Review: Other People’s Clothes by Calla Henkel

Anna: This scratched an itch in my reader brain that hasn’t been scratched in a while—that’s the only way I can really describe it! 

Other People’s Clothes follows Zoe, an art student who studies abroad in Berlin for a year to get away from her life in New York. Zoe is dealing with the recent unsolved murder of her best friend, Ivy. In Berlin she meets Hailey, also an art student from her college in New York, and they agree to sublet a famous mystery writer’s apartment. But something isn’t right about the apartment, and the girls think someone may be watching them. 

This is literally everything I could want in a book—literary fiction but with mystery and thriller elements. It explores mental health, being a creative person, and the unique experiences (and loneliness) of studying abroad, discovering your sexuality, and generally figuring out yourself in college. But above all, Other People’s Clothes explores the unique relationship between roommates. I don’t think the writing style is for everyone, but it really worked for me. My only critique is that the ending was a bit too long. But I’d rather an ending be too longer rather than too short. All in all, this was a solid debut.

VERDICT: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Someone please recommend me more books in this vein!

Also, my husband and I are moving in just a few short weeks, hence the boxes! My books and bookshelves are in a state of disarray. I’m going to miss the built in bookshelf in this apartment so much…

Review: Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Alexis:

Cemetery Boys follows Yadriel, a trans teenager trying to gain acceptance from his family. His family are brujos, a group of magical Latinos who can summon ghosts and help them pass on to the afterlife. When Yadriel’s cousin, Miguel, dies, Yadriel tries to prove he’s a real brujo by summoning his ghost, but he accidentally summons Julian, a fellow schoolmate, instead.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The characters and dialogue are Thomas’ greatest writing strength. I loved getting to know Yadriel and his family, and the energetic characters of Maritza (Yadriel’s cousin) and Julian were so much fun to read. It’s hard to find stories with fully fleshed out characters, but I loved Cemetery Boys’ main characters.

The overall story gives me Coco and Gods of Jade and Shadow vibes. I enjoyed reading about the history, magic, and culture of the brujos, as well as the Día de Muertos. The themes of family, acceptance, and love shine on the page.

That being said, the pacing was a little slow, and the climax felt rushed in comparison; most of the plot was thrown into the last couple of chapters, and the action scenes aren’t quite punchy enough. Since I prefer character-driven stories, this didn’t affect my overall rating. However, it’s something to keep in mind if you prefer plot-driven stories over slow-burn and character-driven stories.

It’s also worth noting that while Maritza plays an important role in the book, the women are literally told in the beginning to stay home and cook. Yadriel makes it clear that he does not approve of this; however, the healing and cooking role of the women characters does not change throughout the book. So while the story focuses on breaking gender roles/stereotypes, I found it a little odd that Yadriel breaks stereotypes, but Maritza and the other women are still forced to be stuck in their traditional roles.

But bottom line, this was a fun, lively, and heartwarming read. If you’re looking for snarky characters, trans and LGBTQ representation, with a heavy dash of magic and ghosts, then I recommend picking this up!

VERDICT: 👻👻👻👻.5