Friday Reads aka Currently Reading

Happy Friday Readers!!! It’s been a L-O-N-G and unexpectedly emotional week for my little fam & I. Today completes Izzy’s (my 5-year-old daughter) first week & a half (lol) of Kindergarten & although my girl is usually ready to conquer the world with her larger than life old soul personality…this was a new beginning & there were some tears from the both of us. I was allowed to walk her to class the first 2 days after which I was then told that my baby was growing up & basically it was time to “cut the cord” drop off’s would be in the cafeteria…does anyone else find the cafeteria to be one scary big place? I always have. Nonetheless, off I went to work but not before I had myself one good sob during my 7-minute walk to the train station on the phone with my husband. I boarded the train & to be honest had no desire to read. By Wednesday, Izzy & I had befriended the cafeteria lady & her daughter who also attends the school. Needless to say this brought me much comfort & Izzy re-assured ME (smh) that she was NOT scared. With her assurance I boarded my train & dived back into SJM’s Empire of Storms…

Empire of Storms by Sara J. Maas is the 5th book in the Throne of Glass YA Fantasy series & one of my most highly anticipated reads for the second half of 2016! I hadn’t realized how much I had missed certain characters in this world, specifically my favorite kick butt witch Manon & her Wyvern Abraxos who would follow her to the depths of the world if need be. I think what appeals to me most about these characters is the loyalty they have to each other (excluding Celeana who at times makes questionable decisions). I am really enjoying seeing the friendship btwn Aedion & Lysandra develop as well as Lorcan & Elide. Whether these friendships develop into something more, I’m not sure yet (on pg. 400 of 693) but wouldn’t be completely surprised if they do. Yes, SJM enjoys coupling up her charcters making it a bit predictable at times but I think it’s done well. In any case, I love these books for the character development & world building. I am currently OBSESSED with the Manon chapters smh, in the beginning I really just wanted to get to those chapters alone. Thankfully 🙌🏼 the story picks up the pace fairly quickly & never stops. Can this be the best book in the series? It’s sure looking that way but I still have about 300 pgs to go & that leaves Maas plenty of time to turn my world upside down. I kid you not, I really do think she types away with an evil smirk on her face, knowing she’s going to leave us in our feels in need of our blanky’s & the nearest teddy 😂😂😂


The other book I’m reading or rather should I say listening to? Is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I had used one of my Audible credits a few months back on this one but could NOT for the life of me, get people to stop interrupting me while I listened. After reading a review for this book on Amanda’s blog Cover2CoverMom, I decided to pick it back up again. For the most part, I’d rather listen to than read comedienne’s memoirs. They narrate their own books & therefore know when a line should read as funny or not. This makes a big difference for me. Perfect example is  Mindy Khaling who I adore for the goddess that she is 🙌🏼 has written 2 books & it wasn’t until I switched to audio that I was able to enjoy her narrative. To be honest I had never heard of Jenny Lawson but the cover with the over the top excited raccoon made me smile every time I walked by it in B&N. After reading the synopsis & seeing that Jenny suffers from mental illness and that this was a collection of stories infused with her humor…I was intrigued. Now, I’ve heard great & not so great things about this book. Primarily, people taking offense to her use of humor when it comes to the topic of her mental illness or labeling herself. As a person who deals with anxiety, mild OCD, and others I don’t need to list…my sarcasm/dark humor IS my coping mechanism. It’s the blanket that provides comfort when faced with the alternative which is to let it overcome & that’s just not the choice that I’ve made. I’m now following Jenny on her blog The Blogess & I’m listening to Furiously Happy. Jenny’s husband Victor reminds me a bit of my husband. She does not shy away from listing their differences & the less than “normal” but still very humorous arguments they have because of her mental disorders. Her interactions with her pets (Ferris Mewler is a fave of mine) including Rory the raccoon who is deceased but has been brought back through her friend the taxidermist, provide plenty of entertaining moments. Overall, what I’m finding the most enjoyable are the many relatable day to day moments & thoughts she has  at home and in social situations…

Waiting On Wednesday 

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.


Title: The Valiant

Author: Lesley Livingston

Book: Hardcover, 288 pages

Expected Publication: February 14th 2017

Publisher: Razorbill Young Readers (Penguin Random House)






Edelweiss Synopsis:

A richly-imagined, gripping historical fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima,The Valiant recounts a seventeen-year-old’s tumultuous journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary female gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.

The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant. 

Reasons:

When a synopsis includes the words/names: Gladiators, Julius Caesar, Celtic King, fighting arena, and warrior…I stop for a moment of silence while I try to contain my excitement. Female warrior protagonists? *SqUEeee* & it’s being released on Valentine’s Day, what better gift to give myself? Ok! fangirling over lol. A school of female gladiator’s run by none other than Julius Caesar himself?!?! SIGN ME UP! to read all about it that is (Lol). I’m a sucker for a strong female protog who isn’t afraid to get down & dirty, throw in a bit of Rome & you’re basically serenading me. I also love the names Fallon & Sorcha, they scream Fantasy & that cover is AWESOME to say the least. I only wish that the book was a bit longer but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the beginning of a possible trilogy.

Slowly but surely we’ve been seeing YA branch into different sub-genres and Historical Fiction is finally getting some love. With some of the more popular books like Eleanor Herman’s Legacy of Kings & the collaborative project My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Asthon, and Jodi Meadows leading the way, I am hoping Lesley Livingston’s The Valiant joins their ranks & makes for a brutal & kick butt Valentine’s Day. Also, for those of you attending New York Comic Con this October like myself, Edelweiss has The Valiant listed for promotion at this event. So yes! I am already crossing my fingers & toes for the Book Gods to bless me with either a eGalley or physical ARC of The Valiant.

BTW, did any of you catch the “for fans of SJM & Cinda Williams Chima”? …Signed, Sealed, Delivered *sings* I’m YOURS!

Have any of you heard about The Valiant? If so, does it tickle your fancy? Eh? Lol. Feel free to drop THAT link with your Waiting On Wednesday’s. I have my Goodreads open & TBR ready for suggestions <3’s!
 
 

Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Zoraida Córdova

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About the Author:

Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of the Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro or visit her at zoraidacordova.com.

 

I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Fire for offering my blog & I the opportunity to feature Zoraida Córdova, author of Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1). After reading (My review can be found here) & falling in love with the characters & world in Labyrinth lost, I just knew that this was something i’d love to do.  Not only because I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but also because it is a perfect example of of a #ownvoices book. Zoraida Córdova has now become an auto-buy author for me & I look forward to continuing with the Brooklyn Brujas series. To best describe Labyrinth Lost I would say that Daniel José Older (author of Shadowshaper) hit the nail on the head….“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” I truly enjoyed being able to recognize many of the Mexican, Ecuadorian, Caribbean, and African influences that made up the magical experience that is Labyrinth Lost. The central theme in this book was family (ancestral-living & dead) & self identity. We also get LGBTQIA diversity in Labyrinth Lost, our characters didn’t see gender which is rare. We usually get quite the opposite in the Latino community, the way Zoraida Córdova handled her characters & themes has made Labyrinth Lost an instant fave for the year (probably of all time lol). Last but not least, Kudos to the author & publishing house for the awesome giveaway (runs Sept 6th-19th) at the end of this post!

 

Summary:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Goodreads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27969081-labyrinth-lost?from_search=true
Buy Links:
http://books.sourcebooks.com/labyrinth-lost/
Book Trailer Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_DBTALS6bI
Labyrinth Lost Coloring Page:
http://www.sourcebooks.com/images/LabyrinthLost-ColoringPage.pdf

 

 

The following is an excerpt from labyrinth Lost provided by Sourcebooks Fire:

 

1

Follow our voices, sister.

Tell us the secret of your death.

—-Resurrection Canto, 
Book of Cantos

The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing.

Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

But I was seven and asked too many questions. Every Sunday, cars piled up in our driveway, down the street, and around the corner of our old, narrow house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mom’s Circle usually brought cellophane–wrapped dishes and jars of dirt and tubs of brackish water that made the Hudson River look clean. This time, they carried something more.

When my sisters started snoring, I threw off my covers and crept down the stairs. The floorboards were uneven and creaky, but I was good at not being seen. Fuzzy, yellow streetlight shone through our attic window and followed me down every flight until I reached the basement.

A soft hum made its way through the thin walls. I remember thinking I should listen to my mom’s warning and go back upstairs. But our house had been restless all week, and Lula, Rose, and I were shoved into the attic, out of the way while the grown–ups prepared the funeral. I wanted out. I wanted to see.

The night was moonless and cold one week after the Witch’s New Year, when Aunt Rosaria died of a sickness that made her skin yellow like hundred–year–old paper and her nails turn black as coal. We tried to make her beautiful again. My sisters and I spent all day weaving good luck charms from peonies, corn husks, and string—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. Not even the morticians, the Magos de Muerte, could fix her once–lovely face.

Aunt Rosaria was dead. I was there when we mourned her. I was there when we buried her. Then, I watched my father and two others shoulder a dirty cloth bundle into the house, and I knew I couldn’t stay in bed, no matter what my mother said.

So I opened the basement door.

Red light bathed the steep stairs. I leaned my head toward the light, toward the beating sound of drums and sharp plucks of fat, nylon guitar strings.

A soft mew followed by whiskers against my arm made my heart jump to the back of my rib cage. I bit my tongue to stop the scream. It was just my cat, Miluna. She stared at me with her white, glowing eyes and hissed a warning, as if telling me to turn back. But Aunt Rosaria was my godmother, my family, my friend. And I wanted to see her again.

“Sh!” I brushed the cat’s head back.

Miluna nudged my leg, then ran away as the singing started.

I took my first step down, into the warm, red light. Raspy voices called out to our gods, the Deos, asking for blessings beyond the veil of our worlds. Their melody pulled me step by step until I was crouched at the bottom of the landing.

They were dancing.

Brujas and brujos were dressed in mourning white, their faces painted in the aspects of the dead, white clay and black coal to trace the bones. They danced in two circles—-the outer ring going clockwise, the inner counterclockwise—hands clasped tight, voices vibrating to the pulsing drums.

And in the middle was Aunt Rosaria.

Her body jerked upward. Her black hair pooled in the air like she was suspended in water. There was still dirt on her skin. The white skirt we buried her in billowed around her slender legs. Black smoke slithered out of her open mouth. It weaved in and out of the circle—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. It tugged Aunt Rosaria higher and higher, matching the rhythm of the canto.

Then, the black smoke perked up and changed its target. It could smell me. I tried to backpedal, but the tiles were slick, and I slid toward the circle. My head smacked the tiles. Pain splintered my skull, and a broken scream lodged in my throat.

The music stopped. Heavy, tired breaths filled the silence of the pulsing red dark. The enchantment was broken. Aunt Rosaria’s reanimated corpse turned to me. Her body purged black smoke, lowering her back to the ground. Her ankles cracked where the bone was brittle, but still she took a step. Her dead eyes gaped at me. Her wrinkled mouth growled my name: Alejandra.

She took another step. Her ankle turned and broke at the joint, sending her flying forward. She landed on top of me. The rot of her skin filled my nose, and grave dirt fell into my eyes.

Tongues clucked against crooked teeth. The voices of the circle hissed, “What’s the girl doing out of bed?”

There was the scent of extinguished candles and melting wax. Decay and perfume oil smothered me until they pulled the body away.

My mother jerked me up by the ear, pulling me up two flights of stairs until I was back in my bed, the scream stuck in my throat like a stone.

“Never,” she said. “You hear me, Alejandra? Never break a Circle.”

I lay still. So still that after a while, she brushed my hair, thinking I had fallen asleep.

I wasn’t. How could I ever sleep again? Blood and rot and smoke and whispers filled my head.

“One day you’ll learn,” she whispered.

Then she went back down the street–lit stairs, down into the warm red light and to Aunt Rosaria’s body. My mother clapped her hands, drums beat, strings plucked, and she said, “Again.”

 

Labyrinth Lost
By Zoraida Córdova
September 6, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN 9781492620945

Praise for Labyrinth Lost

“This work is a magical journey from start to finish… A compelling must-have for teens”
–School Library Journal, STARRED review

“Córdova’s (the Vicious Deep series) magic-infused, delightfully dark story introduces readers to an engrossing, Latin American–inspired fantasy setting and an irresistible heroine”
–Publishers Weekly

“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.”
—Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper

“Labyrinth Lost is more like reading Paradise Found. Zoraida Córdova brings us a new generation of witches, enchanting and complex. And every page is filled with magic.”
—Danielle Page, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

Córdova’s world will leave you breathless, and her magic will ignite an envy so green you’ll wish you were born a bruja. Delightfully dark and enchanting. An un-putdownable book.”
-Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and Shiny Broken Pieces

“Córdova’s rich exploration of Latin American culture, her healthy portrayal of bisexuality and her unique voice allow this novel to stand out among its many peers.”
–RT Book Reviews

“Cordova draws inspiration from Ecuadorian, Spanish, African, Mexican, and Caribbean folklore and mythology to craft a page-turning tale about a young bruja unsure of her place in the world.”
–Bustle.com
“Córdova pulls elements from Greek mythology and Spanish and Latin American legends to craft a memorable world in Los Lagos, a supernatural realm that is as fascinating as it is threatening. The history and customs of Alex’s family’s type of witchery are also carefully constructed, giving readers a complete world to sink into with satisfaction and wonder.”
-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This succeeds with its lush use of Latin American mythologies, an unexpected love story, and, above all, in Alex’s complicated relationship with her family. Alex is a necessary heroine, and this dark fantasy nicely”
-Booklist

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for 2 Copies of Labyrinth Lost with Signed Labyrinth Lost Bookmarks

 

Runs September 6th-September 19th (US & Canada only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7402/ 

Social Media Links:
Author Website: http://www.zoraidacordova.com/
Labyrinth Lost Website: http://books.sourcebooks.com/labyrinth-lost/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CordovaBooks
Twitter: @zlikeinzorro
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wanderwheel/
Author Tumblr: http://wanderlands.tumblr.com/
Labyrinth Lost Tumblr: http://labyrinthlostbooks.tumblr.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ZoraidaLandLabyrinth Lost

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Series: Brooklyn Brujas #1

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: September 6th 2016

Genre: YA & LGTBQIA 

Pages- 336 pages

Format- eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★

labyrinth-lost

 

Goodreads Summary:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives. 

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

 

I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Fire for approving me to receive an eGalley of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

During my search for diversification in YA books, I stumbled across Zoraida Cordova’s Labyrinth Lost. On the cover is a girl in a Death Day mask, making this an eye catcher for anyone walking by with an eye for stunning covers. I honestly wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did but it took me on THE MOST magical ride with elements of Alice in Wonderland along the way. We get introduced to our main protagonist Alex who is part of a family of “brujas” (Spanish for witch) & like every bruja before & after, she will need to have her Death Day celebration to mark her coming into her powers. Typically, the celebration is held on birthday’s in order to throw more over the top parties. Alex however, has no interest in having her Death Day celebration or accepting her powers…in fact she’s trying to stop it from ever taking place. One spell gone wrong results in Alex’s whole family disappearing into the in between world. A world where souls linger & are tortured. It was through the introduction of this underworld of sorts, that you are able to really appreciate & enjoy the writing style. Beyond this, would be giving away too much of the plot so instead I’ll go into some of the things that I loved about this book.

The #ownvoices movement that started recently has been one that I fully support. I love discovering new authors that are able to infuse their culture into their writing, their voices are ones that I can relate to & that’s always cool…seeing a bit of me in what I’m reading. In Labyrinth Lost, we are introduced to Alex’s ancestors (spirits of deceased family members) who as the author notes are from Ecuador, Spain, Africa, Mexico, and the Carribean. Although Alex & her family are not classified as practicing any specific denomination of religion, we do see some aspects of other religions such as Santeria & Catholicism with a new age twist. It was interesting seeing the authors spin on some of the Gods & being able to recognize the cultural influences. The families “Book of Cantos” was another very cool detail, it is a book that contains all of Alex’s ancestor’s spells & magic. It also contains quotes, sayings, and bruja(o) songs, each chapter started off with a snippet of a passage from their Book of Cantos. I also enjoyed the family dynamics in Alex’s home, one comprised mostly of women with their father’s unexplained disappearance weighing heavy in all of their hearts. The sisterly bond between Alex, Lula, and Rose stood out the most. Their interactions with each other felt genuine & realistic. Alex’s mom gave me a few laugh out loud moments & this is because I was able to see my mom & family in this character. This is a story of family & self-discovery, Alex knows that she’s different than the rest of her family and is scared to disappoint those that she loves by the choices she makes. I think everyone can see a bit of Alex in them no matter the cultural background/experience which is why I would recommend this book to everyone.

I’m looking forward to continuing with The Brooklyn Brujas series. I am also glad to have stumbled across Zoraida Córdova. I was just wondering how I can go about bringing more attention to this author when I received an e-mail from the publisher offering me the opportunity to feature the author in a Author Spotlight & Giveaway post, that’s on it’s way & you won’t want to miss it 😉

Has anyone else read Labyrinth Lost? I’d love to read your thoughts on the book. Please feel free to drop the link to your review or drop a comment my lovelies 🙂

August Wrap-up & Haul

My reading for August was Ok with the exception of This Savage Song & Everything leads to You which were both 5 & 4.5 stars respectively. Three of my reads were also eGalleys from Netgalley so in a way I guess you can say I took a stab at ARC August lol. I think August had to be a bit more on the calm side honestly because the excitement over the September line-up is overwhelming for this bookworm.

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Gemini by Sonya Mukharjee ★★★ (3.5 stars)

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena ★★★ (3.75 stars)

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Leave Me by Gayle Forman ★★★ (3.5 stars)

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather  ★★★ (3 stars)

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour ★★★★ (4.5 stars)

Monstress Volume 1 by Marjorie M. Lou & illustrated by Sana Takeda  ★★★★ (4.5 stars)

 

My August Book Haul is also one of my smallest in months! & i’m OK with this seeing as June was INSANE (June Book Haul)! HAHA! No regrets here 😉 This month however, I was lucky enough to win a giveaway that was being hosted by Kristin @ Super Space Chick for The Reader by Traci Chee. The Owlcrate book for August was P.S. I Like You by Kasie West (an ongoing Valentine’s Day gift from my husband ). All other’s I purchased with some pretty awesome B&N Member’s coupons, Amazon & Strand NYC irresistable steals. I’m going to put this out there now….I am not to be held responsible for all of the good books being released this fall that I will be book lusting over…

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I’m pretty sure i’m not alone in feeling like August truly flew by. The last month of summer was pretty chill for my brood & I, basically prepping for my 5 year old daughter starting Kindergarten this week *grabs Kleenex*

For the most part we gave our 2 tiny humans some park time, got some reading in, and binge watched Stranger Things on Netflix. We also caught up with The Vampire Diaries (last 2 seasons were their best smh) & The Originals which will ALWAYS be a favorite. My husband & I watched The Originals finale last night & immediately started googling for a season 4 premier date. Sadly, one has not been announced because the show never really took off in ratings. It’s a spin-off of The Vampire Diaries which lost a ton of it’s following after a few seasons understandably so (There’s only so many times we can watch them chase Elena). However, The Originals in my opinion is the better show both in characters & plots. There’s also a ton of New Orleans culture infused into each episode making it a real treat to watch. Recently, with the news of TVD being canceled (Thank Goodness!) after the next upcoming season, it’s been announced that certain actors will cross over to The Originals. I will patiently await any & all news regarding The Originals 😉

Stranger Things (Netflix)

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The Originals (CW)

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The Vampire Diaries (CW)

the-vampire-diaries-cast

 

I know i’m a few days late with my August Book Haul & Wrap-up, it honestly snuck up on me as did the fall season (my fave) & Kindergarten! LOl, i’ll be making my rounds on the Blogosphere tonight & tomorrow checking out my fellow book blogger’s hauls & wrap-up’s. I hope you all had an AMAZING August Loves! Happy September my fellow bookworms 🙂

 

 

Diversity Spotlight Thursday

Diversity Spotlight Thursday

 

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a new weekly meme hosted by Aimal over at Bookshelves & Paperbacks. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post here.
This is my 1st week participating in the Diversity Spotlight Thursday meme & I couldn’t be more thrilled to see a fellow blogger do something positive & uplifting to bring some diverse reads to the forefront. Thank YOU Aimal!!!! 😉

 

A Book I have Read

 

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 More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

More Happy Than Not is one of my favorite LGBTQIA YA & I devoured it in two sittings. The setting felt very familiar to me coming from a block in Brooklyn where the people also felt like family (especially in the Summer). Aaron (main protagonist) has left an imprint in my soul. Adam Silvera made Aaron’s pain, guilt, confusion, and heartbreak all feel very real. This kid could not catch a break. I’m looking forward to this author’s next book as I did enjoy his writing style very much. If you’re a fan of Junot Diaz, I believe you will also enjoy Adam Silvera’s writing. Fair warning: bring tissue before you pick this one up.

“I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending- it’s a series of endless happy beginnings”

 

 

A Book On My TBR

 

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Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Goodreads Synopsis:

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

 I’ve had Outrun the Moon on my TBR for a few months now & found a hardcover copy in Strand Bookstore for $9 in the beginning of August. I actually jumped for joy when I found this book *covers eyes* lol. Well, did you guys & gals read that synopsis? I mean, for those of you who like me enjoy a kick ass protagonist who also happens to be a POC, Outrun the Moon looks to be promising. Also, It will be interesting to read about Chinatown in San Francisco seeing as I’ve only visited Chinatown in NYC where I live.

 

 

A Book Releasing Soon

 

Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova

*To be released September 6th (next week)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

“Zoraida Cordova’s prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic.” -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight

“Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine’s journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family.” -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper

“Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish.” -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.

I am currently reading Labyrinth Lost as I was lucky enough to have been approved for an eGalley just a couple of days ago. I am OBSESSED ladies & gents! So much so, that I’ve already ordered my physical copy & cannot wait to see my post office person (top fave person in the world) deliver it to me *SqueeeEE* this read is dark with elements of Alice in Wonderland, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and Dante’s Inferno. We have an entire POC cast & Zoraida Cordova’s writing is…#Ownvoices.

 

I’d love to see some of your Diversity Spotlight posts, if you’ve participated this week please leave your link. I’m trying to grow my diverse reads TBR since I know now that I am lacking in this area. Hope you all are having a beautiful Friday’s Eve 😉

Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Series: How to Hang a Witch #1 (future books will be based on other descendants, not sure if the series name will remain the same)
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: July 26th. 2016
Genres: YA/Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★

 

Goodreads Partial Synopsis (full spoilery synopsis here):

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

 

With the fall season come all of my favorites…hot cocoa, warm sweaters/scarves, fallen leaves, reds/Brown’s/creams/yellows, and last but not least…WITCHES! my favorite season is upon us & I decided I’d pick up How to Hang a Witch in anticipation of its arrival. To best describe HTHAW, I would say that it has some elements of both the CW’s Secret Circle & the 90’s cult classic “The Craft”. I picked up HTHAW after hearing that it was a Young Adult book loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials. The fact that the author Adriana Mather is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather, an influential person (not in a good way) in the trials, further motivated me to give this book a go. I’ve always been intrigued by Salem’s history & plan one day in the near future to visit the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts https://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/.

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Now, on to my review… 

We start off with our main protagonist Samantha Mather arriving in Salem with her stepmother Vivian, a decision made to be able to better cover her father’s hospital expenses. Sam’s dad is in a coma at the start of the story & it is clear that Sam and her dad Charles are very close. Relocating from New York to Salem, Sam isn’t feeling very optimistic about a new high school. Believing herself to be cursed because of all the accidents that have taken place around her, Sam is just trying to keep a low profile. Whelp! This may have worked in any other place that wasn’t Salem but as a direct descendant of Cotton Mather (just like our author), she doesn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. In a town filled with the descendants of the original key players of the Salem Witch Trials, Sam is unfairly left to deal with the tension & animosity stemming from Cotton’s role in the tragic events. We get introduced to a group of high school students that go by the name “The Descendants” aptly named since they all are direct descendants of the original accused witches & townspeople. They were also all named after their descendants, we have Susannah, Alice, Mary, Lizzie, and John. They all dress in black & stick together in everything they do. The town itself takes its history very seriously and respect the descendants and their families. Salem is now all about witches, down to the sheriff’s cars that proudly display witches on their doors. The teachers honor the accused by assigning a yearly project to re-enact the trials. Sam seems to be outnumbered, everyone from the students, teachers, and librarian look at her & see only her ancestor Cotton Mather. Not exactly helping (but I loved!), was Sam’s take no ISH from nobody attitude. Not easily intimidated, Sam does seem to view the girls as dangerous after a series of “incidents” leave her shaken up.

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The Craft

At first I thought to myself, are these people really going to ostracize this teenage girl before giving her a chance? I kept reading & the accidents that happened around Sam in New York seemed to have followed her to Salem…. maybe there’s something legitimately wrong with Sam? I won’t give away the answer, but I will say that I loved the paranormal aspects of this book. I also really enjoyed the small town feel & how Sam a native New Yorker adjusted to the change of pace. As a fellow New Yorker, just like Sam I found myself wondering who I could & could not trust in this town. I loved that she & her stepmom moved in to her dad’s childhood home and the description of a grand old house. The house itself having many charms & secrets. Most of all I enjoyed the flashbacks to conversations between Sam & her dad during tough moments in her life. It was in these moments that we got a glimpse of Charles, the man in the coma. Sam would often think about her dad & what he would say to give her the courage to stand up to adversity.

The supporting cast of characters were small seeing as Sam didn’t really make any friends, but the standout character for me was Mrs. Meriwether. Sam’s neighbor who also happened to be her dad’s childhood best friend, lived alone next door with her son Jaxon who is the same age as Sam. I LOVED Mrs. Meriwether once I began to trust her & stopped thinking she was trying to poison people through her delicious baked goods haha! (Kudos to Ms. Mather for re-creating a town filled with distrust). No but seriously, the woman can bake! Every time there was a scene with her, she was baking in the kitchen all sorts of different recipes for her bake shop & I swear I could smell the pastries! Smh. Then there was her son Jaxon, who befriends Sam upon his mother’s request but quickly ends up falling for her. This is only made more innnnneresting by the introduction of a certain paranormal character. This character, I won’t say what he is…was my absolute FAVORITE character in the entire book.

Ok, so far I’ve only had good things to say about this book…why the 3-star rating? Some of you may ask. I cannot discuss the reason in too much detail for fear I may spoil the ending but simply put, Sam’s beginning felt very much like her ending—lonely & incomplete, even as the author is telling us otherwise…

Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Published by: Algonquin Books

Publication Date: September 6th 2016

Pages- 352 pages

Format- eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★ (3.5)


Goodreads Synopsis:

International bestselling author Gayle Forman’s trademark humor and insight abound in this masterful adult debut, showing us that sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it again.

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we’re going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.

With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

 
I’d like to thank Algonquin Books for approving me to receive an eGalley of Leave Me by Gayle Forman via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Maribeth Klein used to have big dreams of one day climbing the ladder to success in the world of magazine publishing. She had a bestfriend/roommate & they were as inseparable as Thelma & Louise. Both Maribeth & Elizabeth worked for the same magazine, they shared the same career dreams and were on the fast track to making them come true. Then Maribeth married her college sweetheart, the guy who 10 years’ prior had decided to move to San Francisco & persue his career. They had made plans for a life together in New York & he ditched them. This unexplainable break-up would stay with & follow her to NY 10 years later. Maribeth & Jason re-connect in NY and one things leads to another. They get married and have twins, life gets a bit challenging but Maribeth takes it all on with little to no help from her husband. Her relationship with Elizabeth has changed, she is now her boss and Maribeth is just trying to maintain both home & career. The book opens up to Maribeth having a heart attack in a period of 48 hours. I had mentioned in my Monday Musings this week that I found this interesting because the percentage of women who are asymptomatic while experiencing a heart attack is startlingly high. It was very realistic to see a working mom overwhelmed by life’s many stresses.

I requested this eGalley because I thought to myself…harrowed mother of twins experiences a heart attack & isn’t able to recuperate w/out her family making her feel like she’s a huge inconvenience…this could very well be me. What happens when you’re everything to everybody & then one day you’re not physically able to fulfill that role…will they notice your absence? will they reciprocate all of the love, care, and attention you’ve invested in them? I’ll be honest, while reading Maribeth’s story I was split in two halves. One part of me was angry at her husband Jason for not stepping up to the plate to take over the reins with the kids. The second half, not at the fact that she chose to pack up & leave but rather, that it was for such an extended period of time & another issue I can’t mention because *spoilers*.

Ever read a book & just reject every single character & their story from the minute you meet them? such was the case with Leave Me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the passively aggressive Maribeth OR the sub-par husband Jason. I also wasn’t keen on her best friend Elizabeth for that matter. It took the last 100 pages for Maribeth & crew to win me over (wish it hadn’t taken this long) & make me understand that this was her journey. Sometimes it’s the road less traveled that we must take. To take care of others (especially little ones), we must first take care of ourselves. Maribeth leaves her home in need of respite & recuperation from bypass surgery post heart attack but gets so much more than what she left to obtain. Truly unhappy in her life she at some point lost herself in the day to day cycle. Maribeth is also a woman with tons of unresolved issues. She is adopted & her heart attack has managed to stir up a need to dig in to her origins. Her journey was of mind, body, and soul. During her time away she made some friendships & it was these supporting characters that lifted her up & helped her find her way. I absolutely loved the age disparity between Maribeth & her new neighbors (in her new home away from home) Todd & Sunita. Todd is a gay young man who is obsessed with all things Steelers. Todd has been entrusted by Sunita’s parents to room with & look over her. Sunita is a young college aged Indian woman who is very high spirited & able to keep up with Todd’s quip’s. Along the way, Maribeth also befriends Janice who played a crucial role in her journey. There is one other character that Maribeth meets, Stephen…a doctor with a mysterious past. I appreciated the end results of this relationship however, I was not in agreement with certain happenings 😉



Photo from Theharriedmom

 In conclusion (lengthiest review yet lol), I think every mother has had the fleeting notion of liberating themselves. We are human & the ultimate sacrifice we make is when we decide to have children. Life will throw many curve balls your way & with age come health issues. We can either meet these challenges OR retreat & replenish until we can build up the strength needed to meet such challenges. Although I don’t see myself taking Maribeth’s road, I do believe that we all need a bit of space so as to not lose ourselves. If there is a partner at home, a little appreciation goes a long way. Similarly, all relationships need to be watered to grow. I closed this book feeling like Gayle Forman sneak attacked me in the heart…
 

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Thank you Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek for tagging me on this. If you’re not familiar with Drew’s blog, head on over but be warned, all of his posts are filled with humor guaranteed to make you look quite crazy if read in public places.

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Tag Questions:

 

E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical book, I started my own little library at home & enjoy staring at my shelves for unusually long minutes at a time. I do however read e-books for my more lengthier reads (usually Fantasy/Sci-Fi) because if I want to finish a 700 page book, it’s gonna have to be at night while my tiny humans are asleep. Also saves my pages from humidity & sogginess when i’m hiding from said tiny humans in the bathroom (it has to be daddy’s turn some time hehe).

Paperback or Hardback?

Hardback, I can’t even look at a broken spine w/out wincing. In the 3rd grade I scored my 1st “job” working in the school library. Part of my duties were binding up damaged spines with thick colored tape…it was the saddest job ever & this includes my stint working in a pharmacy.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

In-store. I love EVERYTHING about the experience from the moment I step foot through those doors. The book smell, new releases front & center, the book lovers quietly browsing, member’s coupons combined with 30% off in store deals (this gal knows what she’s doing lol), and the high I get from walking out with a new book & bookmark in hand smh. I also order online & take advantage of some amazing deals/steals, but nothing quite feels the same as a book store for me.

Trilogies or Series?

Series. Unfortunately I haven’t found many trilogies that left me truly satisfied (exception: Red Rising trilogy). As long as the books being put out are good then I don’t mind continuing.

Heroes or Villains?

I always choose anti-hero (sorry Drew lol). There’s something about a potty mouthed, sarcastic, loner of a anti-hero that I’m always rooting for. I don’t see myself filling the shoes of a hero but i’m not a fan of many villains either.

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A book you want everyone to read?

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta’s story filled me with sorrow & appreciation. So many of the vaccines & scientific/medical advances were made off the cells in her body taken without her consent.

Henrietta Lacks

Goodreads synopsis:

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.


The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.  

Recommend an underrated book?

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave

I can’t attach a synopsis for this book since the publishers didn’t want to give anything away about this story but I can promise you that it’s one worth picking up. On Amazon the following is listed for this book:

Little Bee

Amazon:

“We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.”

The last book you finished?

This Savage Song by Victoria Shchwab & it was DELICIOUSLY DARK! my review can be found here.

The Last Book You Bought?

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Nothing weird recently but while on maternity leave…a clean diaper…a pacifier clip…I mean the possibilities were endless.

Used Books: Yes or No?

I have a few, there’s a store nearby the hubby’s office that carries some used books in tip top shape (yea I said that lol). For the most part I don’t buy used books because my mild OCD would drive me nuts at a torn cover or cracked spine.

Top Three Favourite Genres?

Fantasy, YA, & Literary Fiction

Borrow or Buy?

Buy. I don’t borrow because although i’m great at returning, I have learned that others are NOT. So in order to prevent anyone from asking, I don’t ask to borrow anything myself 😉

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Characters or Plot?

Characters. I think in my last tag I mentioned that characters make the story for me, they are the ones that remain after i’ve turned the last page. My current read has me wanting to leave the characters in the dust as I high tail it out of that fictional world -_-

Long or Short Books?

Long. I like tomes, as long as by the time I reach page 500+ you’ve gotten somewhere important in thy quest.

Long or Short Chapters?

Short, I get anxious when I don’t see an end chapter in the horizon lol.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

And I Darken by Kiersten White (soon to read anti-hero)

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)…Need to read to catch up to hubby

The Lies of Lock Lamora…(thank you Drew, it’s now in my online shopping cart lol)

Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

Laugh…PLEASE..put me in stitches!

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Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional. Take me awaaaaaaaaaaaY! Far Far awaaaaaaaaaaaY!

 Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes. I do audible especially for memoirs narrated by my favorite comedians & Neil Gaiman…cuz he has the perfect story telling voice…In my mind he is my uncle lol (don’t judge)

 Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Ha! after I said don’t judge…HELL YEA! it’s the 1st thing we see, I am terribly vein with my books *shame* not with real life people though.

 Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

I agree with Drew, either or if it’s done well but I have also seen it go horribly wrong.

 A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

World War Z (sorry not sorry)

 Series or Standalone’s?

OooOo tough one! I like both, can’t choose one here *don’t make me*

 

I Tag:

Dee at The Bookish Khaleesi

TeacherofYA’s Book Blog

Stephanie at Between Folded Pages

Amanda at Hanging With Amanda

Beth at Reading Every Night

Melissa at BookNerdMomo

 

 

Musing Monday’s 

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme created by Books and a Beat (originally known as Should Be Reading & A Daily Rythm) that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…

Up next I think I’ll read…

I bought the following book(s) in the past week…

I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…

I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…

I can’t wait to get a copy of…

I wish I could read ___, but…

I blogged about ____ this past week…

This week’s random question: name a favorite book you’d take to the beach.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

 
What I’m currently reading….

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

I received an e-galley on Netgalley for Leave Me by Gayle Forman & I’m finding it extremely difficult to find any of the characters likable. This is my 1st Gayle Forman book & it’s also her first adult fiction book. The main protagonist is experiencing the stresses of work, marriage, parenthood, with little to no help. The book opens while Marybeth is experiencing a heart attack which I found interesting since a lot of women who experience heart attacks, are asymptomatic. Marybeth made a major decision that steers the course of the story in a very different direction…she packs up her bags and leaves her family behind. At this point I NEED to know how this all ends even if I’m not the biggest fan of the characters in this book. I’m already at the half-way point of this book & should have a review up this week.
 

Up next I think I’ll read…

How to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch #1) by Adriana Mather

I do love my History but what made this subject a favorite for me in school was when we learned about the Salem Witch Trials. Ever since then, I will read anything Salem/Witches that I come across. I also happen to watch the deliciously dark tv series Salem. I know How to Hang a Witch is more of a fun take on the descendants but even for this, I’m game! I do however find it interesting that the author of this new series is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather who played a crucial role in the Salem Witch Trials. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Adriana Mather (http://www.ew.com/article/2016/08/19/adriana-mather-how-to-hang-witch) & she talks about the next book in the series How to Sink a Ship. Book 2 will have some of the witches from this first book however, it will be set around the events of the Titanic. I looked a bit further into this interesting author & it seems that she has some pretty heavy hitters for ancestors, some even from The Revolutionary War. I don’t think my background is as innnnneresting but who knows, she’s making me wonder…

Has anyone else read Leave Me by Gayle Forman? I’m interested to read some takes on it. If any of you happen to have partaken in Musing Monday’s today, drop that link in the comment box & I’ll swing on by 😉