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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Arc August Review: When I Am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

Published by: Penguin Random House/Dutton Books

Date of Publication: August 1st 2017

Genres: YA Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

Pages: 304

Format: eGalley

    

“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.

 Let’s just start by getting this out of the way….I LOOOOOOOVED this book!!!! Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system I’ll tell you why 😉

 In what I found to be a unique form of story telling, our MC Ben is telling us this story as he sits in Jail which is disclosed in the very beginning & in the synopsis (no spoilers here lol). This had me asking all sorts of questions & all of the answers made this one story i’ll find hard to forget. From the opening pages, Ben Gibson starts off by recounting the day he met Rose. He’s automatically infatuated with everything about this gorgeous girl who seems too mature to be in High School. Even more unlikely is Rose approaching him and making him her boyfriend. Make no mistake, Rose doesn’t ask she tells him they are now in a relationship. This pretty much sets the tone for this story, both are complex characters for very different reasons. Ben is someone who comes from a toxic home environment & Rose is the polar opposite but she has her own dark passenger. Ben is part of the schools Orienteering class where you are taught all there is to know about camp, survival, map & compass reading. This is one thing that makes Ben feel good about himself and there isn’t much of that in his life. We’re introduced to the other students in the class who all fall into the cliques we’ve all seen form in High School. Ben however, is the teachers right hand man and he sort of leads the class whether they like it or not. They prepare to go on one class trail exploring trip with Ben spear heading while their teacher supervises. Ben, a character who likes to be in control of every variable has his doubts about whether he can successfully lead. He has no idea how justified his doubts really are. This book might have played out like one of those movies we’ve probably all seen where campers get lost in the woods & everything that can go wrong DOES go wrong. The thing is with so many players on the board having their own personal demons, it eliminates all predictability. I was HOOKED! this tale is DARK and twisted, it will make you question our MC who is also narrating since this is first person POV. It will have you looking at every character with a mean side eye lol & ultimately leave you shook!

Without getting into too many specifics, I can tell you this isn’t your ordinary cast of High School students. They each have secrets, some are manipulative, and others think they are better off than they really are. Ben Gibson isn’t like any MC I’ve ever come across in YA or even Adult Fiction for that matter. I wondered whether he was a unreliable character or just dead inside. It seemed like he couldn’t catch a break at times & others left me wondering if certain events cemented his fate. I found his story to be tragic and he surprised me when I read the last line in this book with a tear streaked face. I was left wondering what could’ve been if life had dealt him a different set of cards & not just him. All of the characters seemed lost inside & they kept me invested in this story. I NEEDED to know how and why. It’s been so long since I’ve come across characters that leave me thinking of them after I’ve read the last page.

GRIPPING! DARK! TWISTED! I’ve read other YA thrillers but NONE like this before. Yes I have already added this authors other books to my TBR, I’m definitely going to need more from where this came from lol. I inhaled this book similarly to how my read of Mary Kubica’s Every Last Lie went last month…to the very early hours of the morning. Although we are given the end game in the beginning with Ben sitting in jail, how he got there is one MESSED up story you can’t possibly see forming til you’ve been given the final piece. I think writing this story in first person POV worked so well in giving us a sense of what Ben does & does not feel. Being in his head isn’t the easiest but that only heightened my interest. You really shouldn’t expect to like any of these characters, they don’t even like themselves but know you’re in for one hell of a sick ride! I was surprised to see on Goodreads that this is a start to a series & would love to know if the next book will have us following a new set of characters or the same. My guess is that it’s going to be one of those series where each book stands on its own but it any of you know please let me know down in the comments.

*HUGE thanks to Penguin Random House/Dutton Books and Stephanie Kuehn for this eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! happy FRIYAYYYY! AYYY! hope you’re all enjoying this day & getting ready to start your weekends. Have any of you read When I Am Through With You? if so, how bout those feels? eh? haha!


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #5: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 5th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen one of my most highly anticipated sequels of this year!!! *eeeeeK* I still cannot believe I was approved on Netgalley but this truly made the end of last week cuz overall last week was a really sucky week in general. The book Gods definitely blessed me with some magic to make up for my troubles haha! Ok so, last year at NYC Comic Con I picked up a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale (see review here) not knowing that it would be my most favorite score. I read it sometime in December 2016 which btw is PERFECT weather for this read, and I fell in love with the writing & the story. From the opening scene in front of a warm fire to the very end, it felt like I was sitting down for story time every single time I picked it up. The cozy feels are real and I am so thrilled to have a early copy of the sequel The Girl in the Tower! Both the covers for these books are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! *heart eyes emoji*

*If you haven’t read The Bear in the Nightingale yet, I’d skip the 411 section after my photo*


The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

 


The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around <3’s!


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #4: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme created by Krysti at YA and Wine and Sarah at The Clever Reader to give book bloggers/bookstagrammers a chance to show off those ARCs/eARCs/Galleys! This meme is now being hosted by the wonderful Flavia over at Flavia the Bibliophile & I couldn’t be happier to see this meme live on!

Hello Readers! This is my 4th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen my current read Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle which also happens to be my 2nd read for the #ARCAUGUST Readathon. So far I am only 50 pages in & very intrigued. Following multiple POV’s always keeps things interesting, I’m curious as to how everything will come together. Not going to lie though, this book has me wanting to ditch Summer & run straight into the arms of crisp Autumn *eeeeeK* I should’ve known once I saw mention of witches haha!


Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published by:   Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Contemp/Fantasy/LGBTQ

Pages: 368

 

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around 😉



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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA: They Both Die At The End

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by Krysti at YA and Wine and Sarah at The Clever Reader to give book bloggers/bookstagrammers a chance to show off those ARCs/eARCs/Galleys! Comment on their weekly posts with a link to your own #ARCstravaganza blog post, or post a pic on Instagram using the #ARCstravaganza hashtag, and you will be entered to win an ARC copy of an upcoming YA novel! One winner will be chosen at random each month!

Good Monday Morning Readers! This is my 2nd week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & I’ve chosen my most valuable arc They Both Die AT The End by Adam Silvera. If you’ve been around my blog for a bit you probably know just how much love I have for Adam, his stories, and his characters. My #1 favorite YA Contemporary author for many reasons. Besides his writing, his personality & down to earth attitude is what I find most endearing. I’ve reached out on Twitter & he has always responded, when I read More Happy Than Not & left my thoughts on Goodreads (before this blog existed), he was the first to like my review. He is always reachable to his fans and fellow authors in the community as well. In short, he can do no wrong in my eyes LOL! My husband actually managed to get 1 of 25 copies being given away at Bookcon earlier in June & for this he scored major brownie points haha!


They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

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They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Published by: HarperTeen

Date of Publication: September 5th 2017

Genres: YA Contemporary/Sc-Fi

Pages: 384

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around 😉


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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?

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?

June Wrap-Up

Hello Readers! another month has passed & with it comes my typically-late-thus-making-it-right-on-time? Wrap Up smh haha! this time around I excluded my haul simply because Bookcon happened & in one day I managed to haul way too many books & that’s not including my regular books bought for the month. Also, I posted my Bookcon haul last year & that was all fine and well because I was new in the blogosphere & was very excited to share my 1st bookish event. Whelp, 1 year later I was still very excited to attend Bookcon but this time around I’d like to think I was a bit more wiser & aware of all the drama surrounding ARCS. Not to mention that book hauls from these types of conventions tend to generate negative attention & I’m not here for that. So I decided to skip the haul & just speak about the event itself…

The best part of the event was seeing my twin aka bff Gretchen who most of you know has a blog called ChicNerdReads (pictured below in the glasses next to me). My hubby also accompanied us which is always fun since he’s also a reader & I’m his source for new book recommendations. The event seemed to have been dominated by Penguin with giveaways every hour on the hour as well as author signings. This made for extremely long lines, stampedes, and overall madness tbh…

I am honestly surprised to have acquired the ARCS that I did but it wasn’t easy & took a bit of prioritizing. Gretchen & I pre-gamed for this event mapping out which books we were aiming for & I do believe this actually helped as much as we thought otherwise during the event. Overall, the event & it’s lack of organization was terrible for our anxiety. The positive however is that we got to spend the whole weekend surrounded by BOOKS & talking about BOOKS and that’s always a fun time no matter what. Also! we met another Puerto-Rican Bookworm who had flown in for the event. She told us about getting caught in the stampede for Warcross on Saturday & how after hours of standing in line she walked away w/out the ARC. My hubby gave up his ARC to Warcross which we had at home. We shipped it to PR & when it arrived she sent me a very happy text which made my week 🙂

Me (left side) & Gretchen (right side)

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Bearly a Lady (Novella) by Cassandra Khaw ★★★★1/2 (4.5 Stars)

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue ★★★★★ 5 Stars

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) *Conclusion to duology w/spoilers for This Savage Song ★★★★★ 5 Stars 

Although for the month of June I only read YA, each book was so different from each other that it honestly felt like I read diversely. I read some books with hard topics like Saints and Misfits and Bad Romance which led me to discovering two amazing authors. I had a ton of fun reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue and Bearly a Lady (novella) with many laughs. Started a new Diverse Fantasy with Song of the Current & can’t wait to read the sequel to this du-ology. I also read the conclusion to monsters of Verity…Our Dark Duet broke me yet it is the most satisfying conclusion I’ve ever read. Yea, I was a bit all over the place but my reading reflected my life as a whole in June haha!

My most highly anticipated flick for 2017 DID NOT DISAPPOINT! Wonder Woman had me engaged from the opening scene. I have always been fascinated by the Amazons & Wonder Woman has always been a icon for me…getting her back story on the big screen felt like the best earliest Christmas gift I never thought to ask for LOL! little Diana was lively & eager to learn the ways of the Amazons & seeing her natural born instincts play out gave her a new sparkle in my eyes. My only regret is not reviewing this movie on the blog when my feels were fresh haha. I loved the entire cast, humor, fight scenes, and plot as a whole! my interest in The Justice League sky rocketed after leaving the theater googling for any bit of early news hinting at a sequel to Wonder Woman. For those who didn’t think Wonder Woman deserved her own solo debut…Gal Gadot sure showed you *5 Stars* 😉

My second date night with the hubby (we got lucky in June with sitting) was great & all but Transformers The Last Night was lackluster. I was really rooting for this one more for the hubby’s enjoyment than mine really. I just went to see Markie Mark & Bumble Bee but the irony in that I tell ya smh! So, as a lover of all Mark Whalberg’s movies I can go ahead and say this…In my opinion, he should’ve never accepted the lead role no matter how badly he wanted to realize his childhood dream of playing with life sized Transformers #jussayin. Love me some Markie Mark but that role really needs to go to another younger guy (not shia Labeouf, that ship has sailed). I’m hoping that the history they introduced means we are due a new main character *fingers crossed* I found myself bored & ended up rating this movie *3.5 stars* 😦

Happy reading in July Bookworms!!! Hope you all had a wonderful June month & are enjoying your summer reads. Read or watched any of these? drop a comment down below <3’s!

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

29102896Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

 

*Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence, Mental/physical/verbal abuse, attempted suicide, and rape

 

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Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS ON GOODREADS…

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Bad Romance is one of those books that will remain within me for years to come as a reminder of what could’ve been had I continued in my own toxic relationship. This book resonated with me for personal reasons but also stood out amongst all the Young Adult Contemporaries I’ve read so far in 2017. This isn’t a easy fluffy summer time read however, it is a much needed one. Bad Romance can be used as a conversation starter within the Young Adult community & help bridge gaps between Young Adults and their parents. Demetrios gives us Grace who is 17 going on 18 in High School with BIG dreams of one day living an artsy bohemian life in New York City. She lives with her mother, step-father, and baby brother from her mothers re-marriage. Life isn’t at all easy for Grace who doesn’t live a typical teenage life. She lives in a abusive home where toxic behaviors are what she’s come to view as normal. Told in second person POV, Grace is observing the changes in her relationship with her mother as her mother slowly becomes unhinged. See, Grace’s mother herself is the victim of verbal, mental, and physical abuse (implied) at the hands of her husband. Demtrios shows us a mother trying to keep her new family together while she teeters on the verge of a mental breakdown. Grace on the other hand has just caught the attention of the most popular guy in school who she knows comes with his own baggage. From the 1st compliment to the 1st date & what eventually leads to a volatile relationship, we the reader are taken on the slow progression that is Grace & Gavin’s own toxic relationship. Gavin knows just what to say at all times & just how to get his way. From afar he seems like the perfect boyfriend but when we start this story, it is with the knowledge Grace has already learned the hard way. She shows us how easy it was to fall for someone who was already broken when all you’ve known all your life is abuse…

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Center stage we have Grace & Gavin but this is a story where the supporting character roles are all equally as important. The Grace we meet on page 1 already knows how everything unfolds since it’s told in second person POV. We get to see her regrets and the view she gives us can best be described as removing the rose colored glasses. Grace is just trying to get to graduation so that she can start her new life as a college student far away from her toxic home life. This means she’s learned how to deal with her mothers OCD as best she could & has learned to be submissive to avoid confrontation. Her relationship with her mother plays out on the pages giving you perspective on the cycle of abuse Grace is caught in through no fault of her own. We meet the step dad & he’s no easy pill to swallow which makes your heart break even more so for Grace’s mom.

Somehow, In the past five years, that mom disappeared. Little by little, she floated away, a leaf on the breeze. Now, the air between us is heavy; it’s been too long since we’ve laughed together, talked. How do you relearn love?

Gavin almost seems like a savior when Grace first meets him. She is aware of his troubled past & his failed suicide attempt yet that doesn’t keep her away, it actually serves to lure her in. She admires his resolve and rocker lifestyle but most of all it’s the attention he provides her with that she holds on to. For a girl like Grace who already feels invisible at home except for when she’s needed to scrub the floors or babysit, this new attention became a drug. Gavin himself suffers with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. There isn’t a moment that goes by that he isn’t thinking, living, breathing Grace.

We also meet Nat & Lys who are best friends with Grace, these girls are the true definition of friendship. They know their girl is in a toxic abusive relationship and encourage her to leave that behind every chance they get. They don’t ever leave her side but they also don’t sugar coat anything & didn’t enable her to continue on with Gavin. This friendship was the sunshine in Graces’ very dark, turbulent, and abusive life. I kept hope alive for all of these characters & found myself relating to Grace but ultimately accepting that just like my own toxic relationship with my mother, some things are left unresolved. These characters are heavily flawed & rough around the edges, their pain often times jumping off the pages.

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I’ve never read a book like Bad Romance and I was absolutely caught off guard, this book  brought back memories of a past life. I can’t help but think that if this book had been written back then, that maybe I would have found solace in its pages. I was that young adult in a toxic relationship trying to escape my real issues at home with my own mother. This won’t be an easy read & that’s why I decided to include trigger warnings in this review. Emotionally draining, heartbreaking, and flinchingly honest, Demetrios gives you the ugly raw insides of abusive relationships. Inspired by the authors personal experience, Bad Romance is as real as it gets. Demtrios tackles topics that are more often than not kept hidden in shame & suffered alone. As tough as it was to read this book, I can’t deny that it was because I saw myself in these pages. I’ll be looking out for more from this author and others, especially writing that exposes the ugly in order to start the healing. This is not a story with a happy ending, this is a story with hope & a message for those who may or may not be ready to receive it…

In the Authors Note, Demtrios provided some helpful organizations & I’ve decided to also include them in my review:

Dayoneny.org

Breakthecycle.org

Nomore.org

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan/Henry Holt & Co., Netgalley & Heather Demetrios for the eGalley copy of Bad Romance, all opinions are my own.

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Photo Credit: http://www.healthycellsmagazine.com/articles/when-teenagers-dating-violence-and-abuse

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?

*All covers will take you to the Goodreads link


I am currently at the 50% mark in Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) which is INSANE seeing as I only started this book yesterday *gasps & clutches pearls* smh. I’ve inhaled the first half of this book & that’s thanks to the dark & gritty world Schwab has created in Verity. This is the type of book that once you start, real life falls away and you find yourself immersed in what the author has constructed. Verity is worse now than what we last saw in This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) & our characters mirror that decline. I have no idea how this will end but I am so invested in this story that I’m pretty sure I’ll know by the end of today *fingers crossed*

I recently read & reviewed Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) a true high Seas adventure. If you’re a lover of Pirates of the Caribbean  but want a water adventure with a female protagonist who is a POC then look no further. This book has it all & then some. I really enjoyed this story but more than anything, the final chapters really solidified my interest in continuing with this duology. Highly recommend for excellent world building & diverse characters.


I also just recently finished Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios & will be posting my review by Friday. This is a true conversation starter, one that we need to be having with young adults. I mentioned on Goodreads in what I’ve begun calling my “first impressions” (subject to change if written half asleep at 2am) the following:

Stay tuned for my review…

My next reads will be The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee & Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica both galleys I’m really looking forward to readingI was planning on providing Synopsis for these both when I noticed the following:

  • The Gentelman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue has to have THE longest Goodreads synopsis & I don’t know about you but I’m hesitant to even read those. So I’ve provided the GR links above but for those who don’t want to read the GR synopsis, I’ve got a snippet for you:

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

*also, it’s LGBTQIA+ and I needn’t know more 😉

  • Every Last Lie is a thriller I requested after hearing so many good things about Mary Kubica’s books both around the blogosphere & on booktube. When it comes to thrillers, I definitely never read the entire synopsis because 80% of the time something is spoiled. Instead I’ll leave you with this snippet:

“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.

 

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!