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* 🙂


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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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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #6: Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1) by Jodi Meadows

#ARCstravaganza is a weekly meme hosted by the wonderful Flavia over @Flavia the Bibliophile where book bloggers/bookstagrammers have a chance to show off their ARCs/eARCs/Galleys!

Hello Readers! This is my 6th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows. I have only read one other book by this author & that was the collabo My Lady Jane which was one of my top faves for 2016. While I wait on the Lady Janies to give us another fab collaboration, I thought it would be nice to check out some of their individual works. Originally I planned to go through Jodi Meadows older books (I have a few on my TBR i’m really interested in like The Orphan Queen & Incarnatebut really who can pass up dragons?!?! not this little bookworm lol. This doesn’t mean I’ll be forgetting about her older titles, it just means the order of operations has changed haha! BESIDES the DRAGONS though there are two factors that pulled me in. Our main protagonist is a person of color which unfortunately in YA Fantasy is still not a common thing. This is NOT a #ownvoices written book but I’m a big supporter of diverse characters & hope we get good representation in Before She Ignites. Secondly, our MC struggles with crippling anxiety which is also uncommon in YA Fantasy yet also very relatable. I’m someone who experiences social anxiety & find that a character who is expected to be a heroine yet doesn’t see herself as one…is def a story I’d like to read & review on Lair Of Books.


Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

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The 411..

Before

Mira Minkoba is the Hopebearer. Since the day she was born, she’s been told she’s special. Important. Perfect. She’s known across the Fallen Isles not just for her beauty, but for the Mira Treaty named after her, a peace agreement which united the seven islands against their enemies on the mainland.

But Mira has never felt as perfect as everyone says. She counts compulsively. She struggles with crippling anxiety. And she’s far too interested in dragons for a girl of her station.

After

Then Mira discovers an explosive secret that challenges everything she and the Treaty stand for. Betrayed by the very people she spent her life serving, Mira is sentenced to the Pit–the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles. There, a cruel guard would do anything to discover the secret she would die to protect.

No longer beholden to those who betrayed her, Mira must learn to survive on her own and unearth the dark truths about the Fallen Isles–and herself–before her very world begins to collapse.

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What are some ARCS/eGalleys you’re excited to have Bookworms? If you’ve participated in #ARCstravaganza this week, please feel free to drop your links & I’ll make my way around <3’s!


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Top Ten Tuesday 8/15/17

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten accordingly. I LOVE lists, they keep me happy and I’m so glad to see this meme return this week after a mini hiatus. This week was a freebie of sorts where you are prompted to list 10 bookish recommendations. I’ve linked my reviews for each of these as well, please excuse the older reviews since I didn’t know what I was doing in terms of format, a year ago when I 1st started this blog lol. Here are my top 10 picks for this weeks topic (in no specific order):

August 15th 2016:Ten book recommendations for Bookworms looking for Diversity:

 

1. Saints & Misfits by S.K. Ali

*features a Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager, her friends, family, and community. Janna Yusuf is like many other teenagers trandealing with social pressures, first love, and friendships. We follow Janna’s story as she tries to reconcile her wants with her faith. (Trigger warning: attempted rape) check out my review here.



2. You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner

* features a Indian deaf girl with 2 deaf moms & a honest f/f friendship with it’s ups & downs. Our main protagonist is skilled in Grafitti art & has a wicked sense of humor 😉 Check out my review here.

 

 


3. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie-McLemore

* features a transgender Pakistani boy & LATINX girl as main characters in this Magical Realism story guaranteed to stir emotion. The writing is lyrical & lush with vivid imagery. Check out my review here.

 

 


4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 

* A raw & moving read relevant to our current times. It’s hard to read THUG & not walk away feeling like you need to do your part in the Black Lives Matter movement. Check out my review here.

 

 


5. Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Córdova

* a LATINX Young Adult Fantasy with elements of Alice in Wonderland. This story centers around a young Bruja’s (witch) Death Day celebration which is a rites of passage. In the Authors Afterword, the ancestors who appear in this book are from Ecuador, Spain, Africa, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Check out my review here.

 


6. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

* features a Haitian main protagonist who leaves Haiti with her mother in search of a better life in Detroit Chicago. We get a different perspective on a religion we often see in mainstream media. The writing in American Street is a mix between Fabiola’s native culture and the raw grittiness of Detroits mean streets. Check out my review here.

 


7. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee 

* features a Chinese American teenager slayyyyying demons! centered around the Chinese tale of The Monkey King, this book offers up a kick a** protagonist who doesn’t take ish from anyone & I loved her! Check out my review here.

 

 


8. History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

* features a gay couple with AMAZING parents who I wish we had more of both in real life & in our books. This book deals with grief & will leave you reaching for the nearest box of tissues. Check out my review here.

 

 


9. The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

* Lush with Persian influences & steeped in Indian folklore, this book will leave you questioning whether we are in control of our own fate. This book also features a positive f/f friendship & a beautiful father/daughter bond. Check out my review here.

 

 


10. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

* features a Chinese-American teenager in a gender bending story. Jordan Sun is on a mission to join Acapella in order to stand out in her college applications. The only thing standing in her way is that Acapella is all male only. When Jordan decides to dress as a boy in order to try-out, she wasn’t expecting to find a diverse cast of characters she feels most at home with. Check out my review here.

 

Happy Tuesday Bookworms!!! have you read any of the books I’ve listed? are you as excited as I am to have TTT back?!?! I guess I’m more excited than some since just when I started doing this meme again, the hosts announced their hiatus leaving me with a ton of unused excitement haha! 


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Review: Song Of The Current by Sarah Tolcser

Song Of The Current by Sarah Tolcser

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books

Publication Date: June 6th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 373 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: ★★★★

*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 living—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 strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and 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 🙂

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! 😉

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 🙈🙈🙈 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 🤗😍🤗😍

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 😉

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 @ 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 🙂

 

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 Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

 American Street by Ibi Zoboi  ★★★★ (4STARS)

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden   ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

The Education of Margot Sanchez ★★★★ (4.5 STARS)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas  ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

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

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall 

The Story Of  New Name (The Neapolitan Novels #2) by Elena Ferrante 

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante 

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

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi 

Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk by Kathleen Rooney 

Good As Gone by Amy Gentry 

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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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 🙂

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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 😉

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 Underworld & 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 behind 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 4 (link to IMDB) & i’m once again hooked. Team Lagertha all the way & I really hope they don’t kill off my boo lol 🤞🏼🤞🏼🤞🏼

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 about 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: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the-hate-u-giveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published by: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Date of Publication: January 28th 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Own Voices, Diverse

Pages: 464

Format: eGalley (Edelweiss)

Rating:★★★★★ 5 Stars

*Thank you Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, Netgalley, and Angie Thomas for the eGalley of The Hate U Give in exchange for an honest review.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

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Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr who witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best-friend. Starr is introduced as a 16 year old living in a very poor & high in crime neighborhood. Her parents placed her in a school in the suburbs away from the neighborhood they live in & commute every day to provide Starr & her two siblings a safer environment to study as well as a better education. Starr pretty much lives two very different lives and prefers to keep them separate from each other. She has friends and a caucasian boyfriend who don’t really know much about her. Starr isn’t comfortable being herself around them, often changing how she speaks and adopting her friends likes/dislikes. This all changed the night that she attended a party with her friend and bumped into her childhood best friend Khalil. A friendship she had let go once she started going to a school outside of the neighborhood & carries some guilt for doing so. Khalil & Starr grew up together and he’s very protective of her. When the party turns violent it is Khalil who thinks fast to get Starr away from danger. It would be the last act of love he would carry out for Starr. The Hate U Give revolves around Khalil’s unjust death & serves as the catalyst for Starr. Along with the main plot line of Khalil’s death we get subplots that serve to present a better understanding of the fear, anger, frustration, sadness, helplessness, and yes the hate felt by people of color. Experiences in Starr’s neighborhood will leave her feeling shaken to her core. Her neighborhood is filled with tension after Khalil’s shooting by a Caucassian Police officer. The media digs deep & portrays Khalil in a negative light, focusing on the life they believe he led as a gang banger selling drugs. In the neighborhood, we see the control these gangs have over the residents. The saying “snitches get stitches” is more a code to live by for fear of retribution.

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Angie Thomas has given us in The Hate U Give some of the most fleshed out characters you’ll ever come across on the page. To say that I was invested in all of the characters is an understatement…they live within me & I will carry them in my heart for as long as time permits. Starting with Starr who although we see her struggling to keep her two worlds/identities apart, still stays true to herself in little ways. Starr has a passion for basketball & fresh kicks aka sneakers, and her family. She is someone who has experienced loss at a young age to the injustices of the world. We see her strength at a young age get her through what lies ahead. Starr’s parents have now joined my Parentals Hall Of Fame alongside the Weasley’s. They are firm and strict all the while loving & teaching their kids the ways of the world. I loved seeing mom & dad interact with Starr & her siblings as well as themselves. This couple has a ton of history, not all great but it’s history nonetheless. Mom & dad’s relationship has had its highs & lows like any other marriage, it’s far from perfect and I enjoyed how authentic their relationship played out on the pages. The sibling relationships were pretty special & their interactions often left me smiling. Starr has two brothers who she is very close with and I loved seeing them look out for each other. We also get introduced to Starr’s uncle who plays the role of a positive father figure & also happens to be a police officer. Starr’s uncle is also affected by the events of the night Khalil was shot & it was interesting to see him handle certain situations (1 of my fave characters). The Hate U Give has a ton of supporting characters giving us the readers many different perspectives. Ultimately they come together to form a narrative we’ve now become familiar with through real life media/news coverage.

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The dialogue in The Hate U Give has such an authentic feel to it which pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the very last page. At 464 pages, this never felt like a dense read even if the subject matter itself was profound. This book will lift the veil from your eyes if there is one there, it most certainly will make you feel uncomfortable as it should. We can’t learn if we are stuck in comfort. Many times while reading I felt my heart & mind heavy with thoughts of our future. After all, this book is heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement & is a story that we have unfortunately seen play out in the media in real life too many times. I believe this book to be relevant to our current day & one that should be read by all. I connected with this book on a more personal level & for that I will forever be thankful for Angie Thomas. See, I am married to an African American man and we have two beautiful children. Our son is brown skinned like his dad & our daughter is white skinned like myself. I remember being pregnant with my son, watching the news and fearing for my unborn child. Young African American teens were losing their lives in senseless shootings by police officers across the nation. The conversations I had with my husband on how we would raise our son always left me deep in thought afterwards. Is this really the world/life I’ve brought my son into? he is now two going on three & the shootings have continued with little to no justice for these young souls. It is my hope (like any other mothers) that his future is a somewhat better place for people of color. The Hate U Give at its core attempts to give the reader some insight on how it feels to be targeted over the color of your skin, the powerlessness that converts into hate, and the motivation behind activism & protests. A poignant read, The Hate U Give will impact many lives by the time the very last word is read.

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15049422Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

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: ★★★★ (4.5 STARS)

I’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 wanted—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 “borrowing” 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 family’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 she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…

Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—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.