Arc August Review: The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

The Tiger’s Watch (Ashes of Gold #1) by Julia Ember

Published by: Harmony Ink Press

Date of Publication: August 22nd 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 173

Format: eGalley

   

Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.

Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.

When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

The Tiger’s Watch is a diverse YA Fantasy centered around Tashi our gender fluid main character. Tashi is a inhabitor which by definition means you are bonded with an animal. This also means your life lines are linked & so when one dies, the other does too. Tashi is bonded to a golden tiger named Katala who if need be they can inhabit. As a soldier trained to be a spy, Tashi and their tiger are a team with Katala doing the killing. Tashi and her best friend Pharro who is also a inhabitor, are both sent away to hide in a monastery when their capital is brought down by an invading army. In this monastery, they are instructed to lay low and not call on their animals as it would call attention to their inhabitor identities. They are considered valuable in the inevitable war to come and so the monks try to keep them hidden. In the process of doing so, they only managed to call attention to Tashi & the invading armies’ commander Xian’s interest was instantly piqued. Xian makes Tashi his assistant of sorts providing Tashi the opportunity to spy on the enemy. The problem begins when there’s a spark of chemistry between Tashi & Xian that makes them question everything & ultimately leads them to make questionable decisions…

Tashi- Our Gender fluid MC takes some getting used to, I’m sure many will be annoyed with just how weak they are presented but it’s part of their story. Tashi was paired with the fiercest of animals at the age of 8, a hunter & killer who gets a thrill out of the chase. Tashi however, is the complete opposite and the very thought of killing literally upsets their stomach. I am hoping the sequel sees Tashi finding their strength & also recognizing how some of their decisions have hurt others. In this book we see Tashi make impulse decisions in hopes of changing a system they believe to be cruel. However, a ton of it came across as not well thought out & selfish. This character has a ton of growing pains ahead of them & I hope it’s evident in the next book.

Katala- Tashi’s golden tiger was one of my favorite characters in the entire book! I LOVED Katala! she is fierce, loyal, protective, and will NOT hesitate to get the job done even when Tashi is uncertain. As gruesome as some scenes would appear to be if you have a vivid imagination lol, I also found humor whenever Katala proudly killed an enemy soldier. Katala couldn’t contain her excitement at her achievements & as such would tap into her link with Tashi to show them the catch of the day, meanwhile Tashi doesn’t have the stomach for their Tiger’s appetite.

Pharro-Best friend to Tashi & at times the lines could get a bit blurred which means that yes a love triangle forms by the end of this story…sort of lol. Tashi has real feelings for Pharro, another inhabitor linked to an old wolf. Their relationship is complicated because Pharro knows that unlike Tashi who is bonded with a tiger with a long life span, he is bonded with a old wolf in his last days.

Xian-Commander of the invading army, at first comes off as ruthless and sadistic. He knows he can’t look weak in front of his army but he also has started to grow feelings for Tashi. I had some issues with this character who gave Tashi a sense of being owned, as if they were his possession. Tashi has formed a strange attraction to Xian and this leads to a ton of confusion on Tashi’s behalf. Xian is my least liked character, I just don’t trust him no matter what Tashi sees in him *shrugs* 

When I first heard of The Tiger’s Watch featuring a gender fluid MC, I was a bit worried about whether it would deliver good representation but also excited. I then saw the author’s name & instantly recognized her from Twitter. No, I haven’t read anything from Julia Ember til’ now but that’s about to change. Tashi is a much needed addition to the Young Adult books we have on our shelves. The world Tashi lives in, their society is much more advanced than our own real life world. Tashi being gender fluid wasn’t completely out of the ordinary in their world & whenever someone called Tashi “he” or “she” whoever knew Tashi would immediately correct the person by letting them know the correct pronoun is “they”. I absolutely LOVED the story & bond our MC shares with their tiger Katala. It was made up of mutual respect & trust at it’s core with Katala expressing her independence. Their bond was never a master/owner type relationship which I appreciated. I did however wish to see expansion in world building & growth from Tashi. With this eGalley, the author also sent a excerpt to the next book which is already promising. So I guess you can say my chief complaint is that I’d like to see more haha! but The Tiger’s Watch is definitely a must read for my diverse book blogging friends 😉

*HUGE thanks to Julia Ember for providing me with a eGalley copy of The Tiger’s Watch in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Readers! yesterday was The Tiger’s Watch Book Birthday & I was so happy to see so many fellow book bloggers post their reviews <3! Please drop those links down below & I’ll swing by for a chat 🙂 & if you haven’t picked this one up yet, please do & then tell me how much you love Katala! haha!


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Top Ten Tuesday 8/15/17

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten accordingly. I LOVE lists, they keep me happy and I’m so glad to see this meme return this week after a mini hiatus. This week was a freebie of sorts where you are prompted to list 10 bookish recommendations. I’ve linked my reviews for each of these as well, please excuse the older reviews since I didn’t know what I was doing in terms of format, a year ago when I 1st started this blog lol. Here are my top 10 picks for this weeks topic (in no specific order):

August 15th 2016:Ten book recommendations for Bookworms looking for Diversity:

 

1. Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali

*features a Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager, her friends, family, and community. Janna Yusuf is like many other teenagers trandealing with social pressures, first love, and friendships. We follow Janna’s story as she tries to reconcile her wants with her faith. (Trigger warning: attempted rape) check out my review here.



2. You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

* features a Indian deaf girl with 2 deaf moms & a honest f/f friendship with it’s ups & downs. Our main protagonist is skilled in Grafitti art & has a wicked sense of humor 😉 Check out my review here.

 

 


3. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie-McLemore

* features a transgender Pakistani boy & LATINX girl as main characters in this Magical Realism story guaranteed to stir emotion. The writing is lyrical & lush with vivid imagery. Check out my review here.

 

 


4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

* A raw & moving read relevant to our current times. It’s hard to read THUG & not walk away feeling like you need to do your part in the Black Lives Matter movement. Check out my review here.

 

 


5. Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

* a LATINX Young Adult Fantasy with elements of Alice in Wonderland. This story centers around a young Bruja’s (witch) Death Day celebration which is a rites of passage. In the Authors Afterword, the ancestors who appear in this book are from Ecuador, Spain, Africa, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Check out my review here.

 


6. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

* features a Haitian main protagonist who leaves Haiti with her mother in search of a better life in Detroit Chicago. We get a different perspective on a religion we often see in mainstream media. The writing in American Street is a mix between Fabiola’s native culture and the raw grittiness of Detroits mean streets. Check out my review here.

 


7. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee 

* features a Chinese American teenager slayyyyying demons! centered around the Chinese tale of The Monkey King, this book offers up a kick a** protagonist who doesn’t take ish from anyone & I loved her! Check out my review here.

 

 


8. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

* features a gay couple with AMAZING parents who I wish we had more of both in real life & in our books. This book deals with grief & will leave you reaching for the nearest box of tissues. Check out my review here.

 

 


9. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

* Lush with Persian influences & steeped in Indian folklore, this book will leave you questioning whether we are in control of our own fate. This book also features a positive f/f friendship & a beautiful father/daughter bond. Check out my review here.

 

 


10. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

* features a Chinese-American teenager in a gender bending story. Jordan Sun is on a mission to join Acapella in order to stand out in her college applications. The only thing standing in her way is that Acapella is all male only. When Jordan decides to dress as a boy in order to try-out, she wasn’t expecting to find a diverse cast of characters she feels most at home with. Check out my review here.

 

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!!! have you read any of the books I’ve listed? are you as excited as I am to have TTT back?!?! I guess I’m more excited than some since just when I started doing this meme again, the hosts announced their hiatus leaving me with a ton of unused excitement haha! 


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Friday Reads 8/11/2017

Happy Friday Readers!!! This has been one long and trying week, so happy to see it come to an end *whoop whoop* I’m actually surprised to have finished any books but I managed 3! LOL!

Earlier in the month I decided to join #arcAugust to help me make a dent in my physical & digital stack (see here). I opted not to have a set TBR because I am a mood reader and because I love to genre hop to keep things interesting and avoid slumps. I’ve read two eGalleys for #arcAugust & listened to 1 audio book from my back list…

  

I cannot even begin to tell you all how The Serpent King BROKE MEEEE!!! left me walking the New York City platforms hopping from 1 train to the next all the while trying to keep my tears under control. This story about friendship between 3 very different characters has managed to find a forever home in my ❤ for so many reasons (trigger warning: child abuse, racism, and homophobia) I will discuss in my review. I will be picking up a physical copy this month for my shelves & writing a Audio-book review over the weekend, just trying to decide between spoilery vs. non-spoilery haha! I have too many feels that need to be discussed! smh.

Soon after or around the same time really, I finished & reviewed The Epic Crush of Genie Lo which was my 1st chosen arc for the readathon. This was such a fun & diverse read with elements similar to those found in Rick Riordans books. Except we follow Chinese folklore centered around The Monkey King & I am so ready for more books with Asian representation. In my review I also linked two Own Voices reviews that I really enjoyed reading myself from two amazing bloggers.

Lastly, last night I finished reading Spellbook of the Lost and Found & will be writing my review tonight. I have not yet come up with a rating but I can say it’s between 3.5-4 stars. This book had that dark vibe that kept reminding me of the cult classic The Craft & could easily see it play out on the screen. Still gathering my thoughts but more to come…and will most likely watch The Craft cuz Fall please, I’m ready for my favorite season <3’s

 


I started When I am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn….I legit JUST realized as I’m writing this post that this is going to be a series! GAHHH! freaking out at my desk cuz YASSSS! I started reading it this morning on the train ride to work & jeez it’s 50 shades of effed up! but oh sOoOo good! I’m already wondering if I’m in the mind of a psychotic killer. Just as soon as I publish this post I will be back to reading. This is also my 3rd read for #arcAugust & I’m content with that since it’s more than I’d have read by this date any month haha!


Also on the night stand for this weekend, is The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace which I am pretty excited about! my twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads LOVES this collection so much & I honestly don’t know what has taken me this long but better late than never 😉

Happy FriYay Readers! hope you’re all having a wonderful end of the week! what are YOU reading? watching? planning this Weekend?


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ARC AUGUST Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

Published by: Amulet Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Mythology/Re-telling

Pages: 336

Format: eGalley

*HUGE Thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and F.C. Yee for the eGalley of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo in exchange for an honest review

   

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

This has to be one of the most fun and adventurous plots I’ve read all year long & I was so thankful for so many reasons! many have compared this to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which I have much love for. I can say that there are some similar feels but that goes for much of mythology, we can always find similarities. For me, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo stands apart for the following reasons:

1. A relatable Chinese-American heroine who is first and foremost just a student in High School trying to get into an Ivy League College before she starts juggling school & slaying demons

2. The story originates from the Chinese tale Journey to the West telling the story of Sun Wukong aka The Monkey King…I love all re-tellings however, I have never come across Chinese Folklore in Young Adult so this was a MUST READ!

3. The inclusion of Chinese culture specifically as it pertains to education and expectations. The pressures at home to over achieve bore so many similarities to those in Latinx culture. The fact that Genie wasn’t a child prodigy, she simply didn’t have a skill to set her apart in college applications & that alone made her very relatable…

The opening has us meet Genie Lo as she is meeting Quentin aka The Monkey King for the very first time. She witnesses him getting beat up by a group of guys in an alley & intercedes. She doesn’t know what to think of him when he shows up as the new kid in her class who just won’t let up on following her around. He speaks oddly enough but more than that, it’s what he is saying…he speaks of a greater power lying within her. Genie is someone who believes in Science and the things he is saying & more so doing are supposed to be impossible. Quentin doesn’t give up until he has made her question all that is real. Encounters with demons that leave her fighting for her life make her realize he isn’t lying and that the world may very well be in danger. Embracing her new found powers, Genie sets about to restore normalcy in California one demon at a time…

Genie Lo stole my heart with her sass but it’s the temper when she thinks you’re trying to take a jab at her that really made me care for her. She’s very self aware and makes no apologies for what sets her apart. Described as being very tall with a body that isn’t considered very feminine, Genie plays to her strengths. She’s part of a volley ball team not because she’s very good at it but because it’s a sport where her body is an asset & it looks good on college applications. Her moments of honesty really resonated with me & my own memories of High School. In Genie I saw a lot of my own self & it was refreshing seeing her not trying to change who she is for anyone.

Quentin aka The Monkey King got a ton of laughter out of me! he dished out as much sarcasm as he got from Genie. I enjoyed the moments where he pointed out all the hoops students had to jump through just to get a higher education. He of course is a supernatural force & school is not really an obligation lol. Quentin teaches Genie to fight all the while knowing he hasn’t told her the full story of who she really is…

Yunie-Genie’s BFF has to be one of the best BFF’s I’ve come across in YA! she is HILARIOUS!!! & also has no hairs on her tongue. She had me from the moment she referenced her Ovaries upon seeing Quentin’s handsome self walk into their classroom smh HAHA!

Genie’s Mom is by no means what you’re probably used to seeing from parents in Young Adults. As a matter of fact, she reminded me of my own in many ways. Genie’s mom is a single working mother trying her best to keep her daughter goal driven. She also doesn’t have any chill when speaking her mind & seeing her conversations play out with Genie felt familiar. Her heart is in the right place, she just has high expectations for her daughter. There are some moments when she speaks about Genie’s appearance that may make some uncomfortable, for me this was very relatable coming from an old school home that encouraged education but also an ideal marriage. Genie fortunately has tough skin & knows that her mothers ideals aren’t her own & loves her nonetheless.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is fun, adventurous, packs a punch, and will leave you rooting for this heroines victory! The time I spent in its pages sparked so much interest in the Chinese tale from which it was inspired that I found myself researching on the side for my own growth. This is when I know I’ve come across a good book, when it leaves me wanting to dig deeper. This book was highly enjoyable while still imparting the reader with an inside look to a small aspect of Chinese culture. I was also a big fan of the humor throughout, so many LOL moments that I truly lost count (like I said, a very fun book haha). I also enjoyed the progression or development of Genie & Quentins relationship all throughout. It felt more realistic to go from truly not trusting Quentin to friends to something more than just friends. I only docked it 1 star because the writing in the beginning felt like it was trying to find its footing. It started off with a very middle grade feel and towards the middle/end, it makes its mark as Young Adult. I’m very much looking forward to more from this author who lends an authentic diverse voice to this genre.

*Please check out these Own Voices reviews: Read Think Ponder & One Way or an Author

Hello Readers! yesterday was Genie’s Book Birthday, did any of you get to grab a copy? & if you’ve already read it please share some non-spoilery thoughts down below 😉


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Review: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: July 4th 2017

Genres: YA Historical/Fantasy/Mystery

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

    

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

I’ve always loved books that take place in small towns where generations of families have lived weaving their own stories. A lot of the times it becomes a game of separating fact from fiction. In The Disappearances we get introduced to the town of Sterling, a place shrouded in mystery and most unwelcoming to any newcomers.

Unfortunately, our main protagonist Aila & her 8 year old brother Miles have just lost their mother after taking ill & their father has just been drafted. Set against the backdrop of the 1940’s, World War II has just begun and we see a bit of the daily affects on American life. Since Miles is known to be a mischievous child, their dad ends up having to leave them in the care of Juliet’s (Aila & Miles mother) childhood best friend in another town. Aila & Miles leave behind the only home they’ve ever known to stay with people they don’t really know. The town of Sterling isn’t too happy about their arrival either for reasons the siblings have yet to uncover. From the minute they step foot in the town, all manner of strange occurrences take place & observant Aila is taking notes. They are taken in by the Cliftons, a very important & well respected family in Sterling. It isn’t long before The Cliftons explain to Aila that every 7 years, Sterlings residents (born & raised) lose something of value. At the time of their arrival, the towns people have already lost scent, reflections, and the night skies stars. The Disappearances is at its core a mystery as Aila sets out to find the answers that may or may not clear her mothers name from the list of possible Catalysts, after all…it all had to start somewhere…

Aila- is a bookworm who reads mostly classics and Poetry, she’s what is considered a good kid. When her & Miles are uprooted and taken to live with The Cliftons, she becomes very protective of her little brother Miles. While reminiscing on things their mother used to do with them to mark special occasions, she looks for ways to keep them going for Miles. I loved seeing them bicker & have a normal sibling relationship. They had moments where they didn’t speak over petty things but ultimately she made sure they made up fairly soon after.

Miles- 8 years old and missing his mother terribly is trying to hang on to her memory. He may have been known for mischief in his old town & still gets into trouble here & there but overall really wants to be happy with the Cliftons who have welcomed them with open arms.

Will, Beas, & George- 1 plays a love interest, 1 is a new friend for Aila, and the other is a friend who sort of has feelings for Aila but also has other passions renting space in his mind 😉

The Cliftons- knowing they would face much controversy for taking in Juliet’s kids, the Cliftons opened their doors & their hearts to Aila & Miles. This family is actually really special for a very important reason but that would be spoilery, instead I’ll just say that I loved this entire family. They put others needs before their own & overall just ROCK!

Towns People- I honestly came to understand these folk after spending so much time with them lol. Juliet wasn’t the only person to be accused of starting “the curse” as some call The Disappearances. Many other theories evolved over time and many prominent families were added to the list of potential catalysts. Besides the typical small town gossip & drama, these people did really band together in time of need.

It seems 2017 is the year of discovering many new authors with amazing stories to tell! The Disappearances took me by surprise in that I wasn’t expecting to be pulled into the mystery to the point I was at the edge of my seat in anticipation for the next Disappearance. This by no means is a fast paced book, rather it’s slow winding while still holding you in its grasp. I really felt for these people who were losing some of the most basic under appreciated wonders of life. I found myself Imagining what it would be like to not be able to see my reflection or smell my food…they lose way more than this. Ultimately I found the way it wrapped up to be very unique, I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. Lastly, as a bookworm I’ll say that this will appeal to those who love solving a good mystery filled with literary references and a bit of magic 😉

*Thank you HMH Books for Young Readers, Edelweiss, and Emily Bain Murphy for the eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Lovely Bookworms! who has already read The Disappearances? Thoughts? did you see that ending coming? or were you pleasantly surprised as I was?


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Review: Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Published by: HarperCollins

Date of Publication: July 11th 2017

Genres: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

   

*Many thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss, and Blair Thornburgh for the eGalley copy of Who’s That Girl in exchange for an honest opinion

Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?

As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages, and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

Who’s That Girl in many ways felt like a blast from the past to my High School days. A time when you’re dealing with all sorts of emotions and also self identity not to mention, your first shots to the heart *insert pesky cupid here* When we first meet Nattie, she is OBSESSED with Pixstagram which as you’ve probably guessed is this books version of Instagram HAHA! On this app she keeps up with Sebastian and his band as they grow  their fandom. Sebastian graduated the previous year & they had 1 brief encounter that could be seen as romantic. Well for Nattie that one brief encounter was all she needed to feel a “connection” & when Sebastian’s song “Natalie” hits the air waves, she is convinced. Mostly Nattie feels admired by Sebastian but then she starts feeling self conscious about the lyrics which then leads to her trying to remain anonymous. To distract her from Pixstagram every once in a while are Nattie’s crew of friends who were my personal fave parts of this book. Nattie’s best friend Tess is a lesbian & she’s trying to bring the school together for a dance that would be inclusive of all those who fall in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. We see Nattie & crew come up with ways to raise funds for this dance & deal with opposition. Now, there is sort of a love triangle if you’re counting Sebastian as a thing…I sure didn’t haha!

Our main protagonist Nattie wasn’t my favorite in this book & that’s only because her stream of conciousness was a bit difficult to follow. At times she does come off as annoying because her actions contradict what she’s saying she doesn’t want to happen. Specifically that she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s the infamous Natalie but continues to pursue Sebastian in public venues. The book however has some amazing secondary characters that I LOVED!…

*The Parentals- AKA the funniest parents I’ve come across in a very long time! & REAL! when we meet mom & dad they are getting on each others nerves over backyard projects that will make the neighbors raise a brow. I loved reading their dialogue & shaking my head at how authentic they come off. Their relationship with Nattie, specifically dad with Nattie made me heart smile more than once. If you’ve been around my blog a bit, you know I have a soft spot for father/daughter relationships 😉

Tess- AKA the BFF and leader of the OWPALGBTQIA (you’ll have to read the book to get what this acronym stands for hehe) is legit ride or die for Nattie. Always there for Nattie, she will literally drop everything when she gets that Jamba alert. Tess is a lesbian who hasn’t come out to her parents yet & hopes to do so by hosting her high schools 1st all inclusive dance. Loved seeing this friendship play out through ups & downs.

The Crew (with some honorable mentions)- As a whole, I loved this group of friends! they were fun and truly caed about one another. They knew each others likes/dislikes down to who has an allergy to what. In other words, they were TIGHT!

Although the characters were not all individually fleshed out, we still spend enough time with them to get to know their personalities. They each have nicknames they refer to each other by which I found very 80’s like (Loved it!). My faves were Zach the Anarchist & Tall Zach, besides having the same first name they don’t have very much in common but they’re great friends. Tall Zach is gay, liked by many in the school, and just a sweet caring guy. Zach the Anarchist is sarcastic & loves to bake, he has no hairs on his tongue winning extra brownie points in my book.

Who’s That Girl is heavy in dialogue & I struggled a bit with Nattie’s inner monologue for the first half which is why I rated it a 3.5 stars. I guess I was way more invested in the crew & her parents that Nattie fell to the background. This is weird of me to say since she is who the story revolves around but not the most interesting in my opinion. This was however an absolute fun read with one of a kind friendships I could relate to which raised my appreciation. I have a thing for groups of friends that possibly dates back to The Breakfast Club & Nattie’s friends felt like coming back home ❤ ❤ ❤

Readers, I’m looking for more books that feature groups of friends you just can’t get enough of! please leave me some good recommendations & if you’ve read Who’s That Girl, who was your fave character?

WWW Wednesday 7/19/2017

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?

*Covers—>GR Link*

I’m kind of cheating here since I meant to start this today but wasn’t feeling too well & decided to leave it for tomorrow. Well I did take a peak at the first page & knew if I flipped to the next page that I’d be saying goodbye to my beauty sleep lol. The map alone had me giggling because it’s set in NYC (my home city) & some of the places have been changed. J.P. Morgan Chase in the book is “J.P. Morgan Mansion” & there’s a “Schwab Mansion” that has me raising a brow haha! I had no idea this book is 500+ pages long until I checked in with my spreadsheet & that led to some re-arranging on what I’ll be reading for the rest of the month. I have a really good feeling about this book & i’m feeling a bit excited to read on my commute to work tomorrow. By the time this goes live, I should have already started this book 😉


I finished reading Who’s That Girl by Blaire Thornburgh this morning & will
have a review up by this Friday. I definitely feel this one ended much stronger than it’s Ok beginning. I’m still undecided on a rating but it’s looking like a 3.5-3.75 if I’m being honest. I really wanted to LOVE this book but for a book that is dialogue heavy, the first half struggled a bit. The characters however are perhaps the strongest part of this book & I have a few stand-out favorites. I’d recommend Who’s That Girl to anyone looking for more books based on friendship. Although there is somewhat of a romance in this book, the friendships play center stage & I appreciated that so much.


I also recently finished reading Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica, a Mystery/Suspense novel that made a fan out of me. I also wrote a review that you can check out here. This book had me up at all hours and very concerned for the characters. I spent a good portion of my morning looking into all of her books & trying to pick my next read. open to suggestions down in the comments <3’s

 


Once I’ve read The Last Magician, I will be diving right into The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy. This book gives me dark, mysterious, and atmospheric vibes. I LOVE stories that take place in towns that have a story to tell. Sterling is probably not a town I’d like to live in but I wouldn’t mind being sucked in for a few days to unravel some secrets 😉

 


What are you wonderful bookworms 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!


Review: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Published by: Harlequin/Park Row Books

Date of Publication: June 27th 2017

Genres: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 331

Format: eGalley

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*HUGE thanks to Harlequin/Park Row Books, Netgalley, and Mary Kubica for the eGalley copy of Every Last Lie in exchange for an honest opinion

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

WoW! ok! here goes my attempt to write words that will do this book justice…I’ll start off by saying that this is my 1st book by Kubica & that I am now going to need all the monies just so that I can read all her other books smh haha! No but seriously, I have heard plenty about this author on all of the well known platforms & knew that I’d be reading her books at some point. Every Last Lie just so happened to pique my interest because it features a young mom as the protagonist as well as her deceased husband through alternating POV’s. As a young mom myself I thought hmmm…a relatable new character possibly? well sort of, in the sense that this can actually happen & unfortunately has to many others. I don’t know about you but I try to live an honest life & part of the reason for that is, I don’t want anyone to be hurt by anything left unsaid when my day comes. This book had me hooked from start to finish at all hours of the day & night. My heart went out to Clara who just lost her husband and is left with her 4 year old daughter & an infant son. She’s still in the post delivery months trying to adjust to her new life as mommy of 2. This is a time of exhaustion for Clara who is learning her new baby, his wants and needs and also adjusting to her post baby body. The last thing she could’ve fathomed was losing her husband in a tragic car accident.

It’s so easy to judge Clara as we read along and count the times she leaves her babies in the car with the windows down while she tries to get information on Nick’s death. The thing is, she’s doing the best she can & with that comes trying to console her 4 year old daughter who was in the car & miraculously walked away unharmed. Clara’s little girl is having recurring night terrors that wake her up running to the nearest safest hiding place. She’s running from “the bad man” but won’t say more than that which leaves Clara with so many questions & no answers. We see her try to put bits and pieces together on Nick’s state of affairs before his death and with that you see her make many assumptions. This is Clara trying to get some sort of closure on losing her husband & I felt every bit of desperation she was feeling.

Through alternating POV’s we get Nicks narrative before his tragic passing & I neither loved or hated him if I’m being honest. Nick is a man trying his hardest to provide for his wife & kids as a dentist with his own private practice. In a field that is extremely competitive, his office wasn’t doing well at all and this led to him making some very bad decisions. Decisions that he kept away from his wife who he loved & wasn’t trying to stress out with financial worries. He adored his beautiful wife & the comfortable life they lived and so instead chose to find other means of making money. We follow Nick from one bad decision to the next all the while knowing that it doesn’t end well.

The way Kubica chose to write Every last Lie was very effective in giving the reader a sense of desperation felt by both Nick and Clara. Nick had one foot in bankruptcy & the other in denial. Clara was coming off the hinges trying to piece together Nicks troubles. I kept rooting for Clara to get some closure & start living her new life but that wasn’t going to happen until she could separate fact from fiction. We see her turn over every rock looking for answers to questions about their financial ruin & their own marriage. I sat up reading & hoping that at the very least, Nick really loved his wife. Such a rollercoaster of a emotions during my time with this book but all I can say is, please READ this book! haha! If you’re someone who loves a good mystery/suspense novel on the beach, this is for you! If you’re getting your Fall TBR ready & filling it up with mystery/suspense, this is for you! I’m hooked *adds Kubica to auto-buy list*

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Lovely Bookworms! who has already read Every Last Lie? Thoughts? & for the Kubica fans, pretty please leave below your fave Kubica book 🙂


Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

the-library-of-fatesThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Published by: Penguin/Razorbill

Date of Publication: July 18th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy

Pages: 354

Format: eGalley

Rating:★★★★ 4 Stars

*HUGE thanks to Penguin/Razorbill & Aditi Khorana for the eGalley copy of The Library of Fates in exchange for an honest opinion

 

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A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

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The Library of Fates took me on a journey full of growing pains, sacrifice, friendship, and fated love against the backdrop of a vibrant colorful land full of hope. The introduction to this story starts with the very special bond between father and daughter. Princess Amrita is the daughter to the ruler of the country of Shalingar who loves his people and goes above & beyond to keep them safe, free, and prosperous. However, while on a visit the Emperor Sikander sets his sights on Shalingar, Amrita volunteers her own hand in marriage to keep the peace. Amrita’s father did not want this for his daughter & tried everything in his power to reverse his daughters fate. Although Amrita and her father have a tight bond, there are still many secrets he is keeping from her regarding her mother who he refuses to speak about. As a result of tragic events that take place during the Emperors visit, Amrita is forced to go on the run far from the palace walls & her beloved country of Shalingar. She does not go alone, as a true testament of her character & beliefs, she saves the oracle who was enslaved by the emperor. Thala has been mistreated since the age of 9 when she was first ripped away from her home by the emperor. She has been forced to take the drug Chamak to enhance her visions (Think Grishas/Six of Crows) & serve the Emperor. Although Amrita is forced to leave everything & everyone behind, she is focused on finding a way to defeat the emperor & warn her people of the dangers to come. Thala on the other hand is seeking for a way to reverse their fate by finding the Library of All Things. The only ones (besides the Emperor) in their way are themselves. Amrita is a non-believer of all things magic/fables and Thala believes whole-heartedly. This unlikely pairing embark on an adventure that will leave them changed forever…

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Although there are many characters along the way shaping Amrita’s fate, these are the ones that stood out the most for myself…

The Amrita we meet at the start of this story isn’t the one we see by the time we read the last sentence. She has been forced to run for her life leaving behind her home & all those she loved. She has no real destination in mind and we see her & Thala tough it out, really shedding her life as a princess. Also, she is having a hard time accepting the possibility that the fables her father imparted her with as a child may actually be closer to reality. She’s on a path that will challenge her to grow & make some tough decisions regarding her fate & those of her people. Amrita was the most fleshed out character we get in The Library of Fates and following her journey full of twists & turns was unpredictable and satisfying.

Amrita’s father ChandradevI am a sucker for father/daughter relationships and so I can’t speak about characters without showing Chandradev some love. A father who loved his country & his people but fought hard to not have to sacrifice his daughter to a tyrant. Chandradev also won my ❤ for being a lover of folklore/mythology, telling Amrita stories that always made her wonder. I’d love to see more father figures like Chandradev on the page seeing as they are scarcely written.

Thala was an interesting character to get to know, she has a lot of hurt and pain when she is gifted as a slave to Amrita by the Emperor. Shalingar did NOT believe in enslaving people & so when Thala arrived, Amrita and her father were immediately appalled at the offer. This set the tone for Tala’s journey beside Amrita, their friendship very unlikely yet  strengthening from the minute they set off. This friendship was slow building & met with many bumps on the road which made it more authentic.

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The first half of this book reads very differently than the second half. At first I really did think I was getting the same story we’ve all read before…you know? the one where the princess is forced to marry a megalomaniac while her true love comes to her rescue? YEAH that’s the one! Whelp, I can assure you the this was NOT that story! The Library of Fates took such an interesting turn at the midway point leaving me enamored with the way Khorana wove fate into this story. The belief that there are many different versions of ourselves living many different lives all at the same time following the threads of their own fate really intrigues me. I docked it one star only because I felt it didn’t really find its footing till after the half-way point which is about the time I started to really fall in love with this story. I also would’ve liked to have been given some answers regarding Amrita’s mother but won’t go into detail for fear of spoilers. Overall I really enjoyed this read & the world Khorana has created, lush with Persian influences & steeped in Indian folklore. I reccomend The Library of Fates to those who’ve ever wondered whether our fates are written for us or if it’s entirely within our control…& for those who believe in magic 😉

The Library of Fates will be out on shelves Tuesday July 18th. will you be picking up a copy? If you’ve already had the opportunity to read, what were some of your thoughts on this tale?

WWW Wednesdays

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 Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica and It’s either a case of me being a terrible detective OR Kubica is just that DAMN GOOD! I haven’t read any of her other books but have already added a few to my TBR. I think what also has me hooked in this mystery/suspense is that the protagonist is a young mom who I find very relatable. I won’t lie though (see what I did there, eh? lol) the husband in this book has me raising an eyebrow at my own LOL! I’m hoping to finish this one by tomorrow, I really need to know what really happened on the night Nick went to get Chinese food & I’ll leave it at that 😉

I recently read, reviewed, and LOVED The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee *all the hearts* & I genuinely miss these characters & how much fun it was to follow their adventures. This was hands down a 5 star read & was so happy to hear one of my fave characters (Felicity) in TGGTVAV is getting her own spin-off companion titled The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy slated for 2018 *excited* TGGTVAV is THE book to read this summer if you’re looking for diverse characters (POC & LGBTQIA+), Feminism in YA Historical/Fantasy, and non-stop laughs 😉


I recently read The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana & will have a review up this Friday 😉 I love Indian folklore and so it came as no surprise that I’d be very interested in this book. Although the first half had me feeling like it was following the same formula other books have…a Princess is married off to a tyranical maniac to keep the peace between two houses?…yes but, it actually ended up surprising me. Fate as implied by the title plays a big role & I enjoyed the way it was woven into the story. More to come on Friday…


Last time I featured my next two reads however, this time around I’ll be posting only one since I can’t seem to settle on a July “TBR” of sorts. I def think it’s the weather and the fact that I am busy with my little family, less reading & more mood reads lol. Originally I had planned on reading The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy however, the mood is calling for something much lighter cuz life has been hectic lately & so I’m going with my eGalley of Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh. This book features a Latinx main protagonist in what may or may not be a love triangle. Now, typically I stay away from love triangles but guess what? I haven’t read very many from a Latinx perspective…Labyrinth Lost is the only title that comes to mind & so I shall. Also, I WAS Junior back in H.S. & so this read screams RELATABLE to me which is rare in YA & therefore a nice change of pace. This YA Contemporary seems to be full of diversity & I am ALL on board for that. Fingers crossed that I’ll love Junior Nattie McCullough 🙂

 

Edelweiss Synopsis (GR Synopsis wasn’t all that great) 

With the compulsive readability of Audrey, Wait! and Boy Meets Boy, Who’s That Girl by debut author Blair Thornburgh delivers laugh-out-loud awkward romantic encounters, a supportive LGBTQ organization, and too many cheesy lyrics to count.

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her. But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix, returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single—“Natalie”—which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

Things get even more confusing when Nattie starts to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

What are you wonderful bookworms 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!