1 Year Blogoversary Q&A/Giveaway Announcement!

Good Monday morning my AMAZING Bookworm family! I am so excited to share this milestone with you all. On 5/24/17, LairOfBooks will have its 1st Blogoversary!!!! *confetti* HAHA! I honestly didn’t think I’d make it to the 1 year mark what with all of the curveballs life has thrown my way. SO many amazing things have happened this past year & this little blog has helped keep me centered. Before blogging, my audience for all things books was my hubby & he’s great and all but I realized he has to sleep too. I was in search of a community similar to Booktube minus the having to get on video cause that’s just not my thing *introvert* lol & I’m happy to have found all you amazing book bloggers/readers.

Q&A

So now here’s where it gets innnneresting 😉 I’ve never done one of these & I’m kind of hoping you all have fun with it. Starting today & running until Friday May 26th 2017 (12 Midnight EST.) I will be be accepting all of your questions be it blog related or personal, I’m a open book (see what I did there? jeje). Also, for those who submit a question I will count that as an additional entry to the giveaway.

Giveaway

This will be my 2nd Giveaway, my first being sometime in the beginning of the year for an Owlcrate box. One lucky winner will win a pre-order of 1 of the titles pictured below. I wanted to offer all of you some options while still making sure I stay true to LairOfBooks mission to read Diverse Books as much as possible. Two of these books aren’t diverse reads but I know they are titles EVERYONE including myself are looking forward to (eeeeeeK Wonder Woman!). The titles are listed after the rules & addtl’ entries. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL!!! *more confetti* So without further ado, I present to you the rules to enter:

  • Since this giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, you just have to have a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)
  • Simply comment down below that you’d like to be entered & it shall be done

For Additional entries

  • Ask a question, be it about books/blog/or personal (1 extra entry)
  • Follow my Bookstagram account Lair_Of_Books  (1 extra entry)
  • Follow my Twitter @LairOfBooks 

*This giveaway will run starting today 5/22/17 til Friday 12 Midnight EST. 5/26/2017

Good luck to all those who decide to throw their hat in the ring. I’ve dusted out the old Mason jar & can’t wait to start filling it up 😉

 

Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA

Pages: 384 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Cover = Goodreads

Amazon/Barnes & Noble

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan, Netgalley, and Cale Dietrich for the eGalley of The Love Interest in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

If you’re anything like me, after reading the Goodreads blurb for The Love Interest, you immediately got This Means War vibes. You know? the one with Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy? yea, that would be the one! & just like the rom-com, The Love Interest doesn’t take itself too seriously & this alone made it a fun read. This book is a satire of all those YA tropes we either love or hate. It’s self aware & as such, is chock full of laugh out loud moments that will leave you shaking your head. We first get introduced to the love interests Caden & Dylan while they’re in the facility that houses others like them while they get all of the necessary spy training. A spy is said to have been taken from their home (voluntary/involuntary is unknown) from childhood & sorted based on personality to either be a Bad or a Nice. Depending on which you were sorted under, you’d receive specific training & skill sets to ultimately be paired up with a person of importance in the outside world. Julia is a high school student who is set to have her pick of universities based on the fact that she is a GENIUS inventor. Targeted as a V.I.P. by the secret organization that deals with selling secrets for top dollar, Julia has no idea she’s about to be highly sought out. Caden is a Nice & Dylan is a Bad, both sent in to better the odds of Julia picking one of them as her love interest. These guys go out of their way to woe Julia in their own ways & will offer you non-stop entertainment. However, it’s not all fun & games for these guys who have the constant threat of death over their heads if they fail. Whoever Julia doesn’t choose will be put to death which only serves as motivation in the race to Julia’s heart. What happens when a Love Interest falls in love for someone other than their intended target? *GASP*

Told in first person point of view, we get Caden (the Nice) as our narrator. Caden is your cliche blonde guy with blue eyes and abs for days haha! I don’t want to give away too much but just know that the spy organization plays no games when it comes to perfecting their love interests. Caden will come off as self absorbed & I believe it’s purposely done. I love my YA books but if we’re being honest, we all know that Caden is a representation of what we see as the male lead interest. Now Dylan doesn’t fall short either lol he plays the broody bad boy, so dark & mysterious with his book of poetry & leather jacket. Then we have Julia who is a a genius inventor in high school who has that quiet beauty. She’s so focused on her inventions that dating isn’t at the forefront. By the end of this book, Julia was hands down my favorite of the characters but no spoilers here lol. We get two other supporting characters, Natalie & Trevor who also attend the same high school and are in a relationship. They also happen to be best friends with Julia & so we get to see them join in on the battle of the Nice vs. Bad. These characters are over the top versions of what we see in the YA genre & I enjoyed the satirical take. I’ve seen other reviews critique the one-dimensional characters which is true…but I don’t think the author set out to have us connect with these extremely tropey characters. If you’re looking for characters you can connect with, this isn’t the book for you. This is the book you pick up if you’ve read tons of YA, love it to death but can still poke fun at the many tropes we often see in our beloved books.

This is Cale Dietrich’s debut album & I love that it was so much fun to read. I took it for what it presented itself to be…a parody of all the YA tropes you can possibly find in the YA genre lol. I laughed so hard reading this book, an overall good time. Those who have been with my blog for a while now know how much I love YA & that I read/review tons of it. I also love good humor and The Love Interest provided a few hours of comedy. I docked it a star simply because it wrapped up too quickly in the end. I recommend this one for all those looking for some light hearted fun & a plot that will keep you guessing the outcome 😉

The Love Interest is out today (links to buy can be found at the very top), have any of you awesome bookworms picked up a copy? if you’ve already read it, what are some of your thoughts?

Review: Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

Publisher: Amulet Books

Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Cover = Goodreads

*HUGE thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and Riley Redgate for the eGalley of Noteworthy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

A cappella just got a makeover.

Jordan Sun is embarking on her junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts, hopeful that this will be her time: the year she finally gets cast in the school musical. But when her low Alto 2 voice gets her shut out for the third straight year—threatening her future at Kensington-Blaine and jeopardizing her college applications—she’s forced to consider nontraditional options.

In Jordan’s case, really nontraditional. A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshipped…revered…all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.

Jordan finds herself enmeshed in a precarious juggling act: making friends, alienating friends, crushing on a guy, crushing on a girl, and navigating decades-old rivalries. With her secret growing heavier every day, Jordan pushes beyond gender norms to confront what it means to be a girl (and a guy) in a male-dominated society, and—most importantly—what it means to be herself.

In another case of “The Goodreads Blurb Does It Best” lol, I’ll try my best not to reiterate what’s listed above. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate is one of the most unique Young Adult books I’ve come across in a long time. I knew I had to request it when I saw it pop up on Netgalley simply because I am a big fan of the Pitch Perfect movies & most recently the Pentatonix. As a matter of fact I am listening to Bohemian Rhapsody by Pentatonix while typing up this review 😉 Acapella as a whole has always interested me possibly because as mentioned in this book, there’s humor in it. The idea of a student cross dressing in order to join a all male Acapella group & leading a double life…sounds exhausting no? Jordan Sun manages to pull off try outs for Kensington’s uber popular & exclusively all male Acapella group the Sharpshooters securing the 8th spot in the group.

She goes on to live on campus as both Jordan and Julian successfully since for the most part, she has no friends on campus. After her in school boyfriend broke up with her, Jordan realized that she had made him her center focus & that with him gone, she is pretty much alone on campus. Jordan has a small group of gal pals back in California, but life in New York attending Kensington Blair has pretty much isolated her from them. Attending Kensington also hasn’t been without it’s challenges, Jordan’s parents are struggling to keep food on the table & we see her spend holiday breaks alone on campus to avoid burdening her parents with the cost of travel. Jordan’s dad is also disabled & the subpar healthcare system in the United States is briefly touched upon. We see Jordan going through her day to day routine while handling the very sobering reality that is her financial situation.

“The problem was the money this place asked us to drop on textbooks and supplies, even those of us on financial aid. A lot of other boarding schools were adopting full-ride scholarship options that paid for books, travel, laptops-the whole deal. Kensington hadn’t caught on yet. Every semester, I calculated my textbook costs, usually three or four hundred dollars, and prayed it was offset by the money my parents weren’t spending to feed me”

In getting accepted into the Sharpshooters as Julian, she finds a home away from home with a distinct group of guys. We get to see Jordan’s perspective as “one of the guys” when she’s dressed as Julian. Jordan’s insider pass grants her access to male friendships & bonds as well as the first stirrings of sexism in young males. As we see Jordan grow accustomed & more comfortable living as Julian, we see her question her sexuality & identity. Noteworthy touched on so many subjects that are not written about as much in YA making it a much more relatable read.

Noteworthy has to have one of the most unique and awesome cast of characters in YA at the moment…I’ve convinced myself of this lol. Starting with our main protagonist Jordan aka Julian a Chinese-American student attending a boarding school in NYC, I’ll be honest and say that it took me a bit to warm up to her during the beginning chapters. I almost felt like she was in a haze going through every day life which I pinned most of on her stress levels lol. It was hard to connect with her in the beginning but then you see her start to develop & show her personality and I started to look forward to her coming & goings. She does mention that as Julian, she feels a confidence that is missing as Jordan. The Sharpshooters are as follows:

Trav- leader of the Sharpshooters, also composes pieces for the group & takes his position very seriously (barely cracks a smile lol)

Jon Cox- is your typical popular guy with good looks & a little muscle only he is described as having an operatic voice

Mama or Theodore-My 2nd fave, Theodore was given the nickname Mama for his tendency to clean. He is described as a big lovable guy who also happens to be Jon Cox’s roommate & best friend. He’s described as having the type of deep voice you’d find in movie trailers

Nihal-hands down my FAVE of the group! Nihal is also a Tenor 1 like Jordan, he introduces himself as being Sikh & not Muslim, Indian & from Jersey who wears his turban. Nihal is very outspoken, sarcastic (LOVE!), and loyal

Isaac-Trav’s right hand man, is described as being a tall man bun rocking type of guy. He’s lively & often times the glue that holds everyone together

The 2 Rooks aka Freshmen Erik & Marcus- these 2 guys get stuck with all the grunt work since they’re freshmen & pretty much operate as one.
Riley Redgate gave each of these characters a distinct voice making it very easy to follow each one & learn their individual character traits. All very well fleshed out, these characters were a ton of fun 😉
 With Noteworthy, Redgate has gifted the YA genre with a magically diverse book. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel reading about a cisgender character cross dressing. These concerns are addressed when Jordan thinks of the Transgender community and how they’d feel if her secret of cross dressing for a spot in the group were to be revealed. In many ways, this book felt very much aware of the tough topics it was trying to grasp. I appreciated that it included many issues that we often do not see in YA such as socioeconomics, Healthcare, and disability as it pertains to the head of household. I also really appreciated the Chinese-American cultural experience we got a glimpse of through Jordan’s character. The fact that this is a Own Voices YA book only added to my love for it. On another note, I do wish that Jordan’s sexuality was explored a bit more because we were seeing her question her sexuality as well as the gender she identifies with.  This is one of the reasons I docked it a star, Jordan’s development towards the end felt unaddressed. The other reason would be strictly pacing which was a bit slow in the beginning. I’ve heard other readers say that Noteworthy is a much quieter read than it appears & I’d have to say that I agree. Around the 40% mark it does pick up & maintains until the very last page. I highly recommend Noteworthy to lovers of diversity & Acapella 😉

Have any of you awesome bookworms picked up a copy of Noteworthy?  if you’ve already read it, which character was your favorite? and why? <3<3<3

April Wrap-Up & Book Haul

April was a solid reading month & I finally beat my 4 book per month streak! I read 6 books & only 2 were in the 3 star range so I’d say that it was one of my best months when it comes to quality 😉 I’m pinning the reason for breaking my 4 book streak on the fact that my hubby, 2 tiny humans, and I were sick for about 2 weeks. It honestly felt like a never ending battle since we were all taking turns lol. Other than reading, it was a quiet month with an occasional miserable sick whimper on the home front but I welcomed it nonetheless. The next few months are always crazy with my 2 tiny humans & this one won’t be any different with Bookcon (tickets arrived yesterday! eeeeK!) right around the corner. I did manage to squeeze in my monthly date with the hubby but more on that towards the end of this wrap-up/haul <3’s

I was supposed to have mixed in a few graphic novels in honor of Saga Volume 7 being released however, that didn’t happen. I did get to read the final copy of my twin Gretchen’s poetry book. Ladies & Gents I can’t stop raving about it, I related to her writing on a personal level but what I loved the most was how there’s a little of something for everyone. Gretchen is also a book blogger who shares her love for books & poetry on her blog @ChicNerdReads 😉

On to my…

     Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis ★★★ (3 Stars)

A Million Junes by Emily Henry ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

A Flame in the Mist ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Spindle Fire ★★★ (3 Stars)

The Upside of Unrequited ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

Love & You ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

If you’d like to support Gretchen’s beautiful writing, please purchase a copy of love, and you at one of the following:

Amazon (also available worldwide)

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

CreateSpace

*currently free for those who have Kindle Unlimited

Ok so…lol…in preparation for the heavy book releasing month of May, I wasn’t trying to buy ANY books. Of course, every bookworm who tries to adhere to even a small book buying ban sees themselves tempted by the Book Gods smh. I myself purchased 4 physical books & 3 e-books however, thanks to my AMAZING book blogger friends Debby @AlwaysBooking, Danielle @BooksVertigoandTea, and my twin Gretchen @ChicNerdReads the book gifts were a plenty lol. I’m seriously happy to have met these lovely ladies, they make my work day go so much faster ❤ 

Click on pic to follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps 😉

Strange The Dreamer, Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1), Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies #1) (gift from Debby), Queens Of Geek (gift from Gretchen), Dream Waters (giveaway win-Dream Waters #1), The Broken Empire trilogy (gift from Danielle), Saga Vol. 7, Avenged (Ruined #2) (Goodreads win), Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2), Nemesis (Project Nemesis #1), Thirteen Reasons Why

*April’s BOTM & Owlcrate Unboxing

Timekeper (Timekeeper #1), The Handmaid’s Tale, The Queen of Blood (The Queens of Renthia #1), Love, & You

Date night’s are always tough for the hubby & I who don’t have a night sitter so we opted for a US day. A personal day where we take off from work & catch a flick, some good food, visit a bookstore or 2, and walk around the city indulging in our free time sans the 2 tiny humans. In April’s day off we caught Fate of the Furious aka Fast 8. Now I had my doubts, the franchise is 8 movies deep & after the tragic loss of Paul Walker I was feeling like maybe it’s time for them to write the final chapter. I also contemplated not watching at all but hubby really wanted to see this one as a fan of fast cars & things that explode. I was pleasantly surprised to see the way they flipped the tables in this one with the team going up against Don. I was also very happy to see some old familiar faces return after being absent in the last movie. The plot twists & revelations leave many roads this team can take. There are strong rumors that Universal is in the process of creating a spin-off with Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Charlize Theron (see here). For now I think i’ll keep watching where this team that I’ve been following since day 1 goes…

This post is on time with being late of course & May is well underway. I already mini hauled 4 books smh BUT they are ones I’ve wanted to read for a while now. I’m actually currently reading The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich & enjoying it so i’m glad to have chosen it in my May’s Book of the Month subscription box. 

What are you lovely bookworms currently reading/watching/enjoying/dis-liking?

April Owlcrate & Book of the Month Unboxing

April’s subscription boxes arrived with their vibrant colors & I am more than happy with the selections. earlier in April I read & reviewed The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli & fell hard for the characters & Becky’s writing style. This book brought me so much happiness that I flew right through it. My smile lingered for many days after & I still think about Molly Peskin-Suso & crew. This means that I am all the more curious about Simon who had a small cameo in Upside. I own the e-book so I suppose it’s all a matter of timing now 😉

Click on pic to follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps 😉

April’s theme was Head Over Heels, in the box were the following items: 

1 Hardcover copy of The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (5 star read)

1 signed bookplate sticker

1 Decal sticker (not pictured above, found this waaay after photo was taken lol)

1 Storiarts Pride & Prejudice book headband (I’ll prob wear indoors since I feel I don’t have the head for this lol)

1 Simon Vs. the Homosapiens Agenda keychain from the Bookworm Boutique (maybe once I read Simon, I’ll feel less fraudulent about carrying this item on my key chain ha!)

1 Anna and the French kiss Chocolate Cherry Bomb Tea from The Tea SPot (will be trying this one out this wknd but it smells delish!)

1 Novelly Yours Candle inspired by one of Rainbow Rowell’s books (1 of 3 scents were sent), I received Baz & Simon in Raspberry & (GAHHHHH! smells SOOooooO Good! fave item besides book of course lol)

1 Evie Bookish print inspired by A Court of Thorns & Roses (least fave item simply because i’m not big on these small art prints)

1 Umberland (Everland, Book 2) by Wendy Spinale PREVIEW (Amazon buy link for finished book here) (Never read the 1st book soooo yea…lol)

1 Owlcrate exclusive themed pin (goes right on my book tote)

My Box Rating: ★★★★ (3.75 STARS)

April’s BOTM pick was a bit tricky, but there was one name in the blurb that sealed the deal for this one: for readers/fans of Mindy Khaling…moment of silence for my Queen…K, I’ll pretty much read any non-fiction with a bit of humor so I was so happy to come across Scaachi Kohl’s short story collection. Goodreads has since edited the blurb to exclude any comparisons to Mindy K. but I read some reviews & they maintain that it is in fact along those lines. Besides this though & most importantly is that this is a short story collection by a woman of color, daughter to Indian immigrants based on relevant issues affecting many woman of color. I may get the audiobook to read along since I prefer to listen to memoirs narrated by the authors themselves 😉

 

Click on pic to follow my gram @Lair_Of_Books for more snaps 😉

Goodreads Blurb

A collection of essays about growing up the daughter of Indian immigrants in Canada, “a land of ice and casual racism,” by the cultural observer, Scaachi Koul.

In One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Her subjects range from shaving her knuckles in grade school, to a shopping trip gone horribly awry, to dealing with internet trolls, to feeling out of place at an Indian wedding (as an Indian woman), to parsing the trajectory of fears and anxieties that pressed upon her immigrant parents and bled down a generation. Alongside these personal stories are pointed observations about life as a woman of colour, where every aspect of her appearance is open for critique, derision or outright scorn. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.

Every time I consider canceling my BOTM subscription just so that I can catch up with the ones I have so far…They hit me with the ALL STAR LINE-UP of books I can’t resist smh. I’ll tell you right now, May was no different since I’ve already selected my books & they sweetened the deal lol. Another perk to this box is that at least one of the books in the box (as of late) is a pre-release which I think is AWESOME! So, since they’ve already charged me the renewal fee, you can expect to see at least 3 more of these un-boxings LOL!

What are your thoughts on the April Owlcrate box? Have any of my bookish peeps read The Upside of Unrequited? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for April? also, if you subscribe to any other boxes & have done a unboxing, drop your link down below <3’s!

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited

Published by: HarperTeen

Publication Date: April 11th 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/LGBTQIA/Diverse

Pages: 338 pgs

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Becky Albertalli for the eGalley of The Upside of Unrequited in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.

Right?

Honestly, a more Feel Good plot I have NOT come across! Molly Peskin-Suso is many things: a fraternal twin to Cassie, prone to harboring a high # of secret crushes, a DIY Queen, Pinterest aficionado, and baker who also happens to be plus size. Molly’s best friend is her twin sister Cassie, they are inseparable & with their twin bond, they hold no secrets from each other. When Molly introduces Cassie to a girl she meets in the bathroom; who she thinks would make a perfect match for Cassie…she never would’ve guessed they’d fall in love. Both Molly & Cassie see their relationship shifting and with it comes a fear of losing their bond. Cassie tries to play match maker in hopes that it will help Molly feel less lonely. The issue with this is that although Molly has had plenty of crushes, she hasn’t actually dated or kissed anyone. In fact, for Molly it’s all about that feeling that you get when you have a crush…

“And it’s a little different with every guy, so it’s kind of hard to generalize—but if I had to describe the feeling of a crush, I’d say this: you just finished running a mile, and you have to throw up, and you’re starving, but no food seems appealing, and your brain becomes fog, and you also have to pee. It’s this close to intolerable. But I like it.”
Becky Albertalli, The Upside of Unrequited

Ok so I’m just going to start off by saying I was Molly Peskin-Suso sans her craftiness lol. I too carried on way too many crushes & gave them all pseudonyms for easy recollection lol. That new crush feeling she describes? yea all too familiar smh, and I also never found the courage to say anything to said crushes *awkwardly looks away from screen* lol. Molly’s character brought back some fun memories and as a plus size gal myself, I found I could relate to her even as a grown adult. Her honesty about the feelings she has rang true to me. Molly has moments where she doesn’t feel comfortable with her weight, she doesn’t want to be just “the girl with the very pretty face”. At the same time, she has moments of empowerment & never once feels the need to be thin just to get a boyfriend. Molly has the same thoughts we’ve all had about our bodies & her inner monologues mirrored my own at that age. Needless to say, I LOVED Molly! I also really enjoyed reading her twin sister Cassie who is the complete opposite of Molly. Cassie & Molly have a great sibling relationship & because they’re twins (same age haha) they have the same circle of friends. Cassie is the extroverted twin, described by Molly as being very attractive & also happens to like girls. Seeing Cassie fall in love while still trying to be there for Molly and even play match maker was super cute. Molly and Cassie also spend time with their cousins (same age) over Skype videos & YAY for female friendships and seeing more of that in our books! *whoop whoop*  

I realize this is getting lengthy but Albertalli really knows how to make you fall head over heels with all of her characters. Last but not least are the AMAZING parentals! Molly’s moms are in tune with their kids and by no means are they your traditional types. I loved seeing their genuine interest in seeing their kids happy. They aren’t holding tight leashes on their kids but instead trust them enough to right. Some may think they were a bit too understanding but when it mattered they stepped in. Also loved seeing each mom’s personality pop on the page. They weren’t just background characters, their own experiences are woven into the story which gives you a more well rounded look at this family.

This is my 1st Albertalli book & I’m quickly making her an auto-buy author. I have Simon waiting for me on ibooks & can’t wait to see what the buzz is with that guy. Simon does do a cameo in this book & that Becky knew what she was doing! I need to know more about Simon!!! haha! this was a fun feel good contemporary. I smiled from start to finish and loved all of the diversity and plus size representation in Upside. Also in the mix, Albertalli found a way to include a quick conversation between Molly, Cassie, & friends on a comment made by another and how it is considered problematic. This then led to a healthy discussion and I found it refreshing to see how it was handled. Upside of Unrequited is now a top 2017 fave & will probably make the cut at the end of year for top 10. I can’t recommend this book enough! PLEASE BUY IT. PLEASE READ IT. PLEASE LOVE IT. 😉

Have any of you wonderful bookish peeps read The Upside of Unrequited? fave character? quote? I mean Molly did have quite a few good lines lol…



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! 

March Wrap-Up & Book Haul

March found me a bit scatter brained in all things life & reading but I took this as a sign of adjusting to my new place & neighborhood. I did a little neighborhood exploring (for those who don’t know, I recently moved) & arranging in our new place. I finally unpacked the last bit of boxes but i’ll be honest, the sole motivator for that was the end of the month bday party I was having at home for my daughter. If I were pregnant (I’m not lol), I’d call March my nesting period & I was just waiting for the moment it would feel like home. Whelp, I’m fully comfortable now & moved on to the next stages of paint swatches *silent prayer to the universe*  which i’m personally intimidated by. Anyways, in the month of March I read 4 quality books, this seems to be a pattern lately (can’t break out of 4) but i’m hoping April will be a little different since I have Graphic Novels to read as well *fingers crossed*…

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The Roanoke Girls by my Engel ★★★★ (4 Stars)

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

Hunted by Meagan Spooner ★★★★★ (4.5 Stars)

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence (First Book of the Ancestor) ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

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This is a 1st on LairofBooks haha! other than my Owlcrate & Book of the Month (view here) I actually did NOT buy any physical books *gasps* I know, shocking right? yeah well I think it was my subconscious telling me to chill cuz May 2nd is right around the corner & on that date my pockets will weep. Now, I can’t really say that I didn’t buy ANY books though…my Amazon Kindle deals addiction is very much strong & alive *no worries* I didn’t realize just how many e-book deals I jumped on but this wrap-up is a real eye opener LOL!…

Yea…so…a bit much but ummm at least they’re only taking up digital space? smh, i’ll do better in April though. I’ve already passed up some tempting deals & i’m quite proud of myself. Oh & The Chaos Of Longing was FREE so yea 😉

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March sadly did not see me watching one of my most anticipated movies Beauty & the Beast. I hope to remedy that this coming weekend but don’t want to jinx it so i’ll leave it at that. I Did manage to watch 1 movie & 1 Netflix show…

Logan
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I’m a HUGE X-men fan & even named my soon to be 3 year old son Logan after my fave X-men (close tie with Storm but didn’t think naming the kid that would help much). Every month, well at least once a month the hubby & I have ourselves a a date night & this was our pick. No regrets here! this is easily one of Hugh Jackman’s greatest films, his performance was on POINT! Dafnee Keen the little girl who plays X-23 is a perfect fit for the role & i’m very interested in seeing what is done with her story arc. Also very pleased to see a Latinx child actress on the screen for a change *whoop whoop*

This movie is Rated R for a change & I for one think this improved the cinematic quality overall. The fight scenes were def more intense & gory, just as an FYI there are no sex scenes in Logan. The story line was A+ & held my interest from start to finish. I was very emotional by the end & have plenty of questions but primarily…WHAT’S NEXT?!?! I’ve heard rumors of Fox producing a Marvel series with the children in this movie, not sure how I feel about that. I’d probably check it out but I’d much rather prefer a continuation on the big screen. Overall I rated Logan 5 stars 😉

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So…thoughts…I have plenty but they aren’t very nice smh. I have watched all of the Netflix Marvel series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage) and really enjoyed them (Daredevil ssn2 was a bit meh for me). Iron Fist however was hard to watch & no I am not talking about the well known reasons that are being talked about on social media. I caught on to the discussion on twitter regarding Marvel’s decision to cast a white actor to fulfill the role of a “master of distinctly Asian traditions of fighting” (Link to NYT article) a bit late. What I do know is that the actor (didn’t bother looking up his name), is either a terrible actor or his character was written poorly. It felt awkward by episode 7, watching this character come off as dumb (i’m trying to be nice). He continued to come off as lost & naive from start to finish no matter how many times he was stabbed in the back. What sucks the most is that the supporting actors were actually good & I enjoyed their parts the most including the villains. To be honest, given how much of this show featured Asian traditions of fighting & how awkward Danny Rand (fictional name) came off explaining & “teaching” these traditions…I am also of the opinion that a opportunity was missed to feature a asian actor. Overall I rated Iron Fist a meh 3 & that’s simply for the supporting performances.

The Defenders Trailer with Easter Eggs

For those like myself who didn’t see much in the short trailer released by Marvel yesterday 😉

I’m only 6 days late with this wrap-up/haul, record breaking! for the most part I am still seeing these posts on my timeline & will be making my rounds btwn today & tomorrow. If you’ve done yours please drop that link & I’ll swing by your corner of the interwebs for a chat. Have any of my bookish peeps read or watched any of the books/movies/shows I mentioned? if so, I’d love to hear your thoughts 🙂

Review: Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

25895524Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) by Mark Lawrence

Published by: Ace

Publication Date: April 4th 2017

Genre: Adult Fantasy/LGBTQ

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★

HUGE thanks to Ace, Netgalley, and Mark Lawrence for the eGalley of Red Sister in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

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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…

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My very 1st Mark Lawrence read & boy was it something! nothing could’ve prepared me for what lay ahead but the first few pages in the first chapter did manage to leave me wide eyed. Right off the bat we are introduced to a 8 year old Nona & the harsh reality of the world she lives in. The opening scene had me asking strangers on the train “oh! so no man, woman, or CHILD is safe under Mark’s pen huh?!?!” well the answer to that is NO! no one is safe & plenty are hungry enough to sell their children to avoid starvation. Nona is literally saved from the noose at the very last second by a Nun from Sweet Mercy Convent which is by no means your typical convent. This also won’t be my typically styled review, I finished this book days ago & have gone above & beyond to avoid a book hangover. I will try my best not to fangirl all over this review, back to the Plot…

Sweet Mercy Convent gave me Hogwarts mixed with a Ludus (like in Spartacus) vibes. The nuns at Sweet Mercy all specialize in one skill or another ranging from fighting to magic. Everyone in this world is a descendant from of the following four tribes:

Hunska: Speed (faster than your average human)

Gerrant: Physically large & strong

Marjal: ability to do magic on a smaller scale

Quantal: ability to walk the path & more complex magic

The students who enter are sorted by the abilities they’ve shown a inherent skill towards or in the case of Gerrant & Hunska, are visibly on display. The girls also attend classes in various subjects pertaining to each skill and go through ranks in the following order: Red Class, Gray Class, Mystic Class, and Holy Class. Nona will have 10 years of education in the convent in order to become a Red Sister. During her time & training in the convent there are outside forces at work seeking retribution for old wounds. Nona has secrets, ones that she doesn’t want her peers to ever find out for fear they will see the darkness within her. Nona has a bloody violent history leading up to the noose where she would be hung for her crime. We follow her progress in Sweet Mercy Convent as she learns to hone her skills all the while dealing with inside & outside threats.

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We follow Nona from age 8 to about age 11 in this first installment in the Book of the Ancestor series. She has only known violence & the need to survive when she is brought to Sweet Mercy Convent. She is shrouded in mystery & likes it that way, often times making up stories for her past. Perhaps Nona’s biggest weakness is her unquestioning loyalty to those that call her “friend”. In Sweet Mercy we are introduced to the Abess & sisters who run the convent & teach the classes. I found myself enjoying some of these characters like Sister Apple for her specialty which I won’t reveal since it is spoilery. Also, Sister Kettle who watches over the library, won me over with her threat to anyone caught folding pages in books. Besides the vast array of sisters, there were three other girls in Nona’s class we get to follow closely. There’s Clera who has a love/hate relationship with Nona, Arabella who fiercely watches over Nona, and Hessa who is connected to Nona & often plays the voice of reason. Friendships play a center focus in Red Sister, we see Nona learning the highs & lows all the while living in a competitive setting. Arabella was hands down my favorite & seeing their friendship unfold was awesome since as a reader of Young Adult, I don’t often see positive F/F friendships. This was a change of pace & there were definitely betrayals & double crossings in the mix but that’s to be expected in this world where violence is the law of the land. I like my characters flawed & complex and Lawrence delivers with Nona as well as her friends. No one is wholly “good” or “evil” & therefore nothing is ever black or white in this world, we get a ton of gray til the very last page.

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I finished reading Red Sister some time last week & was left speechless…so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to write this review. I needed to digest what was my first ever Mark Lawrence book & gather my thoughts. From start to finish, Red Sister held me in its grip for various reasons including the no holds barred violence that follows our main protagonist. The world building at first seemed like it would overwhelm me but Lawrence weaves in the ranks & paths so well, that there really was no need to refer to the glossary. About the glossary LOL! MAJOR points for placing the glossary at the very beginning of the book as opposed to the very end where no one ever thinks to look haha! although as previously mentioned, it wasn’t necessary other than as back-up info to this world. The writing is very detailed but in a useful way if that makes sense, it wasn’t overkill. The fighting/training scenes were the most detailed & I was able to get a vivid picture almost as if I were watching a movie. Told in third person POV, Red Sister’s opening pages starts you off with a glimpse of events taking place in the future. This alone was a HUGE motivator for me as far as page turning goes, I needed to find out what that whole scene was about & how everyone managed to get to that point…WHAT WENT WRONG?!?!?! to say that I loved my 1st Mark Lawrence book is a HUGE understatement, I’m in it for the long haul my bookish peeps! If you’re a mostly Young Adult Fantasy reader & are considering taking the leap into Adult Fantasy, this may be a great place to start. For fans of bad a** female heroines, vivid  fight scenes, positive female friendships, positive LGBTQIA representation and elements of the Potterverse…this book is for YOU! 😉

Some of my closest book blogging buddies have already read Red Sister & I will spend Monday visiting their reviews to finally read their thoughts & complain about the wait til’ book 2 haha! Is anyone else reading Red Sister? If you have a review up, please drop that link in the box below & I’ll gladly swing by for a chat 🙂

Review: You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

25701463You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Published by: RandomHouse

Pub Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: YA

Contemp/Disability/LGBTQIA

Pages: 304 pages

Rating: ★★★★★

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A vibrant, edgy, fresh new YA voice for fans of More Happy Than Not and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, packed with interior graffiti.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.

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The Goodreads synopsis for You’re Welcome Universe pretty much captures what this book is about so I won’t paraphrase, instead I’ll cover the themes. This book seriously had it all & then some! the result is a EPIC story you won’t want to put down. We start off with the main protagonist Julia getting into some trouble in school after she is caught using graffiti to cover up slurs on a wall aimed at her “best friend”. Julia’s intentions were good but as we all know graffiti is illegal & frowned upon. Graffiti is Julia’s way of expressing herself in a world that is very much silent to her. More importantly, she finds that in her art she can be seen in a world where she feels invisible & therefore bypassed. You’re Welcome Universe is a book about the up’s & down’s of friendships, self expression, trust, and staying true to yourself no matter what.

Our main protagonist Julia considers herself a rare anomaly & proud of it. This character is confident even when she may not feel that way on the inside. Most of the time she is speaking her mind through sign language & won’t shy away from giving her two cents when asked. I appreciated Julia’s raw & straight forward personality because we don’t see a lot of that in YA contemporaries.

I flip Through some magazines, hoping lightning will strike, but there’s not a cloud in the sky. No one in the pages of Nylon is like me. I’m a fingerprint, an anomaly, a snowflake. Indian, Deaf, girl, two moms. You couldn’t make this shit fit in the pages of those glossy mags.”

Julia is also very loyal & expects the same in return from her friends. She doesn’t wear a hearing aide & communicates via sign language. Both of Julia’s moms are also deaf which meant that a lot of the book was also internal monologue. Julia is sarcastic & so when you’re in her head you can’t help but smile at this strong & witty gal who is navigating friendships, crushes, and the parentals while also trying to feed her passion for graffiti. what I loved most about Julia had to be her commitment to being REAL when it came to her friends/non friends & giving it to them straight! This is admirable, too many times your friends hold back for fear of losing you but its rare when you find a Julia 😉

The Parentals Mee & Ma play the role of good cop/bad cop which felt realistic, there’s always one parent who gets pegged the “strict one”. I enjoyed seeing Julia’s parents interactions & conversations as well as the cute traditions they created. There are good times & bad ones just like with any teenager but at the end of the day, their love for one another helped them overcome the challenges along the way. Julia also befriends a girl in her new school who she assigned the nickname YP (Yoga Pants) in sign language. YP is an interesting character, from the instant she meets Julia they hit it off but even they are aware of how unlikely their friendship appears. YP at the time is in the Cheerleading squad and is dating the “hot” guy in school, but YP also has a secret. I loved YP’s character, seeing her take initiative to learn sign language in order to be able to communicate with Julia stood out the most for me. Given how our story begins with a broken friendship, I was weary of YP but also happy to see Julia find a good friend. YP struggles with a hidden disorder I won’t disclose cuz spoilers but I will say that I appreciated how it was handled.  I also loved Julia’s treatment of YP, she wasn’t afraid to tell her friend “you’re beautiful” & that’s quite rare. Julia cared to see YP happy & looked out for her feelings which meant a lot considering Julia herself is the opposite of sensitive. We also get to meet Julia’s interpreter Casey who sits in on all of her classes & truly cares for Julia. Casey, I felt played an important role in the sense that her presence gives the reader a taste of what it’s like for Julia to need her to communicate with other people on her behalf.

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Every once in a while I pick up a YA Contemporary that gives me all the feels & renews my interest in the genre…You’re Welcome, Universe is that book! Julia referring to herself as an anomaly/snowflake set the tone for the book. She knew she was one of a kind & that gave her a sense of pride which I loved seeing. The positive portrayal of a Indian deaf girl with 2 deaf moms…I absolutely admired & adored this fictional family.

Throughout the book we get to see some of the street art Julia so graciously shared & I enjoyed seeing the Graffiti battles on the pages. I didn’t include any of the actual images from the book because I found those to be the most fun getting to as I was reading. You want to flip the page & see what she tagged on the wall & how the mystery person who is challenging her tags with their own, responds. I also got bit nostalgic since Julia lives in NYC and the places she was visiting to tag up are places I am familiar, being born & raised here in NY. Graffitti played it’s role in this city’s history and can still be found if you’re looking…

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5 POINTZ (Julia’s dream wall) actually existed in Queens NYC, this is just one of the walls. This place has a ton of history & is home to many of the famous taggers. In 2013 it was purchased & the walls white washed causing much anger in the community 😦

The writing is very easy going in this book but perhaps what has resonated deeply within me is the positive messages this book sent out to overpower the negativity people with disabilities & disorders are subjected to. I couldn’t be more satisfied with our female protagonist & wish only to see more from Whitney Gardner in the near future *fingers crossed*

*Thank you RandomHouse, NetGalley, and Whitney Gardner for the opportunity to read & review You’re Welcome, Universe in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own*

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Whitney Gardner is an author, illustrator, and coffee addict. Originally from New York, she studied design and worked as an art teacher and school librarian before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she lives by a bridge with her husband and two pugs. In the rare moment Whitney isn’t writing or drawing, she’s likely to be reading comics, knitting, and tending her garden or apiary. You’re Welcome, Universe is her debut novel.

Have any of my bookish peeps read You’re Welcome, Universe? Thoughts? drop your links down below if you happen to have a review 😉