Friday Reads & a Lil’ Chat…

Happy Friday Readers!!! Itโ€™s been a hot minute since I posted a #Fridayreads & I thought today would be a good day to bring that back here on the blog. I’m typically reading (devouring) books & reviewing but lately I have been feeling a bit slumpish. I’m still reading & keeping up with reviews cuz ya girl doesn’t cope well with letting people down lol, I’m just not doing as much as I was before my move. This got me thinking…what is hindering me from enjoying these amazing arcs? it’s not a shortage of books, ya’ll know your girl has a book buying problem…then what is it? Whelp before I get into that, this is a Friday Reads post so lets start with what i’m currently reading…

Red Sister by Mark Lawrence is my 1st Adult Fantasy book in YEARS! I’m a newb to Mark Lawrence, this being my 1st book of his but LOOK ^^^ uhh, he re-tweeted me getting ready to sit on the top staircase at work & read his book…what I didn’t expect were the Seagulls that landed on the roof & proceeded to give me a full on orchestra of cries. I do not lie…ask Gretchen @Chicnerdreads who has a voice note of said evil Gulls making a liar out of my tweet cuz no reading got done once they got started๐Ÿ˜‚anyways, Red Sister is EPIC bad assery @ its finest. It’s a pretty big book but I don’t mind cuz not one bit drags & I keep finding things to love. Think Arya Stark/X-23 aka Wolverine’s protรฉgรฉ on her 1st day at Hogwarts…less magic…more fight training yet similar concepts. If like me, you are looking for more books with female friendships then this will check that box off for ya ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am reading a ton slower than usual but its not for lack of enjoyment. I’m actually wondering what I’m going to do with myself once I finish reading Red Sister…maybe buy all of Mark’s (yea 1st name basis after you re-tweet me lol) previous books? most likely smh *covers face* 

I recently sat down to update my arc spreadsheet, something I found has helped me immensely with staying on top of publication dates. Now as much as it has helped with my anxiety…it has also contributed to it if that makes any sense? ๐Ÿ˜‚ I’d like to think i’m a pretty nice person…responsible @ least & so its been my thing to post reviews 1-2 weeks prior to pub date with all of my arcs. With the exception of two that I posted a few days after, I’ve been successful on this front…but what happens when life gets in the way? few know me well but those that do, know I’m not one to delve too deep into my personal life. I’m a listener & not much of a talker but I thought it time to share a little bit about myself with you, my faithful book blogging buddies/readers…

Most of you know I’m a “young” mom of 2 tiny humans & that I married my very 1st bookworm buddy over a shared love for Harry Potter smh LOL! (8 years strong). I also have a full time J-O-B in what can sometimes seem like a stuffy office (accounting for ya *sobs*). About a year ago I decided to start this blog as a way to connect with other readers (non-husbands) over one of my biggest passions…BOOKS! I also felt the need to create something of my own, my own little corner of the internet where I could retreat to after hours.  See, about 2 years ago I was diagnosed as Diabetic. Something I knew was a real possibility after 2 complicated pregnancies & a family history with diabetes. I was NOT however, prepared to accept that diagnosis. I was under the care of a nutritionist & had lost 18lbs. all on my own but in the end my genetics won that battle. I thought after losing my father to the disease, that I knew enough…I was wrong. I decided to educate myself, get under medical treatment, joined the gym, and changed my diet. When I say change diet I mean I followed docs orders & started eating more smaller meals to wake up a dead metabolism. Plenty think that all diabetics have an over eating problem…whelp here’s one diabetic that can’t seem to work up an appetite to eat more than 2 meals (if that) per day & is still not thin by any means. Diabetes is frustrating in that it contradicts itself at every turn. Eat too much = elevated sugar/eat too little = elevated sugar. Finding the perfect balance is something I still work hard for every hour of the day. Exhaustion comes at any hour of the day as an indicator that my sugar may be too low or too high. Often times, you will feel as if you are experiencing a bad hangover if not controlled. I work super hard to stay on top of my #’s but I am human & will sometimes falter. I power walk whenever possible & as much as possible, having a 3 train commute to & from work helps keep me active. Also, my new place has a gym in the lobby that is currently being set up with all of the amenities you’d find at a sportsclub! *eeeK* …However, there are days where it’s completely out of my control & I wake up with a high base just because overnight my hormones interfered with my glucose levels. It sometimes feels like a losing battle & that’s when depression kicks in, one of the well known symptoms of this disease. I have a ton to be happy for especially with finally getting a place I can call safe to live in. Yet there are days where the dark clouds take over & a book is the last thing on my mind…

I’m sharing this with you all because this has become my home away from home on some of my darkest days. I don’t like being moody with my loved ones when I’m feeling unwell & so take to distracting myself by reading all of your posts. I may not post as frequently but you will always see me hanging around your blogs, twitter, Instagram, & Goodreads. Some of the friendships I’ve made through blogging have really been a source of joy for me. Reading your comments & interacting with some of you on a more personal level has kept me company on days where I felt I made poor company for those physically around me. I have a loving husband & 2 tiny humans that I dote over even when I’m at work (yea I stalk the teacher lol), I love them to the moon & back…sometimes I do need ME time & that’s when I come to you, my second family. This blog has helped keep my anxiety low & my depression at bay on more days than I can count & for that I am thankful to be in this amazing community. Thank you to those that reach out with kind words, comments, GIFS, likes, loves, anything really lol, it means so much to me.

I’m really hoping to get out of this funk soon so that I can get back to reading ALL the books on my spreadsheet & hopefully from my own shelves lol. I mentioned to my twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads that I was also experiencing a bit of a YA Fantasy burn-out due to my arc binge of the genre. I have no one to blame but myself for this LOL! I’m definitely done requesting for some months, I miss reading from my shelves a bit. The one great thing that has come from this reading slump is that discussion/chat I promised ya’ll in December as part of my New Years Goals! it’s coming ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Bahaaaa! this is totally me with my 2 tiny humans everyday, one is def more livelier than the other LOL!

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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 Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

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

*Covers = Goodreads

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Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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I’m currently reading Hunted by Meagan Spooner & I’m enjoying it much more than I thought I would be. I say this because I do feel a bit of a Young Adult Fantasy burn out coming on. I’ve read a few Beauty & The Beast re-tellings but none with an actual talking beast lol. This is as close as it gets to the original BATB we all know & love…didn’t think it would work tbh but I find myself wanting to get back to this story every time I put it down.ย So far my reading experience with Hunted has been nostalgia filled & i’m enjoying getting a bit of my childhood back ๐Ÿ˜‰

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You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

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I recently read & reviewed You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner,ย this was a 5 star read for me and is very possibly one of my top favorites of 2017. If you’re looking for your next diverse read, look no further! this book has it all & will leave you asking why there aren’t more books like this one in YA (slowly improving but a long road ahead). Julia is a deaf Indian girl with 2 deaf moms, she likes to think of herself as a snowflake or an anomaly which made me instantly love her to pieces. If you’re a fellow New Yorker like myself, you’ll probably recognize some of the more famous places Julia likes to tag/graffiti. For my thoughts/review on You’re Welcome, Universe click the link above ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Red Sister (Book ofย the Ancestor #1)

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I was born for killing โ€“ 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 novicesโ€™ 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 donโ€™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 surviveโ€ฆ

Excuse me while I *eeeeeeeeK* my 1st Adult Fantasy book in years will be Red Sister by none other than Mark Larence!!! *happy dance* still can’t believe I managed to score a copy but thanking all of the book gods for this &ย  Drew from The Tattooed Book Geekย for introducing me to Mark Lawrence. I didn’t intend to start with Red Sister seeing as he has other well loved books but ahhhh well! that’s the way the cookie crumbled so onward & forward! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

February Wrap-Up & Book Haul (a very late but personal one…)

It is now March 6th & I am writing this post from my new place, finally fully settled in. February was a very special month for my little family (hubby & two tiny humans), a month of new beginnings. We didn’t exactly live in the safest of neighborhoods…matter of fact, its up there with one of the worse. This is common in NYC but not ideal when you’re trying to raise two tiny humans. Our neighborhood prevented us from many of the simple things like taking a walk down the block, all four corners having heavy police presence. Now I love my city, but this was new for me. We moved into that apartment 4 years ago with hopes to move sooner rather than later. For those of you who live in NYC, you know that rent for an apartment is about the average mortgage on a house. We considered the very likely possibility of moving out of state & starting over. What held us back? I’d have to say that its our jobs/careers. They aren’t exactly positions easy to come by & we are blessed in that sense. Yet still, the rent for an apartment is astronomical. Through the grapevine I heard about NYC lottos for brand new beautiful apartments in development in up & coming neighborhoods. I never in a million years expected to win smh after all, the odds were grim in such a large city. When I got the call I couldn’t believe it, my commute is longer but It’s also a suburb style neighborhood w/out actually leaving the city. In fact it wasn’t until I was handed the keys that it clicked. I am still in disbelief but for the 1st time in many years, I am happy in my home ๐Ÿ˜‰

Special thank you to my twin Gretchen @Chicnerdreads for being super sweet & coming to my neck of the woods to help out while we moved. I also got to read & edit her AMAZING debut poetry book Love, and You (Goodreads link here) out April 4th, 2017!๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ–ค

On the reading/blogging front…I didn’t blog much but surprisingly the move didn’t hinder my reading. I think its because when i’m stressed or overwhelmed, I find comfort in my books. On to my Wrap-Up…

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The Valiant by Lesley Livingston โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (3.75 STARS)

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomasโ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4 STARS)

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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Book Of The Month)

Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Owlcrate)

Rooms by Lauren Oliver

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Enriquez (Blogging For Books)

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Kings of the Wild by Nicholas Eames

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Zodiac Starforce 

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*I can’t resist a good ebook deal & all of these were either .99 or $1.99 with the exception of My Sister Rosa which was $2.99

To All The Boys Ive Loved Before by Jenny Han

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Into The Light by Althea Romig

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Kill The Father by Sandrone Dazieri

Usually this is the part where I include any movies or tv shows the hubby & I binged but the move pretty much ate up our February. Now that we’re settled, things are getting back to norm (whatever that is lol) & we’ve even gone out on our first date night since living here. I’m a little behind with reviews but I’ll catch up soon enough, for now i’m just enjoying the moment <3’s! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Happy Reading My Bookish Peeps! <3<3<3

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

30095464The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy 

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…

*HUGE thanks to Sourcebooks Fire, Netgalley, & Rin Chupeco for the eGalley of The Bone Witch

 

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The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the livingโ€”and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strongโ€”stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homelandโ€ฆand threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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The Bone Witch is a beautifully dark woven tale filled with dark magic, runes, tradition, sisterhood, greed, loss, and betrayal. We meet our protagonist, young Tea who has just been discovered as a Necromancer. In the very first pages she raises a familiar back from the dead & is cast as a Bone Witch. Feared but very much needed by her kingdom to keep them safe & away from the Daeva (aka beasts), Bone Witches are still few and far between. Tea is mentored by one of the most powerful Bone Witches in the land far away from her family. We follow Tea as she studies to become an Asha by taking lessons in the arts, history, physical combat, meditation, etc. which gave me Geisha vibes all the way. Tea starts off as a novice in a Asha-Ka where she must earn for the house she lives in & climb her way up to being a well respected & highly sought out Asha. Her training is rigorous & through a network of sisters she is taught the art of entertaining very important nobles, politicians, and royals. Tea however, won’t be your average Asha since as a Bone Witch, her calling is the Dark. Bone Witches are the only asha that can kill Daeva whenever they resurrect & the time spans for resurrection are different for all Daeva. Tea sees the task that Bone Witches take on for what it truly is…a sacrifice. For every Daeva that is slaughtered, the Bone Witch is physically & mentally drained. Their lives are spent hunting & killing Daeva for a kingdom that sees them as lepers because they are able to raise the dead.

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Photo credit@MoonRaven NightShadow

characters-banner The main protagonist Tea is a Bone Witch who is discovering just how powerful she is among the few Bone Witches that are left. She is young and has to depend on her new found Sisters to show her the ropes & teach her how to control her power. I loved that Tea was hungry to learn everything she possibly could to further her ascension in the ranks. I’ve grown accustomed to meeting female protagonists in YA Fantasy that tend to only be about self or having these GY-NORMOUS (totally made this word up lol) egos…Tea is none of that. She is humble enough to remember the kitchen staff as she grows in rank, seeing her sneak them food because she remembered what it was like to go without, spoke to her character. I ABSOLUTELY love that Tea is a POC (person of color) because they are so rare in Fantasy (YA or Adult) & like many of my fellow blogger buddies have mentioned, if you can create a whole host of supernatural beings then it can’t be that far fetched to include POC’s in Fantasy. Tea is mentored by Lady Mykaela who is known as the best of the best & was the person to personally seek a young Tea out when she sensed her powers at work. Lady Mykaella’s story is also told in bits & pieces, we get a sense that she’s suffered heartbreak & carries a heavy burden. I enjoyed seeing this female bond play out positively on the pages. We also get introduced to some of the asha who play supporting characters & those who work within the village selling all of the things an asha needs from head to toe (clothing, hair, magical potions woven into clothing). Of these my faves were Polaire who also serves as a Sister to Tea & made me giggle with her brash no hair on the tounge comments, Rahim who custom designed all of the asha’s Hua’s always brought color to the page, Likh who worked in the special hair trinket store is a boy who wanted nothing more than to become an asha & dance all of the traditional dances. I loved that Likh felt comfortable enough in his own skin to go for what he wanted & stay true to himself. With an array of characters of all ranges, The Bone Witch gave me a new set of characters to love & worry about haha!

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Ok, so here’s where it gets a bit tricky! I am a lover of lush worlds and if done right, I don’t mind the slower pace or the attention to detail. That being said, I did feel that plot was sacrificed a bit in place of characters & world building. It isn’t until the very end that we come full circle with what led to Tea being in her current situation (no spoilers). I didn’t mind the slow pace at all because I truly can get lost in a world & lose track of time as a whole when the writing is as good as it is in The Bone Witch. I also feel that The Bone Witch makes for a great Adult Fantasy even if it is YA Fantasy. I say this because of the complex magic system, AMAZING world building, and fleshed out characters that suck you in. This isn’t a book you’ll read in one sitting, I actually gave it my Junior’s Strawberry Cheesecake treatment…that is I savored it for as long as possible. Each & every time I picked it up, I sunk into the nearest recliner and shut myself down to the real world. This is very descriptive writing & if you enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, then this is a must have! as a person who enjoys reading about other cultures, I enjoyed the Asian influences in this Fantasy setting. The story alternates between past & present. In between the chapters we are given brief accounts of Tea’s past in pages that are italicized, however they are being recounted in the present. Tea decided to call on an Asha whose specialty is that of a historian, to chronicle her side of the story. It is within the pages that are italicized, in between the chapters that we get Bard’s POV as he chronicles Tea’s stories. Being that this is book 1 in a series & since the author has hooked me in with her writing style, I know I will definitely  be picking up the next installment. I also feel that we will see the action we wanted to see in this 1st book, in the next one. Tea’s story is far from over, I am super curious as to what she has planned up her hua’s sleeves cuz THAT ending!!! smh I need more ๐Ÿ™‚

My Bookish Peeps, those of you that have read The Bone Witch please drop your thoughts or links to your reviews down below. I’m curious to see how it fared with you all & do you plan on continuing with this series? If so….are you team Kance or Kalen? BAHA! I kid I kid! ๐Ÿ˜‰

January Wrap-Up & Book Haul

January was a month of quality reads for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where every book I read, I loved. One thing is clear though, I am really enjoying Diverse reads and being able to relate to some of the characters. I am also still on a mission to lower my arc pile with the help of my handy spreadsheet lol & making progress. This however, has not stopped me from acquiring new books cuzzzz i’m a helpless bookworm who can’t resist good deals & steals ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™ˆ annnnnd let’s face it, February doesn’t look like it’s going to be a slow month in the book world either. Yet still, I do plan on mostly picking up those books that I’ve already read & loved in arc form in order to support the authors & cuz If I loved them so much, i’d like to own them ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿค—๐Ÿ˜

I’m very happy that The Bear and the Nightingale & Gilded Cage are solid starters for series. I get to go back to these worlds/characters and see what they’ve been up to & I can’t wait! I also hope to see more from all of these debut authors, they were all seriously noteworthy for many different reasons. I’ve reviewed all and attached the links ๐Ÿ˜‰

January also saw me host my very 1st giveaway (see here) and I am happy with the outcome. The winner of the Owlcrate giveaway was Naz @ย ReadDiverseBooks, check out his wonderfully diverse blog for all things diverse reads! The next giveaway will most likely be in May to celebrate my 1 year blogoversary and there will be 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place prizes ๐Ÿ™‚

 

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ย Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic Jamesย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

ย American Street by Ibi Zoboiย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4STARS)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

The Education of Margot Sanchezย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.5 STARS)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomasย ย โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5 STARS)

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Follow me @Lair_Of_Books <3’sย 

*These 3 were Goodreads wins, your girl was a bit lucky this month (thank the Book Gods)

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornallย 

The Story Of ย New Name (Theย Neapolitan Novels #2) by Elena Ferranteย 

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferranteย 

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Follow me @Lair_of_books <3’s

The Bear and the Nightingale (the Bear and the Nightingale #1) by Katherine Arden

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasiย 

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooneyย 

Good As Gone by Amy Gentryย 

Wires and Nerve (Wires and Nerve #1) by Marissa Meyer

City Of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Arabella of Mars (The Adventures Of Arabella Ashby #1) by David D. Levine

Frost Blood (Frostblood Saga #1) by Elly Blake

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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Follow me @Lair_of_books <3’s

January’s Book Of The Month, I went with Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk and added Good As Gone for $9.99. BOTM gifted their subbies Gillian Flynn’s The Grownup ๐Ÿ™‚

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Follow me @Lair_Of_Books <3’s

I purchased these two lovely Book Biff’s from Breanne over at BizzyLittleB, she was very sweet & filled my custom order very quickly. Currently she isn’t taking custom orders due to starting a new school semester but she’ll be back & i’m keeping an eye out for when she does ๐Ÿ˜‰

what-i-watched-bannerunderworldbwposterI managed to squeeze in a movie with the hubby this month. We went to see Underworld Blood Wars & although it was enjoyable we felt it wasn’t the strongest film in the franchise. That’s tough to say cuz I’m a HUGE Underworldย & Kate Beckinsale fan. I’m still not giving up on Underworld & hope that the next one is re-vamped (hehe see what I did there smh).

maxresdefaultOn the TV front, i’ve admittedly fallen behindย on a lot of my shows since they returned from Winter break but the DVR is working over time saving them for me. However, I have returned to one of my faves Vikings Season 4ย (link to IMDB) & i’m once again hooked. Team Lagertha all the way & I really hope they don’t kill off my boo lol ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

As has been the case these past couple of months, I’m a bit late with this book haul/wrap-up but i’ve been catching up with some of yours. Seems like for the most part, January was all aboutย getting back in the swing of things. Love seeing how your January went & wish all my bookish peeps happy reading in February <3’s!

 

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

30258320Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James

Published by:ย Del Rey Books

Publication Date:ย February 14th 2017

Genre: YAย Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Pages: 368 pages

Format:ย eGalley

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4ย STARS)

*Click on cover for Goodreads

I’d like to thank Del Rey Books, Netgalley, and Vic James for providing a eGalley of Gilded Cage in exchange for an honest review.

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Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals โ€” aristocrats with magical gifts โ€” and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberateโ€”or destroy?

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Gilded Cage is a dystopian Fantasy set in an alternate England where all (no matter the color of your skin or your financial status) are expected to complete 10 years of slave life at a time of their choosing. The people are governed by the Equals who have Skill, abilities they are born with that for the most part only the wielder knows it’s full potential. Skill isn’t something spoken about freely & most among the Equals consider it taboo to discuss at all. The Equals controlย the Skill-less by imposingย ย Slave Days which are typically carried out in slave towns monitored closely. Life in these slave towns proves to be very difficult due to 6 day work weeks, small food rations, and often beatings from the patrolling security guards. We are introduced to a family of five: Mom, Dad, Oldest Daughter Abi (medical student), Son Luke (middle child), and 10 year old Daisy. The parents have been convinced by their eldest daughter Abi to submit an application to carry out their slave days at the Kyneston estate belonging to one of the top most powerful family of Equals. She is absolutely certain that they each can offer up a service that would make them ideal to be accepted at the estate as opposed to the slave towns. What Abi never expected was for the application to be accepted for all except her brother Luke. The family is immediately picked up & separated from Luke who is taken to the slave towns. From this point on Abi & Luke’s paths are divided and their experiences vastly differ from one another. Told in third person narrative, each character gets a chapter and we the reader get a dose of life through Luke and Abi’s eyes as well as the Equals. Luke is recruited by a small group of characters that are determined to bring an end to slave days. through a series of “jobs” they slowly begin to tear at the seams of injustice. One thing is for certain…the revolution has just begun.

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Luke may have entered the slave town a teenager but he is quickly gaining wisdom and perspective that provide him with a purpose. The friends he makes are characters who just like him, have been cherry picked for their knowledge and skill-less abilities. I enjoyed seeing the character development with Luke since I didn’t think he had it in him to survive in the slave town. I also enjoyed Reenie, the first friend Luke makes and also his recruiter into this rag tag team of misfits. Reenie is described as a POC not much older than 13 years of age who appears to have been in the slave town’s for way longer than laws permit. There’s still a lot to learn about this character, I got the feeling we’ll get her background later on in the series. On Abi’s end we get the sense that she has regret over ever applying to have their days carried out at the estate. She blames herself for Luke’s predicament & sets out on a mission to gather information to get him brought to the estate. Abi has potential to grow into a strong character & her development was nice to see as well. I definitely like the Abi we see in the end better than the one we meet in the beginning. ย On the other side of the spectrum we have the Equals who we get to follow & get to know individually in each of their chapters. The Jardine’s: Lord Whittam Jardine, Gavar Jardine, Jenner Jardine, and Silyen Jardine are owners of the Kyneston estate and also one of the most powerful families of Equals. Lord Whittam is a power hungry man who doesn’t deem any of his sons fit to inherit his estate. Gavar Jardine is said to have uncontrollable skill, a great amount difficult to harness. This is made all the more difficult by his temper, he is not the nicest of the bunch lol. Jenner is my favorite, he also happens to be skill-less. I enjoyed this character the most because of all the Jardines, he was sympathetic to Abi & her family making sure they stayed out of harms way. Last but not least we have Silyen, he is an oddball and I haven’t decided whether to like him or not. He also has immense power behind his skill but what his intentions are, it’s too soon to tell. Silyen plays his cards close to his chest and I can’t wait to discover more of what he’s up to. There are also some power players in the story like Gavar’s soon wife-to-be Bhouda. This character has every intention of one day sitting in a position of power & can talk politics with the best of them. She’s also colder than ice and someone to keep an eye on at all times. With many pieces on the board, I ย commend Vic James for giving each of these characters their own distinct voice in each chapter. I was never confused and found their stories easy to follow which is alway good in a fantasy series with many players.ย Also, in case some readers are wondering some of the Equals in power were described as people of color. In this world, you were either born with skill or not. The color of your skin did not determine your fate.

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The world building in Gilded Cage was impressive on the slave town side of the story. I did however, wish to have seen a bit more on the skill of each of the Equals we were introduced to. I’m not sure if the author purposely chose to leave that obscure til the next book orย not but there were hints of this throughout the book. In the next book I hope to gain some clarity on the Jardine brothers Skill. This being book 1 in a series, I felt that it set down a solid foundation.ย The writing itself was enjoyable and never boring, I always found myself wanting to pick this book back up. With a plethora of characters, I enjoyed the short chapters and felt that it carried the story along at steady pace. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the Dark Gifts series & returning to these characters lives.

Areย any of my bookish peeps planning on reading Gilded Cage? For those who already have, link that review down below & I’ll swing by ๐Ÿ˜‰

Review:The Education Of Margot Sanchez

margotThe Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Format: eGalley

Genre: YA Contemporary

Page Count: 304 pgs

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (4.5 STARS)

Iโ€™d like to thank Simon & Schuster for approving me to receive an eGalley of The Education Of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wantedโ€”from debut author Lilliam Rivera.

THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:

Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
This supermarket
Everyone else

After โ€œborrowingโ€ her father’s credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her familyโ€™s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.

With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and sheโ€™s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even stealโ€ฆ

Margotโ€™s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her familyโ€™s drama or Moisesโ€”the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhoodโ€”keep her from her goal.

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Ok Guys & Gals, the time has come for me to review this awesome book & I cannot tell you how excited I am to do so! the Goodreads synopsis more than covers the plot so I won’t repeat what’s already up above, instead i’ll touch on some of my fave plot points. The Education Of Margot Sanchez is first & foremost a Own Voices book about a Puerto-Rican family living in the Bronx, New York. Margot’s dad is the owner of two Grocery Stores from which he provides for his wife, son, and daughter. Margot attends a prep school in Manhattan along with the children of wealthy families. Her brother Junior works with their father in the grocery in hopes to one day take over the family business. We start off with Margot getting caught stealing her fathers credit card to order clothes online. Her punishment is to work off the debt in one of the grocery stores throughout the summer. This does not bode well for Margot who has a social life to maintain back in the city if she ever wants to “fit in” with the wealthy kids in her school. We follow Margot’s daily routine as she fulfills her duties in the grocery store by stocking shelves, working in the deli with the meat, and basically handling all of the grunt work. Her dad has every intention of teaching her a lesson but also utilizing her knowledge of social platforms to possibly give the store a new edge. The neighborhood is experiencing Gentrification and the family business is feeling the side effects. Situated next to a college and a new and upcoming food market, the family business can either benefit or be hurt by the change in demographics in their neighborhood. Margot however, could NOT be bothered with these things. Her thoughts are occupied by that guy back in her prep school who may or may not be interested in her and the “friends” she’s made by appearing to be someone she’s not. Margot is pretty much living a double life, something she has learned to do in one way or another by her own family. When Margot meets a guy while working in the grocery store, who is the complete opposite of the guy she’s had her eyes on in prep school…everything she worked so hard to create starts to fall apart. Moises represents everything her family does not want for her & yet he seems so right. This story is about Margot & how certain events lead to her growing up & learning some hard lessons from those she loves most.

characters-bannerI’ll start off with saying what I’ve seen many readers say about Margot…she’s not the nicest, she’s self-absorbed, selfish, deceitful, and ultimately an unlikeable protagonist. However, I understood this to be the whole point in educating her. Margot hasn’t had the best examples at home. Yes, her dad does pay for her to attend a pricey prep school in Manhattan but her values are all screwed up. Her parents marriage is not all that it seems and her brother is going through substance abuse issues. The problem is, there is no communication whatsoever between any of these family members. All is solved by simply not talking about it. On the surface this family appears to have it all but underneath they are hurting and divided. As a Latina woman, my childhood/family set up looked a lot like Margot’s. I experienced first hand what it’s like to look towards Papi (dad) as the bread winner and more than anything wanting to please him with success in school. Both Margot & Junior (son) want to succeed but get lost while trying to please a man who himself was failing. Mami (mom) was pretty much a silent figure in the background but you could feel her pain through her compulsion to keep everything extremely clean & tidy all day every day. I took this as her way of keeping control over something in her life when underneath it was all a giant mess. This family touched me because I was able to relate to their experiences, culture, and pain. This after all is the beauty of reading books by Own voice authors. I still think about this family & wonder whether these fictional characters are ok now…

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The Education Of Margot Sanchez was a light read that I flew through in just under two days. I enjoyed reading from the perspective of a Puerto-Rican family since it truly is rare to come across. This family felt familiar and relatable making this read one that I devoured all the while making comparisons to my own experiences growing up Puerto-Rican. I was pleasantly surprised to see the topic of gentrification play a role in this neighborhood since it’s one that i’ve personally seen have an affect on local mom & pop stores. There are other more serious topics covered in this book however, I feel that mentioning them is very spoilery since when I came across them I was taken aback and was moved by them. Although I know that at it’s core the story is about Margot and her family, I would’ve enjoyed seeing her take on a more hands on approach with the issues & concerns affecting her community as a symptom of gentrification. I do however appreciate how Lilliam Rivera explored the morals and values of this family in a very realistic sense. These characters were deeply flawed and were all weathering internal battles that seeped into their relationships with one another. Sometimes parents don’t always have it right themselves. A lot of times the kids get caught up in the unspoken. Such is the story of Margot & her brother Junior.

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14358410Originally from the Bronx, NYC, Lilliam Rivera is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion graduate. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from PEN Center USA, Elizabeth George Foundation, and A Room of Her Own Foundation. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Latina, among others. She hosts the Los Angeles-based radio show Literary Soundtrack on Radio Sombra and lives in Los Angeles with her family. Visit her at LilliamRivera.com.

December Book Haul & Wrap-Up

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

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Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (4.5)

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (4.5)

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5)

Lost Girls by Merrie Destefano โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… (5)

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

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Orange: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (Bookoutlet)

Orange: The Complete Collection, Volume 2 (Bookoutlet)

All American Boys  (Bookoutlet)

Of Fire And Stars (Owlcrate)

Jane Steele (Bookoutlet)

Small Great Things (Bookdepository)

Here Comes The Sun (B&N)

Swimming Lessons (Book Of The Month)

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

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

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

Chillin on that instant purchase button in January, fo’ sho! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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What are some of your bookish goals for 2017? see any good movies in December? hauled any good books/bookish swag? drop your links down below & i’ll swing by for a peep ๐Ÿ˜‰

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

wintersongWintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Published by:ย St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date:ย February 7th 2017

Genre: YAย Fantasy/Re-telling/Romance

Pages:ย 448 pages

Format:ย eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜… 1/2 (3.5 Stars)

I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press, S. Jae-Jones, and NetGalley for the eGalley of Wintersong in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her familyโ€™s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Kรคthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Kรคthe goโ€”for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws.ย A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sisterโ€™s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires herโ€”musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Lieslโ€™s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin Kingโ€™s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

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Wintersong weavesย the tale of Leisl, a young woman who has more than her fair share of duties in her home. Kathe’s father is a fallen musician who is mostly inebriated, Mother is more of a partner in running the household, younger sister is seen as the beauty, and younger brother is a musical prodigy. Leislย herself is musically talented, specifically in composition but has set that aside in favor of helping her brother perfect his craft and one day gain notoriety. Besides the fact that she is running the household, her gender is oneย of the reasons for which her father discourages her from taking interest/composing music. As young children both Leislย & her young brother Josef would play their music in the Goblin Grove for the Goblin King, a mysterious figure who played music with them. As time passed & Kathe’s responsibilities grew, the Goblin King was slowly forgotten. That is until Leisl’s sister is taken by the Goblins into the Underworld by order of the Goblin King. Leislย finds her way into the Underworld and strikes a bargain with the King to release her sister…A life for a life…she will remain in the Underworld & marry the King and he will let her sister return to the land of the living. Although it may seem harsh at first, Leisl’s “selfless” deed is a bit selfish. She is tired of being unseen , unheard, not beautiful, and cast aside in the shadows of her younger brother’s musical genius. What Leislย didn’t know, was that her sacrifice was much heavier than at first it seems. Leislย & the Goblin King reconnect through their love for music & soon enough a love for each other. As long as her passion shines bright, the Underground will sustain and the land of the living will see Spring instead of being thrust into a deep dark never ending winter…she is essentially it’s life force all while she physically fades away…

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Our main protagonist Leislย isn’t your typical YA character & this was both a good and I wouldn’t say bad thing, but definitely someone to get used to lol. She is very much aware of her musical talent & oftentimes a bit of envy sneaks up when she is helping her brother Josef in composition. Josef is precise, he has been able to play the violin since the age of 5 while Kathe is wild passion and emotion in her composition. She also looks upon her younger sister’s beauty & is self-aware of what comes across as her own plain Jane appearance (nothing wrong with a plain Jane *winks*). Her sister is already betrothed to someone that Leislย alsoย can’t stop herself from wanting for herself. It isn’t so hard for her to (at first) leave this life behind in favor of one where she is the center of the Goblin King’s attention & her musical abilities are praised. We get to see major character development with Leislย which I came to appreciate because it provided a better understanding of all her underlying emotions. Although her family were central to her story, they also weren’t the focus & were more in the background of the story. The Goblin King himself is actually perfectly suited for Leislย in many ways lol, he’s pretty arrogant and controlling which probably can be credited to being immortal & seeing many brides come and go. He’s also musically talented and although he comes off as havingย this jerk-like exterior, can actually be a decent guy…it’s a common trope, I know but it happens to work well in Wintersong.ย This is a a 448 page book and the author gives us full on character development & history. The Goblin King’s history is interesting and I can understand how his story and how he came to be the king of the Underworld, molded him into suchย a undesirableย character. I wasn’t a fan of the Goblin King, particularly because of his selfishness which he fully owns up to. Also, certain parts regarding Leisl’s appearance & what he thought of her made me a bit squeamish. I appreciate however, that these characters weren’t your typical cookie cutter personalities found in YA. They were flawed & complex, which oftentimes led to me holding back judgement until I got more story. There were however, two characters that I ABSOLUTELY loved and couldn’t get enough of. Twig & Thistle are two Goblins who are tasked with the not so easy job of tending to Leisl’s needs & wants as Queen of the Underworld. Although all Goblins can’t be trusted, Twig came as close to a friend to Leislย as possible. Twig is the sweeter of the two Goblins. Thistle is Twigs opposite, sarcastic & not happy whatsoever with having to tend to Leisl. Twig is also very vocal about this and gets a kick out of withholding information from Leisl. Thistle’s mischief really added the Goblin touch & those scenes were very entertaining.

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The writing in Wintersongย is beautiful, atmospheric, lyrical, and dark which managedย to keep me enthralled whenever I picked this book up. However, there were two things that I struggled with just a bit. This is a slow paced book which typically I don’t have any problems with, however it may just be the dark mood and setting that made this one feel a bit too slow. The second issue I had isn’t really one that bothered me too much but it did affect the reading experience a bit, the heavy use of Classical musicย terminology. Its been years since I took the basics of Classical music in college but that didn’t help me much here. Although one can easily say that it’s not necessary to be knowledgable of the subject, because it was such a focal point & the author used a lot of terminology…I did feel left out of the story on more than one occasion. I won’t however, take away from the writing because it is seriously some of the most beautiful writing I have come across. I also couldn’t stop diving back into this world which leads me to the excellent world building. The Underground came to life through vivid description, the author left nothing out down to the Goblin furniture. I loved the attention to detail that was given in creating this world & can honestly say it played out like a movie for me. I will most definitely keep an eye out for this author’s future works & recommend Wintersong for those who love great world building, Romance, Fantasy, lyrical writing, and especially those who enjoy Classical music/Composition ๐Ÿ˜‰

2016 FAB Moments & 2017 Reading Goals/1st Challenge

 2016 will go down in the books (Haha!) as the year that I decided to stop watching the book community from the sidelines wishing I was partaking in all of the book discussions, fangirling, reviewing and opened up Lairofbooks…a blog…something completely outside of my comfort zone. I really just wanted a place to connect with other bookworms and talk about all things books but I ended up getting so much more. This community is AMAZING & most welcoming, at any hour of the day/night I can find someone who has just finished a book and is looking for anyone willing to rant or rave. I’ve made some pretty awesome friends in the book blogging community in such a short period of time & for that I am truly grateful…

 

2016 FAB Moments

๐Ÿ’Ž Starting this blog after being on the sidelines of the book community for 2 years has brought me so much happiness. A place where I come to de-stress & reach out to many other bookworms who are doing the same. A safe place to be myself, May 24th was a very good day for this bookworm โ˜บ๏ธ

๐Ÿ’Ž  Lairofbooks finally motivated me to put my Twitter to good use LOL, another platform that has connected me to so many great bookworms & authors

๐Ÿ’Ž Meeting my Book Twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads has been one of the highlights of this year. I’ve mentioned it before here on the blog but i’ll say it again, Gretchen played a key role in motivating me to start LairofBooks & she didn’t even know it ๐Ÿ’• This year has been made all the better because of our friendship ๐Ÿ’•

๐Ÿ’Ž Attending my 1st Bookcon & acquring some physical ARCS early October made my rest of the year LOL

๐Ÿ’Ž Getting approved by HarperCollins on Edelweiss after a slew of declined emails, taught me to never throw in the towel ๐Ÿ˜‰

๐Ÿ’Ž Reading 71 books out of the 60 I set as my goal, the most I’ve read any year…I don’t see myself setting the 2017 challenge at 100 but I do think i’ll mentally be cheering myself on to the 100 finish line lOl *over achiever*

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2017 Goals

๐Ÿ’Ž To keep on keepin on? Lol nah, I’m not very good at sticking to my goals but I sure do try. I’ll keep it simple though…To continue having fun reading, blogging, and meeting new bookish peeps ๐Ÿ˜„

๐Ÿ’Ž Working up the nerve to post my 1st discussion…it’s coming this year *pinky swear*

๐Ÿ’Ž Participate in any reading challenge or Read-A-Thon (I used the dashes not sure if that’s a thing)

๐Ÿ’Ž Possibly hit that 1K mark on my Bookstagram Lair_Of_Books ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ“š

๐Ÿ’Ž Read outside my go-to genres starting with Poetry & a bit of Horror

๐Ÿ’Ž Continue reading Diverse Books & supporting Own Voices authors

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Challenge Guidelines

๐Ÿ’Ž The challenge will run from Jan 1, 2017 โ€“ Dec 31, 2017.

๐Ÿ’Ž Anyone is welcome to join. You do not need to be a blogger, just post your reviews and come back every month to link them up.

๐Ÿ’Ž Any genre, release date, request date, length, etc. counts so long as it came from Edelweiss or Netgalley.

๐Ÿ’Ž At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews.

๐Ÿ’Ž If you forget to link up one month itโ€™s not a problem just add your reviews next month.

๐Ÿ’Ž If you would like to move up or down levels that is completely fine and at your discretion.

๐Ÿ’Ž If you have any questions tweet me @BookishThings or e-mail katrina@bookisthingsandmore.com!

Levels

Bronze โ€“ 10 Books

Silver โ€“ 25 Books

Gold โ€“ 50 Books

Platinum โ€“ 75 Books

Diamond โ€“ 100 Books

This being my very 1st reading challenge, i’ll set my goal level at 25 & move up (hopefully) as I progress. No pressure but a good way to keep me motivated with the good ol’ ARC pile ๐Ÿ˜‰

 Happy New Year my Bookish Peeps, wishing you all a FAB 2017 filled with great books along the way!!! ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐ŸŽ‰๐Ÿ’•