Review: Song Of The Current by Sarah Tolscer

Song Of The Current by Sarah Tolscer

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books

Publication Date: June 6th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 373 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Bloomsbury, Netgalley & Sarah Tolscer for the eGalley copy of Song of the Current. All opinions are my own.

Caroline Oresteia is destined for the river. For generations, her family has been called by the river god, who has guided their wherries on countless voyages throughout the Riverlands. At seventeen, Caro has spent years listening to the water, ready to meet her fate. But the river god hasn’t spoken her name yet—and if he hasn’t by now, there’s a chance he never will.

Caro decides to take her future into her own hands when her father is arrested for refusing to transport a mysterious crate. By agreeing to deliver it in exchange for his release, Caro finds herself caught in a web of politics and lies, with dangerous pirates after the cargo—an arrogant courier with a secret—and without the river god to help her. With so much at stake, Caro must choose between the life she always wanted and the one she never could have imagined for herself.

From debut author Sarah Tolcser comes an immersive and romantic fantasy set along the waterways of a magical world with a headstrong heroine determined to make her mark.

Song Of The Current is THE book you must read if you’ve been seeking adventure in the high seas! the main protagonist Caro has a passion & true calling for sailing and adventure, she is an Orestia after all! Caro is waiting for the day that the River God calls her name to meet her fate however, it hasn’t happened & this makes her question if she’s even cut out for the waterways. Nevertheless she continues to work alongside her father taking contracts to smuggle all sorts of goods (some shadier than others). It is when her father is imprisoned for refusing to help smuggle a highly classified item that Caro is forced to take the helm. She plans to get her dad out of prison with or without the help of the river god by fulfilling the contract her father declined. This job will take her far away from the river she knows so well, into the vast ocean & troubled waters where only a true captain & thrill seeker would dare go. Caro has no idea what lies inside the crate she’s been tasked with transporting in exchange for her father’s freedom, only that it’s highly secretive. We follow Caro on an adventure that may seem like fate after all. This book has it all! Privateers VS. Pirates, people of color, politics, its own mythos, frogmen, Gods, feminism, & a bit of romance.

Diversity rules the pages of Song of the Current & I just LIVED for every single character introduction! Starting with Caro our main female protagonist who is described as being darker skinned with  dark reddish colored coiled hair. Although when we meet Caro she is content with life up and down the river alongside her father, we get a sense that hers is a destiny much larger. With Caro, there is nothing traditional & she’s just not having it, this includes any ideologies on being a housewife. Our MC knows what she wants & isn’t afraid to go after it. I loved seeing the strong bond she had with her dad, Father-daughter relationships are my Kryptonite. On their modest ship it’s only three of them: Caro, her dad, and Fee a Frogmen (half human/half frog). They have each others backs and basically just aim to survive until it all changes. Along the way we meet Caro’s mother but I won’t go to much into her role for fear of spoilers. I will say that Caro’s mother is also a POC & that I LOVED her flawed & all! the love interest is another I can’t go into too much detail but I will say that he is the complete opposite of Caro & that the age old saying “opposites attract” would apply here 😉

Song of the Current is THE ULTIMATE! Pirate book so if you’re a hardcore fan of pirates, this is the book you’re going to want to read. Down to the lingo used in the dialogue, you’re getting pirate talk which made for a more authentic reading experience. Earlier in the year I read & LOVED Daughter of the Pirate King (MUST READ! Lol) but I also came across reviewers who felt they didn’t get the full on Pirate experience. Song of the Current will satisfy those looking for a Pirates of the Caribbean experience. The pacing however, if i’m being completely honest, was a bit on the slower side to start. However, I was never bored and the the story itself hooked me in (see what I did there? ehhh) from the very start. The love interest wasn’t my favorite but I’m beginning to see more & more of that in YA Fantasy with strong female heroines. My thoughts on the romance are that it isn’t made to take center stage to Caro’s story & in that sense I was OK with it, her feelings are explained in the book. The world building was A+ from the lingo, clothing, way of life, and mythos behind the Gods. This is book 1 in what I think is a duology? (correct me if I’m wrong) & the ending (one of my faves) was perfect! just enough to make me want to come back for more. After-all, Caros fate awaits her…

Have any of you bookworms picked this one up yet? If you have, how did this adventure fare with you? excited for the sequel? let me know in the comments 😉

ARC Review: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: June 13th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemp/Diverse

Pages: 352 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger warning: attempted rape

*HUGE thanks to Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, Netgalley & S.K. Ali for the eGalley copy of Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tight knit Muslim community think of her then?

Before I get into my review of this wonderful gemstone of a book, I’d like to include two #Ownvoices reviews I found on Goodreads. Both Leenahreads (Muslim & Arab) & Hadeer (Muslim & Egyptian) give a perspective that is much needed in the community & appreciated by this bookworm. Also, today is the release day for Saints and Misfits & on behalf of LairOfBooks, I’d like to wish S.K. Ali a very happy book birthday!!!

In Saints and Misfits we follow our main protagonist Janna Yusuf who is a Arab Indian-American hijabi teen navigating life within her Muslim community & High School. Janna finds herself having a major crush on Jeremy, a Irish student in her school that is non-Muslim. With these feelings come a slew of questions we get to see Janna find answers to along the way. We are introduced to Janna’s family & friends as well as the community she is very involved with. The daughter of divorced/co-parenting parents, living with her mom & slightly older brother…Janna & her family are already viewed as different within their own community. Having a crush on a non-Muslim boy complicates things for her & to add to her plate, she’s harboring a hurtful secret. Janna doesn’t know whether she will be believed if she speaks up since the secret is about a respected individual in the community. This is a story about self reflection, family, community, identity, friendship, strength, faith & courage to face your fears.

Ever come across a fictional character who has qualities you yourself wish you possessed? such is the case with my admiration of Janna Yusuf. She is by no means perfect but strong willed and firm in her beliefs. Like any teenager she deals with High School crushes and social pressures both on & offline. Seeing her navigate through certain situations gives you a feeling that you’re reading one confident character. For the most part Janna is confident which was refreshing, I loved seeing her take pride in wearing Hijab. Janna’s sarcasm proved to be one of my fave qualities since witty characters always win me over. Perhaps my most favorite trait of Jannas is her interactions with those around her & how empathetic she is even when she doesn’t want to be lol. I also loved the relationship between Janna and her slightly older brother Muhammad. Throughout the book Janna’s older brother is courting another Muslim girl his age & he has asked Janna to supervise their dates. Janna does so even though she’s not a fan of his romantic interest & in doing so we get to see them spend more time around one another. It was nice seeing Muhammad be so attentive to Janna that he was able to pick up on there being something wrong. His genuine concern for his little sister made me wish he was my big brother *sobs*

Janna also has a non-Muslim bestie  who I’m just going to go ahead and say it….Tats = Ride or Die Bestie for life! Tats is such an amazing friend to Janna & respectful of her beliefs even when social pressure got in the mix. Of course they had moments where Tats didn’t understand fully but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Ultimately Tats respected Janna & had her back, love seeing positive f/f relationships. Lastly, one of my fave characters was Mr. Ram who lived in Janna’s complex and who Janna would take to/from a community center for the elderly. Mr. Ram has a passion for poetry & for encouraging Janna to pursue what makes her happy whether it’s sketching or photography. He imparted so much wisdom to Janna & just loved life so much his good spirits were contagious right through the page. There were many other characters in this book but I fear that going into them all would take away from the fun it was getting to know them. Overall, an amazing cast of characters!

I have so much love for this book I don’t even know where to start honestly! as a diverse blogger, I know the importance of seeing these books on our shelves. Most recently I read a Latinx YA book that left me smiling from ear to ear because I saw myself on the pages. In reading reviews such as the ones I linked in the intro to my review, I get a sense that this will be the case for many Muslim, Hijab, Arab, Indian-American readers. I can honestly say this book gave me so much more than a few hours of enjoyment, the lessons I took away are of much higher value. S.K. Ali organically wove bits & pieces of culture, religion, and faith throughout Saints and Misfits making for a rich reading experience. Our main protagonist is holding onto a hurtful secret & Ali gives us a realistic view of the situation. What it really would be like to expose a religious leader & the ugly truth of it all. A strong message is delivered ,many will stand against you but also, many will stand WITH you. The strong theme of community at the core plays an integral role in Janna’s life & I believe Ali captured that well with Saints and Misfits. I 100% reccomend this book to any & all, I just can’t wait to read more from S.K. Ali! 🙂

Will you be picking up Saints and Misfits today? If you’ve already read & reviewed, please drop a link & I’ll most def swing by your corner of the interwebz 😉

May Wrap-Up & Book Haul

It finally feels like Summer is right around the corner! &&& I’m also late with my May Wrap-Up/ Book Haul but that’s less surprising. I had one goal in mind for the month of May & that was to keep my book buying to the bare minimum because I’d be attending Bookcon the 1st week of June. I succeded & have already given myself some pats on the back for this little accomplishment. I also read a bit more than expected what with all the Bookcon excitement keeping me up at night lol, so that was nice. I also managed to squeeze in 2 movies & celebrated LairOfBooks 1 year Blogoversary!!! *throws confetti* Since we’re already a week into June, I’ll keep it short & sweet 😉

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate ★★★★ (4 Stars)

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich ★★★★ (4 Stars)

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier ★★★★ (4 Stars)

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

 

I had a pretty great reading month in terms of quality & quantity (for me anyways lol). I was over the moon excited to hear my favorite Thriller/Suspense author released a book in May (Lisa Unger, Red Hunter) & when my twin called from the Strand Bookstore saying she picked me up a copy, I did a little dance. I’ve only read her books through Netgalley so this will be my 1st physical copy on my shelves, thanks Twin @ChicNerdReads! It was an amazingly atmospheric read that I had a hard time leaving behind once I had reached the last sentence. My 2nd favorite read of the month is hands down Eliza And Her Monsters which is another I can’t let go of. For everyone who has ever belonged to a fandom or was behind the creation of one, this one is for you! for those of US who seek & find comfort at home reading or watching a fave show because social anxiety is ever present in your life, this one’s for you! there is so much good in this book, I really do believe there’s something for everyone 😉

*Click on photo & follow my IG for more Bookish Fun 😉

A Court Of Wings And Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins (BOTM additional book I added)

Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Owlcrate)

Milk And Honey by Rupi Kaur

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger (gift from my twin Gretchen @ChicNerdReads)

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (BOTM selection)

Hubby & I started May off with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, we typically take off 1 day from work every month to chill, hit up a movie & bookstore/comic book store…basically nerd out sans the two tiny humans giving us major side eye haha! I want to say that I enjoyed Vol. 2 more than the first but I think that my feelings toward it are the same (3.5 stars). Except I could’ve done without the cheesy dad bit. The soundtrack & Groot continue to be my fave parts of this movie. Trang & Lashaan over at Bookidote have a EPIC review or as they call it on their blog, a “Cinedote” (see here) which pretty much sums up how I feel about this movie. I’d give them a follow if I were you cuz they’re pretty dope 😉

Towards the end of the month, my sister & I went on our sisterly date to watch Snatched cuz Goldie Hawn & Amy Schumer LOl. I love these ladies & the idea of them together on the screen at the same time reallllly gave me the giggles so I had to see what it was all about. OMYGOSH it was so funny! I’m talking bust your stitches funny smh lol, I spent it holding my tummy the entire time. It’s centered around a mother (Goldie) & daughter (amy) getting kidnapped in South America. They end up being more trouble for their captors than it’s worth with escape attempts turning into jaw dropping high jinks. As a fan of Goldie Hawn since childhood, it was great seeing her back on the screen. I recently read & enjoyed Amy’s autobiographical memoir The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo  within the last couple of months & can say I am now a fan, LOVE HER! Def recommend (5 stars) 😉

Hope you all are having a wonderful June so far! How was your May? read/watch anything AMAZING? thank you for reading my late post & I’ll see ya all in the next post <3’s!

 

WWW Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Publisher: Hogarth

Publication Date: May 11th, 2017

Genre: Fiction/Re-telling

Pages: 204 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

*Cover = Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring comes the fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a modern retelling of Othello set in a suburban schoolyard

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.

The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.

This is my first read from the Hogarth Shakespeare collection & it will not be the last. Originally I had plans to start with another Hogarth title, Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed but I’m glad I opted to go with this one. A short read coming in at just about 200 pgs., New Boy by Tracey Chevalier packs a hell of a punch! Seeing as this is a short book, I decided to go with my thoughts & not go too in depth with plot for fear of spoilers. I was drawn to this book once I read “tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard” in the Goodreads blurb & thought YES PLEASE! I was the kid in Junior High School who actually enjoyed the classics & read as many as possible (prob why I read so much YA now lol) so this was like music to my 7th grade self. This will def not be the last Hogarth title I read, I found the writing easily accessible when compared to the Ol’ legend Shakespeare himself. I’m all for a modern take on the classics when it’s done right & Tracy Chevalier delivered a poignant re-telling.

95% of this story takes place in the school yard & the main characters are 6th graders aka the seniors. We follow our main character Osei Kokote who has just transferred into the school about 7 mths prior to graduation. Osei is the son of a diplomat & no stranger to being the new boy in school/playground. This school however is a bit tougher to adjust to with Osei being the only child or for that matter, the only person of color. Osei is a very quiet, observant, and wise for his age child. Still, at the end of the day he is just a child in a all white school during the Nixon era which sadly made him the target. We see the trickle down effects of racism from the adults to the children. The atmosphere on the playground changes whenever Osei is around & the tension is palpable to the reader. From the children staring & whispering to the teachers who immediately peg him as a problem child, the build up leaves you with a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I felt a range of emotions reading New Boy, anger was a big one. Chevalier didn’t hold back, providing us with the POV’s of both the children and the teachers. Many times I found myself wondering who was worse, the children who were taught to hate a skin color or the teachers with racism embedded in their hearts. Osei made one friend on that playground, Dee who found herself fascinated by him because he was different. Dee found herself wanting to spend all her time with Osei, talking about all he had seen while traveling with his parents. The attention Dee gave Osei was immediately noticed by all others. Playgrounds are known to be the scene of many dramatic events between friends and foes. Also, they typically have some sort of hierarchy with cliques that form & dissolve at the blink of an eye. This story has it’s bully aka aggressor, his name is Ian & throughout the course of this book we see him plot & scheme. Although you see the typical childhood dramas unfold, it isn’t without an underlying sense of danger.

This book made me think for days about what the younger generations are being taught at home. Not the lessons you get from books but rather the ones passed on by the older generations. How racism isn’t something you are born with, it is taught. The kids in this book were repeating things they heard at home but lacked conviction. There were moments when they included Osei in games & you almost thought they’d forgotten they feared him. Then an incident would occur & serve as a reminder of who they were taught to keep their distance from. I’ve never had a book invoke this much emotion to leave me shaking, making New Boy a read I’ll never forget. It’s short & to the point. Raw & unapologetic til the very last sentence. A relevant read given our current social & political climate. I highly recommend this one to all my book blogging buddies & readers. If you do decide to pick this one up, feel free to contact me to talk about this read.

Have any of you read New Boy or perhaps have plans to? if so (w/out spoilers), what are your thoughts? Also, if you’ve read any of the other books in the Hogarth collection, which would you recommend I read next?

Review: The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

Publisher: Touchstone

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 359 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*Trigger Warning: Rape

Cover = Goodreads

What is the difference between justice and revenge? In this buzzworthy new standalone thriller by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger, two wronged women on very different paths find themselves in the same dark place…

Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

The majority of this year has been dedicated to my YA titles but a change of pace was needed. Typically I turn to the thriller/Suspense genre whenever I’m in need of a good palette cleanser. Sometime last year I read Lisa Unger’s Ink and Bone & was hooked from page 1 to the very last. When I started seeing The Red Hunter’s beautiful splash of red all over my Bookstagram feed, I sent a little prayer to the Book Gods & went to see if Netgalley was offering it for review & the rest is history lol. I read the majority of this book in 1 day (60%), Lisa Unger once again delivered a immersive page turner. We get introduced to these two women who have been through traumatic experiences & somehow the reader knows their paths are fated to cross in some way.

Claudia is a rape survivor & we get to see her aftermath, she has a teenage daughter who may or may not be from her attacker. Her life has been turned upside down but she has chosen to re-build away from all of that by moving away from the city. I really enjoyed Claudia’s character, she has battle scars & yet she perseveres to find her peace. She has this love for places that have that lived in feel & so picking up and going to the country side to try & renovate her dads old house fit her personality so well. The parts where we see her blogging (some entries from her blog included) about her trauma & the home renovation were some of my fave parts. It did seem at times like she couldn’t catch a break with some of the decisions she made lol but that just added to her charm. We also get to follow her Daughter Raven’s POV. Raven knows all about her mom’s rape since they’ve chosen to be very honest, we get to see her search for more answers.

Zoey survived the murder of her parents when she was just a kid. Through a home invasion, both of her parents are tied up & asked to divulge the location of 1 million dollars (lots of backstory here but spoilers lol). Her parents are ultimately killed and Zoey herself is hurt & tortured. Fast Forward to the present & now we have someone who is searching for justice. She has taken up martial arts classes & excelled in training. You get the feeling that Zoey is traveling with a “dark passenger” (for fans of Dexter lol). Although she has re-built her life with the help of her uncle Paul (retired detective), she hasn’t been able to put her demons to rest. I LOVE morally ambiguous characters & I got that with Zoey who has taken so many hits that I found myself rooting for her to strike back!

The cast of characters in Red Hunter is bigger than these two leading ladies. We get to meet a lot of the people who have formed their support system as well. From Claudia, we have her daughter Raven & her ex husband. Zoey who comes from a cop family, has her uncle Paul, her martial arts teacher who is also a retired cop, and other cops as well who are still in her life. Unger manages to keep all players on the chess board while she weaves their story lines together. Once again she’s left me with fictional characters I love & will always remember.

The Red Hunter is up there for top faves of 2017 & cements my love for Lisa Unger. She is now an auto-buy author for me & I will be keeping an eye out for anything & everything she puts out. I don’t want to get into the plot too much because that would lead to spoilers & take away the fun. The Goodreads blurb does a good job of summing it up w/out ruining anything. There’s so much story in these 359 pages & seeing her skills with weaving the lives in this story together leaves you in awe…FLAWLESS! Perhaps what I love the most about her writing style is her ability to deliver characters I can’t help getting invested in. I genuinely end up caring about where their roads lead which leads to my want for a series from this author *silent prayer to the book Gods* Lastly, the mark of every Unger book would have to be her settings. This time the story took place mostly in the country in that house Claudia is renovating. Yet just like the Hollows in Ink and Bone, you can’t help but see the house as its own character. It has a soul & holds a dark & violent past making for a very atmospheric read. I hands down highly recommend The Red Hunter to all readers & please can we get more Lisa 😉

*Thank you Touchstone, Netgalley, and Lisa Unger for the opportunity to read a eGalley copy of The Red Hunter in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have any of you awesome bookworms read or plan to read The Red Hunter? if you have, which character was your favorite?

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?

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 = Links to Goodreads 

30163661

I’m currently reading Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer which I’ve read so many negative reviews on *unfortunately* but I’m not hating so there’s that *glass half full* I wouldn’t say that this a 5 star read but at the 50% point I see some things that I do like. I’ve always been a sucker for a Sleeping Beauty re-telling & couldn’t resist this one but I am feeling a bit under-whelmed.

I recently finished Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (review here) which I rated 3 stars. Although I didn’t LOVE it, I am in love with two of the characters in this book to actually want to pick up the conclusion to this duology. This is Mindy’s 1st dip into YA Fantasy pool & in the spirit of giving authors a 2nd chance, I’d say that yes I would give it another go. I admire authors who take risks and cross genre’s (thinks of Adam Silvera & smiles lol) when done right, it can be interesting to see a different style of story telling from your favorite author. Now, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I believe was aiming to shatter my cheeks with how much smiling I was doing haha! I have been seriously going through a YA Fantasy burn-out/slump due to ARCS I’m trying to do right by smh lol. I needed a contemporary & I’m so glad I picked up Upside!!! I have a review going live on Thursday & I can’t recommend this book enough. The positive body image representation for plus size was FLAWLESS! and yea I can say this since I am plus size 😉 

I’m not really sure in which order I’ll read these yet, it really all depends on my mood after I finish Spindle Fire. Although I am currently feeling slumpy with YA Fantasy…I’ll shamefully admit, I haven’t read anything by Renee Ahdieh *for shame* &&&& I’m curious about her writing now. I mean I own The Wrath & The Dawn but don’t honestly know why I haven’t read it yet…the woman obviously speaks to my cover lust/vanity side. Also, who doesn’t want to read a Mulan re-telling? I think ya’ll know which one I’m leaning towards LOL! it’s a close tie if i’m being honest only because I love Magical Realism & have heard lovely things about A Million Junes so far 😉

Comment down below whether you think I should read A Million Junes or A Flame in the Mist next? Also, did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & i’ll swing by your blog for a peek. <3<3<3 XOXO!