SPOILER FREE REVIEW: STRANGE GRACE BY TESSA GRATTON

Title: Strange Grace

Author: Tessa Gratton

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 320

Content Warnings: Human sacrifice, Death, Trauma, and Torture…There’s probably a whole lot more that I’m missing since this in fact is THE darkest read I’ve ever read, please note trigger warnings for graphic imagery.

Buddy Read: Melanie, Julie, and Candace

*Thank you Simon & Schuster for the ARC copy in exchange for an honest review

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

“Every seven years their best boy is sent into the forest from sundown to sunrise, on the night of the Slaughter Moon. he will live or die on his own mettle, and for his sacrifice the devil blesses Three Graces”

In Three Graces the people live without death, disease, or injuries in exchange for their best boy. The most purest of heart & loved by all the people is raised to be sacrificed as a “Saint” every seven years to the Devil who lives in the forest, a bargain that started when a Grace witch fell in love with the Devil. When the Slaughter moon comes early at the 3 year mark, all are left wondering what went wrong with the last sacrifice. For three of the youths living in Three Graces, it’s an opportunity to give their lives some purpose…

Mairwen- A Grace Witch who has always been pulled in by the dark magic that lives in the forest. The Daughter of a Grace Witch & a Saint, Mairwen dreams of the day she can do more than just brush the borders of the Forest. Mairwen is definitely what I’d consider a daughter of the night, she collects bones and makes trinkets out of them. Mairwen does NOT fear the Devil. Fearless & strong, Mairwen also loves Rhun & Arthur who each face their own challenges.

Rhun- Our towns chosen Saint, loved by all and descended from a long line of Saints sacrificed to the Devil & the forest. Rhun is fully prepared to die for the people of Three Graces who believe him to be the best boy. However, Rhun also knows that his love for Arthur if discovered will most likely take him out of the running for “Saint.” Still, Rhun doesn’t hold back his love for either Mairwen or Arthur. What I love about Rhun is that he respects Arthur’s boundaries & understands that Arthur isn’t ready to acknowledge there are feelings there to begin with.

Arthur- The Outcast of Three Graces as a result of his mothers decision to raise him as a girl. Arthur’s mother believed she could protect him from ever having to be considered for sacrifice by keeping his gender a secret. This however backfires when at a young age he is exposed in front of others and made to question his own identity. My heart bleeds for Arthur who I just want to protect at all costs! Arthur’s also the only one who sees how messed up Three graces really is and how toxic masculinity runs deep in its core. Arthur waivers between needing to prove something to this town and basically saying SCREW YOU! Arthur is not one to self sacrifice for this town however he loves both Mairwen & Rhun most and for them anything goes.

Strange Grace lured me in with its beautifully mysterious cover with a tree and red leaves never once thinking it would wrap its roots around my every waking thought. I LIVE for dark atmospheric reads but Tessa Gratton seriously elevated the bar on what I consider Dark Fantasy going forward. I LOVED every minute of my reading experience with this book & the imagery I was left with alone makes this a stand-out read. Gratton gives us a Polyamorous relationship and a mostly all queer cast of characters. Gender fluidity is discussed from the POV of one of the main characters who was made to live as female at an age when they didn’t know the difference. This character grows up to be someone who wants so badly for there to be no hard lines of distinction between what makes one male or female. This is the first book I’ve ever come across in YA Fantasy to weave in so many important discussions on gender & sexuality and I cannot sing its praises enough! The writing might haunt you & break you but I guarantee it will leave its mark on you 🖤


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JULY BOOK HAUL

Hello Bookworms! Hope you all had a wonderful weekend & an even better start to your week! ❤ I legit spent the weekend reading The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie. I don’t usually ever have the time to read a whole book in 1 weekend but I did which means I lived & breathed this book at all hours of the day LOL! My hubby cheered me on all the way every time I reached a certain percentage & by the end I felt like I had accomplished the biggest feat! Two tiny humans on the weekends usually take up all of my time but the wonders a couple of remote control race cars can do to let Mommy read haha! 😉

I come to you now with my July Book Haul!!! I have a mix of books I bought, was gifted, and received from the publishers so without further ado…

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Solitaire | Radio Silence | I Was Born For This | Next Year In Havana | A Room Away From The Wolves | A Storm Runner | SEAFIRE | Traitor’s Blade (gift from Melanie) | The Shadowglass | Mud Vein (gift from Melanie) | The Traitor Baru Cormorant (gift from Melanie, who is also hosting a HUGE Buddy Read at the end of the month for this book!) )

Thanks again Mellie Mel! You ROCK & so does that face mask you sent me! XoXO! 🙂

FAIRLYLOOT

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Heart Of Thorns

Ok….so this wasn’t my favorite box at all and it breaks my heart to admit this. It just seems like the curation was off par with what we’re used to receiving in terms of quality this go-around. i am still very excited to get this book with the red sprayed edges & the Children of Blood and Bone print is by far my MOST favorite item in this box….it’s getting framed by my desk *heart eyes*

BOOK OF THE MONTH

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The Last Time I Lied

KINDLE & AUDIBLE

The Last Black Unicorn (Audible-HIGHLY recommended by my Sister) | The King Of Bourbon Street | Howl’s Moving Castle | | Romancing The Duke | Roomies | Spirit HuntersJade City | The Poppy War

eGalleys

The Cerulean | Heroine | We Set The Dark On Fire | The Tiger At Midnight | The Proposal | Fire & Heist | Josh + Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating | The Simple Wild | The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy


SOooo this Fall is looking AMAZING amiright?!?! Excited for all of these reads & sequels. I’ve been mixing up my reading to make sure I’m reading from all of the genres I really enjoy & it has made quite the difference! No more Fantasy burn-out, I’m actually craving Fantasy more now & have been reading some AMAZING ones lately! Keep an eye out for my blog tour stop tomorrow for The Raging Ones by Krista & Becca Ritchie…this is one I’m going to HIGHLY recommend to all of my YA Sci-Fi Bookworm Buddies 🙂


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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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Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

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 HYPE! books everyone is talking, blogging, and instagramming about. Wherever you look, these are the books you can’t seem to escape and feel like you NEEEED to read like you need air 😂 Well, these are 10 (in no particular order) that actually live up to the hype and I’m glad to have hopped on that train! 💓

July 31st 2018: Ten Books with Sensory Reading Memories

🖤 The Cruel Prince by Holly Black– My 1st book by Holly Black & honestly it had me wondering why I hadn’t read anything by Black in all these years! 🙈 I’m fully convinced Black is Fae Royalty, I’ve never come across anyone who made me LOVE Fae as much. Dark & full of plot twists this is THE book to break your neck trying to keep up with. The hype is real with this one & as expected, The Wicked King set to release in 2019 is no different 🙌🏼

🖤 FURYBORN by Claire Legrand-This book had me a bit skeptical I’ll admit & that almost made me pass on it. Whelp! something told me to request that title from the Publisher & fainted a million faints when it showed up in all its glory. This book pulled off two timelines 1K years apart! I read FURYBORN with a bunch of other bookworm buddies & we ALL agreed…the HYPE IS REAL & WELL DESERVED! 😆

🖤 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff– Quite possibly THE trilogy to get me into all things YA Sci-Fi books. I actually waited 1 year before cracking open my copy of Illumimae after hearing so many of my closest rave about these characters. I kicked myself once I had read it & realized I was missing out BIG time! 😂

🖤 Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo–  I meaaaaan! by now you’ve probably seen a hundred different variations of artwork inspired by the characters in this book. It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of Kaz Brekker or Inej Ghafa. The crew in this book will stay with you way past the last page & is ABSOLUTELY worth the hype! 🙌🏼

🖤 The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden-  This is the one everyone slept on & then it just started to make waves a year later. I couldn’t believe this book was written by a debut author. Today, this trilogy is one of my all time favorites. Who else is HIGHLY anticipating The Winter Of The Witch? 😃

🖤 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– Relevant, poignant, and such an important read! THUG is one that should be part of course curriculums & I’m just so glad to have read it & continue to spread the love for this book. FOMO will run high around the time of movie release, please read the book before watching the movie 💙

🖤 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi– The line for this book at Bookcon was Nanas! and a true testament to this books success really. COBAB is also being adapted to the big screen & has also been selected as the 1st book selection for Jimmy Fallon’s Book Club 😱 it is well worth the hype!

🖤 The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater-The Raven Boys are another crew of characters that are very well known in the book community. Blue & the boys have a special place in my heart and I’m really looking forward to the tv adaptation if only to get more time with these characters. I read this one before the hype train took off & can honestly say it’s hype worthy!

🖤 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by JK Rowling– Saving the best for last! HP is one that will never die down its hype as well it shouldn’t! I am forever hyping Harry & Co to my tiny human to the point where she can’t wait to reach HP reading level 😂 SMH. Till we’re old and gray we’ll reminsice on the days we spent reading about Hogwarts.

🖤 The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare– My first YA series, the one responsible for my love of all things YA Fantasy. Twilight may have been my first YA book ever but it was City Of Bones that hooked me and never let me go. The hype with these books was and is so strong that I caught wind of them way before knowing the book community existed. I had no idea it was the beginning of a long love affair…


Hello Bookworms & a very happy Tuesday <3’s! Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Which hyped up book are you ever so happy you hopped on the train for? Drop some love down below 🙂


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WWW Wednesday 7/18/2018

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

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

Happy Hump Day Bookworms!!! It’s been a minute since I posted one of these reading updates here on Lair Of Books. Mostly I’ve been updating Goodreads & Instagram (links at the end of post) but I’d really like to get back to doing updates here on the blog on Wednesdays or Fridays (there will be weeks I alternate days). Personally I love reading updates on the books you all are reading, loving, not so much enjoying haha! and doing these posts for me goes hand in hand with blog hopping. Also, sometimes mid-read I just need to rant or rave about my current book & what better place than here amiright? 😉

Strange Grace by Tessa Graton

I am buddy reading (currently @65%) this bone chilling book (thank the stars) with Melanie, Julie, and Candace & I’m legit hooked Bookworms! & I don’t know why cause this isn’t typically my genre…horror has always made me look like a chump. I steer clear of high key horror anything & yet I requested this cause the blurb spoke to my soul *covers eyes* yea I dunno why I do the things I do but I have ZERO regrets. The writing is A+ spooky and why didn’t I know this was LGBTQIAP+?!?! It’s giving me LIFE! I’m still reading it with the lights on but yea, look out for this one! witches, demons, demon forest, and one hell of a romance!


The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

This has so far been the summer of me reading all the contemporary my heart desires which includes ROMANCE! I’m also buddy reading this one with Melanie cause we’re reading all the books together at this point & she’s the BEST buddy read partna! LMAO! I’ve fallen behind though so today I plan on binge reading the last half. So far, I’m enjoying the read & REALLY appreciating the body positivity.  This is a interracial fake dating romance that has all the ingredients for a cute romance movie. I don’t think this will be quite the 5 star read but it is highly enjoyable, we shall see.


Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Oh goodness I am enjoying this webcomic turned graphic novel oh so MUCH! which is probably why I’m taking my time with it smh. I do plan on finishing Check Please tonight. This is a LGBTQIAP+ story about a guy who is in his freshman year of college & is also on the hockey team. He’d much rather be baking pies but Hockey has the potential to help with the costs of college. I am OBSESSED with the MC Bitty & will be pre-ordering a copy ASAP! this is an arc I received at Bookcon, Check, Please! will be out on 9/18/18 🙂


Josh + Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren

I recently finished & thoroughly enjoyed this one, gave it a 4 star rating over on Goodreads. My review will be up closer to publication date as per the request of the publicist. This is a friends to lovers contemporary romance, my first by this author duo and I found it to be fun & quirky. We also get a Korean MC who I imagined to be quite dreamy haha! more thoughts to come, this one hits the shelves 9/4/2018 🙂


Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Last week I finished Grace and Fury and gave it a solid 3.5 star rating (my spoiler free review) & think it’s a promising start to a new Duology? I only see 2 books listed in Goodreads & that seems to be the trend lately. Grace and Fury has strong feminist themes threaded all throughout the story but ultimately it really came down down to my enjoyment of one sisters arc over the other. They both started off strong but I do feel the sister I was initially in love with, had her fire put out before it started. I do however plan on reading the follow-up since the ending left me eyes wide open! this one is filled with plot twists to keep you breakin’ your neck haha!


Scream All Night by Derek Milman

This is one that I’ve actually already started & stopped reading at about the 15% mark. No real reason other than I just wasn’t in the right mood for it. The 15% I read was enjoyable and also very odd with a bit of humor. I’m actually really curious to see where this goes.


Happy reading Bookworms! Does anyone else feel like today is Thursday? cause I’ve spent the entire day saying”heeeeeeY at least tomorrow’s Friday right?!?!” SMH. In some part of the world today is Thursday! so happy Friday’s Eve 😉 its been a long week & I’d love to see what you’re reading, drop some luv in the comments below <3’s! 


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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: WHISPER OF THE TIDE BY SARAH TOLCSER

Title: Whisper Of The Tide (Song of the Current #2)

Author: Sarah Tolcser

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: BLOOMSBURY YA

Pages: 416

*HUGE thanks to BLOOMSBURY YA & Sarah Tolcser for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

Goodreads | Barnes & NobleAmazon

    

2018 has been the year of the sequel here at Lair Of Books & thankfully there have been some really amazing follow-ups! Whisper Of The Tide is one of the most satisfying conclusions to what is now one of my favorite duologies in YA Fantasy. If you’re a fan of all things pirates like I am, you’ll enjoy this high seas adventure into the wee hours of the morning. All of the things I loved about Song of the Current were back & better than ever! our MC has spread her wings and is on a mission to protect the love of her life Marko who has a huge target on his back. Marko’s father the Emparch has been murdered & Konto Theucinian has taken over. Konto’s rule is very rigid and Markos is having difficulty campaigning for military support to overthrow Theucininan, many are going as far as calling him “The Pretender.” Caro is focused on keeping Markos alive while he tries to rally support & is beginning to struggle internally with the change of course her life has taken. To Caro, being the captain of her own ship was a dream come true and although the River God never whispered her name, that never changed her love for the pirate life. Caro may not have received the call of the River God but a bigger power has already set it’s sights on her. Destined for the open waters, Caro will have to choose between Markos & his political battles or her true calling. The Sea Goddess isn’t one to give those she chooses, the option to decline her call…

*Photos not my own, obtained from Pinterest

Caro & Marko are both struggling a bit with what they think is expected of them VS. their hearts desire. These characters are super fleshed out, more so than in Song Of The Current. I may not have cared too much for Marko in the first book but I began to appreciate him a bit more in this book. Marko is driven by duty, he doesn’t want to let the people down but politicking isn’t something that is coming easy to him. Most importantly, he isn’t willing to let go of Caro & marry a more “suitable match” for the good of the kingdom. Meanwhile, Caro is playing the self-sacrificing card & is basically telling Markos go-on get married & I’ll learn to live with it. This then sets off a series of events that place Caro on a wild treasure hunt. From piers to pavement, Caro & Marko are chased & multiple attempts against their lives are made. This made for a adrenaline induced read in which I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. I ditched the page flags & allowed myself to enjoy this fun ride till the very end. We also got to see some of our favorite supporting characters return, with a focus on immediate & extended family members. I find myself hella intrigued by Caro’s cousin who can manipulate her shadow & has been in training since last we saw her in Song of the Current. It’s rare we get extended family in YA Fantasy, I love seeing Caro with her family members. If I had one complaint it would only be that we don’t really get to see Caro’s dad and Fee (Frog person) this time around.

The world building continued to be A+ expanding on the Sea God mythology and those she has chosen to be her children. What I loves most about this book is that  we see Caro who is a strong Bi-racial woman continue to embrace all of the things that make her look different. Caro has bi-racial hair and is of a darker complexion with freckles, all things she loves about herself. She’s also very aware that they set her apart amongst the people of the river where she was raised by her father. Caro shows us what it’s like to be caught in the middle of both sides of her family. Her Father’s side who live by the ways of the River God as fishermen & wives VS. her Mother’s side who are well known established business people (Ships & trade) throughout the land. Caro resembles her mother who is described as a beautiful strong woman of color who also went against tradition & became a powerful captain and owner of the family business. We see Caro toggle back & forth between the two worlds & it just added depth to our MC, something that is sometimes sacrificed in YA Fantasy books for the sake of the plot. I am someone who prefers character driven books and can honestly say there was a healthy balance of both character & plot development in this duology. When an author creates characters I can’t help but get attached to it’s always my hope that we see more from them. Sarah Tolcser is now on my radar & I will pick up anything written in this world or not for that matter. For now, I won’t say goodbye…till next time 🐸🤞🏼🐸


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2018 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Mid-year? I’d love the ability to time travel right about now or possibly even freeze time. Anything so that I can read all the books & I know y’all can relate *SOBS* I am however very thankful for having a really good quality reading year so far & hope it continues 🤞🏼 I’m thinking it will since many of my MOST highly anticipated releases of 2018 will be out later this year.

 

Original tag was created by ReadLikeWildfire and Earl Grey Books

Best book you’ve read so far in 2018

Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

It’s been months since I read COBAB and yet I can still recall specific details. I have terrible short term memory tbh but the world Tomi has created is so rich and the characters have so much depth that they’re pretty hard to forget. Also, COBAB had one of the best endings I’ve read this year cause what I wanted to happen actually happened 😂 and I reallllllly need the sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance in my little hands 🤗 lastly, Jimmy Fallon has started a Summer Reads Book Club and COBAB is on his list. Head on over to cast your vote if you loved it as much as I did! 💜

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018

Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova

Best in so many ways but mainly because it superceded the first book Labyrinth Lost which I also enjoyed. I really felt like Córdova went into her writing room and gave it her all in this book. Not only was the supernatural world expanded in this sequel but the character growth & development was A++!!!

 

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by:

Ellen Oh, Elsie Chapman, Melissa De La Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Renee Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette De Bodard, Cindy Pon, Alyssa Wong, Sona Charaipotra, Aisha Saeed, Lori M. Lee, Shveta Thakrar, Preeti Chhibber, E.C. Myers, and Rahul Kanakia

“Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.”

This first bit of the Goodreads blurb was honestly all I needed to read to know this was one I MUST read this year. I am picking up my copy on Saturday & yes It’s all I can think about. Check out my amazing friend Melanie’s review here 🖤

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Ok, there are way too many titles that fit this prompt if I’m being honest. I decided to go with Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer. Recently it was announced that it was being extended to be a trilogy which made me so happy. After THAT ending in Renegades!!! how could I NOT?!?😱😱😱 haha!  high hopes, I have high hopes 🤗

 

 

Biggest disappointment

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

No one is sadder than me with this one cause I really did think I was going to fall head over high tops in love with this one. Ultimately, there was some that I really enjoyed but MUCH that I did not. The positive is that the sequel or companion book being written will focus on the noir fairy tales written about in the Hazel Wood & that is what I loved most.

 

Biggest surprise

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

Never did I ever think this tiny beautiful book would be so haunting! sucked me in and kept me entranced in this little town by the water. Still think about TWD & will MOST definitely re-read come this October. Also, Netflix will be adapting the book into a series & this just means more from this story which makes my 🖤 so happy!

 

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

This Morrocan Inspired debut YA Sci-Fi book seriously took me by surprise! I tried not to include an arc in this tag but as I scrolled through my “Read” shelf I quickly realized this has been my year of reading sequels so nothing really fit the bill for “new fave author” & I’m also not trying to repeat my answers. Mirage honeslty wasn’t what I expected in the best way possible, spoiler free review linked above 🖤

 

Newest fictional crush 

Kalen from The Heart Forger (The Bone Witch #2) by Rin Chupeco

The feeeeeels over this hate-to-love/slow burn Bookworms!!! 😍 caught myself having to fan myself a FEWWW times smh 😳😂 Would like some more Kalen in my life if the Book Gods allow 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

 

 

Newest favorite character

Lemon Fresh from LIFEL1k3 by Jay Kristoff

Lemon Fresh has to be the MOST fun, loyal, roll with the punches character I’ve come across this year. Hyped to hear she’ll be getting her POV in the sequel 🖤

 

 

 

Book that made you cry

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angleo Surmelis

This book hit close to home, it wasn’t pretty…it was brutal! which I fully expected going in with the knowledge the this was based on the authors own childhood experience broke my heart. My review contains Content Warnings.

 

 

Book that made you happy

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2)

I was lucky enough to read this earlier this year thanks to an amazing friend! 🖤 I have a review going up on July 6th as I am participating in the #MyPlainJane Blog Tour 😃 and gahhhh! is all that comes out when I try to put words into sentences! I LOVE the lady Janies, they are an amazing trio of authors who deliver humor and paranormal twists to the beloved Janes of well known classics.

 

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Circe by Madeline Miller

I caved & purchased the U.K. edition Of Circe & I have ZERO regrets! This book is STUNNING both with & without the dust jacket 😍 I mean the FOIL bookworms! THE FOIL! #WEAK 😂 I do have a Book Of The Month edition I purchased before finding out about the U.K edition. I’m running a GIVEAWAY for CIRCE that ends on 6/29 over on my Instagram for the BOTM edition 🖤

 

What books do you need to read by the end of the year

Strange the Dreamer by MY QUEEN LAINI TAYLOR

I thought about listing all of the books I consider a MUST READ IN 2018! but there’s really only 1 book sitting at the very top of my TBR & that’s Strange The Dreamer. I am a lover of all things Laini writes & I have this weird thing with my favorites that I do…I don’t read their books when I know their sequel is light years away. Ok just 1 year but it sure does feel like an eternity when nothing compares in writing style to your fave author. Whelp the time has come! I’ve already pre-ordered my shmancy U.K. exclusive edition with the shmancy red sprayed edges 😍

Favorite book community member

This is such a tough question to ask because I honestly have so many bloggers I truly enjoy visiting & who I’ve developed genuine friendships with. That being said, the idea has been running around in my mind for quite some time now to compile a list and share the love. I also have come across many new bloggers with AMAZING content that I’d love to share with you all. Stay tuned for this bookworms! 🖤


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REVIEW: MIRAGE BY SOMAIYA DAUD

Title: MIRAGE

Author: Somaiya Daud

Pub. Date: August 28th. 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Pages: 320

Format: Physical ARC provided by the Publisher

*Thank you Flatiron Books for the arc in exchange for an honest review

Content Warning: Physical abuse, Kidnapping, and  Cultural erasure

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany, Amy from A Court Of Crowns and Quills, Julie from Pages and Pens, Jules from JA Ironside, and Chelsea from Chelsea Palmer

GOODREADS | BARNES AND NOBLE | AMAZON | BOOK DEPOSITORY

    

Mirage is Somaiya Daud’s Moroccan inspired debut that will leave readers wanting more from this author once the very last page is read. I’m not sure how I’d missed the fact that this is a Sci-Fi book when I first came across it however, this only further served to enhance my curiosity. The fact that it also spoke of poetry in the blurb was a major draw & wow! I had no idea how much of a treat I’d signed myself up for with this one. Daud gives us beauty and pain all wrapped into one with Mirage & that it’s set on another planet/moon is just the backdrop to this story. At its core, Mirage is a story about cultural erasure and the brutality faced by an invaded peoples. We are introduced to an MC who has had everything she values most taken away from her but somehow manages to hold on just enough to never surrender her spirit. I admired our MC, her values, culture, tradition, and people defined her and emboldened her to fight back. Mirage doesn’t read like a debut at all but instead that of the works of a seasoned author. Daud is an author I will be keeping an eye out for and hoping to everything that we get more of her writing in the very near future 🤞🏼

For Amani, receiving the tattoos on her face known as Daan on her Majority Night was everything to look forward to. A representation of stepping into adulthood, a rites of passage. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the events that destroyed her ceremony & took her away from those she loved. Kidnapped by imperial droids, Amani is taken covertly to the royal palace. There, she meets royal heir Maram who she is the spitting image of. Maram has plans for Amari that would make her a human shield. For Maram, being part Andaalan from her Mother’s side has always generated her much hate from the Vathek on her father’s side. She knows her life faces constant threat and figured Amani would make the perfect body double. Stripping Amani of her Daan was just the beginning, she is also made to learn Vathek mannerisms, history, and etiquette against her will and through physical abuse. Maram isn’t the only heir with a claim to the throne, she has an older sister who poses a threat and proving her worth to her father and the Vathek is her top priority.

We see Amani get sent out as Maram’s doppelganger which allows her an inside look to the politics of the kingdom. She also spends plenty of time with Maram which inevitably leads to learning her vulnerabilities. Part of acting in as Maram means keeping up appearances with her courtship as she is promised to Prince Idris ibn Salih. Idris is from one of the oldest and largest Andaalan royal families who once resisted Vathek invasion. Their concession to Vathek rule resulted in the loss of many lives and Idris the last surviving heir was pledged to marry Maram. The true test would be seeing if Amani could pass for Maram while in his company. Both Idris and Amani carry the weight of their peoples loss and pain on their shoulders. They both have so much in common that a connection is almost impossible not to make once they start spending time together as a part of their courting. This romance is dangerous and had my full attention from the very start, every meet-up had me a bit nervous for these two. We see both Amani & Idris make decisions in hopes of one day freeing their people which means they will also face some serious obstacles & I’m just here hoping theirs is a good ending 🤞🏼

If you’re looking for A+ world building, political intrigue, strong characters, Moroccan inspired culture, and yes a bit of insta-love (but I promise it’s the one you’ll want to root for 😂) and a bit of Sci-Fi along the way… then MIRAGE is the book you’re going to want to read! so much lush culture & tradition within these pages that I am left anxiously & patiently waiting on the follow-up.


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May Wrap-Up

This Month’s Wrap-Up comes to you very late & that’s honestly more because I’ve been going back & forth with the idea of eliminating my wrap-ups as a whole. I’ve been easing my way back in from a huge blogging slump and content has been on my mind a whole lot lately. Whelp! this is up mid June which means I decided to keep them but there will be some changes. I’ve been here for 2 years now and found that I really enjoy getting to know the bloggers behind the posts. I love reading a good wrap-up that gives me the 411 on the highlights some of my favorite bloggers experienced throughout the month. The bloggers who talk about the books they read, movies & tv watched, foods cooked/restaurants visited (extra lurking when baking is thrown in), travel, and anything really that gives me a better sense of the person behind the blog.

So I guess this means I’ll be sharing a little more of me on the blog on my Wrap-ups for now. This isn’t as easy as it sounds since I don’t really enjoy talking about me lol but sometimes breaking out of your comfort zones can be a good thing? this is what I’m going with haha! I’ve also been bitten by the travel bug which means future travel posts may be a thing as well. I hope you enjoy getting to know the bit of me that I do share here, especially since there are quite a few new bloggers subscribed. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you so *exhale* onto this Wrap-up…

Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) (5 STARS) This sequel was EVERYTHING! finished it last week & it’s still on my mind. If by any chance you enjoyed Labyrinth Lost but it possibly didn’t blow you away…this is the sequel to do just that for you! not to mention the epic world expansion. Currently eyeing Zoraida’s Twitter for any kernel of news on book 3 smh 🙂

Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over (4 STARS) Cute & fluffy were just what I needed when I picked this one up and it did its thing haha!

MIRAGE (5 STARS) (Review to come next week)

Picture Us In The Light (5 STARS) I was very happy to have been invited to participate in the blog tour for this poignant read! this is one that has something for everyone and leaves you with a little hope but not before breaking your heart 😉

Nyxia: Unleashed (5 STARS) the author of this book Scott Reintgen is fully aware of how badly I want that last book in this trilogy, I hide nothing about my love for these books! honestly, if you’re looking for an AMAZING YA Sci-Fi look no further! the diversity is strong, the action intense, plot full of twists, female characters empowered & respected…I can go on & on but only ask that you pick this one up and see for yourselves cause it is SOOOO worth it!

CORRUPT (Devil’s Night #1) (4 STARS) I don’t really review NA on this blog but I think going forward I will leave some thoughts on Goodreads (link at the end of this post). I was recommended this book by my wonderful friend Melanie from Meltotheany & I’m now a full fledged Penelope Douglas fan! I will read anything she writes grocery list included bahhha! jk…not really smh. This is a very dark NA & there are a ton of trigger warnings Melanie lists on her review here. I will say this, if you’re looking for full fledged smut…this may not be the author for you lol. Douglas enjoys making her MC’s torture each other with epic long waiting/mind games but when it gets going it is A+ my friends! 😉

The month of May let me squeeze in two flicks at the theater & those were Avengers: Infinity War & Deadpool 2.

Image result for Avengers: Infinity War

    

Infinity War did NOT disappoint & it was a fun time watching all of my favorites come together for this AMAZING movie! perhaps most surprising of all was the complexity & depth of the villain Thanos. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy his story line so much but I did & it made me really appreciate how that took the story to the next level. Of course there was some heartbreak along the way with some losses but I’m still very excited to see the next chapter cause THAT ending *raises eyebrow* haha!

Image result for Deadpool 2

   

Not quite the 5 stars in my book & that came as a surprise cause I am a HUGE fan of Ryan Reynolds. The first Deadpool was effortlessly funny in my opinion but this one was laying it on to thick which made it seem to me as if they were trying to hard to keep up his rep for baddest mouth in the Marvel Universe. However, the second half was epic for many spoilery reasons so I’ll leave that out. I will say that I enjoyed the addition of Zazie Beetz as Domino and Josh Brolin as Cable (pictured above). Also, THAT ending threw me for a whirlwind but then again I should’ve expected that from the MCU 🙂

May was such a hectic month & reading 6 books was a feat cause my mind was in a million different places as was I hehe. Some of you may already know this, I am a mom of 2 tiny humans ages 4 & 7 and so that meant celebrating Mother’s Day was in the plans. I had this amazing breakfast cooked up my sister & hubby and some awesome gifts from said tiny humans and hubby. Had a wonderful dinner at this Japanese Steak place in Brooklyn called SALT + CHARCOAL. Their steak was AMAZING but I only ended up with a photo of their “green tea” cake which wasn’t my favorite at all but they put some effort into the presentation so…

I also came home to a package from hubby with the entire Mother’s Day LUSH collection which smells amazing & had some kick ass super hero bombs in it! I’m a scent LOVER & these all were the PERFECT gift that keeps on giving cause HELLO! ME TIME! baths + books = BEST LIFE!

The last week of May saw us take a road trip to Virginia to spend the holiday weekend with some family. Although I didn’t get to take pics cause we were having so much fun in the moment we all ditched our phones smh. I really do wish I had taken some photos of our bowling competition and trip to a sea side restaurant in the rain that was….interesting haha! I did however get a photo of my new haircut the day before we hit the road so I’ll just leave that down here…#shorthairdontcare

I’d like to say that the madness stopped in May but the very next weekend we got back from VA, there was BEA & Bookcon…


We are 6 days away from the first day of Summer & already life feels both lighter and busier all at the same time <3’s! I hope you’re all having an amazing month reading, watching, doing all of the lovely things! ❤


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