April Owlcrate & Book of the Month Unboxing

April’s subscription boxes arrived with their vibrant colors & I am more than happy with the selections. earlier in April I read & reviewed The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli & fell hard for the characters & Becky’s writing style. This book brought me so much happiness thatย I flew right through it. My smile lingered for many days after & I still think about Molly Peskin-Suso & crew. This means that I am all the more curious about Simon who had a small cameo in Upside. I own the e-book so I suppose it’s all a matter of timing now ๐Ÿ˜‰

Click on pic to follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps ๐Ÿ˜‰

April’sย theme was Head Over Heels, in the box wereย the following items:ย 

1 Hardcover copy of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalliย (5 star read)

1 signed bookplate sticker

1 Decal sticker (not pictured above, found this waaay after photo was taken lol)

1 Storiarts Pride & Prejudice book headbandย (I’ll prob wear indoors since I feel I don’t have the head for this lol)

1 Simon Vs. the Homosapiens Agenda keychain from the Bookworm Boutiqueย (maybe once I read Simon, I’ll feel less fraudulentย about carrying this item on my key chain ha!)

1 Anna and the French kiss Chocolate Cherry Bomb Tea from The Tea SPotย (will be trying this one out this wknd but it smells delish!)

1 Novelly Yours Candle inspired by one of Rainbow Rowell’s books (1 of 3 scents were sent), I received Baz & Simon in Raspberry & (GAHHHHH! smells SOOooooO Good! fave item besides book of course lol)

1 Evie Bookish print inspired by A Court of Thorns & Rosesย (least fave item simply because i’m not big on these small art prints)

1 Umberland (Everland, Book 2) by Wendy Spinale PREVIEW (Amazon buy link for finished book here) (Never read the 1st book soooo yea…lol)

1 Owlcrate exclusive themed pinย (goes right on my book tote)

My Box Rating:ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (3.75 STARS)

April’s BOTM pick was a bit tricky, but there was one name in the blurb that sealed the deal for this one: for readers/fans of Mindy Khaling…moment of silence for my Queen…K, I’ll pretty much read any non-fiction with a bit of humor so I wasย so happy to come across Scaachi Kohl’s short story collection. Goodreads has since edited the blurb to exclude any comparisons to Mindy K. but I read some reviews & they maintain that it is in fact along those lines. Besides this though & most importantly is that this is a short story collection by a woman of color, daughter to Indian immigrants based on relevant issues affecting manyย woman of color. I may get the audiobook to read along since I prefer to listen to memoirs narrated by the authors themselves ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Click on pic to follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps ๐Ÿ˜‰

Goodreads Blurb

A collection of essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the cultural observer, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

Every time I consider canceling my BOTM subscription just so that I can catch up with the ones I have so far…They hit me with the ALL STAR LINE-UP of books I can’t resist smh. I’ll tell you right now, May was no different since I’ve already selected my books & they sweetened the deal lol. Another perk to this box is that at least one of the books in the box (as of late) is a pre-release which I think is AWESOME! So, since they’ve already charged me the renewal fee, you can expect to see at least 3 more of these un-boxings LOL!

What are yourย thoughts on the April Owlcrate box? Have any of my bookish peeps read The Upside of Unrequited? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for April? also, if you subscribe to any other boxes & have done a unboxing, drop yourย link down below <3’s!

WWW Wednesday

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

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

*Covers = Links to Goodreadsย 

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I’m currently reading Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyerย which I’ve read so many negative reviews on *unfortunately* but I’m not hating so there’s that *glass half full* I wouldn’t say that this a 5 star read but at the 50% point I see some things that I do like. I’ve always been a sucker for a Sleeping Beauty re-telling & couldn’t resist this one but I am feeling a bit under-whelmed.

I recently finished Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (review here) which I rated 3 stars. Although I didn’t LOVE it, I am in love with two of the characters in this book to actually want to pick up the conclusion to this duology. This is Mindy’s 1st dipย into YA Fantasy pool & in the spirit of giving authors a 2nd chance, I’d say that yes I would give it another go. I admire authors who take risks and cross genre’s (thinks of Adam Silvera & smiles lol) when done right, it can be interesting to see a different style of story telling from your favorite author. Now, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalliย I believe was aiming to shatter my cheeks with how much smiling I was doing haha! I have been seriously going through a YA Fantasy burn-out/slump due to ARCS I’m trying to do right by smh lol. I needed a contemporary & I’m so glad I picked up Upside!!! I have a review going live on Thursday & I can’t recommend this book enough. The positive body image representationย for plus size was FLAWLESS! and yea I can say this since I am plus size ๐Ÿ˜‰ย 

I’m not really sure in which order I’ll read these yet, it really all depends on my mood after I finish Spindle Fire. Although I am currently feeling slumpy with YA Fantasy…I’ll shamefully admit, I haven’t read anything by Renee Ahdieh *for shame* &&&& I’m curious about her writing now. I mean I own The Wrath & The Dawn but don’t honestly know why I haven’t read it yet…the woman obviously speaks to my cover lust/vanity side. Also, who doesn’t want to read a Mulan re-telling? I think ya’ll know which one I’m leaning towards LOL! it’s a close tie if i’m being honest only because I love Magical Realism & have heard lovely things about A Million Junes so far ๐Ÿ˜‰

Comment down below whether you think I should read A Million Junes or A Flame in the Mist next? Also, did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & iโ€™ll swing by your blog for a peek. <3<3<3 XOXO!

Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

25895524Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

Published by: Ace

Publication Date: April 4th 2017

Genre: Adult Fantasy/LGBTQ

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

HUGE thanks to Ace, Netgalley, and Mark Lawrence for the eGalley of Red Sister in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

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I was born for killing โ€“ the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novicesโ€™ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow donโ€™t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to surviveโ€ฆ

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My very 1st Mark Lawrence read & boy was it something! nothing could’ve prepared me for what lay ahead but the first few pages in the first chapter did manage to leave me wide eyed. Right off the bat we are introduced to a 8 year old Nona & the harsh reality of the world she lives in. The opening scene had me asking strangers on the train “oh! so no man, woman, or CHILD is safe under Mark’s pen huh?!?!” well the answer to that is NO! no one is safe & plenty are hungry enough to sell their children to avoid starvation. Nona is literally saved from the noose at the very last second by a Nun from Sweet Mercy Convent which is by no means your typical convent. This also won’t be my typically styled review, I finished this book days ago & have gone above & beyond to avoid a book hangover. I will try my best not to fangirl all over this review, back to the Plot…

Sweet Mercy Convent gave me Hogwarts mixed with a Ludus (like in Spartacus) vibes. The nuns at Sweet Mercy all specialize in one skill or another ranging from fighting to magic. Everyone in this world is a descendant from of the following four tribes:

Hunska: Speed (faster than your average human)

Gerrant: Physically large & strong

Marjal: ability to do magic on a smaller scale

Quantal: ability to walk the path & more complex magic

The students who enter are sorted by the abilities they’ve shown a inherent skill towards or in the case of Gerrant & Hunska, are visibly on display. The girls also attend classes in various subjects pertaining to each skill and go through ranks in the following order: Red Class, Gray Class, Mystic Class, and Holy Class. Nona will have 10 years of education in the convent in order to become a Red Sister. During her time & training in the convent there are outside forces at work seeking retribution for old wounds. Nona has secrets, ones that she doesn’t want her peers to ever find out for fear they will see the darkness within her. Nona has a bloody violent history leading up to the noose where she would be hung for her crime. We follow her progress in Sweet Mercy Convent as she learns to hone her skills all the while dealing with inside & outside threats.

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We follow Nona from age 8 to about age 11 in this first installment in the Book of the Ancestor series. She has only known violence & the need to survive when she is brought to Sweet Mercy Convent. She is shrouded in mystery & likes it that way, often times making up stories for her past. Perhaps Nona’s biggest weakness is her unquestioning loyalty to those that call her “friend”. In Sweet Mercy we are introduced to the Abess & sisters who run the convent & teach the classes. I found myself enjoying some of these characters like Sister Apple for her specialty which I won’t reveal since it is spoilery. Also, Sister Kettle who watches over the library, won me over with her threat to anyone caught folding pages in books. Besides the vast array of sisters, there were three other girls in Nona’s class we get to follow closely. There’s Clera who has a love/hate relationship with Nona, Arabella who fiercely watches over Nona, and Hessa who is connected to Nona & often plays the voice of reason. Friendships play a center focus in Red Sister, we see Nona learning the highs & lows all the while living in a competitive setting. Arabella was hands down my favorite & seeing their friendship unfold was awesome since as a reader of Young Adult, I don’t often see positive F/F friendships. This was a change of pace & there were definitely betrayals & double crossings in the mix but that’s to be expected in this world where violence is the law of the land. I like my characters flawed & complex and Lawrence delivers with Nona as well as her friends. No one is wholly “good” or “evil” & therefore nothing is ever black or white in this world, we get a ton of gray til the very last page.

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I finished reading Red Sister some time last week & was left speechless…so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to write this review. I needed to digest what was my first ever Mark Lawrence book & gather my thoughts. From start to finish, Red Sister held me in its grip for various reasons including the no holds barred violence that follows our main protagonist. The world building at first seemed like it would overwhelm me but Lawrence weaves in the ranks & paths so well, that there really was no need to refer to the glossary. About the glossary LOL! MAJOR points for placing the glossary at the very beginning of the book as opposed to the very end where no one ever thinks to look haha! although as previously mentioned, it wasn’t necessary other than as back-up info to this world. The writing is very detailed but in a useful way if that makes sense, it wasn’t overkill. The fighting/training scenes were the most detailed & I was able to get a vivid picture almost as if I were watching a movie. Told in third person POV, Red Sister’s opening pages starts you off with a glimpse of events taking place in the future. This alone was a HUGE motivator for me as far as page turning goes, I needed to find out what that whole scene was about & how everyone managed to get to that point…WHAT WENT WRONG?!?!?! to say that I loved my 1st Mark Lawrence book is a HUGE understatement, I’m in it for the long haul my bookish peeps! If you’re a mostly Young Adult Fantasy reader & are considering taking the leap into Adult Fantasy, this may be a great place to start. For fans of bad a** female heroines, vivid  fight scenes, positive female friendships, positive LGBTQIA representation and elements of the Potterverse…this book is for YOU! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some of my closest book blogging buddies have already read Red Sister & I will spend Monday visiting their reviews to finally read their thoughts & complain about the wait til’ book 2 haha! Is anyone else reading Red Sister? If you have a review up, please drop that link in the box below & I’ll gladly swing by for a chat ๐Ÿ™‚

March Owlcrate & Book of the Month Unboxing

March proved to be a bit of a slumpy month for me in so many areas…books, blogging, putting away the laundry, etc. etc…One thing I managed to muster up some enthusiasm over however, were my BOTM & Owlcrate boxes. Super excited to have received Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, I was lucky enough to snag a arc copy a few months back & absolutely loved this swashbuckly story of what I’ve come to refer to as the female Jack Sparrow HAHA! As for Book of the Month,ย I was actually considering skipping March since I could NOT decide if any of the books appealed to me. After coincidentally watching threeย Booktube videos for BOTM, I was convinced by one book & I’m so happy I opted to go with this one because it has so many elements I’ve come to love in Fiction (Magical Realism) & it’s a diverse/own voices read. So w/out further ado…

Follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps ๐Ÿ˜‰

This monthโ€™s theme is Sailors, Ships & Seas, in the box are the following items:

โš“๏ธ Hardcover copy of Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levensellerย (My 5 Star review here)

โš“๏ธ temporary skull tattoo (won’t wear but saving for the Gram)

โš“๏ธ roll of Simply Gilded Mermaid Washi Tapeย (maybe in planner?)

โš“๏ธย Kitch Studios Tea Towelย (saving for the Gram)

โš“๏ธย Boy Girl Party Notepadย (cute as hell, using RIGHT AWAY!)

โš“๏ธ necklace & pendant fromย The Geeky Cauldron Compass Pendant Necklaceย (already wore this out & got 1 compliment YAY!)

โš“๏ธ exclusive Owlcrate Pirate pin (not picture here, already in my 6 yr olds possession)

My Rating:ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4 STARS)

 

Follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps ๐Ÿ˜‰

Goodreads Blurb

In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meetโ€”sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doorsโ€”doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

*I haven’t gotten around to reading Exit West just yet due to a back log of arcs I’m working my way through at the present moment. However, if any of you have a non-spoilery review or just thoughts then I’d โค to hear them ๐Ÿ˜‰

What are yourย thoughts on the March Owlcrate box? Have any of my bookish peeps read Daughter of the Pirate King? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for March? also, if you subscribe to any other boxes & have done a unboxing, drop yourย link down below ๐Ÿ˜‰

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Every Tuesday, Diane over atย Bibliophile By the Seaย hostsย First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where bloggers share the first paragraph of the book they are currently reading or thinking about reading soon.

Last night I finished Red Sister by Mark Lawrence a PHENOMENAL Adult Fantasy that i’m going to need a couple days to digest before I can write a worthy review. Today, instead of allowing myself to fall into the book hangover that is lingering on the fringes of my bookworm brain..I decided to take the plunge & start Defy the Stars. I am really hoping this one is just as good cuz ya girl just realized this one is 512 pages long, YIKES! haha! wish me luck my bookish peeps, i want to love it but after Red Sister the bar is set high & I’ll settle for like…i’ll take like! *ya hear me Book Gods?!?!*

*Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray will go on sale April 4th 2017

Goodreads Blurb

Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.

After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.

Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.

First Chapter/First Paragraph

In three weeks, Noemi Vidal will Die–here, In This very place. Today is just practice. Noemi wants to pray like the other soldiers she hears around her. The soft ebb and swell of their whispers sounds like waves against the shore. Zero-G even makes it look as if they’re underwater- their hair fanning out from their heads, their booted feet swaying out from their launch harnesses as if caught by the tide. Only the dark star field outside the few small windows reveals how far they are from home.

Confession: I am really still NOT over Gemina & my little heart was crushed last October at Bookcon when I arrived late at the booth for a free arc of this book. So, when I received the email notification giving this arc away on a firstย come first serve basis…I dropped everything I was doing & hopped on the dark vortex otherwise known as Netgalley. Hoping this one is a winner but i’ll def let ya’ll know if it’s not ๐Ÿ˜‰