SPOILER FREE REVIEW: STRANGE GRACE BY TESSA GRATTON

Title: Strange Grace

Author: Tessa Gratton

Pub. Date: September 18th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 320

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

Buddy Read: Melanie, Julie, and Candace

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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

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

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

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

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

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

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


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July Wrap Up

Hello Bookworms! It’s the start of the weekend for me & on the agenda is getting some reviews posted here on the blog. I had one of the MOST fun reading months in July & pretty much picked up one book after another with no brakes. I also participated in  #Smutathon & read some awesome Contemporary titles, special thanks goes to Melanie for keeping us on track with them buddy reads haha! ❤ I also found myself reading books that I’d typically pick up in the Fall & I think that’s just my subconscious prepping for the season of warm sweaters, colorful leaves, and hot tea *bring it* In the month of July I truly tried to read whatever my heart desired seeing as the rest of the year is pretty booked with new ARCS & releases I have on deck to review. Looking down at my collage of book covers I’m smiling seeing the variety so this is one happily satisfied bookworm!

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart 3 STARS I really enjoyed this tale of two sisters switching places however I ended up being interested & invested in one sister more than the other. There were some pacing issues however, the ending is soOo promising of what’s to come & I am definitely going to p/u the sequel to this duology.

The King Of Bourbon Street by Thea De Salle– 4.5 STARS✨ (RTC) This is the first Naughty read on Lair Of Books & I could NOT be more happier with it! well…I could have been hype as all hell had it been a plus sized gal up on the cover but more to come on that in my review. This was steamy & all around AMAZING with body positivity (except for the cover) & LGBTQIAP+ Rep. I look forward to continuing on with the rest of this series 😉

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory 4 STARSA Contemporary with important topics woven into the story. I LOVE the female MC however I wasn’t fond of the male interest, his attitude towards women left much to be desired. 

Check Please! by Ngozi Ukazu ✨5 STARS✨ (Mini RTC) This has to be the cutest web comic turned Graphic Novel EVER! well it’s the first I’ve read & has me officially HOOKED! I debated on whether to give this 4 stars cause I really wanted more of the romance but then again the friendships REALLY are AMAZING! Bitty stole my heart with his pie baking skills & I just need more of his college experience & Vlogs 💓

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton5 STARS✨ (RTC) A Pleasant & unexpected surprise this was! I thought I’d be creeped the heck out by Strange Grace but instead I ended up being entranced by this dark and beautifully written Polyamorous read. More thoughts to come in my review next week 🖤

Scream All Night by Derek Milman4 STARS✨ Quirky, odd, sad, and a times very funny all rolled into one is what I described this one as in my review. Scream All Night feature a MC who has had to emancipate himself at the age of 12 in order to get away from an abusive father. Now 17, Dario returns to the castle/studio where the worse of his memories still reside in order to be present for his father’s last wishes. This one read very different that anything I’ve ever read & it worked, I was engaged all throughout & enamored by Moldavia studios and its inhabitants 🖤

Josh and Hazel’s Guide To Not Dating by Christina Lauren4 STARS✨ (RTC)  There’s so much to love in this story! from the Korean culture we get from Josh to the fierce independence we see in Hazel. I had SO MUCH fun reading this & found myself falling in love with their love story, easily one of the best I’ve read!  More thoughts to come next week 🖤

The Black God’s Drum by P. Djèlí Clark 5 STARS✨ (RTC) I just need this to be made into a full length novel cause it absolutely left me wanting more from this world. Most intriguing is how I managed to get so interested & invested in these characters in such a short period of time since this is a novella but I did! If you enjoyed Children of Blood and Bone for its Orisha aspects then this is a MUST read 😉

I think it’s safe to say now that you’ll be seeing quite a few reviews start to trickle out here on Lair Of Books 😂 they are for the most part ARCS that are set to be published in September. Since I was on a roll with my reading, everything else pretty much took a back seat & that includes TV & Netflix. I did however go on a date with hubby & we watched…

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP

Paul Rudd & Evangeline Lilly were the PERFECT duo on the screen! Where Scott/Ant-Man fell short, Hope/The Wasp more than made up. Action packed scenes infused with the ol’ Wasp humor, enhanced suits, and old friends = a VERY good time!  I rated this one 5 STARS!

 

 


Hope you’re all having a FAB August! It’s setting up to be an exciting month for me with my first vacation in over 10 years! LOOOOOONG overdue but oh how sweet it will feel taking that ride on the Hogwarts Express?!?! 😱😱😱 I know I’m a bit late with this wrap-up so instead I’ll end this by asking, what books are on your night stand? 💓


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THE RAGING ONES BLOG TOUR!!!🚀

Title: THE RAGING ONES

Author: Krista Ritchie & Becca Ritchie

Pub. Date: August 14th. 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 352

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

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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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JULY BOOK HAUL

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

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

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

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

FAIRLYLOOT

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Heart Of Thorns

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

BOOK OF THE MONTH

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The Last Time I Lied

KINDLE & AUDIBLE

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

eGalleys

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


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


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: SCREAM ALL NIGHT BY DEREK MILMAN

Title: SCREAM ALL NIGHT

Author: DEREK MILMAN

Pub. Date: July 24th. 2018

Genre: YA Contemporary/Horror

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 400

Content Warning: Physical Violence, substance abuse, child abuse, homophobic jokes, and Miscarriage

*HUGE thanks to Balzer + Bray/ Harper for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

   

Scream All Night is one of those books that has a personality all of its own. Quirky, odd, sad, and a times very funny all rolled into one bringing the setting of Moldavia studios to life. Our MC Dario Heyward has very mixed feelings on his childhood growing up as the son of Moldavia Studio’s infamous owner/producer. Cast as Alastair the star on one of his father’s B-Horror flicks, Dario was subjected to physical violence and even emaciation at the hands of his dad. At the age of 12 after having his last near death scare, Dario decided to put distance between him and his abusive father. His father is a perfectionist and there really aren’t any boundaries he wouldn’t cross for one of his creature features. Dario is emancipated & living in a group home where he is trying to live his life away from all things Moldavia. This all changes of course when his brother Oren calls him with an invitation to Moldavia for a ceremony (being vague here cause spoilers haha!) taking place for his father & Dario wants nothing to do with it. Since his departure from Moldavia as a child, Dario has grown leaps & bounds and knows that accepting means the possibility of getting sucked back in to the world that is Moldavia studios. Perhaps because he still has some unfinished business, he accepts and sure enough finds himself sucked in by the Moldavian castle & its inhabitants who are all family to him. Although Dario has cut off all ties to Moldavia, its the people he got to know there while growing up that he is still attached to. He may not be prepared for what is asked of him but ultimately Dario is a much better man than his father. Scream All Night is a book about getting closure and new beginnings. It’s about grieving someone when they are still alive and it’s about second families, those we make along the way & those that take us in as if one of their own.

Dario- The MC of this story who has had a tough life raising himself. Having had a traumatic abusive childhood, he’s had to move away from the family he loves. This includes the girl he grew up with on the set of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, his co-star a the age of 11. Although he’d love to be around those he loves, he’s also not ready to return to the castle filled with painful memories at every turn. The last thing he wants is to face his 91 year old father but there’s a part of him that needs closure. Dario’s mother resides in a psychiatric facility, mental illness runs in the family & is always on Dario’s mind. Dario is loved by those cast & staff members who live in the Moldavia castle, no one expects him to return to the place that haunts him the most.

Oren- Dario’s older brother who shadowed their father in hopes of taking over Moldavia studios one day. Oren probably spends most of the book under the influence of mushrooms which means you can’t really trust anything he says or does. When we meet Oren he is fully immersed in writing the script for a movie of his own making. As much as I loved this character later on in the book, he was also frustrating and at the very beginning outright infuriating. Oren is the reason I docked this book a star, homophobic jokes left unchecked really get under my skin. I get that Oren was all shades of messed up, under the influence, and in his father’s shadow but I could’ve done without his jokes on Dario.

Hayley- The girl who saw it all & wanted more for Dario even if it meant that he’d have to leave the castle. Hayley lives & breathes Moldavia and unlike Dario she never had to experience child abuse (unfortunately that was solely reserved for prodigal son Dario) at the hands of his father. Hayley had both her parents with her in the castle and they treated Dario as if he was their own son.

Jude-Dario’s BFF from the group home who wears a wrestling mask and cape to sleep at night naked smh 😂 Jude is one of my fave characters simply for how hard he tried to protect Dario. They both hit it off while at the group home & I’ll be honest, for a minute there I thought there was chemistry between Jude & Dario.

Moldavia Studios-Yes, I put down Moldavia Studios as a character because it truly is! The cast & staff love making B-Horror movies no matter how terrible most of them are. Walking through the castle halls, seeing the set designs described as well as the costumes and makeup give a vivid image of what this Transylvanian-like castle is like. I came to really LOVE this setting and the character Moldavia Studios embodied making for one quirky strange laugh out loud read.

I’ll admit when the publicist for this book reached out, I wasn’t too sure whether it was something I’d enjoy since Horror is a genre I stay away from. That being said, for those of you who fear the creeps like me…have no fear! this isn’t scary at all. It’s a contemporary that carries a ton of quirk and isn’t like anything I’ve read before. The MC had such a messed up childhood and in a way is the black sheep of the family since he chose to emancipate himself. That doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t have a little of his family’s passion in him. Dario may have turned away from Moldavia Studios because of the bad memories attached to it but B- Horror flicks are a HUGE part of his life. Once he returns, all the oddness of his childhood comes back, both the good and the bad. Getting a behind the scene look at the production of these films was a TON of fun. There were parts were they ran dialogue that as ridiculous as the lines may have seemed, offered up so much entertainment and laughs. Scream All Night is easily one of those reads that’ll be hard to forget in the best of ways!


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WWW Wednesday 7/18/2018

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

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

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

Strange Grace by Tessa Graton

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


The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

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


Check, Please!: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

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


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

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


Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

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


Scream All Night by Derek Milman

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


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


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: GRACE AND FURY BY TRACY BANGHART

Title: GRACE AND FURY

Author: TRACY BANGHART

Pub. Date: July 31ST. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Pages: 320

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

Buddy Read: Melanie, Amy, Jules, Jen

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

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

   

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

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

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


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


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: WHISPER OF THE TIDE BY SARAH TOLCSER

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

Author: Sarah Tolcser

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: BLOOMSBURY YA

Pages: 416

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

Goodreads | Barnes & NobleAmazon

    

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

*Photos not my own, obtained from Pinterest

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

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


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2018 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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

 

Original tag was created by ReadLikeWildfire and Earl Grey Books

Best book you’ve read so far in 2018

Children Of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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

Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2018

Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas #2) by Zoraida Córdova

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

 

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

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by:

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

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

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

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

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

 

 

Biggest disappointment

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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

 

Biggest surprise

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

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

 

Favorite new author (debut or new to you)

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

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

 

Newest fictional crush 

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

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

 

 

Newest favorite character

Lemon Fresh from LIFEL1k3 by Jay Kristoff

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

 

 

 

Book that made you cry

The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angleo Surmelis

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

 

 

Book that made you happy

My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2)

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

 

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

Circe by Madeline Miller

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

 

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

Strange the Dreamer by MY QUEEN LAINI TAYLOR

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

Favorite book community member

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


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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: LIFEL1K3 BY JAY KRISTOFF

Title: LIFEL1K3

Author: JAY KRISTOFF

Pub. Date: MAY 29th. 2018

Genre: YA SCI-FI

Publisher: KNOPF BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS/RANDOM HOUSE

Pages: 416

Content Warning: Violence, suicidal thoughts, war themes, terminal illness, loss of a loved one

*HUGE thanks to Random House & Jay Kristoff for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLE | AMAZON

    

A high octane YA dystopian described best by the author as “Romeo And Juliet meets Mad Max meets Xmen meets Blade Runner.” LIFEL1K3 is set in a post apocalyptic/post nuclear war North America…specifically a fictional island called “Dregs” in “Kalifornya”where Cancer is the biggest threat to life. The story opens up in a brutal heart wrenching scene that sets the stage for what’s to come. Our MC Eve is a teen who is just living to survive the day to day struggle of surviving the nuclear war. Eve makes her living in the War Dome fighting rogue robots that have broken the First Law…

1. A ROBOT MAY NOT INJURE A HUMAN BEING OR, THROUGH INACTION, ALLOW A HUMAN BEING TO COME TO HARM

2. A ROBOT MUST OBEY THE ORDERS GIVEN TO IT BY HUMAN BEINGS EXCEPT WHERE SUCH ORDERS WOULD CONFLICT WITH THE FIRST LAW

3. A ROBOT MUST PROTECT ITS OWN EXISTENCE AS LONG AS SUCH PROTECTION DOES NOT CONFLICT WITH THE FIRST OR SECOND LAWS

 

Either by malfunction or willfull rebellion, these robots have turned against humans. Eve is a tinkerer like her grandfather and has built herself a Machina to battle these rogue robots for money in order to buy him his Cancer medication. All is seemingly well until the day everything goes wrong in the dome leaving her exposed and marking her as a target. From this day forward, Eve and her companions will be on the run for their lives. Pulse pounding action that will leave you at the edge of your seat bracing for the next attack, LIFEL1K3 was one wild ride! With plenty of plot twists along the way, I honestly had a couple of “Ohhhhh Wow” moments haha! I wasn’t expecting a YA sci-fi to have as much depth and layering as LIFEL1K3 did but it went above and beyond. Paired with such unique world building are characters you can’t help but get attached to and root for. Perhaps what makes LIFEL1K3 stand out most is that by the very end it’s not at all what you thought it would be 😉

 

Eve- a kick a** fighter, loyal to those she loves, a character who is definitely dealing with PTSD. I really felt for Eve and admired her resilience through it all

Lemon Fresh – Quick witted, amazing ride or die friend to Eve, willing to go to the ends of the earth for those she cares about. Lemon has so much gratitude in her heart & this made her my fave character in this book

Cricket – a robot created by Eve’s grandfather to protect her with his robotic life. I wasn’t too fond of this little guy (he hated being called little haha) because of the hurtful names he used to refer to Ezekiel specifically regarding his missing limb

Kaiser (Cyborg dog) – a robotic dog also created by Eve’s grandfather who you easily come to see as a real dog. Kaiser is very much a part of this crew

Ezekiel (LIFEL1K3) – The LIFEL1K3 aka Human-like, Zeke has this undying love for Eve & I’m not quite sure how I feel about him tbh. Zeke isn’t human but he sure has developed as one, has independent thoughts, and acts of his own accord. Personality wise I can’t say much though cause he came across dull to me & I’m not sure if that was purposefully done or not

🖤 All in all I LOVED these characters as a whole and Lemon is a new fave I can’t wait to read more from. Through the grapevine I’ve heard we may also get Lemon’s POV in the next installment *fingers crossed*

LIFEL1K3 is the first book I read outside of the Illuminae world from Kristoff and I walked away pretty much sealing the deal…I have found a new TOP favorite author. I rated this book 4.5 stars simply for one reason & that’s the fact that I struggled just a smidge with the slang created for this world. Everything feels so authentic in this world that it renewed my interest in the post apocalyptic reads but the language is quick & raw. Kristoff does an excellent job at teaching you the slang along the way but it wasn’t without some effort on my behalf. Besides this small thing, I absolutely enjoyed this fun action packed read & already miss the hell out of these characters. I love the reads where you don’t walk away unscathed & there’s plenty of room for theorizing for the next book. LIFEL1K3 has definitely left me with plenty to sit on until the next chapter which can either be viewed as cruel or ingenious & I’m going with the latter of the two 😉


LIFEL1K3 has hit the shelves & is already making fans out of readers. Have you read LIFEL1K3? If so, who is your favorite character? if not, are you adding it to your tbr now that you’ve seen the book trailer up above? 😂


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