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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May Book Haul

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAIRYLOOT

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ONYX & IVORY BY MINDEE ARNETT

    

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

BOOK OF THE MONTH

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THE PERFECT MOTHER BY AIMEE MOLLOY 


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


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

Title: Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2)

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: SourceBooks Fire

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

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

Images from Pinterest, not my own

    

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

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

Images from Pinterest, not my own

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

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

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

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


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April book Haul

Hello Bookworms! Hope you’re all having magnificent starts/ends to your  day 💜 this post is scheduled so I imagine by the time you’re reading this I am somewhere under the concrete jungle that is NYC playing Frogger jumping from one train to the next all in an effort to get to work. Your comments down below are the first thing I see when I get in the office (with some time to spare 🤞🏼) & reading them is my fave way to decompress in the AM before adulting. Feel free to comment down below if you’ve read any of these titles or if you feel I should bump up any one in particular on my TBR 💜

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All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories Of Queer Teens Throughout The Ages | Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic To Brew | Leah On The Offbeat Creekwood #2) | The Wicked Deep (my review)

The Black God’s Drum | Mirage | The Queen Of Crows (The Sacred Throne #2)Girls Of Paper And Fire | The Wicked King (The Folk Of The Air #2)

* I’m currently buddy reading Mirage & enjoying it SO MUCH! I had no idea it was a sci-fi/fantasy so it was a nice surprise 💜

Empress Of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

*I was approved for this one on Netgalley early on in April for this Asian inspired Fantasy & I couldn’t be more over the moon hyped for this 💜

April Fairyloot

Beyond A Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

*I’m already using the Carpe Diem notepad cause one can never have too many stationery 😂 LOVE the travel mug 💙 the candle I can do w/out, I’m just not a fan of strong musky scents. The art print is beautiful 😍 and this is honestly one of the books I’ve been really interested in. Definitely cool getting a book I hadn’t read as an arc but had high interest in 🙌🏼 Overall this box gets…

   

April Book Of The Month

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Circe by Madeline Miller

*I was fully prepared to start this one two nights ago until I realized I had a buddy read scheduled & this had to be paused. I feel like Circe is going to need my undivided attention, super stoked to get to this one next 💜



I hope you all are having wonderful days & reading all the great books! I also wanted to congratulate Darnell again on winning my Dread Nation Giveaway! 🎉🎉🎉🎉 I hope to have a few more giveaways throughout the rest of the year, for books as good as this one! 💜


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April Wrap-Up

Hello Bookworms & happy Friday!!! here in NYC we’ve decided to skip Spring & go straight to Summer and although when I’m outside I truly dislike it…when I’m inside, I get to blast that A.C. & no sleep is better than one right next to that powerful ice machine 😂 anyways, I pulled up Goodreads to see how many books I’d read in April & had to do a Britney…

I cannot remember the last time I read 8 BOOKS!!! *GASP* it was a great quality reading month, no complaints here (except for maybe Professed haha!) I was able to get ahead in my TBR 💜 I participated in 2 Buddy Reads and had so much fun talking to the Bookworms in our group chats. I also borrowed for the very first time from another blogger buddy who is simply an amazing human being! Thank you Sarah @TheYaBookTraveler I appreciate your kindness 💜 Out of the 8 books that I read, 4 were 5 star reads which means I had a lot of fun reading in April. I’m hoping for an equally as good May & so far I think I’m getting my wish thanks to Harper & some new arc approvals that came through. Now without further ado I present to you my April Wrap-Up…

Professed by Nicola Rendell ★★ STARS: Not what I expected but I read along since this was a book club pick for Julie & Chelsea’s Book Hangover Book Club. The characters just felt over the top & the “steamy scenes” were terrible 😞

Birthday Girl by Penelope Douglas ★★★★ 4 STARS: This being the first book I p/u as a reintroduction to the NA genre (not that I’ve read all that very many 😂) was UNPUTDOWNABLE! 😳 I seriously couldn’t stop reading & now I’m on a Penelope Douglas binge

Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (Review) ★★★★ 4 STARS: Falls into the younger side of YA but still very enjoyable with its Sin City/Moulin Rouge vibes. Book 2 was just announced today, titled King of Fools for 2019 & I’m REALLY looking forward to It 💜💜💜

Sky In The Deep by Adrienne Young (Review) ★★★★ 4 STARS: Character driven, less focused on the bloody history of Vikings we’ve all come to know. This one is for those bookworms who love stories about family bonds and loyalty and choosing who your family is when you’ve lost it all.

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (RTC closer to publication date) ★★★★★ 5 STARS: I mean C’mon! I LOVED My Lady Jane to pieces when I first read it & waited ever so patiently for this sequel. When a bookworm friend offered to loan me her copy I was STUNNED & Happy & grateful! I devoured it & all I can say is THANK YOU My Lady Janies for the ode to my childhood faves The Ghostbusters 😂😂😂

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson (RTC) ★★★★★ 5 STARS: a witchy read with a plus sized POC MC who’s a bit of a curmudgeon dishing out the sarcasm when she sees fit. Practicing witchcraft was never supposed to yield any real results until she needed it to & then…👀

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Review) ★★★★★ 5 STARS: This is perhaps my fave read of the month! a black MC who kicks a** & doesn’t back down whether it’s racist white men or the walking dead trying to make a snack out of her. This book has so much more going on underneath the surface, #Blacklivesmatter, Colorism, and racism are all weaved into this tale. I have a giveaway currently running until Sunday 5/6, open to international Bookworms as well 💜 Click on the link to take you to my review post to enter 💜

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw (Review) ★★★★★ 5 STARS: Take me back to this little town & island PLEASE! so atmospheric & haunting, I cannot stop singing this books praises! Please pick this one up before the Netflix series airs, it’s a short read but sooooo good that it’s guaranteed to stick around even after you’ve read that last line 😉

Avengers: Infinity War

    

Date Day this month with the hubby was a ton of fun & led us to visit some of our favorite haunts. Starting off with breakfast at our fave diner by the theatre & a quick trip to The Strand where I picked up Leah On the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)by Becky Albertalli & the Graphic Novel Moonstruck: Magic To Brew. I spent a little too much time in the stacks & we ended up having to cab it to the other side of Manhattan to the theatre for a 1:30pm show. IMAX 3D…why do I always forget to wear contacts? instead I watch movies through 4 lenses 🤷🏻‍♀️😂

The movie was about 2.5 hours long & it just exceeded expectations! Thanos our villain is one complex character with depth to him, he wasn’t just trying to kill everything in sight for power or control. I found this villain really interesting but that ending still had me giving him major side eye 😂 It was awesome seeing some faves back on the screen & after watching Black Panther just last month, I was super stoked to return to Wakanda. This being part I of II, I expected to walk away with unresolved story line and I felt the ending sets up for the next movie rather nicely. The after credit scene led to a really cool development & now I spend my time on Screen Rant looking for any bread crumbs being released for the next set of Marvel movies. Overall I gave this movie 5 BUTTERFLIES!!!


I hope you’re all having a wonderful start of the month 💜 what was your favorite read in April? feel free to link those wrap-ups down below & I’ll make my way over to your corner of the interwebz 💜’s! Don’t forget to throw your 🎩 in the ring for a chance to win a copy of Dread nation (see here)! 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼


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Spoiler Free Review & Giveaway: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1)

Author: Justina Ireland

Pub. Date: April 3rd, 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 455

Format: eGalley

*HUGE thanks to Balzer + Bray/Harper, Edelweiss and Justina Ireland for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Ever pick up a book & you just know it’s going to be a 5 star read?!?! that was the case with this magnificent a** kicking, no-holds-barred, social commentary, read between the lines EPICNESS of a a book! It is not a re-telling although it definitely does allude to it’s namesake. I read a interview on Bustle with Justina Ireland where she says the following of her inspiration…

“I wrote [Dread Nation] many moons ago, after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Justina Ireland tells Bustle. “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.”

I happen to have really enjoyed Pride Prejudice and Zombies but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Dread Nation is now my FAVORITE spin on an all time favorite classic!

We meet Jane while at Miss Preston’s School Of Combat as she is training towards her graduation date. Upon completion, girls from this school are purchased to work for rich white women as their attendants. An Attendant is specially trained to kill Shamblers aka zombies. It is believed that black people have a stronger immune system to combat the bite of a zombie however, we do still see some who are turned after being bitten just not as many. Nothing about enrollment in this school is voluntary, the Native and Negro Reeducation Act is basically a round-up of black & Native children to do all the Shambler killing in defense of white people. Right from the start I knew Jane was going to be one of my all time favorite characters. We get to know Jane through her inner dialogue & the commentary she makes on the society they live in which mirrors our own current day in many ways. Jane is not someone who can easily be sold a dream, she’s very aware of the realities of her world and could care less about manners & etiquette. These are all things Jane knows are used as a method of control by white people in power. Nonetheless she continues her studies with some pushback here & there, in order to make her mother back in Kentucky happy. Jane is training in Baltimore & every chance she gets she writes her mother. The letters range in emotion & were meant to keep her mom updated on her training, these were a nice touch in between chapters & I found myself looking forward to the next correspondence.

The Mayor of Baltimore has led everyone to believe that the city has rid itself of the Shambler epidemic & its citizens are finally safe. Jane soon starts piecing together the pieces of the puzzle & realizes just how perilous the situation is in the cities on the East side of the United States. We see Philly, Baltimore, Maryland all affected but our story doesn’t just take place on the east coast. We see a shift to the West Coast & get a taste of frontier life but it’s also the setting for which the white people in this book see opportunity to digress to the times before slavery was abolished.  This book at its core is about slavery & the different forms it may be disguised as but in the end it’s all the same. There were many lines in this book that I found myself having to re-read saying to myself….”where have I heard this before?” when the answer is all around me, it serves as a reminder of the world we live in. We have a long ways to go…

In Jane we have a strong black woman who tries to mind her mothers advice but will always follow her heart in standing up for what she believes in. She’s not for one second going to forget anyone who does her wrong, she had me rooting for her from page 1. Dread Nation also gave us one unlikely sidekick in Katherine, another girl training to be an attendant. Katherine is described as being “passing white” which was explored throughout the book. The guilt that comes along with being someone who is passing white as well as Colorism experienced by many. Jane herself battles internally with the thoughts she has on Katherine’s pretty features, often times reminding herself it’s not Katherine’s fault she was born that way. I honestly feel this gave Jane a more realistic feel, she isn’t perfect and she holds a ton of compassion inside not out for display. Katherine is the opposite of Jane in that she really does try to follow all of the rules and lives for proper manners & etiquette. I had so many laugh out loud moments seeing Katherine refuse to battle w/out her constricting corset. The friendship between Jane & Katherine is what I want to see in YA! they may have been frenemies at one point but they have each others back when differences are cast aside. We also see sexuality touched upon with Jane possibly being bi-sexual, not 100% sure since she didn’t identify as such but does express attraction to females & having kissed a girl. We also have a character who may be asexual & expresses no desire to be in a relationship or have romantic feelings towards anyone. The inclusion of characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum is very much appreciated by this bookworm! 💜

Reading Dread Nation had me on a serious rollercoaster ride of emotions and I really wasn’t expecting it to be this type of read. I had a couple of outright angry moments at the mentality the white people in this book carry. It really is no different from many in our real world. Many scenes led me to feel such profound sadness at the injustice of it all. Ultimately I cam away empowered by this read, I do believe we need more books like this one. More authors like Justina Ireland so that the uncomfortable truths of the world are laid bare & change is brought about. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a book about zombies. This book carries a message & will leave such an impact on you if you read it with an open mind and a willingness to take off those rose colored glasses.


It’s been a minute since I did a Giveaway on the blog but I was inspired after I finished Dread Nation & just want to get more bookworms reading & loving it as much as I did! well at least I hope y’all do 😆🤞🏼 I do hope to have more Giveaways coming your way soon so stay tuned for that 😉 

1 Winner will receive a hardcover copy of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland! 
  • Giveaway dates: 4/30/2018-5/4/2018
  • Since this giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, all you need is a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)
  • Simply comment down below that you’d like to be entered & it shall be done

For Additional entries


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WWW Wednesday 4/18/2018

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 are:
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!!! I hope you’re all having a good week, if not *HUGS* I have been on a reading binge this month & I don’t see myself stopping anytime  soon *fingers crossed* Recently I’ve decided to try out other genres that I’ve visited in the past but haven’t returned to in a while. This week I’m trying out New Adult Romance & I’m a little excited if I’m being honest. Spring hopefully will make an appearance in this lifetime & I’m in the mood for some light reads to mix in with my love for Fantasy.  Happy reading <3’s!!! 

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

I am 82% into this buddy read & although it’s not quite what I expected, it is one I’m really enjoying. Slower paced with writing that transports me each & every time I dive into its pages. More than anything, this Viking story is more about family and loyalty. Coming together in the face of adversity. This is NOT the book you’d go to for non-stop bloody Viking battles. Although we do get some of that, it really isn’t the core focus. I’m in the final stretch now wondering how it will all end & kind of wishing there is a sequel out there I haven’t heard about yet…

Birthday Girl by Penelope 

Highly persuaded by Melanie @Meltotheany who can basically sell me anything through her Instagram stories SMH…Seriously though, not only is she the Queen of EPIC reviews but her IG stories & unboxings are not to be missed 🙂 So Mel was really hyped to hear Penelope Douglas had released Birthday Girl a few days early & her excitement was contagious. I know nothing of this author & I’m a newb to the genre having read only 3 K.A. Tucker books so I figured why not start with one of my most trusted friends fave authors? So! by the time this post is live, I’ll already be reading this one on my breaks at work. Possibly not the best place to start a steamy romance but what can I say? I’m a newb HAHA!

 

Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

I recently finished Ace of Shades & gave it 4 stars (my review) & can honestly say this is one new Fantasy series I will be continuing with. In this book I found influences from some of my favorites like Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, and many of the gangster movies I love. I have a deep appreciation for Fantasy writers who diversify their cast of characters & in Ace we get Bi-sexual & gender fluid representation. The reviews on goodreads seemed to be a mixed bag, with many comparisons to Six of Crows. It’s hard to compare to anything by Leigh Bardugo, there may be some similarities but the same can be said of Six Of Crows. Both draw inspiration from some of our favorites but their characters are VERY different & Ace isn’t heisty.  I say, if you can separate the two & enjoy casinos, seedy characters, mobsters, and friendships over romance (there’s still some) then this may be one worth checking out 😉

Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1) Justina Ireland

Influenced by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the author gives us a different version. In a Bustle interview with author she tells us about her inspiration…

“I wrote [Dread Nation] many moons ago, after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Justina Ireland tells Bustle. “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.”

I am BEYOND ready for this read & can’t wait to dive in! 🙂

Professed by Nicola Rendell

Two of my FAVORITE Booktubers Chelsea @Chelseadollingreads & Julie @PagesandPens  started a book club called Book Hangover Book Club They chose Professed as their April book pick & I will be buddy reading with Melanie from Meltotheany this coming weekend! I’m excited to read more from this genre Bookworms & can’t wait to see how these two New Adult books I’ll be reading this week fare with me 🙂


Happy reading Bookworms! I’ll be blog hopping in just a few & can’t wait to see what you all are reading. I’m always up to hear from you down in the comments below, what’s on your nightstand? also, out of curiosity since I mostly review & talk about Fantasy & contemporary, would you be interested in me possibly reviewing New Adult here on Lair Of Books? 💜


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Spoiler-Free Review: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)

Author: Amanda Foody

Pub. Date: April 10th 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 416

Format: Physical ARC & Galley

Content warning: pedophilia, addiction, drug use, gambling, death, loss of a loved one, torture, and violence (Huge thanks to Melanie for these)

*HUGE thanks to Harlequin Teen, Edelweiss, and Amanda Foody for the ARC copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

   

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Fast paced with many reveals along the way, Ace of Shades takes off running from the first page when we meet Enna Salta as she arrives in the city of Sin, New Reynes. She’s the perfect picture of propriety and the education to back it but all that won’t help her in a city where street smarts are the only creds of value. Enna Abacus Salta is searching for answers that will lead her to her mother Lourdes who’s been missing for the past two months. She never imagined that a name on a card left behind by Lourdes would lead her straight into the heart of gang territory. Even less, that it would be the start to uncovering many lies & truths about herself and the woman who raised her as if she were her own daughter.

Enna finds her way to Levi Glaisyer who is leader of the Irons, and at the moment quite busy trying to scrounge up $$$ for an investment scam gone wrong. Levi is not trying to take on Enna’s mission to find Lourdes even though the name does strike a chord in a way that spells trouble. Enna is determined to find out what Levi knows but isn’t prepared for the consequences that come with being associated with him and his gang.

We follow Enna & Levi through alternating POV chapters as they realize helping each other is beneficial & in both their best interest. What ensues is a race against the clock that takes us through casinos, cabarets, dark alleys, meetings with mob bosses, and one sick twisted game from which only one player in history has ever won.

“New Reynes: red lights that flashed without flame, women of loose morals dancing on street corners in sparkling, skin-tight corsets, gambling dens beckoning passersby with seedy smiles and the allure of fast fortune.”

Pictures for aesthetic are from Pinterest, not my own

Enne Abacus Salta is already proving to be one of those characters you either love or hate. Personally I found Enna to be entertaining & full of hope. For starters, everyone in this world is born with an inherited talent from each of their parents. Their last names typically tell which talent their family carries. Enne has both Arithmetic and dance talent, with dance being her blood talent making it the strongest of the two. These talents haven’t really helped Enne much in her school of dance where she is considered low rank. The Salta’s aren’t one of the more prestigious families however Lourdes has made sure Enna attends the best of the best schools. Feeling like she’s always had to prove her worth, life in New Reynes sees her fortune take a turn. I LOVE well developed characters & authors who aren’t afraid to take their faves and turn their lives upside down. Enna is completely out of her element when she arrives in the city of Sin, within minutes of arrival she’s had to ditch all of her personal belongings. Walking away with just a welcome guide to New Reynes that she treats like a bible. Some may call her annoyingly naive, I found her evolution to be realistic. Also, the fact that she didn’t break decorum even when feeling the charm of Levi was hella impressive! Cause I think even I would’ve given in #jussayin 😂😳

Levi Glaisyer so much to say about this gift of a character! Levi is our black bi-sexual MC who also happens to be the leader of the gang known as the Irons. I’ve seen rumblings of this character being compared to Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows which I find to be a unfair comparison. These two guys could not be more polar opposites, nor do I think he was intended to mimic our beloved Kaz. Levi isn’t the don who everyone fears, he is simply a guy who dreams of building an empire. He’s gained the respect of a few and as a boss that means many have sworn an oath to him. These oaths are more than spoken word & are actually binding in this world. His specific gang is known for their expertise in the casinos, gamblings and swindling. If he’s not busy casino hopping stacking chips, he’s politicking with other influential players in the game. Perhaps what I loved MOST about this character was the fact that he wasn’t made to be this hardened criminal unable to show a more vulnerable side. Levi is heavily flawed, not only can’t he say no to the possibility of winning another hand at the tables but he also can’t resist a pretty face. With a wardrobe filled with the clothes of his romantic flings…

“Levi had a long romantic history of scattered affairs-a few girls and many boys-that had become the subject of teasing from his friends. They claimed he had a hopeless habit of kissing and telling”

It’s interesting how you’re led to believe at first that Levi is made for this lifestyle…yet it’s Enne who seems to have a natural hack for it 😉

There are a few supporting characters to get invested in & some nefarious ones to keep an eye on. Interestingly enough, Enna’s mother Lourdes plays a major role in the progression of the story even though we don’t actually see her as she is M.I.A. We learn so much about Lourdes who is gender fluid with a passion for journalism & social justice.

A solid start to a new Fantasy, Ace of Shades offers up a new setting sure to entice those who with a love for mobster stories & casino settings. I’m a fan of Cabaret, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Gangs of New York, Goodfellas, Six of Crows..I LOVE them all! which made this book a MUST read & I’m very thankful to the publisher for sending a copy my way. Foody brought New Reynes to life with vivid descriptions of the gaudy clothing worn on Sweetie Street & the different territories run by either the Irons, Scarhands, or Doves. Dropping a character like Enne into this setting with nothing but a guide of the Do’s & Don’ts of New Reynes was brilliant! experience alone is now molding Enne into a completely different person & I can’t wait to see who she is in the next book. Same goes for Levi who we see walk away a completely different man than when we first met him. There are a ton of other players in the game & some hella intriguing supporting characters like Jac & Lola that were really fleshed out. The only reason I gave it 4 stars (still HIGHLY enjoyable) was because the magic system paired up with the history of the Revolution and a Great Street War that took place in New Reynes felt overwhelming when first trying to settle into this new world. The allure in Ace of Shades is STRONG! & once I got into the story, I found it hard to put down for long. I can only see this story getting better & I’m excited to see what the future holds for Enne, Levi, and the Irons ♠️


Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & read all the good books 💜 are you planning on picking up a copy of Ace of Shades? if you’ve already read Ace of Shades, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments down below 💜 


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WWW Wednesday 4/11/18

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

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

I’m currently in the midst of getting my blogging mojo back which is why you’re getting this post later in the day/night. I wanted to update you wonderful bookworms on my reading since that hasn’t been affected by my blogging slump. Thankfully, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel & have already started making my rounds on your blogs spreading my 💜! 

Ace of Shadows (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

I am currently 70% into Ace of Shades & REALLY enjoying the read. I went in a bit hesitant after reading some not so great reviews on Goodreads. Truthfully speaking, if you’re going into this book comparing it to Six of Crows then you’re basically setting yourself up for disappointment cause that’s one hella high standard. That being said, there are some aspects that reminded me of Six of Crows in the same manner that SOC reminded me a bit of Ocean’s Eleven. I LOVE mobster stories (think Gangs of New York) & so this was one I knew I had to request from the Publisher while holding my breath haha! So far, I am loving so much of this story that I doubt the remaining 30% will change my mind. The LGBTQIA+ representation is STRONG in Ace! ❤  but I’ll go into more of that in my upcoming review 😉

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, an Brodi Ashton

Starting this MUCH anticipated follow-up TONIGHT! & I just cannot wait to leave the office aka The Dungeon…and snuggle up on the couch with this book! fave blanket and all *eeeeK* I expect to be giggling and straight out laughing out loud all through the night 🙂

Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2) by Mark Lawrence

FLAWLESS! Couldn’t have asked for a better sequel. This book had a little of everything & some dark humor thrown in the mix. I will forever be a fan of Nona & watching her character growth along the way has been quite the roller coaster ride (my spoiler free review here). 

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

On Monday I finished a buddy read of The Wicked Deep & this book is still haunting my every thought! it was just so damn good! I have  full review coming on the blog but in the mean time, please check out two of the lovely bookworms I buddy read with who have posted their reviews 🙂

Melanie @ Meltotheany & Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Ever since discovering Lagertha & Ragnar on Vikings…I haven’t been able to resist anything Viking related. I’m hoping to find yet another bad a** heroine to love 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼 also, I’ll be buddy reading Sky in the Deep with Melanie @ Meltotheany & Amy @ A Court of Crowns and Quills this weekend *super stoked* 


I hope you’re all having a wonderful Wednesday & loving your current reads! If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to hear your thoughts 💜


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Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Title: The Final Six

Author: Alexandra Monir

Pub. Date: March 6th, 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 345

Format: eGalley

Content Warning: attempted suicide

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen and Alexandra Monir for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

  

When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

March was the month of Sci-Fi for this little bookworm & I really had  a blast spending time with one of my fave genres. After reading Scott Reintgen’s Nyxia last year, falling head over heels for the Illuminae files, and being blessed with Pierce Brown’s Iron Gold… I decided reading all Sc-Fi is vital in my life. I caught wind of The Final Six & immediately jumped to request a galley from Harper in hopes of finding my next beloved crew of characters. There was SOOO much good packed into this book but it wasn’t without it’s flaws. If you’ve been around my blog for a bit, you know 3.5 stars means I enjoyed the story & still very much recommend the read. As a matter of fact I hear this isn’t a stand-alone anymore & a sequel is in the works. Also on the horizon is the film adaptation acquired by Sony (see here). So it’s definitely one filled with potential & I’m actually very interested in seeing the next chapter in this space adventure after THAT ending *eyes wide open*

Humans at war against the environment, this is a story that takes place in our present day world with one very sobering difference…Climate change is no longer being challenged as fiction. Natural disasters have led to the Earth being practically inundated with water. Tsunamis are now a natural occurrence & the world is desperate for space exploration to bear fruit. The Earth is becoming increasingly uninhabitable, food is scarce, and families are being torn apart by the destruction. To say I wasn’t thinking of our current state of climate all along while reading this book would be untruthful. I appreciated this topic being explored in a YA book since it’s one currently being silenced in our real world.  I also found interesting how close it stayed to actual events like El Niño and the effects felt around the world many years later. In many ways it can be compared to many other post apocalyptic books currently on the shelves but I felt the authors efforts to have it parallel our present day situation with climate change, makes this one stand apart from the majority. Sobering in many ways because I could see this actually happening versus the zombie apocalypse (I haven’t quite completely ruled this out haha!) that is a bit far fetched.

The Mission: The Final Six will establish a civilization on Jupiter’s Moon Europa 

Told in multiple POV’s, we get the story from our two protagonists Naomi & Leo. Naomi is Iranian American & her area of study is science (major kudos for giving us women in STEM), she is one of the 12 recruited to compete for a position as one of the final six to join the space program. Naomi is also the only candidate whose family is still intact, both father & mother are alive as well as a little brother. Leo is a Italian Olympic medal Swimmer who lost his parents and sister to a natural disaster. Up until the moment he is recruited, he was scavenging the personal belongings of his neighbors (now currently under water) in order to survive. For Leo, the call to compete for a spot on the final six is a lifeline he is more than happy to take. Feeling like he has nothing to lose, we meet Leo at his very lowest point. Leo is my favorite character in this book because he’s a survivor who is willing to fight for a second chance at life. He could’ve been moping around the entire book because his entire family was wiped out but instead he chose to go hard for Italy & the love for his country jumps off the page.

Naomi on the other hand is what you’d call a unlikeable character 🤷🏻‍♀️ & that’s ok, it wouldn’t be interesting if everyone carried the same personality so I always tend to appreciate these characters. Naomi is a Scientist & true to her field of study she is also a skeptic. She is NOT at all enthused over being selected & would much rather stay on Earth looking for a cure to help her sick little brother. Deciding very early on to self sabotage her chances on making the final six, only to find that the head Scientists in charge have already thought of this. This isn’t a voluntary thing, you are given no choice and being selected means that those who do have loved ones will not see them for years to come. I thought Naomi was seriously bad a** just off the strength that she’s a young woman in STEM doing her thing with a patent pending. However, I could’ve done with less selfishness from this character. I loved that she wasn’t naive & saw right through certain things but the reality is that Earth is about to be fully under water. She was selected for her brilliant mind & putting the seedy things governments tend to hide aside, a real asset to a team entrusted to start anew. Also, her teammates are in danger and she seems to be the only one aware but she’s still trying to ditch them for about 80% of the book. This book also falls into the insta-love trope & I wasn’t the biggest fan because Naomi’s selfishness seeped into it placing Leo in harms way one time too many.

I wasn’t too focused on world building this time around since our setting is literally mostly under water and it’s as grim as it gets folks. This being said, I was expecting to get some really fleshed out characters since there are 12 candidates to begin with. These 12 were to go through some challenges that would narrow the crew to 6. I didn’t get the  camraderie I was hoping to get, which is probably the only thing I was really counting on. We did see the expected internal competitiveness between our MC’s & other candidates but the antagonists themselves weren’t fleshed out either. The challenges themselves weren’t detailed with the exception of one. I feel showing the readers some of what the candidates had to overcome would’ve enhanced this story & also given us some camaraderie. Especially when faced with a government that is hiding many secrets placing all their lives in harms way.

The last 30% of the story took a very interesting turn that left me very intrigued on how this story would end. At the time, I believed this to be a stand-alone & after a quick google search found that a sequel was in the works. This made me relax a bit since I feared being left in the lurch right when things were taking off. The Final Six was fast paced & very easy to digest in two sittings & after THAT ending, my guess is that the sequel will take off running at the same speed. My only hope for the sequel is that we get more fleshed out side characters. After all these personalities will be the basis for which a new civilization is established on Jupiter’s Moon. On that note, I’m giving major kudos to the author for selecting candidates not only for their skill set but for their diverse cultural backgrounds. There were so many real life issues in this book that I LOVED seeing discussed & also hope to see more of. Would I recommend this book? YES, it’s relevant and speaks on a subject currently being silenced. Will I continue with the sequel? YES, I’ve got questions & need answers 😂 Will I watch the movie? ABSOLUTELY! the book trailer alone (see above) packs enough punch to have raised my interest in seeing it on the big screen 👀


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