To Best The Boys Readalong: Day 1

Lovely photo by @thebookaholicdreamer

Hello friends!

Welcome to the first day of our March book Readalong! I’m ridiculously excited to start reading this book with you all today! We are beginning ‘To Best The Boys‘ by Mary Weber which I’m really confident will be a fantastic read. I’ve literally only heard great things about it. It’s said to have a great protagonist who has every intention of going against the status quo when she decides she wants to go to the best University in the land to become a scientist. However, only males are allowed to enter the contest that would get her the scholarship she needs…oh dear.

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This month I, Lauren, will be hosting the readalong, and I’m very happy and honoured to be reading the book that was featured in our 3rd anniversary box. I can’t believe it’s been 3 magical years already!

Today we’re starting the Readalong by reading chapters 1 – 7, and stopping at the beginning of chapter 8.

Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Please be warned, the following will include spoilers for To Best The Boys chapters 1-7 inclusively. Read only if you’ve finished those chapters!


So, at the very beginning, we get a bit of a prologue titled ‘The Invitation‘ which is – in my opinion – an entirely morbid kind of invitation. And my first thought is, who the hell is Mr Holm?

I really enjoyed that opening sentence before the letter too. Very gripping. Very mysterious. And instantly tells us that this letter is a recurring thing because our protagonist Rhen, is telling us she already knows what the letter will say.

We then jump right into an interesting situation with Rhen and a character named Beryll. They seem to be trying to steal something from some corpses, which is entirely disgusting, but makes me wonder why on earth they need this kind of stuff. I’m also instantly liking Rhen because she seems quite quick witted, and bless Beryll! He seems like such a sweetheart, I definitely think I’d be more like him if I were in this situation. *shiver*

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We meet Seleni, who’s Rhen’s cousin as Beryll and Rhen dart from the scene of their mischievous antics. She seems like an absolute sweetheart!

They run into a character named Lute, who doesn’t seem particularly happy about being run into, until he realises it’s Rhen. They already seem familiar with each other, so I wonder if this character is going to be making more of an appearance. I’m sure he will! Especially since Beryll spills about what they were up to in the first place and Lute seems thoroughly amused by it.

Seleni brings up the fact that they have a party to attend tonight at her home, and a man called Vincent King would be waiting for Rhen. Lute’s reaction to this news makes me feel like Rhen and Lute have a history already, they’ve clearly known each other a long time, or Lute already doesn’t like this Vincent guy.

In Chapter 3, we begin to learn that Rhen’s mother is infected with the illness going around. We did already know this from the book synopsis, but now we’re learning more and we know that Rhen and her father are working hard to find a cure.

Beryll reveals that he will be participating in the Labyrinth games to win a scholarship too, and I hope this isn’t some character death foreshadowing because we know people can die in the Labyrinth and I’m way too attached to Beryll already for him to die! Who else loves Beryll? 

We also find out the Seleni and Beryll are an item? Which is friggin adorable, and I didn’t really see that coming.

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We discover that Rhen makes something called Labyrinth cakes for some extra money and on her way home, we meet two more characters called Sam and Will who are incredibly friendly with Rhen. So we’re kind of finding out that Rhen’s a pretty well known person around her town, she has family, and lots of friends, and she likes to get samples from corpses. Seems pretty normal! (If you turn to the back of your book, you can find a recipe for the Labyrinth that the author included!)

Rhen tells us more about the layout of her town and the separation of the poor and rich districts. She doesn’t seem to mind that she’s poor either, she seems very happy with her life other than the fact that her mother is currently ill. When she gets home she tries to get out of the party and meeting with Vincent King by asking her father if she can help with the cure some more. But he declines, encouraging her to go see her friends and have fun. I think that’s really nice of him, but I think I’d be more like Rhen here. If I knew I could help in someway, I would be determined to instead of going to a fancy shmancy party.

I feel like Rhen’s family is her strength and equally her weakness.

We learn that Rhen’s mother used to be an upper class citizen. She used to have the luxuries like Seleni does. But when she fell in love with Rhen’s father, a poor man, she was disowned by her own family and they will only allow Rhen to visit them. First impression of the rich folk? They are CRUEL! I feel so sorry for Rhen when she tries to remain strong for her mother, Weber really writes Rhen’s emotions well, like I genuinely feel sad for her. I want to give her a hug!

Rhen arrives at her aunt and uncle’s house for the party they are having for the eve of the Labyrinth games. We get to see a glimpse of Seleni and Beryll being a couple which is positively adorable. I didn’t see them having a relationship, but I’m all for it now. I truly am!

They join a group of people their age who are discussing the game when we learn that one of them is called Germaine and he intends on causing havoc tomorrow as well as finding out the identity of this mysterious Mr Holm. He seems annoyingly confident and acts like a condescending pest, but Rhen puts him in his place. For some reason, he likes that? He’s probably never been told off before in his life!

Go Rhen!

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We finally meet this Vincent King guy, and I’d very much like to know how close he and Rhen were in the past, because Rhen almost seems sad that he’s become a pompous rich boy.

When he tries to kiss her, she walks off to overhear her Uncle and some other politicians. Rhen is caught, but they invite her into the conversation and ask her if she and her father are close to a cure. This is when we finally get to know more details about the illness and what it can do to a person who’s infected. It sounds horrible! Again, feeling very sorry for Rhen and her mother. And, despite her explanation of the illness, the men are very ignorant about it. They give off a big ‘it’s not our problem‘ attitude. Again, the rich in this are CRUEL. Excluding our beloved Seleni and Beryll, obviously.

As Rhen walks off, she overhears Germaine and his friends discussing the Labyrinth and how they plan to hurt or even kill some of the contestants. Rhen’s eaves dropping is interrupted by a stranger named Kellan. And, I’m already wondering if this mysterious Kellan is Mr Holm…? Now that would be interesting!

What do you guys think of the first 7 chapters? Do you have any predictions? Also guys, I’m so curious, do any of you think you’ll make the Labyrinth cakes? I love to bake, so I definitely think I’ll try to make them. Perhaps they could be an ideal reading snack for the next couple of chapters? If you do make the cakes, definitely be sure to tag us!

Please be mindful of spoilers if you decide to continue reading.

I truly hope you all enjoyed the first day of the March Readathon!

We will be back tomorrow and we’ll be reading chapters 8 – 15.

With Love,



41 thoughts on “To Best The Boys Readalong: Day 1

  1. I’m already scuked into that book. And our main Character is amazon (you go girl!!!)
    I am always here for kickass heroines who are not afraid to speak up and let stupid guys make a fool of themselves. And that is one heck of an introduction for Rhen, stealing blood from a dead guy and exploding him XD amazing, also those very rational explanations.
    Not sure about Beryll yet… He is supposed to be very smart… I don’t see that yet… so I’m not his biggest fan so far (hope he’ll change that). It was quite obvious that Beryll had at least a thing for Seleni, didn’t really expect there to be something yet.
    On the other hand I really really like Lute (I’ll probably call him Luke again in the future, which is what I read the first few times… sry). Mostly because of his reaction when he heard what they did. There might be something on his side too (hopefully XD), ’cause we know Rhen has a thing for him 😉
    Not sure about Vincent yet either =/
    I am intrigued by this Kellan guy, I thought about him being Mr. Holm as well… we’ll see. And I hope those ruthless and arogant idiots (what’s his name and his friends who were talking about killing people) get what’s coming to them…

    1. I agree! Beryll had a cute crush on Seleni, but I thought this would be a romance in the background of the story that developed and not something that was already a thing? But I love it regardless! I think Beryll and Seleni are very cute!

  2. I’m a speed reader and for some reason decided to binge and finish so I’ll be along so the discussions! And OMG! I love Lute, Seleni, Beryll and Rhen soooo much!!! They’re the best!

    1. I love that you’ve already finished! I hope you enjoyed it! 😀

  3. Interesting beginning! I live Rhen, shes such an awesome character! I like the way we’ve gotten to learn a lot about the world she lives in. I’m interested to see what shes going to do!
    Also I find the Male characters that were introduced very interesting and I cant wait to see more of Lute! I’m also wondering what wat Germaine is going to go – like is he going to be a good guy or a bad guy? And I’m really interested to know more about Rhen’s past with Vincent!
    Pretty sure that kellan guy is going to end up being Mr Holm too!

    1. Me too! I really think Vincent have an interesting past. And I’m curious to hear more about it!

  4. Oh, I love this book so much!
    The beginning was a bit abrupt, who are all those people and how are they related? I love how near one is at the happening, all those emotions and every tone, glimpse of this world. I feel a bit unrelated to every of those beasts mentioned – aren’t they completely unnecassary?
    About Vincent I just can cringe and I thought Germaine was the big villian of this story, Seleni and Rhen are both such strong characters. Even if they totally different they accept, respect und support each other in an absolute adorable manner. Does anyone else think that Rhen is an incredible strong character? She never pities herself for the situation, but always thinks about her loved ones – even when she herself is feeling super emotional. She needn’t deny it, but hide it and holds on hope.

    1. She is totally such a strong character! I agree! Always puttin her loved ones first, but never complains about the life she lives.

  5. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH I love Rhen so much already!!!! The scenes between sweet Beryll, Selenu and Rhen made me laugh, haha! The writing is also very good and portrays Rhen’s amazing character perfectly. I almost even cried when Rhen wanted to see her mother (ahah, I’m totally a crybaby!). But best of all is Rhen’s attutude towards her society. She has to maintain a balance between the upper-class society and the more poor/middle class society… which must be quite difficult… 🙁 I just want Rhen to show ’em! You go girl!!

    1. Rhen is the absolute best already, she’ll definitely become a favourite protagonist of mine!

  6. My initial thoughts on Rhen are that she’s smart, capable, loving, and very family oriented. She wants to fight against the way society is but I’m not sure, at this point, that she really knows how. She has a clear interest in Lute, who I think also has an interest in Rhen – which I cant wait to see develop.

    When we get to the aunt and uncles party – Germaine is vile, and is definitely going to try to cause trouble for Rhen. As are the politicians with her uncle. I’m not happy with their “it doesn’t matter if the lowers get sick” attitudes.
    Vincent seems to be an old friend of Rhen, but it looks like society has made him change. Is he still the same Vincent underneath? I think he might be, but will he allow his true colours to shine, or will he end up working with Germaine and the rest in the labyrinth? I think the former, but only time can tell.

    I also think the mysterious Kellan might be Mr Holm!

    Now, I just want to get to the game…

    1. That would be such an interesting turn of events if Vincent suddenly became his old self, or had a valid reason to act the way he is.
      So glad you love Rhen!

  7. It took me a bit to get into this book. The detailing of cadavers in the beginning just gave me the creeps but by the end of those chapters, I was hooked!

    So far I think their society is just messed up. I was so infuriated during the party. Women don’t seem to be treated very well. Vincent is vile. I’m curious to hear more about his history with Rhen. I just wish the women were treated better.. It makes me so sad.

    Honestly, I’m just so excited for the competition to begin! This might be my favourite Fairyloot book yet.

    1. It was quite an interesting introduction to Rhen’s interests wasn’t it? xD

  8. Great beginning! I’m so excited to learn more about this world. I like what we know so far. It really feels like the disease will reach the upper class and then they will see the problem, but Rhen did overhear a conversation at the party where they talk about the news that has reached the port. They say something about the rising population and that makes me think that the disease may have been released in purpose to get rid of some poor people…

    When we overhear the conversation Germaine is having, I really get the feeling that the Labyrinth may get a Hunger Game vibe. And I think and hope that Rhen will enter the competition too, Maybe dressed as a boy?

    I totally agree with you guys that Kellen might be Mr Holm.

    And now I’m ready for the game…

    1. I definitely get the Hunger Games vibe! But in this case it’s not as dangerous as the Hunger Games.

  9. Omg this book starts so good! I love creepy stuff so the beginning with the corpses was so cool!

    Rhen seems like such a sweetheart and I love her relationship with Seleni. Reminds me of my own relationship with my cousins.

    I hope Beryll survives the Labyrinth. And I don’t think I like Vincent but I’m really curious about Lute.

    I also think Kellan might be Mr Holm.

    I had a hard time stopping after chapter 7. I might end up reading the rest of the book in one day haha

    1. I had a very hard time stopping myself! This is definitely a book I could finish in one sitting!

  10. Rhen is a very refreshing character. Love how even on the first few pages you get a great feeling of what she’s like. I am enjoying the world this is set in and can’t wait read more.

    The writing style is super flowy, it’s kinda hard not read it all in one go.

    Also, the color of the sprayed edges is so unique, I love it!

    Hope everyone is having a good time reading this.

  11. Already really loving this book – though I’ll admit the names threw me a tiny bit! Still have Rhen from A Curse So Dark and Lonely in my head.
    and my Nan is called Beryl!
    But that’s hardly even a gripe, because enjoying the rest of the book a lot more.

    I love Rhen as a character – love a well written female protagonist who is strong without being stoic, and has some flaws or issues to deal with.
    I also loved that she has dyslexia, and it has been a problem in the past – made it feel a bit more real, as I feel dyslexia is easily ignored by too many?

    I’m really hoping to see more of Lute going forward, as felt there was definitely something in that first interaction between him and Rhen.

    1. Same, still have the sweetheart prince in my head each time I read “Rhen” ^^’
      So everytime, I pictured Rhen as a boy but I think it will change quickly because Rhen (the girl) is as amazing as Prince Rhen!

  12. I just love all the gory details included in this book. It certainly doesn’t shy away from the descriptions, does it? ? Gross, sure. But, super fun, too! ?
    I absolutely adore Rhen. She’s so smart, no-nonsense and morbid. Isn’t she great? I get the feeling we’d get along really well in real life. I’m totally into morbid stuff, too. XD

    Beryll is an absolute cinnamon roll and must be protected at all costs. He’s just too cute for words. Honestly, he seems a little stuck-up and useless most of the time, but he’s also really sweet and his heart is definitely in the right place.

    I totally think the inclusion of a recipe for the Labyrinth Cakes is a neat idea! I’m not much of a cook myself (I could burn salad), but I’m super excited to see what they look like if anyone gives them a go! ?

  13. I like this book so much so far, super sucked in, so looking forward to seeing the Hunger Games like competition especially since that jerk was overheard by Mr. Holms(?) when he was planning his death toll at the party, and is totally onto him.
    The characters are awesome, the romances adorable (Beryll seriously you ridiculous boy, you crack me up).
    Did anyone else kill themselves laughing during the body pile up in the first chapter? It was just a comedy of errors and I thought it was absolutely hilarious.

  14. Okay so the start kind of reminded me of Stalking Jack the Ripper, but then it moved away from that into a mysterious game trial type thingy.
    I also did not get the impression that Beryll and Seleni were intended, until it actually spelt it out..
    Why do I feel like she’s going to end up with Germaine.. I really hope not, but those interactions really made me wonder… At least before they were found in that room talking about murdering everyone!
    I swear the man she was talking to is Mr Holmes.. Speaking in riddles.
    I hope she saves her mother!

  15. I also really liked the start. Suck a unique first location for a scene…..if a little gross too.

    Rhen had really grabbed me as a character and I’m already invested in her as a character.

    The class system in this world is quite confronting and brutal from both a social economic and gender point of view. Interested to see how the author addresses both issues…..and they are big issues.

    Can’t wait to get into the labyrinth proper and those cakes are calling my name. ??

  16. Beryll and his screaming definitely gave me the strongest impression.

    The writing flows well and it’s easy to get sucked in but, I’m finding it a bit slow? I’m kinda concerned that we’re almost 100 pages in and we still only have background information…

    I do enjoy how this book tackles the division between the rich and the poor though. It would be awesome to see how Rhen’s actions would become the catalyst for uniting the rich and the poor as well as, gender equality.

  17. I like Will and Sam! Hope to see more of them. Lute is interesting, too.

    About the romance relationship of Seleni and Beryll…It could be the motivation that Seleni will enter the maze, too. Because I can‘t think of another motivation for her.

    Vincent King….mmh he seems nice but I am afraid that he is not the nice guy and that he knows about the Germaine‘s murder plans.

    Who is mr. Holm? Kellan? (And who is Legend? Haha) I love the Who is—Game!

    1. Where are the Sailor Moon Fans? Everytime I am reading Beryll, I have to think of Queen Beryll,?

  18. Wow what an opening! Who expected an exploding dead body so soon ??
    I don’t know about anybody else but I’m getting some Caraval vibes (the letter, the contest, the mysterious Mr Holm). I definitely need to know more….

    I’m loving Rhen already. She’s so kind, loving, confident and capable. I also like that she’s not cowed by these rich boys and was quite happy putting them in their place!

    So much to whet my appetite in these first 7 chapters: what’s causing the illness, will Rhen and her dad be able to find a cure, who is Mr Holm, who is Kellen, what’s the history with Rhen and Vincent and Rhen and Lute???

    And what about the ghouls????

    So many questions – I love it!

  19. I loved the opening. Definitely got Stalking Jack the Ripper vibes on that but then it turned into a comedy. I love how morbid and science focused Rhen is, makes me adore her.

    I am finding Beryll kind of annoying and his family not coming to see Seleni is not a good sign, I can’t see him having enough of a backbone to stand up to them and say he wants to marry her anyway – if he survives the labyrinth that is.

    I really want to see Rhen kick Germaine’s ass because my god he’s an arrogant little git. I am hoping Lute proves himself and also stops Germaine and his groups plans.

    Kellen is obviously either Holm or Holm’s relation imo, it’ll be interesting to see that develop. It’s a really easy read and I am enjoying it a lot.

  20. Omg I’m already so fed up with all those privileged and prejudiced rich men and boys! They don’t care about the disease because it’s mostly affecting poor people so far, and they seriously dare to suggest that it’s poor people lack of knowledge about hygiene?! I want to slap them all xD

    The one character, besides Rhen, that I am actually interested in, is Lute. He seems a bit different from the other upper class guys and might actually be genuinely interested in Rhen for her personality. (from the description of his appearance he also sounds quite dreamy tbh)

    I love that the protagonist of this book has such an interest in Anatomy and alchemy. I look forward to finding out how this will help her in the labyrinth.

  21. Love Rhen! She’s badass! I don’t really like beryll, he seems kinda whiny which annoys me. I want Rhen and Lute to get together, I feel there’s some history there. I think Vincent might turn ‘bad’ and be on Germaine’s team in the labyrinth. (I imagine it as a hunger games X the maze runner)
    Just going to continue reading now! X

  22. I’m really liking this book so far! Its really easy to read and the chapters just flew by. I definitely think Kellen is Mr. Holm!

  23. I absolutely loved the opening and how easy it was to get sucked into the story. Who would’ve thought an exploding body would be that early in the story, lol. This part had my giggling as I was reading. Rhen is my type of girl, and I am all for her, you go girl!

    Beryll and Seleni are adorable, and I really hope nothing happens to Beryll in the Labyrinth. Lute is intriguing too, I’d love to find out the connection between him and Rhen. Same with Victor King, what changed and why? So many questions.

    I agree with your question, is Kellan Mr. Holm?!? That would be an interesting twist. Germaine makes me so angry, I loved the part when Rhen told him off! I can’t wait to see where the next chapters take us!

  24. So I got started a bit late, but I’ll catch up 🙂
    I will say though that while I like the promise of the story, I am not a fan of the writing. Detailed describtion can be beautiful and bring something to the story but it doesn’t feel like it has a natural flow here and it feels more like a thesaurus fell on the keyboard than a geniune understanding of the words. Also, I feel like a drinking game based on how many times the word countenance is mentioned would floor me early on.
    Sorry if it sounds like I hate it, I really don’t 🙂 I am looking forward to getting more into the book and feel more comfortable with it

  25. This book gives me Stalking Jack the Ripper meets Caraval vibes and I am here for it! I love Rhen already and glad she sticks up for herself and those she’s closest to. I also really like that she represents the dyslexic community and shows that you can overcome any learning disability and become a strong independent person.

    I’m interested to see how her relationship with Lute and Vincent progresses throughout the book.

    Germaine is horrible and I really wanted to jump into this book and punch him in the face. I have a feeling that feeling won’t change throughout the course of this book and I’m excited to see Rhen continue to put him in his place!

    On to the day 2 reading 🙂

  26. I’m definitely enjoying this book (just have to catch up on my commenting) and I can’t wait to see what the maze has in store. I like Rhen and Seleni’s friendship and Beryll and Lute are complete sweethearts. Lute finding Rhen’s experiments funny rather than disgusting was what won me over top 🙂

  27. Not sure how I feel about this book so far… I’m interested by Rhen and her cousin Seleni, but everyone else isn’t very likeable so far… Slow start but I am intrigued to see where things go. And I’m sure it”’ get much more fast paced once they enter the labyrinth. On to the next chapters!

  28. Hi all!

    I am slowly reading and catching up after a few days that I could not read. I am liking this book a lot! it’s refreshing and I’m loving Rhen a lot.

  29. I really liked how many different elements were introduced in the first chapters and am excited to move on. I also can’t wait to see more of Lute! I’m trying to imagine what a labyrinth cake would look like but can’t quite see it. I’m excited to try the recipe at the back of the book tho!

  30. I am just now reading this book and I am getting strong Mary Shelly and the black plage vibes from it! I can’t get a read on Vincent King, but I do have a thought he is only looking into marrying her because he can get her familys money/status. They did say boys can mary down, but girls can’t. So when Rhen’s mother married down she lost everything, but her family will still need to ensure their family line remains “Upper”.

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