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

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/Diverse

Pages: 352 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger warning: attempted rape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting On Wednesday

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Publication Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Time Travel

Pages: 464 pages

*click on cover for Goodreads

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

 

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

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

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

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

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

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

Review: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication Date: June 1st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 300 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Review: Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 30th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Suicide & attempted suicide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Monstrous Sea art by Francesca Zappia found on Monstrous Sea Tumblr

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

WWW Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Year Q&A: Answers Part 2

In celebration of my 1 year blogoversary, I asked readers & fellow bloggers to take part in my Q&A. The turnout left my heart smiling but it also left me having to split my answers post into 2 parts (part I here). This is the 2nd round of answers, I had a ton of fun answering these & hope you enjoy the read…

Kim @ByHookOrByBook

 Q: What fictional character most resembles you?

A: I’ve been called Hermione Granger too many times

Q: Is there a setting in a book/series that left you longing to live there?

A: Ok I won’t say Hogwarts cuz that’s just obvious lol so I’ll go with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’d love to be wherever Le Cirque des Rêves arrives & wear my red scarf every night 😉

Q: If you were shipwrecked on an island and could only have one book, which would it be?

A: Another blogger asked If I only had one book to re-read, what would it be? I’d still say that in my shipwrecked situation that I’d find pleasure in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire. Even if the Triwizard tournament would probably set my nerves on a frenzy being stuck on said island haha!


Raven @DreamyAddictions

Q: If you were given a chance to live in a book for a day which book would you choose? 

A: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray…The world building in that book! I’m not even sure if I could choose just one world to live in from this book, they’re all interesting.

Q:Who inspires you the most? 

A: My 2 tiny humans, they remind me to stay young & fun 😉

Q: Name three of your top favorite fantasy books?

A: Gah! just 3?!?! Ok here goes…Red Rising by Pierce Brown, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence, & of course Harry Friggin Potter! haha!


Stephanie @TeacherOfYa 

Q: what author are you most excited to meet? 

A: I believe Stephanie asked this question as it pertained to Bookcon lol, & this would hands down be Adam Silvera & he asked me on Twitter if I was going & I said yes so *fingers crossed*

Q: what’s the best book you’ve read this year so far?

A: OhMYGosh! so hard with so many great ones but it would have to be The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


Shanah @Bionic Book Worm

 Q: if you could have one fictional character as a best friend, who would it be and why?

A: Molly Peskin-Suso from The Upside of Unrequited because I could relate to her experience as it was similar to mine in High School. I can totally see myself on Pinterest boards with her & working on DIY projects in her kitchen lol.


Analee @ Book Snacks

 Q: If you could meet one fictional character who would it be?

A: Nina Zenik from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo in hopes she brings waffles <3!

Q: Favourite underrated book?

A: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Q: Favourite/least favourite part of blogging?

A: this is more about me…when I am backlogged in comments it can be tough getting up to date. A 3 day break can lead to spending a whole day catching up which means no blog hopping that day *sobs*


Reads & Reels 

Q: Are you happy with the direction your blog has taken or did you expect a certain outcome at the 1-year mark?

A: Yes I am happy with where I’m at. I’ve pretty much got a handle on what I like/dislike to read & that was big for me. My blog is big on reviews but i’m pushing myself to include discussion posts & more of my other loves like movies & TV shows…further down the road maybe venture into creating my own meme 😉


Lia @LostInAStory

 Q: Which character would you bring to life, even if that meant they had to leave their fictional world and would have to stay in ours forever?

A: Dobby (Harry Potter)…that death scene broke me & yea I’d bring him back in a heartbeat!


Darnell 

Q: Which book was on your TBR the longest? Which book made you rage DNF?

A: Currently still on my TBR & on my shelf unread is Brandon Sanderson’s The Way Of Kings..It’s HUGE! intimidates the heck outta me lol. I don’t really DNF (2 to date) but Roseblood by A.G. Howard really pissed me off with all it’s external beauty it was the biggest let down.


Sam @SpinesInALine

 Q: What was your favourite cover, released or not?

A: Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer *sigh* that beauty that is that book! *heart eyes*


Kee the Reader

 Q: Do you have a favourite book dragon?

A: Kee, I’m going to admit I don’t know what a Book Dragon is *hides* please help! LOL


Rachel @Life of a Female Bibliophile, Megan @BookBirds, Larkin @WonderFilledReads

 Q: What diverse/or just general books would you recommend to read that are often underrated or that haven’t been featured too much in the blogging community

A: American Street by Ibi Zoboi, You’re Welcome Universe, by Whitney Gardner, and When the Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie McLemore


Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku

Q: What are your favorite pizza toppings?

A: philly cheese steak pizza is dabomb.com! so everything that comes with it haha!

Q: What is the last book your DNF’d?

A: Roseblood by A.G Howard *sigh* BIG let down…

Q: What is your favorite piece of book swag?

A: Generally speaking I’m a sucker for all of the bookish themed candles but if we’re talking about one that I own…my red Caraval tote bag <3!

Q: What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

A: The readers I’ve met along the way. Those who love to read & or blog have given me a a home away from home. My hubby is a reader & for a long time he was the only person I could talk to about books. Now, there are so many of you out there in same/different time zones always up for a good book chat…it’s the best!

Q: If you had one completely useless superpower, what would it be?

A: The ability to have my home cleaned w/out moving a muscle…dream come true!


Amanda @Cover2CoverMom

Q: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: This is going to sound super boring but honestly isn’t surprising lol…a English teacher. I thought it was super cool that there was a job where one could read books & talk about them in class. Then I grew up & realized you don’t have to be a teacher to do this! lol it would totally be editor now 😉

Q: Worst dating experience?

A: BAHHHA! I once went out on a date with a guy to dinner & a movie…the following day he called me…scratch that…his wife called me while his 2 kids ran around in the background -_- & THAT was the end of THAT smh. I changed up my screening process after that & started becoming quite the detective before accepting a full on date lol.

Q: List your phobias…

A: EASY. SPIDERS. THE END! *sobs*

Q: If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?

A: something edgy, so tired of my name being considered old timey lol. I dunno, possibly Blake, Rain, Ruby, or River…suck at this but anything that doesn’t scream OLD. Probably why I go by Lilly at all times 😉

Q: How did you come up with your blog name?

A: Hubby & I always joked about heading back to our Lair after watching a Supernatural episode. The one where Dean & Sam discover the Men of Letters Lair & that became our thing. Then we added book shelves & I started getting more involved with blogging, pretty soon it was LairofBooks 🙂

Q: List the book bloggers that are #goals for you (and you can’t say Cait @PaperFury lol)

A: Bookidote, SheLatitude, and TalesoftheRavenousReader there are many more but these are the 3 that came to mind right away.


KrystiYAandWine

Q: So my question would be, after one full year of doing this, do you have any advice on balancing blogging/SM/and actually READING the books?

A: I’m actually still trying to find what works best for me & honestly I think this is something that you will always stay switching up because LIFE. I have recently moved & it deeply affected my blogging time for a bit until I found what works now. For reading in particular, I do feel that reading whenever possible has helped keep me stay on top of my ARCS. Even if its 15 minutes or just 1 chapter…it’s progress. In regards to blogging, I’ve gotten into the habit of scheduling posts which frees me up to blog hop. My Social media, I bookstagram more than I tweet but that’s something I’m also working on getting better at. TBH, interacting within the blogging community via blog hopping has worked out best for me. A lot of times I will catch up on my backlog of comments & visit each of those bloggers while at it. Still working on it though but if you find the secret 1st, please share! 😉

Thank you to all those who submitted questions & just stuck around following my blog & showing love. I appreciate each & every one of you! ❤ ❤ ❤

1 Year Q&A: Answers Post Part I & Giveaway Winner Announced

LairOfBooks turned 1 earlier this week & I decided to celebrate with a little Q&A/Giveaway. I really wasn’t expecting the turnout but I’m so happy to see my faves join in on the fun! The questions vary & if your question was similar to another, I went ahead & grouped them together so as to not make this longer than it will probably be. I did end up having to break this post up into 2 parts due to the length, many of you submitted multiple questions & I really wanted to answer them all w/out carrying on for too long lol. I apologize for the delay in winner announcement as I was set to announce on Sunday. My weekend didn’t turn out as expected & instead I’ve been running around non-stop.

THE WINNER OF MY GIVEAWAY IS *Sheila E. DRUM ROLL*

giphy

Beth @ ReadingEveryNight !!!!

*I will be reaching out to Beth to exchange address info & book selection this afternoon*

&&& Now, for my answers where I reveal just how much of an oddball I really am haha! grab your beverage of choice/fave snack & settle in for the what I promise will be an entertaining read 😉

Bloggers/Readers Asked & I answered…

Ishita- book blogger (@bookmyopia)

Q: W.r.t intersectional diversity, what kind of marginalized groups would you like to see represented in books a lot more?

A: Ishita, I had to REALLY think about this one because it’s SUPER important! I would love to see more Afro-Latinx LGBTQIA+ representation in books across all genres. Wonderful question 😉


Jackie @ toomuchofabooknerd

Q: What was your favourite book as a kid (if you remember)?

A: I have 2 that I couldn’t possibly choose between. Charlottes Web & Alice In Wonderland. Alice in Wonderland was a cassette tape I found in my McDonalds Happy Meal as a kid & I played it non-stop till I memorized the book start to finish. This is when I began my obsession with Cheshire 😉


Debby @alwaysbooking

Q: If you had to pick book boyfriends for your closest blogging friends i.e. Danielle, Gretchen, me and whoever else lol Who would they be and why????? LOL

A: Ok after much debate haha! I’d pair Gretchen with Rhys/ACOTAR, Debby with Azriel/ACOTAR, and Danielle with everyone’s dream man *drum roll* Jon Snow *heart eyes* as for my reasons…they’d kill me if it were any other way LOL!


Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads

Q: what’s your favorite diverse book that you’ve read so far this year?

A: Fave diverse book?!?! that’s a tough one with so many great ones so far but…The Hate U Give & The Upside of Unrequited

Q: What’s the most challenging part of blogging for you?

A: The most challenging part of blogging for me has been balancing my very limited time btwn reading, blogging and blog hopping. It’s not easy but I basically take advantage of down time as much as possible whenever possible (bathroom counts lol)


kmbooks24

Q: What is the one book (or series, I’m not that cruel haha!) that you love to read over and over?

A: sadly I am not a re-read type of gal just because SO MANY BOOKS! right?!?! haha! however, I have been eyeing December for my very 1st Harry Potter re-read with my hubby. It’s time to revisit the books that are sort responsible for our relationship ❤


Gretchen ChicNerdReads AKA MY TWIN!

Q: is there a book that helped you through a hard time? if yes, what book?

A: time to get a bit personal, my book didn’t help me get through a hard time but it helped me better understand a hard time. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I wasn’t expecting the message in this book but when I received it, I realized it touched on feelings of grief I was burying deep for my dad.

Q: if you could vacation with one character, who would it be? and why?

A: Hands down, Magnus Bane! especially now that I know what happened in Peru (gotcha thinking ehh Twin?!?!). He’s well traveled & I’m pretty sure he’d know ALL the great spots to have fun 🙂

Q: who’s an author you feel like you can never get tired of?

A: Adam Silvera and it’s so odd because his books all pull on your heart strings til’ your a blubbering mess reaching out for the nearest tissue box. The thing is, his characters are so relatable, complex, and so fleshed out that I end up getting attached to them. I can’t get enough of his writing.


Annie @TheMisstery

Q: What is your favorite cliché in books?

A: Bahhha! the brooding & mysterious loner (might wear a leather jacket & ride a bike) who YOU KNOW! has a heart of gold beneath all that sadness lol smh *hides under a rock*


Danielle Books, Vertigo and Tea

Q: Name one gulity pleasure you have when it comes to reading (i.e. I love dark family secrets – VC Andrews).

A: that’s a good one Danielle, I auto thought of The Roanoke Girls. Mine would have to be unreliable narrators. The more complex & effed up, the more interested I get lol. I’ve been saving Girl On the Train for the perfect day, soon as I heard main protog is an alcoholic who spies on a couple I ran for it 😂

Q: Do you have any embarrassing stories centered around books?

A: well most recently I moved (as you already know lol) & that meant packing up all of my book babies. When the moving company arrived, all was packed up & ready to go only they couldn’t move my GINORMOUS box of books. They stood there talking in Spanish (my 2nd language), wondering what could possibly be in that box. Don’t believe they thought I understood them & tbh when they ended up having to get more guys just to get the box on a trolley, I wasn’t going to let them know I understood or what was in my box 🙈📚🙈

Q: Please share one thing about yourself that you are pretty certain the blogging community does not know.

A: I’m as much of a movie buff now as I am a book reader. When I was 20 yrs old I got a job working at BlockBuster…at the time my dream job list was limited to B&N or BlockBuster so this was a dream come true lol. Strict parents never let me go to the theatre so once I started working, I made full use of their employee product knowledge program 😂 Every Tuesday (like in the book world) was new release day, this was like my bday every week 😂 I still have a ton of oldies but goodies to watch (Independence Day & The Green Mile). I have not watched Forrest Gump & yes many references do fly over my head 🤷🏻‍♀️


Stephanie @betweenfoldedpages

 Q: How do you keep up with reading and normal life?

A: I’m still figuring this one out lol, I do have a lax office job which frees me up to blog a bit during down time. Reading I do on my lengthy (1+ hour each way) commute to & from work. This is the reason why I don’t have a set blogging schedule & probably why this post is going up late. I blog on the go, currently answering these questions @ a BBQ 😂


Ashley @insidemylibrarymind

 Q: What’s the best and what’s the hardest thing about blogging for you?

A: The best part is always having someone to talk or vent about a book with. The book community is seriously around the clock lol. I’ve made a handful of good friends that have turned into friends outside of the blogosphere to be thankful for 💕

The hardest part is time or lack thereof really, I’m a on-the-go blogger most of the time. There are some things that I can’t do on the go though like graphics/images.


Sofii @ABookAThought

 Q: If you would have to read the same book forever, what would it be?

A: Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire; for some it may be their least favorite but the Triwizard Tournament is my all time favorite ❤️


Beth @ ReadingEveryNight 

Q: Do you have any exciting plans for the next year of blogging on Lair of Books?

A: finding my voice as far as discussion post is something I struggle with. The next year will see me trying out topics & also including some of my other loves like movies & tv shows. The blog will still be about my love for books but with a touch of my other pass times 😉

Q: What has been your proudest moment so far as a blogger (apart from reaching your one year blogiversary)?

A: I’m gonna go with de-bunking the 6 month age old ARC rule…you know, the one that states you can’t request/approved for ARCS before your blog is at least 6 months old.

Q: What book were you the most excited for this year that didn’t live up to your expectations?

A: Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (review here)

Q: What book are you the most excited for still to be released?

A: Tough because so many of the books I was highly anticipating have been released over the past couple of months. However, I am serious about getting my copy of When Dimple Met Rishi this coming Tuesday. Serious enough to order it for p/u at the nearest B&N near my hubby’s job since I work in what some consider a desert -_-

Q: What book was the best discovery you made through blogging?

A: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, this book is close to my heart for many reasons. As a mother of two bi-racial tiny humans, my biggest fear is what took place in this book. Nevertheless, I needed to read this book to add to the perspective I have gained by being married to a African American man.

Q:  If you could visit one place; real or fictional, what would it be?

A: I mean c’mon, this Potter head wouldn’t pass on a trip to Hogsmeade/Howarts ANY place really in the Potterverse lol 😉


Mistysbookspace

 Q: Have you read any diverse books about physical disabilities? If so, can you recommend some?

A: The only book I’ve read with physical disabilities was Me and You by JoJo Moyes and that I’ve since relaized, was not good representation. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across any others but I would love some recommendations myself. If you happen to come across any good ones please share 😉

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to up and coming bloggers?

A: Let your personality shine through your blog so that when reading your blog, there’s no doubt in anyones mind who wrote it. Whether it’s reviews, memes, tags, or discussions posts…if you’re having fun blogging, everyone will notice & are more likely to return <3!

Q: Do you have any pets? If so, pictures please!!

A: I don’t anymore. I recently had my Shitzu Lexi of 15 years pass away. She was mine for many years & when I couldn’t take her with me to my new place, she became my mom’s best friend. TBH Lexi wasn’t anyones really, she was very proud & independent. I never saw her as a dog but rather, a close & beloved member of my family. My kids & hubby really want a dog & later down the road I would love to open my door to a new furry friend 😉

Q: What is one book you would recommend everybody reading?

A: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, it may not be a comfortable read for a lot of readers but it’s a necessary & relevant one. I hope it makes its way into classrooms soon *fingers crossed*

Stay tuned for Part II…

 

1 Year Blogoversary Q&A/Giveaway Announcement!

Good Monday morning my AMAZING Bookworm family! I am so excited to share this milestone with you all. On 5/24/17, LairOfBooks will have its 1st Blogoversary!!!! *confetti* HAHA! I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to the 1 year mark what with all of the curveballs life has thrown my way. SO many amazing things have happened this past year & this little blog has helped keep me centered. Before blogging, my audience for all things books was my hubby & he’s great and all but I realized he has to sleep too. I was in search of a community similar to Booktube minus the having to get on video cause that’s just not my thing *introvert* lol & I’m happy to have found all you amazing book bloggers/readers.

Q&A

So now here’s where it gets innnneresting 😉 I’ve never done one of these & I’m kind of hoping you all have fun with it. Starting today & running until Friday May 26th 2017 (12 Midnight EST.) I will be be accepting all of your questions be it blog related or personal, I’m a open book (see what I did there? jeje). Also, for those who submit a question I will count that as an additional entry to the giveaway.

Giveaway

This will be my 2nd Giveaway, my first being sometime in the beginning of the year for an Owlcrate box. One lucky winner will win a pre-order of 1 of the titles pictured below. I wanted to offer all of you some options while still making sure I stay true to LairOfBooks mission to read Diverse Books as much as possible. Two of these books aren’t diverse reads but I know they are titles EVERYONE including myself are looking forward to (eeeeeeK Wonder Woman!). The titles are listed after the rules & addtl’ entries. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!!! *more confetti* So without further ado, I present to you the rules to enter:

  • Since this giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, you just have to have a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)
  • Simply comment down below that you’d like to be entered & it shall be done

For Additional entries

  • Ask a question, be it about books/blog/or personal (1 extra entry)
  • Follow my Bookstagram account Lair_Of_Books  (1 extra entry)
  • Follow my Twitter @LairOfBooks 

*This giveaway will run starting today 5/22/17 til Friday 12 Midnight EST. 5/26/2017

Good luck to all those who decide to throw their hat in the ring. I’ve dusted out the old Mason jar & can’t wait to start filling it up 😉

 

Review: The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

Publisher: Touchstone

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 359 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Rape

Cover = Goodreads

What is the difference between justice and revenge? In this buzzworthy new standalone thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, two wronged women on very different paths find themselves in the same dark place…

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

The majority of this year has been dedicated to my YA titles but a change of pace was needed. Typically I turn to the thriller/Suspense genre whenever I’m in need of a good palette cleanser. Sometime last year I read Lisa Unger’s Ink and Bone & was hooked from page 1 to the very last. When I started seeing The Red Hunter’s beautiful splash of red all over my Bookstagram feed, I sent a little prayer to the Book Gods & went to see if Netgalley was offering it for review & the rest is history lol. I read the majority of this book in 1 day (60%), Lisa Unger once again delivered a immersive page turner. We get introduced to these two women who have been through traumatic experiences & somehow the reader knows their paths are fated to cross in some way.

Claudia is a rape survivor & we get to see her aftermath, she has a teenage daughter who may or may not be from her attacker. Her life has been turned upside down but she has chosen to re-build away from all of that by moving away from the city. I really enjoyed Claudia’s character, she has battle scars & yet she perseveres to find her peace. She has this love for places that have that lived in feel & so picking up and going to the country side to try & renovate her dads old house fit her personality so well. The parts where we see her blogging (some entries from her blog included) about her trauma & the home renovation were some of my fave parts. It did seem at times like she couldn’t catch a break with some of the decisions she made lol but that just added to her charm. We also get to follow her Daughter Raven’s POV. Raven knows all about her mom’s rape since they’ve chosen to be very honest, we get to see her search for more answers.

Zoey survived the murder of her parents when she was just a kid. Through a home invasion, both of her parents are tied up & asked to divulge the location of 1 million dollars (lots of backstory here but spoilers lol). Her parents are ultimately killed and Zoey herself is hurt & tortured. Fast Forward to the present & now we have someone who is searching for justice. She has taken up martial arts classes & excelled in training. You get the feeling that Zoey is traveling with a “dark passenger” (for fans of Dexter lol). Although she has re-built her life with the help of her uncle Paul (retired detective), she hasn’t been able to put her demons to rest. I LOVE morally ambiguous characters & I got that with Zoey who has taken so many hits that I found myself rooting for her to strike back!

The cast of characters in Red Hunter is bigger than these two leading ladies. We get to meet a lot of the people who have formed their support system as well. From Claudia, we have her daughter Raven & her ex husband. Zoey who comes from a cop family, has her uncle Paul, her martial arts teacher who is also a retired cop, and other cops as well who are still in her life. Unger manages to keep all players on the chess board while she weaves their story lines together. Once again she’s left me with fictional characters I love & will always remember.

The Red Hunter is up there for top faves of 2017 & cements my love for Lisa Unger. She is now an auto-buy author for me & I will be keeping an eye out for anything & everything she puts out. I don’t want to get into the plot too much because that would lead to spoilers & take away the fun. The Goodreads blurb does a good job of summing it up w/out ruining anything. There’s so much story in these 359 pages & seeing her skills with weaving the lives in this story together leaves you in awe…FLAWLESS! Perhaps what I love the most about her writing style is her ability to deliver characters I can’t help getting invested in. I genuinely end up caring about where their roads lead which leads to my want for a series from this author *silent prayer to the book Gods* Lastly, the mark of every Unger book would have to be her settings. This time the story took place mostly in the country in that house Claudia is renovating. Yet just like the Hollows in Ink and Bone, you can’t help but see the house as its own character. It has a soul & holds a dark & violent past making for a very atmospheric read. I hands down highly recommend The Red Hunter to all readers & please can we get more Lisa 😉

*Thank you Touchstone, Netgalley, and Lisa Unger for the opportunity to read a eGalley copy of The Red Hunter in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have any of you awesome bookworms read or plan to read The Red Hunter? if you have, which character was your favorite?

Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA

Pages: 384 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Cover = Goodreads

Amazon/Barnes & Noble

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan, Netgalley, and Cale Dietrich for the eGalley of The Love Interest in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

If you’re anything like me, after reading the Goodreads blurb for The Love Interest, you immediately got This Means War vibes. You know? the one with Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy? yea, that would be the one! & just like the rom-com, The Love Interest doesn’t take itself too seriously & this alone made it a fun read. This book is a satire of all those YA tropes we either love or hate. It’s self aware & as such, is chock full of laugh out loud moments that will leave you shaking your head. We first get introduced to the love interests Caden & Dylan while they’re in the facility that houses others like them while they get all of the necessary spy training. A spy is said to have been taken from their home (voluntary/involuntary is unknown) from childhood & sorted based on personality to either be a Bad or a Nice. Depending on which you were sorted under, you’d receive specific training & skill sets to ultimately be paired up with a person of importance in the outside world. Julia is a high school student who is set to have her pick of universities based on the fact that she is a GENIUS inventor. Targeted as a V.I.P. by the secret organization that deals with selling secrets for top dollar, Julia has no idea she’s about to be highly sought out. Caden is a Nice & Dylan is a Bad, both sent in to better the odds of Julia picking one of them as her love interest. These guys go out of their way to woe Julia in their own ways & will offer you non-stop entertainment. However, it’s not all fun & games for these guys who have the constant threat of death over their heads if they fail. Whoever Julia doesn’t choose will be put to death which only serves as motivation in the race to Julia’s heart. What happens when a Love Interest falls in love for someone other than their intended target? *GASP*

Told in first person point of view, we get Caden (the Nice) as our narrator. Caden is your cliche blonde guy with blue eyes and abs for days haha! I don’t want to give away too much but just know that the spy organization plays no games when it comes to perfecting their love interests. Caden will come off as self absorbed & I believe it’s purposely done. I love my YA books but if we’re being honest, we all know that Caden is a representation of what we see as the male lead interest. Now Dylan doesn’t fall short either lol he plays the broody bad boy, so dark & mysterious with his book of poetry & leather jacket. Then we have Julia who is a a genius inventor in high school who has that quiet beauty. She’s so focused on her inventions that dating isn’t at the forefront. By the end of this book, Julia was hands down my favorite of the characters but no spoilers here lol. We get two other supporting characters, Natalie & Trevor who also attend the same high school and are in a relationship. They also happen to be best friends with Julia & so we get to see them join in on the battle of the Nice vs. Bad. These characters are over the top versions of what we see in the YA genre & I enjoyed the satirical take. I’ve seen other reviews critique the one-dimensional characters which is true…but I don’t think the author set out to have us connect with these extremely tropey characters. If you’re looking for characters you can connect with, this isn’t the book for you. This is the book you pick up if you’ve read tons of YA, love it to death but can still poke fun at the many tropes we often see in our beloved books.

This is Cale Dietrich’s debut album & I love that it was so much fun to read. I took it for what it presented itself to be…a parody of all the YA tropes you can possibly find in the YA genre lol. I laughed so hard reading this book, an overall good time. Those who have been with my blog for a while now know how much I love YA & that I read/review tons of it. I also love good humor and The Love Interest provided a few hours of comedy. I docked it a star simply because it wrapped up too quickly in the end. I recommend this one for all those looking for some light hearted fun & a plot that will keep you guessing the outcome 😉

The Love Interest is out today (links to buy can be found at the very top), have any of you awesome bookworms picked up a copy? if you’ve already read it, what are some of your thoughts?