#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #5: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 5th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen one of my most highly anticipated sequels of this year!!! *eeeeeK* I still cannot believe I was approved on Netgalley but this truly made the end of last week cuz overall last week was a really sucky week in general. The book Gods definitely blessed me with some magic to make up for my troubles haha! Ok so, last year at NYC Comic Con I picked up a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale (see review here) not knowing that it would be my most favorite score. I read it sometime in December 2016 which btw is PERFECT weather for this read, and I fell in love with the writing & the story. From the opening scene in front of a warm fire to the very end, it felt like I was sitting down for story time every single time I picked it up. The cozy feels are real and I am so thrilled to have a early copy of the sequel The Girl in the Tower! Both the covers for these books are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! *heart eyes emoji*

*If you haven’t read The Bear in the Nightingale yet, I’d skip the 411 section after my photo*


The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

 


The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around <3’s!


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ARC AUGUST Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

Published by: Amulet Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Mythology/Re-telling

Pages: 336

Format: eGalley

*HUGE Thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and F.C. Yee for the eGalley of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo in exchange for an honest review

   

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

This has to be one of the most fun and adventurous plots I’ve read all year long & I was so thankful for so many reasons! many have compared this to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which I have much love for. I can say that there are some similar feels but that goes for much of mythology, we can always find similarities. For me, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo stands apart for the following reasons:

1. A relatable Chinese-American heroine who is first and foremost just a student in High School trying to get into an Ivy League College before she starts juggling school & slaying demons

2. The story originates from the Chinese tale Journey to the West telling the story of Sun Wukong aka The Monkey King…I love all re-tellings however, I have never come across Chinese Folklore in Young Adult so this was a MUST READ!

3. The inclusion of Chinese culture specifically as it pertains to education and expectations. The pressures at home to over achieve bore so many similarities to those in Latinx culture. The fact that Genie wasn’t a child prodigy, she simply didn’t have a skill to set her apart in college applications & that alone made her very relatable…

The opening has us meet Genie Lo as she is meeting Quentin aka The Monkey King for the very first time. She witnesses him getting beat up by a group of guys in an alley & intercedes. She doesn’t know what to think of him when he shows up as the new kid in her class who just won’t let up on following her around. He speaks oddly enough but more than that, it’s what he is saying…he speaks of a greater power lying within her. Genie is someone who believes in Science and the things he is saying & more so doing are supposed to be impossible. Quentin doesn’t give up until he has made her question all that is real. Encounters with demons that leave her fighting for her life make her realize he isn’t lying and that the world may very well be in danger. Embracing her new found powers, Genie sets about to restore normalcy in California one demon at a time…

Genie Lo stole my heart with her sass but it’s the temper when she thinks you’re trying to take a jab at her that really made me care for her. She’s very self aware and makes no apologies for what sets her apart. Described as being very tall with a body that isn’t considered very feminine, Genie plays to her strengths. She’s part of a volley ball team not because she’s very good at it but because it’s a sport where her body is an asset & it looks good on college applications. Her moments of honesty really resonated with me & my own memories of High School. In Genie I saw a lot of my own self & it was refreshing seeing her not trying to change who she is for anyone.

Quentin aka The Monkey King got a ton of laughter out of me! he dished out as much sarcasm as he got from Genie. I enjoyed the moments where he pointed out all the hoops students had to jump through just to get a higher education. He of course is a supernatural force & school is not really an obligation lol. Quentin teaches Genie to fight all the while knowing he hasn’t told her the full story of who she really is…

Yunie-Genie’s BFF has to be one of the best BFF’s I’ve come across in YA! she is HILARIOUS!!! & also has no hairs on her tongue. She had me from the moment she referenced her Ovaries upon seeing Quentin’s handsome self walk into their classroom smh HAHA!

Genie’s Mom is by no means what you’re probably used to seeing from parents in Young Adults. As a matter of fact, she reminded me of my own in many ways. Genie’s mom is a single working mother trying her best to keep her daughter goal driven. She also doesn’t have any chill when speaking her mind & seeing her conversations play out with Genie felt familiar. Her heart is in the right place, she just has high expectations for her daughter. There are some moments when she speaks about Genie’s appearance that may make some uncomfortable, for me this was very relatable coming from an old school home that encouraged education but also an ideal marriage. Genie fortunately has tough skin & knows that her mothers ideals aren’t her own & loves her nonetheless.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is fun, adventurous, packs a punch, and will leave you rooting for this heroines victory! The time I spent in its pages sparked so much interest in the Chinese tale from which it was inspired that I found myself researching on the side for my own growth. This is when I know I’ve come across a good book, when it leaves me wanting to dig deeper. This book was highly enjoyable while still imparting the reader with an inside look to a small aspect of Chinese culture. I was also a big fan of the humor throughout, so many LOL moments that I truly lost count (like I said, a very fun book haha). I also enjoyed the progression or development of Genie & Quentins relationship all throughout. It felt more realistic to go from truly not trusting Quentin to friends to something more than just friends. I only docked it 1 star because the writing in the beginning felt like it was trying to find its footing. It started off with a very middle grade feel and towards the middle/end, it makes its mark as Young Adult. I’m very much looking forward to more from this author who lends an authentic diverse voice to this genre.

*Please check out these Own Voices reviews: Read Think Ponder & One Way or an Author

Hello Readers! yesterday was Genie’s Book Birthday, did any of you get to grab a copy? & if you’ve already read it please share some non-spoilery thoughts down below 😉


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #4: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme created by Krysti at YA and Wine and Sarah at The Clever Reader to give book bloggers/bookstagrammers a chance to show off those ARCs/eARCs/Galleys! This meme is now being hosted by the wonderful Flavia over at Flavia the Bibliophile & I couldn’t be happier to see this meme live on!

Hello Readers! This is my 4th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen my current read Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle which also happens to be my 2nd read for the #ARCAUGUST Readathon. So far I am only 50 pages in & very intrigued. Following multiple POV’s always keeps things interesting, I’m curious as to how everything will come together. Not going to lie though, this book has me wanting to ditch Summer & run straight into the arms of crisp Autumn *eeeeeK* I should’ve known once I saw mention of witches haha!


Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published by:   Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Contemp/Fantasy/LGBTQ

Pages: 368

 

One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .

What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around 😉



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July Wrap-Up & Book Haul

 

Happy Monday Bookworms! I come to you with my faithfully late Wrap-Up/Haul for the month of July & hope you’ll still check this post out lol. I read 5 books from different genres, watched 1 movie, and played catch up with one of my favorite tv shows. I also had the pleasure of attending my twin Gretchen’s very 1st Poetry reading at Bluestockings in New York City. She did wonderful this being her first time & I was so very proud of her. Gretchen has a blog called ChicNerdReads & her Poetry book Love, and You is currently ranked in the top 10 on the Amazon Bestsellers list for Love & Erotica which is pretty bad ass! So, it was a pretty amazing July & can only hope the rest of the year is just as epic 😉

 

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The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh ★★★ (3.5 Stars)

The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

The stand-out reads for July were The Last Magician and Every Last Lie, both left me hungry for more story. The Library of Fates left me with food for thought & was just a beautifully diverse read, I look forward to more from this author. Who’s That Girl was a contemporary about friendship with LGBTQIA+ representation that I enjoyed more towards the second half. Lastly, The Disappearnaces got me in the mood for Fall and all of the mysterious reads I associate with my favorite season. It was an overall quality reading month & also a more productive blogging month. Also, I followed a ton of new blogs that I am still making my rounds getting to know & to them I say THANK YOU for following my blog & I’m looking forward to seeing you around 😉

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Super stoked over the paperbacks I hauled in July! The Night Circus is one of my all time fave books of ALL TIME! this paperback edition caught my eye with its white/black contrast. The Princes Saves Herself in This One is one that I have been DYING to read! haha, I’m sure many of you have already read & loved the hell out of this one. One Of Us is Lying I purchased from Bookdepository because of the red sprayed edges smh call me vain lol! Until it Fades is K.A. Tuckers newest novel & the only New Adult author I’ve read & LOVED so of course ran out and got a copy. Akata Witch has been at the TOP of my TBR for too long & It’s one I am really looking forward to reading and reviewing here on Lair Of Books 😉

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These hardcovers come well recommended & I can stare at them all day long they are so BEAUTIFUL! haha. I’ve already red & loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue & so to see it in my Owlcrate box was sweeeeeet! lol. My Book of the Month choice was Final Girls & although it has received mixed reviews, It still hasn’t taken my curiosity away. Stalking Jack the Ripper I am trying to read ASAP since I have an arc of Hunting Prince Dracula. Because You Love to Hate Me I p/u solely because of Adam Silver & V..E. Schwabs villains. Lastly, When Dimple Met Rishi was a MUST! I know I’m going to LOVE this one a ton & can’t wait to read the story that has everyone ready for the next book by this author ❤

This movie seriously took me by surprise & it pushed me to write my very 1st Gush Spoilery Review (see here). I’ve watched all of the Spider-Man movies with my hubby but never really found any to WOW me. I’m a big fan of Marvel movies but this guy just was OK LOL! Whelp! all that changed with Homecoming & I’m now A Spidey fan *gimme more*

OK! this may come as a surprise since I am not a big fan of things that go bump in the night but I LOVE The Originals! forget The Vampire Diaries, this show is ten times better than that show ever was *sorry not sorry* but seriously, The Originals takes place in New Orleans & there isn’t a single episode that doesn’t transport you. I binge watched season 4 with my hubby on Netflix & it consumed our nights smh lol. I lost count of the times I jumped from fright & was left wondering whyyyyy viewers ever chose to watch The Vampire Diaries over this AMAZINGLY well told show?!?!? Season 5 will be the last & this makes my ❤ sad but it will most definitely join my Hall of Amazing TV Shows (not yet a thing but maybe I should look into this) cuz it has already made me lose sleep on more than one occasion. I recommend to anyone who loves New Orleans, Witches & their craft, Wolves, Vampires, Family Loyalty, plot twists, double crossings, Stakes through the heart, and just EPIC bad assery 😉

Happy reading in August Bookworms!!! Hope you all had a wonderful July month & are enjoying your summer reads. Read or watched any of these? drop your comments down below <3’s!


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Review: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: July 4th 2017

Genres: YA Historical/Fantasy/Mystery

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

    

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

I’ve always loved books that take place in small towns where generations of families have lived weaving their own stories. A lot of the times it becomes a game of separating fact from fiction. In The Disappearances we get introduced to the town of Sterling, a place shrouded in mystery and most unwelcoming to any newcomers.

Unfortunately, our main protagonist Aila & her 8 year old brother Miles have just lost their mother after taking ill & their father has just been drafted. Set against the backdrop of the 1940’s, World War II has just begun and we see a bit of the daily affects on American life. Since Miles is known to be a mischievous child, their dad ends up having to leave them in the care of Juliet’s (Aila & Miles mother) childhood best friend in another town. Aila & Miles leave behind the only home they’ve ever known to stay with people they don’t really know. The town of Sterling isn’t too happy about their arrival either for reasons the siblings have yet to uncover. From the minute they step foot in the town, all manner of strange occurrences take place & observant Aila is taking notes. They are taken in by the Cliftons, a very important & well respected family in Sterling. It isn’t long before The Cliftons explain to Aila that every 7 years, Sterlings residents (born & raised) lose something of value. At the time of their arrival, the towns people have already lost scent, reflections, and the night skies stars. The Disappearances is at its core a mystery as Aila sets out to find the answers that may or may not clear her mothers name from the list of possible Catalysts, after all…it all had to start somewhere…

Aila- is a bookworm who reads mostly classics and Poetry, she’s what is considered a good kid. When her & Miles are uprooted and taken to live with The Cliftons, she becomes very protective of her little brother Miles. While reminiscing on things their mother used to do with them to mark special occasions, she looks for ways to keep them going for Miles. I loved seeing them bicker & have a normal sibling relationship. They had moments where they didn’t speak over petty things but ultimately she made sure they made up fairly soon after.

Miles- 8 years old and missing his mother terribly is trying to hang on to her memory. He may have been known for mischief in his old town & still gets into trouble here & there but overall really wants to be happy with the Cliftons who have welcomed them with open arms.

Will, Beas, & George- 1 plays a love interest, 1 is a new friend for Aila, and the other is a friend who sort of has feelings for Aila but also has other passions renting space in his mind 😉

The Cliftons- knowing they would face much controversy for taking in Juliet’s kids, the Cliftons opened their doors & their hearts to Aila & Miles. This family is actually really special for a very important reason but that would be spoilery, instead I’ll just say that I loved this entire family. They put others needs before their own & overall just ROCK!

Towns People- I honestly came to understand these folk after spending so much time with them lol. Juliet wasn’t the only person to be accused of starting “the curse” as some call The Disappearances. Many other theories evolved over time and many prominent families were added to the list of potential catalysts. Besides the typical small town gossip & drama, these people did really band together in time of need.

It seems 2017 is the year of discovering many new authors with amazing stories to tell! The Disappearances took me by surprise in that I wasn’t expecting to be pulled into the mystery to the point I was at the edge of my seat in anticipation for the next Disappearance. This by no means is a fast paced book, rather it’s slow winding while still holding you in its grasp. I really felt for these people who were losing some of the most basic under appreciated wonders of life. I found myself Imagining what it would be like to not be able to see my reflection or smell my food…they lose way more than this. Ultimately I found the way it wrapped up to be very unique, I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. Lastly, as a bookworm I’ll say that this will appeal to those who love solving a good mystery filled with literary references and a bit of magic 😉

*Thank you HMH Books for Young Readers, Edelweiss, and Emily Bain Murphy for the eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Lovely Bookworms! who has already read The Disappearances? Thoughts? did you see that ending coming? or were you pleasantly surprised as I was?


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WWW Wednesday 8/2/2017

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?


Cheating just a smidge here, haven’t started this one yet but will once I’m finished writing this post haha! I’m off from work today to supervise some repairs in my apartment which means I’ll be doing a ton of bookish things as well. I’ve already finished reading a book early this morning so I think this day may just prove to be really productive *fingers crossed* I immediately requested this book from Netgalley once I read the synopsis mention Chinese Folklore…yea, Folklore in general might as well be my Kryptonite cuz I can’t resist LOL! This book already has a ton of rave reviews & more streaming in as the release date (8/8/17) approaches, very excited to see what the buzz is about 🙂


I also recently re-activated my Audible subscription & got some really good recommendations from Larkin over at Wonderfilled Reads which you should all go checkout cuz she’s pretty awesome! I decided to go with The Serpent King By Jeff Zetner after hearing so many fellow bloggers love up on this little gemstone lol. I can tell you that I’m already happy with it being a cast of multiple narrators (3) & that it has my attention. I’m only about 10% in though so more on that later on this week 😉


Recently I read, reviewed, and LOVED The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
(Gush Non-spoilery Review here). A perfect blend of Historical Fiction & YA Fantasy set against the backdrop of the early 1900’s New York City. I can go on & on about how much I enjoyed this book but my review probably captured all of my real time excitement haha!


This morning I finished reading The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy a Young Adult Historical Fantasy/Mystery…that’s a mouthful lol but tbh it really did have a little of everything. I will be writing my review today & it should be up either tomorrow or Friday. I rated it 4.5 stars, this is one you’ll want to read with the lights ON if you’re anything like me & startle easily 😉


Believe it or not, I seriously tossed & turned about this all night! LOL! my indecisiveness tends to strike at the oddest hours & that’s why I’m thankful for my spreadsheet lol. Yesterday I posted about my particiaption  in Read. Sleep. Repeat’s Fifth Annual #ARCAUGUST (please see here) & I’m very excited to join in on the fun for the very first time. This is really something that I can benefit from, the book community is AWESOME & I can sometimes use a little motivation. I will keep you all updated on the ARCS I’m reading here via the WWW Wednesday post, Friday Reads, Twitter & Instagram (please follow down below for updates, I follow back all bookish accts). Now onto the first 2 ARCS I am planning on reading next…


“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”

Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly about what happened on what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of.


One stormy summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hair clips and jewellery, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something bigger; something she won’t talk about.

Then Olive meets three wild, mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel and Rowan. Like Rose, they’re mourning losses – and holding tight to secrets.

When they discover the ancient spellbook, full of hand-inked charms to conjure back lost things, they realise it might be their chance to set everything right. Unless it’s leading them towards secrets that were never meant to be found . . .


What are you wonderful bookworms currently reading? planning to read next? any good ones? & if you’re reading any of the ones I mentioned, let me know down in the comments what your 1st impressions were <3’s!


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It’s Happening! I’m Joining #ARCAUGUST

Hello Readers! I’ve decided to join #ARCAUGUST for the very first time & I’m quite excited! Last year I was very new to the blogging world and decided to watch from the sidelines. I enjoyed reading each and every post and added many new books to my TBR. This year with a little more experience & a stack of ARCS more likely to crush me before I read them, I thought it would be awesome to participate in all the fun! Sign ups for the 5th Annual #ARCAUGUST are taking place over at Read.Sleep.Repeat the more the merrier! 😉

I considered posting a TBR for August since I am using my Excel spreadsheet to track my ARCS by publication date but tbh…monthly TBR’s never really work for me. This is probably why I participate in the WWW Wednesday meme since a weekly TBR is something I’ve found to suit me a bit better. I typically post the WWW Wednesday meme every other week to avoid repetitiveness but for ARC August I will post every week to update you all on finished/ current/upcoming reads (1st post goes up tomorrow). I will also join the Twitter chats, the first one taking place on August 7th @ 8pm EST. If any of you wonderful bookworms are participating & happen to be reading one of the books I post please feel free to hit me up here or on Twitter. I can always use that extra bit of motivation to knock those books off the stack 😉

Will you be joining #ARCAUGUST? which ARCS are you excited to get to most? If you are participating & have Twitter, drop those handles down below in case I’m not already following you <3’s!


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Gush Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Published by: Simon and Schuster

Date of Publication: July 18th 2017

Genres: YA Historical Fantasy

Pages: 512

Format: eGalley

    

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Some of you may have already noticed my header but for those that haven’t, this will be for all intents and purposes be a Gush Review!

The Last Magician was after my heart with its magic infused Gangs of New York/Six of Crows vibes *heart eyes emoji* 

We get introduced to our main protagonist Esta who is a Mageus with the ability to time travel. As an orphan Esta was taken in and trained by Professor Lachlan to steal magical artifacts. The purpose of each task is to prepare her for her toughest and take her back the furthest in time…going back to New York City 1902. Esta has studied many different languages, fashions, ways of life but nothing will prove as challenging as the early 1900’s. So much depends on her succeeding in stealing the Ars Arcana aka the oldest book of magic out of 1902 & getting it back to professor Lachlan. The Ars Arcana contains many of the oldest secrets of magic & is protected by The Order, an elite society created to protect the city against magic by way of the Ars Arcana and The Brink. At the very edge of the city is The Brink which serves as a barrier to contain those with magical abilities inside NYC. Those who have dared to cross it have either died or been left as empty vessels of their former selves unable to live life stripped from their magic. Esta travels back to 1902 to steal the Ars Arcana before The Magician can get away with it altering Present time for the worse.

Much of the book is spent in 1902 due to unforeseen circumstances & since this was a time where Old magic was alive & vibrant, the city is crawling with hidden Mageus. For Esta this comes as a surprise since in present time NYC where she comes from, much of the Old magic no longer exists having been weakened through the passage of time & generations. Esta finds her way into one of the gangs roaming the streets of NYC who happen to all be Mageus by using her abilities to prove her worth. I LOVED EVERYTHING about this plot line! Maxwell covered everything so well from gang rivalry, politics, and the slums of the Lower East side Manhattan to the Mageus and each of their individual abilities. I was sucked in from the very 1st page!

Esta- Our main protagonist is a Feminist Mageus with the ability to time travel & manipulate time…need I say more? HAHA! On a serious note, seeing her in 1902 NYC surrounded by men who viewed women as the inferior sex gave readers a realistic view of the times. Misogyny wasn’t a word being thrown around, it was the norm. Esta at times found herself scoffing at comments made at her more risqué choice of clothing only to remind herself that these people are a product of their time. Esta is also very loyal, smart and plays her cards close to her chest which made her an instant fave of mine.

Harte Darrigan- Not a part of anyones gang really, he’s a loner with a dark past & an even more messed up childhood. Harte is also a Mageus (won’t spoil his affinity since its spoilery) & is completely taken aback by Esta, a woman so ahead of her times that he can’t spend more than 5 minutes around her w/out turning 50 shades of red & yea I enjoyed their interactions a ton! Harte also has his own agenda that may or may not be an issue for Esta…

Dolph Saunders- The leader of the gang Esta joins & this character has that Kaz Brekker feel but he’s def way more cold hearted when need be. Dolph is a man carrying around his regrets & on a mission for vengeance by way of freeing all Mageus from the constraints of The Brink & The Order. He’s only interested interested in your loyalty & your affinity otherwise you have no seat at his table.

Nibs- The right hand young man Dolph keeps around handling the finances at the bar where he conducts all matters of business. Dolph trusts Nibs more than he does anyone else & often will look to him for their next move 😉

Viola- LOVE HER! described as Italian with dark hair & lavender colored eyes, Viola is sick with blades & her affinity is very valuable. She also happens to be the sister of another major gang boss. Dolph offered her a home & safety once her family turned against her. Viola is a lesbian & these times were no where near as accepting as Present time. I really wanted to see this character get her happy ending but understood that it wouldn’t be true to the time.

Jianyu- A man more comfortable hidden within the shadows he is VERY valuable as well. Jianyu is the equivalent of Varys The Spider on Game of Thrones only not as manipulative lol. He is observant & similarly to Viola, has a family head who is the head of a gang in Chinatown. Jianyu however, opted for the lesser of two evils with Dolph 😉

I’ve always been a fan of time pieces & seeing YA books dipping into Historical Fiction has been so much fun! this YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy was EVERYTHING I never knew I needed! Seeing my city back in the 1900’s was a real treat sans the misogyny of course lol. The inclusivity of such diverse characters did not go unnoticed, the author had bits and pieces of other languages giving the characters that fleshed out feel I LOVE! It was interesting reading a diverse Fantasy that also shed light on the inequalities that existed during the 1900’s. Maxwell calls The Last Magician a “behemoth” of a book in the Authors Afterward & that it is but I enjoyed every minute I spent in this world. I can see this heist playing out on the big screen with flashes of old NYC & present day modern NYC, I’d buy that ticket ASAP! This was my 1st Lisa Maxwell book & I’ve fallen in love with her writing! I’ve heard mention that this is a standalone & yet THAT ENDING! bookworms…dare I grasp on to hope for more? I really hope we get at least a Duology *fingers crossed*

*Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster, Netgalley, & Lisa Maxwell for the eGalley copy of The Last Magician in exchange for an honest review

Lovely Bookworms! who has already read The Last Magician? Thoughts? Who was your fave Mageus? & if you had to choose, would you live in 1902 NYC or Present Day NYC?


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA: Wild Beauty

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by Krysti at YA and Wine and Sarah at The Clever Reader to give book bloggers/bookstagrammers a chance to show off those ARCs/eARCs/Galleys! Comment on their weekly posts with a link to your own #ARCstravaganza blog post, or post a pic on Instagram using the #ARCstravaganza hashtag, and you will be entered to win an ARC copy of an upcoming YA novel! One winner will be chosen at random each month!

After reading & loving When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore late last year, I knew I’d be reading everything by this author. Fortunately, the wait wasn’t too long & this beautiful book started making its rounds. I am already super curious about the Nomeolvides women, the name “Nomeolvides” is made up of three Spanish words which translate into “Don’t forget me” All of McLemore’s books have the Magical Realism touch and this one is no different. Looking forward to diving right into the beautiful, magical, and lush writing McLemore is known for 🙂


Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

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Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published by: Feiwell & Friends

Date of Publication: October 3rd 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 320

 

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.


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Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Published by: Katherine Tegen Books

Date of Publication: June 27th 2017

Genres: Historical YA/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 528

Format: eGalley

Rating:★★★★★ 5 Stars

*HUGE thanks to Katherine Tegen Books/Harpercollins, Edelweiss & Mackenzi Lee for the eGalley copy of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, all opinions are my own.

 

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

What was supposed to be a tour of Europe in which our main protagonist Henry Montague is to be cultured & introduced to many prominent figures, turns out to be the adventure of a life time. When we first meet Henry he is drunk and used to waking up mid-afternoon with little to no recollection of his dalliances with women & men during his night time excursions. His dad who is already a very strict man with no tolerance for Henry, decides that he is going to give Henry one last shot to prove himself a worthy heir. He arranges for Henry to tour Europe with a chaperone, his younger sister (to be dropped of at a school for manners), and his best friend Percy (to be dropped off at law school). Henry however, sees this as an opportunity to tour Europe with Percy drinking and sleeping with whomever along the way. The opportunity also seems appealing since he’s been harboring some secret non-platonic feelings for his BFF Percy. Henry quickly realizes that his idea of fun is a no-go now that he is being chaperoned & groomed to meet with certain political figures along the way. As a matter of fact, the whole trip is being controlled by his father & the rules squash any of his plans for debauchery. It isn’t until their caravan is raided & they are separated from their chaperone that their real adventure begins. Henry’s penchant for bad decision making leads them from one crazy situation to the next ultimately preparing him to make some grown up decisions of his own 😉

The characters in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue have easily become faves for me for all their imperfections. Make no mistake, they are flawed & have prejudices they themselves aren’t aware of until life happens. Starting with our main protagonist Henry who honestly reminds me a bit of Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries circa first being bitten (meaning somewhere around the 1700’s).

Who I envision Henry as…Bahhha!

Henry loves his liquor, guys, gals, and Percy. Henry is funny and loves to have a good time. He’s also been dealt a bad hand when it comes to his dad who doesn’t accept Henry’s bi-sexuality and thinks he can lay hands on him whenever he is disappointed in Henry’s choices. Their relationship is one made of fear & acquiescence (safe to say the dad was my most loathed character). Henry as a person does have a lot of growing up to do especially when it comes to his love interest since Percy is a person of color. I loved Percy for many reason but especially for the unconditional love he shows for those he cares about. He’s known Henry since they were kids and has stood by watching Henry make many mistakes without judgment. Percy was taken in by his aunt & uncle who are wealthy but is often looked down upon by others for the color of his skin. There are many scenes that left me livid with how he was being treated & yet it is an accurate portrayal of how POC were treated during that time period. Henry who is attached to the hip to Percy doesn’t fully grasp what Percy feels when certain things are said about him being a POC. Seeing these two characters grow & the veil of many prejudices being lifted from Henry’s eyes leaving only understanding felt like a small victory. We also get to meet Henry’s sister Felicity who was my FAVORITE character (next to Henry of course) in the entire book!!! Here we have a young woman who knows exactly what she wants from life & is very aware of the obstacles standing in her way. She knows her gender all but limits her to studying her area of interest & that she will have to use her intelligence to work around that. Felicity is STRONG & INTELLIGENT with no patience for weakness. She is very observant of her surroundings and refuses to accept the future laid out by her father. Felicity isn’t without prejudices and we get to see her make the effort to understand Henry’s bi-sexuality & accept him for who he is. In many ways Felicity & Henry are rebel souls but Felicity is discreet & stealthy where Henry is a train wreck you can’t stop watching smh lol. This cast of characters provided me with hours of non-stop laughter & cheering ❤ ❤ ❤

I LOVE historical Fiction & seeing it in YA has been so much fun. When I first stumbled across the cover to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue I knew that we’d be going waaaaaaaay back just based on Henry’s clothing. When I looked into this book & saw that it was set in 18th Century Europe I nearly jumped out of my chair to request for review. I wasn’t sure what to expect but when I realized how much history I was getting alongside this story, I was pleasantly transported. Everything from the clothes to race relations was covered in this book. There were many times I was vexed by the fathers homophobic treatment of Henry & the racist remarks made by others towards Percy & I had to remind myself that this is a accurate portrayal of those times. I loved seeing the growth of these characters set against such a difficult time period in history for people of color & people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. I look forward to reading more from Mackenzi Lee in the future now that I’ve read & loved The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue 🙂

Have any of you readers picked up The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue? if so, did you love it? who’s your fave character?