physically get out of the brothel, but also to get rid of the tattoos that marked them as good luck girls. Girls that are forced into sex slavery in Welcome House , girls that are forced to praise every brag that they encountered, girls that need to swallow drugs in order to escape their traumas, girls that are sold by their own family. Maybe, they were not so lucky after all.

what do I think about it?

Ever since its first page, The Good Luck Girls was nothing but continuous intensity, dynamic storyline, full-force action packs, excellent inclusivity and representation of multiple mental illnesses (anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction), and delivery of well-researched topics including sex trafficking, sex slavery, social inequality, and oppression. It was raw and raging. Davis delivered a story which set in fantasy land but with issues that sadly still happened in our reality.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed the entire aspect of The Good Luck Girls. As much as being entertained by the magical universe that Davis created, I was also learning about multiple important issues that I’ve never aware of before. Yes, this story feels like a furious shout over devastating issues that still happening at this very moment, and I applaud Davis for sharing her awareness and knowledge, not just by simply writing this story but also for spending enormous efforts and time to deliver facts and truths by conducting researches (in case you want to see more behind the story about this and the book references that Davis used, check out the acknowledgment part).

Everyone deserved to be free, though. Everyone deserved to feel this.

The universe of The Good Luck Girls was exceptional. It was built on such detailed narratives that leave me craving for more. Davis was truly incredible in describing this magical world of hers, everything from the scab, the underworld, to the animal and other magical creatures that lived in it was delivered in such cinematic writing. Everything was vivid and authentic.
 
And clearly, this is neither a plot-driven or a character-driven story. Because it is both! There was always something happening that moved the characters forward. I’m not the biggest fan when this method used in a story because oftentimes, they feel forced and unnatural. But in The Good Luck Girls, it flows smoothly and although I’m tensed and scared for these characters’ life, I couldn’t wait for more twists and unfortunate events. (No offense, Aster. Your gang will be always in my pray)
 
In conclusion, I’m glad to pick this book as one of my most anticipated debut titles for this month, because it truly lives to my expectations! The ending was not a ‘happily ever after’, indeed, but it left many unanswered questions that hopefully will be revealed in the next book.

what’s the verdict?

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What’s your most anticipated debut for this month? Are you thinking about adding The Good Luck Girls to your next reading list?

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

But isn’t that the whole point, to lose yourself in a word that’s different from your own?

Montauk is a remarkable cinematic historical romance from debut author, Nicola Harrison. Set in 1938 Montauk, Long Island, this is a self-discovery journey of Beatrice Bordeaux, through a crumbling marriage, a family loss, a community that she thought she belongs to, a search for her true purpose, an unexpected friendship, and a slow-burn romance.

Montauk by Nicola Harrison

Montauk, Long Island, 1938. 

For three months, this humble fishing village will serve as the playground for New York City’s wealthy elite. Beatrice Bordeaux was looking forward to a summer of reigniting the passion between her and her husband, Harry. Instead, tasked with furthering his investment interest in Montauk as a resort destination, she learns she’ll be spending twelve weeks sequestered with the high society wives at The Montauk Manor—a two-hundred room seaside hotel—while Harry pursues other interests in the city. 

College educated, but raised a modest country girl in Pennsylvania, Bea has never felt fully comfortable among these privileged women, whose days are devoted not to their children but to leisure activities and charities that seemingly benefit no one but themselves. She longs to be a mother herself, as well as a loving wife, but after five years of marriage, she remains childless while Harry is increasingly remote and distracted. Despite lavish parties at the Manor and the Yacht Club, Bea is lost and lonely and befriends the manor’s laundress whose work ethic and family life stir memories of who she once was. 

As she drifts further from the society women and their preoccupations and closer toward Montauk’s natural beauty and community spirit, Bea finds herself drawn to a man nothing like her husband –stoic, plain spoken and enigmatic. Inspiring a strength and courage she had almost forgotten, his presence forces her to face a haunting tragedy of her past and question her future. 

Desperate to embrace moments of happiness, no matter how fleeting, she soon discovers that such moments may be all she has when fates conspire to tear her world apart… 

★★★★½

Title: Montauk | Author: Nicola Harrison | Genre: Chick LitHistorical FictionWomen’s Fiction | Publication Date: June 4, 2019 | Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley | Read for: Goodreads Reading Challenge 2019, PopSugar Reading Challenge 2019 (Current progress) | Links: Book Depository (Affiliate)

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Classism, emotional abuse, rape.[/su_spoiler]

Quick Thoughts

I recommend this book if you’re into:
⇾ Historical romance, lighter on the history and heavier on the romance
⇾ Detailed and full description narrative
⇾ Women empowerment issue
⇾ Character-oriented story
⇾ Slow-paced story

Things to be considered before picking up this book:
⇾ Few explicit and triggering contents. Check out trigger warnings at the end of this review.
⇾ Constantly slow-paced for 400 pages.
⇾ Sad ending.

More Thoughts

I 👏 LOVE 👏 THIS 👏 When I first requested Montauk on NetGalley, my initial intention was because I wanted to read something outside of my comfort zone, in this case, a historical and women fiction. And before I started reading it, I didn’t have any expectation toward this book. I knew this genre is fairly a new territory to me, and therefore I don’t want this book to be the case of “it’s not the book, it’s me”. I just wanted to roll with it and see how it goes, y’know? But man oh man, did I underestimated it?! It turns out to be one of the most enjoyable reads that I have this year! 

To sum up the story, Beatrice Bordeaux was a wife of Harry, a businessman from a wealthy family and elite society. Meanwhile, she was a small town girl who born and grew up in Pensylvania. She was bright and went to university, an extraordinary and uncommon thing to do for a woman during this time. But ever since her brother, Charlie, died in a car accident, she decided to left university and closed herself from everyone. And this is when she met Harry. Long story short, they’re married but even after five years, they still got no baby. Beatrice started to feel the tension in her marriage and the pressure from Harry’s family because they expected them to carry on the family name. A three months summer vacation in Montauk, Long Island was seen as a getaway to rekindle their marriage and make the chemistry between them sparks again.

At least that’s what Beatrice hoped for. But that was before she found out about her husband’s affair. That was before she tried to fit in the community of elitists’ wives who seem connected and supported each other but threw gossips and hurtful commentaries behind the closed door. That was before she met Dolly, a candid, quirky and talented hatter who gave no shit about the elitists’ wives. That was before she met Elizabeth, a local laundry woman from the manor who introduced Beatrice to her big family and to the real Montauk. That was before she met Thomas, a lighthouse keeper who appreciated her for being her true self and gave the affection that she longed for, something that has been long missing from her marriage.

I’m your wife, God damn it. You should want to see me, but instead, you use up all your free times dallying around with other women in the city while I’m out here.

The thing about Montauk is that it focused on the main character development and how she faced the struggles in her life. However, Harrison still managed to deliver an unforgettable plot too. It was slow at times, sure, but it worth the waits. I personally not a fan of a slow-paced story, but thanks to Harrison’s magic hand, she crafted each word carefully and delivered such a pleasing and wonderful narrative. Montauk was truly cinematic. I got to imagine each scene vividly, despite not being the most imaginative person in the room. 

Sometimes I yearned for that forever feeling—those hours that stretched into days and days into week, without a thought of tomorrow.

My other favorite thing about this book is the ending. It was not the perfect ending, but hell, it was close to one. It was unexpected and truly caught me off guard. The plot twists left me wondering with multiple ‘what if?’. In conclusion, I truly enjoyed Montauk and I’m looking forward to read more works from Harrison in the future. 

Thank you St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

Are you a fan of historical romance? What’s your favorite genre to read during summer?

*GIFs credit: The Affair (2014)
**The quotes above were taken from an advanced reader copy and are subject to change upon publication.

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Hey everyone! I’m back with a book review post after I’ve been MIA for the past five days. Two days long graduation ceremonies + slight fever really got the best of me. But, I’m so excited to share with you that I’ve got selected to be a part of The Weight of Our Sky’s SEA blog tour. This blog tour is specifically targeted bloggers with SEA backgrounds and here is the complete schedule of the blog tour, in case you want to check out everyone’s post!

The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Melati Ahmad has imagined her mother’s death countless times. Plagued by gruesome thoughts she believes are put into her head by a djinn, Melati has developed an intricate set of tapping rituals to tame the monster within and keep her mother safe.
 
But there are things that Melati can’t protect her mother from. On the evening of May 13th, 1969, racial tensions in  her home city of Kuala Lumpur boil over. The Chinese and Malays are at war, and Mel and her mother become separated by a city in flames.
 
With a 24-hour curfew in place and all lines of communication down, it will take the help of a Chinese boy named Vincent and all of the courage and grit in Melati’s arsenal to overcome the violence on the streets, her own prejudices, and her djinn’s surging power to make it back to the one person she can’t risk losing.

★★★★ ½

Title: The Weight of Our Sky | Author: Hanna Alkaf | Publisher: Salaam Reads | Genre: Historical Fiction | Publication Date: February 5, 2019 | Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley + Vicky Who Reads (Thank you!) | LINKS: Amazon • Goodreads • Barnes and NobleBook Depository (Affiliate) • IndieBound • Bookalicious!

[su_spoiler title=”→ Trigger Warnings!” style=”simple”]Anxiety triggers, death, graphic violence, OCD & racism.[/su_spoiler]

Gripping and a hair-raising story of a prominent historical fiction, built with the perfect balance of culture, mental health, and religion representation.

First of all, I’m not really a big fan of historical fiction. I’m having a hard time to enjoy and relate them, especially when I’m not familiar with the said historic event. Second of all, the moment I realized about the existence of this book, I was hype. The Weight of Our Sky is an extremely tough book, right from its first sentence. It’s not a light reading that you can enjoy underneath the sunshine with a glass of ice tea in your other hand (But if that’s how you read your book, then go ahead! Don’t mind me here!) However, Hanna Alkaf successfully brings out the ugly part of historical event in a form of beautifully crafted fiction and it was fascinating. The integration of cultural references, mental health representation, and religious aspects made this book remarkable and won’t be very easy to forget.

All of the cultural references in this book made my Asian heart burst of happiness. I finally get to read something and relate to everything mentioned. Even though I’m Indonesian, the similarity of Indonesian and Malaysian culture is very close, and to witness them throughout this story, it was truly an experience. Non-Asian readers might not notice these references since they’re tiny and seems like just a random explanation. Details such as going to market with your best friend after school and buy local snacks and ice-cold drinks because we’re living in a tropical country and it’s burning hot during the day, visiting small shops just for the heck out of it and not buying anything, Melati’s favorite food and drink, the mentioned of woman devil who sucks blood, and many more. All of these are something that I’m very familiar with. I grow up by actually experiencing these references and it made me ecstatic to see them properly written in this book.

“You’re not worried about Pontianaks, are you? And if you’re naughty, I’ll tell her to come and take you, too!”

As for the mental health representation, this book summarizes it all together. Anxiety and OCD is a big part of Melati and Alkaf wonderfully presented it in such a graceful way. The inner conversation between Melati and the so-called Djinn and the description of Melati’s tapping as a way to cope with her anxiety/OCD was greatly written. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where I truly get to understand the MC’s mind and sense their emotions and feelings. I also very much appreciated that Alkaf brings out these issues and created a flawed MC, where their flaws are actually a part of them and affect their lives and decision making and not just to enrich the story.

“You can’t trust him, you can’t trust him, he’ll think you’re crazy, he’ll leave you.”

Lastly, as a Muslim, to read a story where my religion was a big part of the story, I feel extremely proud. The mentioned of Djinn, going to Ustaz for seeking medication, Melati’s confused thought about the using of ‘Allahu Akbar’ during the attacks instead during the prays, it all happened then and it all still happening to me. We do believe that Djinn existed, and even some Muslims still believe that when you’re not being faithful and close enough to God, that’s the cause of your anxiety, depression, and stress. Being a Muslim herself, Alkaf delivered all of these intricate perspectives from Muslims and made the best sense out of it in this book.

Overall, The Weight of Our Sky was an incredible historical book. It got the right balance of everything without pushing too much. I love how the plot was at a steady pace yet it was still just as thrilling. The horror will haunt you and the drama will wreck your heart. It’s definitely one of my favorite read for this year!

For my stop, I got the opportunity to also share an aesthetic design (in this case, a lockscreen) along with the review that I have written previously. Here’s the one that I made, inspired by Melati and her fierceness in The Weight of Our Sky! Feel free to use it/share it wherever you want! 🙂

About the Author

Hanna Alkaf graduated with a degree in journalism from Northwestern University and spent over ten years writing everything from B2B marketing emails to investigative feature articles, from non-profit press releases to corporate brochures. She worked in Chicago as an online copywriter for several years upon graduation before coming home. She’s been a senior writer at Marie Claire Malaysia, the communications manager of education non-profit Teach For Malaysia, and a freelance journalist. Her articles have appeared in the Malaysian iterations of Marie Claire, Shape, and Esquire, as well as a host of other media both print and online.

Hanna now spends her time making it up as she goes along, both as an author of fiction and as a mom. THE WEIGHT OF OUR SKY is her first novel. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her family.

(Photo credit: Azalia Suhaimi)

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Giveaway

The prize: a copy of The Weight of Our Sky & a Kampung House coloring book! The coloring book consists of gorgeous line drawings of wooden kampung houses that would have been common in 1969–more info here!

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US/INTL Pre-Order Giveaway

Preorder or request The Weight of Our Sky from your local library to receive

  • an enamel pin designed by Rizal Aziz
  • a bookmark
  • a signed bookplate illustrated by Hanna Alkaf
  • a pop-up card featuring scenes of old-school Malaysia from Loka Made, illustrated by Fei Giap

For more information, check out the full preorder giveaway here.

Malaysian Bookalicious! Pre-Order Giveaway

Info here and here.

Preorder your special signed copies of The Weight of Our Sky in either paperback or hardcover from Bookalicious! to receive

  • a bookmark (paperback)
  • a bookmark and enamel pin (hardcover)

(Please note that preorders through Bookalicious! come with their own giveaway items and are not eligible for the US/INTL giveaway.)

Find more information on the prizes hereFind more information on the Bookalicious! promotion here.