WWW Wednesday 11/22/17

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three W’s listed below. Once you’ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Sam’s comments <3’s!

The questions are:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

I am 75% into BOEC & OBSESSED with the writing style! perfect for this time of year, I’m so glad I picked it up the week before the holidays because whenever I am reading it, I get sucked into the strange & atmospheric world Lang has created. Told in multiple POV’s we follow several characters that have crossed paths with our MC Wylen who is a boy/man wrapped in mystery & magic. Tons of nature, animals, and stars this is one I’ll hold near & dear to my heart. Oh & our MC has a special connection with animals but that’s all I’ll say cuz I’m trying to be mysterious LOL!


Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

This was not on my November TBR but the mood hit for a darker read & I went with it. I am buddy reading this collection of short stories with Melanie over at Meltotheany who is pretty awesome & I highly recommend visiting /following for EPIC reviews, tags, & awesome Bookish posts. Mel suggested we do one story each night starting this week which I’ve never done & found it would be easier to juggle with my other book. Well! I may just read all my short story collections his way! THANKS Mel! the first story The Husband Stitch is still haunting me. Fantastic writing & imagery, this collection blends many genres into its stories about the violence on women’s bodies.

The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Earlier this week I finished reading this book & posted my review on Monday (here). I haven’t come across another book to tackle socioeconomic diversity in YA since reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas & so I was happy to have been approved for a galley on Edelweiss.  Our MC is well fleshed out & his character growth is the strongest part of this book. There are trigger warnings for Violence, Alcoholism, and Racism. I gave this book 4 stars for all of the hard issues it tackled & handled well, I only wish some of the supporting characters were a bit more fleshed out.


Artemis by Andy Weir

I finished this book this past weekend & sadly it wasn’t the hit I so badly wanted it to be. I rated it 3 stars because I really enjoyed the MC Jazz Bashara to an extent lol. My main issue with this book can be summed up to 2 things: 1) the awkward sexual dialogue that didn’t come off as natural…I love a sarcastic MC Female or Male & sexual jokes don’t really bug me but it was almost overkill. 2) the overly descriptive ramblings on the science of welding -_- I just couldn’t do it bookworms! sometimes pages long before returning to the main story line, I struggled getting through these parts. Also, there is one other thing that did get a deep frown from me but I am saving that for my review. I have a feeling this was missed by many other reviewers but after bouncing it off others, I can safely say that it’s not just me. I’d like to promise my review will go up this Friday but well you know, Holidays & stuff so we shall see 🙂

Ok, so out of the 8 books I posted on my November TBR I have completed 4 & will finish the 5th book tonight. I will be reading Her body and Other Parties along with my next main book which I’ve decided will be…

Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2) by Adriana Mather

I’ve been enjoying the darker reads lately & this one I’ve heard delivers on that end. I’m looking forward to returning to Mather’s atmospheric writing & the TITANIC! 🙂


What are you wonderful bookworms currently reading? planning to read next? any good ones? & if you’re reading any of the ones I mentioned, sound off in the comments down below! & to those who celebrate the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!❤ ❤ ❤


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Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Berserker (Berserker #1) 

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Pub. Date: October 10th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

Formats: eGalley/Netgalley & physical arc won from a Goodreads Giveaway

Rating: 3.75 Stars

Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?

Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.

Berserker wasn’t at all what I was expecting & for a minute there I wondered aloud what exactly I was reading? the answer took me by surprise & intrigued the hell out of me enough for this frightful bookworm to read through the bloody scenes. I can only describe Berserker as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of the classic novel Of Mice and Men & guess what bookworms?!?! IT WORKS!!! part of the reason I think that it did is because Laybourne has created her own lore in this world instead of using everything we know about Norse Mythology. The opening scene really sets the tone for this short read, bloody and raw. Our MC Hanne & her siblings (with the exception of the youngest) all have been gifted/cursed with special abilities from the Viking Gods. It is believed that the Viking God Odin gifted three of his favorite Kings with special abilities known as The Nytte. This gift/curse doesn’t come without its consequences, there is a big price to pay as a result of using their ability. The odds of inheriting The Nytte are greater if both parents are descended from these kings & such is the case for our MC & her siblings. They don’t know the names of each ability or even if they quite believe in the origin of these abilities but they’ve learned to use them to make a living. Hanne is a Berserker which is the only gift that is focused on taking life whenever someone she loves in danger. While in Norway, her father has her using her “gift” to slaughter pigs for local farmers (detailed in the book) because her technique leads to better quality meat. A incident on the farm triggers Hanne’s Berserker abilities ending in tragedy & the need to go on the run. While on the run they manage to catch the interest of a man who has made it his mission to find Nyttes daughters & sons with a keen interest in their abilities. Although this mans intentions are not readily made known, Hanne doesn’t trust him & will keep her siblings running to put as much distance as possible between the law & this stranger.

*In order not to spoil anything, i won’t be including each characters Norse gift/curse…besides it’s more fun finding out for yourself along the way 😉

Hanne- The MC aka the Berserker & sort of the matriarch of the family. She loves her family fiercely & her abilities have sharpened her senses to the point where if any danger is even headed their way she is ON IT! Hanne doesn’t see The Nytte as a gift but rather a curse she can’t control & when it strikes it leaves her mortified at the end results. When I picture Hanne there is only one Goddess that comes to mind…Lagertha!

Stieg- not sure if he’s the oldest or second oldest to Hanne but either way he is more of the patriarch of this family. Stieg is a intellectual with a passion for knowledge & conversation. He knows more than one language & will never pass up the opportunity to teach. Stieg also has a ability that he uses sparingly whenever in dire straights. What I liked about Stieg is that he wasn’t made out to be the stereotypical bookworm, he’s just as much down to have fun as he is to hit the books. Also, his ability is pretty bad a** 😉

Knut- Knut reminded me most of Lennie from Of Mice and Men which meant that I was already on Over protective mode upon meeting him. Tender hearted standing at 6’2, Knut also carries The Nytte & it is tied to his physical strength. There’s no way you won’t love him when you meet him 🙂

Sissel- my least favorite of the siblings, she is the youngest and most spoiled. Sissel is all about comfort and finding a good match for marriage, in other words being taken care of. Sissel is described as frail in physical appearance & very likely to have had The Nytte skipped her. This being book 1 in the series, I can’t help but wonder if Laybourne has special plans with this sibling…

Owen- The cowboy the siblings pay to safely guide them to a uncle who could possibly help Hanne control her Berserker abilities. He is actually one of my favorite characters in this book, its just him and his dog Daisy until he meets the siblings. Owen loves Daisy to pieces & has trained her to help herd cattle with dreams of one day training pups on a farm to do the same. He minds his business & lives a simple life until chaos is introduced and he has a decision to make…

I managed to fly through my reading of Berseker because of my general interest in Norse Mythology & the ease with which Laybourne used the well known mythos as a jumping board. This is a VERY bloody read & had some cringe worthy passages that surprisingly engrossed me. Why the 3.75 rating? well for starters, this is still a good rating in my book & translates into a 4 star rating on Goodreads. The siblings were for the most part traveling in this book trying to reach their uncle to help Hanne & I enjoyed that adventure very much. However, my only complaint is how neatly the ending was presented compared to how bloody, chaotic, and raw Berserker was for the most part. Berserker could also easily be viewed as a stand-alone which really left me thinking where the series would take Hanne and her siblings. I’m still curious & have every intention on continuing on to read the next book. It may very well be that in the sequel the siblings find a way to reverse or at least stop the consequences of their abilities…So, I do have questions bookworms which means I’ll be returning to this world when the next book is released 😉

HUGE thanks to Feiwell & Friends, Netgalley, Goodreads, and Emmy Laybourne for the ARC copy of Berserker.

Hello Bookworms! Happy FriYAY! have any of you read Berserker? has it made its way onto your radar? If you’re a fan of Norse Mythology, Berserker will probably intrigue you & Laybourne will surprise you with her twist on Viking lore. It’s a bloody gripping read! 😉


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& it’s a wrap for the Summer! give me Fall but 1st…

Were you as surprised as I was to see a Wrap-up/Haul go up ON TIME from Lair Of Books? cuz I’m pretty damn surprised & currently patting myself on the back hehe! This has been one of my best reading months in a long time & I think part of the reason is that I participated in #arcAugust  which really kept me motivated to read whenever/wherever. I’m currently reading They Both Die at the End but i’m not 100% certain I’ll finish it before the 1st so I figured why not wrap-up the month. I honestly feel like I consumed so much in books and TV this month which is rare, it’s usually  one or the other.

My book haul this month (I think) was a bit humble & i’m so proud of this lol…but this pertains to books I purchased & not the galleys I was approved for. I’m actually going to try something new this wrap-up/haul & include the eGalleys/physical arcs I received from Publishers. I’ve never done this before because well, the topic of arcs is very polarizing in the book community & I respect all sides. That being said, I have had blogging buddies put it out there (nicely) that they would’ve been up for a buddy read of certain arcs. Since we are reading these books in advance, we can’t really discuss them out of consideration for others who are waiting for publication date. This got me thinking, If I don’t make myself available (introvert that I am) by discussing arcs that I’ll be reading in the near future, I’ll continue to miss out on on what can possibly be a fun buddy read. So in conclusion, here goes something new…

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (Revised to ★★★★ 4 Stars) *review to go live closer to pub date 10/31/17

The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember (★★★★ 4 Stars) 

the princess saves herself in this one by amanda lovelace (★★★★★ 5 Stars) *not sure I have the words to review this one, I related to a ton of the poems & cried a ton more

Spellbook of the Lost and Found (★★★★ 4 Stars) 

When I am Through With You (Sins & Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn (★★★★★ 5 Stars)

The Serpent King (★★★★★ 5 EPIC Stars!) *review to come

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (★★★★ 4 Stars)

*They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (★★★★★ 5 , finished on 8/31/17 & a review will go live on release date 9/5/17)

I read a total of 8 books this month of which 6 were arcs for #arcAugust and I’m pretty satisfied with this. I could’ve probably finished a 6th however, the last 48 hours has seen me trying to get over the book hangover Beasts Made of Night left me with. Originally I rated it 5 stars & revised it to 4 strictly because now that I’ve slept on it lol, I can see some pacing issues. My enjoyment however, remains the same. I LOVED this book & can’t wait to share my review in October! typically I don’t read my books this early however it was a eGalley from the First to Read program & the title was set to expire from all devices on 9/1 so yea *shrugs shoulders* what can ya do? lol. I listened to The Serpent King on Audible & gahhhH! loved it to pieces even as I collected the pieces of my shattered heart. Overall a quality reading month 🙂

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The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Owlcrate)

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The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Book of the Month pick)

The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee (Thousandth Floor series #2)

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (add on for BOTM)

Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) by Sarah Tolcser

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Ravenclaw edition)


Physical ARCS

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Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (received from the publisher)

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laine Taylor (received from the publisher)

Berserker (Berserker #1) by Emmy Laybourne (Goodreads Giveaway win)

Artemis by Andy Weir (Goodreads Giveaway win in the mail)

 eGalleys

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1) by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguiree

Heart Of Iron by Ashley Poston

Everless (Untitled #1) by Sara Holland

Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

The Girl in the Tower (The Bear in the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

The Dangerous Art of Blending in by Angelo Surmelis

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet (variety of contemporary authors)

So yea…I just realized how long this post will be but it’s past midnight & i’m falling asleep…sorry lol. Every month I end this with what I watched this month but I’ve decided to write a separate post for that later this week. August seemed to be the month for approvals, usually they’re scattered throughout but this is the most in 1 month I’ve seen in a while. Thankfully most of these are 2018 titles giving me time to get them read. Even though #arcAugust is over I will still be reading arcs throughout September lest I be crushed by my tbr 🙂

Happy reading in September Bookworms!!! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful August month & are enjoying your end of summer reads. If you participated in #arcAugust, how did you fare? what are you currently reading/watching? drop your comments down below <3’s!


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Spider-Man Homecoming Gush! (Spoilers)

Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)

Director: Jon Watts

Producers: Kevin Feige, Amy Pascal

Writers: Jonathan Goldstein (Screenplay), John Francis Daley (Screenplay)

Stars: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.

Run time: 2h 13min

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 Stars

Spoilers lay ahead…

Its been months since Peter joined the team during the events of Captain America: Civil War. He’s back in High School while also “interning” for Tony Stark…well actually, it’s more like he has a phone where Happy Hogan who works for Tony as a chauffeur and personal assistant keeps tabs on him. Tony really wants Peter to stay grounded and just be a teen doing normal teen things as opposed to taking on mega villains. He’d prefer it if Peter kept to low level street crime like petty theft while keeping a low profile. Peter on the other hand feels he is more than ready to take on the bigger missions & fully feel part of the team. Living a double life, Peter juggles all of the angst of being a H.S. student by day & vigilante by night.

When one of his routine night excursions has him stumble across a weapons dealer, Peter decides to follow the trail which eventually leads him to a deadly operation led by Vulture (Michael Keaton). Utilizing scrap metals from the alien ships last seen in The Avengers (2012) EPIC battle in New York, Vulture has been creating weapons of mass destruction. In an effort to prove himself ready to Tony Stark, Peter decides to take Vulture down while Happy Hogan is made to believe that he is in school & not getting himself in any real life threatening danger. This of course takes a bit of cunning on Peters part since Tony is no fool and has gifted him with a fully decked out new suit. The new suit comes with all sorts of new neat tricks with artificial intelligence built in however, it also has a tracker & limitations to ensure Peter isn’t biting off more than he can chew. Basically wherever Peter goes that isn’t school or home triggers a call from Happy. With the help of his best friend Ned, Peter figures out how to remove the tracker and off he goes to catch the bad guy…

CHARACTERS

Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)

Peter played by Tom Holland is bouncing off the walls excited to be “interning” for Tony Stark & from the opening scene this excitement jumps off the screen. I LOVED how authentic Peter the high school student felt. From vlogging his every day shenanigans, navigating high school as the unpopular one, chillin’ with his best bud Ned, AND having a high school crush…Peter has a pretty normal teenage life. It’s his night time activities that keep him always on the go & one wrong step away from getting caught. I enjoyed seeing this version of Peter more than I have his predecessors which caught me by surprise. Also, he’s hella effortlessly funny & a total fanboy of all things Marvel superheroes 🙂


Vulture played by Michael Keaton made for an interesting villain. We got a brief glimpse of this character before he turned into a baddie. This was a man contracted to clean up the mess left behind by the events that took place in NYC during The Avengers. He had a team of workers he cared for but quickly lost the contract to Damage Control which is a company created by Tony Stark specifically tasked with the clean up of superhero-created messes. Instead of walking away, he kept a piece of the alien ship and with the help of an inventor under his employ, created weapons of mass destruction. A family man himself, Vulture is keeping his nefarious dealings away from his wife and daughter. Was anyone else shocked when he turns out to be the father of Peter’s crush? I sure had a shocked soap opera moment haha!


Ned aka Peter’s best friend played by Jason Batalon was one of my fave characters! after finding out Peters identity as Spider-Man, he is convinced this is the 1 way ticket to finally being popular. Once he realizes he can’t share Peters identity with anyone, he settles for being his wing-man. Ned is smart & tech savy (read as: hacker extraordinaire) which helps Peter in working around the protocols Tony Stark has placed on his suit. Also very happy to see Marvel casting a Filipino-American actor for this role, to me it’s a step in the right direction when it comes to diversifying our media.


Aunt May played by my love Marisa Tomei was AMAZING! yea I’m totally a biased opinion since I have loved all of her movies ever since My Cousin Vinny! Marisa plays a younger version of Aunt May who encourages Peter to have fun & “loosen up” lol. She’s also not as unaware of his night time comings & goings as Peter would like to think. Still she allows him his space but checks in on him every once in a while. That ending scene where she walks in on him in his suit & gives us a “WTF?!?!?!” was classic Marisa Tomei & I LOVED IT!


Mary Jane played by Zendaya (doesn’t need a last name cuz she’s cool like that lol) was literally a nice surprise! The girl Peter has a crush on throughout the whole movie who also happens to be Vultures daughter *gasp* isn’t Mary Jane. Instead, the girl who throughout the movie has turned up wherever and whenever with side commentary (lived for these) is Mary Jane & I LOVE HER! she gave me Breakfast Club vibes & that scene where she’s willingly sitting in detention drawing peoples faces while they’re “in desperation” was one of my faves! CANNOT wait to see how her role is further developed *insert excited emoji*

FINAL THOUGHTS

I will be the first to admit that up until Homecoming, I enjoyed the Spider-Man movies but never walked away saying I LOVED THAT MOVIE!!! this time around both my hubby & I couldn’t stop talking about all of the things we loved. One of the things we noticed right away was that for the most part, Homecoming was filmed in Queens. For hubby, seeing the streets he grew up around was nostalgic & exciting because we don’t typically get major motion pictures in the “Outer Boroughs” (anything that isn’t Manhattan lol). Although there were some scenes in Manhattan, these were minimal. Marvels continued efforts to diversify their cast did not go unnoticed with the casting of Zendaya (Mary Jane), Jason Batalon (Ned), Laura Harrier (Liz aka H.S. Crush), Doris Toomes (Liz’ mom), and Selenis Leyva (teacher) to name a few. With many humorous moments & scenes where it seemed like Peter could not get in any deeper, Homecoming succeeded in making me a fan. I found myself at times rooting for him to take down Vulture & others squinting and wishing he’d just call Tony haha! which only further proves that Marvel succeeded in portraying Peter as just a 15 year old teenager NOT yet ready to take on super villains. Last but definitely NOT least! who do I need to thank for bringing back Pepper Potts?!?!? BEST come back EVER!!!

I’ve seen a lot of my blogging buddies raving about Homecoming on Twitter, I want to know…is this the BEST Spider-Man movie? & Tom Holland or Tobey Maguire, who played Spidey better? 🙂

 

Review: Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity#2) by Victoria Schwab

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Schwab

Published by: Grenwillow Books

Date of Publication: June 13th 2017

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal

Pages: 510

Format: I own physical book

Rating:★★★★★ 5 Stars

*Please note there are spoilers for This Savage Song in this review. If you’d like to check out my review for This Savage Song, please see here.

THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.

KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.

AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

THE WAR HAS BEGUN.

THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.

Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.

Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?

It has now been 1 week since I finished Our Dark Duet aka “Breaker of Hearts” in my home *sobs* & since this is the sequel to a duology, I’ll keep this review short, dark, and spoiler free 😉

Great track to listen to while reading ODD, Windmill Song is strictly Violin & it def has that Monstress tone to it 😉

When we last left Verity, Kate & August had confronted Harker (her dad) & asked for his truths. After finding out that Harker is responsible for the death of her mother & also for breaking the truce, Kate doesn’t hesitate to shoot at her father. August intervenes & reaps his soul so as to prevent her from making the kill shot & thus creating her own monster. They each go their own ways with the expectation that it would be their last time seeing each other. This was all fine & well until the world as they knew it grew even darker than before while under the “protection” of Harker. With Harker out of the way, Sloan a Malchai (Monster) has taken up the mantle with a full crew of monsters & deviants to do his dirty work. Up until now, Verity was the only place infested with these creatures. Kate soon learns about a new monster behind violent acts & it is roaming the streets of Prosperity a place known to be safe from the darkness that plagues Verity….

The events in This Savage Song left deep scars in all of the players involved & also left some questioning the very foundation of their principles. In this new world innocents seek shelter from the monsters that have taken over more than half of the city. However, a warm bed/meal on the opposite side of the city is made available only to those souls who have never taken a life voluntarily or in self defense. August is now a leader in the FTC & to him is left the toughest task of reaping souls. We all know August as a Sunai who longed to be just an ordinary boy going to school & not acceptant of his true nature. We see August give in to his darker side in ODD & kind of go numb to his new world. Kate on the other hand has gone full on vigilante mode in Prosperity. She’s even found a group of hackers that serve as kind of her “Over watch” who go by the name of The Wardens while she goes on missions to clean up the streets one monster at a time. I found this addition of new characters to be a bit odd this late in the game but I’m keeping hope alive that this leaves the door open for a spin-off. As always, Schwab doesn’t disappoint with character development. She has created a dark world filled with fear & desperation that has molded these characters in order to fight back. Seeing both Kate & August’ slow progression to their end game cemented my attachment to these characters. Heavily flawed & jaded yet holding on tight to the belief that humanity is worth saving…

Photo credit: alekzandermorozova

“People were messy. They were defined not only by what they’d done, but by what they would have done, under different circumstances, molded as much by their regrets as their actions, choices they stood by and those they wished they could undo. Of course, there was no going back – time only moved forward – but people could change.

For worse.

And for better.

It wasn’t easy. The world was complicated. Life was hard. And so often, living hurt.

So make it worth the pain.”

It’s safe to say that I will read anything Schwab writes at this point. She speaks to that dark part of your soul…yea I truly do believe we all have a smidge of that (some more than others lol). I’m also noticing that as I follow her writing career through her books, she gets better & better with each new book. I’ve gotten accustomed to her first book in any series being slow paced while it builds to the sequel & yet I do not mind. She is wonderful at weaving complex characters and worlds where nothing is ever as simple as Good or Evil. Her characters always walking that thin line between either or making them much more authentic. I’m sad to see this world come to a close & that ending truly destroyed me, yet I am satisfied with it all. A ending that isn’t neatly wrapped up & one where the reader shares in the pain of the characters they love. AMAZING. Fingers crossed that the door to Monsters of Verity is left even a fraction open, I’d take that 🙂

Are any readers out there mending a broken heart? (no spoilers in comm plz) I sure am! any theories on The Wardens? I’m being hopeful here lol!

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

29102896Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

 

*Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence, Mental/physical/verbal abuse, attempted suicide, and rape

 

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Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS ON GOODREADS…

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Bad Romance is one of those books that will remain within me for years to come as a reminder of what could’ve been had I continued in my own toxic relationship. This book resonated with me for personal reasons but also stood out amongst all the Young Adult Contemporaries I’ve read so far in 2017. This isn’t a easy fluffy summer time read however, it is a much needed one. Bad Romance can be used as a conversation starter within the Young Adult community & help bridge gaps between Young Adults and their parents. Demetrios gives us Grace who is 17 going on 18 in High School with BIG dreams of one day living an artsy bohemian life in New York City. She lives with her mother, step-father, and baby brother from her mothers re-marriage. Life isn’t at all easy for Grace who doesn’t live a typical teenage life. She lives in a abusive home where toxic behaviors are what she’s come to view as normal. Told in second person POV, Grace is observing the changes in her relationship with her mother as her mother slowly becomes unhinged. See, Grace’s mother herself is the victim of verbal, mental, and physical abuse (implied) at the hands of her husband. Demtrios shows us a mother trying to keep her new family together while she teeters on the verge of a mental breakdown. Grace on the other hand has just caught the attention of the most popular guy in school who she knows comes with his own baggage. From the 1st compliment to the 1st date & what eventually leads to a volatile relationship, we the reader are taken on the slow progression that is Grace & Gavin’s own toxic relationship. Gavin knows just what to say at all times & just how to get his way. From afar he seems like the perfect boyfriend but when we start this story, it is with the knowledge Grace has already learned the hard way. She shows us how easy it was to fall for someone who was already broken when all you’ve known all your life is abuse…

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Center stage we have Grace & Gavin but this is a story where the supporting character roles are all equally as important. The Grace we meet on page 1 already knows how everything unfolds since it’s told in second person POV. We get to see her regrets and the view she gives us can best be described as removing the rose colored glasses. Grace is just trying to get to graduation so that she can start her new life as a college student far away from her toxic home life. This means she’s learned how to deal with her mothers OCD as best she could & has learned to be submissive to avoid confrontation. Her relationship with her mother plays out on the pages giving you perspective on the cycle of abuse Grace is caught in through no fault of her own. We meet the step dad & he’s no easy pill to swallow which makes your heart break even more so for Grace’s mom.

Somehow, In the past five years, that mom disappeared. Little by little, she floated away, a leaf on the breeze. Now, the air between us is heavy; it’s been too long since we’ve laughed together, talked. How do you relearn love?

Gavin almost seems like a savior when Grace first meets him. She is aware of his troubled past & his failed suicide attempt yet that doesn’t keep her away, it actually serves to lure her in. She admires his resolve and rocker lifestyle but most of all it’s the attention he provides her with that she holds on to. For a girl like Grace who already feels invisible at home except for when she’s needed to scrub the floors or babysit, this new attention became a drug. Gavin himself suffers with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. There isn’t a moment that goes by that he isn’t thinking, living, breathing Grace.

We also meet Nat & Lys who are best friends with Grace, these girls are the true definition of friendship. They know their girl is in a toxic abusive relationship and encourage her to leave that behind every chance they get. They don’t ever leave her side but they also don’t sugar coat anything & didn’t enable her to continue on with Gavin. This friendship was the sunshine in Graces’ very dark, turbulent, and abusive life. I kept hope alive for all of these characters & found myself relating to Grace but ultimately accepting that just like my own toxic relationship with my mother, some things are left unresolved. These characters are heavily flawed & rough around the edges, their pain often times jumping off the pages.

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I’ve never read a book like Bad Romance and I was absolutely caught off guard, this book  brought back memories of a past life. I can’t help but think that if this book had been written back then, that maybe I would have found solace in its pages. I was that young adult in a toxic relationship trying to escape my real issues at home with my own mother. This won’t be an easy read & that’s why I decided to include trigger warnings in this review. Emotionally draining, heartbreaking, and flinchingly honest, Demetrios gives you the ugly raw insides of abusive relationships. Inspired by the authors personal experience, Bad Romance is as real as it gets. Demtrios tackles topics that are more often than not kept hidden in shame & suffered alone. As tough as it was to read this book, I can’t deny that it was because I saw myself in these pages. I’ll be looking out for more from this author and others, especially writing that exposes the ugly in order to start the healing. This is not a story with a happy ending, this is a story with hope & a message for those who may or may not be ready to receive it…

In the Authors Note, Demtrios provided some helpful organizations & I’ve decided to also include them in my review:

Dayoneny.org

Breakthecycle.org

Nomore.org

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan/Henry Holt & Co., Netgalley & Heather Demetrios for the eGalley copy of Bad Romance, all opinions are my own.

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Photo Credit: http://www.healthycellsmagazine.com/articles/when-teenagers-dating-violence-and-abuse

1 Year Q&A: Answers Part 2

In celebration of my 1 year blogoversary, I asked readers & fellow bloggers to take part in my Q&A. The turnout left my heart smiling but it also left me having to split my answers post into 2 parts (part I here). This is the 2nd round of answers, I had a ton of fun answering these & hope you enjoy the read…

Kim @ByHookOrByBook

 Q: What fictional character most resembles you?

A: I’ve been called Hermione Granger too many times

Q: Is there a setting in a book/series that left you longing to live there?

A: Ok I won’t say Hogwarts cuz that’s just obvious lol so I’ll go with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’d love to be wherever Le Cirque des Rêves arrives & wear my red scarf every night 😉

Q: If you were shipwrecked on an island and could only have one book, which would it be?

A: Another blogger asked If I only had one book to re-read, what would it be? I’d still say that in my shipwrecked situation that I’d find pleasure in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire. Even if the Triwizard tournament would probably set my nerves on a frenzy being stuck on said island haha!


Raven @DreamyAddictions

Q: If you were given a chance to live in a book for a day which book would you choose? 

A: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray…The world building in that book! I’m not even sure if I could choose just one world to live in from this book, they’re all interesting.

Q:Who inspires you the most? 

A: My 2 tiny humans, they remind me to stay young & fun 😉

Q: Name three of your top favorite fantasy books?

A: Gah! just 3?!?! Ok here goes…Red Rising by Pierce Brown, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, & of course Harry Friggin Potter! haha!


Stephanie @TeacherOfYa 

Q: what author are you most excited to meet? 

A: I believe Stephanie asked this question as it pertained to Bookcon lol, & this would hands down be Adam Silvera & he asked me on Twitter if I was going & I said yes so *fingers crossed*

Q: what’s the best book you’ve read this year so far?

A: OhMYGosh! so hard with so many great ones but it would have to be The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Shanah @Bionic Book Worm

 Q: if you could have one fictional character as a best friend, who would it be and why?

A: Molly Peskin-Suso from The Upside of Unrequited because I could relate to her experience as it was similar to mine in High School. I can totally see myself on Pinterest boards with her & working on DIY projects in her kitchen lol.


Analee @ Book Snacks

 Q: If you could meet one fictional character who would it be?

A: Nina Zenik from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo in hopes she brings waffles <3!

Q: Favourite underrated book?

A: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Q: Favourite/least favourite part of blogging?

A: this is more about me…when I am backlogged in comments it can be tough getting up to date. A 3 day break can lead to spending a whole day catching up which means no blog hopping that day *sobs*


Reads & Reels 

Q: Are you happy with the direction your blog has taken or did you expect a certain outcome at the 1-year mark?

A: Yes I am happy with where I’m at. I’ve pretty much got a handle on what I like/dislike to read & that was big for me. My blog is big on reviews but i’m pushing myself to include discussion posts & more of my other loves like movies & TV shows…further down the road maybe venture into creating my own meme 😉


Lia @LostInAStory

 Q: Which character would you bring to life, even if that meant they had to leave their fictional world and would have to stay in ours forever?

A: Dobby (Harry Potter)…that death scene broke me & yea I’d bring him back in a heartbeat!


Darnell 

Q: Which book was on your TBR the longest? Which book made you rage DNF?

A: Currently still on my TBR & on my shelf unread is Brandon Sanderson’s The Way Of Kings..It’s HUGE! intimidates the heck outta me lol. I don’t really DNF (2 to date) but Roseblood by A.G. Howard really pissed me off with all it’s external beauty it was the biggest let down.


Sam @SpinesInALine

 Q: What was your favourite cover, released or not?

A: Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer *sigh* that beauty that is that book! *heart eyes*


Kee the Reader

 Q: Do you have a favourite book dragon?

A: Kee, I’m going to admit I don’t know what a Book Dragon is *hides* please help! LOL


Rachel @Life of a Female Bibliophile, Megan @BookBirds, Larkin @WonderFilledReads

 Q: What diverse/or just general books would you recommend to read that are often underrated or that haven’t been featured too much in the blogging community

A: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, You’re Welcome Universe, by Whitney Gardner, and When the Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore


Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku

Q: What are your favorite pizza toppings?

A: philly cheese steak pizza is dabomb.com! so everything that comes with it haha!

Q: What is the last book your DNF’d?

A: Roseblood by A.G Howard *sigh* BIG let down…

Q: What is your favorite piece of book swag?

A: Generally speaking I’m a sucker for all of the bookish themed candles but if we’re talking about one that I own…my red Caraval tote bag <3!

Q: What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

A: The readers I’ve met along the way. Those who love to read & or blog have given me a a home away from home. My hubby is a reader & for a long time he was the only person I could talk to about books. Now, there are so many of you out there in same/different time zones always up for a good book chat…it’s the best!

Q: If you had one completely useless superpower, what would it be?

A: The ability to have my home cleaned w/out moving a muscle…dream come true!


Amanda @Cover2CoverMom

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: This is going to sound super boring but honestly isn’t surprising lol…a English teacher. I thought it was super cool that there was a job where one could read books & talk about them in class. Then I grew up & realized you don’t have to be a teacher to do this! lol it would totally be editor now 😉

Q: Worst dating experience?

A: BAHHHA! I once went out on a date with a guy to dinner & a movie…the following day he called me…scratch that…his wife called me while his 2 kids ran around in the background -_- & THAT was the end of THAT smh. I changed up my screening process after that & started becoming quite the detective before accepting a full on date lol.

Q: List your phobias…

A: EASY. SPIDERS. THE END! *sobs*

Q: If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

A: something edgy, so tired of my name being considered old timey lol. I dunno, possibly Blake, Rain, Ruby, or River…suck at this but anything that doesn’t scream OLD. Probably why I go by Lilly at all times 😉

Q: How did you come up with your blog name?

A: Hubby & I always joked about heading back to our Lair after watching a Supernatural episode. The one where Dean & Sam discover the Men of Letters Lair & that became our thing. Then we added book shelves & I started getting more involved with blogging, pretty soon it was LairofBooks 🙂

Q: List the book bloggers that are #goals for you (and you can’t say Cait @PaperFury lol)

A: Bookidote, SheLatitude, and TalesoftheRavenousReader there are many more but these are the 3 that came to mind right away.


KrystiYAandWine

Q: So my question would be, after one full year of doing this, do you have any advice on balancing blogging/SM/and actually READING the books?

A: I’m actually still trying to find what works best for me & honestly I think this is something that you will always stay switching up because LIFE. I have recently moved & it deeply affected my blogging time for a bit until I found what works now. For reading in particular, I do feel that reading whenever possible has helped keep me stay on top of my ARCS. Even if its 15 minutes or just 1 chapter…it’s progress. In regards to blogging, I’ve gotten into the habit of scheduling posts which frees me up to blog hop. My Social media, I bookstagram more than I tweet but that’s something I’m also working on getting better at. TBH, interacting within the blogging community via blog hopping has worked out best for me. A lot of times I will catch up on my backlog of comments & visit each of those bloggers while at it. Still working on it though but if you find the secret 1st, please share! 😉

Thank you to all those who submitted questions & just stuck around following my blog & showing love. I appreciate each & every one of you! ❤ ❤ ❤

1 Year Q&A: Answers Post Part I & Giveaway Winner Announced

LairOfBooks turned 1 earlier this week & I decided to celebrate with a little Q&A/Giveaway. I really wasn’t expecting the turnout but I’m so happy to see my faves join in on the fun! The questions vary & if your question was similar to another, I went ahead & grouped them together so as to not make this longer than it will probably be. I did end up having to break this post up into 2 parts due to the length, many of you submitted multiple questions & I really wanted to answer them all w/out carrying on for too long lol. I apologize for the delay in winner announcement as I was set to announce on Sunday. My weekend didn’t turn out as expected & instead I’ve been running around non-stop.

THE WINNER OF MY GIVEAWAY IS *Sheila E. DRUM ROLL*

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Beth @ ReadingEveryNight !!!!

*I will be reaching out to Beth to exchange address info & book selection this afternoon*

&&& Now, for my answers where I reveal just how much of an oddball I really am haha! grab your beverage of choice/fave snack & settle in for the what I promise will be an entertaining read 😉

Bloggers/Readers Asked & I answered…

Ishita- book blogger (@bookmyopia)

Q: W.r.t intersectional diversity, what kind of marginalized groups would you like to see represented in books a lot more?

A: Ishita, I had to REALLY think about this one because it’s SUPER important! I would love to see more Afro-Latinx LGBTQIA+ representation in books across all genres. Wonderful question 😉


Jackie @ toomuchofabooknerd

Q: What was your favourite book as a kid (if you remember)?

A: I have 2 that I couldn’t possibly choose between. Charlottes Web & Alice In Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland was a cassette tape I found in my McDonalds Happy Meal as a kid & I played it non-stop till I memorized the book start to finish. This is when I began my obsession with Cheshire 😉


Debby @alwaysbooking

Q: If you had to pick book boyfriends for your closest blogging friends i.e. Danielle, Gretchen, me and whoever else lol Who would they be and why????? LOL

A: Ok after much debate haha! I’d pair Gretchen with Rhys/ACOTAR, Debby with Azriel/ACOTAR, and Danielle with everyone’s dream man *drum roll* Jon Snow *heart eyes* as for my reasons…they’d kill me if it were any other way LOL!


Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads

Q: what’s your favorite diverse book that you’ve read so far this year?

A: Fave diverse book?!?! that’s a tough one with so many great ones so far but…The Hate U Give & The Upside of Unrequited

Q: What’s the most challenging part of blogging for you?

A: The most challenging part of blogging for me has been balancing my very limited time btwn reading, blogging and blog hopping. It’s not easy but I basically take advantage of down time as much as possible whenever possible (bathroom counts lol)


kmbooks24

Q: What is the one book (or series, I’m not that cruel haha!) that you love to read over and over?

A: sadly I am not a re-read type of gal just because SO MANY BOOKS! right?!?! haha! however, I have been eyeing December for my very 1st Harry Potter re-read with my hubby. It’s time to revisit the books that are sort responsible for our relationship ❤


Gretchen ChicNerdReads AKA MY TWIN!

Q: is there a book that helped you through a hard time? if yes, what book?

A: time to get a bit personal, my book didn’t help me get through a hard time but it helped me better understand a hard time. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I wasn’t expecting the message in this book but when I received it, I realized it touched on feelings of grief I was burying deep for my dad.

Q: if you could vacation with one character, who would it be? and why?

A: Hands down, Magnus Bane! especially now that I know what happened in Peru (gotcha thinking ehh Twin?!?!). He’s well traveled & I’m pretty sure he’d know ALL the great spots to have fun 🙂

Q: who’s an author you feel like you can never get tired of?

A: Adam Silvera and it’s so odd because his books all pull on your heart strings til’ your a blubbering mess reaching out for the nearest tissue box. The thing is, his characters are so relatable, complex, and so fleshed out that I end up getting attached to them. I can’t get enough of his writing.


Annie @TheMisstery

Q: What is your favorite cliché in books?

A: Bahhha! the brooding & mysterious loner (might wear a leather jacket & ride a bike) who YOU KNOW! has a heart of gold beneath all that sadness lol smh *hides under a rock*


Danielle Books, Vertigo and Tea

Q: Name one gulity pleasure you have when it comes to reading (i.e. I love dark family secrets – VC Andrews).

A: that’s a good one Danielle, I auto thought of The Roanoke Girls. Mine would have to be unreliable narrators. The more complex & effed up, the more interested I get lol. I’ve been saving Girl On the Train for the perfect day, soon as I heard main protog is an alcoholic who spies on a couple I ran for it 😂

Q: Do you have any embarrassing stories centered around books?

A: well most recently I moved (as you already know lol) & that meant packing up all of my book babies. When the moving company arrived, all was packed up & ready to go only they couldn’t move my GINORMOUS box of books. They stood there talking in Spanish (my 2nd language), wondering what could possibly be in that box. Don’t believe they thought I understood them & tbh when they ended up having to get more guys just to get the box on a trolley, I wasn’t going to let them know I understood or what was in my box 🙈📚🙈

Q: Please share one thing about yourself that you are pretty certain the blogging community does not know.

A: I’m as much of a movie buff now as I am a book reader. When I was 20 yrs old I got a job working at BlockBuster…at the time my dream job list was limited to B&N or BlockBuster so this was a dream come true lol. Strict parents never let me go to the theatre so once I started working, I made full use of their employee product knowledge program 😂 Every Tuesday (like in the book world) was new release day, this was like my bday every week 😂 I still have a ton of oldies but goodies to watch (Independence Day & The Green Mile). I have not watched Forrest Gump & yes many references do fly over my head 🤷🏻‍♀️


Stephanie @betweenfoldedpages

 Q: How do you keep up with reading and normal life?

A: I’m still figuring this one out lol, I do have a lax office job which frees me up to blog a bit during down time. Reading I do on my lengthy (1+ hour each way) commute to & from work. This is the reason why I don’t have a set blogging schedule & probably why this post is going up late. I blog on the go, currently answering these questions @ a BBQ 😂


Ashley @insidemylibrarymind

 Q: What’s the best and what’s the hardest thing about blogging for you?

A: The best part is always having someone to talk or vent about a book with. The book community is seriously around the clock lol. I’ve made a handful of good friends that have turned into friends outside of the blogosphere to be thankful for 💕

The hardest part is time or lack thereof really, I’m a on-the-go blogger most of the time. There are some things that I can’t do on the go though like graphics/images.


Sofii @ABookAThought

 Q: If you would have to read the same book forever, what would it be?

A: Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire; for some it may be their least favorite but the Triwizard Tournament is my all time favorite ❤️


Beth @ ReadingEveryNight 

Q: Do you have any exciting plans for the next year of blogging on Lair of Books?

A: finding my voice as far as discussion post is something I struggle with. The next year will see me trying out topics & also including some of my other loves like movies & tv shows. The blog will still be about my love for books but with a touch of my other pass times 😉

Q: What has been your proudest moment so far as a blogger (apart from reaching your one year blogiversary)?

A: I’m gonna go with de-bunking the 6 month age old ARC rule…you know, the one that states you can’t request/approved for ARCS before your blog is at least 6 months old.

Q: What book were you the most excited for this year that didn’t live up to your expectations?

A: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (review here)

Q: What book are you the most excited for still to be released?

A: Tough because so many of the books I was highly anticipating have been released over the past couple of months. However, I am serious about getting my copy of When Dimple Met Rishi this coming Tuesday. Serious enough to order it for p/u at the nearest B&N near my hubby’s job since I work in what some consider a desert -_-

Q: What book was the best discovery you made through blogging?

A: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, this book is close to my heart for many reasons. As a mother of two bi-racial tiny humans, my biggest fear is what took place in this book. Nevertheless, I needed to read this book to add to the perspective I have gained by being married to a African American man.

Q:  If you could visit one place; real or fictional, what would it be?

A: I mean c’mon, this Potter head wouldn’t pass on a trip to Hogsmeade/Howarts ANY place really in the Potterverse lol 😉


Mistysbookspace

 Q: Have you read any diverse books about physical disabilities? If so, can you recommend some?

A: The only book I’ve read with physical disabilities was Me and You by JoJo Moyes and that I’ve since relaized, was not good representation. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across any others but I would love some recommendations myself. If you happen to come across any good ones please share 😉

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to up and coming bloggers?

A: Let your personality shine through your blog so that when reading your blog, there’s no doubt in anyones mind who wrote it. Whether it’s reviews, memes, tags, or discussions posts…if you’re having fun blogging, everyone will notice & are more likely to return <3!

Q: Do you have any pets? If so, pictures please!!

A: I don’t anymore. I recently had my Shitzu Lexi of 15 years pass away. She was mine for many years & when I couldn’t take her with me to my new place, she became my mom’s best friend. TBH Lexi wasn’t anyones really, she was very proud & independent. I never saw her as a dog but rather, a close & beloved member of my family. My kids & hubby really want a dog & later down the road I would love to open my door to a new furry friend 😉

Q: What is one book you would recommend everybody reading?

A: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, it may not be a comfortable read for a lot of readers but it’s a necessary & relevant one. I hope it makes its way into classrooms soon *fingers crossed*

Stay tuned for Part II…

 

Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Spindle Fire By Lexa Hillyer

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: April 11th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling

Pages: 351 pages

Format: eGalley & physical ARC (giveaway win)

Rating: ★★★ (3 Stars)

HUGE thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss, and Lexa Hillyer for the ARC copy of Spindle Fire.

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

A dark tale is spun in Spindle Fire…when baby Aurora is born, the last of the powerful faeries that used to rule the land pay the kingdom a visit. They bestow certain gifts of beauty & grace in exchange for tithing her voice and sense of touch. The King & Queen accept these tithes but it is when the Faerie Queen interrupts & asks for the child’s youth that they draw the line. The Queen then places the curse of death on Aurora by her 16th birthday. It is her half sister’s involuntary sacrifice that offers up some hope, Isabelle’s sight is tithed by another fairy who claimed she could reverse the curse & instead of dying…Aurora would one day be put into a deep sleep…

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As preparations are made for Aurora’s wedding, plans are also being made to send Isabelle away since she is viewed as troublesome. Isabelle who is very much a free spirit makes a run for it with her best friend & love interest Gil who worked in the castle. Aurora hears of Isabelle running away & decides to go and look for her. She stumbles upon a cottage with a Spindle & whelp we all know how the story goes lol. I appreciated the turn this story took in originality. After Aurora pricks her finger she finds herself in another world created by the Faerie Queen’s sister. So, it’s not like she’s just asleep the duration of the story, she’s busy in her sleep trying to get some answers. It is within Aurora’s dream world that we get to know the story of Malfleur (Faerie Queen) and her twin sister Belcoeur…

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Aurora & Isabelle are our MC’s, they are half sister’s with a language all of their own making. Isabelle is blind & Aurora is mute, they communicate via a series of taps on each other’s hands. They’ve had years to perfect their way of communication and can easily finish each others thoughts. Although they are half sister’s, Aurora is the daughter to the Queen and therefore is treated as a royal. Isabelle on the other hand receives less than royal treatment & is viewed by the court as trouble for her rebellious nature. Since this story is told in alternating first person POV chapters, we get to know these girls and their individual traits. Aurora loves romance novels that end with the prince swooping in & Isabelle can’t fathom the idea of being tied down by anyone. The sister’s are complete opposites, Aurora knows she was born to marry into royalty and is OK with that. Isabelle on the other hand would rather be chasing the next adventure far away from the castle. I was much more a fan of Isabelle, her chapters were def more exciting and even her approach to love seemed more realistic. We get introduced early on to Isabelle’s best friend Gil who is also her “love interest” and theirs is a complicated relationship. It seems like Isabelle has love for Gil more so than actually being in love with Gil. Later on in the story she meets the one that makes her question her actual feelings. I appreciated that her feelings were made known from the start of the story & it made for a more interesting progression. Now I can’t say the same about Aurora’s love interest which felt like a bad case of insta-love. I say this because typically insta-love doesn’t really bother me but I guess when contrasted against Isabelle’s, it stood out more in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed the Faeries that were introduced and their dark history. Perhaps more than Aurora & Isabelle’s story line, I looked forward to learning more of Malfleur & Belcouer. The faeries may have played the role of supporting characters yet it felt at times that they held the real meat of the story. I hope that the sequel sees more from these dark magical beings that once ruled the land.

 I’m a sucker for all things Sleeping Beauty, probably because she’s the princess who I feel got the bad end of the stick. She doesn’t have little birds cleaning & sewing her clothes while she sings. She doesn’t get talking tea cups & kettles to keep her company or a vast library to sulk in. No, she legit gets put to sleep & laid to rest in a glass case while the 7 dwarfs try to get her true loves kiss *major eye roll* LOL! so it’s safe to assume that Spindle Fire caught my immediate interest. I loved the darker tones in this re-telling & the fact that Hillyer changed something that I for one could’ve done without in the original lol. However, Spindle Fire was told from Aurora & Isabelle’s POV’s and if i’m being honest, I found myself enjoying Isaeblle’s chapters way more than Aurora’s. It wasn’t until the last chapters that Aurora won me over & by then I kind of felt short changed. This may just be my preference however, I will say that even with this holding me back, the pacing was on point with non-stop action. The world building was A+ particularly the faeries and their fall from positions of power as well as their need to tithe. This re-telling is unique, creative, and the story itself was enjoyable but it may be just be a case of writing style that made this a 3 star read for me. Spindle Fire is told in present tense/third person POV which makes for an awkward reading experience. I see tons of ways this story can go & have some wishes for it myself. I’d love to see more of Aurora reclaiming this re-telling & more of the faeries in this world in the sequel to come. The ending sets up the groundwork for book 2 nicely which means that yes, I will be reading the sequel 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read Spindle Fire? if so, which sister’s POV did you enjoy more? 😉

Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Defy the Stars (Defy the Stars #1) by Claudia Gray

Published by: Little Brown Books

Publication Date: April 4th 2017

Genre: Young Adult Sc-Fi/Diverse Reads

Pages: 512 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 STARS)

HUGE thanks to Little Brown Books, Netgalley, and Claudia Gray for the eGalley of Defy the Stars in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

She’s a soldier.

Noemi Vidal is a seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine.

Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Defy the Stars is the story Noemi Vidal who lives on Genesis, the only planet left in the solar system to reflect what Earth used to be before it self-destructed. Genesis is a planet that has closed its doors to technology & maintains a green environment because of it. Earth on the other hand is only a shell of the planet it used to be, dying and desperate to get its people re-located.

Quick 411 On This Galaxy…

Defy the Stars takes place in the solar system, mostly in a ship but there’s plenty of traveling to the surrounding planets. Our main Protagonist Noemi is from Genesis known as the planet with the beautiful green lands, clean air/water with temperate climate. Abel the A.I. is from Earth which eerily enough is described as having self destructed & the opposite of Genesis. Kismet (my fave) described as a water-world with tropical weather & fun loving people/culture. Downside: only the privileged wealthy can afford to lay up on Kismet. Cray is where the smartest of the smart reside underground enjoying total nerdom (2nd fave haha!). Too hot to live on top, scientists live down below where they are spoiled with all the fun gadgets to make it a total nerd paradise *heart eyes* Stronghold is quite the opposite of Cray, here is a cold cold and gray planet suitable for the strongest (think military).

Back to the Plot…

Genesis has closed itself off from Earth to preserve their planet from a people they know will only continue destroying wherever they go. This in turn has kept these two planets at war with Earth attempting to conquer Genesis through a Galaxy gate. Genesis may not know how to destroy the gate, but they have an idea on how to temporarily disable it…a suicide mission to be carried out by their youth. Noemi Vidal is 17 & ready to die for her planet and the belief that her sacrifice will gain Genesis an advantage. In preparation for this mission she and the other youths engage in training however, things take a turn when their training turns into the real deal. Noemi finds herself in an abandoned enemy (Earth) ship unaware how much her life is about to change…

We get introduced to Noemi Vidal, a 17 year old of Chilean descent who was orphaned and taken in by her best friend’s family. A family she very much appreciates but still can’t help but feel like an outsider looking in. Noemi is very protective of her best-friend going as far as volunteering for the Massada Run aka the suicide mission aimed at helping Genesis. This would fill the requirement per family and her best friend wouldn’t have to be sacrificed. We often see female protagonists in YA playing the role of martyr, the difference here is that Noemi is just one of the many youths who believe it’s their duty (side note: this didn’t make sense to me & i’m glad its addressed in the story lol). Noemi sees herself as having a unappealing personality because she angers often however, I did not find her to to be as unpleasant as she sees herself lol. Smart & resourceful are more adequate descriptions of Noemi, I liked her just fine. However, the stand out character was Abel the machine/Artificial Intelligence left behind on the abandoned Earth ship. Abel has been stuck in a room on the ship since the last war 30 years ago. The 1st of his kind, he was made with superior intelligence & human like qualities. Over the course of 30 years however, Abel has continued developing & growing. I enjoyed Abel so much, i’ll even go as far as saying he’s up there with my other fave A.I. AIDEN (Illuminae Files). Abel’s sarcasm & self ego stroking had me shaking my head quite often. It’s funny because it makes sense that he would have these traits given he’s not human but quickly developing at the speed of one who is. He has learned human mannerisms but its his self awareness that trips him up. I really grew to love this character and often compared him to Gepetto’s creation minus the lying haha! Last but not least, the diversity in this book was absolutely one of my most favorite aspects. Not only does Gray give us POC’s but she also gave us robots (the setting is in the future) that were also made to resemble all people. The entire cast is diverse & it made my reading experience much more enjoyable.

I love me some gooooood world building & Defy the Stars delivered on this front and so much more. This being my first Claudia Gray book (still want to read the Firebird trilogy), I found her writing to be very enjoyable. Given that this story takes place in space, I didn’t go into it thinking I’m going to get a super fast paced story but was pleasantly surprised. So, what can you expect? adventure, humor, interesting diverse characters, action, and a bit of romance. The only reason I docked it a star was because I would’ve liked to have seen more from Earth being that they are the “enemy”. We meet leaders on Genesis but who is leading the war on behalf of Earth? and what of their people (other than Abel’s creator of course) The ending left me SO curious of what’s to come & a bit anxious for the sequel, I’ve even offered my housekeeping services to Claudia if it would help her any…jk but I so would haha!

Have any of my bookish peeps read Defy the Stars? Did you happen to get Illuminae vibes? If you had to choose a bestie…would you go with Abel or AIDEN? 😉