REVIEW: MIRAGE BY SOMAIYA DAUD

Title: MIRAGE

Author: Somaiya Daud

Pub. Date: August 28th. 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 320

Format: Physical ARC provided by the Publisher

*Thank you Flatiron Books for the arc in exchange for an honest review

Content Warning: Physical abuse, Kidnapping, and  Cultural erasure

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany, Amy from A Court Of Crowns and Quills, Julie from Pages and Pens, Jules from JA Ironside, and Chelsea from Chelsea Palmer

    

Mirage is Somaiya Daud’s Moroccan inspired debut that will leave readers wanting more from this author once the very last page is read. I’m not sure how I’d missed the fact that this is a Sci-Fi book when I first came across it however, this only further served to enhance my curiosity. The fact that it also spoke of poetry in the blurb was a major draw & wow! I had no idea how much of a treat I’d signed myself up for with this one. Daud gives us beauty and pain all wrapped into one with Mirage & that it’s set on another planet/moon is just the backdrop to this story. At its core, Mirage is a story about cultural erasure and the brutality faced by an invaded peoples. We are introduced to an MC who has had everything she values most taken away from her but somehow manages to hold on just enough to never surrender her spirit. I admired our MC, her values, culture, tradition, and people defined her and emboldened her to fight back. Mirage doesn’t read like a debut at all but instead that of the works of a seasoned author. Daud is an author I will be keeping an eye out for and hoping to everything that we get more of her writing in the very near future 🤞🏼

For Amani, receiving the tattoos on her face known as Daan on her Majority Night was everything to look forward to. A representation of stepping into adulthood, a rites of passage. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the events that destroyed her ceremony & took her away from those she loved. Kidnapped by imperial droids, Amani is taken covertly to the royal palace. There, she meets royal heir Maram who she is the spitting image of. Maram has plans for Amari that would make her a human shield. For Maram, being part Andaalan from her Mother’s side has always generated her much hate from the Vathek on her father’s side. She knows her life faces constant threat and figured Amani would make the perfect body double. Stripping Amani of her Daan was just the beginning, she is also made to learn Vathek mannerisms, history, and etiquette against her will and through physical abuse. Maram isn’t the only heir with a claim to the throne, she has an older sister who poses a threat and proving her worth to her father and the Vathek is her top priority.

We see Amani get sent out as Maram’s doppelganger which allows her an inside look to the politics of the kingdom. She also spends plenty of time with Maram which inevitably leads to learning her vulnerabilities. Part of acting in as Maram means keeping up appearances with her courtship as she is promised to Prince Idris ibn Salih. Idris is from one of the oldest and largest Andaalan royal families who once resisted Vathek invasion. Their concession to Vathek rule resulted in the loss of many lives and Idris the last surviving heir was pledged to marry Maram. The true test would be seeing if Amani could pass for Maram while in his company. Both Idris and Amani carry the weight of their peoples loss and pain on their shoulders. They both have so much in common that a connection is almost impossible not to make once they start spending time together as a part of their courting. This romance is dangerous and had my full attention from the very start, every meet-up had me a bit nervous for these two. We see both Amani & Idris make decisions in hopes of one day freeing their people which means they will also face some serious obstacles & I’m just here hoping theirs is a good ending 🤞🏼

If you’re looking for A+ world building, political intrigue, strong characters, Moroccan inspired culture, and yes a bit of insta-love (but I promise it’s the one you’ll want to root for 😂) and a bit of Sci-Fi along the way… then MIRAGE is the book you’re going to want to read! so much lush culture & tradition within these pages that I am left anxiously & patiently waiting on the follow-up.


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Spoiler Free Review: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova

Title: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2)

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: SourceBooks Fire

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley

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*HUGE thanks to SourceBooks Fire and Zoraida Córdova for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

Images from Pinterest, not my own

    

There’s something special about the second book in a trilogy, it’s almost always the book to determine whether you keep going or hit the brakes. Bruja Born had me entranced in its spell, I couldn’t think of anything else when I wasn’t reading it. I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost last year but Bruja Born has left me head over heels in love with Zoraida Córdova’s writing, characters, and expanded world (more on this further down). I’m a Latinx Brooklynite myself & all I would’ve needed to top this read off was a front stoop or Brooklyn rooftop to read under the night sky. Atmospheric, dark, lush with culture & lore, a story filled with magic & its consequences. A tale about love & letting go, acceptance and self-love…I didn’t expect the many layers we got in this book but can honestly say Bruja Born blew me away!

“Follow my voice, my love, my love. Death cannot tear us apart. Take my hand, my love, my love. Follow the light of my heart. —Lula’s Healing Canto, Book of Cantos”

Images from Pinterest, not my own

Bruja Born picks up after the events in Los Lagos (the underworld) in the first book Labyrinth Lost. Since this is a sequel I won’t go into too much detail to avoid all the spoilery things. When I think of Los Lagos I picture Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth in terms of how dark this world is. Labyrinth Lost was told from the point of view of Alex, the actions she took had some serious shared consequences between her & her sisters. These consequences play out in this second installment which is told from Alex’s sister Lula’s POV. Lula has had the most burden to bear from the events in the last book but they all pretty much came back changed one way or another. Lula is struggling with all of her relationships & is facing a possible break-up with her boyfriend Maks who cares a lot for her but is finding it hard to deal with her distance. Lula is hiding things from Maks both beneath & on surface level. In the Goodreads blurb we are told there’s an accident that leads to the deaths of many of Lula’s classmates including Maks. Lula’s inability to let Maks go leads her down a path of defiance where she’ll have to answer to Lady De La Muerte aka Lady Death herself. Lula and her sisters have a history of going up against the Deos (Gods) but this time they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

“The Deos, too, learned their limits. El Fuego extinguished into ash. La Ola crumbled into salt. El Terroz clove the earth in pieces. El Viento fell and kept on falling. But from their limits, Lady de la Muerte was born —The Creation of the Deos, Antonietta Mortiz de la Paz”

There’s a system of checks & balances where Lady De La Muerte is concerned and defying death has never gone unpunished. As frightening as Lady De La Muerte sounds, seeing her come to life on the page was terrifying! envisioning her staff alone was enough to make me read with the lights on. The depiction was on point & whenever there was a scene with Lady De La Muerte I was left shooketh! There’s so much to this book to love but perhaps the expansion & inclusion of other magical beings we all know and love, is what took this book to yet another level of enjoyment. I picked up on some Mortal Instruments vibes as well but make no mistake Bruja Born is its own thing & the Latinx representation is strong and beautiful! The family bonds in this sequel are strengthened and we get to see their ups & downs. This isn’t just your straight forward Fantasy where demons are fought & the hero comes to the rescue. This is a story where there aren’t any clear winners and the consequences of defying the laws of nature are as big as the deed itself. The characters you meet on the page are complex and flawed but they all have come to love the magic that runs deep in their blood.

Córdova has created a world centered around a Latinx family of Brujas & Brujos I’ve come to love spending time with between the pages. Maybe it’s the snippets of Spanish sprinkled throughout the pages or the familiarity of this family that pull me in but seeing more diversity in YA Fantasy has genuinely made me fall in love with the genre once again!


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Spoiler Free Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)

Author: Scott Reintgen

Pub. Date: July 17th, 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

Content Warning Provided by the wonderful Melaniemurder, death, gore, blood, violence, depiction of PTSD, abandonment, kidnapping, torture, animal death, talk of past outing, talk of past homophobia, genocide, colonization, loss of a loved one, loss of a friend, and war themes

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*HUGE thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers and Scott Reintgen for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Last year I won a Twitter giveaway for Nyxia & I didn’t really know much about the book other than it was Sci-fi & I dig sci-fi so it couldn’t hurt throwing my hat in the ring. I also attended Bookcon last year & remember standing right in front of Scott Reintgen’s table as he set up for a signing & again, I had no idea what for…hadn’t won the contest just yet. Well *sigh* I did read the book & I also gently kicked myself afterwards for not having read it sooner & missing my grand opportunity to talk Scott’s ear off about book 2!

Nyxia remains one of my favorite YA Sci-Fi books & you can check out my spoiler free GUSH review (here) but Nyxia Unleashed has definitely taken over the mantle, Scott Reintgen delivered & I couldn’t be happier with this sequel! well…I could but I’m reserving that for book 3! Now onto this GUSH review…

We start off right where we left off and that means there’s a ton of hurt and pain to last a lifetime. The events from Nyxia have left Emmett and his friends rattled and looking over their shoulders. The corporation known as Babel who they’ve basically signed their lives away to in exchange for financial stability for themselves and each of their families, has many secrets. They’ve all been through the ringer Hunger Games style in the first book & are now realizing that “Space Exploration” and mining of the Nyxia substance found on the planet they’ve been shipped off too, isn’t Babels real agenda. They’re also realizing that for all the rigorous training Babel put them through, it’s not quite enough when faced with the actual dangers and species on the foreign planet Eden.

“I’m always surprised when people expect me to not notice the little details. So many lies are like badly buried bodies, just waiting for a little rain to unearth them.”

We meet the “Adamites” who inhabit Eden and have a working relationship with Babel. In exchange for access to the Nyxia naturally grown in Eden, the Adamites asked for Babel to send them only their youth. Teens like Emmett and his friends, the reason given is that their planet has no youth left. Females are almost all extinct and therefore no children have been born in recent years. If you’re raising an eyebrow at this…you are NOT alone! I was suspicious of them all the way til’ the very end! you just never know with these Sci-Fi books if they’re trying to steal your organs #jussayin haha! with the introduction of the Adamites we get layers of world building & Adamite culture from the foods they eat to their social class construct. I am a sucker for world building, details, and just about anything that can make a world come alive on the page & transport me right into its midst. Reintgen not only continued to deliver on some of the BEST character development to hit the page, he also expanded the world tenfold and in the process hooked me in once more. We also get discussion on colonization, corporal punishment, the broken prison system here on Earth, and structural racism.   Food for thought is always welcome especially when it mirrors much of our current day lives. Emmett has trained himself to observe as opposed to reacting right away & so we get to follow his train of thought as he realizes the similarities between Eden and Earth.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Babel’s out here playing the role of colonizer, slapping labels on the originals and pretending they created it all in the first place. It’s pretty standard procedure for folks like them.”

One of the things I love the most about this trilogy is the dialogue. From the author bio we get that some of the research for these characters came from Reintgen’s experience in the classrooms he teaches in. The language is authentic and flows very easily with a ton of personality infused in each and every one of the characters. This is a big cast & yet I always knew who was saying what just by how well fleshed out they all are. Our MC Emmett shares the leadership spotlight with his love interest Morning who is a take charge Alpha personality not really waiting to be given the reigns. I LOVED seeing these two in action & just how respectful Emmett is of Morning, he admires her strengths and bravado. Morning in turn takes a very protective role over  Emmett. It wasn’t made to be Emmett coming to her rescue, Morning got him out of quite a few jams. Each has different strengths in character but both bring out the best in those they cross paths with. There’s a recurrent theme all throughout this sequel of a sense of shedding their innocence. They aren’t doing “normal” teen things and Emmett is very much aware of this when he self reflects. The humility is still very much there, kept alive through flashbacks of conversations with his father who sort of plays a side characters in the shadows. For the most part all of these characters have a past heavy with burden and pain, injustice and poverty. It’s their desire to want more for those they love that keep them in the game…

“My whole life’s been rough, but somewhere I picked up the idea that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. I don’t know where I learned about justice, when I started thinking I deserved something more. There’s a part of me that knows, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the world is supposed to be better, more.”

One thing is for certain, these characters are much stronger together than apart. I am so ready to see how certain relationships play out in the next book and whether they will endure whatever comes their way. This was such a fun read, these characters feel so familiar and alive that it really does feel like seeing old friends again after some time has passed. I am more than looking forward to returning to this cast of characters but for now I’ll just live vicariously through my hubby who will be starting Nyxia next 🙂

“We walk together, shoulders touching, like we’re walking home from school on a normal day. But that’s not reality. Reality is a new world. Reality is two moons hanging in the sky, bright and beckoning. Reality is what we’re leaving behind as we move through an empty forest and out into a world that feels full of ghosts.”

*Quotes have been taken from ARC and may differ from the final publication.


Nyxia Unleashed the sequel to Nyxia by Scott Reintgen will hit the shelves July 17th!!! & your girl has already pre-ordered a copy. All I need now is some fan art, bookmarks, candles, the works inspired by this trilogy fathom?!?! 😉


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Spoiler Free Review: Airports, Exes, And Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff

Title: Airports, Exes, And Other Things I’m Over

Author: Shani Petroff

Pub. Date: May 15th, 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Romance

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Pages: 224

Format: Physical ARC from the Publisher

Goodreads | Barnes & Nobles | Amazon

*HUGE thanks to Swoon Reads/Macmillan and Shani Petroff for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

   

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A bad storm, two canceled flights, stuck in an airport with a hot stranger and the guy who broke her heart… what could go wrong?

After Sari caught her boyfriend Zev cheating on her, their romantic Florida vacation was ruined. She can’t get back to NYC soon enough. Unfortunately, mother nature may have different plans. A huge storm is brewing in the Northeast, and flights all over the country are getting canceled—including Sari’s. She winds up stuck at the airport for hours. With Zev!

When another stranded passenger (a hot NYU guy) suggests a connecting flight to Boston, Sari jumps at the chance. But when her mom freaks out about her traveling alone, she has no choice—she has to include Zev, and somehow survive being trapped with the guy who broke her heart!

I’d like to preface this review by stating that I am a sucker for stories set in airports…it’s my #1 setting of preference for cute rom-coms & so naturally, seeing a book with airport in the title meant I was going to have to read said book 🤗 No Regrets here! this was exactly what was pitched, a fun fast easy read that got quite a few giggles out of me along the way. Our MC Sari does catch her boyfriend Zev kissing his ex girlfriend at a house party. Sari doesn’t stick around for explanations, she’s ghost in nano seconds and decides to keep her vacation plans. Plans she had with Zev to go visit her grandmother in Florida. This is the perfect way to get away from the hurt & pain of Zev’s betrayal and also a chance to prepare for her upcoming performance at one of the hottest clubs. Sari is a signer/composer who travels with her guitar Ruby in hopes of one day being a break out star & this seems attainable when she gets the call to perform at a club known to be the the home of many famous singers. Focused on nailing her performance, Sari tries her hardest not to think of Zev. The only problem is Zev refuses to let her throw in the towel before he can explain. We see Zev follow Sari to Florida & later get stuck together at the airport due to inclement weather.

* Photos from Pinterest, not my own

Strangely enough, I found myself enjoying all of the characters in this book. From the MC and her determined ex to her parents, grandmother, and BFF there really wasn’t a shortage of awesome people in Sari’s life. Although I do wish they were more fleshed out, I was happy to see how much of a positive support system Sari had at home. Her best friend never seemed judgmental and seemed genuinely concerned for Sari, dropping everything at a moments notice to talk some sense into Sari. The Parentals were actually visible in this book, yeah they seemed like the typical parents who obsesses over the safety of their children but I found this made them all the more realistic. They also reminded me of my parents who at one point formed a tight bond with an ex of mine, so much so that they’d bypass calling me as a whole which also happens to Sari. Along the way Sari also meets Fitz & Dylan, two college guys who are super chill and left me wondering if after they parted ways, would ever meet up with Sari again once she’s in college. Sari herself had me feeling like she couldn’t catch a break. No matter where she turned, she couldn’t escape the guy who up until recently only  had eyes for her. Zev on the other hand is the guy you don’t want to believe capable of cheating. They’re the picture perfect fairytale high school sweethearts who may just have to accept a different future where they aren’t meant to be together…

Did I think things could’ve been handled better with some communication? YES. However, I also felt Sari’s reaction & coping mechanisms were pretty accurate for someone her age who is basically with her High School sweetheart. I found it so hard hard to dislike Zev, the guy is pretty charming in a nerdy way that makes you shake your head while mouthing “how could you”? although I do wish we’d had more time with these characters, I really enjoyed my time with this book. Sari’s efforts to put distance between her & Zev in an airport proved to be challenging & offered up some comedic relief. The text messages between Sari’s mother & Zev had me wanting to call her mom & beg her to STOP! haha! This is one of those books I’d love to see adapted as a Rom-Com on the big screen if only for another chance to see all of these characters together again. If you’re looking for a cute, fun, fast read about trust & taking a risk on love then this is one you’ll want to give a go 💜


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Spoiler Free Review & Giveaway: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1)

Author: Justina Ireland

Pub. Date: April 3rd, 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 455

Format: eGalley

*HUGE thanks to Balzer + Bray/Harper, Edelweiss and Justina Ireland for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Ever pick up a book & you just know it’s going to be a 5 star read?!?! that was the case with this magnificent a** kicking, no-holds-barred, social commentary, read between the lines EPICNESS of a a book! It is not a re-telling although it definitely does allude to it’s namesake. I read a interview on Bustle with Justina Ireland where she says the following of her inspiration…

“I wrote [Dread Nation] many moons ago, after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Justina Ireland tells Bustle. “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.”

I happen to have really enjoyed Pride Prejudice and Zombies but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Dread Nation is now my FAVORITE spin on an all time favorite classic!

We meet Jane while at Miss Preston’s School Of Combat as she is training towards her graduation date. Upon completion, girls from this school are purchased to work for rich white women as their attendants. An Attendant is specially trained to kill Shamblers aka zombies. It is believed that black people have a stronger immune system to combat the bite of a zombie however, we do still see some who are turned after being bitten just not as many. Nothing about enrollment in this school is voluntary, the Native and Negro Reeducation Act is basically a round-up of black & Native children to do all the Shambler killing in defense of white people. Right from the start I knew Jane was going to be one of my all time favorite characters. We get to know Jane through her inner dialogue & the commentary she makes on the society they live in which mirrors our own current day in many ways. Jane is not someone who can easily be sold a dream, she’s very aware of the realities of her world and could care less about manners & etiquette. These are all things Jane knows are used as a method of control by white people in power. Nonetheless she continues her studies with some pushback here & there, in order to make her mother back in Kentucky happy. Jane is training in Baltimore & every chance she gets she writes her mother. The letters range in emotion & were meant to keep her mom updated on her training, these were a nice touch in between chapters & I found myself looking forward to the next correspondence.

The Mayor of Baltimore has led everyone to believe that the city has rid itself of the Shambler epidemic & its citizens are finally safe. Jane soon starts piecing together the pieces of the puzzle & realizes just how perilous the situation is in the cities on the East side of the United States. We see Philly, Baltimore, Maryland all affected but our story doesn’t just take place on the east coast. We see a shift to the West Coast & get a taste of frontier life but it’s also the setting for which the white people in this book see opportunity to digress to the times before slavery was abolished.  This book at its core is about slavery & the different forms it may be disguised as but in the end it’s all the same. There were many lines in this book that I found myself having to re-read saying to myself….”where have I heard this before?” when the answer is all around me, it serves as a reminder of the world we live in. We have a long ways to go…

In Jane we have a strong black woman who tries to mind her mothers advice but will always follow her heart in standing up for what she believes in. She’s not for one second going to forget anyone who does her wrong, she had me rooting for her from page 1. Dread Nation also gave us one unlikely sidekick in Katherine, another girl training to be an attendant. Katherine is described as being “passing white” which was explored throughout the book. The guilt that comes along with being someone who is passing white as well as Colorism experienced by many. Jane herself battles internally with the thoughts she has on Katherine’s pretty features, often times reminding herself it’s not Katherine’s fault she was born that way. I honestly feel this gave Jane a more realistic feel, she isn’t perfect and she holds a ton of compassion inside not out for display. Katherine is the opposite of Jane in that she really does try to follow all of the rules and lives for proper manners & etiquette. I had so many laugh out loud moments seeing Katherine refuse to battle w/out her constricting corset. The friendship between Jane & Katherine is what I want to see in YA! they may have been frenemies at one point but they have each others back when differences are cast aside. We also see sexuality touched upon with Jane possibly being bi-sexual, not 100% sure since she didn’t identify as such but does express attraction to females & having kissed a girl. We also have a character who may be asexual & expresses no desire to be in a relationship or have romantic feelings towards anyone. The inclusion of characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum is very much appreciated by this bookworm! 💜

Reading Dread Nation had me on a serious rollercoaster ride of emotions and I really wasn’t expecting it to be this type of read. I had a couple of outright angry moments at the mentality the white people in this book carry. It really is no different from many in our real world. Many scenes led me to feel such profound sadness at the injustice of it all. Ultimately I cam away empowered by this read, I do believe we need more books like this one. More authors like Justina Ireland so that the uncomfortable truths of the world are laid bare & change is brought about. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a book about zombies. This book carries a message & will leave such an impact on you if you read it with an open mind and a willingness to take off those rose colored glasses.


It’s been a minute since I did a Giveaway on the blog but I was inspired after I finished Dread Nation & just want to get more bookworms reading & loving it as much as I did! well at least I hope y’all do 😆🤞🏼 I do hope to have more Giveaways coming your way soon so stay tuned for that 😉 

1 Winner will receive a hardcover copy of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland! 
  • Giveaway dates: 4/30/2018-5/4/2018
  • Since this giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, all you need is a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)
  • Simply comment down below that you’d like to be entered & it shall be done

For Additional entries


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Spoiler Free Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Title: Sky In The Deep

Author: Adrienne Young

Pub. Date: April 24th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley

Buddy Read: Melanie @Meltotheany, Amy @ACourtOfCrownsandQuills , Jules @JAIronside Always a good time with these bookworms! ❤

*HUGE thanks to Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Adrienne Young for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

   

Sky In The Deep is one of those books you definitely shouldn’t judge by the cover. As a avid fan of the History channel series Vikings & anything Norse Mythology really, I had this book on my radar for quite some time. However, although this book has battle & blood shed…It was & wasn’t the focal point in this story. We have two Viking clans with different sets of beliefs & each has their own God they worship. Every year these two clans face off in a bloody battle to appease what they believe is the will of their Gods. We are given history as to why the Gods feud originally started & all year round those of fighting age prepare for battle & the gathering of supplies to heal their wounded. Our MC Eelyn from the Aska Clan lost her brother Iri on the battlefield five years before the start of the story. Eelyn lives with her father who is a great Viking warrior & Myra her friend/adopted sister of sorts. The story takes off with Eelyn preparing for the yearly battle against the Riki Clan alongside her father & Myra. Whilst  on the battlefield, Eelyn comes close to death and face to face with the brother she believed to be dead. Eelyn is in shock & desperate for answers when she makes the decision to follow Iri and his Riki friend Fiske against their wishes. Her decision to follow Iri into Riki territory sets off a series of events that will make every character question their beliefs.

Sky In The Deep is a VERY character driven book, which means it was my type of book but it may not be for everyone. The plot is pretty straight forward, it isn’t deeply layered or complex with promises of plot twists. Instead, Young delivered a story about family ties & my all time favorite…those people we CHOOSE to be our family. There’s a sense of betrayal underneath it all and sorting through those feelings to see the bigger picture. This is also a slower paced story with attention to detail, each & every time I opened this book I felt transported to their time & place. I LIVE for this style of writing because it wakens my imagination and senses with descriptions of nature, climate, and YES battle! With the being said, I did end up feeling like the pacing was a bit off since this to my knowledge is a stand-alone. My love for the characters is what really carried the story for me & ultimately my attachment is the reason for which I rated this read 4 stars.

Eelyn Our MC has lived the life of a shield maiden ever since she was a little girl, training side by side with her brother Iri. Eelyn is loyal to her loved ones & the Aska clan. She isn’t the YA female heroine you’re perhaps used to seeing. There were times I wished she fought a bit harder against those who wished to do her harm considering she was a trained fighter/killer. Overall I enjoyed seeing her road to self discovery, she had the most growth in this book. Most of all, I loved that Eelyn never abandoned her beliefs while understanding she was evolving into someone new.

Myra Eelyn’s best friend who is more like a sister. Myra is a side character I have to mention because her scenes were some of the most passion filled to read. She is someone who has lost everyone she loves to these yearly clan wars. She only has Aghi (Eelyn’s father) & Eelyn who have taken her in as family. Which means she will fight tooth & nail to protect them. I LOVED reading the scenes where they readied their armor & checked with each other for weakness/injuries. Eelyn & Myra are the definition of ride or die BFF’s!

Iri Not my favorite of the characters if I’m being honest. I can see how thinking you were left for dead in battle can mess with your head. I can see why he found a home with the Riki after one of them saved his life. However, I wanted more dialogue from Iri specifically between him & Eelyn. She’s both elated to see him alive & furious to see him willingly living as a Riki.

Fiske The Riki who saved Iri’s life & is basically like a brother to Iri. Fiske is honestly that guy who is all tough on the outside but mush for the people he loves. He’s also one of the MOST open minded characters I’ve ever come across in YA Fantasy. He is someone who follows his heart no matter what others may think. Fiske is a new found favorite of mine.

Inge The Riki who took in Iri wounded and helped bring him back to life. She is a healer and a motherly figure to those in her household & a healer to those in the village. Inge LOVES her boys & most importantly she knows their hearts.

Halvard Can’t forget to mention this little guy who is Fiske’s little brother who is not of fighting age. Halvard dreams of one day joining his “brothers” but until that day he helps around in the house. Halvard immediately takes a liking to Eelyn and her religious beliefs. I loved this characters innocence against the back drop of so much violence.

If you’re looking for a slower paced book with an emphasis on family ties and relationships, Sky In The Deep is a solid choice. We do get the battles we all know the Viking culture thrived in but it isn’t the core focus of the story. There were some pacing issues I personally feel if ironed out, would’ve enhanced this read for me. Mainly because I enjoyed the time I was spending with each of these characters. It’s rare when you find MC’s & side characters you truly get attached to & so I greatly enjoy and appreciate these types of books. I also enjoyed learning about both the Aska & Riki culture and religious beliefs. When I was reading this book I was easily transported to the Fjord by Eelyn’s home. It was very easy to silence my surrounding & get absorbed into this world. The romance (cause there is one lol) is hate-to-love & slow burn to another level HAHA! part of me got a bit impatient with this ship #jussayin smh. Overall, Sky In The Deep was a very enjoyable read for me & I’m going to miss these characters.


Sky In The Deep hits shelves April 24th!!! are you ready to take a trip into Viking territory?!?! ❤ ❤ ❤

Also, Adri from Little Fox and Reads blessed me with some news on my WWW Wednesday post…it appears the author was on IG yesterday with news of a companion novel! *GASP* Thank you Adri for making my DAY! 🙂


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Spoiler-Free Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

Author: Amanda Foody

Pub. Date: April 10th 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 416

Format: Physical ARC & Galley

Content warning: pedophilia, addiction, drug use, gambling, death, loss of a loved one, torture, and violence (Huge thanks to Melanie for these)

*HUGE thanks to Harlequin Teen, Edelweiss, and Amanda Foody for the ARC copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

   

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Fast paced with many reveals along the way, Ace of Shades takes off running from the first page when we meet Enna Salta as she arrives in the city of Sin, New Reynes. She’s the perfect picture of propriety and the education to back it but all that won’t help her in a city where street smarts are the only creds of value. Enna Abacus Salta is searching for answers that will lead her to her mother Lourdes who’s been missing for the past two months. She never imagined that a name on a card left behind by Lourdes would lead her straight into the heart of gang territory. Even less, that it would be the start to uncovering many lies & truths about herself and the woman who raised her as if she were her own daughter.

Enna finds her way to Levi Glaisyer who is leader of the Irons, and at the moment quite busy trying to scrounge up $$$ for an investment scam gone wrong. Levi is not trying to take on Enna’s mission to find Lourdes even though the name does strike a chord in a way that spells trouble. Enna is determined to find out what Levi knows but isn’t prepared for the consequences that come with being associated with him and his gang.

We follow Enna & Levi through alternating POV chapters as they realize helping each other is beneficial & in both their best interest. What ensues is a race against the clock that takes us through casinos, cabarets, dark alleys, meetings with mob bosses, and one sick twisted game from which only one player in history has ever won.

“New Reynes: red lights that flashed without flame, women of loose morals dancing on street corners in sparkling, skin-tight corsets, gambling dens beckoning passersby with seedy smiles and the allure of fast fortune.”

Pictures for aesthetic are from Pinterest, not my own

Enne Abacus Salta is already proving to be one of those characters you either love or hate. Personally I found Enna to be entertaining & full of hope. For starters, everyone in this world is born with an inherited talent from each of their parents. Their last names typically tell which talent their family carries. Enne has both Arithmetic and dance talent, with dance being her blood talent making it the strongest of the two. These talents haven’t really helped Enne much in her school of dance where she is considered low rank. The Salta’s aren’t one of the more prestigious families however Lourdes has made sure Enna attends the best of the best schools. Feeling like she’s always had to prove her worth, life in New Reynes sees her fortune take a turn. I LOVE well developed characters & authors who aren’t afraid to take their faves and turn their lives upside down. Enna is completely out of her element when she arrives in the city of Sin, within minutes of arrival she’s had to ditch all of her personal belongings. Walking away with just a welcome guide to New Reynes that she treats like a bible. Some may call her annoyingly naive, I found her evolution to be realistic. Also, the fact that she didn’t break decorum even when feeling the charm of Levi was hella impressive! Cause I think even I would’ve given in #jussayin 😂😳

Levi Glaisyer so much to say about this gift of a character! Levi is our black bi-sexual MC who also happens to be the leader of the gang known as the Irons. I’ve seen rumblings of this character being compared to Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows which I find to be a unfair comparison. These two guys could not be more polar opposites, nor do I think he was intended to mimic our beloved Kaz. Levi isn’t the don who everyone fears, he is simply a guy who dreams of building an empire. He’s gained the respect of a few and as a boss that means many have sworn an oath to him. These oaths are more than spoken word & are actually binding in this world. His specific gang is known for their expertise in the casinos, gamblings and swindling. If he’s not busy casino hopping stacking chips, he’s politicking with other influential players in the game. Perhaps what I loved MOST about this character was the fact that he wasn’t made to be this hardened criminal unable to show a more vulnerable side. Levi is heavily flawed, not only can’t he say no to the possibility of winning another hand at the tables but he also can’t resist a pretty face. With a wardrobe filled with the clothes of his romantic flings…

“Levi had a long romantic history of scattered affairs-a few girls and many boys-that had become the subject of teasing from his friends. They claimed he had a hopeless habit of kissing and telling”

It’s interesting how you’re led to believe at first that Levi is made for this lifestyle…yet it’s Enne who seems to have a natural hack for it 😉

There are a few supporting characters to get invested in & some nefarious ones to keep an eye on. Interestingly enough, Enna’s mother Lourdes plays a major role in the progression of the story even though we don’t actually see her as she is M.I.A. We learn so much about Lourdes who is gender fluid with a passion for journalism & social justice.

A solid start to a new Fantasy, Ace of Shades offers up a new setting sure to entice those who with a love for mobster stories & casino settings. I’m a fan of Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas, Six of Crows..I LOVE them all! which made this book a MUST read & I’m very thankful to the publisher for sending a copy my way. Foody brought New Reynes to life with vivid descriptions of the gaudy clothing worn on Sweetie Street & the different territories run by either the Irons, Scarhands, or Doves. Dropping a character like Enne into this setting with nothing but a guide of the Do’s & Don’ts of New Reynes was brilliant! experience alone is now molding Enne into a completely different person & I can’t wait to see who she is in the next book. Same goes for Levi who we see walk away a completely different man than when we first met him. There are a ton of other players in the game & some hella intriguing supporting characters like Jac & Lola that were really fleshed out. The only reason I gave it 4 stars (still HIGHLY enjoyable) was because the magic system paired up with the history of the Revolution and a Great Street War that took place in New Reynes felt overwhelming when first trying to settle into this new world. The allure in Ace of Shades is STRONG! & once I got into the story, I found it hard to put down for long. I can only see this story getting better & I’m excited to see what the future holds for Enne, Levi, and the Irons ♠️


Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & read all the good books 💜 are you planning on picking up a copy of Ace of Shades? if you’ve already read Ace of Shades, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below 💜 


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Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Title: The Final Six

Author: Alexandra Monir

Pub. Date: March 6th, 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 345

Format: eGalley

Content Warning: attempted suicide

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen and Alexandra Monir for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

  

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

March was the month of Sci-Fi for this little bookworm & I really had  a blast spending time with one of my fave genres. After reading Scott Reintgen’s Nyxia last year, falling head over heels for the Illuminae files, and being blessed with Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold… I decided reading all Sc-Fi is vital in my life. I caught wind of The Final Six & immediately jumped to request a galley from Harper in hopes of finding my next beloved crew of characters. There was SOOO much good packed into this book but it wasn’t without it’s flaws. If you’ve been around my blog for a bit, you know 3.5 stars means I enjoyed the story & still very much recommend the read. As a matter of fact I hear this isn’t a stand-alone anymore & a sequel is in the works. Also on the horizon is the film adaptation acquired by Sony (see here). So it’s definitely one filled with potential & I’m actually very interested in seeing the next chapter in this space adventure after THAT ending *eyes wide open*

Humans at war against the environment, this is a story that takes place in our present day world with one very sobering difference…Climate change is no longer being challenged as fiction. Natural disasters have led to the Earth being practically inundated with water. Tsunamis are now a natural occurrence & the world is desperate for space exploration to bear fruit. The Earth is becoming increasingly uninhabitable, food is scarce, and families are being torn apart by the destruction. To say I wasn’t thinking of our current state of climate all along while reading this book would be untruthful. I appreciated this topic being explored in a YA book since it’s one currently being silenced in our real world.  I also found interesting how close it stayed to actual events like El Niño and the effects felt around the world many years later. In many ways it can be compared to many other post apocalyptic books currently on the shelves but I felt the authors efforts to have it parallel our present day situation with climate change, makes this one stand apart from the majority. Sobering in many ways because I could see this actually happening versus the zombie apocalypse (I haven’t quite completely ruled this out haha!) that is a bit far fetched.

The Mission: The Final Six will establish a civilization on Jupiter’s Moon Europa 

Told in multiple POV’s, we get the story from our two protagonists Naomi & Leo. Naomi is Iranian American & her area of study is science (major kudos for giving us women in STEM), she is one of the 12 recruited to compete for a position as one of the final six to join the space program. Naomi is also the only candidate whose family is still intact, both father & mother are alive as well as a little brother. Leo is a Italian Olympic medal Swimmer who lost his parents and sister to a natural disaster. Up until the moment he is recruited, he was scavenging the personal belongings of his neighbors (now currently under water) in order to survive. For Leo, the call to compete for a spot on the final six is a lifeline he is more than happy to take. Feeling like he has nothing to lose, we meet Leo at his very lowest point. Leo is my favorite character in this book because he’s a survivor who is willing to fight for a second chance at life. He could’ve been moping around the entire book because his entire family was wiped out but instead he chose to go hard for Italy & the love for his country jumps off the page.

Naomi on the other hand is what you’d call a unlikeable character 🤷🏻‍♀️ & that’s ok, it wouldn’t be interesting if everyone carried the same personality so I always tend to appreciate these characters. Naomi is a Scientist & true to her field of study she is also a skeptic. She is NOT at all enthused over being selected & would much rather stay on Earth looking for a cure to help her sick little brother. Deciding very early on to self sabotage her chances on making the final six, only to find that the head Scientists in charge have already thought of this. This isn’t a voluntary thing, you are given no choice and being selected means that those who do have loved ones will not see them for years to come. I thought Naomi was seriously bad a** just off the strength that she’s a young woman in STEM doing her thing with a patent pending. However, I could’ve done with less selfishness from this character. I loved that she wasn’t naive & saw right through certain things but the reality is that Earth is about to be fully under water. She was selected for her brilliant mind & putting the seedy things governments tend to hide aside, a real asset to a team entrusted to start anew. Also, her teammates are in danger and she seems to be the only one aware but she’s still trying to ditch them for about 80% of the book. This book also falls into the insta-love trope & I wasn’t the biggest fan because Naomi’s selfishness seeped into it placing Leo in harms way one time too many.

I wasn’t too focused on world building this time around since our setting is literally mostly under water and it’s as grim as it gets folks. This being said, I was expecting to get some really fleshed out characters since there are 12 candidates to begin with. These 12 were to go through some challenges that would narrow the crew to 6. I didn’t get the  camraderie I was hoping to get, which is probably the only thing I was really counting on. We did see the expected internal competitiveness between our MC’s & other candidates but the antagonists themselves weren’t fleshed out either. The challenges themselves weren’t detailed with the exception of one. I feel showing the readers some of what the candidates had to overcome would’ve enhanced this story & also given us some camaraderie. Especially when faced with a government that is hiding many secrets placing all their lives in harms way.

The last 30% of the story took a very interesting turn that left me very intrigued on how this story would end. At the time, I believed this to be a stand-alone & after a quick google search found that a sequel was in the works. This made me relax a bit since I feared being left in the lurch right when things were taking off. The Final Six was fast paced & very easy to digest in two sittings & after THAT ending, my guess is that the sequel will take off running at the same speed. My only hope for the sequel is that we get more fleshed out side characters. After all these personalities will be the basis for which a new civilization is established on Jupiter’s Moon. On that note, I’m giving major kudos to the author for selecting candidates not only for their skill set but for their diverse cultural backgrounds. There were so many real life issues in this book that I LOVED seeing discussed & also hope to see more of. Would I recommend this book? YES, it’s relevant and speaks on a subject currently being silenced. Will I continue with the sequel? YES, I’ve got questions & need answers 😂 Will I watch the movie? ABSOLUTELY! the book trailer alone (see above) packs enough punch to have raised my interest in seeing it on the big screen 👀


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Review: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Title: FURYBORN (Empirium #1)

Author: Claire Legrand

Pub. Date: May 22nd, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Pages: 512

Format: Physical ARC

*HUGE thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Claire Legrand for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

I was initially drawn to Furyborn when I heard it features two queens 1,000 years apart that are somehow connected…curious about the format of writing & just how exactly the author pulls it off, I knew I had to pick this one up. As fate would have it, I was asked to join a buddy read & thought to myself ahhh well this is just Kismet! It’s been 2 weeks since I finished this book & I can’t get it out of my head, it was that awesome! my review/rating is based on my enjoyment of the story, characters, and world-building. Were there some flaws? sure. Will I be continuing on with this trilogy? ABSOFRIGGINLUTELY! 💜

Told in multiple POVS’ we get introduced to both Queen Rielle & Eliana as they live out what has been prophesied without their knowledge. In what has to be one of the BEST Prologues I’ve ever read, we get a blast from Rielle’s past as her journey comes to an end (not a spoiler, Rielle lived 1,000 years ago & Eliana is present day) & also serves as the jumping board for many theories.

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Before Rielle became Queen, she lived with her father who served the royal family. Rielle is very powerful & her abilities are a source of great concern for her father who keeps her indoors as much as possible. With the help of Tal a Firebrand (I kid you not this guy gives off Hunger Games Haymitch vibes later on in the book 😂), Rielle trains to control her abilities. However, Rielle isn’t one to be controlled & has taken a interest in horse races on the low (not betting on them, she full out has a alias as a rider). It’s actually something she shares in common with the crown Prince Audric & during one of their races, Rielle thwarts an attempt to kill Prince Audric led by men in disguise. In doing so, Rielle exposes her abilities to wield more than one elemental magic. In a land filled with Windsingers, Earth Shakers, Firebrands, Metal Masters, & Sun Spinners…those who posses magic in their blood can only wield one type. However, there is a prophecy the people of Celdaria know well…

“Two Queens will rise. They will carry the power of the seven. They will carry your fate in their hands. Two Queens will rise”

Rielle’s exposure brings focus to the prophecy which also speaks of the return of humankind’s #1 enemy, the angels. Angels have been kept away from mankind ever since the Gate was built to keep them out. Although it is just a prophecy, the kingdom is forced to take it seriously & so Rielle must go through the Seven Trials. These trials are designed by the heads of each elemental magic & the purpose is to see whether Rielle is the prophesied Sun Queen (or Blood Queen)

 Via alternating chapters. 1,000 years in the future we follow Eliana aka the “Dread Of Orline” who is really just trying to keep herself & her family alive. Eliana works for the Emperor by finding & bringing back anyone who is against him, especially any rebels from Red Crown. Skilled with her weapons Arabeth, Whistler, Tempest, Nox, and Tuora there really is no stopping her. She has fully flipped the switch on her humanity by capturing innocents in exchange for a safe home & coin to eat. Eliana’s present day world is one without magic, the time & seven trials of Queen Rielle are just fairy tales. This all changes when her mother is kidnapped and her whole world is turned upside down. Her hunt for those who abducted her mother along with many of the young females in the area, place her on a crash course with Rebel Captain Simon. Nothing is as it seems in the Empire & Simon carries many pieces of the puzzle…

Rielle Dardenne & Eliana Ferracora are the main protagonists in this dual POV story & although their stories take place 1,000 years apart, their lives run parallel pulling off the whole “fates aligned” vibe really well. Both Rielle & Eliana are rebels at ♥️ & they both are also able to manipulate the seven elements. It took some warming up to Eliana but I soon realized it was all a part of her character’s personal growth. Since I spoke so much of these two in my 411 portion up above, this section will focus more on the MOST amazing side characters you’re going to want to meet…

Artwork for character cards by Kate Trish

Remy Ferracora aka Eliana’s little brother who loves to bake & read books was after my 💜! he loves Fantasy & everyone he comes across is drawn to him like honey…I LOVE REMY! 😄

“What is this child, who knows so much of the world?” Her expression turned tender. “Oh, sweet one. You are a dreamer, a teller of tales. I see that now. You ache for magic, and for all those golden giants of the past.” Remy flushed with pleasure. “Before the invasion,” he said eagerly, “people stole books from the temples, so they wouldn’t be destroyed. I buy them whenever I can and read them all.”

Audric the Lightbringer aka Rielle’s love interest aka the Crown Prince but it wasn’t always this way. Audric, Rielle, and Ludivine have been friends since they were children and have such a beautiful realtionship that at times gave me Polyamory vibes #jussayin Audric also happens to be a Sun Spinner and can wield the power of the sun with his sword Illuminor.

Ludivine aka Lu is BFF’s with Rielle & she also happens to be Audric’s cousin/betrothed…yea as we all know, the royal families loved to keep it all in the family. Lu comes from a noble family with a great army that would be beneficial for the Kingdom. I LOVE Lu! she’s everything a BFF should be 💜

Simon half angel/half human is shrouded in secrecy & adamant on making sure he has his eye on Eliana at all times. Simon has been through a lot & he didn’t ask for any of it! he is broken & I want nothing more than to see him get his happy ending 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

Corien I’m still unsure how I feel about this character, he’s pretty angry & manipulative. I can only assume we’ll get to know his intentions in the next book & I am hella curious! 👀

Navi aka the Princess of Astavar & genuinely one of those people who radiates goodness. Simon is on a mission to get Navi back to her kingdom which to date has remained free from the Emperor’s rule. Navi LOVES her people & they in turn love her! she embraces Eliana & treats her like a sister.

Zahra aka The Wraith!!!! 💜💜💜 I only  know of one other wraith I LOVE to pieces & ever since Inej walked out of my life, there’s been this hole! 😭 Whelp, she’s not Inej but Zahra is just as awesome! she’s a protector through & through making sure the refugees that have escaped the clutches of the Emperor are safe. There were some theories on Zahra’s true identity in our buddy read & I’m stoked to see more of her!

 Thoughts I have a plenty! In Furyborn we get two EPIC MC’s and their seperate yet forever linked stories. Fast paced with never a dull moment, it was easy to follow the 1,000 year jump between each chapter. The world is so well fleshed out that the stark differences in the land & it’s people is sobering when you’re in Eliana’s timeline. A ton has happened since Rielle’s rule & magic has been done away with by order of the Emperor. As I was reading, I found myself really enjoying Rielle’s chapters & that was probably my love of everything magical at work but I also got invested in the movement taking place in present time. These characters are heavily flawed & morally ambiguous with tons of growth along the way. We get our dose of hot & steamy sexual tension but perhaps what really got me handing out an applause was the discussion of contraceptives! we don’t get enough of this let alone in a Fantasy book 💜 Both MC’s are Bi-sexual, they express interest in the same sex & are attracted to other women. Neither of them is romantically paired off with the same sex & yet that doesn’t take away from their sexuality. I found myself really appreciating the subtle messages Legrand weaved into Furyborn. If you’re looking for a Feminist kick a** Fantasy with characters you won’t forget, this is one you’re not going to want to miss! 💜💜💜

*Quotes taken from ARC provided by the publisher may be subject to change by publication date 

BUDDY READ WITH THESE AMAZING BOOKWORMS: MELANIE, AMY, JULIE, JULES, ALEXIS, DESTINYLOURDES 💜


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Review: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi

Title: Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha #1)

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Pub. Date: March 6th, 2018

Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy

Publisher: Macmillan/FierceReads

Pages: 525

Format: Physical ARC

*Maji Clan Quiz at the end of my review*

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan/FierceReads and Tomi Adeyemi for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Its been 2 weeks since I finished what I consider the BEST Fantasy book I have EVER read for a multitude of reasons. I cried some real tears reading this beautiful book, within its pages I found familiar names that have always carried weight in my childhood & made this reading experience all the more special. Now let’s see if I can do this justice & get you to read this EPIC masterpiece…

Our story is set in the land of Orïsha where King Saran has worked very hard to wipe out the magic inherited by the Maji. Maji once walked the land in abundance, they were said to have received their magic aka Ashe from Sky Mother. Healers, Earth shakers, Mind connectors, Tiders with the power to control the waters,  and  Reapers who can raise the dead are just some of the few types of Maji to have walked the lands. This all changed when a group of rebel Maji killed the King’s first family. In a bloody event known as “The Raid” all Maji above the age of 13 were ordered to be killed by the King. Our MC Zélie’s mother, a Reaper is dragged out in chains and hung in the village for all to see. The connection between the Maji & Sky Mother is broken and efforts are put in place to destroy the magical pieces with the power to restore the Maji’s Ashe.

Young Zélie remembers this day as if it were yesterday well into her young adult years & it is the fuel that propels her throughout this story. In stressing the importance of eliminating the threat Maji pose & by instilling fear, the King has managed to keep Maji in poverty. Expected to pay a higher tax or face labor camps that are the equivalent of slavery, Maji’s are opressed & forced to come up with ways to survive on a daily basis. It is during one of Zélie’s trips to the market that her whole world gets turned upside down.

We are introduced to King Saran, the Queen, Prince/heir Inan, and Princess Amari. The Kings efforts to keep his second family away from all Maji are nixed once Princess Amari realizes her fathers cruel & murderous ways. Running away from the palace with a highly valuable scroll, Princes Amari crosses paths with Zélie placing them both on the path to try & restore magic to all Maji…

 

Children Of Blood and Bone features a large cast of strong characters down to the supporting cast. Below I’ve listed the main players in this story however, there is a wealth of supporting characters contributing greatly to our main MC’s journey. There are NO weak links, these characters come to life on the page with vivid descriptions & personalities. Told in multiple POV, each chapter is broken down from Zélie, Amari, and Inan’s perspectives. We get to know their most intimate thoughts & see them battle their inner demons. These characters come scarred, they hold a lot of pain & their journey is hard & filled with loss. The entire cast are POC (people of color) & through their eyes Adeyemi tackles some of the toughest topics such as oppression, colorism, and slavery. These characters aren’t the ones to quickly flee your memory…they’re the type to set up shop in your mind & your heart.

Zélie- Our MC has seen & experienced a plethora of pain since seeing her mother killed at the age of six. Zélie really has no filter & has no tolerance for the injustice the King’s guards often bring to the village people. She knows her outspoken nature can potentially place her family at risk for violence however, the need & compulsion to speak up seems almost involuntary. She is a warrior in every sense of the word, her passion & love for a magic she has only slightly ever felt is stronger than her life-force. Zélie remembered a time when Maji had their Ashe and used it to help those in need. Her journey however, will make her confront all of the pain she carries. With Zélie we get raw power & a love for her people and the deities they are descended from.

Tzain- A better bigger brother could NOT exist! Tzain is described as being physically strong and handsome but it’s his fierce need to protect his sister and their father that is his driving force. I LOVE sibling relationships in books but when they’re as close as these two are, my heart fully embraces them. Adeyemi doesn’t just show us the good, she gives us the fighting as well & the genuine love between two siblings who are as close as they are.

Amari- at first glance she may seem like the pampered princess who hasn’t experienced any pain however Amari will prove readers wrong. Perhaps one of my most fave characters in this book because of her personal growth, Amari goes through an awakening of sorts. The blinds are lifted early on & the decision she makes really speak to the type of person she really is. By the end of the book you fully understand why it was necessary for this character to be a part of the journey. I’m super curious & excited to see Amari in the sequel.

Inan- I had such a love/hate relationship with Prince Inan…moments where I felt I understood his mentality & others where I wanted to talk some sense into him. I honestly found him to be quite unpredictable & that scared me with regards to him being a love interest for Zélie. I wanted so badly to love this character but ultimately I couldn’t trust him & I can’t really say his intentions were ever malicious. His love for the people in the kingdom & his inbred fear of the Maji is so much greater than the love he has for anyone. This is a Prince who wants nothing more than to earn the respect of his father the King. He’s constantly at war with himself & the irony that strikes him is just ingenious!

Honorable Mentions-Mama Agba is introduced early on in the story as the owner to a seamstress shop which really serves as a front for a training school for young Maji. The wisdom this character imparts on Zélie in regards to knowing when to fight back & when to speak up struck a chord…for those  who are familiar with the Black Lives Matter movement, there will be many scenes that align with our real world. It was hard seeing Zélie try to fight down the urge to not speak out of line or face brutality from the King’s guards. Zélie’s father although he doesn’t get much page time made me shed my first tears on what would be a tear filled reading experience. A broken spirit who breaks through his grief to encourage Zélie to fight back!

Oya- Zelie’s Sister Deity-Image obtained from Pinterest/Flickr

The Deities- Zélies sister Deity is Oya who was rewarded with mastery over life however, when shared with her worshippers it transformed to power over death & this is how Reapers came about. Throughout the book we learn of the different Deities and their descendant clans. Although we never hear them speak, they are a driving force in the story. Zélie has a deep devotion to Oya who she feels deeply connected to & so we see her more than any of the others.

I can honestly go on for days talking about the richness in culture and religion Children of Blood and Bone brought to the table & I still wouldn’t scratch the surface. Steeped in African culture & mythology, COBAB is not your typical YA Fantasy…it takes Fantasy to a whole other level! & is everything I could’ve ever asked for. From the Yoruba language to the West African foods, and beautifully vibrant Dashiki’s we get so much more from this reading experience because it’s influenced by a culture that already exists. Some of the obstacles our MC’s face in COBAB are real life issues encountered on a daily basis by young black men & women in the real world.   On the topic of the spiritual deities we get a dose of religious diversity, in COBAB the land is called Orisha however in Nigeria, South America, and the Caribbeans Orisha’s are the actual spiritual deities themselves. In these pages I found names of Orishas I grew up learning about all throughout my childhood. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the roller-coaster ride of emotions I felt while reading this book. It is really my belief that Children of Blood and Bone has set a new standard for YA Fantasy & I am  HERE for it!

Take the Quiz & find out which Maji Clan you’re in, are you a Tamer like I am?

WELCOME TO THE TAMER CLAN
You’re a Tamer, the maji of animals. Compassionate, intuitive, and gentle, you have the power to communicate with and manipulate animals.
As a Tamer, you have a special connection to parts of the human experience that others don’t always engage with. Though your ability to perceive other things can sometimes put you out of touch with reality, your kind nature awakens the compassion in others.
QUICK FACTS
CLAN: Eranko Clan
GOD: Oxosi
AURA: Pink


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