Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Title: Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)

Author: Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date: September 12th, 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 400

Formats: eGalley 

    

Filled with political intrigue, betrayal, and well fleshed out characters, Before She Ignites is the start to what I’m sure will be a epic Fantasy. We get introduced to our MC Mira Minkoba who comes from a prominent family & whose father wrote the Mira treaty. Because of this she’s also been groomed to be the face of the treaty aimed at creating peace & unity among the 7 islands against any outside threats. On these islands, people co-exist with dragons who are respected and known as the children of the Gods. For their own protection against humans, dragons were relocated to the Sanctuary (large piece of land separate from civilians) & it is there that Mira and her two best friends go to train with dragons.

Mira is passionate about dragons & when she discovers some nefarious dealings concerning dragons, she takes it to the Ministry thinking they will get to the bottom if it all. When she is imprisoned without rhyme or reason and taken to the Pit, everything & everyone she thought had her back are no where to be found. Worse of all, Mira is left to deal with her crippling anxiety in a dark & lonely prison cell. Almost the entirety of this book does take place in prison & so, although above ground there is a lush & mystical world, below ground for Mira it is a completely different way of life. While the lover of dragons in me really wanted to see Mira bust out of prison, hop on a dragon & kick some a** haha! I understood by the end of this book that the time Mira spends in jail is crucial to who she will become in the next book. This essentially is the catalyst for her transformation, she is broken down & left raw. There were some scenes that were hard for me to read as a person who also deals with anxiety & mild OCD. The Mira we meet at first is no where near who she is by the time you read the last sentence.

Before She Ignites is Mira Minkoba’s story through & through. We do get a set of amazing secondary characters both before her time in the Pit & underground. However, the focus is Mira & I’m glad for this because never before have I read a book with an MC who suffers from crippling anxiety & seen it play center stage like it does for so many in real life. Also, our MC is a woman of color as seen depicted on the books cover, & as I am a proud advocate of diverse MC’s, this made me very happy.

A little bit about Mira… she is someone who prior to being imprisoned, was used to a comfortable life enjoying routine. She has a skin & hair routine in order to maintain her beauty and servants tending to her every want or need. The cushy life however, hasn’t changed her heart towards those around her. Mira at her core is someone who believes in the foundation of the Mira Treaty. She comes from the island of Lovers & as such values friendship above all. Having been sheltered all her life & treated as a puppet by her own mother, the Pit seems like the end of life for her. Seeing this character grow & really come out of her shell was so empowering! her episodes felt so real & my heart broke to see her be reduced to the littlest version of herself but the come up was so worth it. Her anxiety is very much a part of her & we see her continue to deal with it til the very end. Stand-out Secondary character: Aaru, a prisoner from a neighboring island known for its silence. This character is just as broken as Mira & he doesn’t speak, instead he communicates in a different manner. I’d like to see what becomes of him in this journey.

Although the time we get on the island is brief, the description of island life was so appealing. The reader most definitely does time in the Pit along with Mira, which now that I’ve had some time away from it, realize how much more rewarding the sequel will be. Although it may seem slow paced, there is always something happening with our MC. She is learning her new environment & we get to see a side of her that she hasn’t herself yet explored. There’s cruelty all around her but there’s also humanity in the darkest of places. The time she spent with the dragons although brief is enough to let us know they will play a much bigger role in the next book. There’s also more to Mira than meets the eye but first we had to see her transformation. This is a heroine I can get behind & root for!

Interestingly enough, although the majority of this book is set in prison, Meadows did a FANTASTIC job of world-building above ground. We get the history behind the 7 islands and the Gods they were named after. Each island has something they’re known for & it made for a richer world. I am really looking forward to continuing on with this trilogy & can’t wait to see what’s next for Mira…

*HUGE Thanks to Harper/Katherine Tegen Books, Edelweiss, & Jodi Meadows for the eGalley of Before She Ignites in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Readers! has anyone read or plan on reading Before She Ignites? I’m really hoping for some more on the page time with the dragons in the sequel & have a strong hunch that it’ll be the case *fingers crossed* 🙂


Advertisements

Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Title: Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)

Author: Heather Fawcett

Pub. Date: September 5th, 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray

Pages: 304

Formats: eGalley 

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

   

I typically read the Goodreads Synopsis before writing my Plot summary & I’m a bit confused this time around. The order of events & how they happened aren’t exactly correct in the synopsis & this is the first time I’ve seen this happen on GR. So, my Plot discussion will differ from what is listed in GR and for that reason I’ve decided to exclude their synopsis from my review.

We meet our MC Kamzin in the midst of the excitement surrounding the arrival of River Shara, a famed explorer for the Royal Emperor. River has been tasked with finding a Talisman of great value for the Emperor. However, his business in her small village is yet known, Kamzin’s sister Lusha is skilled & well versed in the study of the stars and maps & it is assumed River is there for her assistance. Kamzin however, isn’t one to be left behind & so she sets out to meet this man of great fame in order to join his quest. A turn of events (vague for fear of spoilers) sees Kamzin paired off with River Shara as his guide. Kamzin may not know much at all about astrology however, she knows maps better than anyone & she also has grit, a quality River admires. For Kamzin this is the opportunity of a life time to see the world outside of her small village, it’s also a chance to step outside of her older sisters shadow. However, when it’s revealed that Lusha is also on her own mission to retrieve the Talisman it becomes a race to the finish. The Talisman is rumored to be located at the very top of the tallest most deadliest mountain. Many have attempted this climb including Kamzin’s own mother, and none have made it back. We follow Kamzin, her bff Tem, River, a Shaman, and two adult siblings (brought along for their physical strength) as they take on the grueling task of climbing Raksha.

The plot is slow moving start to finish which if you really think about it, is fitting to their journey. Getting to the top is no easy feat & it also isn’t without its losses. Something to keep in mind: the entire story takes place in the middle of mountains & ice and so you can expect it to be very character driven. These traveling companions have a ton of time on their hands to get acquainted & that made for many moments of comedic relief. I can easily see this book play out on the big screen with the beautiful backdrop of the icy mountains. The author really gives you vivid imagery that had to have taken some serious research. That being said, I did feel that the descriptions of the climb itself did have an impact on the plot itself. The ending felt a little rushed but it also didn’t make me lose interest in continuing with this series. I NEED to know what happens next!!! haha!

Although there are some amazing side characters in Even the Darkest Stars, I’ve decided to highlight the main players on the chess board…

Kamzin- This MC has to be one of my newest faves for her persistence, ambition, intelligence, determination, and true grit! she will not give up once she’s set to task. She’s also very funny unintentionally, Kamzin is being trained to be the next village Shaman when we meet her but she’s terrible with magic & has no problem critiquing herself.

Lusha- I really wanted to like Kamzin’s older sister but sadly she was as cold as the mountains they were climbing lol. I did love that she is a wiz at Astrology & that her Familiars are two fierce looking Raven so there’s that.

Tem- Kamzin’s bff who had a romantic past with her but has since settled for friendship. I enjoyed this character & how well he wielded his magic. perhaps what I liked most was how he never made Kamzin feel bad for her shortcomings.

River Shara- This guy! lol smh, he’s charismatic & lives life on the edge. I really enjoyed the banter btwn. him and Kamzin, there were many LOL moments. I’m very curious to see how he develops in the next book & what path he takes 😉

The Familiars-  I mentioned Lusha’s Ravens but the real star of the show goes to kamzin’s Familiar Ragtooth. A feisty little fox who has Kamzin’s back with or without invitation lol. It’s rare for anyone to have a Familiar aka a animal protector & so that makes these siblings really important in their village.

Ultimately, Even the Darkest Stars was an enjoyable journey with amazing characters both human and animal. There were some aspects I would’ve liked to have seen expanded upon like the “villains” in this story. Although we do get some of their backstory, we don’t actually get much on-the-page time with them & our cast of characters. The final part of their journey also seemed a little rushed but it also spiked my interest up ten fold for the next installment. I am really looking forward to the follow-up & getting some of my questions answered. I had so many LOL moments which is rare in Fantasy so I’m hoping for more of that as well. Even the Darkest Stars has a very cinematic feel to it & I can’t wait to see what Fawcett has in store for us next 🙂

*HUGE Thanks to Harper/Balzer + Bray, Edelweiss, & Heather Fawcett for the eGalley of Even the Darkest Stars in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! has anyone read or plan on reading Even the Darkest Stars? I was OBSESSED with Ragtooth! I need more furry book companions please & thank you 🙂


 FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS ON…

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBooks

& it’s a wrap for the Summer! give me Fall but 1st…

Were you as surprised as I was to see a Wrap-up/Haul go up ON TIME from Lair Of Books? cuz I’m pretty damn surprised & currently patting myself on the back hehe! This has been one of my best reading months in a long time & I think part of the reason is that I participated in #arcAugust  which really kept me motivated to read whenever/wherever. I’m currently reading They Both Die at the End but i’m not 100% certain I’ll finish it before the 1st so I figured why not wrap-up the month. I honestly feel like I consumed so much in books and TV this month which is rare, it’s usually  one or the other.

My book haul this month (I think) was a bit humble & i’m so proud of this lol…but this pertains to books I purchased & not the galleys I was approved for. I’m actually going to try something new this wrap-up/haul & include the eGalleys/physical arcs I received from Publishers. I’ve never done this before because well, the topic of arcs is very polarizing in the book community & I respect all sides. That being said, I have had blogging buddies put it out there (nicely) that they would’ve been up for a buddy read of certain arcs. Since we are reading these books in advance, we can’t really discuss them out of consideration for others who are waiting for publication date. This got me thinking, If I don’t make myself available (introvert that I am) by discussing arcs that I’ll be reading in the near future, I’ll continue to miss out on on what can possibly be a fun buddy read. So in conclusion, here goes something new…

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (Revised to ★★★★ 4 Stars) *review to go live closer to pub date 10/31/17

The Tiger’s Watch by Julia Ember (★★★★ 4 Stars) 

the princess saves herself in this one by amanda lovelace (★★★★★ 5 Stars) *not sure I have the words to review this one, I related to a ton of the poems & cried a ton more

Spellbook of the Lost and Found (★★★★ 4 Stars) 

When I am Through With You (Sins & Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn (★★★★★ 5 Stars)

The Serpent King (★★★★★ 5 EPIC Stars!) *review to come

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (★★★★ 4 Stars)

*They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (★★★★★ 5 , finished on 8/31/17 & a review will go live on release date 9/5/17)

I read a total of 8 books this month of which 6 were arcs for #arcAugust and I’m pretty satisfied with this. I could’ve probably finished a 6th however, the last 48 hours has seen me trying to get over the book hangover Beasts Made of Night left me with. Originally I rated it 5 stars & revised it to 4 strictly because now that I’ve slept on it lol, I can see some pacing issues. My enjoyment however, remains the same. I LOVED this book & can’t wait to share my review in October! typically I don’t read my books this early however it was a eGalley from the First to Read program & the title was set to expire from all devices on 9/1 so yea *shrugs shoulders* what can ya do? lol. I listened to The Serpent King on Audible & gahhhH! loved it to pieces even as I collected the pieces of my shattered heart. Overall a quality reading month 🙂

For more Bookish photos, click on photo to follow Lair Of Books on Bookstagram

The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones (Owlcrate)

For more Bookish photos, click on photo to follow Lair Of Books on Bookstagram 

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne (Book of the Month pick)

The Dazzling Heights by Katharine McGee (Thousandth Floor series #2)

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (add on for BOTM)

Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) by Sarah Tolcser

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (Ravenclaw edition)


Physical ARCS

For more Bookish photos, click on photo to follow Lair Of Books on Bookstagram 

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (received from the publisher)

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laine Taylor (received from the publisher)

Berserker (Berserker #1) by Emmy Laybourne (Goodreads Giveaway win)

Artemis by Andy Weir (Goodreads Giveaway win in the mail)

 eGalleys

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors #1) by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguiree

Heart Of Iron by Ashley Poston

Everless (Untitled #1) by Sara Holland

Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

The Girl in the Tower (The Bear in the Nightingale #2) by Katherine Arden

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

The Dangerous Art of Blending in by Angelo Surmelis

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Meet Cute: Some People are Destined to Meet (variety of contemporary authors)

So yea…I just realized how long this post will be but it’s past midnight & i’m falling asleep…sorry lol. Every month I end this with what I watched this month but I’ve decided to write a separate post for that later this week. August seemed to be the month for approvals, usually they’re scattered throughout but this is the most in 1 month I’ve seen in a while. Thankfully most of these are 2018 titles giving me time to get them read. Even though #arcAugust is over I will still be reading arcs throughout September lest I be crushed by my tbr 🙂

Happy reading in September Bookworms!!! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful August month & are enjoying your end of summer reads. If you participated in #arcAugust, how did you fare? what are you currently reading/watching? drop your comments down below <3’s!


FOLLOW LAIR OF BOOKS ON…

Instagram: @LairOfBooks

Twitter: @LairOfBooks

Goodreads: LairOfBooks

 

Review: Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Published by: HarperCollins

Date of Publication: July 11th 2017

Genres: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

   

*Many thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss, and Blair Thornburgh for the eGalley copy of Who’s That Girl in exchange for an honest opinion

Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?

As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages, and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

Who’s That Girl in many ways felt like a blast from the past to my High School days. A time when you’re dealing with all sorts of emotions and also self identity not to mention, your first shots to the heart *insert pesky cupid here* When we first meet Nattie, she is OBSESSED with Pixstagram which as you’ve probably guessed is this books version of Instagram HAHA! On this app she keeps up with Sebastian and his band as they grow  their fandom. Sebastian graduated the previous year & they had 1 brief encounter that could be seen as romantic. Well for Nattie that one brief encounter was all she needed to feel a “connection” & when Sebastian’s song “Natalie” hits the air waves, she is convinced. Mostly Nattie feels admired by Sebastian but then she starts feeling self conscious about the lyrics which then leads to her trying to remain anonymous. To distract her from Pixstagram every once in a while are Nattie’s crew of friends who were my personal fave parts of this book. Nattie’s best friend Tess is a lesbian & she’s trying to bring the school together for a dance that would be inclusive of all those who fall in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. We see Nattie & crew come up with ways to raise funds for this dance & deal with opposition. Now, there is sort of a love triangle if you’re counting Sebastian as a thing…I sure didn’t haha!

Our main protagonist Nattie wasn’t my favorite in this book & that’s only because her stream of conciousness was a bit difficult to follow. At times she does come off as annoying because her actions contradict what she’s saying she doesn’t want to happen. Specifically that she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s the infamous Natalie but continues to pursue Sebastian in public venues. The book however has some amazing secondary characters that I LOVED!…

*The Parentals- AKA the funniest parents I’ve come across in a very long time! & REAL! when we meet mom & dad they are getting on each others nerves over backyard projects that will make the neighbors raise a brow. I loved reading their dialogue & shaking my head at how authentic they come off. Their relationship with Nattie, specifically dad with Nattie made me heart smile more than once. If you’ve been around my blog a bit, you know I have a soft spot for father/daughter relationships 😉

Tess- AKA the BFF and leader of the OWPALGBTQIA (you’ll have to read the book to get what this acronym stands for hehe) is legit ride or die for Nattie. Always there for Nattie, she will literally drop everything when she gets that Jamba alert. Tess is a lesbian who hasn’t come out to her parents yet & hopes to do so by hosting her high schools 1st all inclusive dance. Loved seeing this friendship play out through ups & downs.

The Crew (with some honorable mentions)- As a whole, I loved this group of friends! they were fun and truly caed about one another. They knew each others likes/dislikes down to who has an allergy to what. In other words, they were TIGHT!

Although the characters were not all individually fleshed out, we still spend enough time with them to get to know their personalities. They each have nicknames they refer to each other by which I found very 80’s like (Loved it!). My faves were Zach the Anarchist & Tall Zach, besides having the same first name they don’t have very much in common but they’re great friends. Tall Zach is gay, liked by many in the school, and just a sweet caring guy. Zach the Anarchist is sarcastic & loves to bake, he has no hairs on his tongue winning extra brownie points in my book.

Who’s That Girl is heavy in dialogue & I struggled a bit with Nattie’s inner monologue for the first half which is why I rated it a 3.5 stars. I guess I was way more invested in the crew & her parents that Nattie fell to the background. This is weird of me to say since she is who the story revolves around but not the most interesting in my opinion. This was however an absolute fun read with one of a kind friendships I could relate to which raised my appreciation. I have a thing for groups of friends that possibly dates back to The Breakfast Club & Nattie’s friends felt like coming back home ❤ ❤ ❤

Readers, I’m looking for more books that feature groups of friends you just can’t get enough of! please leave me some good recommendations & if you’ve read Who’s That Girl, who was your fave character?

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?

Review: Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 30th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Suicide & attempted suicide

*HUGE thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss & Francesca Zappia for the ARC copy of Eliza And Her Monsters.

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

 Oh this book! *fangirl moment* I can’t stop thinking about Eliza, Wallace, her monsters, and her online friends! When we first meet Eliza she is chatting online with friends she made through her creation Monstrous Sea, a web comic that has blown up world wide. Max aka Apocalypse_Cow & Emme aka emmersnacks are the only 2 people who know Eliza’s real identity. To the world she’s known as LadyConstellation, to Max & Emme she’s just Eliza aka MirkerLurker (private screen name lol). Her whole life revolves around her webcomic & avoiding outdoor activities with her mom, dad, and younger brothers. In school she’s pretty much a loner with not a single friend on site. That is up until she meets Wallace aka the new guy in school who appears in every sense to be a jock if we’re talking physical build alone. Wallace is tall with broad shoulders & prefers to sit alone with a notebook & pen. An odd encounter (no spoilers here jeje) forces Eliza to cross paths with Wallace. What they don’t know is that they actually share a lot in common & both harbor secret identities 😉

We get to see Eliza’s Monstrous Sea web-comic in bits & pieces sprinkled throughout the book. Eliza takes Monstrous Sea & her fan-base very seriously, making sure to post every Friday at the same hour. She’s an amazing illustrator & spends days working on each page she posts weekly, leaving little to no time for anything else. Monstrous Sea isn’t just some silly pass time for Eliza & she does make a profit from the MS Merch she sells online with the help of Max & Emme. When her parents start trying to get her to come out of the house more & be more active, she retreats further away. It is inevitable for her online life to clash with with her offline life (won’t say “real life” cuz Eliza doesn’t like this phrase lol). Once both collide, we begin to see what issues lie beneath…

Eliza is a introvert who finds it easier to make friends & connect with people over the web which isn’t as rare as one would think nowadays. She has social anxiety holding her back from making friends in school or attending social events. Online, she comes alive & I just loved her chat DM’s with Max & Emme. They may have never met but they exchange care packages & know about each others personal lives as well. I’ve made these types of friendships & can honestly say they have turned into amazing ones offline as well. I was able to connect with Eliza’s online comfort and social anxiety but I also gained some outsider perspective from her family. Although in spurts, we do get to know Emme & Max who I LOVED! they help Eliza keep Monstrous Sea operating from banning trolls to site maintenance & her online store. They also genuinely care about Eliza & I kept wishing they lived closer to her. Wallace! OMG *heart eyes* a big guy with a big heart who only managed to upset me once in this book haha! Loved that he didn’t fit the stereotypical mode set for Jocks, Zappia def gives you a vivid image of Wallace. He also has a past & getting to know his side added the depth we were given with Eliza. We get to meet the families for both Eliza & Wallace which gave us a better understanding of underlying issues. I also took away a few lessons from Eliza’s parents & the importance of keeping up with social media when you have kids. Overall these characters were well fleshed out down to Eliza’s fictional monsters 😉

 This is my 1st Zappia book & at first I did not make the connection that she is the author behind Made You Up, a book that has been recommended to me by many close bookworm buddies. A book that i’m ashamed to say has sat on my e-book shelf for far too long. I am more than eager to get to it now that I’ve read & loved Eliza and Her Monsters. The writing style used wasn’t your conventional straight text, instead we get chat DM’s & pieces of her web-comic sprinkled throughout. I felt like I was getting a 2 for 1 deal because I found myself thoroughly enjoying Eliza’s Monstrous Sea. I would LOVE to see more of it in a spin-off or anything really just MORE lol. On a more serious note from what I’ve read about Made You Up, this isn’t Zappia’s first YA book tackling mental illness. In this book we see social anxiety take a toll on Eliza & it all felt very real to me as I was reading her experiencing a panic attack. As someone who deals with anxiety & panic attacks myself, seeing mental health representation in books gives me a much deeper appreciation for authors like Zappia. I hope she continues to write about these topics as I’m sure they’re helping many others. I highly recommend this read to all of my bookworm bloggers/readers since i’m sure we all have a little Eliza in all of us 😉

 Monstrous Sea art by Francesca Zappia found on Monstrous Sea Tumblr

Have any of my bloggers/readers read Eliza And Her Monsters? or perhaps, plan to? also, any fun fandoms you follow? 🙂

WWW Wednesday

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

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

I am currently at the 50% mark in The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King & enjoying Kalinda’s strong character. However, I will say that this one reads more like an adult Fantasy than YA. Which to me makes sense given the nature of this story. You have a tyrant who is in search of his 100th wife; a tyrant who also keeps courtesans. Then we have Kalinda who doesn’t really fit the mold of the women the Tyrant has “claimed” but somehow manages to be chosen as the 100th Rani aka wife which puts her in a high position = only to that of his 1st wife. With a target on her back, Kalinda has to fight for her thrown as per tradition, one that she never wanted in the 1st place. My main interest is Kalinda & her forbidden power as well as the others like her outside the palace walls that share her powers. We shall see how I feel about this one soon…

I recently finished reading Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia & I can’t stop thinking about it! so good! I thought it would be a cute story to read in prep for the Summer days but it turned out to be so much more than that. I was lucky to be approved for an eGalley but when I saw it arrive in my Owlcrate box this month I couldn’t stop hugging it lol. Full review to post tomorrow Thursday. Before that I read New Boy by Tracy Chevalier (review here) which is part of the Shakespeare Hogarth collection. New boy was short but powerful. A inside look to the effects of racism passed down to children. The setting is a playground in a all white school during the 70’s Nixon administration. This book rattled me & left me deep in thought.

Gahhhhh! 2 reads I am so excited to get to & thankful to have been approved for. Saints and Misfits is one that I was highly anticipating ever since I laid eyes on the cover & S.K. Ali is just an overall sweetheart who is very interactive & reachable to her readers (LOVE THAT!). I recently received a Owlcrate box that had a promo card for Song Of The Current (Song Of The Current #1) which led me straight to Goodreads. I love my fantasy, it’s what I read & review most on LairOfBooks so it came as no surprise that a river God, pirates, and magic would call my name. Really looking forward to these two 😉

What are you all 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!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three 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?

*Covers = Goodreads

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

I’m currently reading The Upside of Unrequited & LOVING the lightness of it all, it’s just what I needed. I’m enjoying the sibling relationship & the main protagonist is seriously my type of gal. Molly Peskin-Suso is someone I could easily relate to. At the rate that I am reading this one, I’m probably going to be finishing up by tomorrow 😉

 I recently read, reviewed, and ADORED the hell out of Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray! for those of you missing the Illuminae files something BAD!…this one is for you 😉 check out my review here. After Defy the Stars I jumped in Given to the Sea (Given Duet #1) by Mindy McGinnis since this one was from Penguin’s First to Read & I was cutting it close on time limit. The First to Read program is pretty cool but you do have a due date before the book expires my bookish peeps! *always tardy to the party* haha! anyways, I’m still working my thoughts out about Given to the Sea…thoughts a PLENTY! and should have a review up this week *fingers crossed* BUT if you’re really curious or you’re just looking for a really cool Book Blogger, check out Kourtni @KourtniReads review here. Kourtni & I share similar thoughts on this one, she gave it 2 stars I gave it 3 but we both want to see how this duology works itself out 😉

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood–and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.

Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1) by Lexa Hillyer, its not often we get a Sleeping Beauty re-telling & as a kid I always wanted to see more from this fairy tale princess. I was over the moon excited to hear of Spindle Fire & although I’m trying to remain positive…I have caught wind of the mediocre ratings *Le sigh* nonetheless I will enter this one with an open heart & hope for the best 😉

Did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & i’ll swing by your blog for a peek. I’ve made a considerable dent in my arc spreadsheet & I’m wondering if I should reward myself with reading Strange the Dreamer…tempting! 

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words and to participate all you have to do is answer the three 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?

*Covers = Goodreads

ccccc

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

24485589

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

testing 2.jpg

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

25701463

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

final-2

Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1)

25895524

I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin.

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

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

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

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

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

Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

30320053Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published by: HarperTeen/HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

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

goodreads-synopsis-2

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

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

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long May She Reign was released this past Tuesday (while I was moving to my new home lol), & so I’m a little late with my review. How many of my bookish peeps have Long May She Reign on your TBR’s? a Scientist Queen? Who can resist?!?! 🤴🏻💰❌👸🏻🔬📚