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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December Book Haul & Wrap-Up

Here’s to hoping that 2017 will see me post these Wrap-Ups & Bookhauls in a more timely fashion *cheers* (said no one ever Baha!). I’m hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday, it feels good to be back in the mix of things. Slowly but surely I’m seeing more of my bookish peeps coming back & it’s been pretty awesome seeing all of your Christmas hauls and holiday posts. I honestly didn’t think I’d be hauling much of anything in the month of December because I did NOT ask for books this Christmas *gasps*…don’t get me wrong I totally wanted to, I’ve just been trying to read a lot of what I own & keep up with arc reviews. Now, ignore EVERYTHING you just read *covers eyes* on to my Wrap-up & shameful haul LOL..

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick ★★★★ 1/2 (4.5)

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel ★★★★ 1/2 (4.5)

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones ★★★ 1/2 (3.5)

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano ★★★★★ (5)

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera ★★★★★ ALL The Stars In The Galaxy…no # could do this one justice!

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Orange: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (Bookoutlet)

Orange: The Complete Collection, Volume 2 (Bookoutlet)

All American Boys  (Bookoutlet)

Of Fire And Stars (Owlcrate)

Jane Steele (Bookoutlet)

Small Great Things (Bookdepository)

Here Comes The Sun (B&N)

Swimming Lessons (Book Of The Month)

All The Ugly And Wonderful Things (Book Of The Month)

Mr. Mercedes (Bill Hodges Trilogy #1) Gift from my Book Twin Bestie Gretchen @ChicNerdReads

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Ok…I admit that I am HOOKED on Amazon Kindle Deals SMH…yea…*silently shakes head*

Chillin on that instant purchase button in January, fo’ sho! 😉

December was a busy month for most, I also happened to celebrate my birthday on New Years Eve which I chose to keep low key. I had a mini staycation, 5 days of spending time with my 2 tiny humans & hubby…and on the 5th day I had a ME day *whoop whoop* I did manage to squeeze in one movie & that was Pixar’s Sing with my 5 year old & hubs. Sing was so much fun, usually hubs falls asleep during animated movies (I know smh, he can’t hang) but he actually stayed awake for this one so that says something there BAHA! lastly I blogged a little & decided to set some reading/blogging goals for 2017 as well as sign up for my very 1st challenge (see here). It was after my goals post went up though, that I came across Naz @ReadDiverseBooks who is hosting his own challenge ReadDiverse2017. I of course signed up immediately since one of my goals for 2017 after all is to support diverse & own voices reads. It’s also nice of him to include badges & prizes along the way so check him out my bookish peeps, his blog is one of my top favorites ❤ ❤ ❤

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What are some of your bookish goals for 2017? see any good movies in December? hauled any good books/bookish swag? drop your links down below & i’ll swing by for a peep 😉

Review: History Is All You Left Me

history-is-all-you-left-meHistory is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Published by: Soho Press

Date of Publication: January 17th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley (Edelweiss)

Rating:★★★★★ ALL The Stars In The Galaxy!

 

*I’d like to thank Soho Press & Adam Silvera for the eGalley of History Is All You Left Me via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

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History Is All You Left Me starts off with the main protagonist Griffin getting ready to attend his ex-boyfriend Theo’s funeral. Griffin has not come to fully accept the tragedy that is Theo’s death and so he begins to tell us his tale in chapters that alternate between  “History” and “Today”

Griffin and Theo were best friends since childhood before their relationship turned romantic. Griffin, Theo, and Wade were basically the modern day Three Musketeers who did everything together and their parents all knew each other. In “History” we get introduced to these three friends who enjoy playing video games, Harry Potter, reading, putting together huge puzzles, and inventing zombie apocalypse stories. During one of their usual excursions to Brooklyn on the L train (my borough whoop whoop!), Griffin & Theo’s relationship turns into something more than just friends. I loved the build-up to this moment and the chemistry between them was fully felt on my end. Wade expresses a bit of apprehension at the possible change in friendship dynamics now that he would be the odd man out but they promise to never put him in an awkward position. We get to see their friendship continue and get stronger. Things begin to change when Theo is advised by his school counselor to apply for Harvard early. Theo decides to skip on Harvard but does decide to apply to his top college of choice in Los Angeles which would mean leaving Griffin behind in New York. Griffin decides to be fully supportive even when the mere thought of not seeing Theo on the daily was suffocating and anxiety inducing. They decide to make the best of it just in case he does get accepted. I thought we were going to see them experience a long distance relationship but for some reason, I was glad that it wasn’t the case here. Griffin is a character who suffers from OCD and the representation here is one that I am beyond satisfied with, being that I myself have mild OCD. Griffin knows himself well and through plenty of self reflection he just knew that long distance & all of it’s pitfalls isn’t something he would be able to manage. Though they decide to maintain their friendship through Skype calls, handwritten letters and care packages, long distance eventually does take its toll. Theo starts to date Jackson who Griffin believes to be his real life clone and things take a turn for the awkward. Its during this time that Griffins OCD compulsions begin to take him down a path of self destruction…

In the “Today” chapters Griffin who hasn’t fully accepted Theo’s death, talks to him as if he were still alive and walks him through all of his emotions before and after their break-up. The things that he did while Theo was away at college and the things he did after learning of his death. History Is All You Left Me is a character driven book and one of the best ones i’ve read at that. Griffins mind isn’t one that can be forced to accept what he is not ready to accept. We get to see his thought process during his journey to acceptance and it’s not a pretty one but it is a more realistic one than if he were to have just completely moved on after loving Theo for so long. The “Today” chapters also see Griff come to terms with his secrets, ones that he can no longer confess to now that Theo is gone but nonetheless will bring to light since he believes Theo is listening & seeing all that he does.

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I couldn’t get enough of Griffin, Theo, and Wade which is probably why I finished this book in two days. Their friendship is pretty awesome and nerdy with plenty of pop culture references. The guys love leaving Manhattan and venturing into hipster Brooklyn or meet up at one of their homes after school. It was through these after school hangouts that we get introduced to Griffin & Theo’s parents who i’m just going to go ahead and say it…2nd fave set of parentals only to be beat by Molly & Arthur Weasley! They’re simply amazingly supportive, understanding, loving and welcoming human beings that I wish every young adult had in their lives. I also enjoyed Griffin & Theo when they were dating because of how positive this relationship was portrayed. Griffin & Theo truly loved each other, looked out for one another, and supported each other. Theo fully accepted Griffin’s compulsions and never once made him feel crazy. He learned all of Griffin’s ways and was the perfect missing puzzle piece (if you’ve read HIAYLM, you’ll know what I just did there LOL). I can’t forget about Wade aka the third musketeer who is an AMAZING best friend to Theo & Griffin but overall just a really cool guy. His besties decide to date each other & besides the initial conversation, he is fully supportive of them. I love that Adam gave us a chance to get to know Wade & that he didn’t fall back in the shadows of Griffin and Theo. I even ended up liking Jackson who was Theo’s new boyfriend in L.A. and I seriously didn’t want to but it happened *shrugs shoulders* maybe Griffin was right & Jackson really is his clone…

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After reading More Happy Than Not last year, I knew that Adam Silvera would be an author to follow throughout his writing career. The emotions he was able to stir in me, made him stand out from any of the Young Adult or Adult Fiction I have read all together. I am very thankful to have received a eGalley of History Is All You Left Me, as a matter of fact I teared up the night that I received the e-mail. I knew that I was going to be reading an impactful book by a person who has now become one of my top 5 favorite authors. There is seriously nothing like experiencing one of Adams books. His characters grow within the pages while going through it & taking you along for the ride. The relationships he gifts you remain with you long after you’ve read the last sentence. History Is All You Left Me wasn’t any different. I lost track of the times that I smiled & wiped away my tears. It was heart wrenching and painful to see Griff lose his favorite person and yet this was more than a story about grief & loss. This is a story about self reflection, healing, acceptance, coping mechanisms, friendships, human error, love in all its forms. Adam gave us Griffin who struggles with OCD which was one of the things that interested me the most. He showed us the internal tug of war that is having OCD & how it can impose limitations. The scenes where we get Griff’s inner monologue were spot on accurate. During times of high stress, I myself, internally will go back & forth with my compulsions. At times it feels like you can’t move on until it is right, with Griffin it was even #’s at all times with the exception of the numbers one and seven or any number ending in seven. I happen to have the same compulsion of even numbers, but my OCD is more on the mild side than Griff’s. Besides the accurate portrayal of OCD, Adam also gave us healthy relationships on all fronts including the parentals in his book. The LGBTQ and POC (people of color) representation in Adams books, have made him one of my auto-buy authors. If you’re looking for a book that will touch your soul and make you self-reflect, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for your next diverse read with all around positive representation, this is the book for you. I was able to see myself in this book & since that is rare, I appreciate Adam Silvera’s writing and can’t wait to give this book a home on my shelves on it’s birthday 😉

“History remains with the people who will appreciate it most”- History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

December Owlcrate & Book Of The Month Unboxing

Wowserz! December came & is already almost gone *eeeeK* my Owlcrate & Book Of The Month arrived very early this month since the subscription services were attempting to beat the holiday rush that is inevitable with snail mail. I held off on posting it since I know some prefer to be surprised. I honestly haven’t been surprised lately with the exception of Vassa In The Night, which had me diggin’ for clues LOL. I’m not sure why but I quite enjoy figuring out what they’re going to send each month. Yes, I already have a 99% positive educated guess on what the January selection will be *winks* Book Of The Month recently started the option of “ship now for free” whenever you add a past months selection to your current box. I added All the Ugly and Wonderful Things since i’ve had it on my mind ever since hearing the synopsis read aloud by a favorite Booktuber of mine. I struggled a bit this month with selecting my BOTM book & hope that I don’t regret going with Swimming Lessons. I know now that the option to skip is available but still holding out hope for my pick, it also happens to be an advanced reader copy (finished) since it isn’t set to hit shelves til’ February 2017 😉


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  • Of Fire and Satrs by Audrey Coulthurst (GR Synopsis also below)
  • Harry Potter Funko Mystery Mini Figure
  • The Lord of the Rings Pin
  • Dark Horse Game of Thrones Coasters (hands down favorite items in the entire box!)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic Sticker (this was missing in my box. 1st time an item was left out)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Mini Cardgoodreads-synopsis-2

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


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Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

What are your thoughts on December’s Owlcrate? Do you prefer to be surprised each month or go full on Nancy Drew? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for December? 

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Weekend XOXO!!!

Waiting On Wednesday

ramona-blueRamona Blue

Published by: Balzer + Bray

Date of Publication: May 9th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 

Pages: 491

 

 

 

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For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson comes this sharp and thought-provoking novel about modern love, family, and the labels that we just can’t seem to escape—from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. One of only two out lesbians in her small town and standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the responsible adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, her responsibilities weigh more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

As Ramona falls more in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift as well, and she must decide if knowing who she is is more important than figuring out who she might become.

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I am currently reading & loving Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ (Dumplin’ #1)  on a whim really after leaving the book I was currently reading at home. I have a 1.5 hour commute to & from work, and not having a book on hand was just unacceptable lol. I started Dumplin’ & immediately got sucked into this small town girls story, personality, and inner monologue. I got curious and opened up my Goodreads to see if Julie Murphy has any other books & found 2 things: Dumplin’ is a series (almost positive it was originally a standalone) + a new book set for 2017 titled Ramona Blue. That cover immediately caught my interest & then I read the synopsis (cuz let’s face it, it’s usually in that order LOL). This story has LGBTQ characters but what stands out for me is that the protog is introduced as one of only two lesbians in her small town who then falls for her childhood friend who happens to be male. I’m curious to see how bi-sexuality is handled by Murphy…the original blurb I believe, had mentioned something along the lines of not being put in a box by labels. The blurb has since changed & I see that there seems to be a bit of controversy on Goodreads as well as rating the book 1 star before it’s been published or made its rounds for anyone to see. I also see the book getting 5 stars by readers who are trying to negate the low ratings because they find this to be unjust to the authors yet unpublished work. I don’t agree with either of these methods. Considering that Murphy is handling body image in Dumplin’ so well, I think i’ll give this one a shot & formulate/provide my own informed opinion/review/rating 😉

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?

*All covers will take you to their Goodreads page*

 

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Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel

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Currently reading this short story collection and honestly taking my time with it because of the heavy subject matter. The author was nice enough to send me a eGalley a couple of weeks ago after seeing me express interest in her book. The writing is poignant & thought provoking. I’m currently on story 4 out of 5 and think I already have a favorite unless the last one dethrones my current favorite. My heart strings have been pulled while reading Manipulated Lives, making me think of my own personal experience with a manipulative friendship. My husband says that he’s never seen me take such copious notes lol, I just don’t want to forget anything with my terrible memory. I should be done reading Manipulated Lives by tomorrow & then a full review will follow 😉

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick

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I recently read & reviewed Scrappy Little Nobody (review here) by Anna Kendrick, I listened to the audiobook which I tend to do with all comedienne autobiographies/memoirs. I gave this one 4.5 stars, Kendrick delivered tons of laughs & an inside look to her childhood and come-up. Never once did she sound braggy of her fame, instead we get a humble down to earth Anna who is still in awe of just how far she’s come. If you’re a fan of her movies and find her funny, Scrappy Little Nobody is worth a read.

Lost Girls by Merrie Desetefano 

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Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano was HANDS DOWN a 5 star read for me (review here) for the plot, characters, writing, and yes even world building…a dark & seedy one. This is a Young Adult Thriller/Mystery yet I honestly got a more mature vibe to Destefano’s characters & found that to be refreshing. The Goodreads synopsis describes this as Black Swan meets Fight Club, and a more accurate description there is not! If you’re interested in characters that are morally gray, stories with awesome family dynamics, and adrenaline infused reads then this is the book for you 😉

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Roseblood by A.G. Howard

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Goodreads Synopsis

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

A Phantom Of The Opera re-telling? I couldn’t resist picking this one up at NYC Comic Con/BookCon. I’ve always admired this authors book covers from afar & even have her Splintered series on my TBR. I’m hoping this one is a hit & if it is then 2017 will be the year I binge this authors books.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Goodreads Synopsis

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

Thankful to have an eGalley from Soho Teen/Adam Silvera. After reading More Happy Than Not last year I started following Adam Silvera on social media & relaized how cool & down to earth this author is with his fanbase. Once I read the synopsis to History Is All You Left me I immediately knew that it was going to put me through it but I am SO READY! super excited to read this one & I know Adam will not fail me 🙂

Review: When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

 When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Published by: Thomas Dunne /St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: October 4th 2016

Genres: Young Adult/Magical Realism/LGBTQ

Pages: 288

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★(5 stars)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.

I’d like to thank Thomas Dunne /St. Martin’s Press for approving me to receive an eGalley of When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

PLOT

When the Moon Was Ours is the story of two best friends, Miel & Sam who meet when they are children, under unusual circumstances. The town’s water tower has fallen & Miel, a child at the time is found sitting there when the water washes away. The belief is that she came from the water tower. Sam is the only person/child that Miel allows to approach her & since that day, they’ve been inseparable. A friendship that grows with them & eventually turns into much more. Both Miel & Sam hold secrets close to their hearts. This is their story of coming to terms with, accepting, and loving who they are. It’s about releasing your fears & understanding your loved one’s journey at their pace. A story about self-identity & living your truth. Sam short for Samir is a transgender Pakistani boy who the town often refers to as moon for all of the globes/moons he paints & hangs all throughout the town and woods. Sam & his mother who is a stay at home teacher, moved to the town with no paper trail to their past. Miel (Spanish to English translation: Honey) is a Latina girl with a fear of pumpkins & is believed to have been cursed. Miel has an open wound on her arm where a rose with vines & thorns grow. when in full bloom, Miel offers them up to the river. Miel was taken in & cared for by a neighbor after she was found by the tower of water. The neighbor, a Latina woman who is known as the town’s Curandera, specializes in curing lovesickness. The story revolves around Miel, Sam, Sam’s mom, Aracely (Miel’s caretaker), and lastly the Bonner sisters (4 in total). The Bonner sisters are known for their beauty, red hair, and ability to attract any male in town with little to no effort as if they have bewitched them. When one of the Bonner sisters does something that could bring shame to the family, she is sent away. It is her return that shakes up Miel & Sam’s lives. The Bonner sisters seem to have lost their magic but believe the  rumor that the roses growing from Miel’s arm can restore beauty & attraction, are true. So begins this story filled with pain, sadness, and beauty…


“To the boys who get called girls, the girls who get called boys, and those who live outside these words. To those called names, and those searching for names of their own. To those who live on the edges, and in the spaces in between. I wish for you every light in the sky.”


CHARACTERS

I LOVED these characters so much that my heart was breaking for them for more than 80% of the book. Sam, a transgender Pakistani boy who binds his chest & practices his voice to make sure it sounds low & developed at the same rate as other boys in school. Sam who adopts a tradition that his grandmother passed on to him, called bacha posh “a cultural practice in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan in which families who have daughters but no sons dress a daughter as a boy. The daughter then acts as a son to the family. As an adult, a bacha posh traditionally returns to living as a girl, now a woman” Sam adopts this tradition thinking he would one day want to be a woman. Sam will forever be in my heart for all of his beauty & tenderness towards Miel. For all of the moons he lit up & hung around the homes of children who couldn’t sleep. Miel is a girl who carries guilt, pain, and beauty on her arm. This book is full of metaphors & beautiful prose but it’s clear that the roses are connected to Miel’s own heart. The cruelty she experiences at the hands of the Bonner sisters broke my heart into pieces & I felt the need to protect her. The parentals, it’s rare nowadays that you come across parentals in YA books that you actually like but that are also flawed themselves. Such is the case with Sam’s mom & Aracely who is Miel’s caretaker, these women have plenty of pain of their own but they both are portrayed as very strong women.  What I loved the most about these two is the support & understanding they both provided to Sam & Miel. They guided both Miel & Sam, making sure to toughen them up for what was sure to come.

WRITING

The writing in When The Moon Was Ours is full of magic, folklore and legends. Lush with the littlest of details making their world come to life on the pages. So much beauty in the words for these characters who experienced profound pain & sadness. Sam went out of his way to bring out the beauty of the night to Miel & we can feel how much he truly loves her. I found myself caught up on some of the prose describing how he viewed Miel, tissue at the ready. When I read violent scenes I was always struck by the contrast in the world Sam & Miel had created for themselves next to what it really is. To be honest I didn’t know if this book was for me because although I love Magical Realism, McLemore’s writing is very lyrical & reminiscent of Laini Taylor…I just have to be in the mood for their style of writing. Thankfully I decided to stick with it & now I have a new favorite story that will for sure stay in my heart.

THOUGHTS

I actually read the afterward at the end of this book & I’m glad because Anna-Marie McLemore shares a bit of where she drew inspiration for this book. She met her husband when they were both teens & always wondered whether he was transgender. There were moments where she noticed his awkwardness at being grouped with other females. She provided for him the same understanding that he gave her. Anna-Marie had nightmares of La Llorona as a child. In myths she is said to have drowned her own children & roamed around wailing at night and stealing daughters from their parents. She talks about providing that understanding for her husband when he did decide to live his life in the gender he identifies with. It wouldn’t be until many years later that she would write When the Moon Was Ours, a story that at its base is an extension of her own life experiences. Reading this part about the author’s personal experience made this story all the more special.

Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 15th 2014

Format: Paperback (I own)

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Page Count: 312 pages

Rating: ★★★★1/2

 Goodreads Synopsis:

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

 

Some of my 1st thoughts reading Everything Leads to You, were that Nina LaCour hit the nail on the head when it comes to toxic relationships. During the first few pages, we get introduced to Emi who is attempting to put a stop to the break-ups & make-ups between her & her slightly older girlfriend Morgan. Morgan is attracted to Emi & suggests an open relationship whereas Emi is in love with Morgan. Things are made a bit more difficult seeing as they both are working on the same film production. Emi is an aspiring set designer & Morgan is a bit more established constructing sets. Very early on Emi decides that this 6th time is the last time & the following quote stuck with me because as someone who has been in a similar situation many years ago, I can relate…

“When you love someone, you are sure. You don’t need time to decide. You don’t say stop and start over and over, like you’re playing some kind of sport. You know the immensity of what you have and you protect it.” 


This quote really made me think…is this always true? I can honestly say that I’ve been in Emi’s shoes & in the moment didn’t understand that it is possible to love someone more than they actually love you (I was also very young). In Emi’s situation, I definitely can see how this quote applies. Morgan was clearly not on the same page which led to toxic behavior. I’ve also been in Morgan’s shoes, and chose to let that person go because I wasn’t ready. Emi setting out to move on from Morgan sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Detaching herself from Morgan was made easier by the AMAZING friendship Emi has with Charlotte, who also happens to be working on the same movie. Charlotte is the art department assistant and aspiring museum curator. We get to follow Emi & Charlotte around all of L.A. as they shop around for vintage furniture, art, and props to be used in the film. I don’t think we get enough female friendships in books so this was like a breath of fresh air. I loved Charlotte’s loyalty & fierce protectiveness over Emi.
It was during one of Emi & Charlotte’s set shopping excursions that they come across an estate sale for a deceased big time Hollywood movie star. They also happened to have purchased a record which contained a note that would lead them on the hunt for answers. So Emi & Charlotte juggle life on the set of a major film & amateur detective work…I don’t even know if you would call it amateur, they were pretty darn good at it lol. Now from here on out, I’m going to get spoilery because I just have way too many feels after reading the last page…

 
*************************************Spoilers Lay Ahead, Beware of the Spoiler******************

 

Emi’s decision to investigate the note she found in the record they purchased at the estate, to me felt like a much needed distraction. All throughout the story as they hunt for answers, Emi continues to express her feelings that she is meant to be looking for these answers. The possibility of something greater awaits her at the end of this search. The note was left behind by an A list movie actor who had a one-night stand & as a result an estranged daughter. In his note he expresses his loss for words on their one-time coffee date. A father faced with his adult daughter and her child, his grandbaby. In the note he leaves info for his daughter Caroline to claim her inheritance, the only problem is that Caroline is deceased as well. FAST FORWARD……That grandbaby has all grown UP! Her name is Ava & the dynamic duo that are Emi & Charlotte have managed to track her down. Ava is homeless & living in a shelter after she decided to leave her adoptive mother’s home. Ava has only one best friend in the shelter whose name is Jamal & he is just as loyal and protective as Charlotte is over Emi. Once the trail leads to Ava, Emi is instantly attracted to her. No, it’s not instalove. One of the things that I loved about Emi is that she is confident & comfortable in her own skin. The fact that she likes girls was not made to be this huge reveal which I appreciated. So many things were well done with this story that I can talk about for hours but instead I’ll name a few:

  • The inside look to film production—the behind the scenes look.
  •  Emi’s journey with learning the ropes of a career in set design—you start from the bottom & work your way up and sometimes that means not always getting your way. Seeing Emi struggle with this lesson was very relatable.
  •  The vivid details given to describe how Emi envisions her ideas & makes them come to life on set.
  •  The realistic approach taken when filming an independent film vs. a major film production.
  • Again, the fact that Emi’s sexuality wasn’t center stage to the storyline.
  • Female friendships…I need a Charlotte in my life lol.
  • AMAZING parents—Emi’s parents seriously have to be the coolest with their shared bond of West Coast Gangster rap lol.
  •  The representation of financial diversity—Emi/Charlotte are well off compared to Ava and her best friend Jamal. A discussion is had btwn Jamal, Emi, & Charlotte where he points out that although Emi’s parents are cool & received degrees for studying and being well versed in hip hop culture…he has lived the life they have studied & it wasn’t fascinating, but scary.

The only reason why I docked this half a star was because I think this would’ve been EPIC as New Adult vs. YA Fiction. I can understand how some found the way things came to be as a bit unrealistic however, I got so much from this story that I didn’t judge it by how real their quest for answers felt. Overall, I loved the writing style & the friendships in this book. It was an enjoyable read with many smile worthy moments including THAT LAST LINE!!! Looking forward to reading more of Nina LaCour’s books.