February Wrap-Up & Book Haul (a very late but personal one…)

It is now March 6th & I am writing this post from my new place, finally fully settled in. February was a very special month for my little family (hubby & two tiny humans), a month of new beginnings. We didn’t exactly live in the safest of neighborhoods…matter of fact, its up there with one of the worse. This is common in NYC but not ideal when you’re trying to raise two tiny humans. Our neighborhood prevented us from many of the simple things like taking a walk down the block, all four corners having heavy police presence. Now I love my city, but this was new for me. We moved into that apartment 4 years ago with hopes to move sooner rather than later. For those of you who live in NYC, you know that rent for an apartment is about the average mortgage on a house. We considered the very likely possibility of moving out of state & starting over. What held us back? I’d have to say that its our jobs/careers. They aren’t exactly positions easy to come by & we are blessed in that sense. Yet still, the rent for an apartment is astronomical. Through the grapevine I heard about NYC lottos for brand new beautiful apartments in development in up & coming neighborhoods. I never in a million years expected to win smh after all, the odds were grim in such a large city. When I got the call I couldn’t believe it, my commute is longer but It’s also a suburb style neighborhood w/out actually leaving the city. In fact it wasn’t until I was handed the keys that it clicked. I am still in disbelief but for the 1st time in many years, I am happy in my home πŸ˜‰

Special thank you to my twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads for being super sweet & coming to my neck of the woods to help out while we moved. I also got to read & edit her AMAZING debut poetry book Love, and You (Goodreads link here) out April 4th, 2017!πŸ–€πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ–€

On the reading/blogging front…I didn’t blog much but surprisingly the move didn’t hinder my reading. I think its because when i’m stressed or overwhelmed, I find comfort in my books. On to my Wrap-Up…

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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… (3.75 STARS)

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… (5 STARS)

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomasβ˜…β˜…β˜… 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… (4 STARS)

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Book Of The Month)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Owlcrate)

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Enriquez (Blogging For Books)

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames

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Zodiac Starforce 

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*I can’t resist a good ebook deal & all of these were either .99 or $1.99 with the exception of My Sister Rosa which was $2.99

To All The Boys Ive Loved Before by Jenny Han

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Into The Light by Althea Romig

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Kill The Father by Sandrone Dazieri

Usually this is the part where I include any movies or tv shows the hubby & I binged but the move pretty much ate up our February. Now that we’re settled, things are getting back to norm (whatever that is lol) & we’ve even gone out on our first date night since living here. I’m a little behind with reviews but I’ll catch up soon enough, for now i’m just enjoying the moment <3’s! πŸ˜‰

Happy Reading My Bookish Peeps! <3<3<3

Review: Daughter Of The Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

dotpkDaughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1)

Published by:Β Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Publication Date: February 28th 2017

Genre: YAΒ Fantasy

Pages: 320Β pages

Format:Β eGalley

Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… (5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks toΒ Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Netgalley, and Tricia LevensellerΒ for the eGalley of Daughter of the Pirate King in exchange for an honest review

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A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden mapβ€”the key to a legendary treasure troveβ€”seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

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Daughter of the Pirate King is the story of Alosa, a 17 year old pirate captain who has been sent by the Pirate King AKA her father to find a hidden map.Β Alosa along with her crew of female pirates plot her own kidnapping, fully intending to allow herself to be taken by another ships captain. She downplays her physical capabilities as well as other abilities that would give her a serious advantage in any physical altercation. The objective is to be taken onto the ship in order to find the hidden map that will lead them toΒ a Island filled with treasures. There are three important/royal pirate families descended from three well known & highly feared pirates. Alosa is descended from the Pirate King himself and they hold one of the maps needed to find the island, the other two maps can be found within the other two pirate families. Alosa successfully manages to pull off being kidnapped however, her mission turns out to be much more difficult than she had anticipated. Although she was trained by the Pirate King himself in a all manners of defense, it is keeping those skills hidden that will prove to be her biggest weapon. We get to follow Alosa on board the enemy ship as she gathers intel all the while trying not to raise suspicions. After all, no one can know that she fully intended to be captured or what she hopes to find…

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The characters in Daughter of the Pirate King remind me plenty of those in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise only I enjoyed this cast a bit more. Starting with Alosa, the daughter who wants nothing more than to make her father proud and follow in his footsteps ruling the seas. Alosa is strong physically & mentally, she is also very sharp & sarcastic which quickly made her a fave. We get a bit of background on her and how she came to be so strong. Her relationship with her father is not a positive one butΒ Alosa is very proud & grateful for how it has molded her into a force to be reckoned with. Alosa has a crew of women on her very own ship, all of which she has handpicked herself. Each woman has their strengths & Alosa values everyone one her crew. Once on the enemy ship, we get introduced to their captain and first mate who happen to be brothers. Alosa & the first mate have some fierce chemistry and their banter throughout the book often made me laugh out loud and visibly shake my head. These two know which buttons to press to get the other one going & NOTHING is too far below the belt. There is plenty more that I LOVED about Alosa that I can’t quite say because *spoilers* but just know that she is seriously kick a**! Β I got Merida from Brave/ blended with Jack Sparrow/Pirates of the Caribbean vibes & I couldn’t get enough. I haven’t had this much fun with aΒ cast of characters like I have with Daughter of the Pirate King, in a very long time!

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Ok, the selfish bookworm in me just wants to get this out of the way…this book was way too short for me! I need more of this fantastic crew, more of this adventure/quest, more Riden! I had so much fun reading Daughter of the Pirate King that I seriously had to pace myself when I noticed that I was inhaling the book. I want to gush all about what I loved about Alosa but I know that I can’t for fear of spoilers lol. The YA Fantasy genre has been a go to for me this past year & therefore has gotten bit harder to find new story lines/characters. However, not only is Alosa a refreshing new character but she will catch you unawares. Just like she manages to keep the crew of the enemy ship inΒ the dark, we the reader also don’t fully grasp the depth of her skills. We get introduced to a very cocky, self-assured, and brave female protagonist & then we are shown that she can back up everything that she says & thinks she is. Hands down my 1st fave female protagonist in YA Fantasy since…thinking…thinking…yea no, she simply is my favorite (the Illuminae Files girls don’t count cuz that’s more sci-fi lol). This being Tricia Levenseller’s debut fantasy series, i’d say she’s onto something here cuz who doesn’t like pirates? this book will leave you wanting to hop on the next ship out of port to your very first adventure with no care in sight. Many of the fighting scenes have a cinematic feel and overall was a ton of fun to visualize. I can’t wait for the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King, the next adventure that i’m sure willΒ be packed with non-stop surprises πŸ˜‰

Are any of my bookish peeps looking forward to meeting Alosa, Daughter of the Pirate King? What do you make of that cover? I can’t stop staring at her fierce red hair contrasted against the black & cream parchment *heart eyes*

Review: The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston

30375703The Valiant (The Valiant #1) By Lesley Livingston

Published by: Razorbill/Penguin Random House

Publication Date: February 14th 2017

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Pages: 384 pages

Format: Physical ARC 

Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜… (3.75 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to Gretchen from Chicnerdreads for her arc copy of The Valiant, Razorbill & Lesley Livingston

 

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Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

A richly imagined fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima, “The Valiant” recounts Fallon’s gripping journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.”

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This is one of those books where Goodreads has pretty much spelled out the plot for you in their blurb so i’ll just add to it here & there. Perhaps the best part of The Valiant were the many plot twists along the way that kept me flipping pages til the very end. You quickly figure out that nothing is as it appears & the second half of the book has a different tone/pace than the first. We are first introduced to Fallon on the night of her 17th birthday, she is getting ready for her father’s festivities where she believes he will officially make her a part of his war band. The celebration itself ends up being the night that sets her on her true course after things take a very wrong turn. Faced with heart break, betrayal and murder, Fallon must pave her own path to freedom…

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Our main protagonist Fallon quickly earned my respect from the very start when she opted to put her wants/career before a possible relationship. Fallon is ambitious, brave, and has known which path she wants to take ever since she was a little girl watching her older sister fight for her father. She’s had her sister as a role model & wishes to follow in her footsteps. Every day she practices riding her chariot and honing her skills in fighting. Her sister’s words always playing in the back of her head…

β€œAre you a weapon or a target? Choose!” 
― Lesley LivingstonThe Valiant

Fallon has chosen to mold herself into a weapon and is ready for any curveball that is thrown her way. I enjoyed Fallon’s character development along the way & seeing her take control of her life. In the second half of the book we get to see Fallon’s relationship with another girl who was also sold to be a Gladiatrix. Elka & Fallon’s friendship was actually my favorite part of this book. It’s rare when we come across positive female friendships on the pages we read & therefore I tend to appreciate that a whole lot more than say a love interest (jussayin lol). The exchanges & witty banter between these two also proved to be entertaining. Fallon does have a love interest towards the second half however their story isn’t too fleshed out. I got the impression that this being book 1 in a series (or trilogy, not sure) that their relationship will unfold in the 2nd installment. I was ok with this because it meant that their budding romance didn’t take center stage to Fallon’s journey/experience as a Gladiatrix. There are some other characters who I enjoyed however for fear of spoilers I won’t mention. I will say though, that I hope to get a bit more depth to some of the supporting characters that are pivotal to the story.

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The Valiant is honestly a solid start to what has the potential to be a very entertaining new series featuring strong female leads. I immediately got Spartacus vibes when I started reading, and being a lover of that series I just knew I was going to devour this book. The first half of this book was a bit slow for me however, once I reached THAT point…you know the part in the story that sinks its teeth into you? yea THAT point lol, I couldn’t put the book down. I seriously took this book with me into the shower (not a drawn bath with candles that you see on tv) & read it through to the very end. The concept of female gladiators in a bloody Rome intrigues the hell outta me & the fact that this is a Historical Young Adult book made for some interesting familiar faces. We not only get to meet Julius Caesar himself but we also get Cleopatra & some actual facts were thrown in there to give it that authentic Roman history feel. I appreciated the fact that the author did not try to paint a pretty picture of life as a Gladiatrix & was actually very detailed in the brutalities experienced while training and while in the arena fighting for their freedom. I actually read the author’s note & I’m glad I did because in it I learned that Gladiatrices did actually exist. Through excavation, the remains of what appear to be female gladiators have been found. I’m a big history fanatic & these types of facts will always reel me in, knowing that they actually existed has increased my interest exponentially. I look forward to continuing with this series & seeing what Fallon has been up to since last I saw her in the Ludus.