REVIEW: MIRAGE BY SOMAIYA DAUD

Title: MIRAGE

Author: Somaiya Daud

Pub. Date: August 28th. 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 320

Format: Physical ARC provided by the Publisher

*Thank you Flatiron Books for the arc in exchange for an honest review

Content Warning: Physical abuse, Kidnapping, and  Cultural erasure

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany, Amy from A Court Of Crowns and Quills, Julie from Pages and Pens, Jules from JA Ironside, and Chelsea from Chelsea Palmer

    

Mirage is Somaiya Daud’s Moroccan inspired debut that will leave readers wanting more from this author once the very last page is read. I’m not sure how I’d missed the fact that this is a Sci-Fi book when I first came across it however, this only further served to enhance my curiosity. The fact that it also spoke of poetry in the blurb was a major draw & wow! I had no idea how much of a treat I’d signed myself up for with this one. Daud gives us beauty and pain all wrapped into one with Mirage & that it’s set on another planet/moon is just the backdrop to this story. At its core, Mirage is a story about cultural erasure and the brutality faced by an invaded peoples. We are introduced to an MC who has had everything she values most taken away from her but somehow manages to hold on just enough to never surrender her spirit. I admired our MC, her values, culture, tradition, and people defined her and emboldened her to fight back. Mirage doesn’t read like a debut at all but instead that of the works of a seasoned author. Daud is an author I will be keeping an eye out for and hoping to everything that we get more of her writing in the very near future 🤞🏼

For Amani, receiving the tattoos on her face known as Daan on her Majority Night was everything to look forward to. A representation of stepping into adulthood, a rites of passage. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the events that destroyed her ceremony & took her away from those she loved. Kidnapped by imperial droids, Amani is taken covertly to the royal palace. There, she meets royal heir Maram who she is the spitting image of. Maram has plans for Amari that would make her a human shield. For Maram, being part Andaalan from her Mother’s side has always generated her much hate from the Vathek on her father’s side. She knows her life faces constant threat and figured Amani would make the perfect body double. Stripping Amani of her Daan was just the beginning, she is also made to learn Vathek mannerisms, history, and etiquette against her will and through physical abuse. Maram isn’t the only heir with a claim to the throne, she has an older sister who poses a threat and proving her worth to her father and the Vathek is her top priority.

We see Amani get sent out as Maram’s doppelganger which allows her an inside look to the politics of the kingdom. She also spends plenty of time with Maram which inevitably leads to learning her vulnerabilities. Part of acting in as Maram means keeping up appearances with her courtship as she is promised to Prince Idris ibn Salih. Idris is from one of the oldest and largest Andaalan royal families who once resisted Vathek invasion. Their concession to Vathek rule resulted in the loss of many lives and Idris the last surviving heir was pledged to marry Maram. The true test would be seeing if Amani could pass for Maram while in his company. Both Idris and Amani carry the weight of their peoples loss and pain on their shoulders. They both have so much in common that a connection is almost impossible not to make once they start spending time together as a part of their courting. This romance is dangerous and had my full attention from the very start, every meet-up had me a bit nervous for these two. We see both Amani & Idris make decisions in hopes of one day freeing their people which means they will also face some serious obstacles & I’m just here hoping theirs is a good ending 🤞🏼

If you’re looking for A+ world building, political intrigue, strong characters, Moroccan inspired culture, and yes a bit of insta-love (but I promise it’s the one you’ll want to root for 😂) and a bit of Sci-Fi along the way… then MIRAGE is the book you’re going to want to read! so much lush culture & tradition within these pages that I am left anxiously & patiently waiting on the follow-up.


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May Book Haul

Hello Bookworms! a part of me wanted to believe I could abstain from buying or collecting books in any shape or form in May… what with BEA/Bookcon right around the corner first week of June SMH. Things didn’t quite pan out that way & May ended up being the month of book mail/approvals every other day. This isn’t the norm around these parts haha! but nonetheless I rolled with it & also finally purged my shelves of some books to make space for new stories…

The Poppy War | CIRCE | A Court Of Frost and Starlight | FURYBORN | To Kill A Kingdom | Girls’ Night Out

*Both FURYBORN & To Kill A Kingdom were 5 star reads, so happy to have them on my shelves! Girls’ Night Out is the only physical arc I received in May, super excited for this one since the thriller/suspense bug has finally bitten me 🙂

The Hating Game | The Astonishing Color Of After | Filthy Gods | OPAL | Ramona Blue

*Here’s where I started justifying my purchases smh…I have physical copies of Astonishing Color & Hating Game but I just couldn’t resist a good Kindle deal ($1.99) & said why not?!?  

No words…well maybe a few 😂 I can honestly say I’m excited over each & every one of these titles. I’ve already rated Bruja Born 5 EPIC stars!!! Scream All Night is not a book I’d gravitate towards cause spooky and I don’t mix. However, the publisher reached out after reading my review of The Dangerous Art Of Blending In & sold me on this book! Both What If It’s  Us & Blanca Y Roja are on my HIGHLY anticipated list. Adam Silvera & Anna-Marie McLemore are two of my FAVORITE YA authors, ANYTHING they write is a MUST read for this Bookworm! 💜

FAIRYLOOT

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ONYX & IVORY BY MINDEE ARNETT

    

Sprayed edges is almost always a win for me but Onyx & Ivory is one of those book I’ve really been looking forward to. This box was a slam dunk! from the beautiful book sleeve to the practical lip scrub I had heart eyes while unboxing 😍 the art print is STUNNING & I’m already using the page flags 💜 my least favorite item is perhaps the tea once again 🤷🏻‍♀️😂

BOOK OF THE MONTH

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THE PERFECT MOTHER BY AIMEE MOLLOY 


I hope you’re all having a wonderful day while squeezing in a good read or two along the way! 💜 if you’ve read any of the books I’ve posted here & think I should boost up on my TBR, drop a comment down below 💜


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Spoiler Free Review: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova

Title: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2)

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: SourceBooks Fire

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

*HUGE thanks to SourceBooks Fire and Zoraida Córdova for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

Images from Pinterest, not my own

    

There’s something special about the second book in a trilogy, it’s almost always the book to determine whether you keep going or hit the brakes. Bruja Born had me entranced in its spell, I couldn’t think of anything else when I wasn’t reading it. I enjoyed Labyrinth Lost last year but Bruja Born has left me head over heels in love with Zoraida Córdova’s writing, characters, and expanded world (more on this further down). I’m a Latinx Brooklynite myself & all I would’ve needed to top this read off was a front stoop or Brooklyn rooftop to read under the night sky. Atmospheric, dark, lush with culture & lore, a story filled with magic & its consequences. A tale about love & letting go, acceptance and self-love…I didn’t expect the many layers we got in this book but can honestly say Bruja Born blew me away!

“Follow my voice, my love, my love. Death cannot tear us apart. Take my hand, my love, my love. Follow the light of my heart. —Lula’s Healing Canto, Book of Cantos”

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Bruja Born picks up after the events in Los Lagos (the underworld) in the first book Labyrinth Lost. Since this is a sequel I won’t go into too much detail to avoid all the spoilery things. When I think of Los Lagos I picture Guillermo Del Torro’s Pan’s Labyrinth in terms of how dark this world is. Labyrinth Lost was told from the point of view of Alex, the actions she took had some serious shared consequences between her & her sisters. These consequences play out in this second installment which is told from Alex’s sister Lula’s POV. Lula has had the most burden to bear from the events in the last book but they all pretty much came back changed one way or another. Lula is struggling with all of her relationships & is facing a possible break-up with her boyfriend Maks who cares a lot for her but is finding it hard to deal with her distance. Lula is hiding things from Maks both beneath & on surface level. In the Goodreads blurb we are told there’s an accident that leads to the deaths of many of Lula’s classmates including Maks. Lula’s inability to let Maks go leads her down a path of defiance where she’ll have to answer to Lady De La Muerte aka Lady Death herself. Lula and her sisters have a history of going up against the Deos (Gods) but this time they may have bitten off more than they can chew.

“The Deos, too, learned their limits. El Fuego extinguished into ash. La Ola crumbled into salt. El Terroz clove the earth in pieces. El Viento fell and kept on falling. But from their limits, Lady de la Muerte was born —The Creation of the Deos, Antonietta Mortiz de la Paz”

There’s a system of checks & balances where Lady De La Muerte is concerned and defying death has never gone unpunished. As frightening as Lady De La Muerte sounds, seeing her come to life on the page was terrifying! envisioning her staff alone was enough to make me read with the lights on. The depiction was on point & whenever there was a scene with Lady De La Muerte I was left shooketh! There’s so much to this book to love but perhaps the expansion & inclusion of other magical beings we all know and love, is what took this book to yet another level of enjoyment. I picked up on some Mortal Instruments vibes as well but make no mistake Bruja Born is its own thing & the Latinx representation is strong and beautiful! The family bonds in this sequel are strengthened and we get to see their ups & downs. This isn’t just your straight forward Fantasy where demons are fought & the hero comes to the rescue. This is a story where there aren’t any clear winners and the consequences of defying the laws of nature are as big as the deed itself. The characters you meet on the page are complex and flawed but they all have come to love the magic that runs deep in their blood.

Córdova has created a world centered around a Latinx family of Brujas & Brujos I’ve come to love spending time with between the pages. Maybe it’s the snippets of Spanish sprinkled throughout the pages or the familiarity of this family that pull me in but seeing more diversity in YA Fantasy has genuinely made me fall in love with the genre once again!


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Spoiler Free Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)

Author: Scott Reintgen

Pub. Date: July 17th, 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

Content Warning Provided by the wonderful Melaniemurder, death, gore, blood, violence, depiction of PTSD, abandonment, kidnapping, torture, animal death, talk of past outing, talk of past homophobia, genocide, colonization, loss of a loved one, loss of a friend, and war themes

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*HUGE thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers and Scott Reintgen for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Last year I won a Twitter giveaway for Nyxia & I didn’t really know much about the book other than it was Sci-fi & I dig sci-fi so it couldn’t hurt throwing my hat in the ring. I also attended Bookcon last year & remember standing right in front of Scott Reintgen’s table as he set up for a signing & again, I had no idea what for…hadn’t won the contest just yet. Well *sigh* I did read the book & I also gently kicked myself afterwards for not having read it sooner & missing my grand opportunity to talk Scott’s ear off about book 2!

Nyxia remains one of my favorite YA Sci-Fi books & you can check out my spoiler free GUSH review (here) but Nyxia Unleashed has definitely taken over the mantle, Scott Reintgen delivered & I couldn’t be happier with this sequel! well…I could but I’m reserving that for book 3! Now onto this GUSH review…

We start off right where we left off and that means there’s a ton of hurt and pain to last a lifetime. The events from Nyxia have left Emmett and his friends rattled and looking over their shoulders. The corporation known as Babel who they’ve basically signed their lives away to in exchange for financial stability for themselves and each of their families, has many secrets. They’ve all been through the ringer Hunger Games style in the first book & are now realizing that “Space Exploration” and mining of the Nyxia substance found on the planet they’ve been shipped off too, isn’t Babels real agenda. They’re also realizing that for all the rigorous training Babel put them through, it’s not quite enough when faced with the actual dangers and species on the foreign planet Eden.

“I’m always surprised when people expect me to not notice the little details. So many lies are like badly buried bodies, just waiting for a little rain to unearth them.”

We meet the “Adamites” who inhabit Eden and have a working relationship with Babel. In exchange for access to the Nyxia naturally grown in Eden, the Adamites asked for Babel to send them only their youth. Teens like Emmett and his friends, the reason given is that their planet has no youth left. Females are almost all extinct and therefore no children have been born in recent years. If you’re raising an eyebrow at this…you are NOT alone! I was suspicious of them all the way til’ the very end! you just never know with these Sci-Fi books if they’re trying to steal your organs #jussayin haha! with the introduction of the Adamites we get layers of world building & Adamite culture from the foods they eat to their social class construct. I am a sucker for world building, details, and just about anything that can make a world come alive on the page & transport me right into its midst. Reintgen not only continued to deliver on some of the BEST character development to hit the page, he also expanded the world tenfold and in the process hooked me in once more. We also get discussion on colonization, corporal punishment, the broken prison system here on Earth, and structural racism.   Food for thought is always welcome especially when it mirrors much of our current day lives. Emmett has trained himself to observe as opposed to reacting right away & so we get to follow his train of thought as he realizes the similarities between Eden and Earth.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Babel’s out here playing the role of colonizer, slapping labels on the originals and pretending they created it all in the first place. It’s pretty standard procedure for folks like them.”

One of the things I love the most about this trilogy is the dialogue. From the author bio we get that some of the research for these characters came from Reintgen’s experience in the classrooms he teaches in. The language is authentic and flows very easily with a ton of personality infused in each and every one of the characters. This is a big cast & yet I always knew who was saying what just by how well fleshed out they all are. Our MC Emmett shares the leadership spotlight with his love interest Morning who is a take charge Alpha personality not really waiting to be given the reigns. I LOVED seeing these two in action & just how respectful Emmett is of Morning, he admires her strengths and bravado. Morning in turn takes a very protective role over  Emmett. It wasn’t made to be Emmett coming to her rescue, Morning got him out of quite a few jams. Each has different strengths in character but both bring out the best in those they cross paths with. There’s a recurrent theme all throughout this sequel of a sense of shedding their innocence. They aren’t doing “normal” teen things and Emmett is very much aware of this when he self reflects. The humility is still very much there, kept alive through flashbacks of conversations with his father who sort of plays a side characters in the shadows. For the most part all of these characters have a past heavy with burden and pain, injustice and poverty. It’s their desire to want more for those they love that keep them in the game…

“My whole life’s been rough, but somewhere I picked up the idea that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. I don’t know where I learned about justice, when I started thinking I deserved something more. There’s a part of me that knows, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the world is supposed to be better, more.”

One thing is for certain, these characters are much stronger together than apart. I am so ready to see how certain relationships play out in the next book and whether they will endure whatever comes their way. This was such a fun read, these characters feel so familiar and alive that it really does feel like seeing old friends again after some time has passed. I am more than looking forward to returning to this cast of characters but for now I’ll just live vicariously through my hubby who will be starting Nyxia next 🙂

“We walk together, shoulders touching, like we’re walking home from school on a normal day. But that’s not reality. Reality is a new world. Reality is two moons hanging in the sky, bright and beckoning. Reality is what we’re leaving behind as we move through an empty forest and out into a world that feels full of ghosts.”

*Quotes have been taken from ARC and may differ from the final publication.


Nyxia Unleashed the sequel to Nyxia by Scott Reintgen will hit the shelves July 17th!!! & your girl has already pre-ordered a copy. All I need now is some fan art, bookmarks, candles, the works inspired by this trilogy fathom?!?! 😉


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April book Haul

Hello Bookworms! Hope you’re all having magnificent starts/ends to your  day 💜 this post is scheduled so I imagine by the time you’re reading this I am somewhere under the concrete jungle that is NYC playing Frogger jumping from one train to the next all in an effort to get to work. Your comments down below are the first thing I see when I get in the office (with some time to spare 🤞🏼) & reading them is my fave way to decompress in the AM before adulting. Feel free to comment down below if you’ve read any of these titles or if you feel I should bump up any one in particular on my TBR 💜

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All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories Of Queer Teens Throughout The Ages | Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic To Brew | Leah On The Offbeat Creekwood #2) | The Wicked Deep (my review)

The Black God’s Drum | Mirage | The Queen Of Crows (The Sacred Throne #2)Girls Of Paper And Fire | The Wicked King (The Folk Of The Air #2)

* I’m currently buddy reading Mirage & enjoying it SO MUCH! I had no idea it was a sci-fi/fantasy so it was a nice surprise 💜

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

*I was approved for this one on Netgalley early on in April for this Asian inspired Fantasy & I couldn’t be more over the moon hyped for this 💜

April Fairyloot

Beyond A Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

*I’m already using the Carpe Diem notepad cause one can never have too many stationery 😂 LOVE the travel mug 💙 the candle I can do w/out, I’m just not a fan of strong musky scents. The art print is beautiful 😍 and this is honestly one of the books I’ve been really interested in. Definitely cool getting a book I hadn’t read as an arc but had high interest in 🙌🏼 Overall this box gets…

   

April Book Of The Month

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Circe by Madeline Miller

*I was fully prepared to start this one two nights ago until I realized I had a buddy read scheduled & this had to be paused. I feel like Circe is going to need my undivided attention, super stoked to get to this one next 💜



I hope you all are having wonderful days & reading all the great books! I also wanted to congratulate Darnell again on winning my Dread Nation Giveaway! 🎉🎉🎉🎉 I hope to have a few more giveaways throughout the rest of the year, for books as good as this one! 💜


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Spoiler Free Review & Giveaway: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1)

Author: Justina Ireland

Pub. Date: April 3rd, 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 455

Format: eGalley

*HUGE thanks to Balzer + Bray/Harper, Edelweiss and Justina Ireland for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Ever pick up a book & you just know it’s going to be a 5 star read?!?! that was the case with this magnificent a** kicking, no-holds-barred, social commentary, read between the lines EPICNESS of a a book! It is not a re-telling although it definitely does allude to it’s namesake. I read a interview on Bustle with Justina Ireland where she says the following of her inspiration…

“I wrote [Dread Nation] many moons ago, after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Justina Ireland tells Bustle. “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.”

I happen to have really enjoyed Pride Prejudice and Zombies but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Dread Nation is now my FAVORITE spin on an all time favorite classic!

We meet Jane while at Miss Preston’s School Of Combat as she is training towards her graduation date. Upon completion, girls from this school are purchased to work for rich white women as their attendants. An Attendant is specially trained to kill Shamblers aka zombies. It is believed that black people have a stronger immune system to combat the bite of a zombie however, we do still see some who are turned after being bitten just not as many. Nothing about enrollment in this school is voluntary, the Native and Negro Reeducation Act is basically a round-up of black & Native children to do all the Shambler killing in defense of white people. Right from the start I knew Jane was going to be one of my all time favorite characters. We get to know Jane through her inner dialogue & the commentary she makes on the society they live in which mirrors our own current day in many ways. Jane is not someone who can easily be sold a dream, she’s very aware of the realities of her world and could care less about manners & etiquette. These are all things Jane knows are used as a method of control by white people in power. Nonetheless she continues her studies with some pushback here & there, in order to make her mother back in Kentucky happy. Jane is training in Baltimore & every chance she gets she writes her mother. The letters range in emotion & were meant to keep her mom updated on her training, these were a nice touch in between chapters & I found myself looking forward to the next correspondence.

The Mayor of Baltimore has led everyone to believe that the city has rid itself of the Shambler epidemic & its citizens are finally safe. Jane soon starts piecing together the pieces of the puzzle & realizes just how perilous the situation is in the cities on the East side of the United States. We see Philly, Baltimore, Maryland all affected but our story doesn’t just take place on the east coast. We see a shift to the West Coast & get a taste of frontier life but it’s also the setting for which the white people in this book see opportunity to digress to the times before slavery was abolished.  This book at its core is about slavery & the different forms it may be disguised as but in the end it’s all the same. There were many lines in this book that I found myself having to re-read saying to myself….”where have I heard this before?” when the answer is all around me, it serves as a reminder of the world we live in. We have a long ways to go…

In Jane we have a strong black woman who tries to mind her mothers advice but will always follow her heart in standing up for what she believes in. She’s not for one second going to forget anyone who does her wrong, she had me rooting for her from page 1. Dread Nation also gave us one unlikely sidekick in Katherine, another girl training to be an attendant. Katherine is described as being “passing white” which was explored throughout the book. The guilt that comes along with being someone who is passing white as well as Colorism experienced by many. Jane herself battles internally with the thoughts she has on Katherine’s pretty features, often times reminding herself it’s not Katherine’s fault she was born that way. I honestly feel this gave Jane a more realistic feel, she isn’t perfect and she holds a ton of compassion inside not out for display. Katherine is the opposite of Jane in that she really does try to follow all of the rules and lives for proper manners & etiquette. I had so many laugh out loud moments seeing Katherine refuse to battle w/out her constricting corset. The friendship between Jane & Katherine is what I want to see in YA! they may have been frenemies at one point but they have each others back when differences are cast aside. We also see sexuality touched upon with Jane possibly being bi-sexual, not 100% sure since she didn’t identify as such but does express attraction to females & having kissed a girl. We also have a character who may be asexual & expresses no desire to be in a relationship or have romantic feelings towards anyone. The inclusion of characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum is very much appreciated by this bookworm! 💜

Reading Dread Nation had me on a serious rollercoaster ride of emotions and I really wasn’t expecting it to be this type of read. I had a couple of outright angry moments at the mentality the white people in this book carry. It really is no different from many in our real world. Many scenes led me to feel such profound sadness at the injustice of it all. Ultimately I cam away empowered by this read, I do believe we need more books like this one. More authors like Justina Ireland so that the uncomfortable truths of the world are laid bare & change is brought about. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a book about zombies. This book carries a message & will leave such an impact on you if you read it with an open mind and a willingness to take off those rose colored glasses.


It’s been a minute since I did a Giveaway on the blog but I was inspired after I finished Dread Nation & just want to get more bookworms reading & loving it as much as I did! well at least I hope y’all do 😆🤞🏼 I do hope to have more Giveaways coming your way soon so stay tuned for that 😉 

1 Winner will receive a hardcover copy of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland! 
  • Giveaway dates: 4/30/2018-5/4/2018
  • Since this giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, all you need is 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


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Spoiler Free Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Title: The Wicked Deep

Author: Shea Ernshaw

Pub. Date: March 6th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy/Paranormal

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Pages: 320

Format: Physical

Buddy Read: Melanie @Meltotheany, Amy @ACourtOfCrownsandQuills , Jules @JAIronside, Julie @PagesandPens, and Paloma

    

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I read this dark gem of a book and I cannot stop thinking about it! I typically don’t pick up witchy reads til’ the Fall season but couldn’t resist picking this one up when I laid eyes on the STUNNING cover 😍 and I am SOOOO glad I did! easily one of my favorite reads this year so far, The Wicked Deep is 5 star worthy in my little bookworm 💜! This beautiful sad and atmospheric read truly sunk its teeth into me & wouldn’t let go into the wee hours of the morning. Very rarely do I get chills while reading a book but opening a single page in this one was like stepping foot onto Sparrow Oregon. I found myself instantly drawn to the water so much so that we drove to a nearby pier for the afternoon. This book stirred the senses and made you a willing participant, from the bonfires on the eve of the Summer Solstice to the Crucible effect the day after a body washed ashore. I was looking at everyone with a critical eye trying to figure out what was what (intentionally vague cause spoilers 😂) & even when we all figured it out, it was still hella enjoyable!

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We meet our MC Penny who lives on the private island of Lumiere with her mother who has mentally checked out ever since the day her husband walked out never to be seen or heard of again. Penny isn’t your typical teenager & prefers to keep to herself In her room studying tide charts. She takes a small boat ride every morning into town to attend the Sparrow High School where she has one really close friend. Every year Sparrow prepares for the tourist attraction their town turns into during the week leading up to the Summer Solstice. Every year one boy dies & his body is washed ashore. It is believed to be a curse placed on the town as retribution for the unjust killings of the Swan sisters. Marguerite, Aurora, and Hazel were said to be responsible for many a broken home. They were accused of seducing the husbands and boyfriends away from the women of Sparrow. Stones tied to their ankles, they were mercilessly drowned. They are believed to return on the Summer Solstice to inhabit the body of unsuspecting girls, each seduces a boy, and drown them within a brief period of time.  Sometimes it’s three boys & other times they may get greedy. The townspeople have accepted this curse, accustomed to hearing the harbor bells ring when another male body is found floating in the waters. Once the last sister has had her kill, the town resumes back to normal. Everyone hoping it isn’t one of their boys this time around.

Photo credits: Dina Demille Tumblr

One of the most chilling aspects of this book is how acceptant the townspeople have become. Sparrow is known for this curse and the tourists it draws in for the summer season only add to the creepy vibes. The town is buzzing, every girl is suspected of being possessed by one of the Swan sisters. Sparrow’s boys aren’t safe & neither are those visiting for the season.  Bo, an out of towner looking for employment responds to a outdated Help Wanted ad posted by Penny. There was a time Penny was open to the idea of getting a second set of hands to help with the light tower near Lumiere island. Eventually this became her undertaking but that all changes when Bo enters the scene. Both Penny & Bo carry secrets and they know this about each other. Was it a case of instalove? not in my opinion. Penny wasn’t thrilled to help this guy out when he first showed up. Bo was more focused on keeping a low profile while gardening on the island for some extra cash. Their story didn’t have any of the butterfly feelings other ships in YA are known for. I didn’t expect to fall in love with their story but I did & I know that’s because theirs is both sad and beautiful.

The Wicked Deep is one of those haunting reads that’ll stay in my mind & heart for many years to come. One that I can see myself getting sucked into every year whenever the mood for a dark read set in a small town by the water. I know that I’ll also be re-reading this one when we get closer to the date of it’s premiere on Netflix (see here) which I’m hoping is just as wonderful as this book cause it SOOOO deserves to be brought to life on the screen 🙌🏼


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Spoiler Free Review: Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young

Title: Sky In The Deep

Author: Adrienne Young

Pub. Date: April 24th, 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley

Buddy Read: Melanie @Meltotheany, Amy @ACourtOfCrownsandQuills , Jules @JAIronside Always a good time with these bookworms! ❤

*HUGE thanks to Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Adrienne Young for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

   

Sky In The Deep is one of those books you definitely shouldn’t judge by the cover. As a avid fan of the History channel series Vikings & anything Norse Mythology really, I had this book on my radar for quite some time. However, although this book has battle & blood shed…It was & wasn’t the focal point in this story. We have two Viking clans with different sets of beliefs & each has their own God they worship. Every year these two clans face off in a bloody battle to appease what they believe is the will of their Gods. We are given history as to why the Gods feud originally started & all year round those of fighting age prepare for battle & the gathering of supplies to heal their wounded. Our MC Eelyn from the Aska Clan lost her brother Iri on the battlefield five years before the start of the story. Eelyn lives with her father who is a great Viking warrior & Myra her friend/adopted sister of sorts. The story takes off with Eelyn preparing for the yearly battle against the Riki Clan alongside her father & Myra. Whilst  on the battlefield, Eelyn comes close to death and face to face with the brother she believed to be dead. Eelyn is in shock & desperate for answers when she makes the decision to follow Iri and his Riki friend Fiske against their wishes. Her decision to follow Iri into Riki territory sets off a series of events that will make every character question their beliefs.

Sky In The Deep is a VERY character driven book, which means it was my type of book but it may not be for everyone. The plot is pretty straight forward, it isn’t deeply layered or complex with promises of plot twists. Instead, Young delivered a story about family ties & my all time favorite…those people we CHOOSE to be our family. There’s a sense of betrayal underneath it all and sorting through those feelings to see the bigger picture. This is also a slower paced story with attention to detail, each & every time I opened this book I felt transported to their time & place. I LIVE for this style of writing because it wakens my imagination and senses with descriptions of nature, climate, and YES battle! With the being said, I did end up feeling like the pacing was a bit off since this to my knowledge is a stand-alone. My love for the characters is what really carried the story for me & ultimately my attachment is the reason for which I rated this read 4 stars.

Eelyn Our MC has lived the life of a shield maiden ever since she was a little girl, training side by side with her brother Iri. Eelyn is loyal to her loved ones & the Aska clan. She isn’t the YA female heroine you’re perhaps used to seeing. There were times I wished she fought a bit harder against those who wished to do her harm considering she was a trained fighter/killer. Overall I enjoyed seeing her road to self discovery, she had the most growth in this book. Most of all, I loved that Eelyn never abandoned her beliefs while understanding she was evolving into someone new.

Myra Eelyn’s best friend who is more like a sister. Myra is a side character I have to mention because her scenes were some of the most passion filled to read. She is someone who has lost everyone she loves to these yearly clan wars. She only has Aghi (Eelyn’s father) & Eelyn who have taken her in as family. Which means she will fight tooth & nail to protect them. I LOVED reading the scenes where they readied their armor & checked with each other for weakness/injuries. Eelyn & Myra are the definition of ride or die BFF’s!

Iri Not my favorite of the characters if I’m being honest. I can see how thinking you were left for dead in battle can mess with your head. I can see why he found a home with the Riki after one of them saved his life. However, I wanted more dialogue from Iri specifically between him & Eelyn. She’s both elated to see him alive & furious to see him willingly living as a Riki.

Fiske The Riki who saved Iri’s life & is basically like a brother to Iri. Fiske is honestly that guy who is all tough on the outside but mush for the people he loves. He’s also one of the MOST open minded characters I’ve ever come across in YA Fantasy. He is someone who follows his heart no matter what others may think. Fiske is a new found favorite of mine.

Inge The Riki who took in Iri wounded and helped bring him back to life. She is a healer and a motherly figure to those in her household & a healer to those in the village. Inge LOVES her boys & most importantly she knows their hearts.

Halvard Can’t forget to mention this little guy who is Fiske’s little brother who is not of fighting age. Halvard dreams of one day joining his “brothers” but until that day he helps around in the house. Halvard immediately takes a liking to Eelyn and her religious beliefs. I loved this characters innocence against the back drop of so much violence.

If you’re looking for a slower paced book with an emphasis on family ties and relationships, Sky In The Deep is a solid choice. We do get the battles we all know the Viking culture thrived in but it isn’t the core focus of the story. There were some pacing issues I personally feel if ironed out, would’ve enhanced this read for me. Mainly because I enjoyed the time I was spending with each of these characters. It’s rare when you find MC’s & side characters you truly get attached to & so I greatly enjoy and appreciate these types of books. I also enjoyed learning about both the Aska & Riki culture and religious beliefs. When I was reading this book I was easily transported to the Fjord by Eelyn’s home. It was very easy to silence my surrounding & get absorbed into this world. The romance (cause there is one lol) is hate-to-love & slow burn to another level HAHA! part of me got a bit impatient with this ship #jussayin smh. Overall, Sky In The Deep was a very enjoyable read for me & I’m going to miss these characters.


Sky In The Deep hits shelves April 24th!!! are you ready to take a trip into Viking territory?!?! ❤ ❤ ❤

Also, Adri from Little Fox and Reads blessed me with some news on my WWW Wednesday post…it appears the author was on IG yesterday with news of a companion novel! *GASP* Thank you Adri for making my DAY! 🙂


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WWW Wednesday 4/18/2018

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 are:
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 hope you’re all having a good week, if not *HUGS* I have been on a reading binge this month & I don’t see myself stopping anytime  soon *fingers crossed* Recently I’ve decided to try out other genres that I’ve visited in the past but haven’t returned to in a while. This week I’m trying out New Adult Romance & I’m a little excited if I’m being honest. Spring hopefully will make an appearance in this lifetime & I’m in the mood for some light reads to mix in with my love for Fantasy.  Happy reading <3’s!!! 

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

I am 82% into this buddy read & although it’s not quite what I expected, it is one I’m really enjoying. Slower paced with writing that transports me each & every time I dive into its pages. More than anything, this Viking story is more about family and loyalty. Coming together in the face of adversity. This is NOT the book you’d go to for non-stop bloody Viking battles. Although we do get some of that, it really isn’t the core focus. I’m in the final stretch now wondering how it will all end & kind of wishing there is a sequel out there I haven’t heard about yet…

Birthday Girl by Penelope 

Highly persuaded by Melanie @Meltotheany who can basically sell me anything through her Instagram stories SMH…Seriously though, not only is she the Queen of EPIC reviews but her IG stories & unboxings are not to be missed 🙂 So Mel was really hyped to hear Penelope Douglas had released Birthday Girl a few days early & her excitement was contagious. I know nothing of this author & I’m a newb to the genre having read only 3 K.A. Tucker books so I figured why not start with one of my most trusted friends fave authors? So! by the time this post is live, I’ll already be reading this one on my breaks at work. Possibly not the best place to start a steamy romance but what can I say? I’m a newb HAHA!

 

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

I recently finished Ace of Shades & gave it 4 stars (my review) & can honestly say this is one new Fantasy series I will be continuing with. In this book I found influences from some of my favorites like Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, and many of the gangster movies I love. I have a deep appreciation for Fantasy writers who diversify their cast of characters & in Ace we get Bi-sexual & gender fluid representation. The reviews on goodreads seemed to be a mixed bag, with many comparisons to Six of Crows. It’s hard to compare to anything by Leigh Bardugo, there may be some similarities but the same can be said of Six Of Crows. Both draw inspiration from some of our favorites but their characters are VERY different & Ace isn’t heisty.  I say, if you can separate the two & enjoy casinos, seedy characters, mobsters, and friendships over romance (there’s still some) then this may be one worth checking out 😉

Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1) Justina Ireland

Influenced by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the author gives us a different version. In a Bustle interview with author she tells us about her inspiration…

“I wrote [Dread Nation] many moons ago, after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Justina Ireland tells Bustle. “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.”

I am BEYOND ready for this read & can’t wait to dive in! 🙂

Professed by Nicola Rendell

Two of my FAVORITE Booktubers Chelsea @Chelseadollingreads & Julie @PagesandPens  started a book club called Book Hangover Book Club They chose Professed as their April book pick & I will be buddy reading with Melanie from Meltotheany this coming weekend! I’m excited to read more from this genre Bookworms & can’t wait to see how these two New Adult books I’ll be reading this week fare with me 🙂


Happy reading Bookworms! I’ll be blog hopping in just a few & can’t wait to see what you all are reading. I’m always up to hear from you down in the comments below, what’s on your nightstand? also, out of curiosity since I mostly review & talk about Fantasy & contemporary, would you be interested in me possibly reviewing New Adult here on Lair Of Books? 💜


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Spoiler-Free Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

Author: Amanda Foody

Pub. Date: April 10th 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 416

Format: Physical ARC & Galley

Content warning: pedophilia, addiction, drug use, gambling, death, loss of a loved one, torture, and violence (Huge thanks to Melanie for these)

*HUGE thanks to Harlequin Teen, Edelweiss, and Amanda Foody for the ARC copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

   

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Fast paced with many reveals along the way, Ace of Shades takes off running from the first page when we meet Enna Salta as she arrives in the city of Sin, New Reynes. She’s the perfect picture of propriety and the education to back it but all that won’t help her in a city where street smarts are the only creds of value. Enna Abacus Salta is searching for answers that will lead her to her mother Lourdes who’s been missing for the past two months. She never imagined that a name on a card left behind by Lourdes would lead her straight into the heart of gang territory. Even less, that it would be the start to uncovering many lies & truths about herself and the woman who raised her as if she were her own daughter.

Enna finds her way to Levi Glaisyer who is leader of the Irons, and at the moment quite busy trying to scrounge up $$$ for an investment scam gone wrong. Levi is not trying to take on Enna’s mission to find Lourdes even though the name does strike a chord in a way that spells trouble. Enna is determined to find out what Levi knows but isn’t prepared for the consequences that come with being associated with him and his gang.

We follow Enna & Levi through alternating POV chapters as they realize helping each other is beneficial & in both their best interest. What ensues is a race against the clock that takes us through casinos, cabarets, dark alleys, meetings with mob bosses, and one sick twisted game from which only one player in history has ever won.

“New Reynes: red lights that flashed without flame, women of loose morals dancing on street corners in sparkling, skin-tight corsets, gambling dens beckoning passersby with seedy smiles and the allure of fast fortune.”

Pictures for aesthetic are from Pinterest, not my own

Enne Abacus Salta is already proving to be one of those characters you either love or hate. Personally I found Enna to be entertaining & full of hope. For starters, everyone in this world is born with an inherited talent from each of their parents. Their last names typically tell which talent their family carries. Enne has both Arithmetic and dance talent, with dance being her blood talent making it the strongest of the two. These talents haven’t really helped Enne much in her school of dance where she is considered low rank. The Salta’s aren’t one of the more prestigious families however Lourdes has made sure Enna attends the best of the best schools. Feeling like she’s always had to prove her worth, life in New Reynes sees her fortune take a turn. I LOVE well developed characters & authors who aren’t afraid to take their faves and turn their lives upside down. Enna is completely out of her element when she arrives in the city of Sin, within minutes of arrival she’s had to ditch all of her personal belongings. Walking away with just a welcome guide to New Reynes that she treats like a bible. Some may call her annoyingly naive, I found her evolution to be realistic. Also, the fact that she didn’t break decorum even when feeling the charm of Levi was hella impressive! Cause I think even I would’ve given in #jussayin 😂😳

Levi Glaisyer so much to say about this gift of a character! Levi is our black bi-sexual MC who also happens to be the leader of the gang known as the Irons. I’ve seen rumblings of this character being compared to Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows which I find to be a unfair comparison. These two guys could not be more polar opposites, nor do I think he was intended to mimic our beloved Kaz. Levi isn’t the don who everyone fears, he is simply a guy who dreams of building an empire. He’s gained the respect of a few and as a boss that means many have sworn an oath to him. These oaths are more than spoken word & are actually binding in this world. His specific gang is known for their expertise in the casinos, gamblings and swindling. If he’s not busy casino hopping stacking chips, he’s politicking with other influential players in the game. Perhaps what I loved MOST about this character was the fact that he wasn’t made to be this hardened criminal unable to show a more vulnerable side. Levi is heavily flawed, not only can’t he say no to the possibility of winning another hand at the tables but he also can’t resist a pretty face. With a wardrobe filled with the clothes of his romantic flings…

“Levi had a long romantic history of scattered affairs-a few girls and many boys-that had become the subject of teasing from his friends. They claimed he had a hopeless habit of kissing and telling”

It’s interesting how you’re led to believe at first that Levi is made for this lifestyle…yet it’s Enne who seems to have a natural hack for it 😉

There are a few supporting characters to get invested in & some nefarious ones to keep an eye on. Interestingly enough, Enna’s mother Lourdes plays a major role in the progression of the story even though we don’t actually see her as she is M.I.A. We learn so much about Lourdes who is gender fluid with a passion for journalism & social justice.

A solid start to a new Fantasy, Ace of Shades offers up a new setting sure to entice those who with a love for mobster stories & casino settings. I’m a fan of Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas, Six of Crows..I LOVE them all! which made this book a MUST read & I’m very thankful to the publisher for sending a copy my way. Foody brought New Reynes to life with vivid descriptions of the gaudy clothing worn on Sweetie Street & the different territories run by either the Irons, Scarhands, or Doves. Dropping a character like Enne into this setting with nothing but a guide of the Do’s & Don’ts of New Reynes was brilliant! experience alone is now molding Enne into a completely different person & I can’t wait to see who she is in the next book. Same goes for Levi who we see walk away a completely different man than when we first met him. There are a ton of other players in the game & some hella intriguing supporting characters like Jac & Lola that were really fleshed out. The only reason I gave it 4 stars (still HIGHLY enjoyable) was because the magic system paired up with the history of the Revolution and a Great Street War that took place in New Reynes felt overwhelming when first trying to settle into this new world. The allure in Ace of Shades is STRONG! & once I got into the story, I found it hard to put down for long. I can only see this story getting better & I’m excited to see what the future holds for Enne, Levi, and the Irons ♠️


Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & read all the good books 💜 are you planning on picking up a copy of Ace of Shades? if you’ve already read Ace of Shades, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below 💜 


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