SPOILER FREE REVIEW: WHISPER OF THE TIDE BY SARAH TOLCSER

Title: Whisper Of The Tide (Song of the Current #2)

Author: Sarah Tolcser

Pub. Date: June 5th. 2018

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: BLOOMSBURY YA

Pages: 416

*HUGE thanks to BLOOMSBURY YA & Sarah Tolcser for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

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2018 has been the year of the sequel here at Lair Of Books & thankfully there have been some really amazing follow-ups! Whisper Of The Tide is one of the most satisfying conclusions to what is now one of my favorite duologies in YA Fantasy. If you’re a fan of all things pirates like I am, you’ll enjoy this high seas adventure into the wee hours of the morning. All of the things I loved about Song of the Current were back & better than ever! our MC has spread her wings and is on a mission to protect the love of her life Marko who has a huge target on his back. Marko’s father the Emparch has been murdered & Konto Theucinian has taken over. Konto’s rule is very rigid and Markos is having difficulty campaigning for military support to overthrow Theucininan, many are going as far as calling him “The Pretender.” Caro is focused on keeping Markos alive while he tries to rally support & is beginning to struggle internally with the change of course her life has taken. To Caro, being the captain of her own ship was a dream come true and although the River God never whispered her name, that never changed her love for the pirate life. Caro may not have received the call of the River God but a bigger power has already set it’s sights on her. Destined for the open waters, Caro will have to choose between Markos & his political battles or her true calling. The Sea Goddess isn’t one to give those she chooses, the option to decline her call…

*Photos not my own, obtained from Pinterest

Caro & Marko are both struggling a bit with what they think is expected of them VS. their hearts desire. These characters are super fleshed out, more so than in Song Of The Current. I may not have cared too much for Marko in the first book but I began to appreciate him a bit more in this book. Marko is driven by duty, he doesn’t want to let the people down but politicking isn’t something that is coming easy to him. Most importantly, he isn’t willing to let go of Caro & marry a more “suitable match” for the good of the kingdom. Meanwhile, Caro is playing the self-sacrificing card & is basically telling Markos go-on get married & I’ll learn to live with it. This then sets off a series of events that place Caro on a wild treasure hunt. From piers to pavement, Caro & Marko are chased & multiple attempts against their lives are made. This made for a adrenaline induced read in which I couldn’t flip the pages fast enough. I ditched the page flags & allowed myself to enjoy this fun ride till the very end. We also got to see some of our favorite supporting characters return, with a focus on immediate & extended family members. I find myself hella intrigued by Caro’s cousin who can manipulate her shadow & has been in training since last we saw her in Song of the Current. It’s rare we get extended family in YA Fantasy, I love seeing Caro with her family members. If I had one complaint it would only be that we don’t really get to see Caro’s dad and Fee (Frog person) this time around.

The world building continued to be A+ expanding on the Sea God mythology and those she has chosen to be her children. What I loves most about this book is that  we see Caro who is a strong Bi-racial woman continue to embrace all of the things that make her look different. Caro has bi-racial hair and is of a darker complexion with freckles, all things she loves about herself. She’s also very aware that they set her apart amongst the people of the river where she was raised by her father. Caro shows us what it’s like to be caught in the middle of both sides of her family. Her Father’s side who live by the ways of the River God as fishermen & wives VS. her Mother’s side who are well known established business people (Ships & trade) throughout the land. Caro resembles her mother who is described as a beautiful strong woman of color who also went against tradition & became a powerful captain and owner of the family business. We see Caro toggle back & forth between the two worlds & it just added depth to our MC, something that is sometimes sacrificed in YA Fantasy books for the sake of the plot. I am someone who prefers character driven books and can honestly say there was a healthy balance of both character & plot development in this duology. When an author creates characters I can’t help but get attached to it’s always my hope that we see more from them. Sarah Tolcser is now on my radar & I will pick up anything written in this world or not for that matter. For now, I won’t say goodbye…till next time 🐸🤞🏼🐸


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Spoiler Free Review: Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia Unleashed (The Nyxia Triad #2)

Author: Scott Reintgen

Pub. Date: July 17th, 2018

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

Content Warning Provided by the wonderful Melaniemurder, death, gore, blood, violence, depiction of PTSD, abandonment, kidnapping, torture, animal death, talk of past outing, talk of past homophobia, genocide, colonization, loss of a loved one, loss of a friend, and war themes

Buddy Read: Melanie from Meltotheany

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*HUGE thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers and Scott Reintgen for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Last year I won a Twitter giveaway for Nyxia & I didn’t really know much about the book other than it was Sci-fi & I dig sci-fi so it couldn’t hurt throwing my hat in the ring. I also attended Bookcon last year & remember standing right in front of Scott Reintgen’s table as he set up for a signing & again, I had no idea what for…hadn’t won the contest just yet. Well *sigh* I did read the book & I also gently kicked myself afterwards for not having read it sooner & missing my grand opportunity to talk Scott’s ear off about book 2!

Nyxia remains one of my favorite YA Sci-Fi books & you can check out my spoiler free GUSH review (here) but Nyxia Unleashed has definitely taken over the mantle, Scott Reintgen delivered & I couldn’t be happier with this sequel! well…I could but I’m reserving that for book 3! Now onto this GUSH review…

We start off right where we left off and that means there’s a ton of hurt and pain to last a lifetime. The events from Nyxia have left Emmett and his friends rattled and looking over their shoulders. The corporation known as Babel who they’ve basically signed their lives away to in exchange for financial stability for themselves and each of their families, has many secrets. They’ve all been through the ringer Hunger Games style in the first book & are now realizing that “Space Exploration” and mining of the Nyxia substance found on the planet they’ve been shipped off too, isn’t Babels real agenda. They’re also realizing that for all the rigorous training Babel put them through, it’s not quite enough when faced with the actual dangers and species on the foreign planet Eden.

“I’m always surprised when people expect me to not notice the little details. So many lies are like badly buried bodies, just waiting for a little rain to unearth them.”

We meet the “Adamites” who inhabit Eden and have a working relationship with Babel. In exchange for access to the Nyxia naturally grown in Eden, the Adamites asked for Babel to send them only their youth. Teens like Emmett and his friends, the reason given is that their planet has no youth left. Females are almost all extinct and therefore no children have been born in recent years. If you’re raising an eyebrow at this…you are NOT alone! I was suspicious of them all the way til’ the very end! you just never know with these Sci-Fi books if they’re trying to steal your organs #jussayin haha! with the introduction of the Adamites we get layers of world building & Adamite culture from the foods they eat to their social class construct. I am a sucker for world building, details, and just about anything that can make a world come alive on the page & transport me right into its midst. Reintgen not only continued to deliver on some of the BEST character development to hit the page, he also expanded the world tenfold and in the process hooked me in once more. We also get discussion on colonization, corporal punishment, the broken prison system here on Earth, and structural racism.   Food for thought is always welcome especially when it mirrors much of our current day lives. Emmett has trained himself to observe as opposed to reacting right away & so we get to follow his train of thought as he realizes the similarities between Eden and Earth.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Babel’s out here playing the role of colonizer, slapping labels on the originals and pretending they created it all in the first place. It’s pretty standard procedure for folks like them.”

One of the things I love the most about this trilogy is the dialogue. From the author bio we get that some of the research for these characters came from Reintgen’s experience in the classrooms he teaches in. The language is authentic and flows very easily with a ton of personality infused in each and every one of the characters. This is a big cast & yet I always knew who was saying what just by how well fleshed out they all are. Our MC Emmett shares the leadership spotlight with his love interest Morning who is a take charge Alpha personality not really waiting to be given the reigns. I LOVED seeing these two in action & just how respectful Emmett is of Morning, he admires her strengths and bravado. Morning in turn takes a very protective role over  Emmett. It wasn’t made to be Emmett coming to her rescue, Morning got him out of quite a few jams. Each has different strengths in character but both bring out the best in those they cross paths with. There’s a recurrent theme all throughout this sequel of a sense of shedding their innocence. They aren’t doing “normal” teen things and Emmett is very much aware of this when he self reflects. The humility is still very much there, kept alive through flashbacks of conversations with his father who sort of plays a side characters in the shadows. For the most part all of these characters have a past heavy with burden and pain, injustice and poverty. It’s their desire to want more for those they love that keep them in the game…

“My whole life’s been rough, but somewhere I picked up the idea that it wasn’t supposed to be that way. I don’t know where I learned about justice, when I started thinking I deserved something more. There’s a part of me that knows, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the world is supposed to be better, more.”

One thing is for certain, these characters are much stronger together than apart. I am so ready to see how certain relationships play out in the next book and whether they will endure whatever comes their way. This was such a fun read, these characters feel so familiar and alive that it really does feel like seeing old friends again after some time has passed. I am more than looking forward to returning to this cast of characters but for now I’ll just live vicariously through my hubby who will be starting Nyxia next 🙂

“We walk together, shoulders touching, like we’re walking home from school on a normal day. But that’s not reality. Reality is a new world. Reality is two moons hanging in the sky, bright and beckoning. Reality is what we’re leaving behind as we move through an empty forest and out into a world that feels full of ghosts.”

*Quotes have been taken from ARC and may differ from the final publication.


Nyxia Unleashed the sequel to Nyxia by Scott Reintgen will hit the shelves July 17th!!! & your girl has already pre-ordered a copy. All I need now is some fan art, bookmarks, candles, the works inspired by this trilogy fathom?!?! 😉


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Spoiler Free Review & Giveaway: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Title: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1)

Author: Justina Ireland

Pub. Date: April 3rd, 2018

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 455

Format: eGalley

*HUGE thanks to Balzer + Bray/Harper, Edelweiss and Justina Ireland for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

    

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

Ever pick up a book & you just know it’s going to be a 5 star read?!?! that was the case with this magnificent a** kicking, no-holds-barred, social commentary, read between the lines EPICNESS of a a book! It is not a re-telling although it definitely does allude to it’s namesake. I read a interview on Bustle with Justina Ireland where she says the following of her inspiration…

“I wrote [Dread Nation] many moons ago, after I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” Justina Ireland tells Bustle. “Sure, you have well-to-do white women fighting, but it didn’t seem realistic. It would’ve been black women fighting in the streets.”

I happen to have really enjoyed Pride Prejudice and Zombies but I’d be lying if I didn’t say Dread Nation is now my FAVORITE spin on an all time favorite classic!

We meet Jane while at Miss Preston’s School Of Combat as she is training towards her graduation date. Upon completion, girls from this school are purchased to work for rich white women as their attendants. An Attendant is specially trained to kill Shamblers aka zombies. It is believed that black people have a stronger immune system to combat the bite of a zombie however, we do still see some who are turned after being bitten just not as many. Nothing about enrollment in this school is voluntary, the Native and Negro Reeducation Act is basically a round-up of black & Native children to do all the Shambler killing in defense of white people. Right from the start I knew Jane was going to be one of my all time favorite characters. We get to know Jane through her inner dialogue & the commentary she makes on the society they live in which mirrors our own current day in many ways. Jane is not someone who can easily be sold a dream, she’s very aware of the realities of her world and could care less about manners & etiquette. These are all things Jane knows are used as a method of control by white people in power. Nonetheless she continues her studies with some pushback here & there, in order to make her mother back in Kentucky happy. Jane is training in Baltimore & every chance she gets she writes her mother. The letters range in emotion & were meant to keep her mom updated on her training, these were a nice touch in between chapters & I found myself looking forward to the next correspondence.

The Mayor of Baltimore has led everyone to believe that the city has rid itself of the Shambler epidemic & its citizens are finally safe. Jane soon starts piecing together the pieces of the puzzle & realizes just how perilous the situation is in the cities on the East side of the United States. We see Philly, Baltimore, Maryland all affected but our story doesn’t just take place on the east coast. We see a shift to the West Coast & get a taste of frontier life but it’s also the setting for which the white people in this book see opportunity to digress to the times before slavery was abolished.  This book at its core is about slavery & the different forms it may be disguised as but in the end it’s all the same. There were many lines in this book that I found myself having to re-read saying to myself….”where have I heard this before?” when the answer is all around me, it serves as a reminder of the world we live in. We have a long ways to go…

In Jane we have a strong black woman who tries to mind her mothers advice but will always follow her heart in standing up for what she believes in. She’s not for one second going to forget anyone who does her wrong, she had me rooting for her from page 1. Dread Nation also gave us one unlikely sidekick in Katherine, another girl training to be an attendant. Katherine is described as being “passing white” which was explored throughout the book. The guilt that comes along with being someone who is passing white as well as Colorism experienced by many. Jane herself battles internally with the thoughts she has on Katherine’s pretty features, often times reminding herself it’s not Katherine’s fault she was born that way. I honestly feel this gave Jane a more realistic feel, she isn’t perfect and she holds a ton of compassion inside not out for display. Katherine is the opposite of Jane in that she really does try to follow all of the rules and lives for proper manners & etiquette. I had so many laugh out loud moments seeing Katherine refuse to battle w/out her constricting corset. The friendship between Jane & Katherine is what I want to see in YA! they may have been frenemies at one point but they have each others back when differences are cast aside. We also see sexuality touched upon with Jane possibly being bi-sexual, not 100% sure since she didn’t identify as such but does express attraction to females & having kissed a girl. We also have a character who may be asexual & expresses no desire to be in a relationship or have romantic feelings towards anyone. The inclusion of characters on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum is very much appreciated by this bookworm! 💜

Reading Dread Nation had me on a serious rollercoaster ride of emotions and I really wasn’t expecting it to be this type of read. I had a couple of outright angry moments at the mentality the white people in this book carry. It really is no different from many in our real world. Many scenes led me to feel such profound sadness at the injustice of it all. Ultimately I cam away empowered by this read, I do believe we need more books like this one. More authors like Justina Ireland so that the uncomfortable truths of the world are laid bare & change is brought about. Make no mistake, this isn’t just a book about zombies. This book carries a message & will leave such an impact on you if you read it with an open mind and a willingness to take off those rose colored glasses.


It’s been a minute since I did a Giveaway on the blog but I was inspired after I finished Dread Nation & just want to get more bookworms reading & loving it as much as I did! well at least I hope y’all do 😆🤞🏼 I do hope to have more Giveaways coming your way soon so stay tuned for that 😉 

1 Winner will receive a hardcover copy of Dread Nation by Justina Ireland! 
  • Giveaway dates: 4/30/2018-5/4/2018
  • Since this giveaway will be open to my INTERNATIONAL bookish peeps as well, all you need is a valid mailing & email address that you are willing to share with me
  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Follow my blog of course  (i’ll be checking loves)
  • Simply comment down below that you’d like to be entered & it shall be done

For Additional entries


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Review: Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Title: Heart Of Iron

Author: Ashley Poston

Pub. Date: February 27th, 2018

Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harper

Pages: 480

Format: eGalley

Content Warning: attempted suicide

*HUGE thanks to Balzer + Bray/Harper, Edelweiss, and Ashley Poston for the early review copy in exchange for my honest opinion

   

Heart Of Iron immediately appealed to my love for all things Sci-Fi & the bio pitched a ragtag crew of outlaws that I just had to meet on the pages. I’m not familiar with the story of Anastasia but it’s now on my list of flicks to watch during one of my ME time days. That being said, I went in strictly for the space adventure, outlaws, and D09 cause whether he was a droid, robot, or A.I., this is my sweet addiction & it all started with a sassy android named Iko but I digress…

We meet Ana and D09 in the opening scene as they are about to get themselves into some trouble. She was warned by the captain of her ship not to deal with a shady info broker who fell through on their last deal. However, Ana is feeling desperate. D09’s memory core is glitching & time is running out, she figures why not try her luck since they’re out of options & need to find D09 a replacement. The info broker is meeting with a Iron Blood aka of the elite class to sell him the coordinates Ana & D09 are looking for. These coordinates lead to a ship where they believe they can find the solution to D09’s memory core glitch. Things of course don’t always go as planned & so begins the fast paced adventure between Ana, D09, and a Iron Blood who is also searching for answers…

Ana- Our MC  is a bit of a loose cannon, she’s willing to take all the risks as long as it means saving D09 from permanently dying down due to his memory core glitch. I found Ana a bit frustrating, she wasn’t above putting her crew mates in jeopardy & it just made her look hella selfish.

D09- the android Ana loves, D09 cannot process feelings…he shouldn’t technically have them to begin with. We see him call these feelings he is having “glitches” & so the chemistry between him & Ana never really sets off until the very end.

Rob- The Iron Blood who happens to be a Royal, more specifically he is the youngest heir to the throne. Rob is searching for his father who he was told perished back in the rebellion led by Metals (this is what they call droids like D09). Rob is actually one of my fave characters in this book, the author ships him with Jax (see below) & I found his inner dialogue whenever Jax is around to be so endearing! ❤

Jax- The pilot of the ship & another one of my faves! he is confident as hell & isn’t afraid to show it. Jax comes from a race of people who used to be able to read the future in the stars. He holds some secrets that make him all the more interesting. I would’ve loved to have had more time with this character…also his need to protect Rob is seriously swoon worthy!

Crew- I seriously NEED more of this crew! we have MC who is a POC, a gay pilot, a lesbian Captain & her wife, and a disabled crew member. LEGIT I was LIVING for this crew!

My only wish was to have had more time with these characters. Told in short multiple POV chapters, I found it very hard to connect with any of the characters. I do favor character driven over plot driven stories but welcome with open arms any book that manages to balance these both out. Heart of Iron is definitely more plot & action. Nonetheless, I appreciate the diversity in this cast & hope to spend more time with them in the follow-up.

This is a first for me…Heart of Iron was a real page turner & I really enjoyed this story. The bits & pieces of world building we were given throughout the crews adventure was SOOOO interesting! but that’s just it, it was scattered & sparse making for a disjointed reading experience. I LOVED this crew but the short chapters made it hard to connect with any one of them. We get some history on a rebellion that took place when the Metals took up arms against humans that I really wanted more info on. There’s this process called “HIVE” where I assume Metals free will is taken away & it’s made mandatory for all as a direct result of the rebellion. However, not all Metals are evil & there was a time where they helped & were medics to humans. There’s a scene where humans are viciously attacking a Metal who isn’t hurting anyone, he was just trying to show his respect at a royal event. This piqued my interest…how many other Metals are out there living in hiding…not HIVED? I have many questions & can honestly say I will be picking up the follow-up in hopes of satisfying my curiosity. Heart of Iron was a fast paced fun adventure that will have you flipping pages til the wee hours of the morning. Yes it’s true I wanted more from the characters & world building, but I’m choosing to see this as a sign that I enjoyed what I read & look forward to seeing what Poston serves up next 😉


Hello Bookworms!!! Happy FriYay! I hope you’re all having an amazing day & enjoying some great reads. I have been on such a sci-fi kick this month and it’s been so much fun discovering new authors. Heart of Iron hits shelves Tuesday 2/27/18, will you be picking up a copy? Sound off in the comments! ❤ ❤ ❤


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Review: The Closest I’ve Come by Fred Aceves

Title: The Closest I’ve Come

Author: Fred Aceves

Pub. Date: November 7th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

Trigger warning: Alcoholism, Physical Abuse, Racism

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley/Edelweiss

   

Marcos Rivas wants to find love.
He’s sure as hell not getting it at home, where his mom’s racist boyfriend beats him up. Or from his boys, who aren’t exactly the “hug it out” type. Marcos yearns for love, a working cell phone, and maybe a pair of sneakers that aren’t falling apart. But more than anything, Marcos wants to get out of Maesta, his hood—which seems impossible.
When Marcos is placed in a new after-school program for troubled teens with potential, he meets Zach, a theater geek whose life seems great on the surface, and Amy, a punk girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. These new friendships inspire Marcos to open up to his Maesta crew, too, and along the way, Marcos starts to think more about his future and what he has to fight for. Marcos ultimately learns that bravery isn’t about acting tough and being macho; it’s about being true to yourself.

The Closest I’ve come follows Marcos Rivas’ life course in a rough neighborhood /violent household & the motivation he finds to want to get out. For Marcos, the daily grind is made up of getting up for school & hanging out with his boys after school to avoid having to go home. Life at home isn’t easy & he is met with either his mothers silence and closed doors or her boyfriends fists. Mentally checked-out, Marcos’ mother is a alcoholic who doesn’t really have much of any relationship with him. Marcos himself would love to play the role of over protective son however, the truth is that internally, more than anything he wishes she would show any signs of caring for him. Life outside his home isn’t exactly the best either but in his community he has developed friendships that have become a safe place to turn to. Academics have never really been Marcos’ main focus & with no one in his corner rooting and or encouraging him to apply himself, he hasn’t given much thought to life after High School. He believes that Maesta is the end all be all for him and many other teens like him. We come across teachers who provide Marcos with the confidence he needs & who most of all, believe in him.

At times, The Closest I’ve Come was difficult to read because of the violence Marcos experiences at the hands of his mothers boyfriend. It seemed like all the odds are set against this kid & with nothing really inspiring him & his own home being so volatile, I wondered when he would catch a break. With little to no money whatsoever, we see our MC try to earn cash the right way by cleaning parking lots but we also see one of his friends who is a straight A student go about it illegally by delivering drugs. Having myself lived in for many years what was considered a “ghetto” neighborhood, the reality is that too many bright futures are dimmed before they even get a chance to begin. There were so many tough themes in this book paired with positive reinforcement from Marcos’ educators that I found myself rooting him on in realizing that he is valued.

We see a tremendous amount of character growth take place within our MC Marcos which is perhaps the strongest aspect of The Closest I’ve Come. Aceves wrote Marcos’ character in first Person POV which allows the reader to really get into his thought process. From the way he views his barely existent relationship with his mother to how he handles rejection, Marcos isn’t a confidant cocky teenage boy. His physical appearance is something he is always hyper aware of because he lacks funds to buy clothes or pay for grooming. Something as simple as a haircut could boost his confidence briefly & a lot of the time he didn’t get the end result he was seeking but the effort was there. I LOVED this character & how humble he is the core, he definitely had me in his corner the whole way through. We meet some of his friends from around his neighborhood, mostly through visits to the courtyard to shoot hoops. There’s a sense of loyalty from these guys that I’ve seen for myself in neighborhoods where most don’t have it to make ends meet. I enjoyed one particular scene where one of the guys sets up shop on his stoop to cut hair for a couple of dollars, very much like a brotherhood. Although we meet many of Marcos’ acquaintances, they aren’t as fleshed out as our MC but nonetheless they serve their purpose in giving the reader a picture of what Marcos has in his life. The friends he has don’t really know how bad his home life is but I was glad to see them rise to the occasion when he really needed them.

Told in first person POV, The Closest I’ve Come is raw & uncensored giving Marcos’ voice & narrative life. Own Voices Latinx author Fred Aceves was raised in a poor working class neighborhood just like the one he brings to life in this book. From the dialogue between Marcos and his friends in the streets to his stream of consciousness on life after High School, our MC is raw & uncut just like the world he lives in. Many who come from similar backgrounds will find this book to be very relatable. To those who don’t, The Closest I’ve Come is a insiders look to a reality that exists in our real world. Not only do we get POC representation but we also see socioeconomic diversity when Marco meets & befriends a HS student from a wealthy background. The challenges Marco has in his life are going to resonate with others & that is one of the biggest reasons I am happy to see this narrative hit the shelves.

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Fred Aceves for the eGalley copy of The Closest I’ve Come in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books. With so many diverse reads coming our way, which ones are you looking forward to? any Own Voices on your 2018 TBR?


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October Wrap-Up & Book Haul

Hello Bookworms & Happy November!!! I’m back to being epically late with my wrap-up/haul & I’d like to think it’s because I’ve been so wrapped up in my reading…well at least this is what I’ve convinced myself to be the reason lol. October was a good reading month both in quality & quantity, seems that I’ve managed to break my 5 book per mth cap. Earlier in the month I attended NYC Comic Con & actually enjoyed this event more than I did Bookcon. Much more chill & I got to see many more authors this time around, even got a chance to meet Julie C. Dao author of Forest of a Thousand Laterns. Julie was very sweet & signed a copy for me that I was sending to my giveaway winner Beth over at Reading Every Night as a surprise bonus. Fedex totally lost the package & ruined that but I quickly replaced the copy & sent it on it’s way to Beth sans to signature…who knows Beth, the package may still one day mysteriously show up at your door lol.

October was also slow in flicks I actually wanted to see in the theater & I really thought for a moment there that I wasn’t going to watch anything. Then my co-worker reminded me that Jigsaw was being released Halloween weekend & the stars aligned for me to get my tickets (more on the movie towards end of post). I’ve been thinking of including the arcs/galleys I’ve been approved for in the month in these wrap-ups…yay or nay? or do you prefer a separate post? please let me know in the comments if this is something you’d like to see <3’s! 

With the exception of The Dark Intercept (to come this week) I’ve posted reviews for all of my October reads & will link them down below. Both Nyxia & Moxie are my stand-out reads & I have GUSH reviews for these new found favorites, both pulse pounding in their own way. You Bring the Distant Near is also a new found favorite & I encourage anyone in search of #ownvoices reads on the immigrant experience & Indian culture to pick this one up. Invictus was so much fun & appealed to the Historical Fantasy lover in me, the time travel was on point & not confusing like many others who’ve had a go at it. The Glass Spare gave me a King Midas inspired fantasy with a female MC & gahhhh! I LOVED IT! Berserker was bloody & I described it in my review as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of the classic novel Of Mice and Men. I’m still working on my thoughts/review for The Dark Intercept which was a cold & frightening dystopian that had me thinking….what if this were to really happen? I mean, is it really so far fetched? lol smh. It was a really good month quality wise with mostly 5 star reads which doesn’t ever happen & so I am a very happy bookworm 🙂

 The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller (3.5 stars/review to come)

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano ★★★★★ 

Berseker by Emmy Laybourne ★★★.75

Invictus by Ryan Graudin ★★★★★ 

Moxie by jennifer Mathieu ★★★★★ 

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins ★★★★★  (Mitali Perkins read & loved my review, when she re-tweeted it I got all teary eyed smh)

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen ★★★★★ (I also won a signed copy from the author himself which legit made my mth!)

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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (gift from hubby, he’s turned it into his things where he gets me all HP related items, he knows how to make my heart happy lol)

Monstress Volume 2 by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda (artist)

Ringer by Lauren Oliver (Replica #2)

The Alchemists of Loom (Loom Saga #1) by Elise Kova

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1) by Julie C. Dao

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Garcia-Moreno (Won this from a Twitter giveaway)

Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo (gift from my twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads, love her sooooo much! but this was a September gift & I mistakenly threw it in this haul so yea we’re rollin’ with it lol)

October Owlcrate

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Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

October Book of the Month

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Beasts Of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang (my pick for the mth, also have the eGalley that I will be reading in November)

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King & Owen King

   

Some of you who have been around the blog for a while now might be raising a brow at both Sleeping Beauties & Jigsaw since I’m a self proclaimed scaredy cat *no shame* baha! Sleeping Beauties I do believe was me getting in the spirit of Halloween however, Jigsaw was not lol. Many years ago my bestie of 18 years wanted me to go with him to watch Saw IV in theaters only I hadn’t watched any of them for the previously mentioned reasons (i’m a wussss lol). He decided to sit me down & have me binge watch the first 3 movies til I walked away numb & ready for IV smh. I honestly think I can tolerate psychological horror but not whatever IT falls into cuz no damnit! I’ve banned all red balloons from my home, sorry tiny humans. Anyways, Jigsaw wasn’t anything new new lol, it followed the same ol’ formula & delivered with the shock factor in regards to the games themselves. However, I saw the ending coming within the first 30 minutes & I’m not THAT person….you know? the one that ALWAYS predicts the ending making you feel clueless? yea, I’m not this person so when I figured it out, the jig was up (jeje see what I did there?) smh. I doubt I’ll continue watching any future movies in this franchise.

Happy reading in November Bookworms!!! Hope you all had a wonderful October & an even better start to this month. What are some books you’re looking forward to reading in November? planning on watching anything innneresting? Sound off in the comments down below 🙂


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Gush Review: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen

Title: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)

Author: Scott Reintgen

Pub. Date: September 12th, 2017

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Publisher:  Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Formats: eGalley

    

Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

Fast paced non-stop action from the minute you start the EPIC ride that is Nyxia! This is one will leave you with a bad case of “just one more chapter & then I’ll stop”

We get introduced to this diverse set of characters who have all basically signed on the dotted line & joined Babel as recruits. The Mission: to board the ship departing Earth & headed for Eden aka a newly discovered habitable planet with alien life. In Eden the recruits will mine a substance called Nyxia. This substance has been heavily researched & found to be invaluable. The major corporation Babel has recruits from all parts of the world on the ship headed for Eden after having them sign contracts promising huge pay-outs for their families back on Earth as well as themselves upon their return to Earth. For these specific recruits the money is worth leaving all they love behind, they are all poor & many have terminally ill parents. Our MC Emmett Atwater has signed but his gut feeling is telling him that something just isn’t right & that there’s more than meets the eye with Babel. Alliances & enemies will be made once the specifics are laid out & what once appeared to be a lucrative deal turns into survival of the fittest.

“We’re poor,” Roathy says without a trace of shame. “They picked us because we’re poor. We can be kings and queens, sure, but only if we bow first”

Nyxia’s cast of characters come from all over the world & the author Scott Reintgen came up with an ingenious way to overcome the language barrier. Each of the recruits are given high tech suits & small quantities of Nyxia that can be molded into literally just about anything. Inclusively, they’ve given them mouth pieces which function as translators. This being science fiction, I was very happy to see all of the different equipment & functions that facilitated communication between these characters. Our MC Emmett Atwater is a young black male from Chicago who considers himself a Southpaw. Emmett is very guarded, intelligent, and has his eye on the prize. With two very loving parents at home, one of which has Cancer, Emmett is driven by their need for better medical coverage. I have read a TON of YA books across many sub-genres but it wasn’t until I picked up Nyxia & discovered Emmett that I could say I had a favorite male MC. I can list teh reasons I love him but the truth is that parts of the fun is seeing him discover parts of himself he never knew he had in him 😉

In total there are 10 recruits to board the light ship & although I enjoyed them all so much there are a couple of stand outs.

Kaya ends up being sort of roomates with Emmett & if there’s one thing that will instantly make me fall for a character is finding out they are a fellow bookworm.When she pulled out a copy of my favorite childhood book I gasped haha! Kaya is Japanese and through the translating mouth piece is able to talk to Emmett with no barrier. Their scenes reading together were some of my FAVORITE! Kaya is also a strategist & Emmett’s first alliance, LOVE this character! Then there’s Bilal who comes from a small village in Palestine where he & his family are very poor. Bilal is always smiling & an overall positive presence, he is the type of person we could use more of in real life. Bilal befriended Emmett through perseverance, never taking Emmett’s stand offish attitude as a deterrent. Azima is from Kenya & emanates strength, beauty, and intelligence she is silent when we meet her but soon realize she is a force to be reckoned with. Jasmine aka Jazzy is from Texas & she carries with her that southern charm. It be best not to sleep on Jazzy though now that she’s far from the world of beauty pageants & focused on the same goal as the rest of the recruits (to remain vague cuz spoilers). Katsu…many might not like his boisterous personality but I found him funny at times, he is also Japanese & enjoys making others laugh through random outbursts & jokes.

Last but not least Emmett’s father who imparts such valuable pieces of wisdom to his son, stole my heart from the moment I met him. His confidence in Emmett to do the right thing & the history he keeps alive to strengthen his son brought me to tears a few times. Many of my highlighted passages in my galley were of conversations between Emmett & his dad. These characters are all amazing but they are also very flawed & hurting inside, but they were also very relatable & I am so glad to have met them even if it was within the pages of this book.

So of course after I finished reading Nyxia & finding myself in a EPIC book hangover, I did what I always do hehe. I went looking for the authors note & bio to meet the person behind the book. Scott Reintgen is a teacher of English & creative writing and when he set out to create the characters in Nyxia, he aimed to give his students characters they can relate to & see themselves in. Scott also had some of his students beta read for him which I found to be brilliant! In his author bio is written “The hardest lesson he learned was that inspiration isn’t equally accessible for everyone. So he set out to write a novel for the front-row sleepers and back-row dreamers of his classrooms”…I’d say he accomplished what he set out to do, this AMAZING diverse set of characters are relatable. Combined with the fast paced non-stop adrenaline inducing plot, Nyxia is hands-down my favorite YA Sci-Fi book of 2017! ❤ ❤ ❤

*HUGE Thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers, Netgalley, and Scott Reintgen for the eGalley copy of Nyxia in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Bookworms! I was so excited to write this review since I couldn’t stop raving about it & Twitter/Goodreads wasn’t enough to spread the word hehe. Have any of you read Nyxia? or possibly plan to? what are some of your favorite YA Sci-Fi books? Sound off in the comments <3’s!

Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

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

Author: Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date: September 12th, 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 400

Formats: eGalley 

    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Review: Zero Repeat Forever (The Nahx Invasions #1)

Title: Zero Repeat Forever

Author: Gabrielle Prendergast

Pub. Date: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pages: 496

Formats: eGalley 

Trigger Waring: Suicide & Racism 

    

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival comes to depend on trusting each other…

Zero Repeat Forever is THE book that demanded patience of me in return for a nice pay-off. Slow paced yet instantly addictive, I couldn’t quit this book. The story follows Raven, her boyfriend Tucker, his twin brother Topher, and a few other friends who were sent away to Summer Camp after getting into some trouble back home. While away, planet Earth is invaded by the Nahx aka alien forces. The killings begin and don’t show any sign of stopping. Humans are hit with darts that turn their veins black & rob them of life. Raven & her friends were informed to stay in place until they can be rescued however, that seems less likely with each passing hour. Opting instead to move in order to survive, their group finds that they know very little of the Nahx. Gathering info from Kill videos circulating on the web, they know the Nahx can be killed with much difficulty. Getting close to a Nahx however proves to be near impossible until Raven gets injured & captures the attention of one Nahx soldier. Eighth has been one directive...”Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.” & yet the sight of Raven is enough to make him go against his very nature. Not only is he unable to dart Raven…he sets out to protect her from his own.

The heart of this story lies within its characters, with wonderful character development Zero Repeat Forever was achingly beautiful to read. Raven is considered to be a bit of a troublemaker but she’s really just your average teen. She wants to do better for her parents especially now that the world has been taken over but she’s also a free spirit. Raven is loyal to those she cares about & she also harbors a ton of anger towards the Nahx (rightfully so). Raven meeting Eighth wasn’t easy & I loved seeing the progression of their very complex relationship. I don’t want to reveal too much about Eighth for fear of spoilers so I’ll just say, this character broke my heart with his sadness and guilt. Some scenes are hard to get through because there’s a communication barrier (the Nahx can’t speak) & Raven has a ton of anger. What I loved about their story is that it wasn’t rushed & it went through stages making the reader feel all of the emotions both characters are trying to cope with.

Told in alternating POV chapters between Raven & Eighth, Zero Repeat Forever is not your typical fast paced action packed sci-fi. Instead we get a heartbreaking story of death & destruction, friendship, love, and the unlikeliest of bonds. Prendergast also covered some serious topics such as suicide & racism. Raven our MC is bi-racial & she does bring up (via internal monologue) the racism she’s experienced back home. Suicide does get introduced in the latter part of the book as a thought both Raven & Eighth have struggled with. I wasn’t expecting to love this book as much as I did because of the slow pace. However, when I finally reached the last page I was left flipping blanks looking for more story. Zero Repeat Forever with it’s melancholy tone & Edgar Allen Poe quotes sprinkled throughout is now in my very top Sci-fi favorites. I recommend to all who enjoy a good sci-fi (think SyFy’s Falling Skies), love good character development, & don’t mind a bit of melancholy every once in a while 😉

*HUGE Thanks to Simon & Schuster, Netgalley, & Gabrielle Prendergast for the eGalley of Zero Repeat Forever in exchange for an honest review

 Hello Readers! I originally planned to have this review up last week but life got in the way, Zero Repeat Forever is already on shelves! has anyone read or plan on reading? I am SO READY for the next book cuz that ending left me with eyes wide open! haha 🙂


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

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

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

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


Physical ARCS

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

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

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

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

 eGalleys

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

Heart Of Iron by Ashley Poston

Everless (Untitled #1) by Sara Holland

Frankie by Shivaun Plozza

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

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

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

The Dangerous Art of Blending in by Angelo Surmelis

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

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

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

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


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