ARC Review: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/Diverse

Pages: 352 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger warning: attempted rape

*HUGE thanks to Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, Netgalley & S.K. Ali for the eGalley copy of Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tight knit Muslim community think of her then?

Before I get into my review of this wonderful gemstone of a book, I’d like to include two #Ownvoices reviews I found on Goodreads. Both Leenahreads (Muslim & Arab) & Hadeer (Muslim & Egyptian) give a perspective that is much needed in the community & appreciated by this bookworm. Also, today is the release day for Saints and Misfits & on behalf of LairOfBooks, I’d like to wish S.K. Ali a very happy book birthday!!!

In Saints and Misfits we follow our main protagonist Janna Yusuf who is a Arab Indian-American hijabi teen navigating life within her Muslim community & High School. Janna finds herself having a major crush on Jeremy, a Irish student in her school that is non-Muslim. With these feelings come a slew of questions we get to see Janna find answers to along the way. We are introduced to Janna’s family & friends as well as the community she is very involved with. The daughter of divorced/co-parenting parents, living with her mom & slightly older brother…Janna & her family are already viewed as different within their own community. Having a crush on a non-Muslim boy complicates things for her & to add to her plate, she’s harboring a hurtful secret. Janna doesn’t know whether she will be believed if she speaks up since the secret is about a respected individual in the community. This is a story about self reflection, family, community, identity, friendship, strength, faith & courage to face your fears.

Ever come across a fictional character who has qualities you yourself wish you possessed? such is the case with my admiration of Janna Yusuf. She is by no means perfect but strong willed and firm in her beliefs. Like any teenager she deals with High School crushes and social pressures both on & offline. Seeing her navigate through certain situations gives you a feeling that you’re reading one confident character. For the most part Janna is confident which was refreshing, I loved seeing her take pride in wearing Hijab. Janna’s sarcasm proved to be one of my fave qualities since witty characters always win me over. Perhaps my most favorite trait of Jannas is her interactions with those around her & how empathetic she is even when she doesn’t want to be lol. I also loved the relationship between Janna and her slightly older brother Muhammad. Throughout the book Janna’s older brother is courting another Muslim girl his age & he has asked Janna to supervise their dates. Janna does so even though she’s not a fan of his romantic interest & in doing so we get to see them spend more time around one another. It was nice seeing Muhammad be so attentive to Janna that he was able to pick up on there being something wrong. His genuine concern for his little sister made me wish he was my big brother *sobs*

Janna also has a non-Muslim bestie  who I’m just going to go ahead and say it….Tats = Ride or Die Bestie for life! Tats is such an amazing friend to Janna & respectful of her beliefs even when social pressure got in the mix. Of course they had moments where Tats didn’t understand fully but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Ultimately Tats respected Janna & had her back, love seeing positive f/f relationships. Lastly, one of my fave characters was Mr. Ram who lived in Janna’s complex and who Janna would take to/from a community center for the elderly. Mr. Ram has a passion for poetry & for encouraging Janna to pursue what makes her happy whether it’s sketching or photography. He imparted so much wisdom to Janna & just loved life so much his good spirits were contagious right through the page. There were many other characters in this book but I fear that going into them all would take away from the fun it was getting to know them. Overall, an amazing cast of characters!

I have so much love for this book I don’t even know where to start honestly! as a diverse blogger, I know the importance of seeing these books on our shelves. Most recently I read a Latinx YA book that left me smiling from ear to ear because I saw myself on the pages. In reading reviews such as the ones I linked in the intro to my review, I get a sense that this will be the case for many Muslim, Hijab, Arab, Indian-American readers. I can honestly say this book gave me so much more than a few hours of enjoyment, the lessons I took away are of much higher value. S.K. Ali organically wove bits & pieces of culture, religion, and faith throughout Saints and Misfits making for a rich reading experience. Our main protagonist is holding onto a hurtful secret & Ali gives us a realistic view of the situation. What it really would be like to expose a religious leader & the ugly truth of it all. A strong message is delivered ,many will stand against you but also, many will stand WITH you. The strong theme of community at the core plays an integral role in Janna’s life & I believe Ali captured that well with Saints and Misfits. I 100% reccomend this book to any & all, I just can’t wait to read more from S.K. Ali! 🙂

Will you be picking up Saints and Misfits today? If you’ve already read & reviewed, please drop a link & I’ll most def swing by your corner of the interwebz 😉

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May Wrap-Up & Book Haul

It finally feels like Summer is right around the corner! &&& I’m also late with my May Wrap-Up/ Book Haul but that’s less surprising. I had one goal in mind for the month of May & that was to keep my book buying to the bare minimum because I’d be attending Bookcon the 1st week of June. I succeded & have already given myself some pats on the back for this little accomplishment. I also read a bit more than expected what with all the Bookcon excitement keeping me up at night lol, so that was nice. I also managed to squeeze in 2 movies & celebrated LairOfBooks 1 year Blogoversary!!! *throws confetti* Since we’re already a week into June, I’ll keep it short & sweet 😉

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate ★★★★ (4 Stars)

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich ★★★★ (4 Stars)

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier ★★★★ (4 Stars)

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

 

I had a pretty great reading month in terms of quality & quantity (for me anyways lol). I was over the moon excited to hear my favorite Thriller/Suspense author released a book in May (Lisa Unger, Red Hunter) & when my twin called from the Strand Bookstore saying she picked me up a copy, I did a little dance. I’ve only read her books through Netgalley so this will be my 1st physical copy on my shelves, thanks Twin @ChicNerdReads! It was an amazingly atmospheric read that I had a hard time leaving behind once I had reached the last sentence. My 2nd favorite read of the month is hands down Eliza And Her Monsters which is another I can’t let go of. For everyone who has ever belonged to a fandom or was behind the creation of one, this one is for you! for those of US who seek & find comfort at home reading or watching a fave show because social anxiety is ever present in your life, this one’s for you! there is so much good in this book, I really do believe there’s something for everyone 😉

*Click on photo & follow my IG for more Bookish Fun 😉

A Court Of Wings And Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins (BOTM additional book I added)

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Owlcrate)

Milk And Honey by Rupi Kaur

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger (gift from my twin Gretchen @ChicNerdReads)

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (BOTM selection)

Hubby & I started May off with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, we typically take off 1 day from work every month to chill, hit up a movie & bookstore/comic book store…basically nerd out sans the two tiny humans giving us major side eye haha! I want to say that I enjoyed Vol. 2 more than the first but I think that my feelings toward it are the same (3.5 stars). Except I could’ve done without the cheesy dad bit. The soundtrack & Groot continue to be my fave parts of this movie. Trang & Lashaan over at Bookidote have a EPIC review or as they call it on their blog, a “Cinedote” (see here) which pretty much sums up how I feel about this movie. I’d give them a follow if I were you cuz they’re pretty dope 😉

Towards the end of the month, my sister & I went on our sisterly date to watch Snatched cuz Goldie Hawn & Amy Schumer LOl. I love these ladies & the idea of them together on the screen at the same time reallllly gave me the giggles so I had to see what it was all about. OMYGOSH it was so funny! I’m talking bust your stitches funny smh lol, I spent it holding my tummy the entire time. It’s centered around a mother (Goldie) & daughter (amy) getting kidnapped in South America. They end up being more trouble for their captors than it’s worth with escape attempts turning into jaw dropping high jinks. As a fan of Goldie Hawn since childhood, it was great seeing her back on the screen. I recently read & enjoyed Amy’s autobiographical memoir The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo  within the last couple of months & can say I am now a fan, LOVE HER! Def recommend (5 stars) 😉

Hope you all are having a wonderful June so far! How was your May? read/watch anything AMAZING? thank you for reading my late post & I’ll see ya all in the next post <3’s!

 

Friday Reads

Happy Friday Readers!!! I haven’t done one of these in a while but I’m trying to get in the habit of scheduling posts for days or weeks that i’m not feeling my best. Also, I’d like to know what you’re currently reading and enjoying or maybe not enjoying. My weekends usually see me putting my books away to spend time with my 2 tiny humans but I’m also working on ME time when they’re napping. For those that have responsibilities (doesn’t necessarily have to be kids) which is probably most of us, then you know that time is always evading us. I think this week alone has taught me the importance of self-care & stepping away when necessary for mental health. Starting next wknd I’ll be carving out ME time since this weekend is my 1 year Wedding Anniversary & there’s no escaping that LMAO!

Kicking off my Friday with the highly anticipated season 5 return of Orange Is The New Black!!! I’ll admit, last season wasn’t their best but that ending has me clamoring back for more so without shame I will binge the hell out of OITNB tonight into the wee hours of the morning. Sure I’ll pay for it come Saturday morning when the insanely cruel tiny humans sound the alarms at 7am…then again they may just meet me channeling my fave character “Red” in the kitchen 😉

I’m actually back to reading 2 books at a time, I had taken a long break from that but the mood called to me & I answered. So I have 1 audiobook & 1 eGalley that I’m currently working my way through. I’m about 38% into Let’s pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson & once again Jenny has me making awkward gasping sounds in public while I try not to die of laughter. I loved Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (review here) which came after this one but I am SERIOUSLY LOVING Let’s Pretend! but this time I’m savoring it & only listening to it when my anxiety is high or I’m feeling a bit down. It is legit the best medicine for any down day. I find myself enjoying this one more simply because she’s including stories about her dad and husband Victor pre-marriage that have me shaking my head in disbelief. The Taxidermy stories are still awkward but very funny & Jenny is unapologetically Jenny. Hearing how she thinks is kind of liberating, we all have a little quirk in us…she has a ton & I love her for it!

This morning I started Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) by Sarah Tolcser a YA Fantasy with its own mythos centered around a River God. The main protagonist Caro is strong willed & waiting for the day that the River God calls her name as has been the case for generations in her family. I’m only a chapter in & already hooked wondering where this adventure will take me. After reading & loving Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller earlier in the year, I am looking forward to another waterways adventure &&& PIRATES! I can always go for Pirates 😉

What are you reading/watching this Friday? any plans for the weekend? 🙂

Waiting On Wednesday

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Publication Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Time Travel

Pages: 464 pages

*click on cover for Goodreads

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. 
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

I legit hadn’t heard of Invictus up until a few nights before I attended Bookcon this past weekend. Turns out that there was an ARC drop & I missed it which was sucky but September is right around the corner & before you know it *grabby hands* haha! I also haven’t done a Waiting on Wednesday for quite some time because I’ve been very blessed to already have copies of my most highly anticipated books of the year & for that I am very thankful. Until Invictus came along, caught my eye, made me trip over my own feet with outstretched hands LMAO! Time Travel is my drug of choice folks, I can’t resist a good one & this one has EPIC stamped all over its cover. I already have questions just off the blurb…like how in the world is it even possible for Far to exist with parents who each exist in different time periods?!?!? I’m SUPER intrigued by the parents origins. Next, there’s mention of the Titanic & a heist….So, Far seems like the most innnneresting fictional character I haven’t met yet. Being that this book is close to 500 pages, I’m also hoping for a kick a** crew of misfits that I’ll inevitably grow attached to. Yup, it’s definitely a haul worthy book for me in September 😉

Sci-Fi (yes!). Time Travel (Yes!). Heists (Yes!). Titanic (Yes!)…*heart eyes*

Is Invictus on your radar for September? Already snag a copy? don’t tell me! *side eye* Haha! 😉

Review: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication Date: June 1st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 300 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Skyscape, Netgalley & Emily R. King for the eGalley copy of The Hundredth Queen

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

The Hundredth Queen centers around Kalinda who was really trying to live a low key life in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple where she’s lived all her life as a orphan. Prone to strange fevers, Kalinda isn’t able to train as the other sisters do in the ways of the sister warrior Ki. Spending her days sketching or in the infirmary is what she is used to. Due to her sickness, she isn’t the strongest or what they’d consider the prettiest either. A moment of righteousness shines a spotlight on her placing her on Rajah Tarek’s path. She is selected as his One Hundredth Queen & yanked out of the one true home she ever knew. Taken to the palace as a wife is considered by many in the Sisterhood to be a privilege and a honor. Rajah Tarek has wives & consorts all living in the palace separated by position (wives vs. consorts) but the One Hundredth Queen holds a very special place. See, the One hundredth has the luck of being open to challenges. Any consort may challenge Kalinda for her position in the tournaments held whenever the Rajah brings a new wife to the palace. The difference here is that since she will be his last wife, it will also be the tournament to end all tournaments. This would be the only opportunity for any of the courtesans to knock Kalinda off her highly esteemed position. From the moment she enters the palace walls, all eyes are on her and she is sized up for some as competition and others a threat. Kalinda may not be the strongest however, deep within her she holds a power that is old and unknown to her. The underlying emphasis placed on friendships between women was one of my favorite aspects of this book. The Hundredth Queen is filled with lush world building, action, cunning, betrayal, and plenty of curve balls you won’t see coming.

The characters in The Hundredth Queen are primarily female, we first get introduced to Kalinda’s best friend Jaya. the friendship between these two was more akin to blood sisters than friends & it was refreshing to see them look out for one another. Once selected as the one hundredth, she is escorted by the Rajah’s captain of the guards, Deven. This character serves as a love interest to Kalinda & I must admit he felt a bit lack luster to me lol but to others he may be swoon worthy 😉 he did manage to grow on me but that was more towards the final chapters. Once in the palace where the Rajah’s wives & courtesans live, we meet some very interesting women to keep an eye on. Starting with the one to fear the most. the Rajah’s Kindred aka 1st wife. She is not playing nice & throughout the book Kalinda must watch her back at all times. The Rajah himself is a worm! baha! I knew I wouldn’t like him the minute I read the Goodreads blurb. The man is a polygamist who has some deep rooted issues with women & there were plenty of times I wanted to square off with him lol. I was left very intrigued by Deven’s brother who shares the same powers as Kalinda (shhhh secret!) and others like them introduced towards the end. I’m hoping to get to know them better in the next book, also Deven’s brother was way more alluring to me jeje.  The characters are not the most fleshed out you’ll come across in Fantasy seeing as this one is more plot driven, but they do let you get to know them just enough to want to know more.

Overall The Hundredth Queen is filled with the magic and fantasy it promises in the blurb. I did wonder when I started reading whether this was truly YA considering it’s a story about a polygamist tyrant. Although there weren’t any sexual scenes depicted, it was implied given the nature of this book. I was honestly swept away by the story itself that my loathing for the Rajah was ever present but it didn’t prove to be an obstacle in my enjoyment of this story. I do wish Kalinda as a character was a bit more fleshed out but there’s plenty of implied growth for the sequel that I’m looking forward to. In regards to the world building, I am aware that there’s some buzz on the author’s inspiration. King does preface the book with a Author’s Note that briefly states the following:

“The religion of the Tarachand Empire, the Parijana faith, is a fictional variation derived from Sumerian deities. However the Parjina faith and the Tarachand Empire do not directly represent any specific historical time period, creed , or union. Any other religious or governmental similarities are coincidental and do not depict actual people or events”

To be honest, it didn’t seem like any one particular culture/religion rather bits and pieces gathered to create this fantasy setting. I’ve made my rounds reading reviews & looking out for solid issues found within this book & I have not yet found one. On the contrary, I have seen readers who are cautious & insightful when reading/reviewing diverse books, give The Hundredth Queen the green light of approval. I may be wrong, and if there are any solid reviews out there providing insight, I’ll def read them. For now, I’ll sign off by saying that I look forward to Kalinda’s continued adventures in the sequel The Fire Queen 😉

Have you read The Hundredth Queen? Isn’t the cover gorgeous?!? have you seen the cover for the sequel?!?! *heart eyes*

 

Review: Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 30th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Suicide & attempted suicide

*HUGE thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss & Francesca Zappia for the ARC copy of Eliza And Her Monsters.

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 Oh this book! *fangirl moment* I can’t stop thinking about Eliza, Wallace, her monsters, and her online friends! When we first meet Eliza she is chatting online with friends she made through her creation Monstrous Sea, a web comic that has blown up world wide. Max aka Apocalypse_Cow & Emme aka emmersnacks are the only 2 people who know Eliza’s real identity. To the world she’s known as LadyConstellation, to Max & Emme she’s just Eliza aka MirkerLurker (private screen name lol). Her whole life revolves around her webcomic & avoiding outdoor activities with her mom, dad, and younger brothers. In school she’s pretty much a loner with not a single friend on site. That is up until she meets Wallace aka the new guy in school who appears in every sense to be a jock if we’re talking physical build alone. Wallace is tall with broad shoulders & prefers to sit alone with a notebook & pen. An odd encounter (no spoilers here jeje) forces Eliza to cross paths with Wallace. What they don’t know is that they actually share a lot in common & both harbor secret identities 😉

We get to see Eliza’s Monstrous Sea web-comic in bits & pieces sprinkled throughout the book. Eliza takes Monstrous Sea & her fan-base very seriously, making sure to post every Friday at the same hour. She’s an amazing illustrator & spends days working on each page she posts weekly, leaving little to no time for anything else. Monstrous Sea isn’t just some silly pass time for Eliza & she does make a profit from the MS Merch she sells online with the help of Max & Emme. When her parents start trying to get her to come out of the house more & be more active, she retreats further away. It is inevitable for her online life to clash with with her offline life (won’t say “real life” cuz Eliza doesn’t like this phrase lol). Once both collide, we begin to see what issues lie beneath…

Eliza is a introvert who finds it easier to make friends & connect with people over the web which isn’t as rare as one would think nowadays. She has social anxiety holding her back from making friends in school or attending social events. Online, she comes alive & I just loved her chat DM’s with Max & Emme. They may have never met but they exchange care packages & know about each others personal lives as well. I’ve made these types of friendships & can honestly say they have turned into amazing ones offline as well. I was able to connect with Eliza’s online comfort and social anxiety but I also gained some outsider perspective from her family. Although in spurts, we do get to know Emme & Max who I LOVED! they help Eliza keep Monstrous Sea operating from banning trolls to site maintenance & her online store. They also genuinely care about Eliza & I kept wishing they lived closer to her. Wallace! OMG *heart eyes* a big guy with a big heart who only managed to upset me once in this book haha! Loved that he didn’t fit the stereotypical mode set for Jocks, Zappia def gives you a vivid image of Wallace. He also has a past & getting to know his side added the depth we were given with Eliza. We get to meet the families for both Eliza & Wallace which gave us a better understanding of underlying issues. I also took away a few lessons from Eliza’s parents & the importance of keeping up with social media when you have kids. Overall these characters were well fleshed out down to Eliza’s fictional monsters 😉

 This is my 1st Zappia book & at first I did not make the connection that she is the author behind Made You Up, a book that has been recommended to me by many close bookworm buddies. A book that i’m ashamed to say has sat on my e-book shelf for far too long. I am more than eager to get to it now that I’ve read & loved Eliza and Her Monsters. The writing style used wasn’t your conventional straight text, instead we get chat DM’s & pieces of her web-comic sprinkled throughout. I felt like I was getting a 2 for 1 deal because I found myself thoroughly enjoying Eliza’s Monstrous Sea. I would LOVE to see more of it in a spin-off or anything really just MORE lol. On a more serious note from what I’ve read about Made You Up, this isn’t Zappia’s first YA book tackling mental illness. In this book we see social anxiety take a toll on Eliza & it all felt very real to me as I was reading her experiencing a panic attack. As someone who deals with anxiety & panic attacks myself, seeing mental health representation in books gives me a much deeper appreciation for authors like Zappia. I hope she continues to write about these topics as I’m sure they’re helping many others. I highly recommend this read to all of my bookworm bloggers/readers since i’m sure we all have a little Eliza in all of us 😉

 Monstrous Sea art by Francesca Zappia found on Monstrous Sea Tumblr

Have any of my bloggers/readers read Eliza And Her Monsters? or perhaps, plan to? also, any fun fandoms you follow? 🙂

WWW Wednesday

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?

I am currently at the 50% mark in The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King & enjoying Kalinda’s strong character. However, I will say that this one reads more like an adult Fantasy than YA. Which to me makes sense given the nature of this story. You have a tyrant who is in search of his 100th wife; a tyrant who also keeps courtesans. Then we have Kalinda who doesn’t really fit the mold of the women the Tyrant has “claimed” but somehow manages to be chosen as the 100th Rani aka wife which puts her in a high position = only to that of his 1st wife. With a target on her back, Kalinda has to fight for her thrown as per tradition, one that she never wanted in the 1st place. My main interest is Kalinda & her forbidden power as well as the others like her outside the palace walls that share her powers. We shall see how I feel about this one soon…

I recently finished reading Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia & I can’t stop thinking about it! so good! I thought it would be a cute story to read in prep for the Summer days but it turned out to be so much more than that. I was lucky to be approved for an eGalley but when I saw it arrive in my Owlcrate box this month I couldn’t stop hugging it lol. Full review to post tomorrow Thursday. Before that I read New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (review here) which is part of the Shakespeare Hogarth collection. New boy was short but powerful. A inside look to the effects of racism passed down to children. The setting is a playground in a all white school during the 70’s Nixon administration. This book rattled me & left me deep in thought.

Gahhhhh! 2 reads I am so excited to get to & thankful to have been approved for. Saints and Misfits is one that I was highly anticipating ever since I laid eyes on the cover & S.K. Ali is just an overall sweetheart who is very interactive & reachable to her readers (LOVE THAT!). I recently received a Owlcrate box that had a promo card for Song Of The Current (Song Of The Current #1) which led me straight to Goodreads. I love my fantasy, it’s what I read & review most on LairOfBooks so it came as no surprise that a river God, pirates, and magic would call my name. Really looking forward to these two 😉

What are you all currently reading? planning to read next? any good ones? & if you’re reading any of the ones I mentioned, let me know down in the comments what your 1st impressions were <3’s!

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*

giphy

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: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Publisher: Hogarth

Publication Date: May 11th, 2017

Genre: Fiction/Re-telling

Pages: 204 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

*Cover = Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring comes the fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a modern retelling of Othello set in a suburban schoolyard

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

This is my first read from the Hogarth Shakespeare collection & it will not be the last. Originally I had plans to start with another Hogarth title, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed but I’m glad I opted to go with this one. A short read coming in at just about 200 pgs., New Boy by Tracey Chevalier packs a hell of a punch! Seeing as this is a short book, I decided to go with my thoughts & not go too in depth with plot for fear of spoilers. I was drawn to this book once I read “tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard” in the Goodreads blurb & thought YES PLEASE! I was the kid in Junior High School who actually enjoyed the classics & read as many as possible (prob why I read so much YA now lol) so this was like music to my 7th grade self. This will def not be the last Hogarth title I read, I found the writing easily accessible when compared to the Ol’ legend Shakespeare himself. I’m all for a modern take on the classics when it’s done right & Tracy Chevalier delivered a poignant re-telling.

95% of this story takes place in the school yard & the main characters are 6th graders aka the seniors. We follow our main character Osei Kokote who has just transferred into the school about 7 mths prior to graduation. Osei is the son of a diplomat & no stranger to being the new boy in school/playground. This school however is a bit tougher to adjust to with Osei being the only child or for that matter, the only person of color. Osei is a very quiet, observant, and wise for his age child. Still, at the end of the day he is just a child in a all white school during the Nixon era which sadly made him the target. We see the trickle down effects of racism from the adults to the children. The atmosphere on the playground changes whenever Osei is around & the tension is palpable to the reader. From the children staring & whispering to the teachers who immediately peg him as a problem child, the build up leaves you with a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I felt a range of emotions reading New Boy, anger was a big one. Chevalier didn’t hold back, providing us with the POV’s of both the children and the teachers. Many times I found myself wondering who was worse, the children who were taught to hate a skin color or the teachers with racism embedded in their hearts. Osei made one friend on that playground, Dee who found herself fascinated by him because he was different. Dee found herself wanting to spend all her time with Osei, talking about all he had seen while traveling with his parents. The attention Dee gave Osei was immediately noticed by all others. Playgrounds are known to be the scene of many dramatic events between friends and foes. Also, they typically have some sort of hierarchy with cliques that form & dissolve at the blink of an eye. This story has it’s bully aka aggressor, his name is Ian & throughout the course of this book we see him plot & scheme. Although you see the typical childhood dramas unfold, it isn’t without an underlying sense of danger.

This book made me think for days about what the younger generations are being taught at home. Not the lessons you get from books but rather the ones passed on by the older generations. How racism isn’t something you are born with, it is taught. The kids in this book were repeating things they heard at home but lacked conviction. There were moments when they included Osei in games & you almost thought they’d forgotten they feared him. Then an incident would occur & serve as a reminder of who they were taught to keep their distance from. I’ve never had a book invoke this much emotion to leave me shaking, making New Boy a read I’ll never forget. It’s short & to the point. Raw & unapologetic til the very last sentence. A relevant read given our current social & political climate. I highly recommend this one to all my book blogging buddies & readers. If you do decide to pick this one up, feel free to contact me to talk about this read.

Have any of you read New Boy or perhaps have plans to? if so (w/out spoilers), what are your thoughts? Also, if you’ve read any of the other books in the Hogarth collection, which would you recommend I read next?