Spoiler Free Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Title:Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

Author: Christina Lauren

Pub. Date: September 4th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Content Warnings: Homophobic slur referenced & cheating on behalf of a background character

Buddy Read: Mel from Meltotheany

🦋 ARC received in exchange for an honest review 🦋  

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

I’m newer to the Contemporary Romance genre than most of my Blogger friends but Christina Lauren is a name I’ve heard float around since the beginning of my blogging journey. I came across Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating on Bookstagram & of course the colors caught my attention for a potentially fun read 💓 Happy to report that it is most definitely one of the MOST fun reads I’ve read in a long time. I laughed & giggled so much and also just rooted for a new found favorite character. Hazel & Josh are the definition of night and day but also give truth to the saying “Opposites attract.” I enjoyed getting to know these two characters over the course of several bad double dates and shook my head so many times reading my first ever friends to lovers romance. Funny & a downright blast to read, I’d easily recommend this book for a good time. Weaved throughout the story is a awesome F/F friendship, A+ sibling relationship, and Korean-American rep.  I also might be a little biased only because Hazel reminded me SO much of Polly Prince from Along Came Polly who I absolutely ADORE for all her unapologetic quirks and eccentricities 🙌🏽

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These characters were so much fun getting to know and although Hazel and Josh are the MC’s, I also included a side character. Emily is BFF to Hazel & also Josh’s sister & many times fills the role of translator between the two. Emily knows her brother & BFF better than they know themselves and really does have both their best interest in mind. One of the best examples of F/F friendship #GOALS I’ve found on the page.

Hazel– Quirky, eccentric, free spirited, feminist AF, and openly admires Josh which really made for some of the funniest lines. Hazel is a teacher & everything from her quirky clothing to her love of animals make her the complete opposite of Josh who she’s known since college. Hazel’s unbending will to stay true to herself made her an instant fave for me & I just LOVED the message she sends out with regards to self acceptance 🖤

“The world seems full of men who are initially infatuated by our eccentricities, but who ultimately expect them to be temporary. These men eventually grow bewildered that we don’t settle down into calm, potential-wifey girlfriends.”

Hazel’s mother is also briefly mentioned but we get enough to know where Hazel’s beliefs come from. Having a mother who was unhappily married to a man who never accepted her quirks, Hazel looks up to her mom for having the strength to move away from that. It isn’t about changing the person you’re with, it’s about loving them for all of the things that make them stand out 🖤

“I realize that finding the perfect person isn’t going to be easy for me because I’m a lot to take” she says, “but I’m not going to change just so that I’m more dateable.”

Josh/Jimin- a Korean-American doctor Hazel went to college with but has since lost touch with. Once she recognizes him as the guy she sort of had an embarrassing encounter with & that he’s her BFF’s brother, the fun really begins haha! Josh is legit the complete opposite of Hazel & often looks upon her with awe although he’d never tell her as much 😂 Josh is reserved and quiet, he has a rough start in the beginning of this story as he navigates a long distance relationship gone cold. Josh is also traditional & very close to his parents who he hopes to one day take care of as the only son which is also a part of Korean culture. The moments Josh found himself admiring Hazel were some of my fave parts…

“I could never quite tell whether she was oblivious or just didn’t care what people thought, but no matter how chaotic she was, she always managed to give off an innocent, unintentionally wild vibe”

Emily- I realize I started this segment of my review talking about Emily for being such a FAB friend to Hazel & caring sister to Josh but she really does deserve her own spot here. Emily truly cares about Hazel & accepts her as she is. Knowing how different & sometimes vulnerable Hazel can be, seeing Emily talk to Josh and question him to make sure he doesn’t do something he may later regret was really indicative of the kind of friend she is.

“I think that’s the one thing that could dim her light. We both know Hazel is a butterfly. I think you have the power to take the dust from her wings.”

This being my first Christina Lauren read, I can now say it won’t be my last. I actually already have a copy of Roomies on deck I can’t wait to get to & I’m sure will also love. This was the perfect read this Summer & also a perfect pick for #SMUTATHON which was a read-a-thon hosted by Lainey from GingerReadsLainey & Riley from RileyMarie that was SOOO much fun to participate in! This book had me in stitches at some points while in others I was red in the face embarrassed for Hazel’s predicaments haha! It was a fun  slow burn/friends to lovers read that kept me flipping pages through the night. The two reasons I docked a star was for the fast paced ending that didn’t match the tempo of the book as a whole & made it feel a bit rushed. Lastly, there is a conversation that takes place where a character mentions how a homophobic slur was used. Although it’s made clear that it was used in a negative light, it did leave me bothered to read it on the page and made me question the need for it in this story. It didn’t really serve a purpose at all & it was someone who isn’t a character in this book who said to begin with…just seemed like something that could’ve either been challenged by a character in the book or just completely left out. Overall I HIGHLY enjoyed this book, characters, and writing! Christina Lauren has now joined the ranks of my fave Contemporary Romance authors & I will most certainly read whatever they write next 🖤

🦋 Quotes taken from ARC/pre-publication & may be subject to change


Hey Bookworms! This little Bookworm is struggling a little on day 1 of being back from vacay & would LOVE it if you could drop down into the comments with YOUR fave friends to lovers recommendations, I’d love you FOREVER! Well I already do but you know 💓


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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Website

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. This weeks topic is all about the showing love to your favorite Book Blogs/Webistes & I just LOVE this with all my 🖤!!! I have so many book blogs & book tubers as well that I go to for my daily fix. Lately its been a lot of Booktube cause life has been so unbelievably hectic but Book Blogs are my 1st true love! This past week I’ve been easing my way back into blog hopping & realize how much I’ve missed it all so this is the PERFECT time to show some love & also maybe interest you in following some (or all 😂) of these wonderful bookworm/content creators 💓

*These are in no particular order & it pained me to keep it to 10 cause I LOVE YOU ALL! 

August 14th: Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites

🖤 Melanie @Meltotheany

Melanie is one of my FAVORITE people I’ve met through Book Blogging & hilarious Voice Notes! I really enjoy buddy reads with Mel & seeing her Fantasy recommendations, chances are if they have her seal of approval…I’m most likely going to love it hence why she’s my Book Twin, we don’t come across many of those in a lifetime so when we find one, we show them love! also, Mel has a keen eye for trigger content so you can always count on her to list them in her amazing reviews before venturing into something you’re feeling a bit hesitant about💓

🖤 Danielle @BooksVertigoandTea

This post couldn’t possibly go up without Danielle who is one of the sweetest & first Book Bloggers I came across when first joining this community. Danielle reviews a variety of genres & I can always count on her blog to find something new that may have possibly missed my radar.I LOVE her reviews of Tor Novellas and Sunday Wrap-Up’s. Most of all, Danielle is just one of those people you meet & just know THIS is a good human being 💓 Danny is on a break at the moment,sending her all the love & positivity💓

🖤 Larkin @ WonderfilledReads

Larkin, I have to meet this human one day! 💓 Not only does she get my humor but she reads all the books I stare at on my shelves (including Book of the Month 🙈) for no good reason other than my book buying addiction 😂 Larkin is probably one of the few book bloggers I know who really keeps up with Fantasy series and finishes them giving you well rounded reviews individually & as a whole. She also has AMAZING audiobook recommendations, I will NEVER tire of thanking her for getting me to pick up The Serpent King by Jeff Zetner 💔 Larkin also shares my love for all things Sci-Fi is overall just a pleasure to interact with 💓

🖤 Beth @ ReadingEveryNight

Beth 💓 my Book Twin in the U.K. who I trust whole heartedly & just know she would never steer me wrong with her wonderfully insightful reviews 🙌🏼 Beth like Danielle (see above) is also one of the first Bookworms I met in the Book Blogging community & the MOST welcoming! She is SUPER interactive with her subscribers and leaves such thoughtful comments that always bring a smile to face no matter when/where I’m reading them. Beth reviews YA books across all genres & also has some of the most beautiful travel posts/photos which she pairs with books! Beth can also bake & I’m just here waiting for those posts to come through 🤞🏼😂💓

🖤 Flavia @ FlaviaTheBibliophile

Ok Y’all! Guaranteed you all have that 1 blog you follow cause everything they post is just SOOOOO damn BEAUTIFUL!💓 Flavia’s Book Reviews, Beauty Hauls, #ARCstravaganza posts are LEGIT *Hearts in your eyes*  swoon worthy content!There’s honestly a little something for everyone & I just love visiting her blog cause it’s always a good time!Flavia is a sweetheart & is the friend to fangirl with you over books & movies any time!

🖤 Amy @ ACourtOfCrownsandQuills

Amy! The Book Gods made our paths cross & ever since then I’ve been blessed with some amazing Buddy Reads 💓 Amy also reviews YA Fantasy & a variety of other genres. We tend to have similar opinions on books & she also runs one of my FAVORITE Instagram accounts! which I personally go to for unboxings 🤗😍

🖤 Heather @ TheSassyBookGeek

Heather 💓 I’ve always wanted to know a Heather & then this wonderful human came across my blogging journey 😆 haha! I mostly read ARCS & that keeps me in the know of what’s coming to shelves in the near future. It’s not often I come across someone with a TBR that makes me sweat a little but heather’s does cause it often looks like mine & is a reminder that I NEED to get to reading STAT! Heather also reads across genres, has amazing reviews, and pulls no punches which I always appreciate when looking for recommendations💓

🖤 Taylor @ NerdNarration

Taylor 💓 all it took was for me to find her Nyxia by Scott Reintgen review & I just knew I had to befriend this beautiful Bookworm! They say I write some enthusiastic reviews for books that I love but Taylor got me beat! 😂 I love reading anything she posts because her personality bursts right through in her words, humor, and GIPHS! Taylor recently won my ARC Giveaway for Dear Evan Hansen over on Instagram & made my day getting her excitement through DM’s 🙌🏼😂🙌🏼 Nothing but positive vibes from Taylor’s corner 💓

🖤 Ashley @ SociallyAwkwardBookworm

Ashley 💓 Besides being a real sweetheart & having the most AMAZING cats with tons of personality & a dog I can’t get enough of! Ashley keeps me humble 🙈😂 She always has a set TBR with attainable goals & finds EPIC book deals on Kindle! LEGIT she is my #GOALS 💓 Ashley also loves photography & I love seeing the photos she takes, always vibrant & make me want to be better at my IG game 😂

🖤 Kelly @Kelly’sRambles

Kelly 💓 I LOVE Kelly’s blog & the fact that when I’m on the go, I can always count on her mini-reviews, Bookish event re-caps, & let’s face it…I’m always curious about her TBR cause not only does she read good books but at times they’re ones I haven’t heard of & she’s in the UK so the cover always pulls me in…I can go on & on but really don’t take my word for it & see for yourselves 😉


I’m currently working from home & this post has been a labor of love but I am SOOOO glad to have participated in this week’s topic! I even got on Instagram & posted a story on my appreciation for this community of Bookworms that have always been here for me when I really needed it 💜 10 is not enough to thank all those who faithfully like & comment my posts & just generally brighten my day! I love you all & hope to continue on this blogging journey for years to come 💓


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THE RAGING ONES BLOG TOUR!!!🚀

Title: THE RAGING ONES

Author: Krista Ritchie & Becca Ritchie

Pub. Date: August 14th. 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 352

Content Warnings: Physical Violence, Torture, Suicidal Thoughts and Drug Use

*Thank you Wednesday Books for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest opinion

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

The Raging Ones truly caught me by surprise in that I wasn’t expecting it to make me the 4th person in the bond our main protagonists share! Told in multiple POV, we get introduced to Court Icecastle and Mykal Kickfall first as they’re preparing to enroll for consideration into the Space Program that would allow them  to keep their secret. In a world where everyone is given their Death Day at the time of their birth, there are also classifications:

Influentials: their life expectancy surpasses 100 years of age which marks them for greatness. They get the best educations because it is believed their contributions to the world are of high value. Most are adopted into families in other countries that can provide them with as much. Influentials are the elite, wealthy, and basically V.I.P.’s in this world.

Fast Trackers: have a life expectancy between 13-29 years of age. When born they are returned to their mothers to live free & fun lives. They are most commonly recognized for their colorful hair, piercings, slang, addiction to certain drugs…they live fast & hard in the little time they have.

Babes: life expectancy is between infancy and 12 years of age. They also are returned to their mothers to live innocent lives never leaving their childhood.

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Court Icecastle is a Fast Tracker raised by Influentials, he is able to pass as a Influential himself and hopes to use this as a way into the StarDust Space program. Court Icecastle’s Death Day has come & gone leaving him very much alive with many questions and much more guilt. To make matters even more interesting, Court is bonded to Mykal Kickfall. Bonded in a way that lets them feel everything the other is feeling no matter the distance. Mykal has also survived past his Death Day & life brings these two together, Mykal a “Babe” comes from a distant land. He’s had a completely different upbringing & is a bit rough around the edges. Court makes it his mission to educate & train Mykal who he is now connected to for the StarDust enrollment exams. Years pass & the date quickly approaches for the entrance exam when all of a sudden both Court & Mykal feel a third connection. Franny Bluecastle is at deaths door when her connection to Court & Mykal activates. Franny a Fast Tracker living fast & hard is ready to die, it’s her Death Day after all and all she wants is to spend her savings on a room in one of the most well known hotels for V.I.P’s. Things don’t go quite as planned for Franny who is overcome with emotions, thoughts, feelings, and sensations that are not her own when she meets Court and Mykal. From this point on it’s edge of your seat, pulse pounding action with a Romance to satisfy all those who live for that A+ TOP quality angst! *need more 🤗*

Court Icecastle- has a ton of secrets, never smiles, and carries a whole lot of pain buried deep within. Court is a Fast Tracker who can pass for a Influential and really only has 1 goal in mind. That is until he meets Mykal, it’s more than just a bond…Mykal is his soulmate & there are reasons for which he can’t quite act on these feelings 😉

Mykal Kickfall- A Babe who lived past his death date & comes from a land where people still hunt for their food. He’s most comfortable in the outdoors chopping wood. Mykal is all physical strength but he also has a HUGE heart & in it he’s managed to find a special place for Court. I LOVE MYKAL TO PIECES! he accepts Court as he is but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy trying to get him to smile 💓 Also, Mykal is the one to come running whenever he smells danger to either Court or Franny, fiercely over protective in the best of ways!

Franny Bluecastle- A Fast Tracker who pretty much fits all of the stereo types known for FT’s & doesn’t know what to make of being linked to Mykal & Court. She has a different relationship with them both & I love that she never gives up on Court when it comes to getting him to lower his walls.

There’s so much to love in The Raging Ones but my favorite aspects of this book had to do with the bond these three shared. It wasn’t just talked about,   Krista & Becca Ritchie took us through the good, bad, and the ugly with these characters. The moments that should remain private but instead are shared 3 ways and the complications that arise when they come into physical contact with one another. The confusion that comes into play when you have 3 different personalities feeling everything the other is feeling and wondering if that was your own emotion or not. The world building was A++ and by describing each of the different types of people in this world we got a more fleshed out look as to what’s valued most & what is considered expendable. The romance is by far one of my favorites this year!!! there is so much angst for some very valid reasons but I was seriously shipping hard at the start of this book! Underneath it all, we also get a look at a society intent on putting their eggs all in 1 basket…in the hands of Influentials. All others are seen as lesser than because of the short lives they are destined to live. The ending left me with eyes WIDE open! to say that I am HIGHLY anticipating the sequel has to be the understatement of the year! I can’t wait to be reunited with Court, Franny, and Mykal & see what and where their adventure takes them next…


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Spoiler Free Review: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Title: The Wedding Date

Author:Jasmine Guillory

Pub. Date: January 30th. 2018

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Publisher: Berkley

Format: eBook/Kindle

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany

Pages: 320

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

   

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Everyone loves a good elevator story amiright? haha! I know I do, especially when it’s one that tackles the fake dating trope. Such is the case with The Wedding Date where we meet Alexa, a young lawyer who is the Chief of Staff for the Mayor of Berkeley California as she’s visiting her sister in L.A. Alexa’s sister just so happens to be staying at the same hotel Drew Nichols our other love interest is staying in while getting ready to attend his ex girlfriend’s wedding…yeah I know, first red flag. Alexa & Drew get stuck in the elevator and pass the time eating crackers & wine from Alexa’s purse while they wait for assistance. Instant chemistry between them leads Drew to asking Alexa to help him out of a jam…can she be his date to the wedding? For Alexa who doesn’t typically do chance encounters, it’s a little out of character when she accepts to go along with the fake dating plan to help this poor handsome fella. They spend the weekend pretend dating & as one can imagine, real feelings started to spark. This all kind of had to slow down a bit when they realized Alexa has to return to Cali where she has a career she loves. Drew is bound by his pager as a Pediatric Surgeon who also loves his job. We then go on a series of weekend visits from Cali to L.A. while these two hard-working profesionals try to keep it casual (key word is try haha). We get to know Alexa a lot more through the work she has a deep passion for. Helping provide the resources in the community for underprivileged teens. We touch on white privilege and the difference in perspective when it comes to authority. This isn’t your standard fluffy contemporary, TWD has depth & Alexa is to me the definition of a phenomenal woman!

Alexa- I absolutely LOVE Alexa to pieces! No only she is she smart, curvy, and unknowingly sexy…she’s also very passionate about helping give teenagers the resources they need within their communities. Places they can go to for mentoring, culture, the arts. Most importantly giving minority teens second chances. Alexa is a woman of color who knows what racism looks like & checking Drew for his privilege is something she does not shy away from.

Drew- Not my favorite love interest, not even a smidge 😂 I seriously tried with Drew. It was almost like I had to tell myself Alexa likes him so you need to like him…NOPE! Drew is not only arrogant at times, I also feel he doesn’t appreciate Alexa. He’s also very quick to throw in the towel & go seek attention. Also, I do wish he’d shown more interest in Alexa’s work & passion that goes beyond asking how her day went or wishing her good luck. He has a very privileged perspective & after seeing Alexa take interest in helping one of his patients I just felt like she brought more to the table in compassion & just as a human being. I love my girl Alexa though lol, so whatever makes her happy!

Carlos- The BFF I wish every dude had! I legit jumped for joy when I heard Carlos was getting his own book (The Proposal) & that I had gotten approved for a galley! *hooray* I have a feeling I’m going to LOVE it! Carlos is respectful & a ride or die BFF while still telling you when you’re wrong! he put Drew in check a few times in regards to his treatment of Alexa.

Maddie- Ok so we don’t get much of this character but I still appreciate the small role she played in being there for Alexa. Nowadays it’s hella hard to find a BFF that will make sure you don’t go out looking a hot mess! it’s much easier to fine frenemies tbh but Maddie made sure her girl Alexa brough her A game when they went out & that’s what I consider #BFFGOALS

I loved how realistic & relatable Alexa & Drew’s story read, it may not be common occurrence to get stuck on an elevator with your next love interest but I’m referring to everything else. From demanding careers to issues & differences interracial couples may experience (i’m Latinx married to a black man) when getting to know each other. I appreciated this book so much for the themes that played out & the awareness it brings in regards to socioeconomic differences and the lack of resources for underprivileged teens. Second chances for teenagers who fall into bad crowds but have so much potential to do more if only there was a place they could go to for some guidance. The light that it shines on the mentality that these teens should be written off as a loss & move on was cold but so true that it hurt. I loved seeing Alexa in her career fighting for what she was passionate about. Guillory doesn’t just tell you here’s a strong woman for a protagonist, she shows you a fierce woman in her element slaying it!


Hello Bookworms! I am re-living my experience with The Wedding Date through this review & LOVING it! Have you read this one? have it on your TBR? thinking of picking up The Proposal? How do you feel about a Carlos POV?Sound off in the comments down below <3’s!


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: GRACE AND FURY BY TRACY BANGHART

Title: GRACE AND FURY

Author: TRACY BANGHART

Pub. Date: July 31ST. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Pages: 320

Content Warning: Physical abuse, violence, threatened talk of rape, and death

Buddy Read: Melanie, Amy, Jules, Jen

*HUGE thanks to Little Brown Books For Young Readers for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

   

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Grace & Fury opens up in an Italian inspired Fantasy setting that has been compared to that of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Women are limited to the role of housewives and the simplest of educations is deemed illegal to them. We meet Serina and her sister Nomi who are complete polar opposites. Serina is in training to compete for a position as a “Grace” for the Heir to the throne. Nomi in turn is being trained to be her handmaiden of sorts if Serina secures a position as a Grace. To be chosen as a Grace is viewed as a honorable thing & blessing bestowed upon a family. In truth, a Grace is groomed in all sorts of manners & etiquette but is also to assume the role of concubine to the Heir. To Serina, being chosen is all that matters & it’s what she’s worked so hard for. For outspoken & Feminist Nomi, this all sounds more like a life sentence. Free spirited and hungry for knowledge of the written word, Nomi wants Serina to see that this life isn’t a choice at all. While Serina aims to please the Heir someday, Nomi can be found sneaking in lessons with her brother on how to read. They both seem to have their life purpose laid out in stone until their world is turned upside down and they are forced to step into each others shoes…LITERALLY! One random run in with the heir leads to Nomi securing a most undesirable spot as a Grace leaving Serina to be her handmaiden. This twisted turn of affairs is one of many that will keep you flipping the pages as fast as you can drink in the words.

Grace & Fury is told from the alternating points of view between Serina and Nomi which worked really well to show us just how different these two siblings really are. I started off really favoring Nomi and her refusal to be boxed into a role she never asked for. I found myself really wanting to see more from this character & her contribution to the overall story. About half way into Grace & Fury, I found myself really frustrated with Nomi’s situation but understood that it wasn’t ideal for either of the two sisters. Made to swap roles, neither Serina or Nomi were prepared for the cards they were dealt. I did however have higher expectations from Nomi who knows how to read & is from the very start is very rebellious. Instead, I feel like we didn’t get much character growth from Nomi vs. the immense transformation we see in Serina during the last half of this book. Given, Nomi was in a very subdued position given the very nature of having to fulfill the role of a Grace but it doesn’t explain some of her decisions specifically when it came to insta-love. Serina on the other hand really won me over during the second half of the book as she came to terms with the hard consequences of her sister’s secret. I also really enjoyed Serina’s POV chapters because of the supporting characters we are introduced to on the island she is cast away. Not only is Serina stripped of her chances to become a Grace but she takes the fall for her sisters secret & is discarded on an island where the women fight to the death for their meals. The women on the island all have a story and getting to know them had to be my favorite part of this story.

This was such a fast paced easy read that caught me by surprise each & every time I sat down. I easily read chunks at a time every sitting but won’t deny that the second half of this story is where all the action and character growth really hooked its claws into me. I also found myself enjoying Serina’s chapters way more than Nomi’s which is a shame since Nomi and what she represents really appealed to my Feminist soul. There is so much good to this story though, including the history embedded into the ways of the land and why women are not allowed to learn how to read. Fear of what is perceived to be the weaker sex gaining knowledge & one day reclaiming power is at the root of the story. I found Grace & Fury to be a solid start to a Feminist Fantasy that I am very interested in continuing on with. If that ending is any indication of things to come…I am one very excited Bookworm! 🖤


Good Monday Morning Bookworms! I hope you all have a wonderful start to the week 🖤 Grace & Fury will hit shelves 7/31/2018, will you be picking up a copy? 


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June Wrap-Up + Book Haul…A Little Bit Of This & A Little Bit Of That ;)

Hello Bookworms! When this goes live I’ll be counting down the last few hours in the office before I can do my FriYAy Dance 🤗 it’s been a long week & I am thrilled to finally start the weekend *huge sigh of relief* I’m actually participating in the #Smuthathon Readathon hosted by the lovely GingerReadsLainey & RileyMarie over on Booktube & so far it has been a awesome new experience 🙌🏼 Those of you lovely readers that have been around this blog for a while now know that I primarily read YA Fantasy/Fantasy however, sometimes a gal needs a pallette cleanser 😂 I am finding enjoyment in the books that I’m reading & so you’ll see the occasional New Adult, Rom-Com, or smutty read review on Lair Of Books. If this happens to be your wheel house, please leave me some recommendations in the comments down below 💜 For those who love Fantasy, fear not! I have a ton of titles I’ll be reading & reviewing throughout the rest of the year 😉 But 1st, let’s Wrap-up June…

LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff (Unique AF! Kristoff really built a world from scratch including the slang, never read anything like this)4.5 STARS ✨ 

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (Audiobook, not exactly what I was expecting–RTC

The Queen Of Crows (The Armored Saint #2) by Myke Cole (Really hoped this would’ve gone a different way but still hoping for a strong follow-up–RTC)

Whisper Of The Tide (Song of the Current #2) by Sarah Tolcser (Favorite read of the month! EPIC & satisfying end to this duology)✨5 STARS ✨ 

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik (a taste of Winter to to cool off in this summer heat, spell-binding!) ✨4.5 STARS ✨ 

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Fairest Of All: A Tale Of The Wicked Queen | VICIOUS | A Thousand Beginnings and Endings | BRUJA BORN | The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding | My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) | Smoke In The Sun (Flame In The Mist #2)| The Death Of Mrs. Westaway | Legendary | WARCROSS | Motor Crush Vol. 1

JUNE FAIRYLOOT

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Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart (RTC Grace & Fury was a 3.5 star read for me; favorite item in this box is costume mask necklace. Would’ve LOVED the journal if it was for a full year, instead it covers July-December 2018)

JUNE BOOK OF THE MONTH

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Recently found out that this is a series and after reading & listening to so many rave reviews, this is exciting news!!! really looking forward to this read)

Season 2 binge of Luke Cage was even better than expected! This is a Netflix show I really enjoy watching with the hubby for so many reasons! Ok, for me it’s all about the Wutang soundtracks Luke listens to while he kicks a** 🙌🏼😂🙌🏼 Luke is so old school & the show reflects that. The first season really made me fall in love with this show but season 2 solidified that love 💓 Luke is going through a transformation of sorts & by the very end he isn’t the same man we’ve come to love and trust. Also, we get introduced to a new character who challenges Luke & I surprisingly ended up enjoying. Why of why did it have to end? season 3 where are you?


June was one of those months that had me feeling off kilter which was mostly due to Bookcon at the very beginning of the month. I didn’t expect to read much of anything but ended up happy with the 5 books that I did finish. Surprisingly, I didn’t watch any movies. July however is already off to an AMAZING start so stay tuned for a more exciting Wrap-up/Book Haul for this month 😉


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: SPINNING SILVER BY NAOMI NOVIK❄️

Title: SPINNING SILVER

Author: NAOMI NOVAK

Pub. Date: July 10th. 2018

Genre: Adult Fantasy/Re-telling

Publisher: DEL REY

Pages: 448

Content Warning: Anti-antisemitism, alcohol abuse, physical abuse, death of a family member, and violence

*HUGE thanks to Del Rey for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

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I’m not quick to say I have a type when it comes to books or anything for that matter however, this slower paced wintry read seems to fall in line with some of my favorites (think The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden or The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco). Spinning Silver is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling, an adult fantasy that takes on real life hard hitting issues (please see Content Warnings above) while weaving a tale about debts owed and the relentless winter that is plaguing the land. A tale about three daughters left to pay the price of bad decisions made by their fathers. Their lives intertwined–Miryem, Wanda, and Irinushka have every odd set against them in a world that would soon rather have them married and birthing children than in a position of power.

Told through multiple points of view, we start off with ❄Miryem❄ who loves her father for the good man that he is but recognizes how terrible he is as a money lender. Miryem and her family are struggling in poverty while those in the village that have borrowed from her father continue to prosper whilst not paying their debts. Money lending runs in the family & just like her grandfather Miryem has a knack for collecting from those that owe her. She sets out to settle the books and quickly makes a turnaround of their fate. However, she also manages to capture the attention of the Staryk King aka Lord Winter himself. The Staryk believes Miryem may have the power to transform silver into gold and promises her his hand in marriage if after his 3 visits, she has made into gold all of the silver he brings her. Each load he drops off being impossibly larger than the last because deep down inside, this Staryk King doesn’t see Miryem as a worthy Queen. Meanwhile, Miryem’s “Cold” approach seems to match the Satryk King quite well IMO 😂

❄Wanda❄ works for Miryem’s family tending to the house-chores and any manual labor. Miryem teaches Wanda her #’s and takes her long when collecting monies owed. In Miryem’s home, Wanda learns what love looks like and it isn’t the daily beatings she gets at the hands of her alcoholic father. Sort of an adoptive daughter, Wanda finds herself looking after Miryem’s parents and plays an important role later on in the story. I really love Wanda’s character, she’s someone who if shown even a little love to, will honestly go hard for you. We see this play out with her own brothers which made her scenes so heartfelt 💓

Irinushka❄ daughter of royals, Irinushka’s father has already promised her hand to a Tsar as a way to gain political favor. The Tsar has a deep dark secret he’s keeping & is the reason for which he has yet married and produced an heir. There’s a ton of pressure on Irinushka & instead of succumbing to it, we see an intellectual rise up and make some interesting power plays. Irinushka is a natural at politics 😉

❄There are also a slew of supporting characters that come in throughout the story. Many are memorable like Irinushka’s Nana of sorts who raised her and only wants to see her happy. We also travel a bit with Wanda’s brothers. In the Staryk King’s world we meet a different kind of people who at first come off as cold hearted but end up being quite the opposite❄

There are very few books I’ve come across with the power to transport me from the very first page. Usually it takes some settling in and getting to know the world a bit. Spinning Silver however is already set-up and literally feels like opening the door in the back of the closet that leads you to Narnia. These make for some of my favorite reads and linger behind even after I’ve closed the book. At times this book was heavy on the heart with scenes of violence in Wanda’s home. Seeing her & her siblings being physically hurt mercilessly and the fear they carried was tough to get through. Paired with the very different home life of Miryem and the love her family has for one another made for a deeper connection to these characters lives. We see a village deeply rooted in antisemitism, Miryem is Jewish and is seen honoring the Sabbath even in the most undesirable circumstances. In the background we have the threat of an endless Winter and we see the effects it takes on the people. I only docked it half a star because we get so many POV’s throughout & although it was written in a way so as to not make it overwhelming, it still felt like I could do without some. I found myself wanting to get back to certain fave characters quicker than others but that is not unheard of in a multi-POV story. Overall, I highly reccomend this spell-binding tale over a cup of hot Cocoa or Tea ❄


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CANDLES IN BOOKLAND UNBOXING…

Hello Bookworms! It’s been a minute since I’ve done an unboxing here on Lair Of Books but in the spirit of starting them up again I come to you with one worthy of your attention 😍 I recently started repping for Candles in Bookland who also recently curated their first themed box. Titled “The Thirteen” this box is centered around Manon Blackbeak and the 13 witches in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I was over the moon excited to hear my favorite character in the series was getting a box focused on them cause Queen Manon is worthy of all that & more! You can find Candles In Bookland on Instagram & the shop link is linked above and will be linked at the very end of this unboxing as well.

 

The Bookmarks…

The STUNNING artwork for the Manon & Abraxos bookmark was created by Kaya @Kayadoodles

 Asterin, Manon, and Elide were created by Salome Totladze @MorganaOanagrom

The Art Prints…

Elide & Asterin art prints to match bookmarks were created by the talented  Salome Totladze @MorganaOanagrom

Fierce Manon print created by 

Salome Totladze @MorganaOanagrom

The Book Sleeve…

🖤 Created by Julie & Brittney @babymybook this book sleeve will fit most tomes. My hardcover copy of A Court Of Mist and Fury fit snug as a bug & the kangaroo pouch allows you to stash any stationary on the go

The Candles…

🖤 Everything was packaged so nicely & the red really pops and gives off Manon Vibes! 

Manon- Sweet Cider, Cloves, Blood Orange, Citrus, Warm Spices, Sandalwood 

Elide- Amber, Musk, Cherry, Floral, Jasmine, Berry, and Sandalwood

Asterin- Leather, Woody, Raspberry, and Vanilla

🖤 The Manon candle is a two color blended candle that has this amazing citrus scent. Elide’s candle is my fave of all, warm with hints of cherry and jasmine that make me want this candle is a HUGE jar 😂 The Asterin candle smells of lovely Raspberry with a hint of vanilla 💜 to top it off these have glitter on top and look so beautiful! 

Sorrel- Amber, warm spices, sandalwood

Abraxos- wild flowers, spice, clean air fresh herbal scent, a hint of leather

🖤 Sorrel smells like Autumn in a jar while Abraxos reminds me of my fave laundry detergent with its fresh scent 


“The Thirteen” is a June Exclusive box by Candles In Bookland that will leave fans of Manon Blackbeak and the 13 blown away!!! This is their first themed box and the quality really speaks for itself. The box does have a quote written on the front flap that has a misspelling the shop owner is aware of. However, this mishap is quickly forgotten the minute you open your box. I’m always on the hunt for bookish merch, candles & bookmarks being the top two items I buy the most of. I am MOST certainly looking forward to the next one! 🖤🖤🖤
CANDLES IN BOOKLAND | REP CODE: LAIROFBOOKS10

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May Book Haul

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAIRYLOOT

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ONYX & IVORY BY MINDEE ARNETT

    

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

BOOK OF THE MONTH

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THE PERFECT MOTHER BY AIMEE MOLLOY 


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


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

Title: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2)

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: SourceBooks Fire

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

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

Images from Pinterest, not my own

    

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

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

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

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

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

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


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