WWW Wednesday 10/18/2017

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

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

I am currently 40% into Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1) by Scott Reintgen & OMYGOSH Bookworms!!! It’s too early for me to start gushing about this book but it’s SO GOOD! I’ve had so many fellow bookworms read my status updates on Goodreads & get just as excited that I’m reading Nyxia. Beautifully diverse in such an interesting setting, Nyxia leaves you wondering what if we could all understand each others different languages. The most fascinating aspect of this book is that each character who signed up to venture to the newly habitable planet of Eden, is able to understand each other through a facial translator of sorts. The characters themselves are quickly becoming faves but never have I grown this attached to a male MC!!! I think I found the ONE! more to come on that 😉

On Monday I finished The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare #1) by Lauren DeStefano which I believe to be a very solid start to this new YA Fantasy. I’ve already written my review which goes live tomorrow morning & can’t wait to chat with you about. I knew I had to throw my hat in the ring for this galley when I read the synopsis & got from it that this is at its heart a genderbend version of King Midas and the Golden Touch. As a kid I was always fascinated by stories & myths but I was always down to hear about King Midas. The Glass Spare was a hit in my book (jeje) & now I start my watch for the sequel with bated breath lol 🙂

Since I am desperately playing catch up with arcs after having a disastrous September with family (discussed in my September wrap-up), I am doubling up & powering through some October new releases. I’m pretty sure I’ll be done with Nyxia either by tonight or tomorrow morning. I plan on starting the following 2 titles next, both of which I’m beyond super excited for! they are very different from each other which is great because I have a ton of Fantasy titles to read after & the change of pace keeps me from genre burn-out haha. I’ve heard nothing but GREAT things for both of these titles, especially You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins which is a multi-generational YA Contemporary, take a look at those accolades down below bookworms! & Berserker by Emmy Laybourne truly appeals to my love for all thing Norse mythology, I have a feeling I’m going to love it 🙂


BERSERKER (BERSERKER #1) by EMMY LAYBOURNE

Are Hanne’s powers a gift from the old Norse gods, or a curse?

Her brother Stieg swears their powers are a gift from the old gods, but Hanne Hemstad knows she is truly cursed. It’s not Stieg’s fault that their father is dead, their mother has left, and their brother Knut has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

No, the fault lies with Hanne and her inability to control her murderous “gift”–she is a Berserker. When someone she loves is threatened, she flies into a killing state. The siblings must leave Norway for the American frontier or risk being brought to justice.

Aided by a young cowboy who agrees to be their guide, Hanne and her siblings use their powers to survive the perilous trail, where blizzards, wild animals, and vicious bounty hunters await.

Will they be able to reach their uncle, the one man Hanne believes may be able to teach her how to control her drive to kill? With Berserker, Emmy Laybourne, the author of Monument 14, presents her vision of an American west studded with Viking glory.


YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by MITALI PERKINS

Nominated for the National Book Award | Six starred reviews: ★ Horn Book ★ School Library Journal ★ Publishers Weekly ★ Booklist ★ Shelf Awareness ★ VOYA

Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve Bengal tigers and her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.


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


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September Wrap-Up & Book Haul

Happy Tuesday in Fall Bookworms! I friggin LOVE this beautiful season to pieces but I can’t write a wrap-up without mentioning recent events that hit close to home. September wasn’t a easy month to get through with Hurricane Maria affecting the island of Puerto-Rico where one half of my family lives. That being said, I have a pretty pro-active family doing everything possible to make sure we are doing our part in helping and providing for our loved ones. Hoping for a much better tomorrow as our family here in New York continue to send relief in hopes that the basic needs are met. The world is hurting & I know I myself can’t turn a blind eye, it has definitely weighed heavy in my heart & thoughts each & every night. Reading has always provided a sense of comfort but once disaster hit, for the first time in a long time I had no desire to read at all. It took me about 2 weeks to get through my 6th book of the month Girls Made of Snow and Glass. I chose to push through seeing as it was the only thing allowing my mind to pull back a bit from the sadness. Fantasy will always be one of my top favorite genres for its very nature asks that you suspend belief in reality which was much needed. The stories I read this month only helped booster my need to help & do more. Heroines like Mira Minkoba from Before She Ignites helped me be more aware of my own anxiety & triggers when faced with a issue that seems like it can swallow you whole. This month has showed me the strength in family unity (ups & downs) and I have hope we can come back stronger than ever…

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust ★★★★ 

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows ★★★★1/2

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett ★★★1/2

Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast ★★★★1/2

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor ★★★★★

Runaways #1 by Rainbow Rowell & illustrated by Kris Anka (no review for this 1st issue, will be reviewing trade paperback of Vol 1 when it’s released)

These weren’t small books my friends, I didn’t intentionally set out to read 400+ pg books but that’s exactly what happened lol. This is why I had to throw in a novella and a comic. Besides being thick books, they were also very slow paced (all of them) which contributed to the docking of stars. I love character driven stories which is probably why I still really enjoyed all of my reads. Night of Cake & Puppets let me re-visit some of my fave characters with the addition of awesome illustrations. Runaways managed to seriously stir my curiosity for this comic run, I’m already signed up with Comixology to receive each issue as they are released. Girls Made of Snow and Glass has to be the freshest most unique re-telling I’ve ever read. Before She Ignites gave us our first MC in YA Fantasy with anxiety & OCD. Zero Repeat Forever was so sad bookworms! *sobs* LOVED IT! & lastly, Even the Darkest Stars had potential however it fell victim to its Mountain setting. All in all, a quality reading month 😉

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Snot Girl: Green Hair Don’t Care Volume 1

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff (no, I haven’t read Nevernight but I have every intention of doing so & Bookdepository is notorious for selling out of these editions *sobs* lol)

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (gift from who who listened to me RAVE about this book every single time I put it down lol)

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6) by Sarah J. Maas (a gift from my hubby who has already read & rated this installment 4 stars…he’s stingy with the stars so this is a good sign)

Wonder Woman (DC Comics #1) by Leigh Bardugo 

Warcross by Marie Lu

September Owlcrate

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

September Book of the Month

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Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (my pick for the month, the other 2 were add-ons)

The Clockwork Dynasty by Daniel H. Wilson

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic by Leigh Bardugo  (a gift from my Soul twin Gretchen over at @ChicNerdReads, she’ll be making her return to book blogging this week so YAY!)

OHMYGOSH-THIS-SHOW!!!! I legit didn’t know just how much I LOVE Jason Bateman till’ I binge watched Ozark! for those who are fans of Breaking Bad this is one you’re going to want to watch. The pilot episode was ominous and slow yet I knew I’d be watching the 2nd episode to see where it was going. Marty Byrde played by Bateman comes across as if he were on auto-pilot after a life changing event puts him & his family in a very sticky dangerous situation. Unraveling bit by bit it almost feels as if our MC will lose it any minute but he perseveres. Laura Linney who plays his wife is a character who grew on me, I did not love her from the start but grew to appreciate her later on. I’ve always been attracted to stories set in small towns & the characters they produce, in Ozark everyone has their own agenda. I don’t want to give anything away, part of what makes this series so good is the mystery that surrounds it.  There are many jaw dropping moments & an ending to knock your socks off lol.

Happy reading in October Bookworms!!! October is already setting itself up to be a good Bookish month with some FAB reads. Comic Con later this week should be fun, let me know if you’d like a post on my 2 days there. Also, if you’ve read or watched any of these? drop your comments down below <3’s!


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The Fall Book Tag!

Sundays seem to be the best time for a tag & since it’s finally beginning to feel like sweater weather, what better tag than The Fall Book Tag created by Shanah over at Bionic Book Worm! Shanah has a wonderful blog I’ve found to be a MUST VISIST! whenever I blog hop, with such creative content, book reviews, and book discussions there’s something for everyone 🙂

The rules:

  • Please link back to Bionic Book Worm, as the creator of this tag!! She wants to see your answers!!
  • Use the graphics – if you want 🙂
  • Have fun!

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera…by now if you aren’t new to my blog chances are you know my love for Silvera runs DeeeeP! haha! & even though all of his book are notorious for their ability to rip your heart out & tear it to shreds…TBDATE with it’s Sci-Fi element took a different approach by giving you the inevitable outcome in its title. Yes, they do both die at the end but that’s not what this story is about at its core. Uniquely told it will keep you flipping pages while fearing the inevitable til’ the very end. I wrote a Gush Review here.

Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2) by Victoria Scwab & I’m guessing many of you who have already read this one may be giving me all sorts of raised eyebrows lol. The ending did leave me a sobbing mess but I seriously DID NOT see any of it coming! I can’t go into details because this is a sequel in a du-ology but *round of applause* to Schwab because although it devestated me, I now can’t see it ending any other way. I have a spoiler free review here.

I just finished reading Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor & OHMYGOSH Bookworms!!!! I’m not big into romance or easily get the fuzzies for any of the love scenes I’ve come across in the books I digest. That being said, Zuzana & Mike’s love story had me smiling all throughout! I’m talkin’ school girl moments of “awwwww” & “omg I wish my first date was this cute” haha! what makes this even more odd is that as much as I’m not into romance, neither is Zuzana & so seeing her outside of her comfort zone was like I was doing so right along with her. I have a GUSH review for this novella here, it follows book 2 in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. It does not spoil the trilogy & can be read alone, it will however spike your interest in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy 😉

This one actually made me giggle lol. So in Shanah’s tag she mentions Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi as being one that she’s been talking about quite a bit. Whelp! it’s my pick for this prompt because I’ve been eyeing it these past couple of days to get my Diverse Fiction fill for the mth. I went as far as ordering the U.K. edition some time last year & it’s SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL! High time I get to this book so thank you Shanah for the bit of encouragement your tag has given me <3!

Recently I had the opportunity to read & review a eGalley copy of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee (review herewhich was so much fun! for fans of the Percy Jackson series, this is the book for you. For those looking to diversify their reading, Genie Lo is inspired from the Chinese tale of the Monkey King. I LOVED the humor & action in this book and I’m looking forward to more from this author 🙂

 

Hands down the honor goes to The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden  which is the sequel to last years favorite The Bear and the Nightingale (see my review here). I was thrilled to be granted access to a eGalley & now I wait for the perfect Fall/Winter night to start this atmospheric lush read *eeeeK*

 

 


I TAG…

Larkin @WonderfilledReads

Beth @ReadingEveryNight

Sofii @A Book. A Thought

Darque Dreamer Reads

Sarah @TheCleverReader

Kourtni @KourtniReads

Kelly @KellysRambles

Fernanda @TheWanderlustReader

Sophie @BlameChocolate

No pressure to those I’ve tagged & if anyone else who comes across this post would like to participate please feel free to join in on the fun. Fall is my favorite season and this tag is a nice way to welcome the season on my blog 🙂 Happy Reading Bookworms! ❤ < 3 ❤


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Book Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Title: Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Author: Melissa Bashardoust

Pub. Date: September 5th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling/LGBT

Publisher:  Flatiron Books

Pages: 384

Formats: eGalley

   

*Opted to leave out the Goodreads Synopsis this time as I usually do whenever it’s too spoilery. With so many unique twists, this is one you’ll enjoy unraveling yourself sans the blurb 😉

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is THE modern Snow White  re-telling I’ve been waiting for since the day I realized I didn’t need a Prince Charming to come rescue me on a horse. When I started questioning fairy tales & the incompetence of Kings all the while they had a kick a** intelligent Queen sitting on the sidelines. With an almost entirely female cast, GMOSAG gives the classic fairy tale a unique and fresh spin that will leave you feeling empowered by the very last page. Perhaps most importantly it shatters the clichéd belief that women in leadership roles cannot co-exist. In our cast we get a new Queen to a widowed King, a female Surgeon in service to the King, and a court council run by women. The men in this re-telling play the role of secondary characters.

Told in third person POV, we get both Mina (new Queen) & Lynet’s (King’s daughter) stories in past and present times. Mina’s story unfolds in an earlier time when she first met the King at the age of 16 & decided she wanted to be Queen. Living in a village with her Magician father has been no easy feat, feared by the townspeople in the South for her father’s abilities. Mina herself is walking talking proof of his abilities. Having died & been brought back to life with a heart made out of glass, Mina has been raised by her father to believe she neither has the power to love or be loved & that her beauty is her only asset. Mina however proves to be resourceful & intelligent, always observing human behavior. She studies the King and soon realizes that his daughter is all that he cares about. Never once did she expect to get attached to the Kings young daughter Lynet or what that could potentially spell for her future as the present Queen. We follow Mina as she helps raise Lynet from toddler to young adult all the while thinking that their future rivalry is inevitable.

Each of these characters came to life on the page. Well fleshed out, complex, and flawed they rope you into this cold tale of love, loss, grief, and ultimately defining what family is to you…

Mina- I love my villains, they often bring the most meat to a story & such is the case with Mina. She comes from the South where everything is warm and lush with life & the transition to Whitsespring castle in the North is the total opposite. This however doesn’t stop her from fulfilling the role of Queen & stepmother to young Lynette. Although she lacks a beating heart, a part of her wants so badly to feel loved. Her marriage to the king isn’t what she expected but she never once takes it out on Lynette. I don’t want to give away too much but this is one character I really enjoyed seeing develop. She isn’t the evil Frost Queen we all come to expect from fairy tales but I can appreciate that since women in  power are already thought of as Frost Queens in real life & I can do w/out that in my books 😉 

The King- My least favorite of the characters for oh so many reasons! but the biggest one being that he’s down right selfish. Yes, he’s a wonderful doting father but once you read this book you’ll see a man who just couldn’t let go.

Lynet- Besides Mina, I actually really enjoyed Lynet’s character. She knows her father sees her late mother in her & that he’s raising her to one day be Queen. Trying to fill her mother’s shoes however isn’t something she wants. Far from it, Lynet enjoys scaling castle walls & s spying on people…particularly the new Surgeon *smiles* there’s also more to Lynet than meets the eye but that would be spoilery so I’ll leave you to find out that interesting secret on your own 🙂

Nadia- new surgeon in service to the crown, Nadia spends her days in her laboratory poring over her books. The friendship to romance progression with Lynet was on point! I was rooting for these two all along 🙂

The Magician aka Mina’s father- Adding this guy to my list of most hated villains of all time! I’m beginning to see a trend with Magicians being this nefarious. This man seriously takes the prize though! playing all his cards close to his chest, he is one to keep an eye on.

Girls Made of Snow and Glass is easily one of my favorite Snow White re-tellings of all time. I was the kid who had no interest in Prince Charming. No, my interest was more with ingenuity…always asking why the princess had to wait in the tower instead of finding a way out. This is the Snow White story that I’ve been waiting for with messages of female empowerment & Queens that don’t need saving. I LOVED the fact that this was a mostly female comprised cast & that we got LGBTQIA+ representation. The only reason I docked GMOSAG 1 star is because of the very slow pacing all throughout. There aren’t fast paced action sequences, this is a story told primarily through dialogue and stream-of-consciousness. That being said, I was invested in these characters til the very end. The last line in this book is PURE PERFECTION!

*HUGE Thanks to Flatiron Books, Netgalley, and Melissa Bashardoust for the eGalley of Girls Made of Now and Ice in exchange for an honest review.


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#ARCSTRAVAGANZA #5: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

#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 5th week participating in #ARCstravaganza Monday & this week I’ve chosen one of my most highly anticipated sequels of this year!!! *eeeeeK* I still cannot believe I was approved on Netgalley but this truly made the end of last week cuz overall last week was a really sucky week in general. The book Gods definitely blessed me with some magic to make up for my troubles haha! Ok so, last year at NYC Comic Con I picked up a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale (see review here) not knowing that it would be my most favorite score. I read it sometime in December 2016 which btw is PERFECT weather for this read, and I fell in love with the writing & the story. From the opening scene in front of a warm fire to the very end, it felt like I was sitting down for story time every single time I picked it up. The cozy feels are real and I am so thrilled to have a early copy of the sequel The Girl in the Tower! Both the covers for these books are S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G! *heart eyes emoji*

*If you haven’t read The Bear in the Nightingale yet, I’d skip the 411 section after my photo*


The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

 


The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

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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ARC AUGUST Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee

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

Published by: Amulet Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Mythology/Re-telling

Pages: 336

Format: eGalley

*HUGE Thanks to Amulet Books, Netgalley, and F.C. Yee for the eGalley of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo in exchange for an honest review

   

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

This has to be one of the most fun and adventurous plots I’ve read all year long & I was so thankful for so many reasons! many have compared this to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which I have much love for. I can say that there are some similar feels but that goes for much of mythology, we can always find similarities. For me, The Epic Crush of Genie Lo stands apart for the following reasons:

1. A relatable Chinese-American heroine who is first and foremost just a student in High School trying to get into an Ivy League College before she starts juggling school & slaying demons

2. The story originates from the Chinese tale Journey to the West telling the story of Sun Wukong aka The Monkey King…I love all re-tellings however, I have never come across Chinese Folklore in Young Adult so this was a MUST READ!

3. The inclusion of Chinese culture specifically as it pertains to education and expectations. The pressures at home to over achieve bore so many similarities to those in Latinx culture. The fact that Genie wasn’t a child prodigy, she simply didn’t have a skill to set her apart in college applications & that alone made her very relatable…

The opening has us meet Genie Lo as she is meeting Quentin aka The Monkey King for the very first time. She witnesses him getting beat up by a group of guys in an alley & intercedes. She doesn’t know what to think of him when he shows up as the new kid in her class who just won’t let up on following her around. He speaks oddly enough but more than that, it’s what he is saying…he speaks of a greater power lying within her. Genie is someone who believes in Science and the things he is saying & more so doing are supposed to be impossible. Quentin doesn’t give up until he has made her question all that is real. Encounters with demons that leave her fighting for her life make her realize he isn’t lying and that the world may very well be in danger. Embracing her new found powers, Genie sets about to restore normalcy in California one demon at a time…

Genie Lo stole my heart with her sass but it’s the temper when she thinks you’re trying to take a jab at her that really made me care for her. She’s very self aware and makes no apologies for what sets her apart. Described as being very tall with a body that isn’t considered very feminine, Genie plays to her strengths. She’s part of a volley ball team not because she’s very good at it but because it’s a sport where her body is an asset & it looks good on college applications. Her moments of honesty really resonated with me & my own memories of High School. In Genie I saw a lot of my own self & it was refreshing seeing her not trying to change who she is for anyone.

Quentin aka The Monkey King got a ton of laughter out of me! he dished out as much sarcasm as he got from Genie. I enjoyed the moments where he pointed out all the hoops students had to jump through just to get a higher education. He of course is a supernatural force & school is not really an obligation lol. Quentin teaches Genie to fight all the while knowing he hasn’t told her the full story of who she really is…

Yunie-Genie’s BFF has to be one of the best BFF’s I’ve come across in YA! she is HILARIOUS!!! & also has no hairs on her tongue. She had me from the moment she referenced her Ovaries upon seeing Quentin’s handsome self walk into their classroom smh HAHA!

Genie’s Mom is by no means what you’re probably used to seeing from parents in Young Adults. As a matter of fact, she reminded me of my own in many ways. Genie’s mom is a single working mother trying her best to keep her daughter goal driven. She also doesn’t have any chill when speaking her mind & seeing her conversations play out with Genie felt familiar. Her heart is in the right place, she just has high expectations for her daughter. There are some moments when she speaks about Genie’s appearance that may make some uncomfortable, for me this was very relatable coming from an old school home that encouraged education but also an ideal marriage. Genie fortunately has tough skin & knows that her mothers ideals aren’t her own & loves her nonetheless.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo is fun, adventurous, packs a punch, and will leave you rooting for this heroines victory! The time I spent in its pages sparked so much interest in the Chinese tale from which it was inspired that I found myself researching on the side for my own growth. This is when I know I’ve come across a good book, when it leaves me wanting to dig deeper. This book was highly enjoyable while still imparting the reader with an inside look to a small aspect of Chinese culture. I was also a big fan of the humor throughout, so many LOL moments that I truly lost count (like I said, a very fun book haha). I also enjoyed the progression or development of Genie & Quentins relationship all throughout. It felt more realistic to go from truly not trusting Quentin to friends to something more than just friends. I only docked it 1 star because the writing in the beginning felt like it was trying to find its footing. It started off with a very middle grade feel and towards the middle/end, it makes its mark as Young Adult. I’m very much looking forward to more from this author who lends an authentic diverse voice to this genre.

*Please check out these Own Voices reviews: Read Think Ponder & One Way or an Author

Hello Readers! yesterday was Genie’s Book Birthday, did any of you get to grab a copy? & if you’ve already read it please share some non-spoilery thoughts down below 😉


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Review: New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Publisher: Hogarth

Publication Date: May 11th, 2017

Genre: Fiction/Re-telling

Pages: 204 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

*Cover = Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: A Million Junes by Emily Henry

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism/Contemp

Pages: 350 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Razorbill and Emily Henry for the ARC copy of A Million Junes.

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Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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At first glance, A Million Junes is hands down a Romeo & Juliet re-telling in the country. However, at its core A Million Junes can also read as a open love letter from a father to his daughter. June O’Donell lives with her mom, stepdad, and half brothers in Five Fingers Michigan where the O’Donell’s are sort of famous in their own right. June’s dad who passed away, made sure June knew to stay away from the Angerts aka the other infamous family in Five Fingers. The bad blood has run for 3 generations however, no one can pinpoint the exact moment the feud started or the cause of it. Both the O’Donell’s & the Angerts believe they’ve been cursed so that whenever their paths cross (often they do) bad things happen. June’s dad may no longer be living but this doesn’t stop June’s mom from continuing to keep a healthy distance from the Angerts. This of course all changes when June goes to the fair with her best bestfriend Hannah & bumps into Saul Angert. Saul is a few years older than June & has just returned from a pricey artsy school for writers. No one really knows why he’s back in town other than that he is staying with his dad who was a former top bestselling author. Although Saul has heard all about the curse over both their families, he is a non-believer and crossing paths with June soon changes that. For June is a O’Donell through & through, she believes in the curse and in the magic thrumming in Five Fingers. She sees a spirit with a pink feathery aura & a fox who appears every so often in their backyard waiting for them to give it their shoes. To June, her dad was a hero and a wonderful story teller & she believed each and every last story no matter how outlandish they may have seemed at the time. The more June tries to avoid Saul, the more they are thrown together. The spirits in and around her home are trying to tell her something, they keep transporting her to others memories. Memories of her dad from his recollection when she was just a little girl. Each & every time the “Whites” (aka little puffs of white that can be seen on her windows) come to show her a new memory, June gets to know her dad a little more. Everything she thought she knew to be true may or may not be a fact. To June, these trips to the past through the “whites” offer her so much insight on her father, grandfather, and great grandfather but are they harmless? And can June let go of what she & every O’Donell before her has always believed in & follow her heart?…

Starting with Five Fingers, this town is its own character filled with spirits, ghosts, and forest animals that steal your shoes. I fell in love with this strange little town even though at times it did creep me out just a little bit. Everything from the famous O’Donnell Cherry tree to the haunted lake kept me hooked in Five Fingers. June herself is sarcastic and blunt, making her a fun character to follow. Her best friend Hannah is one of my new fave sidekicks! From their own made up way of greeting eacother to how she has June’s back no matter what, Hannah is an instant fave. This right here was A+ female friendship goals 🙌🏼 Saul Angert aka the Romeo in this book, wasn’t THE BEST on the interesting meter but he scored some major brownie points towards the end. Now, last but not least is June’s dad. Although deceased, he is definitely a character all throughout this book. We get to know him and his love for June in a way perhaps that wouldn’t have been possible if were alive. He clearly had tons of love for June, enough for it to transcend beyond the veil of the living & dead. It was this relationship in particular that will stay with me for a lifetime. I myself lost my dad, a man who loved to tell stories just like June’s dad & I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I picked this book up…I’m glad I did though 😉 these characters are endearing, strange, and filled with magic.

I’m usually very weary when it comes to Magical Realism & A Million June’s was no exception. I love MR but it’s not always an easy experience to read & enjoy. This book is for those that may even be a little intimidated by Magical Realism. I found the writing style to be easy to digest which only heightened my level of enjoyment. This was a very atmospheric read that will ask you suspend all disbelief which I found myself doing immediately (leave it a Fantasy lover lol) once I entered the town of Five Fingers. I mentioned in the beginning that on the surface this is inspired by Rome & Juliet however, it was so much more than that. By the time I finished the last sentence I found myself in a puddle of tears at the realization that this story is more about a father’s love for his daughter. I’ve never read anything by Henry but now I am absolutely buying her last book The Love That Split The World if only to get a bit more of her unique writing style 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read A Million Junes? or are planning to? Sound off in the comments below <3’s! 

Also, if any of you have read The Love That Split The World please let me know if I should pick up a copy 😉

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame In The Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

HUGE thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, and Renee Ahdieh for the ARC copy of Flame in the Mist.

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

A Fantasy with a feudal Japanese setting?!?! YES PLEASE! I wasn’t expecting to love my 1st Ahideh book SO MUCH! but I’m so glad that I did. When we first meet our main protagonist Mariko, we hear her internal thoughts on what it means to be born female vs. male. She isn’t at all acceptant of the old school ideals & traditions of her culture but is also very mindful & respectful of her parents wishes. On her way to Inako, the city of her betrothed, her carriage is attacked with intent to kill. Mariko does manage to escape, and it is her ingenuity that drives her to take the clothes off one of the attackers & go undercover dressed as a boy. It is her belief that the attack is the work of the Black Clan & infiltrating their ranks will lead her to answers. Her course quickly changes however, when she is captured by the Black Clan and taken back to their leader. Mariko manages to keep her cover & slowly gains their confidence. Nothing is as it truly seems with the Black Clan Or the Goodreads blurb (in a good way lol). I’ve seen comparisons to Mulan & although I can see why, I myself did not take it as a re-telling. Set in a fantastical feudal Japan, Ahdieh infuses FITM with tons of culture & it is obvious she did her research. We not only get a gender bender story but we’re also given some politics via the Bushido code which are the laws followed by the Samurai’s of the land. This played an integral part in the story, specifically the Black Clan & I won’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers. We also get the aspect of the Geiko’s (gave me Geisha feels) who are females living & providing entertainment in tea houses where men of important affluence frequent. Mariko’s encounter with both the Black Clan & the Geiko’s leave her questioning her reality & the morality/intentions of those closest to her. I enjoyed the discussion that took place regarding both Bushido law & the existence of Geiko’s as it only helped build a more well rounded world. The second half of this book had me feeling like I was watching an episode of Game of Thrones & that is a very good thing lol! So many players on the chess board now, all with their own motives & as I previously stated…NOTHING is as it seems 😉

When we first are introduced to Mariko, we learn that she is VERY intelligent, observant, and strategic. Often looking on her twin brother Kenshin’s privilege at having been born male with a bit of envy. Mariko loves Kenshin aka The Dragon of Kai but she also wishes she didn’t have to submit to the social norms of marriage & domesticity. At the same time, Mariko doesn’t wish to bring shame to her family and this is what keeps her on course to fulfill their wishes to marry in hopes of elevating their status. It was a ton of fun following Mariko’s progression via infiltration of the Black Clan. Extremely resourceful & loyal, Mariko has now joined my small hall of fave fictional characters. Now, we also meet Kenshin her twin brother who is hot on her trail trying to find her. Kenshin who is under the impression that Mariko has been abducted, will stop at nothing to find her. I found myself liking Kenshin’s bond to Mariko but more importantly his acceptance of her “non-ordinary” nature. He may have wished she would conform just a little to make things easier but he never forced her to change. He’s always been aware of her passion for more in life, something not typically voiced or seen in the women of this world. Once in the Black Clan, we are introduced to a few members but the two that are focused on are Ranmaru and Okami. These two have a ton of history binding them, not all of it is good but goes back to their fathers. They are more like brothers now who watch eachothers back with Ranmaru being the leader & Okami the shield. LOVED these two! there’s also more than meets the eye with these two haha! discovering what hides beneath these complex characters was one of the best parts of this book. The ending of FITM brings some background characters to the forefront & begins to lay the framework for the sequel. With tons more cut throat characters coming out of the woodwork, i’m highly anticipating the sequel.

I’m a HUGE fan of lush worlds both real & fantastical, with Flame In The Mist Ahdieh delivers a huge dose of culture set in a fantasy feudal Japan. I LOVE when an author’s research jumps off the page & feeds my imagination vividly. Starting off with the very first page that lists the Bushido Code, I knew I was in for some serious story telling & that is what I got! complete with a glossary in the back of the book, FITM is a feast for any lover of cultural anthropology & Fantasy. I LOVED the underlying message of female empowerment in this book, especially seeing as it was coming from some of the male characters. Its been a while since I’ve come across male characters I truly enjoyed, Okami & Ranmaru are hands down two of my faves. Well paced, FITM unravels bit by bit leaving you with some OH I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING! moments haha! There is a romance & I appreciated that it was a slow burn (my favorite!) with all of the back & forth banter that made me smile & shake my head. The last half of this book took on a different tone once the plot thickened & motives were made known. You’ll see power play moves being made that may leave you feeling like you’re in a game of Chess. Add to the mix the fantastical aspect & I just couldn’t stop flipping the pages fast enough. Filled with culture, politics, intrigue, subterfuge, and double-crossings… Flame In The Mist is hands down one of my top Fantasy reads of 2017 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read this one yet? or planning to pick it up next week? This is one series (I think it’s a series lol) i’ll be keeping a close eye on…

Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Spindle Fire By Lexa Hillyer

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: April 11th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling

Pages: 351 pages

Format: eGalley & physical ARC (giveaway win)

Rating: ★★★ (3 Stars)

HUGE thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss, and Lexa Hillyer for the ARC copy of Spindle Fire.

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

A dark tale is spun in Spindle Fire…when baby Aurora is born, the last of the powerful faeries that used to rule the land pay the kingdom a visit. They bestow certain gifts of beauty & grace in exchange for tithing her voice and sense of touch. The King & Queen accept these tithes but it is when the Faerie Queen interrupts & asks for the child’s youth that they draw the line. The Queen then places the curse of death on Aurora by her 16th birthday. It is her half sister’s involuntary sacrifice that offers up some hope, Isabelle’s sight is tithed by another fairy who claimed she could reverse the curse & instead of dying…Aurora would one day be put into a deep sleep…

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As preparations are made for Aurora’s wedding, plans are also being made to send Isabelle away since she is viewed as troublesome. Isabelle who is very much a free spirit makes a run for it with her best friend & love interest Gil who worked in the castle. Aurora hears of Isabelle running away & decides to go and look for her. She stumbles upon a cottage with a Spindle & whelp we all know how the story goes lol. I appreciated the turn this story took in originality. After Aurora pricks her finger she finds herself in another world created by the Faerie Queen’s sister. So, it’s not like she’s just asleep the duration of the story, she’s busy in her sleep trying to get some answers. It is within Aurora’s dream world that we get to know the story of Malfleur (Faerie Queen) and her twin sister Belcoeur…

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Aurora & Isabelle are our MC’s, they are half sister’s with a language all of their own making. Isabelle is blind & Aurora is mute, they communicate via a series of taps on each other’s hands. They’ve had years to perfect their way of communication and can easily finish each others thoughts. Although they are half sister’s, Aurora is the daughter to the Queen and therefore is treated as a royal. Isabelle on the other hand receives less than royal treatment & is viewed by the court as trouble for her rebellious nature. Since this story is told in alternating first person POV chapters, we get to know these girls and their individual traits. Aurora loves romance novels that end with the prince swooping in & Isabelle can’t fathom the idea of being tied down by anyone. The sister’s are complete opposites, Aurora knows she was born to marry into royalty and is OK with that. Isabelle on the other hand would rather be chasing the next adventure far away from the castle. I was much more a fan of Isabelle, her chapters were def more exciting and even her approach to love seemed more realistic. We get introduced early on to Isabelle’s best friend Gil who is also her “love interest” and theirs is a complicated relationship. It seems like Isabelle has love for Gil more so than actually being in love with Gil. Later on in the story she meets the one that makes her question her actual feelings. I appreciated that her feelings were made known from the start of the story & it made for a more interesting progression. Now I can’t say the same about Aurora’s love interest which felt like a bad case of insta-love. I say this because typically insta-love doesn’t really bother me but I guess when contrasted against Isabelle’s, it stood out more in a bad way. I actually really enjoyed the Faeries that were introduced and their dark history. Perhaps more than Aurora & Isabelle’s story line, I looked forward to learning more of Malfleur & Belcouer. The faeries may have played the role of supporting characters yet it felt at times that they held the real meat of the story. I hope that the sequel sees more from these dark magical beings that once ruled the land.

 I’m a sucker for all things Sleeping Beauty, probably because she’s the princess who I feel got the bad end of the stick. She doesn’t have little birds cleaning & sewing her clothes while she sings. She doesn’t get talking tea cups & kettles to keep her company or a vast library to sulk in. No, she legit gets put to sleep & laid to rest in a glass case while the 7 dwarfs try to get her true loves kiss *major eye roll* LOL! so it’s safe to assume that Spindle Fire caught my immediate interest. I loved the darker tones in this re-telling & the fact that Hillyer changed something that I for one could’ve done without in the original lol. However, Spindle Fire was told from Aurora & Isabelle’s POV’s and if i’m being honest, I found myself enjoying Isaeblle’s chapters way more than Aurora’s. It wasn’t until the last chapters that Aurora won me over & by then I kind of felt short changed. This may just be my preference however, I will say that even with this holding me back, the pacing was on point with non-stop action. The world building was A+ particularly the faeries and their fall from positions of power as well as their need to tithe. This re-telling is unique, creative, and the story itself was enjoyable but it may be just be a case of writing style that made this a 3 star read for me. Spindle Fire is told in present tense/third person POV which makes for an awkward reading experience. I see tons of ways this story can go & have some wishes for it myself. I’d love to see more of Aurora reclaiming this re-telling & more of the faeries in this world in the sequel to come. The ending sets up the groundwork for book 2 nicely which means that yes, I will be reading the sequel 😉

Have any of my bookish peeps read Spindle Fire? if so, which sister’s POV did you enjoy more? 😉