Review: The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Title: The Closest I’ve Come

Author: Fred Aceves

Pub. Date: November 7th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

Trigger warning: Alcoholism, Physical Abuse, Racism

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley/Edelweiss

   

Marcos Rivas wants to find love.
He’s sure as hell not getting it at home, where his mom’s racist boyfriend beats him up. Or from his boys, who aren’t exactly the “hug it out” type. Marcos yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood—which seems impossible.
When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program for troubled teens with potential, he meets Zach, a theater geek whose life seems great on the surface, and Amy, a punk girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. These new friendships inspire Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and along the way, Marcos starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.

The Closest I’ve come follows Marcos Rivas’ life course in a rough neighborhood /violent household & the motivation he finds to want to get out. For Marcos, the daily grind is made up of getting up for school & hanging out with his boys after school to avoid having to go home. Life at home isn’t easy & he is met with either his mothers silence and closed doors or her boyfriends fists. Mentally checked-out, Marcos’ mother is a alcoholic who doesn’t really have much of any relationship with him. Marcos himself would love to play the role of over protective son however, the truth is that internally, more than anything he wishes she would show any signs of caring for him. Life outside his home isn’t exactly the best either but in his community he has developed friendships that have become a safe place to turn to. Academics have never really been Marcos’ main focus & with no one in his corner rooting and or encouraging him to apply himself, he hasn’t given much thought to life after High School. He believes that Maesta is the end all be all for him and many other teens like him. We come across teachers who provide Marcos with the confidence he needs & who most of all, believe in him.

At times, The Closest I’ve Come was difficult to read because of the violence Marcos experiences at the hands of his mothers boyfriend. It seemed like all the odds are set against this kid & with nothing really inspiring him & his own home being so volatile, I wondered when he would catch a break. With little to no money whatsoever, we see our MC try to earn cash the right way by cleaning parking lots but we also see one of his friends who is a straight A student go about it illegally by delivering drugs. Having myself lived in for many years what was considered a “ghetto” neighborhood, the reality is that too many bright futures are dimmed before they even get a chance to begin. There were so many tough themes in this book paired with positive reinforcement from Marcos’ educators that I found myself rooting him on in realizing that he is valued.

We see a tremendous amount of character growth take place within our MC Marcos which is perhaps the strongest aspect of The Closest I’ve Come. Aceves wrote Marcos’ character in first Person POV which allows the reader to really get into his thought process. From the way he views his barely existent relationship with his mother to how he handles rejection, Marcos isn’t a confidant cocky teenage boy. His physical appearance is something he is always hyper aware of because he lacks funds to buy clothes or pay for grooming. Something as simple as a haircut could boost his confidence briefly & a lot of the time he didn’t get the end result he was seeking but the effort was there. I LOVED this character & how humble he is the core, he definitely had me in his corner the whole way through. We meet some of his friends from around his neighborhood, mostly through visits to the courtyard to shoot hoops. There’s a sense of loyalty from these guys that I’ve seen for myself in neighborhoods where most don’t have it to make ends meet. I enjoyed one particular scene where one of the guys sets up shop on his stoop to cut hair for a couple of dollars, very much like a brotherhood. Although we meet many of Marcos’ acquaintances, they aren’t as fleshed out as our MC but nonetheless they serve their purpose in giving the reader a picture of what Marcos has in his life. The friends he has don’t really know how bad his home life is but I was glad to see them rise to the occasion when he really needed them.

Told in first person POV, The Closest I’ve Come is raw & uncensored giving Marcos’ voice & narrative life. Own Voices Latinx author Fred Aceves was raised in a poor working class neighborhood just like the one he brings to life in this book. From the dialogue between Marcos and his friends in the streets to his stream of consciousness on life after High School, our MC is raw & uncut just like the world he lives in. Many who come from similar backgrounds will find this book to be very relatable. To those who don’t, The Closest I’ve Come is a insiders look to a reality that exists in our real world. Not only do we get POC representation but we also see socioeconomic diversity when Marco meets & befriends a HS student from a wealthy background. The challenges Marco has in his life are going to resonate with others & that is one of the biggest reasons I am happy to see this narrative hit the shelves.

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Fred Aceves for the eGalley copy of The Closest I’ve Come in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books. With so many diverse reads coming our way, which ones are you looking forward to? any Own Voices on your 2018 TBR?


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Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Title: Renegades (Renegades #1)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Pub. Date: November 7th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends/Fierce Reads

Pages: 576

Format: Physical ARC

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

    

Are you a Renegade or a Anarchist? is it really as simple as choosing a side? and is it really good vs. evil? The city of Gatlon has been divided by those who admire the Renegades & those who detest them. Our MC Nova aka Nightmare is a Prodigy, someone born with superhuman abilities. Nova at a very young age was raised by her parents to trust in the Renegades to save the day however, too soon she learned this was not the case for her. When tragedy struck Nova at the age of 6, everything she believed in crumbled & the seed of resentment towards the Renegades began to grow deep within. Vowing vengeance, Nova takes to life underground with other Anarchists intent on the destruction of the Renegades. The overall consensus is that Renegades aren’t out on the streets saving lives, they are glorified super stars that the people have come to idolize through parades and intense media coverage. The Renegades themselves believe everything they do is in the best interest of society. However, not just anyone can become a Renegade, Prodigies interested in joining must go through what is known as the Renegade Trials. Based on your super human ability, Renegade teams can choose you to join their squad very much like the American tv show The Voice haha!

We follow Nova as she sets out to get back at those she believes have failed her and the city she lives in. I enjoyed seeing how Nova went about positioning herself to enact her plan however, I do believe plot pacing took a hit. Renegades is generous on the page count & although I LOVED every single one of the characters, there were some moments of no real activity. That being said, my enjoyment wasn’t too impacted & towards the end there are certain elements introduced that serve sort of as a jet-pack concluding with a strong and unsuspecting finish.

Although the story does focus mostly on Nova, we meet a slew of characters both Renegades and Anarchists alike. The finished copy actually has a small glossary in the front of the book. Nova was pretty much raised in a underground subway tunnel surrounded by a handful of other Anarchists. It’s made clear that the Anarchists ranks have taken a severe hit and not many are left. Nova spends her time with her adopted family of Anarchists Queen Bee (has a special connection to bees), Cyanide (King of poisons & natural gasses), Phobia (will draw the fear right out of you), The Detonator (BOOM!), and The Puppeteer (creepy as hell lol) who are all Prodigies with innnnneresting abilities. I REALLY liked all of the Anarchists which speaks to how well Meyer blurs the lines between who is good and who is evil.

The Renegades are more of a corporation expanding world wide with many arriving in Gatlon city to train. We meet Adrian Everheart at the start of the story while he is experimenting with his abilities (vague for fear of spoilers). Adrian is the adopted son of Captain Chromium & Dread Warden who are both leading political figures and part of the Council which governs over the Renegades in protecting Gatlon. I appreciated the LGBTQ representation with Adrian’s dads who although they are side characters, are still very important people in leading roles in fictional Gatlon city & that’s pretty damn awesome!  Adrian is team leader of his squad & we are introduced to Red Assassin (Gem & Rubies manipulator), Monarch (special connection with butterflies), and Smokescreen (smoke manipulator who is also disabled). However, Adrian is the character we spend most our time with & I ended up loving him to pieces. Although we get some moderate page time with Adrian’s squad, I do wish they were as fleshed out as the Anarchists were.

Any time I can get my hands on a Marissa Meyer story, I will! One of my all time favorite YA authors, I cannot resist her writing and the worlds she creates full of complex & morally gray characters. By the time you reach the end of Renegades, it will be hard for you to choose a side. Although the Renegades mean well, are they really helping or hurting the people of Gatlon city? & although the Anarchists claim to want independence for the people of Gatlon city, is full fledged freedom with no government really the answer? I myself haven’t chosen a side yet & love that about this story. Start to finish I enjoyed my time with these characters & found myself at times rooting for both sides lol. The plot could’ve been paced a bit better & I would like to see the other characters fleshed out a bit more, particularly on the Renegade side. Other than that, I CANNOT WAIT for the sequel!!! anyone who has already devoured this knows that with that ending, the suffering will be long & hard haha! MARISSA HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

*Special thanks to Fierce Reads for providing ARCS of Renegades in exchange for an honest review

*Images not my own, gathered from Marissa Meyer’s Pinterest Board. She has loooooads of pics but these called out to me most 🙂

Hello bookworms! many of you are either in the middle of or finishing up Renegades…isn’t it sooo good?!?! I finished it in the tub & tweeted my reaction to the finale while trying my hardest not to drop the book smh LOL! more importantly, are you a Anarchist or a Renegade? 😉


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Review: The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller

Title: The Dark Intercept

Author: Julia Keller

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopia

Publisher:  Tor Teen

Pages: 320

Format: Physical ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for a honest review, all opinions are my own.

  

The State controls your emotions. What would you pay to feel free?

In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors and provokes emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.

The dark Intercept caught my attention with its interesting concept & cool cover depicting a sleek new planet suspended above another that is gray & ominous. In a world filled with violence, crime, sickness, and hopelessness; science & technology have provided a way out. Not everyone however has been granted access into New Earth, that right has been reserved only for the privileged elite. Everyone else has been left behind on Old Earth to fend for themselves. The invention of the Intercept has made it so that there is no need for law enforcement to be present at all times. Every single human being both on Old Earth & New Earth have had a chip inserted in their arm & emotions have been weaponized as a method of control over the populace. Every single emotion is digitally recorded by the Intercept & law enforcement is called the minute it picks up on any nefarious actions. Criminals caught in the act are subjected to the Intercept while it selects your most painful memory on record & replays it for you so vividly it’s as if you are re-living the moment over & over again until left in crippling agony. I found this alone to be a scary concept simply because the implementation of chipping in humans isn’t far fetched in real life today, as a matter of fact you may have heard of one company in Wisconsin who has embedded them in their employees. In The Dark Intercept, we have a population that has been entirely abandoned to its own devices on Old Earth & it’s pretty much survival of the fittest down there.

We get introduced to 16 year old Violet who works at an office monitoring The Dark Intercept for any signs of malicious activity. Whenever the Intercept picks up on criminal activity, Violet initiates the feed of painful memories/emotions to the criminal. Violet is also the daughter of the man who created New Earth & because she is able to see the live feed of Old Earth, has a deep appreciation for the Intercept. This is why Violet can’t understand why Danny, a guy she has feelings for, can’t seem to stop himself from going down to Old Earth despite orders not to. Danny works for law enforcement on New Earth but unlike Violet, he was born on Old Earth & has plenty of secrets to hide. For the majority of this book we follow Violet as she tracks Danny’s moves on Old Earth in an attempt to discover his motives. I really wish this has been multiple POV, I was very interested in Danny & a few of the other supporting characters. I also didn’t really see much chemistry between these two characters in a romantic sort of way particularly because Violet came off as very immature in contrast to Danny who is in his early 20’s.  Since that didn’t really go anywhere, I’m hoping it stays that way and that instead we see a platonic relationship between these two characters. Less focus on Violet tracking every move Danny makes & more on the characters in the shadows is what I’d like to see in the sequel.

Along with multiple POV’s I also would’ve liked Old Earth to have been a bit more fleshed out. We do get introduced to a woman on Old Earth & there is mention of a group of teens who stick together in survival mode by any means necessary but it’s not really as fleshed out as New Earth. There is one character in particular who goes by the alias Tin Man that I was REALLLLLY interested in & would’ve loved to see more story on. I love stories where the oppressed fight back against a system that’s broken & for a minute there I had some guesses as to who would helm the revolution if there were to be one.  I’m hoping to see some of these predictions come true in the next installment *fingers crossed*.

In terms of writing, the second half of The Dark Intercept was definitely stronger than the first. I found myself flipping pages a bit faster when plot twists were introduced but also found that I had reached the end by the time my interest was at its most highest. Above all, what I liked most about the Dark Intercept is perhaps the potential for conversation it opens up on the ramifications of human chipping. This may be a YA Sci-Fi but a lot of what was going on doesn’t seem far fetched anymore in the real world of today. Overall, The Dark Intercept presents an interesting concept with some flaws in terms of world building/character development however, the Big Brother element hooks you in & the plot twists make for an entertaining read, I gave it 3.5 stars.

*HUGE thanks to Tor Teen and Julia Keller for the arc copy of The Dark Intercept in exchange for an honest review.

*Images for book aesthetic obtained from Pinterest

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books! ❤ ❤ ❤


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ARCstravaganza #13

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 13th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray & it legit makes me happy every time I walk past my shelf. Earlier this year I had the awesome opportunity of reading & reviewing Defy the Stars (my review) & ahhhhh! Bookworms! if you’re a fan of Illuminae & Gemina then please treat yo selves to this new series & thank me later HAHA! A++ world building & amazing characters have me looking into Gray’s other books that I’ve also heard great things about. One thing’s for certain, whoever Gray has as a cover artist deserves EPIC praise! they’re all so eye catching & vibrant that it makes walking past them damn near impossible.

Funny story on how I came to actually owning this arc copy…while walking past The NOVL/Little Brown booth at NYCCC my peripherals caught a flash of pink, purple, and orange hidden behind a curtain. Now, it was clear they were hidden for a surprise ARC drop later that day but I’m a sucker for vibrant book covers & so I knew I had to ask The NOVL people if it was what I thought It was (jumble of nerves be damned). Yea, like many of you out there I love a good cover reveal & so I knew Defy the Worlds fit the description lol. Well, they were more than gracious to confirm my suspicions & told me when to come back for the drop. I nearly fainted a million faints right on the showroom floor as I set my alarm on my phone. Of all the arcs I acquired that day, Defy the Worlds really got me the most excited 🙂

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 *Since this is a sequel, I won’t include the Goodreads synopsis for fear of spoilers. 

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? Have you read Defy The Stars? I’m thinking of reading Gray’s Firebird trilogy, has anyone else read them? I’d also like to get into her Starwars books but feel as if they may go over my head since I’m not a die hard SW fan lol…sound off in the comments below


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November TBR

I really never thought I’d be writing a TBR post EVER, but it’s happening & I have Larkin over at WonderfilledReads to thank for it 🙂 cuz Hi! I’m Lilly & I am a bookaholic & need some structure in my life lol. For the months of November & December (possibly even January/Feb) I will be writing a TBR post to keep me accountable & also to let you all know what you can expect to see reviewed on Lair Of Books. This post is also a few days late simply because I’m quite indecisive & choosing my books turned into a project lol. All of the books I’ll be reading are arcs/galleys since that mountain is quite high & terrifying folks. If you happen to be reading any of the books I mention, feel free to add me on Twitter (end of post) & we can fangirl or vent about said read. Also, these will be in no particular order since I am still at my core a mood reader. You will see a variety of genres but for the most part, YA is dominant on my blog. I am very thankful to the publishers who’ve approved me for these books & as such try my best to get reviews up on or around the mth of publication. Now, onto the books….


Renegades (Renegades #1) by Marissa Meyer

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

*I finished reading Renegades last night (while in the tub) & almost dropped my book cuz WTF?!?!? I wasn’t expecting that ending. So GOOD Bookworms! review to come on Monday since I have another review going up on Friday.


The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Marcos Rivas wants to find love.
He’s sure as hell not getting it at home, where his mom’s racist boyfriend beats him up. Or from his boys, who aren’t exactly the “hug it out” type. Marcos yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood—which seems impossible.
When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program for troubled teens with potential, he meets Zach, a theater geek whose life seems great on the surface, and Amy, a punk girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. These new friendships inspire Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and along the way, Marcos starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.

*This is my current read & I am only 15% in and really enjoying Aceves’ style of writing, reminds me of Adam Silvera who we all know i adore to pieces!so we’ll see how it fares *fingers crossed*


Artemis by Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

*I def missed out on all the hype surrounding the Martian & even though I still plan on reading it, I got artemis both on Netgalley & through Goodreads giveaway. also, jazz sounds like she’s going to be a instant fave 🙂


Beasts of extraordinary circumstance by ruth Emmie lang

“Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.”

*The actual goodreads synopsis is seriously a sentence short of being called an essay so i grabbed only what i needed to know that this was a book i’d love to read…it’s btwn this one & artemis for my next read



Haunting the deep (how to hang a witch #2) by adriana mather

The Titanic meets the delicious horror of Ransom Riggs and the sass of Mean Girls in this follow-up to the #1 New York Times bestseller How to Hang a Witch, in which a contemporary teen finds herself a passenger on the famous “ship of dreams”—a story made all the more fascinating because the author’s own relatives survived the doomed voyage.

Samantha Mather knew her family’s connection to the infamous Salem Witch Trials might pose obstacles to an active social life. But having survived one curse, she never thought she’d find herself at the center of a new one.

This time, Sam is having recurring dreams about the Titanic . . . where she’s been walking the deck with first-class passengers, like her aunt and uncle. Meanwhile, in Sam’s waking life, strange missives from the Titanic have been finding their way to her, along with haunting visions of people who went down with the ship.

Ultimately, Sam and the Descendants, along with some help from heartthrob Elijah, must unravel who is behind the spell that is drawing her ever further into the dream ship . . . and closer to sharing the same grim fate as its ghostly passengers.

*after reading & enjoying how to hang a witch last year, i was hella curious to check out the next installment in this series. the author herself has so much history in her lineage that i’ll admit is part of my interest in these books…+ anything titanic is a must read by this bookworm


Frankie by shivaun plozza

Frankie Vega is angry. Just ask the guy whose nose she broke. Or the cop investigating the burglary she witnessed, or her cheating ex-boyfriend or her aunt who’s tired of giving second chances…When a kid shows up claiming to be Frankie’s half brother, it opens the door to a past she doesn’t want to remember. And when that kid goes missing, the only person willing to help is a boy with stupidly blue eyes … and secrets of his own. Frankie’s search for the truth might change her life, or cost her everything.

*at first this was a complete impulse request cuz look at that cover! Frankie is the epitome of angry, i’m kind of hoping there are some illustrations in this book cuz it really gave me comic book vibes. I’ve also had a ton of luck reading good ya mysteries which i’m hoping this contemporary delivers


Girl in the tower (The WInternight trilogy #2) by katherine arden

The sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale & my MOST HIGHLY anticipated read of 2017!!! I left out the Goodreads synopsis for spoilers sake. Currently The Bear and the Nightingale is in the semifinal round on Goodreads for “Best Fantasy” & “Best Debut Goodreads Author” so well deserved! 🙂

                                       


Brooding ya hero: becoming a main character (almost) as awesome as me

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?

Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?

Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities–you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.

As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat.

*I follow Broody on twitter as i’m sure many other bookworms do lol. Carrie is HILARIOUS & I have a feeling this book will have me laughing all THROUGHOUT. Also, I can’t turn down a mixed media book, just can’t lol



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October Wrap-Up & Book Haul

Hello Bookworms & Happy November!!! I’m back to being epically late with my wrap-up/haul & I’d like to think it’s because I’ve been so wrapped up in my reading…well at least this is what I’ve convinced myself to be the reason lol. October was a good reading month both in quality & quantity, seems that I’ve managed to break my 5 book per mth cap. Earlier in the month I attended NYC Comic Con & actually enjoyed this event more than I did Bookcon. Much more chill & I got to see many more authors this time around, even got a chance to meet Julie C. Dao author of Forest of a Thousand Laterns. Julie was very sweet & signed a copy for me that I was sending to my giveaway winner Beth over at Reading Every Night as a surprise bonus. Fedex totally lost the package & ruined that but I quickly replaced the copy & sent it on it’s way to Beth sans to signature…who knows Beth, the package may still one day mysteriously show up at your door lol.

October was also slow in flicks I actually wanted to see in the theater & I really thought for a moment there that I wasn’t going to watch anything. Then my co-worker reminded me that Jigsaw was being released Halloween weekend & the stars aligned for me to get my tickets (more on the movie towards end of post). I’ve been thinking of including the arcs/galleys I’ve been approved for in the month in these wrap-ups…yay or nay? or do you prefer a separate post? please let me know in the comments if this is something you’d like to see <3’s! 

With the exception of The Dark Intercept (to come this week) I’ve posted reviews for all of my October reads & will link them down below. Both Nyxia & Moxie are my stand-out reads & I have GUSH reviews for these new found favorites, both pulse pounding in their own way. You Bring the Distant Near is also a new found favorite & I encourage anyone in search of #ownvoices reads on the immigrant experience & Indian culture to pick this one up. Invictus was so much fun & appealed to the Historical Fantasy lover in me, the time travel was on point & not confusing like many others who’ve had a go at it. The Glass Spare gave me a King Midas inspired fantasy with a female MC & gahhhh! I LOVED IT! Berserker was bloody & I described it in my review as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of the classic novel Of Mice and Men. I’m still working on my thoughts/review for The Dark Intercept which was a cold & frightening dystopian that had me thinking….what if this were to really happen? I mean, is it really so far fetched? lol smh. It was a really good month quality wise with mostly 5 star reads which doesn’t ever happen & so I am a very happy bookworm 🙂

 The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller (3.5 stars/review to come)

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano ★★★★★ 

Berseker by Emmy Laybourne ★★★.75

Invictus by Ryan Graudin ★★★★★ 

Moxie by jennifer Mathieu ★★★★★ 

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins ★★★★★  (Mitali Perkins read & loved my review, when she re-tweeted it I got all teary eyed smh)

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen ★★★★★ (I also won a signed copy from the author himself which legit made my mth!)

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (gift from hubby, he’s turned it into his things where he gets me all HP related items, he knows how to make my heart happy lol)

Monstress Volume 2 by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda (artist)

Ringer by Lauren Oliver (Replica #2)

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie C. Dao

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Garcia-Moreno (Won this from a Twitter giveaway)

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (gift from my twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads, love her sooooo much! but this was a September gift & I mistakenly threw it in this haul so yea we’re rollin’ with it lol)

October Owlcrate

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Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

October Book of the Month

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Beasts Of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang (my pick for the mth, also have the eGalley that I will be reading in November)

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King

   

Some of you who have been around the blog for a while now might be raising a brow at both Sleeping Beauties & Jigsaw since I’m a self proclaimed scaredy cat *no shame* baha! Sleeping Beauties I do believe was me getting in the spirit of Halloween however, Jigsaw was not lol. Many years ago my bestie of 18 years wanted me to go with him to watch Saw IV in theaters only I hadn’t watched any of them for the previously mentioned reasons (i’m a wussss lol). He decided to sit me down & have me binge watch the first 3 movies til I walked away numb & ready for IV smh. I honestly think I can tolerate psychological horror but not whatever IT falls into cuz no damnit! I’ve banned all red balloons from my home, sorry tiny humans. Anyways, Jigsaw wasn’t anything new new lol, it followed the same ol’ formula & delivered with the shock factor in regards to the games themselves. However, I saw the ending coming within the first 30 minutes & I’m not THAT person….you know? the one that ALWAYS predicts the ending making you feel clueless? yea, I’m not this person so when I figured it out, the jig was up (jeje see what I did there?) smh. I doubt I’ll continue watching any future movies in this franchise.

Happy reading in November Bookworms!!! Hope you all had a wonderful October & an even better start to this month. What are some books you’re looking forward to reading in November? planning on watching anything innneresting? Sound off in the comments down below 🙂


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Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Title: You Bring the Distant Near

Author: Mitali Perkins

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary, #Ownvoices

Publisher:  Macmillan Children’s Publishing

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley/Netgalley

    

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

You Bring the Distant Near truly felt like a gift I was unwrapping Christmas morning. It’s not often that we get stories based on Indian culture yet here we have a multi-generational book spanning the lives of 5 women in the Das family. We first meet Ranee & Rajeev Das, the parents of Tara & Sonia Das as they move from Bangladesh to London & finally Queens, New York. Rajeev Das is a hard worker & provider for his family, his wife Ranee wants them to own a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood. The Das family has very humble beginnings in a apartment in Queens that is located in a predominantly black neighborhood. We see Ranee struggle with her own prejudices & how her fear leads her to restrict Tara & Sonia. We also get an inside look on her marriage & the disconnect that often leads to arguments in the Das home. Underneath it all however, is a whole lot of love. This book truly has it all! the immigrant experience, marital woes, intersectional issues, colorism, feminism, Islamophobia, complex characters and so much more. I couldn’t put this book down other than to shed some tears every now & again. Seeing three generations of women try to retain some of their culture while also trying to fit in to their new lives was rewarding for me as a reader. Having had some of my own family immigrate from Salvador to the United States, I knew assimilating would be difficult but never really thought about how difficult it must be to try & retain some of their own culture. I found myself rooting for these characters to win their battles & stand up for what they believe is right. This isn’t by any means a fast paced book, it is however a heart warming read that gives you a inside look to a culture & people not often seen in YA books.

The author kindly included a family tree at the very beginning of the book but I found I didn’t really need it since the characters were very well fleshed out. 5 women’s stories spanning over 3 generations, all so very different from each other but the one thing they have in common is their wish to hold onto some if not all of their roots. I LOVED all of these characters, they’re the type to stick with you way after you’ve read the last page.

Rajeev & Ranee Das- mother & father to Tara & Sonia are struggling to meet eye to eye when it comes to settling down on a place to live. Rajeev is sweet & the definition of a proud & doting father. He has a ton of love for his daughters & I found myself crying the most whenever he interacted with Tara & Sonia because this is the closest a character has come to resembling my own father & how he cared for my sister & I. Rajeev is incredibly supportive of his daughters & encourages them to follow their dreams. Our matriarch Ranee Das on the other hand is the law in her home & perhaps has the most character growth in this book. She has a ton of prejudices to sort through & we get to see her struggle with her marriage, daughters, grand daughters and her own internal struggle to both let go & hold on to some cultural beliefs. I loved seeing how realistic this marriage was portrayed & the underlying love that shines through.

Tara & Sonia Das- Since the majority of this book is told in alternating POV’s between these two sisters, I felt that I really got to know them. Tara aka Star is in love with acting, drama, entertaining, and fashion. She loves studying different icons on tv & imitating their style. This is something she sees as a useful tool whenever she has moved to a new country & started a new school. Tara is also the sister everyone considers the beauty who is sure to find a suitable husband. Sonia aka Sunny is a reader & writer, she loves retreating into her own world where she can journal & read non-fiction. The move to NYC places her on course to becoming a feminist & activist. I enjoyed seeing the contrast between Sunny, Star, and Ranee. Sunny is very vocal in squashing any prejudices coming from her mother which is why they clash the most. Sunny is also of darker complexion & we see the affects of colorism both in her home & with other Indian neighbors.

Chantal & Anna-  the daughters of Sunny & Star, the latter part of YBTDN is told in alternating POV chapters with these cousins. We still get to see their parents but the focus shifts to their high school lives. Chantal is Sunny’s daughter & she is trying to find peace between her two grandmothers. Chantal is bi-racial & we get to see the very realistic familial battles that take place when two very different cultures come together through marriage. Anna is Star’s daughter & she for the most part has been raised in Mumbai. Her parents do travel with her to & from NYC to Mumbai but she has no interest in American life. We see her get uprooted & the difficulties she faces when trying to hold on to her roots.

Grandma Rose- doesn’t come into the picture til’ we meet Chantal later in the book but I seriously LOVED seeing her duke it out with Ranee for title of best grandma. Grandma Rose is black & is very involved in Chantal’s life. I loved seeing her pride & confidence in Chantal, she really is her #1 fan. Some of my favorite scenes were those between Rose & Ranee, these two had me smiling & shaking my head.

Rich in culture & family dynamics, You Bring the Distant Near is easily a top contender for my top 10 favorite books of this year. For any bookworms looking for #ownvoices reads, I highly recommend picking this book up. In just 320 pages we get wonderful character development & a ton of tough topics thrown in the mix making this one hell of a journey. I felt a range of emotions seeing this family try to set down new roots in a strange land while also learning to adapt when life throws you a curve-ball. I also found myself wanting more story once I finished reading & perhaps that’s due to how well it was structured. The alternating POV chapters between Sunny & Star and later their daughters Chantal & Anna really allow you to form attachments. This bookworm would love to see more of the Das family & their growing pains. I am so happy to have read YBTDN & wish only to see more from this author in the very near future *fingers crossed*

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing, Netgalley, and Mitali Perkins for the eGalley copy of You Bring the Distant Near in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books. You Bring the Distant Near is hands down a highlight in my October reading. Have any of you lovely bookworms had the chance to read YBTDN? or plan on adding it to your TBR? Sound off in the comments down below 😉


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Review: Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi

Title: Beasts Made of Night

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher:  Razorbill

Pages: 304

Format: eGalley

Rating: 3.75

   

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

A gritty Nigerian-influenced fantasy.

Beasts Made of Night is a rich new YA Fantasy centered around Taj and his group of Aki friends who all have one thing in common…they are outcasts of the same society that needs them to ward off evil. The Aki are sought out by Mages to eat the sins of others for which they are in turn paid. Once a Aki eats a sin beast, a tattoo appears on their skin. The severity of the sin determines the size of the animal. With time, the tattoos fade from the Aki’s skin however, this is not the case with Taj. A powerful Aki, Taj is the Crown’s personal sin-eater often called to the castle to eat the sins of royalty. Taj’s tattoos do not fade, his skin is covered with them & the sins of others often invade his mind. For the Aki, eating souls is how they earn their living & for Taj it’s how he provides for the family he was forced to leave behind. The Aki are feared by the same people they take on the burden of eating sins for. Their skin covered in tattoos are a reflection of the amount of sins they’ve eaten & also the very same reason for which they’ve been ostracized.

The world Onyebuchi has created in Beasts Made of Night is rich with Nigerian-inspired influences. Details of life in the city of Kos such as the singing & dancing, food, and traditions that commemorate rites of passage for young women excel in transporting the reader into the world of the Aki. The magic system is also well fleshed out, there’s a fee system in place which determines how much a Aki will be paid for eating a sin. Mages also exist in this world & are responsible for seeking out the Aki’s services. The Mages also need to be present for the sin-eating since they utilize their magic to call forth the beast living inside of the “inflicted” human which the Aki ingests. We meet mages in training along the way as well as other groups of characters that further develop this world.

There were a few things I would’ve liked to get more of with regards to character development. Although Taj does live with other Aki who are his close friends, these characters were not deeply fleshed out. There is also the princess who is presented as a love interest at the very end which felt rushed & can definitely be seen as “insta-love.” There is another character in the book that I much preferred as a love interest which is a first for me since I typically ship whoever the author intended 😂

The overall plot also could’ve used more development along the way & I do believe my enjoyment with regards to the world building compensated for some of the plot holes. Pacing typically isn’t a issue with me since I enjoy slower paced reads every now & again however, the last few chapters did feel rushed & open ended. If Onyebuchi were to write a sequel, would I read it? Absolutely! I really enjoyed this new fantasy & the unique magic it brought to the page and will be keeping an eye out for more from this author. When thinking of my rating for this book I took my overall enjoyment of this story into account. I’m a lover of world building, diverse reads, and complex magic systems which all can be found in Beasts Made of Night. I haven’t seen mention of a sequel even though the plot truly piques in the last chapter leaving readers wondering what’s next?!?! This is one story I’d say has the potential for growth and hope to see the author delve deeper into the characters he’s created in this lush world.

 

HUGE thanks to Razorbill, Penguins First To Read, and Tochi Onyebuchi for the eGalley copy of Beasts Made Of Night in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Bookworms! Beasts Made of Night hits shelves tomorrow! 🎉 will you be picking up your copy? has it made its way onto your TBR? Sound off in the comments down below 💜


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#ARCstravaganza #12

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 12th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (The Orïsha Legacy #1)!!! 😱😱😱 I’m still amazed that I actually got a arc copy at Bookcon. Legit one of the TOP books of 2018 & for me, one that I’ve had my eye on since the beginning of this year. I had even featured COBAB on a Waiting On Wednesdays & the Universe granted my wish 🙌🏼 the cover is STUNNING but the synopsis stopped me in my tracks. A diverse young adult fantasy filled with a complex magic system, a Reaper who summons souls, a matriarchy and so much more! gahhh! 🤗🤗🤗 luckily it is close to 500pgs long which means plenty of time to live in this world. Also, if the book isn’t enough to hold me over while I wait for the sequel, maybe the movie will (Dateline article) 😆 COBAB will be out in the Wild March 6th 2018 & I will definitely be reading & reviewing in time for publication date 💜

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Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers–and her growing feelings for the enemy.

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? are you also looking forward to Children of Blood and Bone? sound off in the comments below 🙂


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Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Berserker (Berserker #1) 

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Pub. Date: October 10th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

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

Rating: 3.75 Stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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