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

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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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February Book Haul

Hey there Bookworms! today is a work from home day for me so I figured why not jump in here & post my book haul. Whether I’m subconsciously  trying to conserve space on my shelves for later this year or not, it’s a thing that’s happening & I’m embracing the extra $$$ in my bank account. Of course this has been the flow for January & February but let’s not talk about March yet cause well…ya’ll already know how FANTASTIC March has been in the publishing world *woot woot* & I had no chill with my pre-orders smh.  Here is my humble February Bookhaul <3’s!

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Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) | The Poet X | Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (Special edition) | The Belles (The Belles #1)

February FairyLoot

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The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Side note: I already used the bath salts & it smelled like an explosion of green jolly rancher which had me in heaven haha! the socks I used just the other day, yes they’re Halloween socks but this is what I resort to when I’m not feeling like picking up my laundry smh. What I’m enjoying most about FL is how much actual use I’m getting from the items included & this is only my 2nd box 😉

February Book Of The Month

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An American Marriage | Red Clocks | The Woman In The Window

Fresh Ink: An AnthologyNyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2) by Scott ReintgenGenesis (Project nemesis #2) by Brendan ReichsGrey Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2) by Mark Lawrence | Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne


Happy Hump Day Bookworms! I’m working from home & feeling pretty played by the weather forecast…supposedly we were to get 4 to 8 inches of snow & yet all I see is raindrops falling on my pane *le sigh* Whelp! keeping true to my Pluviophile nature, I think i’ll go make some tea & read my buddy read chapters for the day…Furyborn Bookworms! I am LOVING it! What are you currently reading? hauled any great books in February? drop those links down below & I’ll go take a gander 😉

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Gush Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: Moxie

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Pub. Date: September 19th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/Feminism

Publisher:  Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Pages: 330

Formats: eGalley

Trigger warning: Sexual harassment & attempted rape

    

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu but what I got was all around awesomeness cover to cover! If you are a feminist such as myself, picking up this book is almost a no brainer but even if you’re not, this may be the book to change that. Much like our MC Vivianne, I was witness to many of the sexist games played by the opposite sex that are seen as harmless. Viv lives in a small town & attends the local High School where the schools Football team is the center of town life. Everyone down to the teachers & principal give the football team  much favoritism. This led to the blind acceptance of their treatment towards the females in the school & Viv has had enough.

Grabbing inspiration from her mother’s box of Zines where she’s stored memories of her Feminist activist days, Viv sets out to bring change to her school. She decides that anonymity is probably best in a school where the captain of the football teams father is also the Principal. What starts off as a Zine left inside the girls bathroom stalls, snowballs into a feminist movement no one in their small town Texas school would’ve imagined. We follow Viv as she slowly builds up her confidence & finds her voice through a movement she names Moxie. We see girls from all cliques start to answer the call to take a stand against age old “traditions” that are degrading to the females in the school.

Although most of the action takes place in Viv’s High School, we do also get to see her home life. Having lost her father at a very young age, it’s just her & her mom. I loved seeing Viv admire her mom without her knowing & how organic their relationship translated on to the page. There are also some really strong female friendships giving Viv the validation she needs to know she is doing the right thing. Moxie is all about fighting back the tired ideologies of women needing to behave “lady-like” or proper. It strengthens & uplifts women coming together & how powerful that can be.

Illustration from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Our MC Vivianne is not at all the person you see portrayed on the cover of this book, not at first anyway. She loves listening to her moms stories of growing up and fighting back the patriarchy. Quietly wishing she had the courage to do something about the jocks and administration in her school who think it’s ok to objectify girls/women. Viv’s character development felt authentic for a teenager living in a small town in Texas. She didn’t voice her opinions right away, she found her voice within the other girls in her school. Viv is hands down a fave character for me because every time she felt like throwing in the towel she didn’t & instead came back harder! Viv’s mom is legit one of the coolest & hardest working moms I’ve come across in YA. She’s a nurse working long hours but who also has an amazing relationship with her daughter. She may not know it but she is also the source of inspiration for Viv creating Moxie. Viv’s grand-parents live next door & we often seem them around dinner time. LOVED the inclusion of grand-parents since that is very rare in YA books. Better yet, the fact that Viv loves them so much and can equally accept her own frustration at their old school mentality made her all the more relatable. A place of comfort for Viv, the scenes with her grand-parents gave the book a homely feel.

Lucy is the not quite so new girl but still pretty new to the school. She is taken aback by the things allowed from the male students having come from a more progressive school/city. At times she also gave Viv the motivation she needed to keep Moxie going all the while not knowing Viv was its creator. Seth plays the new guy in school & fits the mold of quiet-loner-mysterious-guy but there’s more than meets the eye with him. I was pleasantly surprised with Seth but I’ll be vague because I consider that spoilery. The Moxie Girls are not just from different cliques, they are also diverse in skin color and ethnicity. The inclusivity promoted by Viv spreads like wildfire throughout the school encouraging many to join. LOVED seeing the diversity bringing girls together to bring change!

Can you tell I LOVED Moxie to pieces?!?! I couldn’t flip through the pages fast enough, easily a 2017 top fave for the empowering message it sends across. United, girls/women are a force to be reckoned with! We don’t have very many books like these encouraging girls to stand together & fight for their rights. As I am writing this review, Twitter is ablaze with the mess that is Harvey Weinstein & the brave soul that is Rose Mcgowan standing up to an industry known for covering up sexual harassment. My first thought was, how appropriate that I am writing this review now. We need more Vivianne’s & Rose McGowans rallying the troops of women, together we are stronger & won’t be silenced. I cannot recommend Moxie enough to Feminists & those who have yet to find their voice…we all have Moxie in us 💪🏽

*HUGE Thanks to Macmillan, Netgalley, and Jennifer Mathieu for the galley of Moxie in exchange for an honest review. The physical arc pictured below I won from a Twitter giveaway.

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Some Sites Jennifer Mathieu included in her Author Note:

Feministing.com

rookiemag.com

bitchmedia.org

bust.com

thefbomb.org

scarleteen.com

therepresentationproject.org


Can you see yourself as a member of Moxie? I sure can! are there any lovely bookworms who’ve read Moxie or plan to? sound off in the comments below <3’s! 


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WWW Wednesday 10/11/2017

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?

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

*I started Moxie yesterday & am currently 53% head over heels in LOVE with this book! trying to stop myself from inhale reading it has been a challenge. The MC Viv is someone who knows she wants to be a part of the change needed in her school but fears being ostracized. Her mother is her inspiration for the creation of Moxie, a “zine” aka magazine calling all girls to stand united against the sexism & misogyny widely accepted in her school. Best part: getting to see the Zines Viv creates, LIVING for the illustrations! ❤ review to come this week.

On Monday I finished & reviewed the EPIC time traveling adventure that was Invictus by Ryan Graudin (my review). If ever I were to have a checklist of things I’d like to see in a YA Sci-fi book, Invictus sure came close to meeting them all. Fun, well paced, amazing characters you can’t help but get attached to…sigh…I miss this crew so MUCH!!! *sobs* while I wait for Graudin to bless us with news of ANYTHING else set in this world, I’ll console myself by reading her other books 🙂

A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

Next I’ll be reading The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare #1) by Lauren DeStefano. I was lucky enough to get a Galley from Harper & can’t wait to dive in. From the synopsis I’ve gathered that this is sort of inspired by King Midas and his golden touch. I’ve also heard mention of mental health & disability rep being included in this story which makes this a MUST READ for me. 


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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Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Pub. Date: September 5th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling/LGBT

Publisher:  Flatiron Books

Pages: 384

Formats: eGalley

   

*Opted to leave out the Goodreads Synopsis this time as I usually do whenever it’s too spoilery. With so many unique twists, this is one you’ll enjoy unraveling yourself sans the blurb 😉

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is THE modern Snow White  re-telling I’ve been waiting for since the day I realized I didn’t need a Prince Charming to come rescue me on a horse. When I started questioning fairy tales & the incompetence of Kings all the while they had a kick a** intelligent Queen sitting on the sidelines. With an almost entirely female cast, GMOSAG gives the classic fairy tale a unique and fresh spin that will leave you feeling empowered by the very last page. Perhaps most importantly it shatters the clichéd belief that women in leadership roles cannot co-exist. In our cast we get a new Queen to a widowed King, a female Surgeon in service to the King, and a court council run by women. The men in this re-telling play the role of secondary characters.

Told in third person POV, we get both Mina (new Queen) & Lynet’s (King’s daughter) stories in past and present times. Mina’s story unfolds in an earlier time when she first met the King at the age of 16 & decided she wanted to be Queen. Living in a village with her Magician father has been no easy feat, feared by the townspeople in the South for her father’s abilities. Mina herself is walking talking proof of his abilities. Having died & been brought back to life with a heart made out of glass, Mina has been raised by her father to believe she neither has the power to love or be loved & that her beauty is her only asset. Mina however proves to be resourceful & intelligent, always observing human behavior. She studies the King and soon realizes that his daughter is all that he cares about. Never once did she expect to get attached to the Kings young daughter Lynet or what that could potentially spell for her future as the present Queen. We follow Mina as she helps raise Lynet from toddler to young adult all the while thinking that their future rivalry is inevitable.

Each of these characters came to life on the page. Well fleshed out, complex, and flawed they rope you into this cold tale of love, loss, grief, and ultimately defining what family is to you…

Mina- I love my villains, they often bring the most meat to a story & such is the case with Mina. She comes from the South where everything is warm and lush with life & the transition to Whitsespring castle in the North is the total opposite. This however doesn’t stop her from fulfilling the role of Queen & stepmother to young Lynette. Although she lacks a beating heart, a part of her wants so badly to feel loved. Her marriage to the king isn’t what she expected but she never once takes it out on Lynette. I don’t want to give away too much but this is one character I really enjoyed seeing develop. She isn’t the evil Frost Queen we all come to expect from fairy tales but I can appreciate that since women in  power are already thought of as Frost Queens in real life & I can do w/out that in my books 😉 

The King- My least favorite of the characters for oh so many reasons! but the biggest one being that he’s down right selfish. Yes, he’s a wonderful doting father but once you read this book you’ll see a man who just couldn’t let go.

Lynet- Besides Mina, I actually really enjoyed Lynet’s character. She knows her father sees her late mother in her & that he’s raising her to one day be Queen. Trying to fill her mother’s shoes however isn’t something she wants. Far from it, Lynet enjoys scaling castle walls & s spying on people…particularly the new Surgeon *smiles* there’s also more to Lynet than meets the eye but that would be spoilery so I’ll leave you to find out that interesting secret on your own 🙂

Nadia- new surgeon in service to the crown, Nadia spends her days in her laboratory poring over her books. The friendship to romance progression with Lynet was on point! I was rooting for these two all along 🙂

The Magician aka Mina’s father- Adding this guy to my list of most hated villains of all time! I’m beginning to see a trend with Magicians being this nefarious. This man seriously takes the prize though! playing all his cards close to his chest, he is one to keep an eye on.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is easily one of my favorite Snow White re-tellings of all time. I was the kid who had no interest in Prince Charming. No, my interest was more with ingenuity…always asking why the princess had to wait in the tower instead of finding a way out. This is the Snow White story that I’ve been waiting for with messages of female empowerment & Queens that don’t need saving. I LOVED the fact that this was a mostly female comprised cast & that we got LGBTQIA+ representation. The only reason I docked GMOSAG 1 star is because of the very slow pacing all throughout. There aren’t fast paced action sequences, this is a story told primarily through dialogue and stream-of-consciousness. That being said, I was invested in these characters til the very end. The last line in this book is PURE PERFECTION!

*HUGE Thanks to Flatiron Books, Netgalley, and Melissa Bashardoust for the eGalley of Girls Made of Now and Ice in exchange for an honest review.


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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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Review: The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

amy-schumer

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

Published by: Gallery Books

Date of Publication: August 16th 2016

Genres: Memoir/Autobiography/Humor

Pages: 323

Format: Audiobook (self-narrated)

Rating:★★★1/2 (3.5 Stars)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

 

The Audiobook Experience…

I guess I should preface by mentioning that before deciding to listen to The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo in audiobook format, I wasn’t familiar with Schumer’s stand-up comedy. I only knew that she had been in the movie Trainwreck which I saw the trailer to & immediately added it to my “Must Watch” list. I’m glad I decided to go with the audiobook as I do with all my funny ladies books because I don’t think I would have fared well with the physical book. Coming off the happiness high that was Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy, I was looking for another humor filled audiobook. Although The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo had a few laugh out loud worthy moments, the parts that I enjoyed the most were the stories that fell on the lesser than happy side of Amy. This is a collection of essays, some with humor & others with a bit of sadness. Schumer is very comfortable in her skin and sexuality, something that i’ve come to admire from her. Some of the standout stories in The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo explore some very dark life experiences including a years long abusive relationship & the very real issue of non-consensual sex with your significant other. Stories that crushed me with the heaviness of sadness, had to be whenever she touched on her fathers Multiple Sclerosis. There were the come-up stories in which she highlighted moments of gender stereotypes amongst her peers & the media. Last but not least Amy shared stories that allowed the reader an inside look to world issues that she cares deeply for like gun violence/control. She speaks about the shooting at a theatre in Lafayette, Louisiana during a showing of Trainwreck that led to the deaths of Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33. How these deaths have greatly impacted her & motivated her to take action. Schumer shares her experience at the White House, meeting President Obama for the first time at an event where he announced his executive orders aimed at stemming gun violence. She may have no hairs on her tongue about a ton of things, but she learned how to be humble & we see just how life has made sure she stays true to herself. Making the choice to educate herself on gun control laws & no longer sit on the sidelines watching, has to be my favorite essay in this collection.

Final Thoughts

I love that Amy Schumer isn’t afraid to show everyone her flaws, mistakes, and vulnerabilities in such a raw way that we’ve come to know through her comedy. She is many things to many people & is very self aware. Often times letting her readers know that she is aware of how she comes across & the many misconceptions people have of her because she’s comfortable using sex in her comedy. She points out a well known fact…being of the female sex in an industry predominantly made up of the opposite sex JUST ISN’T EASY! like many other female comedienne’s, Amy has been judged heavily by everything other than her craft, this includes her weight & sex life. The fact that she embraces who she is & doesn’t apologize to those who frown upon her makes me LOVE this woman & has managed to pique my interest in following her career going forward.

P.S. Can we give it up for Amy & that COVER!!!! #Fierce  *insert flames here*

“I know my worth. I embrace my power. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story. I will. I’ll speak and share and fuck and love, and I will never apologize for it. I am amazing for you, not because of you. I am not who I sleep with. I am not my weight. I am not my mother. I am myself. And I am all of you.” 
― Amy SchumerThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo