Friday Reads & a Lil’ Chat…

Happy Friday Readers!!! Itโ€™s been a hot minute since I posted a #Fridayreads & I thought today would be a good day to bring that back here on the blog. I’m typically reading (devouring) books & reviewing but lately I have been feeling a bit slumpish. I’m still reading & keeping up with reviews cuz ya girl doesn’t cope well with letting people down lol, I’m just not doing as much as I was before my move. This got me thinking…what is hindering me from enjoying these amazing arcs? it’s not a shortage of books, ya’ll know your girl has a book buying problem…then what is it? Whelp before I get into that, this is a Friday Reads post so lets start with what i’m currently reading…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is my 1st Adult Fantasy book in YEARS! I’m a newb to Mark Lawrence, this being my 1st book of his but LOOK ^^^ uhh, he re-tweeted me getting ready to sit on the top staircase at work & read his book…what I didn’t expect were the Seagulls that landed on the roof & proceeded to give me a full on orchestra of cries. I do not lie…ask Gretchen @Chicnerdreads who has a voice note of said evil Gulls making a liar out of my tweet cuz no reading got done once they got started๐Ÿ˜‚anyways, Red Sister is EPIC bad assery @ its finest. It’s a pretty big book but I don’t mind cuz not one bit drags & I keep finding things to love. Think Arya Stark/X-23 aka Wolverine’s protรฉgรฉ on her 1st day at Hogwarts…less magic…more fight training yet similar concepts. If like me, you are looking for more books with female friendships then this will check that box off for ya ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am reading a ton slower than usual but its not for lack of enjoyment. I’m actually wondering what I’m going to do with myself once I finish reading Red Sister…maybe buy all of Mark’s (yea 1st name basis after you re-tweet me lol) previous books? most likely smh *covers face* 

I recently sat down to update my arc spreadsheet, something I found has helped me immensely with staying on top of publication dates. Now as much as it has helped with my anxiety…it has also contributed to it if that makes any sense? ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’d like to think i’m a pretty nice person…responsible @ least & so its been my thing to post reviews 1-2 weeks prior to pub date with all of my arcs. With the exception of two that I posted a few days after, I’ve been successful on this front…but what happens when life gets in the way? few know me well but those that do, know I’m not one to delve too deep into my personal life. I’m a listener & not much of a talker but I thought it time to share a little bit about myself with you, my faithful book blogging buddies/readers…

Most of you know I’m a “young” mom of 2 tiny humans & that I married my very 1st bookworm buddy over a shared love for Harry Potter smh LOL! (8 years strong). I also have a full time J-O-B in what can sometimes seem like a stuffy office (accounting for ya *sobs*). About a year ago I decided to start this blog as a way to connect with other readers (non-husbands) over one of my biggest passions…BOOKS! I also felt the need to create something of my own, my own little corner of the internet where I could retreat to after hours.  See, about 2 years ago I was diagnosed as Diabetic. Something I knew was a real possibility after 2 complicated pregnancies & a family history with diabetes. I was NOT however, prepared to accept that diagnosis. I was under the care of a nutritionist & had lost 18lbs. all on my own but in the end my genetics won that battle. I thought after losing my father to the disease, that I knew enough…I was wrong. I decided to educate myself, get under medical treatment, joined the gym, and changed my diet. When I say change diet I mean I followed docs orders & started eating more smaller meals to wake up a dead metabolism. Plenty think that all diabetics have an over eating problem…whelp here’s one diabetic that can’t seem to work up an appetite to eat more than 2 meals (if that) per day & is still not thin by any means. Diabetes is frustrating in that it contradicts itself at every turn. Eat too much = elevated sugar/eat too little = elevated sugar. Finding the perfect balance is something I still work hard for every hour of the day. Exhaustion comes at any hour of the day as an indicator that my sugar may be too low or too high. Often times, you will feel as if you are experiencing a bad hangover if not controlled. I work super hard to stay on top of my #’s but I am human & will sometimes falter. I power walk whenever possible & as much as possible, having a 3 train commute to & from work helps keep me active. Also, my new place has a gym in the lobby that is currently being set up with all of the amenities you’d find at a sportsclub! *eeeK* …However, there are days where it’s completely out of my control & I wake up with a high base just because overnight my hormones interfered with my glucose levels. It sometimes feels like a losing battle & that’s when depression kicks in, one of the well known symptoms of this disease. I have a ton to be happy for especially with finally getting a place I can call safe to live in. Yet there are days where the dark clouds take over & a book is the last thing on my mind…

I’m sharing this with you all because this has become my home away from home on some of my darkest days. I don’t like being moody with my loved ones when I’m feeling unwell & so take to distracting myself by reading all of your posts. I may not post as frequently but you will always see me hanging around your blogs, twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads. Some of the friendships I’ve made through blogging have really been a source of joy for me. Reading your comments & interacting with some of you on a more personal level has kept me company on days where I felt I made poor company for those physically around me. I have a loving husband & 2 tiny humans that I dote over even when I’m at work (yea I stalk the teacher lol), I love them to the moon & back…sometimes I do need ME time & that’s when I come to you, my second family. This blog has helped keep my anxiety low & my depression at bay on more days than I can count & for that I am thankful to be in this amazing community. Thank you to those that reach out with kind words, comments, GIFS, likes, loves, anything really lol, it means so much to me.

I’m really hoping to get out of this funk soon so that I can get back to reading ALL the books on my spreadsheet & hopefully from my own shelves lol. I mentioned to my twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads that I was also experiencing a bit of a YA Fantasy burn-out due to my arc binge of the genre. I have no one to blame but myself for this LOL! I’m definitely done requesting for some months, I miss reading from my shelves a bit. The one great thing that has come from this reading slump is that discussion/chat I promised ya’ll in December as part of my New Years Goals! it’s coming ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Bahaaaa! this is totally me with my 2 tiny humans everyday, one is def more livelier than the other LOL!

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Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Published by:ย HarperTeen

Publication Date: January 14th 2017

Genre:ย YA Fantasy/Re-telling

Pages: 352ย pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.5 Stars)

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Beauty knows the Beastโ€™s forest in her bonesโ€”and in her blood. Though she grew up with the cityโ€™s highest aristocrats, far from her fatherโ€™s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter whoโ€™s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, thereโ€™s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessasโ€ฆor to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yevaโ€™s fatherโ€™s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature heโ€™d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sistersโ€™ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territoryโ€”a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yevaโ€™s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

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Hunted is the story of Yeva aka Beauty and her love for the hunt & desire for more than court life (reminds me of one of my fave protogs Freya fromย Long May She Reign). Yeva has only known the wealthy aristocratic life keeping the baronessa companyย which she finds boring & constricting. She is the youngest of 3 girls and lives with her father who is known as a wealthy business merchant. It is a business deal with good intentions-gone wrong that throws Yeva and her family into poverty. Forced to sell their home & live in their father’s cabin in the forest, their lives drastically changed. The shame & disappointment of it all proves to be too much for Yeva’s father. The Goodreads synopsis sums up the events that transpire following their misfortune. On the surface Hunted is a re-telling that runs parallel with the original classic Beauty & the Beast. However, besides the similarities this story is also about want & greed and the consequences of never being sated. Starting with a father who wanting more for his village, went as far as staking his entire mass fortune. We see Yevaย abandon her home where her sisters depend on her hunting skills for their livelihood, in search of their father who’s gone missing. The thrill of the hunt has always called to Yeva who like her father, has a natural skill for it. The Beast also has his story but revealing that here would be a spoiler so i’ll keep that one to myself lol. Just as in the original, the Beast is cursed and is in need of rescuing…I think this is what I love most of this tale, that the Beauty or princess isn’t in need of rescuing.ย 

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I love seeing YA Fantasy turn the tables on the outdated trope of the princess needs saving & so it’s no wonder why I end up loving the Yeva’s & Freya’s of YA Fantasy. I enjoyed Yeva as a character because of her flaws, she isn’t Belle from BATB although they do share similarities. We see Yeva make questionable decisions and ultimately also be affected by her unquenchable desire for more. When I got to thinking about Yeva, I realized this made her all the more human to me. We also meet her two older sisters Lena and Asenka, & I liked them alright as supporting characters. Asenka has a physical disability that she hides and like Lena focuses on keeping the house maintained. Asenka is a giver she will sacrifice it all for her family & I rooted for hers all through the end. Lena wasn’t all too fleshed out but what I saw of her, I liked enough. Now, the real show stopper award goes to Doe-Eyes, Yeva’s hunting dog who previously hunted with her father. From what I could gather, Doe-Eyes is a female dog (I may be wrong but this is what i’m going with lol) & very loyal. Wherever Yeva went, Doe-Eyes would follow no matter how impossible this feat may have seemed. To say that I fell in love with this dog is an understatement, Doe-Eyes was spunky & lively, she wasn’t getting left behind from all the action. I couldn’t get enough of her whenever she showed up unexpectedly (Yay for dogs in YA!). Last but not least we have the Beast (I promise I did not intend for that to rhyme -_-) who just as in the original, we get brief glimpses of. What I loved about Beast? the fact that we see him warring with the human nature he carries within. We also get to know his backstory of how he came to be cursed which unlike the original, actually has some meat to it. Besides his backstory, everything else about Beast is pretty similar to the original & I appreciated Spooner staying close to the original while still making him her own.

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ย Hunted is my very first read by Meagan Spooner & I’m officially a fan! this book gave me such Bear and the Nightingale (LOVED!)ย feels with its use of Russian Folklore. The story telling was on point. I’m always weary when picking up a re-telling of a childhood favorite but Spooner pulled it off with Hunted. Maybe it was the mixture of similarities to the original & her own take on it but…I felt like I got a piece of my childhood back, a very nostalgic reading experience. I especially enjoyed the chapter “enders” (made this word up) where we were given the Beast’s inner monologue as the human inside him wars against the beast he’s become. The pacing is a bit on the slower side but I’m the type of bookworm that doesn’t mind the slow build-up. I don’t however think that it’s so slow that it drags or bores, it felt like I was being read a fairy tale which is what I wanted. To date, this is my favorite Beauty and the Beast re-telling. It has me listening to the original soundtrack & watching the original just to stay a little longer with this tale as old as time…

*Thank you HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Meagan Spooner for the eGalley of Hunted in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

Photo credit: Crushermyheart https://crushermyheart.tumblr.com/

Have any of my bookish peeps read Hunted? thoughts? did you enjoy the similarities? are any of you watching Beauty and the Beast? I know I’ll be watching it next wknd & attempting my 1st movie review ๐Ÿ˜‰

WWW Wednesday

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 Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

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

*Covers = Goodreads

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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I’m currently reading Hunted by Meagan Spooner & I’m enjoying it much more than I thought I would be. I say this because I do feel a bit of a Young Adult Fantasy burn out coming on. I’ve read a few Beauty & The Beast re-tellings but none with an actual talking beast lol. This is as close as it gets to the original BATB we all know & love…didn’t think it would work tbh but I find myself wanting to get back to this story every time I put it down.ย So far my reading experience with Hunted has been nostalgia filled & i’m enjoying getting a bit of my childhood back ๐Ÿ˜‰

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You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

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I recently read & reviewed You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner,ย this was a 5 star read for me and is very possibly one of my top favorites of 2017. If you’re looking for your next diverse read, look no further! this book has it all & will leave you asking why there aren’t more books like this one in YA (slowly improving but a long road ahead). Julia is a deaf Indian girl with 2 deaf moms, she likes to think of herself as a snowflake or an anomaly which made me instantly love her to pieces. If you’re a fellow New Yorker like myself, you’ll probably recognize some of the more famous places Julia likes to tag/graffiti. For my thoughts/review on You’re Welcome, Universe click the link above ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Red Sister (Book ofย the Ancestor #1)

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I was born for killing โ€“ the gods made me to ruin.

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novicesโ€™ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow donโ€™t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to surviveโ€ฆ

Excuse me while I *eeeeeeeeK* my 1st Adult Fantasy book in years will be Red Sister by none other than Mark Larence!!! *happy dance* still can’t believe I managed to score a copy but thanking all of the book gods for this &ย  Drew from The Tattooed Book Geekย for introducing me to Mark Lawrence. I didn’t intend to start with Red Sister seeing as he has other well loved books but ahhhh well! that’s the way the cookie crumbled so onward & forward! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & iโ€™ll swing by your blog for a peek. I’m trying super hard to stick to my excel spreadsheet but I know Strangeย the Dreamer may be the one to break me cuz its LAINI! & I love that quirky Goddess <3<3<3!ย 

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ–ค

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 โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (3.75 STARS)

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

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomasโ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

30320053Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published by: HarperTeen/HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

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

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

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

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles donโ€™t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom โ€“ and her life.

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

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

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

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

Long May She Reign may be at its core a YA Fantasy however, it also fits in the Mystery genre. I was pretty much consumed, following Freyaโ€™s science experiments & deductive reasoning. Freya doesnโ€™t have a large court to begin with since they were for the most part all in attendance for the Kingโ€™s birthday where they ate their last meals. This helped in limiting the amount of players on the board but it also meant that those closest were to be suspects. I had wondered how a YA Fantasy standalone would read since Iโ€™m accustomed to long standing series or trilogies but it worked well. Since this is a standalone we donโ€™t see too much world building, instead this book is very plot driven. The supporting characters aren’t really too fleshed out. We do get a well developed female protagonist, Freya was pretty awesome however,her development wasn’t w/out its faults. The Freya we meet in the beginning who suffers from anxiety isn’t quite the Freya we get at the very end. I wondered what happened to her anxiety since I myself am a person who deals with this disorder every day. Then again, as I mentioned at the very beginning of my review…we don’t all suffer the same symptoms or cope the same way ๐Ÿ˜‰

The writing style is engaging, I felt very much a part of Freyaโ€™s investigations which I really enjoyed. This is a slow build which is something that as a YA Fantasy reader Iโ€™m also not accustomed to & yet it never once lost my interest. Iโ€™d definitely recommend Long May She Reign for those bookworms looking for strong female friendships, ingenuity, & a good olโ€™ murder mystery ๐Ÿ˜‰

Long May She Reign was released this past Tuesday (while I was moving to my new home lol), & so Iโ€™m a little late with my review. How many of my bookish peeps have Long May She Reign on your TBRโ€™s? a Scientist Queen? Who can resist?!?! ๐Ÿคด๐Ÿป๐Ÿ’ฐโŒ๐Ÿ‘ธ๐Ÿป๐Ÿ”ฌ๐Ÿ“š

January Wrap-Up & Book Haul

January was a month of quality reads for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where every book I read, I loved. One thing is clear though, I am really enjoying Diverse reads and being able to relate to some of the characters. I am also still on a mission to lower my arc pile with the help of my handy spreadsheet lol & making progress. This however, has not stopped me from acquiring new books cuzzzz i’m a helpless bookworm who can’t resist good deals & steals ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ annnnnd let’s face it, February doesn’t look like it’s going to be a slow month in the book world either. Yet still, I do plan on mostly picking up those books that I’ve already read & loved in arc form in order to support the authors & cuz If I loved them so much, i’d like to own them ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜

I’m very happy that The Bear and the Nightingale & Gilded Cage are solid starters for series. I get to go back to these worlds/characters and see what they’ve been up to & I can’t wait! I also hope to see more from all of these debut authors, they were all seriously noteworthy for many different reasons. I’ve reviewed all and attached the links ๐Ÿ˜‰

January also saw me host my very 1st giveaway (see here) and I am happy with the outcome. The winner of the Owlcrate giveaway was Naz @ย ReadDiverseBooks, check out his wonderfully diverse blog for all things diverse reads! The next giveaway will most likely be in May to celebrate my 1 year blogoversary and there will be 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place prizes ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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ย Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic Jamesย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

ย American Street by Ibi Zoboiย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4STARS)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

The Education of Margot Sanchezย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.5 STARS)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomasย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

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Follow me @Lair_Of_Books <3’sย 

*These 3 were Goodreads wins, your girl was a bit lucky this month (thank the Book Gods)

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornallย 

The Story Of ย New Name (Theย Neapolitan Novels #2) by Elena Ferranteย 

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferranteย 

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Follow me @Lair_of_books <3’s

The Bear and the Nightingale (the Bear and the Nightingale #1) by Katherine Arden

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasiย 

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooneyย 

Good As Gone by Amy Gentryย 

Wires and Nerve (Wires and Nerve #1) by Marissa Meyer

City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Arabella of Mars (The Adventures Of Arabella Ashby #1) by David D. Levine

Frost Blood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Follow me @Lair_of_books <3’s

January’s Book Of The Month, I went with Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk and added Good As Gone for $9.99. BOTM gifted their subbies Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup ๐Ÿ™‚

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Follow me @Lair_Of_Books <3’s

I purchased these two lovely Book Biff’s from Breanne over at BizzyLittleB, she was very sweet & filled my custom order very quickly. Currently she isn’t taking custom orders due to starting a new school semester but she’ll be back & i’m keeping an eye out for when she does ๐Ÿ˜‰

what-i-watched-bannerunderworldbwposterI managed to squeeze in a movie with the hubby this month. We went to see Underworld Blood Wars & although it was enjoyable we felt it wasn’t the strongest film in the franchise. That’s tough to say cuz I’m a HUGE Underworldย & Kate Beckinsale fan. I’m still not giving up on Underworld & hope that the next one is re-vamped (hehe see what I did there smh).

maxresdefaultOn the TV front, i’ve admittedly fallen behindย on a lot of my shows since they returned from Winter break but the DVR is working over time saving them for me. However, I have returned to one of my faves Vikings Season 4ย (link to IMDB) & i’m once again hooked. Team Lagertha all the way & I really hope they don’t kill off my boo lol ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

As has been the case these past couple of months, I’m a bit late with this book haul/wrap-up but i’ve been catching up with some of yours. Seems like for the most part, January was all aboutย getting back in the swing of things. Love seeing how your January went & wish all my bookish peeps happy reading in February <3’s!

 

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the-hate-u-giveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published by: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Date of Publication: January 28th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Own Voices, Diverse

Pages: 464

Format: eGalley (Edelweiss)

Rating:โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 5 Stars

*Thank you Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, Netgalley, and Angie Thomas for the eGalley of The Hate U Give in exchange for an honest review.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

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Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best-friend. Starr is introduced as a 16 year old living in a very poor & high in crime neighborhood. Her parents placed her in a school in the suburbs away from the neighborhood they live in & commute every day to provide Starr & her two siblings a safer environment to study as well as a better education. Starr pretty much lives two very different lives and prefers to keep them separate from each other. She has friends and a caucasian boyfriend who don’t really know much about her. Starr isn’t comfortable being herself around them, often changing how she speaks and adopting her friends likes/dislikes. This all changed the night that she attended a party with her friend and bumped into her childhood best friend Khalil. A friendship she had let go once she started going to a school outside of the neighborhood & carries some guilt for doing so. Khalil & Starr grew up together and he’s very protective of her. When the party turns violent it is Khalil who thinks fast to get Starr away from danger. It would be the last act of love he would carry out for Starr. The Hate U Give revolves around Khalil’s unjust death & serves as the catalyst for Starr. Along with the main plot line of Khalil’s death we get subplots that serve to present a better understanding of the fear, anger, frustration, sadness, helplessness, and yes the hate felt by people of color. Experiences in Starr’s neighborhood will leave her feeling shaken to her core. Her neighborhood is filled with tension after Khalil’s shooting by a Caucassian Police officer. The media digs deep & portrays Khalil in a negative light, focusing on the life they believe he led as a gang banger selling drugs. In the neighborhood, we see the control these gangs have over the residents. The saying “snitches get stitches” is more a code to live by for fear of retribution.

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Angie Thomas has given us in The Hate U Give some of the most fleshed out characters you’ll ever come across on the page. To say that I was invested in all of the characters is an understatement…they live within me & I will carry them in my heart for as long as time permits. Starting with Starr who although we see her struggling to keep her two worlds/identities apart, still stays true to herself in little ways. Starr has a passion for basketball & fresh kicks aka sneakers, and her family. She is someone who has experienced loss at a young age to the injustices of the world. We see her strength at a young age get her through what lies ahead. Starr’s parents have now joined my Parentals Hall Of Fame alongside the Weasley’s. They are firm and strict all the while loving & teaching their kids the ways of the world. I loved seeing mom & dad interact with Starr & her siblings as well as themselves. This couple has a ton of history, not all great but it’s history nonetheless. Mom & dad’s relationship has had its highs & lows like any other marriage, it’s far from perfect and I enjoyed how authentic their relationship played out on the pages. The sibling relationships were pretty special & their interactions often left me smiling. Starr has two brothers who she is very close with and I loved seeing them look out for each other. We also get introduced to Starr’s uncle who plays the role of a positive father figure & also happens to be a police officer. Starr’s uncle is also affected by the events of the night Khalil was shot & it was interesting to see him handle certain situations (1 of my fave characters). The Hate U Give has a ton of supporting characters giving us the readers many different perspectives. Ultimately they come together to form a narrative we’ve now become familiar with through real life media/news coverage.

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The dialogue in The Hate U Give has such an authentic feel to it which pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. At 464 pages, this never felt like a dense read even if the subject matter itself was profound. This book will lift the veil from your eyes if there is one there, it most certainly will make you feel uncomfortable as it should. We can’t learn if we are stuck in comfort. Many times while reading I felt my heart & mind heavy with thoughts of our future. After all, this book is heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement & is a story that we have unfortunately seen play out in the media in real life too many times. I believe this book to be relevant to our current day & one that should be read by all. I connected with this book on a more personal level & for that I will forever be thankful for Angie Thomas. See, I am married to an African American man and we have two beautiful children. Our son is brown skinned like his dad & our daughter is white skinned like myself. I remember being pregnant with my son, watching the news and fearing for my unborn child. Young African American teens were losing their lives in senseless shootings by police officers across the nation. The conversations I had with my husband on how we would raise our son always left me deep in thought afterwards. Is this really the world/life I’ve brought my son into? he is now two going on three & the shootings have continued with little to no justice for these young souls. It is my hope (like any other mothers) that his future is a somewhat better place for people of color. The Hate U Give at its core attempts to give the reader some insight on how it feels to be targeted over the color of your skin, the powerlessness that converts into hate, and the motivation behind activism & protests. A poignant read, The Hate U Give will impact many lives by the time the very last word is read.

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15049422Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

December Book Haul & Wrap-Up

Here’s to hoping that 2017 will see me post these Wrap-Ups & Bookhauls in a more timely fashion *cheers* (said no one ever Baha!). I’m hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday, it feels good to be back in the mix of things. Slowly but surely I’m seeing more of my bookish peeps coming back & it’s been pretty awesome seeing all of your Christmas hauls and holiday posts. I honestly didn’t think I’d be hauling much of anything in the month of December because I did NOT ask for books this Christmas *gasps*…don’t get me wrong I totally wanted to, I’ve just been trying to read a lot of what I own & keep up with arc reviews. Now, ignore EVERYTHING you just read *covers eyes* on to my Wrap-up & shameful haul LOL..

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (4.5)

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (4.5)

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5)

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5)

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… ALL The Stars In The Galaxy…no # could do this one justice!

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Orange: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (Bookoutlet)

Orange: The Complete Collection, Volume 2 (Bookoutlet)

All American Boys  (Bookoutlet)

Of Fire And Stars (Owlcrate)

Jane Steele (Bookoutlet)

Small Great Things (Bookdepository)

Here Comes The Sun (B&N)

Swimming Lessons (Book Of The Month)

All The Ugly And Wonderful Things (Book Of The Month)

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) Gift from my Book Twin Bestie Gretchen @ChicNerdReads

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Ok…I admit that I am HOOKED on Amazon Kindle Deals SMH…yea…*silently shakes head*

Chillin on that instant purchase button in January, fo’ sho! ๐Ÿ˜‰

December was a busy month for most, I also happened to celebrate my birthday on New Years Eve which I chose to keep low key. I had a mini staycation, 5 days of spending time with my 2 tiny humans & hubby…and on the 5th day I had a ME day *whoop whoop* I did manage to squeeze in one movie & that was Pixar’s Sing with my 5 year old & hubs. Sing was so much fun, usually hubs falls asleep during animated movies (I know smh, he can’t hang) but he actually stayed awake for this one so that says something there BAHA! lastly I blogged a little & decided to set some reading/blogging goals for 2017 as well as sign up for my very 1st challenge (see here). It was after my goals post went up though, that I came across Naz @ReadDiverseBooks who is hosting his own challenge ReadDiverse2017. I of course signed up immediately since one of my goals for 2017 after all is to support diverse & own voices reads. It’s also nice of him to include badges & prizes along the way so check him out my bookish peeps, his blog is one of my top favorites โค โค โค

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What are some of your bookish goals for 2017? see any good movies in December? hauled any good books/bookish swag? drop your links down below & i’ll swing by for a peep ๐Ÿ˜‰

2016 FAB Moments & 2017 Reading Goals/1st Challenge

 2016 will go down in the books (Haha!) as the year that I decided to stop watching the book community from the sidelines wishing I was partaking in all of the book discussions, fangirling, reviewing and opened up Lairofbooks…a blog…something completely outside of my comfort zone. I really just wanted a place to connect with other bookworms and talk about all things books but I ended up getting so much more. This community is AMAZING & most welcoming, at any hour of the day/night I can find someone who has just finished a book and is looking for anyone willing to rant or rave. I’ve made some pretty awesome friends in the book blogging community in such a short period of time & for that I am truly grateful…

 

2016 FAB Moments

๐Ÿ’Ž Starting this blog after being on the sidelines of the book community for 2 years has brought me so much happiness. A place where I come to de-stress & reach out to many other bookworms who are doing the same. A safe place to be myself, May 24th was a very good day for this bookworm โ˜บ๏ธ

๐Ÿ’Ž  Lairofbooks finally motivated me to put my Twitter to good use LOL, another platform that has connected me to so many great bookworms & authors

๐Ÿ’Ž Meeting my Book Twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads has been one of the highlights of this year. I’ve mentioned it before here on the blog but i’ll say it again, Gretchen played a key role in motivating me to start LairofBooks & she didn’t even know it ๐Ÿ’• This year has been made all the better because of our friendship ๐Ÿ’•

๐Ÿ’Ž Attending my 1st Bookcon & acquring some physical ARCS early October made my rest of the year LOL

๐Ÿ’Ž Getting approved by HarperCollins on Edelweiss after a slew of declined emails, taught me to never throw in the towel ๐Ÿ˜‰

๐Ÿ’Ž Reading 71 books out of the 60 I set as my goal, the most I’ve read any year…I don’t see myself setting the 2017 challenge at 100 but I do think i’ll mentally be cheering myself on to the 100 finish line lOl *over achiever*

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2017 Goals

๐Ÿ’Ž To keep on keepin on? Lol nah, I’m not very good at sticking to my goals but I sure do try. I’ll keep it simple though…To continue having fun reading, blogging, and meeting new bookish peeps ๐Ÿ˜„

๐Ÿ’Ž Working up the nerve to post my 1st discussion…it’s coming this year *pinky swear*

๐Ÿ’Ž Participate in any reading challenge or Read-A-Thon (I used the dashes not sure if that’s a thing)

๐Ÿ’Ž Possibly hit that 1K mark on my Bookstagram Lair_Of_Books ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ“š

๐Ÿ’Ž Read outside my go-to genres starting with Poetry & a bit of Horror

๐Ÿ’Ž Continue reading Diverse Books & supporting Own Voices authors

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Challenge Guidelines

๐Ÿ’Ž The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2017 โ€“ Dec 31, 2017.

๐Ÿ’Ž Anyone is welcome to join. You do not need to be a blogger, just post your reviews and come back every month to link them up.

๐Ÿ’Ž Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.

๐Ÿ’Ž At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews.

๐Ÿ’Ž If you forget to link up one month itโ€™s not a problem just add your reviews next month.

๐Ÿ’Ž If you would like to move up or down levels that is completely fine and at your discretion.

๐Ÿ’Ž If you have any questions tweet me @BookishThings or e-mail katrina@bookisthingsandmore.com!

Levels

Bronze โ€“ 10 Books

Silver โ€“ 25 Books

Gold โ€“ 50 Books

Platinum โ€“ 75 Books

Diamond โ€“ 100 Books

This being my very 1st reading challenge, i’ll set my goal level at 25 & move up (hopefully) as I progress. No pressure but a good way to keep me motivated with the good ol’ ARC pile ๐Ÿ˜‰

 Happy New Year my Bookish Peeps, wishing you all a FAB 2017 filled with great books along the way!!! ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ’•

Review: History Is All You Left Me

history-is-all-you-left-meHistory is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Published by:ย Soho Press

Date of Publication: January 17th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ

Pages: 320

Format:ย eGalley (Edelweiss)

Rating:โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… ALL The Stars In The Galaxy!

 

*Iโ€™d like to thank Soho Press & Adam Silvera for theย eGalley of History Is All You Left Meย via Edelweissย in exchange for an honest review.

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When Griffinโ€™s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future heโ€™s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffinโ€™s downward spiral continues. Heโ€™s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets heโ€™s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

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History Is All You Left Meย starts off with the main protagonist Griffin getting ready to attend his ex-boyfriend Theo’s funeral. Griffin has not come to fully accept the tragedy that is Theo’s death and so he begins to tell us his tale in chapters that alternate betweenย ย “History” and “Today”

Griffin and Theo were best friends since childhood before their relationship turned romantic. Griffin, Theo, and Wade were basically the modern day Three Musketeers who did everything together and their parents all knew each other. In “History” we get introduced to these three friends who enjoy playing video games, Harry Potter, reading, putting together huge puzzles, and inventing zombie apocalypse stories. During one of their usual excursions to Brooklyn on the L train (my borough whoop whoop!), Griffin & Theo’s relationship turns into something more than just friends. I loved the build-up to this moment and the chemistry between them was fully felt on my end. Wade expresses a bit of apprehension at the possible change in friendship dynamics now that he would be the odd man out but they promise to never put him in an awkward position. We get to see their friendship continue and get stronger. Things begin to change when Theo is advised by his school counselor to apply for Harvard early. Theo decides to skip on Harvard but does decide to apply to his top college of choice in Los Angeles which would mean leaving Griffin behind in New York. Griffin decides to be fully supportive even when the mere thought of not seeing Theo on the daily was suffocating and anxiety inducing. They decide to make the best of it just in case he does get accepted. I thought we were going to see them experience a long distance relationship but for some reason, I was glad that it wasn’t the case here. Griffin is a character who suffers from OCD and the representation hereย is one that I am beyond satisfied with, being that I myself have mild OCD. Griffin knows himself well and through plenty of self reflection he just knew that long distance & all of it’s pitfalls isn’t something he would be able to manage. Though they decide to maintain their friendship through Skype calls, handwritten letters and care packages, long distance eventually does take its toll. Theo starts to date Jackson who Griffin believes to be his real life clone and things take a turn for the awkward. Its during this time that Griffins OCD compulsions begin to take him down a path of self destruction…

In the “Today” chapters Griffin who hasn’t fully accepted Theo’s death, talks to him as if he were still alive and walks him through all of his emotions before and after their break-up. The things that he did while Theo was away at college and the things he did after learning of his death. History Is All You Left Me is a character driven book and one of the best ones i’ve read at that. Griffins mind isn’t one that can be forced to accept what he is not ready to accept. We get to see his thought process during his journey to acceptance and it’s not a pretty one but it is a more realistic one than if he were to have just completely moved on after loving Theo for so long. The “Today” chaptersย also see Griff come to terms with his secrets, ones that he can no longer confess to now that Theo is gone but nonetheless will bring to light since he believes Theo is listening & seeing all that he does.

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I couldn’t get enough of Griffin, Theo, and Wade which is probably why I finished this book in two days. Their friendship is pretty awesome and nerdy with plenty of pop culture references. The guys love leaving Manhattan and venturing into hipster Brooklyn or meet up at one of their homes after school. It was through these after school hangouts that we get introduced to Griffin & Theo’s parents who i’m just going to go ahead and say it…2nd fave set of parentals only to be beat by Molly & Arthur Weasley! They’re simply amazingly supportive, understanding, loving and welcoming human beings that I wish every young adult had in their lives. I also enjoyed Griffin & Theo when they were dating because of how positive this relationship was portrayed. Griffin & Theo truly loved each other, looked out for one another, and supported each other. Theo fully accepted Griffin’s compulsions and never once made him feel crazy. He learned all of Griffin’s ways and was the perfect missing puzzle piece (if you’ve read HIAYLM, you’ll know what I just did there LOL). I can’t forget aboutย Wadeย aka the third musketeer who is an AMAZING best friend to Theo & Griffin but overall just a really cool guy. His besties decide to date each other & besides the initial conversation, he is fully supportive of them. I love that Adam gave us a chance to get to know Wade & that he didn’t fall back in the shadows of Griffin and Theo.ย I even ended up liking Jackson who was Theo’s new boyfriend in L.A. andย I seriously didn’t want to but it happened *shrugs shoulders* maybe Griffin was right & Jackson really is his clone…

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After reading More Happy Than Not last year, I knew that Adam Silvera would be an author to follow throughout his writing career. The emotions he was able to stir in me, made him stand out from any of the Young Adultย or Adult Fiction I haveย read all together. I am very thankful to have received a eGalley of History Is All You Left Me, as a matter of fact I teared up the night that I received the e-mail. I knew that I was going to be reading an impactful book by a person who has now become one of my top 5 favorite authors. There is seriously nothing like experiencing one of Adams books. His characters grow within the pages while going through it & taking you along for the ride. The relationships he gifts you remain with you long after you’ve read the last sentence. History Is All You Left Me wasn’t any different. I lost track of the times that I smiled & wiped away my tears. It was heart wrenching and painful to see Griff lose his favorite person and yet this was more than a story about grief & loss. This is a story about self reflection, healing, acceptance, coping mechanisms, friendships, human error, love in all its forms. Adam gave us Griffin who struggles with OCD which was one of the things that interested me the most. He showed us the internal tug of war that is having OCD & how it can impose limitations. The scenes where we get Griff’s inner monologue were spot on accurate. During times of high stress, I myself, internally will go back & forth with my compulsions. At times it feels like you can’t move on until it is right, with Griffin it was even #’s at all times with the exception of the numbers one and seven or any number ending in seven. I happen to have the same compulsion of even numbers, but my OCD is more on the mild side than Griff’s. Besides the accurate portrayal of OCD, Adam also gave us healthy relationships on all fronts including the parentals in his book. Theย LGBTQ and POC (people of color)ย representationย in Adams books, have made him one of my auto-buy authors. If you’re looking for a book that will touch your soul and make you self-reflect, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for your next diverse read with all around positive representation, this is the book for you. I was able to see myself in this book & since that is rare, I appreciate Adamย Silvera’s writing and can’t wait to give this book a home on my shelves on it’s birthday ๐Ÿ˜‰

โ€œHistory remains with the people who will appreciate it mostโ€- History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera