Arc August Review: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

Published by: Harmony Ink Press

Date of Publication: August 22nd 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 173

Format: eGalley

   

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

The Tiger’s Watch is a diverse YA Fantasy centered around Tashi our gender fluid main character. Tashi is a inhabitor which by definition means you are bonded with an animal. This also means your life lines are linked & so when one dies, the other does too. Tashi is bonded to a golden tiger named Katala who if need be they can inhabit. As a soldier trained to be a spy, Tashi and their tiger are a team with Katala doing the killing. Tashi and her best friend Pharro who is also a inhabitor, are both sent away to hide in a monastery when their capital is brought down by an invading army. In this monastery, they are instructed to lay low and not call on their animals as it would call attention to their inhabitor identities. They are considered valuable in the inevitable war to come and so the monks try to keep them hidden. In the process of doing so, they only managed to call attention to Tashi & the invading armies’ commander Xian’s interest was instantly piqued. Xian makes Tashi his assistant of sorts providing Tashi the opportunity to spy on the enemy. The problem begins when there’s a spark of chemistry between Tashi & Xian that makes them question everything & ultimately leads them to make questionable decisions…

Tashi- Our Gender fluid MC takes some getting used to, I’m sure many will be annoyed with just how weak they are presented but it’s part of their story. Tashi was paired with the fiercest of animals at the age of 8, a hunter & killer who gets a thrill out of the chase. Tashi however, is the complete opposite and the very thought of killing literally upsets their stomach. I am hoping the sequel sees Tashi finding their strength & also recognizing how some of their decisions have hurt others. In this book we see Tashi make impulse decisions in hopes of changing a system they believe to be cruel. However, a ton of it came across as not well thought out & selfish. This character has a ton of growing pains ahead of them & I hope it’s evident in the next book.

Katala- Tashi’s golden tiger was one of my favorite characters in the entire book! I LOVED Katala! she is fierce, loyal, protective, and will NOT hesitate to get the job done even when Tashi is uncertain. As gruesome as some scenes would appear to be if you have a vivid imagination lol, I also found humor whenever Katala proudly killed an enemy soldier. Katala couldn’t contain her excitement at her achievements & as such would tap into her link with Tashi to show them the catch of the day, meanwhile Tashi doesn’t have the stomach for their Tiger’s appetite.

Pharro-Best friend to Tashi & at times the lines could get a bit blurred which means that yes a love triangle forms by the end of this story…sort of lol. Tashi has real feelings for Pharro, another inhabitor linked to an old wolf. Their relationship is complicated because Pharro knows that unlike Tashi who is bonded with a tiger with a long life span, he is bonded with a old wolf in his last days.

Xian-Commander of the invading army, at first comes off as ruthless and sadistic. He knows he can’t look weak in front of his army but he also has started to grow feelings for Tashi. I had some issues with this character who gave Tashi a sense of being owned, as if they were his possession. Tashi has formed a strange attraction to Xian and this leads to a ton of confusion on Tashi’s behalf. Xian is my least liked character, I just don’t trust him no matter what Tashi sees in him *shrugs* 

When I first heard of The Tiger’s Watch featuring a gender fluid MC, I was a bit worried about whether it would deliver good representation but also excited. I then saw the author’s name & instantly recognized her from Twitter. No, I haven’t read anything from Julia Ember til’ now but that’s about to change. Tashi is a much needed addition to the Young Adult books we have on our shelves. The world Tashi lives in, their society is much more advanced than our own real life world. Tashi being gender fluid wasn’t completely out of the ordinary in their world & whenever someone called Tashi “he” or “she” whoever knew Tashi would immediately correct the person by letting them know the correct pronoun is “they”. I absolutely LOVED the story & bond our MC shares with their tiger Katala. It was made up of mutual respect & trust at it’s core with Katala expressing her independence. Their bond was never a master/owner type relationship which I appreciated. I did however wish to see expansion in world building & growth from Tashi. With this eGalley, the author also sent a excerpt to the next book which is already promising. So I guess you can say my chief complaint is that I’d like to see more haha! but The Tiger’s Watch is definitely a must read for my diverse book blogging friends 😉

*HUGE thanks to Julia Ember for providing me with a eGalley copy of The Tiger’s Watch in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Readers! yesterday was The Tiger’s Watch Book Birthday & I was so happy to see so many fellow book bloggers post their reviews <3! Please drop those links down below & I’ll swing by for a chat 🙂 & if you haven’t picked this one up yet, please do & then tell me how much you love Katala! haha!


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Arc August Review: When I Am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

Published by: Penguin Random House/Dutton Books

Date of Publication: August 1st 2017

Genres: YA Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

Pages: 304

Format: eGalley

    

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

 Let’s just start by getting this out of the way….I LOOOOOOOVED this book!!!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I’ll tell you why 😉

 In what I found to be a unique form of story telling, our MC Ben is telling us this story as he sits in Jail which is disclosed in the very beginning & in the synopsis (no spoilers here lol). This had me asking all sorts of questions & all of the answers made this one story i’ll find hard to forget. From the opening pages, Ben Gibson starts off by recounting the day he met Rose. He’s automatically infatuated with everything about this gorgeous girl who seems too mature to be in High School. Even more unlikely is Rose approaching him and making him her boyfriend. Make no mistake, Rose doesn’t ask she tells him they are now in a relationship. This pretty much sets the tone for this story, both are complex characters for very different reasons. Ben is someone who comes from a toxic home environment & Rose is the polar opposite but she has her own dark passenger. Ben is part of the schools Orienteering class where you are taught all there is to know about camp, survival, map & compass reading. This is one thing that makes Ben feel good about himself and there isn’t much of that in his life. We’re introduced to the other students in the class who all fall into the cliques we’ve all seen form in High School. Ben however, is the teachers right hand man and he sort of leads the class whether they like it or not. They prepare to go on one class trail exploring trip with Ben spear heading while their teacher supervises. Ben, a character who likes to be in control of every variable has his doubts about whether he can successfully lead. He has no idea how justified his doubts really are. This book might have played out like one of those movies we’ve probably all seen where campers get lost in the woods & everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong. The thing is with so many players on the board having their own personal demons, it eliminates all predictability. I was HOOKED! this tale is DARK and twisted, it will make you question our MC who is also narrating since this is first person POV. It will have you looking at every character with a mean side eye lol & ultimately leave you shook!

Without getting into too many specifics, I can tell you this isn’t your ordinary cast of High School students. They each have secrets, some are manipulative, and others think they are better off than they really are. Ben Gibson isn’t like any MC I’ve ever come across in YA or even Adult Fiction for that matter. I wondered whether he was a unreliable character or just dead inside. It seemed like he couldn’t catch a break at times & others left me wondering if certain events cemented his fate. I found his story to be tragic and he surprised me when I read the last line in this book with a tear streaked face. I was left wondering what could’ve been if life had dealt him a different set of cards & not just him. All of the characters seemed lost inside & they kept me invested in this story. I NEEDED to know how and why. It’s been so long since I’ve come across characters that leave me thinking of them after I’ve read the last page.

GRIPPING! DARK! TWISTED! I’ve read other YA thrillers but NONE like this before. Yes I have already added this authors other books to my TBR, I’m definitely going to need more from where this came from lol. I inhaled this book similarly to how my read of Mary Kubica’s Every Last Lie went last month…to the very early hours of the morning. Although we are given the end game in the beginning with Ben sitting in jail, how he got there is one MESSED up story you can’t possibly see forming til you’ve been given the final piece. I think writing this story in first person POV worked so well in giving us a sense of what Ben does & does not feel. Being in his head isn’t the easiest but that only heightened my interest. You really shouldn’t expect to like any of these characters, they don’t even like themselves but know you’re in for one hell of a sick ride! I was surprised to see on Goodreads that this is a start to a series & would love to know if the next book will have us following a new set of characters or the same. My guess is that it’s going to be one of those series where each book stands on its own but it any of you know please let me know down in the comments.

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Dutton Books and Stephanie Kuehn for this eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! happy FRIYAYYYY! AYYY! hope you’re all enjoying this day & getting ready to start your weekends. Have any of you read When I Am Through With You? if so, how bout those feels? eh? haha!


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ARC August Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

 Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published by: Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism

Pages: 368

Format: eGalley

   

If you’re not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.

One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.

Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.

When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found takes place in Ireland, much of the time is spent outside in the woods, a abandoned house, and a pub with a mysterious owner whose age remains unknown. The teens in this book are pretty much left to their own devices. It’s during a bonfire party that one of the characters by the name of Laurel, wakes up inebriated to find the spellbook that would inevitably bind all of their fates together. The spellbook contains the ingredients to cast the spell that would find what you’ve lost however…for every thing found…you must be willing to lose something & the choice is not always yours to make. These characters have all lost something valuable that they are willing to take the risk in order to get it back.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found was one of those books I spotted early on & just knew I wanted to read right away. I’m a lover of all things witches, spells, and mysterious atmospheres and this book delivered on all three. We follow multiple POV’s as there are three sets of friends:

Rose & Olive: Best friends and polar opposites

Rowan, Hazel, and Ivy: Rowan and Hazel: are fraternal twins squatting in a abandoned house after leaving a toxic home environment. Their childhood friend Ivy followed them & plays a protective role over them

Laurel, Ash, & Holly: with this set of friends we only get Laurel’s POV as she tells her group of friends story

Stories told in Multiple POV’s tend to be some of my most favorite because it’s a great way to have each character fleshed out, by getting in their heads. It did take me some time to get used to all of the players in this book because some shared striking character similarities with each other. I didn’t find any of these characters to have a real distinct voice but I enjoyed following the threads that connected them nonetheless. I did however, appreciate the diversity in this cast of characters with Rose being a bi-sexual POC, Olive being deaf & bi-sexual, and Hazel being gay. Friendship played a big theme in this book as well as sibling relationships. These characters for the most part are deeply flawed but what stood out most was the genuine concern for one another.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found is my first read by Moira Fowley-Doyle since I haven’t yet had the chance to pick up The Accident Season. Although there were moments of confusion, I was invested in this story and seeing it all the way through. Also, I wasn’t expecting the writing to be heavy with prose & so that took some getting used to but again it still maintained my interest. This is a slow paced read but the pay off makes it all worth your time. I found myself constantly trying to connect the dots & even went as far as making a little tree chart to see how each person knew the other haha! I can tell you this much…you won’t see the ending coming! & that alone was wonderful! seeing how well constructed & detailed this story really is was a real treat & speaks to the skill our author honed with her pen. I highly recommend Spellbook of the Lost and Found to those who enjoyed the movie The Craft & for anyone who enjoys piecing together a good mystery 😉

*HUGE Thanks Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books & Moira Fowley-Doyle for the eGalley of Spellbook of the Lost and Found in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! Have any of you had the chance to read Spellbook of the Lost and Found? if you have, did you see that ending coming? btw, since this is a mystery & those are best to go into blind lol, I opted to go with this review format instead of my traditional categories…thoughts?


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ARC AUGUST Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

Published by: Amulet Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Mythology/Re-telling

Pages: 336

Format: eGalley

*HUGE Thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and F.C. Yee for the eGalley of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo in exchange for an honest review

   

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

This has to be one of the most fun and adventurous plots I’ve read all year long & I was so thankful for so many reasons! many have compared this to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which I have much love for. I can say that there are some similar feels but that goes for much of mythology, we can always find similarities. For me, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo stands apart for the following reasons:

1. A relatable Chinese-American heroine who is first and foremost just a student in High School trying to get into an Ivy League College before she starts juggling school & slaying demons

2. The story originates from the Chinese tale Journey to the West telling the story of Sun Wukong aka The Monkey King…I love all re-tellings however, I have never come across Chinese Folklore in Young Adult so this was a MUST READ!

3. The inclusion of Chinese culture specifically as it pertains to education and expectations. The pressures at home to over achieve bore so many similarities to those in Latinx culture. The fact that Genie wasn’t a child prodigy, she simply didn’t have a skill to set her apart in college applications & that alone made her very relatable…

The opening has us meet Genie Lo as she is meeting Quentin aka The Monkey King for the very first time. She witnesses him getting beat up by a group of guys in an alley & intercedes. She doesn’t know what to think of him when he shows up as the new kid in her class who just won’t let up on following her around. He speaks oddly enough but more than that, it’s what he is saying…he speaks of a greater power lying within her. Genie is someone who believes in Science and the things he is saying & more so doing are supposed to be impossible. Quentin doesn’t give up until he has made her question all that is real. Encounters with demons that leave her fighting for her life make her realize he isn’t lying and that the world may very well be in danger. Embracing her new found powers, Genie sets about to restore normalcy in California one demon at a time…

Genie Lo stole my heart with her sass but it’s the temper when she thinks you’re trying to take a jab at her that really made me care for her. She’s very self aware and makes no apologies for what sets her apart. Described as being very tall with a body that isn’t considered very feminine, Genie plays to her strengths. She’s part of a volley ball team not because she’s very good at it but because it’s a sport where her body is an asset & it looks good on college applications. Her moments of honesty really resonated with me & my own memories of High School. In Genie I saw a lot of my own self & it was refreshing seeing her not trying to change who she is for anyone.

Quentin aka The Monkey King got a ton of laughter out of me! he dished out as much sarcasm as he got from Genie. I enjoyed the moments where he pointed out all the hoops students had to jump through just to get a higher education. He of course is a supernatural force & school is not really an obligation lol. Quentin teaches Genie to fight all the while knowing he hasn’t told her the full story of who she really is…

Yunie-Genie’s BFF has to be one of the best BFF’s I’ve come across in YA! she is HILARIOUS!!! & also has no hairs on her tongue. She had me from the moment she referenced her Ovaries upon seeing Quentin’s handsome self walk into their classroom smh HAHA!

Genie’s Mom is by no means what you’re probably used to seeing from parents in Young Adults. As a matter of fact, she reminded me of my own in many ways. Genie’s mom is a single working mother trying her best to keep her daughter goal driven. She also doesn’t have any chill when speaking her mind & seeing her conversations play out with Genie felt familiar. Her heart is in the right place, she just has high expectations for her daughter. There are some moments when she speaks about Genie’s appearance that may make some uncomfortable, for me this was very relatable coming from an old school home that encouraged education but also an ideal marriage. Genie fortunately has tough skin & knows that her mothers ideals aren’t her own & loves her nonetheless.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is fun, adventurous, packs a punch, and will leave you rooting for this heroines victory! The time I spent in its pages sparked so much interest in the Chinese tale from which it was inspired that I found myself researching on the side for my own growth. This is when I know I’ve come across a good book, when it leaves me wanting to dig deeper. This book was highly enjoyable while still imparting the reader with an inside look to a small aspect of Chinese culture. I was also a big fan of the humor throughout, so many LOL moments that I truly lost count (like I said, a very fun book haha). I also enjoyed the progression or development of Genie & Quentins relationship all throughout. It felt more realistic to go from truly not trusting Quentin to friends to something more than just friends. I only docked it 1 star because the writing in the beginning felt like it was trying to find its footing. It started off with a very middle grade feel and towards the middle/end, it makes its mark as Young Adult. I’m very much looking forward to more from this author who lends an authentic diverse voice to this genre.

*Please check out these Own Voices reviews: Read Think Ponder & One Way or an Author

Hello Readers! yesterday was Genie’s Book Birthday, did any of you get to grab a copy? & if you’ve already read it please share some non-spoilery thoughts down below 😉


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #4: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme created by Krysti at YA and Wine and Sarah at The Clever Reader to give book bloggers/bookstagrammers a chance to show off those ARCs/eARCs/Galleys! This meme is now being hosted by the wonderful Flavia over at Flavia the Bibliophile & I couldn’t be happier to see this meme live on!

Hello Readers! This is my 4th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen my current read Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle which also happens to be my 2nd read for the #ARCAUGUST Readathon. So far I am only 50 pages in & very intrigued. Following multiple POV’s always keeps things interesting, I’m curious as to how everything will come together. Not going to lie though, this book has me wanting to ditch Summer & run straight into the arms of crisp Autumn *eeeeeK* I should’ve known once I saw mention of witches haha!


Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published by:   Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Contemp/Fantasy/LGBTQ

Pages: 368

 

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around 😉



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It’s Happening! I’m Joining #ARCAUGUST

Hello Readers! I’ve decided to join #ARCAUGUST for the very first time & I’m quite excited! Last year I was very new to the blogging world and decided to watch from the sidelines. I enjoyed reading each and every post and added many new books to my TBR. This year with a little more experience & a stack of ARCS more likely to crush me before I read them, I thought it would be awesome to participate in all the fun! Sign ups for the 5th Annual #ARCAUGUST are taking place over at Read.Sleep.Repeat the more the merrier! 😉

I considered posting a TBR for August since I am using my Excel spreadsheet to track my ARCS by publication date but tbh…monthly TBR’s never really work for me. This is probably why I participate in the WWW Wednesday meme since a weekly TBR is something I’ve found to suit me a bit better. I typically post the WWW Wednesday meme every other week to avoid repetitiveness but for ARC August I will post every week to update you all on finished/ current/upcoming reads (1st post goes up tomorrow). I will also join the Twitter chats, the first one taking place on August 7th @ 8pm EST. If any of you wonderful bookworms are participating & happen to be reading one of the books I post please feel free to hit me up here or on Twitter. I can always use that extra bit of motivation to knock those books off the stack 😉

Will you be joining #ARCAUGUST? which ARCS are you excited to get to most? If you are participating & have Twitter, drop those handles down below in case I’m not already following you <3’s!


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