WWW Wednesday 7/17/2019

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

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

An impromptu WWW post is in order after attempting to go for a walk & getting smacked with the reality of a heat wave here in NYC. My hair begged me to go back inside to the comforts of AC & here I am Luvs! I’m also hooked to Booktube Reading Rush videos. I can’t participate since I’ll be going away with family towards the end of the week but the excitement is seriously contagious! cheering everyone on 🙂

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Technically I’m not reading this at the moment haha! but it is the book I’m starting on my commute home today. What was I doing on my commute into work? as previously mentioned, I’m HOOKED on Reading Rush TBR videos on Booktube at the moment #FOMO…I am however predicting this will be one that I really enjoy *fingers crossed*

A Princess In Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) by Alyssa Cole

I have a review coming for this 5 star read sometime this week, it will basically be me RAVING about how much I loved it! This is a well loved book series & I have every intention of continuing on with all of the Reluctant Royals books. Any book featuring women in STEM will always grab my attention but this book has one thing I haven’t seen in any others. The main character Ledi lives & breathes her field of study & we aren’t just told this, we are shown it in the writing. So many great things can be said about this book, I’ll save those for my review 😉

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Also a 5 star review I’m currently working on cause I’m on a reading high & haven’t wanted to stop reading to write *shame shame shame* but in my defense, I did listen to this one in its entirety yesterday. HOOKED! but i expect nothing less when Elizabeth Acevedo narrates her own book. Raw & authentic, Acevedo brings the flavor of the kitchen to you. Our MC Emoni is Philly born & raised, a teen mom with a talent for remixing recipes that will conjure up the most valuable memories in those who eat her food. I listened to this book throughout my day & also while I cooked a Puerto-Rican dish. I laughed out loud, cried, and rejoiced in Emoni’s triumphs. More to come in my review.

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

The thriller everyone is buzzing about! I shamefully own all of Sager’s books & have yet to see why they’re so popular. That changes this week! I actually have a physical copy from Book Of The Month & the audio-book from Scribd. I am consciously making an effort to tackle my BOTM shelf so I’m happy to get to this one. Also, this takes place in New York aka MY HOME CITY! ❤ May just have to take a stroll by The Bartholomew 😌


For anyone in or recently out of slump, I send hugs! I had a tough beginning to this year but have so many wonderful changes & blessings to truly be thankful for. One of the things I never expected to take a hit was my love for reading & yet it did. I’m excited to finally have that spark to want to read, blog & re-connect with friends ❤ ! What books are you reading, loving, maybe want to warn me to stay away from? 


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Spoiler Free Review: Middlegame by Seanan Mcguire

Title: Middlegame

Author: Seanan McGuire

Pub. Date: May 7th 2019

Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Publisher: Tor.com

Pages: 528

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

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

I think I’ve finally met my match. This book is like no other I’ve ever come across in so many ways but trying to summarize it is just not going to work. Clever, dark, multi-layered…this story will sink it’s claws into you & keep you until all hours of the night. One of my my all time favorite classics is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein & all throughout my time with this book I kept getting those mad scientist vibes. Alchemy is at the center of this story, we get introduced to Asphodel Baker who is a very advanced alchemist ahead of her time. Being a woman, Asphodel encounters challenges by her own peers & decides to take matters into her own hands in order to leave behind her legacy. She begins her work to try & bring into physical manifestation, the Doctrine of Ethos. The Doctrine holds the secrets of the Universe ultimately granting it’s keeper a lot of power.

Asphodel creates Reed in her lab; he is some parts human, creature, alchemy & magic. Reed is meant to outlive Asphodel and carry on her legacy which he does & then some. Reed splits up the Doctrine into two of his creations, twins Rodger and Dodger. One is gifted with all things mathematical knowledge & the other comes with a mastery of language. We watch these twins grow and mature via alternating points of view as they live separate lives. When the twins establish a connection via what can be seen as some sort of telepathy, it becomes clear that staying away from each other is impossible. They have no idea how powerful they are individually & how dangerous they can be when they come together.

This book is 500+ pages but its non-stop action & character development. It won’t be for everyone, it will demand your complete attention but it will also introduce you to some of the MOST unforgettable characters you’ll ever meet on the page. McGuire gives us alchemy mixed with magic, mad scientists, telepathy,  math & words that form their own language for these twins and at its core a story about family & friendships.

Content Warning: Murder, suicide, torture, abandonment, mass murder,  violence 

Reed is Asphodel Baker’s greatest creation so much so he’s outdone his creator. Reed is a master manipulator, great at sitting back and observing before he strikes. Reed is only interested in one thing: world domination. He will stop at nothing to create the perfect set of twins that can embody the Doctrine & ultimately extract it from them for power.

Leigh is Reeds creation & honestly she inspired fear in me the MOST! even more so than Reed himself. In some ways I did feel Reed also feared Leighs detachment from humanity. Leigh loves taking apart (twins) the creations she keeps in her lab in the most grotesque of ways.

“Her bones were stolen from the graves and deathbeds of thirteen brilliant women- and if those deathbeds were made by a long-dead alchemist, rather than by natural selection, she has no sympathy for them”

Erin is Leigh’s creation & true to the understanding that the predecessor is more superior…Erin does manage to keep Leigh watching over her back. This character plays an interesting role because she’s used as a pawn with the twins and their development. Erin’s life is directly affected by the decisions made by the twins on any given timeline. Erin could quite possibly be the single most cold blooded TERRIFYING fictional character I’ve ever come across!

Rodger & Dodger- these twins hold within them a genius level of knowledge over language and mathematics. They have a sort of telepathic way of communicating with each other. An understanding that whatever happens to one, the other will feel as well. I loved seeing the twins develop from adolescence into their adult years. Their bond is strong and we get that depth through the years as they come into awareness of their power. They may just be artificially created however, I felt this sibling bond deep in my core.

This is one of those rare reads you come across every once in a while that I feel might come off as too smart or too complex when trying to understand the he science of it all. Personally, I enjoyed the characters the MOST & glad for it since this is a very character driven book. It’s not at all a easy read, oftentimes painful seeing these twins who can’t help but be driven towards one another but cause so much destruction in their union. I felt this on another level because Dodger was left with abandonment issues that played a major role in her growth & development. We see suicide attempts & anxiety rule over her life meanwhile Rodger tries to understand it all to be there for her. He is the #1 most important person in her life while also being the one to bring her the most pain. I may not have been a fan of the plot as a whole but I have a deep level of respect for these three dimensional characters. This book is hella dark & not for the feint of heart but ultimately it will keep its hold on you when given the chance. I’m SUPER curious now to read all of McGuire’s other books and would recommend Middlegame to anyone who loves sibling stories, sci-fi, twisted villains, and alchemy.


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Top Ten Tuesday: Books With My Favorite Color On the Cover (or In the Title)

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

*Purple Rain Purple Rain* I LOVE every shade of Purple there is, some more than others but they all get my love! These are just a few of the books I’ve either read or own a copy of to be read very soon ☺

May 8th 2018: Books With My Favorite Color On the Cover (or In the Title)

Review: Artemis by Andy Weir

Title: Artemis

Author: Andy Weir

Pub. Date: November 14th, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher:  Crown Publishing Group

Pages: 305

Format: eGalley/Netgalley

  

Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she’s stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

I’d like to preface this review with how much I REALLY wanted to LOVE this book! I’d read so many glowing reviews for The Martian and having missed that spaceship, figured maybe this would be the one to get me wanting to read all things Weir…sadly, this wasn’t the case. This doesn’t mean I won’t be reading The Martian, it actually has me all the more curious to see whether this was just a case of…well let’s just get into it shall we. Artemis is based on a heist that is pulled off by our MC Jazz Bashara, a Saudi Arabian who was born and raised on the Moon city. As soon as I met Jazz, we hit it off! I love me a good sarcastic character who as they say has no hair on her tongue. Jazz is intelligent, resourceful, cunning, and at the very heart a HUSTLER! haha! she is after the $$$ & has pretty much got the business of smuggling in illegal goods on lock. There isn’t anything that enters Artemis without her knowledge. With the exception of drugs, Jazz will get you anything you need for the right price. Jazz mentions a specific dollar amount (astronomical) that she MUST earn in order to something…it’s never quite disclosed to the reader & I kept reading hoping that by the end it would be revealed only it never was. She has some high profile clients on the Moon & one of them recruits her to pull off a big heist. I won’t reveal what that actually entailed since that would be spoilery but I could’ve used more heisty action.

We follow Jazz as she makes her rounds working her legit regular day job which isn’t anything fancy or high paying, as well as her side hustle. It is inferred that Jazz is so intelligent, she could have an amazing career if she only cared to apply herself. We do see Jazz get herself out of some sticky situations using brilliant ingenuity. I really enjoyed meeting some of the supporting characters in this world & then others not so much. Although I began enjoying Jazz & getting used to her self-deprecating humor, I soon became aware of how excessively male characters were pointing out her promiscuity. Jazz rolls with the comments & never denies anything & yet she has no sexual encounters in the book whatsoever which left me a bit confused as to why she’s depicted as being Queen of casual sex. So, I think it’s safe to say that I was a bit dissapointed with the representation of women. I cannot draw comparisons with the well loved Mark Wattney in The Martian, but I also won’t ignore what I do know of that character & how eerily close Jazz resembles him.

Here’s where it gets a awkward…besides the fact that the only other two women in this book were at odds with Jazz, upon meeting one of them, Jazz assumes the woman is Latina due to having a “Latina complexion.” This left me a bit confused as to what that looks like exactly being that I’m a Latina woman with family from Puerto-Rico, Salvador, and Argentina…over the holiday weekend we took a family photo and the range of skin tones ranged from white to olive to black with blue, green, and brown eyes. In another scene, the author breaks the fourth wall to assume we the readers don’t know what a niqab is by stating “Okay, you can stop pretending you know what a niqab is. It’s a traditional Islamic headwear that covers the lower face.” which again left me with a raised brow and a icky feeling. I was prepared to give this book all the love for it’s diversity but by the end saw how left it went with its efforts and assumptions.

One of things that lured me to request Artemis on Netgalley was its setting…who doesn’t want to read a heist that takes place on the Moon?!?! Over joyed to dive right into the world building, I went in confident this book would suck me in. I LOVE world-building & it only comes second to my love for well fleshed out characters. The city of Artemis is 1 of I believe 5 dome-like cities. The book comes with a pretty cool map that gives you a better idea of what it looks like. Since Jazz is very mobile all throughout the book, we get to familiarize ourselves a tad bit better with this world & I really enjoyed seeing some of the other cities. Now, there is mention of Artemis being the property of Kenya but unfortunately that’s as far as we get in terms of info. which I was a bit bummed out over because I wanted more on that connection. On the writing front, I will admit that I struggled with info dumping. The many scenes where we get Jazz walking us through the particulars of welding & the science behind it left me wanting to get back to the main story line in a hurry. I have a love for the subject of science however, the focus on welding took some of the fun away from the fact that we were on the Moon.  The ending left me feeling as if there is potential for more story & I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still interested in Jazz’s story, which means I guess you can say I’m conflicted…

*Many thanks to Crown Publishing Group, Netgalley, Goodreads (also won a physical copy) and Andy Weir for the eGalley copy of Artemis in exchange for an honest review.


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Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism/Contemp

Pages: 350 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Razorbill and Emily Henry for the ARC copy of A Million Junes.

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Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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At first glance, A Million Junes is hands down a Romeo & Juliet re-telling in the country. However, at its core A Million Junes can also read as a open love letter from a father to his daughter. June O’Donell lives with her mom, stepdad, and half brothers in Five Fingers Michigan where the O’Donell’s are sort of famous in their own right. June’s dad who passed away, made sure June knew to stay away from the Angerts aka the other infamous family in Five Fingers. The bad blood has run for 3 generations however, no one can pinpoint the exact moment the feud started or the cause of it. Both the O’Donell’s & the Angerts believe they’ve been cursed so that whenever their paths cross (often they do) bad things happen. June’s dad may no longer be living but this doesn’t stop June’s mom from continuing to keep a healthy distance from the Angerts. This of course all changes when June goes to the fair with her best bestfriend Hannah & bumps into Saul Angert. Saul is a few years older than June & has just returned from a pricey artsy school for writers. No one really knows why he’s back in town other than that he is staying with his dad who was a former top bestselling author. Although Saul has heard all about the curse over both their families, he is a non-believer and crossing paths with June soon changes that. For June is a O’Donell through & through, she believes in the curse and in the magic thrumming in Five Fingers. She sees a spirit with a pink feathery aura & a fox who appears every so often in their backyard waiting for them to give it their shoes. To June, her dad was a hero and a wonderful story teller & she believed each and every last story no matter how outlandish they may have seemed at the time. The more June tries to avoid Saul, the more they are thrown together. The spirits in and around her home are trying to tell her something, they keep transporting her to others memories. Memories of her dad from his recollection when she was just a little girl. Each & every time the “Whites” (aka little puffs of white that can be seen on her windows) come to show her a new memory, June gets to know her dad a little more. Everything she thought she knew to be true may or may not be a fact. To June, these trips to the past through the “whites” offer her so much insight on her father, grandfather, and great grandfather but are they harmless? And can June let go of what she & every O’Donell before her has always believed in & follow her heart?…

Starting with Five Fingers, this town is its own character filled with spirits, ghosts, and forest animals that steal your shoes. I fell in love with this strange little town even though at times it did creep me out just a little bit. Everything from the famous O’Donnell Cherry tree to the haunted lake kept me hooked in Five Fingers. June herself is sarcastic and blunt, making her a fun character to follow. Her best friend Hannah is one of my new fave sidekicks! From their own made up way of greeting eacother to how she has June’s back no matter what, Hannah is an instant fave. This right here was A+ female friendship goals 🙌🏼 Saul Angert aka the Romeo in this book, wasn’t THE BEST on the interesting meter but he scored some major brownie points towards the end. Now, last but not least is June’s dad. Although deceased, he is definitely a character all throughout this book. We get to know him and his love for June in a way perhaps that wouldn’t have been possible if were alive. He clearly had tons of love for June, enough for it to transcend beyond the veil of the living & dead. It was this relationship in particular that will stay with me for a lifetime. I myself lost my dad, a man who loved to tell stories just like June’s dad & I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this book up…I’m glad I did though 😉 these characters are endearing, strange, and filled with magic.

I’m usually very weary when it comes to Magical Realism & A Million June’s was no exception. I love MR but it’s not always an easy experience to read & enjoy. This book is for those that may even be a little intimidated by Magical Realism. I found the writing style to be easy to digest which only heightened my level of enjoyment. This was a very atmospheric read that will ask you suspend all disbelief which I found myself doing immediately (leave it a Fantasy lover lol) once I entered the town of Five Fingers. I mentioned in the beginning that on the surface this is inspired by Rome & Juliet however, it was so much more than that. By the time I finished the last sentence I found myself in a puddle of tears at the realization that this story is more about a father’s love for his daughter. I’ve never read anything by Henry but now I am absolutely buying her last book The Love That Split The World if only to get a bit more of her unique writing style 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read A Million Junes? or are planning to? Sound off in the comments below <3’s! 

Also, if any of you have read The Love That Split The World please let me know if I should pick up a copy 😉

March Wrap-Up & Book Haul

March found me a bit scatter brained in all things life & reading but I took this as a sign of adjusting to my new place & neighborhood. I did a little neighborhood exploring (for those who don’t know, I recently moved) & arranging in our new place. I finally unpacked the last bit of boxes but i’ll be honest, the sole motivator for that was the end of the month bday party I was having at home for my daughter. If I were pregnant (I’m not lol), I’d call March my nesting period & I was just waiting for the moment it would feel like home. Whelp, I’m fully comfortable now & moved on to the next stages of paint swatches *silent prayer to the universe*  which i’m personally intimidated by. Anyways, in the month of March I read 4 quality books, this seems to be a pattern lately (can’t break out of 4) but i’m hoping April will be a little different since I have Graphic Novels to read as well *fingers crossed*…

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The Roanoke Girls by my Engel ★★★★ (4 Stars)

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Hunted by Meagan Spooner ★★★★★ (4.5 Stars)

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (First Book of the Ancestor) ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

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This is a 1st on LairofBooks haha! other than my Owlcrate & Book of the Month (view here) I actually did NOT buy any physical books *gasps* I know, shocking right? yeah well I think it was my subconscious telling me to chill cuz May 2nd is right around the corner & on that date my pockets will weep. Now, I can’t really say that I didn’t buy ANY books though…my Amazon Kindle deals addiction is very much strong & alive *no worries* I didn’t realize just how many e-book deals I jumped on but this wrap-up is a real eye opener LOL!…

Yea…so…a bit much but ummm at least they’re only taking up digital space? smh, i’ll do better in April though. I’ve already passed up some tempting deals & i’m quite proud of myself. Oh & The Chaos Of Longing was FREE so yea 😉

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March sadly did not see me watching one of my most anticipated movies Beauty & the Beast. I hope to remedy that this coming weekend but don’t want to jinx it so i’ll leave it at that. I Did manage to watch 1 movie & 1 Netflix show…

Logan
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I’m a HUGE X-men fan & even named my soon to be 3 year old son Logan after my fave X-men (close tie with Storm but didn’t think naming the kid that would help much). Every month, well at least once a month the hubby & I have ourselves a a date night & this was our pick. No regrets here! this is easily one of Hugh Jackman’s greatest films, his performance was on POINT! Dafnee Keen the little girl who plays X-23 is a perfect fit for the role & i’m very interested in seeing what is done with her story arc. Also very pleased to see a Latinx child actress on the screen for a change *whoop whoop*

This movie is Rated R for a change & I for one think this improved the cinematic quality overall. The fight scenes were def more intense & gory, just as an FYI there are no sex scenes in Logan. The story line was A+ & held my interest from start to finish. I was very emotional by the end & have plenty of questions but primarily…WHAT’S NEXT?!?! I’ve heard rumors of Fox producing a Marvel series with the children in this movie, not sure how I feel about that. I’d probably check it out but I’d much rather prefer a continuation on the big screen. Overall I rated Logan 5 stars 😉

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So…thoughts…I have plenty but they aren’t very nice smh. I have watched all of the Netflix Marvel series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage) and really enjoyed them (Daredevil ssn2 was a bit meh for me). Iron Fist however was hard to watch & no I am not talking about the well known reasons that are being talked about on social media. I caught on to the discussion on twitter regarding Marvel’s decision to cast a white actor to fulfill the role of a “master of distinctly Asian traditions of fighting” (Link to NYT article) a bit late. What I do know is that the actor (didn’t bother looking up his name), is either a terrible actor or his character was written poorly. It felt awkward by episode 7, watching this character come off as dumb (i’m trying to be nice). He continued to come off as lost & naive from start to finish no matter how many times he was stabbed in the back. What sucks the most is that the supporting actors were actually good & I enjoyed their parts the most including the villains. To be honest, given how much of this show featured Asian traditions of fighting & how awkward Danny Rand (fictional name) came off explaining & “teaching” these traditions…I am also of the opinion that a opportunity was missed to feature a asian actor. Overall I rated Iron Fist a meh 3 & that’s simply for the supporting performances.

The Defenders Trailer with Easter Eggs

For those like myself who didn’t see much in the short trailer released by Marvel yesterday 😉

I’m only 6 days late with this wrap-up/haul, record breaking! for the most part I am still seeing these posts on my timeline & will be making my rounds btwn today & tomorrow. If you’ve done yours please drop that link & I’ll swing by your corner of the interwebs for a chat. Have any of my bookish peeps read or watched any of the books/movies/shows I mentioned? if so, I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Waiting On Wednesday 

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

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The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

Published by: Orbit

Genre: Adult Fantasy

Publication Date: October 24th 2017

Pages: 480

*click on image for Goodreads link 

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CONTROL THE MAGIC, CONTROL THE WORLD

In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army. Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage-mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations.
But fate has bound the heir and the mage. And as war looms on the horizon, a single spark could turn their city into a pyre.


The Tethered Mage is the first novel in a spellbinding new fantasy series.

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Many of my fellow Adult Fantasy bookworm buddies here in the blogosphere know that I’ve made this the year my return to Adult Fantasy. This isn’t to say I will be leaving YA Fantasy behind but rather in typical Lilly fashion, I will remain a versatile & diverse reader. I am currently reading my first adult fantasy in years, Red Sister by Mark Lawrence & enjoying it immensely. My curiosity today led me to Orbit’s home page since I know them to be one of the well known publishers of quality high Fantasy. I didn’t get very far though, my eyes feasted on this beauty & I stopped dead in my tracks. Both cover & Synopsis have my name written all over it haha! I also decided to do something I have only done once before (and never heard back lol)…I requested this book from the publisher (eeeeeK!) and hope to the Book Gods that I get approved. Zaira sounds like my type of protagonist…the bad a** with no desire to follow a corrupt government’s rules. Lady Amalia has also caught my interest since in the short synopsis, LOVE when scholarly characters are thrown into unlikely partnerships! these two sound like an unlikely pairing &  I’m super curious to see what adventures they get into.

Have any of my Bookish peeps heard of this one? yay or nay? I’ll be blog hopping all day today & adding to  my already out of control TBR so I’ll see ya around 😉

Review: You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

25701463You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Published by: RandomHouse

Pub Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: YA

Contemp/Disability/LGBTQIA

Pages: 304 pages

Rating: ★★★★★

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A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

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The Goodreads synopsis for You’re Welcome Universe pretty much captures what this book is about so I won’t paraphrase, instead I’ll cover the themes. This book seriously had it all & then some! the result is a EPIC story you won’t want to put down. We start off with the main protagonist Julia getting into some trouble in school after she is caught using graffiti to cover up slurs on a wall aimed at her “best friend”. Julia’s intentions were good but as we all know graffiti is illegal & frowned upon. Graffiti is Julia’s way of expressing herself in a world that is very much silent to her. More importantly, she finds that in her art she can be seen in a world where she feels invisible & therefore bypassed. You’re Welcome Universe is a book about the up’s & down’s of friendships, self expression, trust, and staying true to yourself no matter what.

Our main protagonist Julia considers herself a rare anomaly & proud of it. This character is confident even when she may not feel that way on the inside. Most of the time she is speaking her mind through sign language & won’t shy away from giving her two cents when asked. I appreciated Julia’s raw & straight forward personality because we don’t see a lot of that in YA contemporaries.

I flip Through some magazines, hoping lightning will strike, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. No one in the pages of Nylon is like me. I’m a fingerprint, an anomaly, a snowflake. Indian, Deaf, girl, two moms. You couldn’t make this shit fit in the pages of those glossy mags.”

Julia is also very loyal & expects the same in return from her friends. She doesn’t wear a hearing aide & communicates via sign language. Both of Julia’s moms are also deaf which meant that a lot of the book was also internal monologue. Julia is sarcastic & so when you’re in her head you can’t help but smile at this strong & witty gal who is navigating friendships, crushes, and the parentals while also trying to feed her passion for graffiti. what I loved most about Julia had to be her commitment to being REAL when it came to her friends/non friends & giving it to them straight! This is admirable, too many times your friends hold back for fear of losing you but its rare when you find a Julia 😉

The Parentals Mee & Ma play the role of good cop/bad cop which felt realistic, there’s always one parent who gets pegged the “strict one”. I enjoyed seeing Julia’s parents interactions & conversations as well as the cute traditions they created. There are good times & bad ones just like with any teenager but at the end of the day, their love for one another helped them overcome the challenges along the way. Julia also befriends a girl in her new school who she assigned the nickname YP (Yoga Pants) in sign language. YP is an interesting character, from the instant she meets Julia they hit it off but even they are aware of how unlikely their friendship appears. YP at the time is in the Cheerleading squad and is dating the “hot” guy in school, but YP also has a secret. I loved YP’s character, seeing her take initiative to learn sign language in order to be able to communicate with Julia stood out the most for me. Given how our story begins with a broken friendship, I was weary of YP but also happy to see Julia find a good friend. YP struggles with a hidden disorder I won’t disclose cuz spoilers but I will say that I appreciated how it was handled.  I also loved Julia’s treatment of YP, she wasn’t afraid to tell her friend “you’re beautiful” & that’s quite rare. Julia cared to see YP happy & looked out for her feelings which meant a lot considering Julia herself is the opposite of sensitive. We also get to meet Julia’s interpreter Casey who sits in on all of her classes & truly cares for Julia. Casey, I felt played an important role in the sense that her presence gives the reader a taste of what it’s like for Julia to need her to communicate with other people on her behalf.

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Every once in a while I pick up a YA Contemporary that gives me all the feels & renews my interest in the genre…You’re Welcome, Universe is that book! Julia referring to herself as an anomaly/snowflake set the tone for the book. She knew she was one of a kind & that gave her a sense of pride which I loved seeing. The positive portrayal of a Indian deaf girl with 2 deaf moms…I absolutely admired & adored this fictional family.

Throughout the book we get to see some of the street art Julia so graciously shared & I enjoyed seeing the Graffiti battles on the pages. I didn’t include any of the actual images from the book because I found those to be the most fun getting to as I was reading. You want to flip the page & see what she tagged on the wall & how the mystery person who is challenging her tags with their own, responds. I also got bit nostalgic since Julia lives in NYC and the places she was visiting to tag up are places I am familiar, being born & raised here in NY. Graffitti played it’s role in this city’s history and can still be found if you’re looking…

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5 POINTZ (Julia’s dream wall) actually existed in Queens NYC, this is just one of the walls. This place has a ton of history & is home to many of the famous taggers. In 2013 it was purchased & the walls white washed causing much anger in the community 😦

The writing is very easy going in this book but perhaps what has resonated deeply within me is the positive messages this book sent out to overpower the negativity people with disabilities & disorders are subjected to. I couldn’t be more satisfied with our female protagonist & wish only to see more from Whitney Gardner in the near future *fingers crossed*

*Thank you RandomHouse, NetGalley, and Whitney Gardner for the opportunity to read & review You’re Welcome, Universe in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own*

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Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she lives by a bridge with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, and tending her garden or apiary. You’re Welcome, Universe is her debut novel.

Have any of my bookish peeps read You’re Welcome, Universe? Thoughts? drop your links down below if you happen to have a review 😉

Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

30320053Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published by: HarperTeen/HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Rhiannon Thomas for the eGalley of Long May She Reign in exchange for an honest review

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

plot-banner The 1st YA Fantasy standalone I’ve read with an interesting premise in a very long time, Long May She Reign is more than just a Fantasy, it can also be classified as a mystery. The blurb & beginning pages disclose that the King of Epria & his court have all been poisoned to death during his birthday celebration leaving Freya the 23rd in line, the heir to the throne. Freya, a self-proclaimed Scientist who loves to experiment in her lab away from court & all of its politics would never have imagined herself sitting on the throne as Queen. Surrounded by the nobility & citizens of Epria who lost family as a result of being poisoned, Freya’s reign begins on a dark note. Met with opposition, anger, accusations, and suspicions she takes on this task she’s inherited & tries to find answers while also bringing about some much needed change in the kingdom.

When we first meet our main protagonist Freya, she is in her laboratory working on an experiment to self-create heat in your hands. She lives alone with her father a man who climbed his way up the nobility ladder with the help of his now deceased wife. Freya’s mother was of a noble family & was known for her charm whereas Freya experiences anxiety at the thought of working a room. I instantly found myself relating to Freya who is more comfortable amongst her books and test tubes & not socializing. Rhiannon Thomas gave us some of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Those of us who have anxiety know that everyone is different & we don’t all experience the same symptoms yet I was able to recognize & relate to what Freya was feeling. I also found myself feeling uncomfortable with her which speaks to the authors writing & knowledge of anxiety. Freya has BIG dreams which her father & the rest of the world would deem non-traditional. Court life just isn’t for her, not when there’s a whole world of Who? What? Where? When? Why? to be answered. She’s known since she was a little girl that science was her calling. As the 23rd in the royal line, it was highly unlikely that she’d ever inherit the throne. When the unlikeliest of events occurs & she is thrust into the throne, we get to see Freya’s personality unfold. She could’ve been selfish & run away from everything she feared & disliked but instead she decided to rule like only Freya could. I enjoyed seeing her infuse her ingenuity into strategies of war & apply her knowledge to investigate the poisoning. Freya developed strong female friendships within the court which I absolutely loved reading since again, we don’t get them enough in our books. We also get introduced to the King’s illegitimate son who also is presented as a love interest to Freya. I’ll admit to being a bit weirded out by this one…Freya being 23rd in line & all at some point I wondered aloud…aren’t they related? I guess this would be a good question to ask the author *mental note*… I do wish we’d been given a little more background on the King’s son & some of the other supporting cast. I will say though, the characters in Long May She Reign delivered when it came to politics & court intrigue. They had me suspecting each & every one of them of murder & high treason LOL!

Long May She Reign may be at its core a YA Fantasy however, it also fits in the Mystery genre. I was pretty much consumed, following Freya’s science experiments & deductive reasoning. Freya doesn’t have a large court to begin with since they were for the most part all in attendance for the King’s birthday where they ate their last meals. This helped in limiting the amount of players on the board but it also meant that those closest were to be suspects. I had wondered how a YA Fantasy standalone would read since I’m accustomed to long standing series or trilogies but it worked well. Since this is a standalone we don’t see too much world building, instead this book is very plot driven. The supporting characters aren’t really too fleshed out. We do get a well developed female protagonist, Freya was pretty awesome however,her development wasn’t w/out its faults. The Freya we meet in the beginning who suffers from anxiety isn’t quite the Freya we get at the very end. I wondered what happened to her anxiety since I myself am a person who deals with this disorder every day. Then again, as I mentioned at the very beginning of my review…we don’t all suffer the same symptoms or cope the same way 😉

The writing style is engaging, I felt very much a part of Freya’s investigations which I really enjoyed. This is a slow build which is something that as a YA Fantasy reader I’m also not accustomed to & yet it never once lost my interest. I’d definitely recommend Long May She Reign for those bookworms looking for strong female friendships, ingenuity, & a good ol’ murder mystery 😉

Long May She Reign was released this past Tuesday (while I was moving to my new home lol), & so I’m a little late with my review. How many of my bookish peeps have Long May She Reign on your TBR’s? a Scientist Queen? Who can resist?!?! 🤴🏻💰❌👸🏻🔬📚

GIVEAWAY: JANUARY OWLCRATE

These past 48 hours have been very nerve wracking for many U.S. citizens. My anxiety has been through the roof, so when I received book mail Friday…it helped in distracting me for just a bit. I knew I wanted to host my 1st giveaway this year, I just didn’t think it would be this soon lol. The spirit of giving hit me though, and so I shall go with it. I hope this box finds its way to a wonderful bookworm who might also need a bit of a distraction. I meant to  post this box earlier in the day but btwn my 2 tiny humans & being absorbed watching the Women’s March I have truly lost track of time. Running this giveaway is giving me a little happy back & for that I am grateful. The rules for this giveaway will be listed at the bottom of this post. This giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookworms as well, inspired by the outpouring support I’ve seen this morning from women all over the world. I have also been actively seeking out Diverse Books and this will play a part in this giveaway 😉

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Click on photo if you’d like to follow my journey with books on IG ❤

goodreads-synopsis-2In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

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🥀Roseblood by A.G. Howard (hardcover)

🥀1 mint tea packet by @firsteditiontea 🥀1 Secret Garden inspired book-shaped soap (smells SO good!)

🥀1 Slaughterhouse Five inspired watercolor #bookmark

🥀1 children’s classics inspired calendar by @obviousstate

🥀1 Phantom Of The Opera fridge magnet

🥀 1 Owlcrate Theatre pin

🥀1 Wires and Nerve by Marisa Meyer mini poster

 

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🥀 This giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, you just have to have a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me

🥀 Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)

🥀 Must be 18 years or older

🥀 Comment on this post with your most anticipated book for 2017, if this book happens to be a Diverse Book, you will get 1 extra entry 😉

🥀 This giveaway will run starting today 1/21/17 til next Sunday 1/28/2017

Good luck to all those who decide to throw their hat in the ring. I have my lucky mason jar ready and can’t wait to see all of your recommendations. My excited face is on at the moment hehe 🙂