SPOILER FREE REVIEW: PRIDE BY IBI ZOBOI

Title: Pride

Author: Ibi Zoboi

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Re-telling

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 304

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

BUSHWICK BROOKLYN MURAL (Photo = link to source)

🖤 ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 🖤

There’s so much good to say about Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and why it’s such a relevant read for readers living in New York City or any major city for that matter. This is a Pride & Prejudice re-telling of sorts or as Zoboi calls it, a ‘Remix’ 🖤 but at its heart it’s a story about one girls love for her neighborhood and the effects of Gentrification. We meet Zuri Benitez, a young Afro-Latina (Haitian-Dominican) who loves slam poetry and everything about Bushwick Brooklyn. Zuri lives with both her parents and three sisters on a city block where everyone knows everyone and they treat each other like family. Her mother nurtures her daughters and the neighbors through her cooking and block parties bring everyone together with food and music.

Things in the neighborhood start to shift when a abandoned house across the street from Zuri gets turned into a mini mansion. Zuri and her sisters watch as movers move in pieces of expensive furniture and artwork all the while wondering what kind of family would be occupying this mansion. Zuri is very protective of her neighborhood and the people who have roots there, meeting this new family has her apprehensive. The Darcy family moves in, mom + dad with their two handsome young black sons. Zuri’s sisters immediately introduce themselves but Zuri isn’t trying to be welcoming. For Zuri, this family moving in means a change in dynamics for her neighborhood. All around her are the remnants of gentrification, changes that have changed the landscape of her home. We follow Zuri and her sisters as they navigate college life, college applications, crushes on cute boys, and their identity within the community they were born and raised in as it transforms.

It wouldn’t be a Pride & Prejudice remix without the romance of course & that we do get with THE hate-to-love of all ages! 🖤 Zuri may not be acceptant of the Darcy family moving in but she’s also very aware of just how attractive Darius Darcy really is. It’s the pride for the neighborhood she grew up in that keeps her from seeing Darius and his family in a more positive light. Weaved in throughout Pride are themes of Socioeconomic diversity, race, stereotypes, and gentrification that are quite relevant & currently being talked about within many New York City communities.

Ibi Zoboi writes amazing, authentic three dimensional characters with rich voices I just can’t get enough of. Our MC Zuri is passionate about everything & everyone she loves. She values the culture within her community & doesn’t want to see it washed away by gentrification. The dialogue between her and her friends & family felt like home to me as a fellow born & raised Brooklyn native. I love how fiercely protective Zuri is of her sisters and neighbor. Her rose colored glasses have long been gone & she is able to pick up on the stereotypes and issues many in the minority class face. Some of my favorite parts with Zuri are the moments of introspection we get to see through her Slam Poetry.

There are so many characters we meet along the way but I LOVED the focus on family and the relationship between all of the siblings. We get to see Zuri interact and cope with seeing her older sister leave for college while she is in her last year of High School herself. We get some humor & overall silliness from Zuri having to now step up as the big sister in house to her younger twin sisters who are a bit of a handful. Zuri is well loved & respected within her community, her good reputation is something she’s proud of as one of the Benitez girls. The community plays its own character as well as they watch over these girls making sure they stay on the right path.

Last but not least are the Darcy boys who move into a neighborhood they really don’t know much about. Their family is well off financially and were able to buy the mansion across the street from Zuri’s brownstone home. I don’t believe Darius ever truly understood why Zuri was so proud & passionate about her community & in many ways came off as privileged. It wasn’t Zuri’s job to educate him on his surroundings (although that she did MANY times) but she often found herself trying to make him see that the walls that make up his home don’t change what’s outside. Realizing the Darcy family moving in does serve as a catalyst for change, is perhaps the toughest thing Zuri has had to face. So many interesting characters bring this Bushwick remix to life! ❤

Although we see the Pride & Prejudice influence in Pride, this story stands on its own as a modern day tale of maintaining your identity in a ever changing city. There’s so much to appreciate in this story, from the authentic dialogue to the relevant issues currently affecting those who live in major cities. Zuri’s community reminds me of the one I grew up in which is but a few blocks away from Bushwick. Community gatherings & block parties where the parents fed the neighborhood was very real. Looking up and seeing the one Grandmother who watches everyone’s kids & worrying about whether she’s going to tell your parents about that boy/girl she saw you flirting with was VERY real haha! but also, the reality of receiving an offer by a landlord to move you out in order for them to sell to a developer for a lump sum is also VERY real. The neighborhood I grew up in no longer looks like what I remember & the debate on whether that’s a good or bad thing is still going strong. Regardless of it all, home is where your loved ones are & this story although bittersweet is one way of looking at a brighter side of things 😉


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September Monthly Wrap Up

September was such an odd month having just returned from vacation during the very first week, I was riding a happiness HIGH! Many asked me where I’d gone to which I responded “The happiest place on Earth” YES! Orlando Florida/Disneyland. See, this was my first vacation in over 10 years and I had no clue how badly I needed it till my first morning of waking up without an alarm clock.  Best of all was our trip to Universal Studios aka home to Harry Potter aka the land of endless Butterbeer *heart eyes* I’ve told this story here before but, I met my hubby when I walked into my 1st day of work at my then office, carrying Goblet of Fire. He was holding a copy of Deathly Hallows & we gravitated towards each other in true Nerd love haha! It was nice getting to experience & share our love for a fandom that lives near & dear to our hearts. Although it did rain all the while we were there, that didn’t stop us from seeing all there is to see in HP world. We finished our trip by getting our wands & having lunch at the Three broomsticks #BLISS! 🙂

Once back in New York I dived back into my books since I didn’t necessarily miss them (1st vacay & all) while away but once back I wanted to read them all. I joined #Contemporaryathon to keep it light but I did manage to squeeze in two amazing Fantasy books & one beautiful anthology. All in all, it’s probably one of the MOST fun reading months I’ve had all year long…

 

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson✨5 STARS 

I didn’t know what to expect going into this one but it was hands down one of the best adult fantasy books I’ve ever read. This was the book chosen by Melanie from Meltotheany for her Birthday Read along & I’m so glad I decided to participate. There’s a ton of political strategizing & ruthlessness to spare but I still believe this one is best to go into blind. If you’re a fan of Game Of Thrones, this will most likely appeal to you 😉

Check Out Mel’s Review here

As She Ascends (Fallen Isles #2) by Jodi Meadows (Review✨5 STARS 

This is the sequel to top all sequels! I absolutely devoured this read and loved every minute of it. If you read Before She Ignites and enjoyed it but wished there’d been more action & more DRAGONS! please pick this one up! Meadows knocks it out the park and really fleshed out all her characters. Side characters step up and the dragons have personalities & just gahhhhh! I could be here all day gushing about this one haha 🙂

Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth (Review✨4 STARS 

This is an anthology I was sent for review and another one I am so glad to have had the privilege of reading. I think this collection is SUPER important & very much needed. This is a Own Voices collection, I’m unsure if each of the authors represent the exact disability their own story was based off of. There’s a variety of disabilities/mental health rep in this collection that I loved to pieces!

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young (FULL RTC)✨3 STARS

Sooo this is where it got interesting haha! I won’t lie and say I wasn’t flipping pages at the speed of light.This was honestly one of those rare moments where I picked up a Contemp. Romance & thought I was enjoying it but something was niggling me that just couldn’t be ignored. The Male love interest, ahhhh! he wasn’t the nicest & often left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I have a full review coming to the blog this Sunday 10/14/18.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory (Review✨4 STARS

If you read & enjoyed The Wedding Date earlier this year, I’d say it’s a safe bet you will also enjoy this companion novel set in the same world. TBH, I enjoyed this one wayyyyy more than TWD. From the minute we were introduced to Carlos in TWD, I knew I wanted a full backstory to this character! with only a few bumps in the road, I can honestly say I was satisfied with this arc. Also, if you enjoy books with food and culture weaved in then I’d say you’re in for a real treat with this one 😉

Blue Is The Warmest Color by Julie Maroh (Graphic Novel)✨5 STARS

Goodness! I really didn’t think I’d end up crying with this one. As a matter of fact I was wondering whether I was just dead inside and couldn’t see what everyone else was seeing. Whelp! those last few pages REALLLLLY got me & sure enough the tears flowed easily. This is one that stays with you way after you’ve finished reading. I fave a mini-spoiler free review coming but If you decide to give this one a go, content warning for Homophobia & cheating

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (FULL RTC)✨5 STARS

Saved the best for last here really! Keeping it short because I have a full on GUSH review coming on all the reason why this book is making my best of 2018 list. I also HIGHLY recommend the audio-book as it is narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo the author of The Poet X. This is a Pride & Prejudice “Remix” set in Brooklyn. The MC is Afro-Latinx & the very relevant topic of Gentrification within the city boroughs is woven all throughout. This book only further solidified my love for this author & I truly look forward to whatever she writes next.


I Hope you’re all having a wonderful day! we’re finally beginning to see Fall weather here & there in New York. I am so READY to pull out my sweaters, candles, and tea mugs *heart eyes*

I did want to let you know that I am running a GIVEAWAY over on my Instagram (IG link listed below) for a 2019 ARC of Four Dead Queens!!!!! head on over to the original IG post for the rules of entry & may luck be ever in your favor <3’s!


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WWW Wednesday 10/10/2018

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

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

Happy Hump Day Bookworms!!! I feel like I’m always saying it’s been a minute on these weekly reading updates but that’s only because I’ve been binge reading w/out stopping for air. I have a stream of reviews coming to the blog over the next few days. Some of them are Pride by Ibi Zoboi, For a Muse Of Fire by Heidi Heilig, and What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera. It’s been a FAB start to October with great reads & I’m going to tell on myself a bit here cause I’m sure a lot of you can relate…It’s only the 10th. but the amount of good books streaming out have had my pockets crying! The only comforting thought in all of the spending has been that they are all Own Voices books which honestly makes my heart deliriously happy 🙂

What If It’s US by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

I am currently at the 80% mark and really enjoying this collaborative story told by BFF’s Becky & Adam. I am a BIG Silvera fan & was a bit weary of setting my hopes too high for a slam dunk…happy to report this to be a total hit in my corner. I have a ton of thoughts & I will say that it isn’t without its flaws but overall I can’t deny my enjoyment levels are high. I recently caught wind of it being adapted for the big screen & my heart did a little back flip cause I’m long overdue for a good Rom-Com/Meet Cute. The fact that it’s set in NYC aka MY CITY haha! is awesome & now I will have my eyes peeled for any yellow Movie Filming signs posted all over Times Square *eyes wide open*

For A Muse Of Fire by Heidi Heilig

This dark dark book wasn’t what I expected but then again I really didn’t know what I was getting into. I ended up being enthralled by this one tbh & even did a couple of updates on Instagram stories sharing my thoughts. This is 100% a dark fantasy about Necromancy starring a girl who can call on souls and place them inside her shadow puppets or inanimate objects. The world it’s set in is inspired by South East Asia & France, and we definitely see elements that feel familiar but are very much their own. We get some mental health rep through our MC who is Bi-polar and is traveling with her parents to find a “cure.” All the while there is a war going on with soldiers vs. rebel groups and our MC is caught somewhere in the middle. This story is unique but will appeal to readers who really enjoyed Rin Chupeco’s The Bone Witch, full RTC 😉

The Lost Sisters (The Folk Of The Air #1.5) by Holly Black

12am sharp, my pre-order downloaded onto my kindle and I’d like to say I stayed awake but who am I kidding? This gal went for the beauty sleep instead BUT 1st thing in the AM I grabbed my mug of coffee and phone glued to face, I inhale read this baby! gahhhhh! Holly Black is a new to me author this year with The Cruel Prince snatching my life but I can already tell she will be joining the ranks of my favorite authors. Told from the POV of Taryn who I call The Bitter Sister *side eye*  we get to see her account of things unfold & maybe this novella was meant to sway your opinion or play devils advocate but I just couldn’t be moved to have any sympathy for her. I highlighted so many lines where she goes full on dark, this girl is something else! If anything, this made me love Jude all the more cause those daggers were coming from every direction even from her own sister!

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand 

It wouldn’t be October without the spooky reads, Sawkill girls is serving up all the seasonal vibes and I’m just so ready to dive right in! I’ve purposely limited my knowledge of the premise because Legrand is such a unique writer who has yet to disappoint me. I’m expecting this one to be hella atmospheric with some creepy vibes along the way. Some of my closest bookworm friends have had some really polarizing thoughts on this one but all seem to agree that I would really like it…*raised eyebrow* haha! we shall see 😉

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Thrillers will always make an appearance here on the blog around this time of year but this time it’s also for a special reason. On Friday 10/12 I’ll be joining the month long October Readathon #FridayFrightaThon hosted by Melanie, Amy, Jen, and Chelsea. The breakdown for the Readathon can be viewed by clicking on any of the host links. I’m super excited for The Death Of Mrs. Westaway! I picked it up a few months ago while browsing the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Legit stopped in my tracks while reading the blurb seeing that the MC is a Tarot card reader. Yes. Yes I am a lover of the mystical and I just knew I had to have this one. I’m glad I saved it for this month & that it’s one of the picks for this Readathon. A Tarot Reader who receives a letter of inheritance in error but still decides to show up at the funeral when her senses go off & tell her that something is amiss…yes please! ❤


I hope you’re all having a wonderful Spooktober filled with all the cozy atmospheric reads! or like me, squeezing out your last summer meet cute haha! I haven’t asked this in a while: What’s on your nightstand (be it real or digital)? Sound off in the comments below 😉


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: THE PROPOSAL BY JASMINE GUILLORY

Title: The Proposal

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Pub. Date: October 30th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 336

Buddy Read: Melanie, Stephanie, and Leigh

🖤 ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 🖤

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

   

The Proposal is a companion novel to The Wedding Date, a Contemporary Romance released earlier this year. In TWD, we meet Carlos who is the best friend to the male protagonist and who also frankly inadvertently stole the show in my opinion. It’s rare that I find a male lead I get so attached to 💓that I want to see more of their story but such was the case with everyones favorite Pediatrician Carlos Ibarra. When Nikole Patterson begrudgingly attends a ball game with her actor boyfriend and his buddies, she wasn’t expecting to look up & see her name misspelled on the jumbotron. She also wasn’t expecting it to be a proposal from the guy she’d only been dating a couple of months. Stuck in an awkward situation in front of millions world-wide, she tries to talk some sense into him. Meanwhile Carlos & his sister who are sitting behind Nik, come up with the idea of rescuing her from the most humiliating situation as it unfolds. Pretending to know Nik, they whisk her away from the reporters who are quickly approaching to interview the woman who turned down a very public proposal.

*Photos from Pinterest*

What started off as a act of kindness turns into a sexy friends with benefits arrangement with both parties on the same page. Of course, we all know these types of arrangements can turn messy when one person starts to blur the lines and break the rules 😌 We follow Nik & Carlos as they get to know one another through group friend dates, food dates (OMYGAHH! you can taste the food right off the pages! 😋), sexy nights, and unexpected events that make it hard to stick to the rules.

Content Warnings: Grief, Talk of death of a loved one, Racism (Challenged), pregnancy complications and miscarriage, talk of past verbal abuse (non-main character)

When I first caught wind of Carlos getting his own POV story I jumped for joy and hugged my pillow! I mean, could it be I was getting THE story I so badly wanted when I first met this handsome Mexican Pediatrician in The Wedding Date?!?! 😍😍😍 Why YES! YES it was happening and I was so on board! To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Drew the MC in The Wedding Date & found him to be a bit of an a** but his BFF Carlos, now there was a guy I’d date and here’s why…

Carlos No longer practicing medicine much, Carlos is now the Assistant Director of a teen clinic where he counsels youth. Carlos has a HUGE heart & has stepped into the role of Patriarch after his fathers passing. With many women in his family to look after, he pretty much has made it so that he doesn’t have time for dating. He knows that the day he meets THE ONE, he will give her 100% of his time & that just isn’t something he sees s possible. I love this character so much but he isn’t flawless by any means, at times his protectiveness can come off as being pushy but he is quick to catch himself in those moments. Overall, Carlos is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve & given how saturated books are with toxic masculinity (not to mention IRL) he was refreshing to get to know.

Nik Fiercely independent & I wouldn’t go as far as calling her a commitment phobe but she’s not trying to get attached any time soon. Having just come from one awkward as hell situation with the last boyfriend, Nik is just going for light & fun. No strings attached. She’s a journalist with pieces published in a few major publications & writing is where her heart is at. I enjoyed Nik’s character for many reasons but the feminist in her really called out to me most. I loved seeing her interact with her friend group & also the coverage she gave a small gym owned by a woman who had a second chance in life after leaving a controlling abusive marriage (loved the message behind this characters intro). I loved the passion she has for her work & her overall helpful nature with those she cares about.

Nik’s friends Dana & Courtney Usually friend groups offer up a few good scenes & laughs but Dana & Courtney really raise the bar. Super supportive, these friends aren’t the type who’ll just say they’ll be there for you whenever you need them. They are present in Nik’s life and empower one another. Whether it’s joining a self defense class in solidarity or saving a batch of cupcakes from their shop for you on a day when you need it most, these are your ride or die friends.

Fun, sexy, filled with food and good times against the backdrop of Los Angeles; It’s my opinion The Proposal is more enjoyable than its predecessor. I rated this a high 4 stars simply, I honestly wanted Nik’s background\family life a bit more fleshed out. Told in multiple POV’s we get to see Carlos’ family & his awesome sibling relationship. Although we do see Nik’s friend group, we don’t get any of her family background. Nik is a strong independent woman & I would’ve loved to dig into her backstory a bit. Also, although I loved Carlos & still do, I almost felt his actions towards the end didn’t quite fit his personality at all. It just didn’t make sense considering how he met Nik & so I felt a bit resentful towards him for that reason alone. Last but definitely not least, I will continue to read all that Jasmine Guillory writes because of how beautifully diverse all of the characters are. The Proposal is a Contemporary Romance between Carlos a LATINX/Mexican man & Nik a black woman but we also get Courtney a Korean plus sized woman & Dana a black lesbian woman. The diversity and important topics woven in throughout Guillory’s books set them apart & will always make them a go-to for this bookworm 💜


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SEPTEMBER BOOK HAUL

Hello Bookworms! I haven’t done a book haul since July here on the blog (book buying never stopped) & that’s because during the end of August/beginning of September I was on vacation. My first one in over 10 years & it was the most magical & happiest place on earth…more to come -pictures too- in my Wrap-Up. In September I got two subscription boxes and one Exclusive Box. My Kindle probably saw the most love during September & I’m kind of happy it worked out that way cause I’m way overdue for a un-haul & cleansing of my physical shelves. I’m really excited for the books that I did haul, they’re titles I have been eagerly anticipating and can’t wait to dive into. We’ll start this haul off with a little Gosling appreciation *heart eyes*

Image result for i see books memes

 

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From Here To You | Unbroken 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth (my review)| City Of Ghosts | For A Muse Of Fire (Litjoy Crate) | Darius The Great Is Not Okay | Vengeful (Owlcrate Exclusive Edition)| Mirage (Fairyloot)| Archenemies (#Booksfortrade)| Shadowhunters & Denizens of The Downworld | City Of Bones 10th Anniversary Edition (Gift from the hubby)| Runaways Vol 1

FAIRYLOOT

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Mirage (my review) by Somaiya Daud

I read Mirage as part of a ARC Buddy read & was surprised in a good way to find that it’s a Sci-Fi Fantasy. I wasn’t expecting the sci-fi aspects but loved every bit of the world building this 1st book delivered. As for the FL box, with the exception of the shoelaces (major side eye) I’m really satisfied with the contents of their September box. My fave items are the art prints, notebook, and candle…although if I’m being honest I can’t smell anything from these teeny tiny candles so it’s more for the label *shrugs*

Fairyloot art prints & apron with quote

Owlcrate Vicious & Vengeful Exclusive Edition

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BOOK OF THE MONTH

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The Silence Of The Girls | The Mermaid And Mrs. Hancock

*Making an active effort to read these sooner rather than later 😉

KINDLE & AUDIBLE

The City Of Brass | The Last Namsara | Evidence Of The Affair | Atheists Who Kneel and Pray | The Poet X (Audible) | Pride (Audible)

*Review for Pride goes live on 10/4*

eGalleys

Enchantée | 99 Percent Mine | The Devil’s Thief (Blog Tour & Giveaway!!!!) | The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried | Slayer | Crown Of Feathers | Serious Moonlight | The Kingdom Of Copper


Hello Bookworms! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day with your next best read ❤ The next two weeks are HUGE in the publishing world with so many great new releases what are some you’re excited to see hit the shelves? Sound off in the comments down below 😉


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Blog Tour: The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell Spoiler Free Review + Giveaway!!!

Title: The Devil’s Thief

Author: Lisa Maxwell

Pub. Date: October 9th. 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fantasy

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 704

🖤 ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 🖤

WEBSITE (BUY LINKS) | MAIN WEBSITETWITTER | GOODREADS | INSTAGRAM

    

In this spellbinding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Last Magician, Esta and Harte set off on a cross-country chase through time to steal back the elemental stones they need to save the future of magic.

Hunt the Stones.
Beware the Thief.
Avenge the Past.

Esta’s parents were murdered. Her life was stolen. And everything she knew about magic was a lie. She thought the Book of Mysteries held the key to freeing the Mageus from the Order’s grasp, but the danger within its pages was greater than she ever imagined.

Now the Book’s furious power lives inside Harte. If he can’t control it, it will rip apart the world to get its revenge, and it will use Esta to do it.

To bind the power, Esta and Harte must track down four elemental stones scattered across the continent. But the world outside the city is like nothing they expected. There are Mageus beyond the Brink not willing to live in the shadows—and the Order isn’t alone in its mission to crush them.

In St. Louis, the extravagant World’s Fair hides the first stone, but an old enemy is out for revenge and a new enemy is emerging. And back in New York, Viola and Jianyu must defeat a traitor in a city on the verge of chaos.

As past and future collide, time is running out to rewrite history—even for a time-traveling thief.

Click on photo for source link

I’m just going to preface this review with a whole lot of thanks to the publishers for inviting me on this tour! The Last Magician was one of my top favorite books of 2017 & ever since then my heart has been eagerly awaiting any bit of news I could get for a sequel. The Devil’s Thief was everything I could’ve asked for in a follow-up & it will for sure be on my list of top favorite reads for 2018! ❤

Lisa Maxwell can continue writing books set in this world with these characters for the rest of eternity & I’d never tire! I thought it couldn’t get better than The Last Magician which was EPIC, atmospheric, full of action and that 1920’s NYC magic (see my review here)….coming in at 704 pages, The Devil’s Thief not only holds it’s weight, it DELIVERS!!! full of those plots twists that made it’s predecessor a page turner, The Devil’s Thief hits the ground running. This time around we get introduced to a couple of new characters along with our beloved crew of misfits. Esta and Harte are back & legit my heart could not be filled with more happiness to get more of one of all time favorite ships!<3 If you’re like me & you wished to have had more backstory to some of the side characters from The Last Magician, this book will give you all that and much more! Both Viola & Jianyu get more page time & seeing them more fleshed out only further grew my attachment to this cast of characters. Maxwell is one of those authors that gets multiple POV’s right! I love reading fantasy books in this format but find that often the characters just blend into one another. Here we have distinct voices that carry their personality all on their own, this matters when reading a behemoth of a book.

While I felt The Last Magician balanced action/plot + Character development really well, this sequel is a lot for focused on the characters. Of course I didn’t mind since I LIVE for books with characters like these but for those who love a good plot driven story, this might be a bit of a change of pace. This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion, there were still many parts that I found myself not being able to put down the book. However, we do get some slower pacing & to be honest, I for one was a bit thankful since we do get a ton of time travel between centuries and different cities. I praised Maxwell’s world building in the first book but I was left shooketh with The Devil’s Thief! I legit felt I was in St. Louis during the World’s Fair in the 1900’s so much so that returning to my every day tasks felt like a chore. I constantly wanted to be immersed in this world.

A+ world building, character development and beautiful story telling to ignite the imagination are just some of the main reasons to pick these books up! If you love Diverse Fantasy that comes off the pages organically, look no further! Maxwell has characters in her books from all walks of life, they are layered and three dimensional. One of my favorite characters to come out of these books is Viola, I wished so hard to get more from her & that wish was granted. We get a beautiful F/F romance that only further solidified Viola as my all time fave. I also enjoyed each of the new characters introduced & already am highly anticipating book 3! *adds St. Louis to list of places to see*

Lisa Maxwell is the New York Times Best-Selling author of THE LAST MAGICIAN. Also of UNHOOKED, SWEET UNREST, and GATHERING DEEP. When she’s not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

 

 


Grand Prize for the Tour Participants:

Signed copy of The Devil’s Thief

pavé snake bracelet

character art

signed swag

Runners Up (2)

Character art

signed swag pack

THROW YOUR 🎩 IN THE RING FOR A CHANCE TO WIN HERE

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS 


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SPOILER FREE GUSH REVIEW: THE SIMPLE WILD BY K.A.TUCKER

Title: The Simple Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Pub. Date: August 7th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 388

🖤 ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 🖤

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

Whenever K.A. tucker writes a book I stop whatever I’m doing to read said book & gahhhh! I’m always left with a book hangover but it can’t be helped. I LOVED The Simple Wild & felt the relationships that formed all throughout the very depths of my soul. This is the story of Calla Fletcher who we meet in the process of losing her 9 to 5 office job. She lives at home with her mom and supportive Stepdad Simon while also running a lifestyle blog on the side with her best friend. One day she gets a call from a woman asking her to fly to Alaska to see her dad who is terminally ill. Calla feels so many things at once for the man who stayed behind when she was just 2 years old & her mother decided she wasn’t cut out for Alaskan life. Feelings of abandonment, detachment, and also a need to have her questions answered.  Calla doesn’t know very much about Alaska other than the stories & descriptions her mother has shared, none have been very pleasant. She isn’t prepared for the change in lifestyle or the people who will become like a second family to her while she gets to know her estranged father.

“Life up here may be simple but it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. Water runs out; pipes freeze; engines won’t start; it’s dark for eighteen, nineteen hours a day, for months. Even longer in the far north. Up here it’s about having enough food to eat, and enough heat to stay alive through the winter. It’s about survival, and enjoying the company of the people that surround us. It’s not about whose house is the biggest, or who has the nicest clothes, or the most money. We support each other because we’re all in this together.”

We follow Calla as she settles into her dad Wren’s home, they’re strangers sharing a house for the bit of time she is visiting. I loved that Wren wasn’t written to be the type of dad who right off the bat wanted to justify his decision to stay behind while she was raised without him. He’s a quiet man full of regrets but he also understands that Calla flying to Alaska to see him is a big move on her behalf. While navigating the awkwardness around seeing her dad for the very first time, Calla also has to deal with the tall, rugged, unshaven yet handsome, proud Alaskan neighbor. Jonah has been her dad’s right hand man in a small yet profitable charter plane business. He loves everything about life in Alaska and in many ways is a younger version of Wren. Calla is a trendy city girl who has had a moderately easy life back home. Jonah sees Calla as attractive but he also has a ton of reasons (mostly Calla in his opinion being high maintenance) for which he’d never act on anything. This is definitely hate to love & I LIVED for every moment of this romance! 💓

*Content Warning: Death, Cancer, abandonment, grief 

Calla, I feel was dealt a hard hand. Not only does she have to face her dad with all her feelings of abandonement but she’s also uprooted and very far from home in a state that isn’t accommodating to city lovers. She then meets Jonah who although she’s sexually attracted to, finds that he can’t stop giving her a hard time. Calla loves to dress in the latest fashion and trying out new hair/makeup products. I saw nothing wrong with trying to maintain some level of norm while being in a place that demands you shed your past life. I loved that Calla was the complete opposite of her mother, she didn’t allow her mother’s experience to taint her view of Alaska. She’s open minded & willing to put in the work. At her very core, I felt Calla had Alaska running through her blood 🖤

Jonah as rugged as they come, but he’s honestly all bark and no roar 😂 Jonah has a huge heart & he’s very vulnerable when it comes to those he loves. Wren is someone he views as a father figure and just wants to make sure he’s well taken care of. Jonah loves piloting planes and is the very definition of a space cowboy. He isn’t without purpose though, life isn Alaska is all about community & he loves to help out whenever/wherever he can. I was bothered a bit by how hard he got on Calla over her wanting to do her makeup/hair, it just shouldn’t have mattered & I’m glad that ultimately it didn’t. Besides that, it’s safe to say I swooned hard for this guy 💓

Wren aka Calla’s Dad a man of very few words who fell in love with Calla’s mother but knew deep down she’d never be happy living in Alaska. Respectful and regretful all at the same time, Wren knows he could’ve been a better dad. Seeing the subtle way he showed Calla that he was happy to have her there warmed my heart. Ultimately my heart went out to Wren who although it may appear he continued living after Calla’s mom left, really has just been holding onto them both from afar.

Calla’s Mom Perhaps my least favorite of all the characters. I can understand making mistakes in life & doing what’s in your best interest. I get it. When Calla’s mom decided life in Alaska wasn’t for her & she had to get back to life in Toronto, she got to take Calla with her. My biggest issue with Calla’s mom is that she continously harps on how miserable she was during her time there. This happened up until the very last minute of Calla packing to go to Alaska. Then she persistently called Calla in what felt like she was hoping Calla would feel the same way & hate it there too. Lastly, although I know this happens, I am never comfortable with it. Calla is clearly still emotionally attached to Wren & there’s mention of years past where she very much could’ve left Simon her current husband, for Wren. I feel this was emotional cheating 101 & Simon just didn’t deserve it.

Simon aka Stepdad SUPER SUPPORTIVE! is very well aware of the feelings that still linger between his wife & Calla’s dad yet that never changes how good of a stepdad he is to Calla. Simon is a Psychiatrist & listening to Calla comes as second nature. He is by all definition a real dad to her, Simon definitely deserved a better love than Calla’s mom but that’s just my opinion 🤷🏻‍♀️

K.A. Tucker’s characters always manage to linger in my thoughts way past the last page. It’s not just the MC & their love interest, it’s the way she brings in side characters you begin to think of as family. I LOVED all of the characters Calla met in Alaska and often wonder about their lives only to have to remind myself that they are fictional characters. Alaska really did come to life on the page and it just seems like Tucker really did her homework on the way of life all throughout the state. I enjoyed seeing the trips Jonah took on his small aircraft into the more rural parts of Alaska where medical help & supplies are needed. The Simple Wild will transport you into it’s cold atmospheric setting but I guarantee you won’t want to leave once you meet the hard-working & neighborly people who will treat you like family…


Happy Sunday Bookworms! by the time you’re reading this i’ll probably be on my 2nd cup of coffee 🖤 but I’d love any RECOMMENDATIONS for contemporary romance books with atmospheric settings…


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Review: Unbroken 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth

Title: Unbroken 13 Stories Starring Disabled Youth

Authors: Marieke Nijkamp, William Alexander, Fox Benwell, Keah Brown, Dhonielle Clayton, Corinne Duyvis, Keah Brown, Heidi Heilig, Kody Keplinger, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Francisco X. Stork, Kayla Whaley, Kristine Wyllys

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Anthology

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 320

🖤 ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review 🖤

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

   

This Anthology holds such a special place in my heart, I found myself taking my time with each story many of which moved me or empowered me. Many left me in tears while others left me with hope. These stories are filled with strong characters who really just want to be seen and heard for the person they are rather than their disabilities be it it physical or mental or both. I am on my own personal journey with mental health, this collection felt very therapeutic to read & ultimately kept me company on days I needed it most.  Told by authors with disabilities, these stories are important and I for sure have found some new to me authors I look forward to read more from.

*Note: I’m not sure these stories are inspired by the various authors specific disabilities as it isn’t indicated. 

The Long Road by Heidi Heilig: 3.5 STARS

About a Chinese Protagonist with mental health disability who travels with her parents to Persia in search of a “cure” (mental health disability) & along the way discovers the possibility of finding others that are doing to same for their loved one(s). I loved seeing super supportive parents & also the acknowledgment that change to a more clean/healthy lifestyle can be costly.

Britt And The Bike God by Kody Keplinger: 5 STARS

Loved this story so much! Keeping in step with the first story, this also features a supportive parent. The MC has Retinitis Pigmentosa, a condition that causes the gradual loss of vision. Dad share a love of bikes with Britt, his daughter. He starts a Cyclist club since Britt’s school doesn’t have any “blind friendly sports club” & makes it all inclusive. All ages welcome with the only exception being that each gets trained to ride a tandem bike when they join & volunteer to Captain for Britt. There is a romance with a POC character (F/M) & it’s super cute! I loved the inclusivity of the bike club & that Britt is able to physically take part in the sport she loves.

The Leap and the Fall by Kayla Whaley: 3.5 STARS

Carnival stories always make for eerie settings, throw in a aggressive ghost/possession, some tarot cards and we have ourselves one atmospheric short story! This one stars a girl in her wheelchair and her BFF who she’s started to grow feelings for (F/F), this one could’ve definitely benefited from being a full length novel. The progression from long friendship to romance is hard to dive right into in such a short period of time.

Per Aspera Ad Astra by Katherine Locke: 4.5 STARS

A Sci-Fi short story starring a female coder who has panic attacks. MC lives and studies from her room not having stepped outside in months. This all changes when her world is attacked & at war, she must decide whether she can step out & offer her coding expertise to save the planet. I’m a big supporter of ALL women in STEM so this one definitely captured my interest. I also loved the supportive side character who doesn’t sweep the MC’s feelings of anxiety & fear under the rug.

Found Objects by William Alexander: 3 STARS

Latinx MC (gender not mentioned) who has idiopathic pain. This one threw me for a loop, I don’t think I fully grasped what was going on but I didn’t dislike it if that makes any sense? MC has a passion for performance art & there’s a conversation between the MC & their deceased grandfather where the issue of casting disabled people as villains is briefly mentioned. There’s also discussion of chronic pain & feeling like you can’t really talk to anyone about your pain because of the stigma. I’m not quick to label anything as being Magical Realism but this one did have an element of MR that gave off very vivid imagery.

Plus One by Karuna Riazi : 4 STARS

MC goes on her spiritual journey aka Hajj, along the way she battles against “IT” this is a presence the MC feels, sees, and tries to escape. We see her struggle with religion as well, feelings of inadequacy at not experiencing a huge transformation by the end of her Hajj. Feelings of not being devout enough all the while dealing with her plus one that only she can see. I feared for the MC at the airport where customs is known to flag people down for wearing a Hijab. I feared they wouldn’t offer up any understanding for someone struggling with mental health just because they’re wearing a Hijab. I felt this story the hardest & would love to read more from Karuna Riazi.

The Day The Dragon Came by Marieke Nijkamp: 4 STARS

This one tells the story of a girl with a cane who is treated poorly by the towns people who view her disability as a curse. She wishes to leave her town and travel/see the world. She then meets a Carpenter boy (may be Trans) who feels quite the opposite for the town they live in. He enjoys being a part of building the churches and other buildings. He also understands what it feels like to live somewhere that doesn’t accept you for who you are. A friendship turned romance story with a touch of dragon lore.

Captain, My Captain by Francisco X. Stork: 4.5 STARS

Latinx MC hears a consistent voice in his head that encourages him to liberate himself from the responsibilities that keep him by his sisters side. This voice very much tries to influence the MC’s every move. Evaluated in a school setting and said to have a “intellectual & development disability” his options for work limited. He has a sister and baby nephew he stays with along with a mother & siblings in Mexico he helps out with. His sister is in a abusive relationship & he fears what will happen if he leaves. Sibling bond is strong in this one.

Dear Nora James, You Know Nothing About Love by Dhonielle Clayton : 5 STARS

MC has a love & dating advice column for other teens, a idea she got from her grandmother who she admires. MC has never actually been in love & so it adds a bit of humor to this short story. This character has
episodes of irritable bowel disorder that keep her from being social & she also has anxiety. I actually would’ve loved a full length meet cute out of this short.

A Play In Many Parts by Fox Benwell: 4 STARS 

This short story was told in different formats, parts read like a screenplay and others are being narrated. Our MC is non-binary and
uses They/Them pronouns. MC walks with a cane and suffers from chronic pain. At first I was a bit intimidated by the format of this story but ended up really enjoying it. There’s a love for theater & the arts, and a teacher who has a passion for creating. The teachers husband may have dementia & the final act saw me unexpectedly teary eyed.

Ballad Of Weary Daughters by Kristine Wyllys: 3.5 STARS

Bi-racial MC (Native American) who has to grown up way too fast when her father up & leaves with his mistress. A hardworking mother is left to pick up the pieces of a broken home by working long hours in order to provide. MC steps up as a mother for her siblings all the while trying to cope with Bi-Polar II Disorder. There is a romance (F/F) with a Cuban girl who is super supportive and is also dealing with her own issues at home.

Mother Nature’s Youngest Daughter by Keah Brown: 5 STARS

I LOVED this one to pieces! which really doesn’t surprise me since Fantasy is my genre of choice. This short stars a MC with Cerebral Palsy who is being bullied in school. MC has hidden powers as do her siblings & her mother, she isn’t supposed to use them for wrong but makes an exception to get even with her harassers. I rooted for her of course! but it didn’t go unpunished by her mother. Each of the family members can control a different element of weather/nature & I am legit interested in a full length anything with this family! ❤

One, Two, Three (re-named “A Curse, a Kindness”)by Corinne Duyvis: 5 STARS

This in my opinion was the best story to close off this collection. A autistic girl finds herself cursed after bearing witness to a accident. MC is a young girl when she witnesses the accident & isn’t able to respond to a call for action at the moment. Autistic, young, and in shock she is approached by a mysterious man who places a curse on her life. She must grant 3 wishes to whoever shows her a kindness for the rest of her life. A chance encounter with a girl in a parking lot has the potential to change her life. F/F romance that left me smiling.

Content Warning: Death, Physical abuse, misgendering, anxiety, adultery

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This weeks topic spotlights the top 10 unread books by your favorite authors. I typically like to read my faves as they are released but this year saw me collecting them & not reading them? yea It’s this new thing where I find myself avoiding book hangovers by not reading my faves 🤦🏻‍♀️ this will be changing in 2019 though that’s for sure. Watch me play catch up 😉

*These are in no particular order*

September 25th: Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read

Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor– Strange made an appearance in my TTT last week as will others because I will be reading them this Fall/Winter season. Laini is my #1 favorite YA author of all time, this book is going to break me with its beauty & I’m finally ready to embrace all of it!

Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo– My Dark Queen has written two books that I haven’t read but know that I’m going to LOVE! I actually learned about this book from Leigh Bardugo while listening to her speak at a signing at NYC Strand. It wasn’t news in the bookish community so it was a real treat to get the 411 straight from Leigh Bardugo. Definitely reading WW this season.

The Language Of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo– This book is STUNNING both inside & out with eye popping illustrations. I meant to read this last Winter just cause it has cold season vibes but that didn’t happen. This Winter season I will be reading this collection.

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff– Jay Kristoff won me over with The Illuminae Files & since then I’ve just wanted to read all of his books. I also own The Lotus War trilogy that I’d really like to get to but Nevernight has 100% of my interest for next Kristoff read.

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare– It’s been a while since I’ve been in the Shadowhunter world & returning to it this Fall will probably be a bit nostalgic. I have a ton of good memories buddy reading TMI & TID with my hubby. Since he’s already read Lady Midnight, I will have someone at home to bounce my thoughts off of 😂

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman– Uncle Gaiman as I affectionally have dubbed him here on the blog, wrote a book and I haven’t read it 🙈 what’s worse is that I love anything Greek or Norse Mythology so I really don’t have any excuse. I’m a big fan of Gaiman’s audiobooks, he has one of my favorite narrating voices & it always feels like I’m getting a bedtime story. This is a collection of short stories so I may just read it along with another book.

Wire and Nerve by Marissa Meyer– This Illustrated Graphic Novel has been sitting on my shelves for far too long! I loved The Lunar Chronicles & Iko was my fave character along with Captain Thorne of course. Iko as a lead though is all my heart could’ve hoped for so it’s time I give this one a go.

Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker– K.A. Tucker holds a special place in my heart as the first New Adult author I ever read. I’m so happy it was Tucker cause since then I’ve been OBSESSED with anything she writes. Until It Fades gave me darker vibes though but that might just be my perception. Either way, having just recently finished The Simple Wild by Tucker, I want nothing more than to read those books I have yet to get to by this author.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I actually received my Owlcrate exclusive edition box for the sequel Vengeful earlier today & it was EVERYTHING I could’ve hoped for 🙌🏽 I LOVED The Monsters of Verity Duology so much last year that I just simply couldn’t resist! Most bookworms love the Darker Shades Of Magic books & although I didn’t become obsessed after reading the 1st book, I haven’t quite given up on them either 😂 I will be reading Vicious sometime in October.

The Winds Of Winter by George R.R. Martin – Sort of cheating here since this isn’t out in the world for me to read but I feel putting it out in the Universe may make it actually happen in my lifetime #jussayin 🤷🏻‍♀️ We keep getting other books in this EPIC world & I welcome them all but I just really need book 6 like yesterday 😂


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🐉Spoiler Free Review: As She Ascends by Jodi Meadows🐉

Title: As She Ascends (Fallen Isles #2)

Author: Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date: September 11th. 2018

Genre: YA FANTASY

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books/Harper

Pages: 560

🐉 ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 🐉  

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

The sequel I’ve been anxiously awaiting is FINALLY here & it was everything  I was hoping it would be! If Before She Ignites was the breaking down of Mira’s reality, then As She Ascends lives up to it’s name with Mira rising like the Dragon Queen she really is! In the previous book we meet our Protagonist as she come across the cold hard truth about the government in Fallen Isles. A world entrusted by the Gods to take care of their children the dragons, has turned their backs on these creatures. Mira believes whole heartedly in The Great Abandonment, the belief that if the dragons aren’t fiercely protected, the Gods would truly abandon their people and devastation would spread across the islands. The problem is, not everyone believes in The Great Abandonment. Dragons are mysteriously dissapearing  from their sanctuaries due to unexplained illnesses and acts of violence. Mira and friends are being hunted by Altan & his group of Drakon Warriors (Once were in a position of honor for being protectors of the Isles) all the while they search for truths & a way to save all Dragons.

Mira’s character is one that I hold near & dear to my heart for so many reasons. Mira struggles with anxiety and OCD, we see her thrown in a jail cell without access to her medications in the last book and the effects that had on her. Here Mira is learning how to cope with her anxiety and find peace within the chaos her life has been turned into. I’m glad to see her mental health challenges weren’t written away, instead Meadows gives us a very realistic MC who isn’t made of Teflon. Mira’s strength comes from deep within, she’s caring and loving to her friends and has a maternal love for dragons that even they can sense. To see that even those saving the day in our books, can struggle with mental health issues is appreciated & frankly something we need to see more of. Seeing Mira experience many of the episodes I myself deal with felt relatable. Seeing her have a support system of friends who understand & help her through them send such a positive message.

There are so many great characters to love in this book besides Mira but I have such a soft spot for Aaru. Silent in movement & speech, this Idrisi has stolen my heart. Strong in his beliefs & unwilling to bend or break his faith, Aaru finds himself unable to stay away from Mira. This character intrigued me so much in Before She Ignites, so much so that when I realized Meadows had given him his platform to tell his story through a series of flashbacks I was elated. I figured Aaru had to have had a difficult past but I just didn’t imagine how hard its been. On Aaru’s Island, women aren’t allowed to work and are though of as the lesser sex. This is something he can’t wrap his head around & seeing him fight for what he believes in made me respect and appreciate him all the more. Aaru is the calm Mira seeks, when they’re together the whole world is a much quieter place where Mira feels at peace.

Last but not least, for those who wanted to see more dragons in Before She Ignites Meadows delivers & honestly has me obsessing! 😍 Not only are Lala & Crystal back 🐉💓🐉 but we get introduced to more amazing majestic dragons along the way. Lala & Crystal are given personalities and we get to see Mira & her BFF/Wing Sister train & take care of them.

There’s so much positive to say when it comes to this trilogy, mental health rep being at the forefront. Having a strong support system & practicing self-care even when you think it’s not possible. I love these characters with all of my heart & every time I step into this world is a real treat. Hella diverse, our MC is a POC as is her love interest and this time around we also have a Lesbian relationship between two of the supporting characters. The character growth is A+ if you’re looking at Before She Ignites as Mira hitting rock bottom. As She Ascends sees Mira finding real confidence, growing, and breaking away from those who’ve lied to her. Surrounding herself with genuine people & discovering inner strength. Aaru also had deep character growth while some of the others found new meaning & purpose in life.

The World Building was EPICCCC!!!! between the dragons & the culture/history we got from each of the Islands and the Gods that represent them/their people, I don’t know what I enjoyed most. This time around we see how these Gods affect the people & the power/strengths they draw from their Gods. I can picture the Fallen Isles so vividly & the ending left me with chills!!! to say that I miss this world having just been in it would be the understatement of the year for this bookworm. I am so curious to see where Mira goes next & the dragons she discovers along the way…


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