Spoiler Free Review: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

Title: Haunting the Deep (How to Hang a Witch #2)

Author: Adriana Mather

Pub. Date: October 3rd, 2017

Genre: YA Historical Fiction/Paranormal

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Format: eGalley & Physical ARC

    

Haunting the Deep is the follow-up to How to Hang a Witch  & so I’ll leave out the Goodreads synopsis for fear of spoilers. In the same manner its predecessor was based on real life historical events, this sequel is centered around the Titanic. A YA Historical Fiction mixed with paranormal, Haunting the Deep picks up right from where we left off and the same characters are back. I truly enjoyed this follow-up a million times more for so many reasons but most of all it’s the character depth & fast moving plot that was fun and easy to follow, that make Haunting a 5 star read for me. This time around there was less of a Mean Girls vibe (not completely without) & more of  the 1966 cult classic The Craft. After the events of HTHAW, our MC Sam is a bit shaken up & avoiding any and all interaction with a group of girls in Salem that are known as The Descendants. This group is known for their family lineage, each having descended from those accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials, Sam herself (like the author) is descended from Cotton Mather who stands on the accusing side. This bad blood pits Sam against the Descendants in the first book however, in Haunting we see a meeting of the minds. Since Sam & the Descendants saw themselves in a terrible predicament in HTHAW, this time around calls for them to set their differences aside. Ghosts have always made themselves visible to Sam but this time around they’ve multiplied and need the help of the living. We follow Sam & the Descendants as they try to piece together what really is going on with the ghosts of those who passed away in The Titanic. The paranormal aspects were tuned up & Sam’s witchy abilities have further developed allowing her to leave her body and enter the spiritual world. I could NOT put this book down for long! I found that it had the perfect balance of paranormal & historical and soaked up all of the details Mather had to have heavily researched.

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If you found yourself wanting more from the characters in HTHAW, this is the follow-up you’re going to want to pick up 😉 although we still get a bit of the mean girl vibe, it quickly develops into something else that I found myself really enjoying. Sam still managed to slightly annoy me but she also grew on me by the end. The real stars of the book (beside the ghosts) were The Descendants Susannah, Mary, and Alice aka MY FAVORITE! haha! Mary unfortunately gets the ditsy role but she also has a heart of gold that makes it hard to dislike her. Susannah is the calmer more mature of the crew and is able to see things before they happen. Alice is unapologetically unfiltered & every time she put Sam in her place I chuckled. I got more of Mrs. Meriwether & her wonderfully tempting pastries and good cheer, I honestly could smell her baking through the pages haha! We also get to see Elijah aka the hot Ghost who has a thing for Sam & who Sam can’t stop thinking about. There was definitely less romance this time around & more of a focus on friendship which I feel, boosted my interest ten fold. I still couldn’t get enough of those Elijah scenes but I really enjoyed The Descendants & fast moving plot so much so that I didn’t miss the romance too badly. There are a few ghosts we meet along the way & everything from their manner of talk & dated clothing fleshed this world out so well, I just couldn’t get enough of the story.

The amount of research that had to have been done to re-create the night of the Titanic down to the music playing is pretty awesome! We get descriptive writing on the clothes worn, the ship itself, way of life for those on the Titanic, and so much more! I feel as if author Adriana Mather’s writing has grown in such a short matter of time leading me super excited for what’s to come in 2018. I absolutely plan on continuing on with this series, I care for these characters & am curious to see how much more developed their witchy abilities get in the next book. Also, Elijah and Sam…essentially both a living person and a deceased one have managed to catch feelings for one another…how is this going to work? I have questions lol! each of the characters in Jaunting the Deep had their own distinct voice & each personality jumped off the page. I found myself transfixed by this story & how well it blended the historical with the Paranormal. I love when a book makes me Google the real life facts to compare & the surprise I receive when I realize how close to the real deal the author kept it. It’s no secret that I love Fantasy but when it comes to Paranormal, witches are my achilles heel & I cannot resist a good story. Haunting the Deep is a treat to those who enjoy Historical Fiction & Paranormal. The title couldn’t be more fitting as the pages truly did leave a haunting impression every night (spooky x 1,000) & I may have possibly needed to leave my nightstand lamp on to fall asleep. Need book 3 but I’ll settle for a release date at the very least Haha! 😉

*Many thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers, Netgalley, and Adriana Mather for the eGalley copy of Haunting the Deep in exchange for an honest review.


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Review: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Title: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Author: Ruth Emmie Lang

Pub. Date: November 14th, 2017

Genre: Fantasy Fiction

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 352

Format: eGalley/Netgalley

   

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is perhaps the most whimsical read I’ve picked up in all of 2017 & I’m so glad to have read it this holiday season. The Goodreads Synopsis for this book is pretty generous in length but if I’m being honest all I needed to read was the snippet above to know this was one I’d want to read. When introduced to Weylyn Grey, I instantly got the Jungle Book & Charlotte’s Web vibes. Here is a kid who has been orphaned at a very young age & ends up being raised by wolves. He’s not just any ordinary kid though, Weylyn has a special connection with animals and can communicate with all species of animal. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is a multiple POV story told by the many characters who cross paths with Weylyn Grey. They all share one thing in common, their lives are forever changed after meeting Weylyn & witnessing the odd and extraordinary things that occur whenever he is around. This story is special in that it not only asks its characters to suspend their disbelief but also you the reader. I wouldn’t call it Magical Realism which in my opinion has a whole different feel in writing style but it certainly is very whimsical. This is a very character driven story with a underlying message of what makes a home a home…is it a place? or the people we meet along the way?

Weylyn Grey sees himself living in many places & meeting many others from all walks of life but even he has that one person that is his hearts anchor. Mary, the girl he met when he was a young boy & who ran away from home to spend one whole month with him and the wolves. Each chapter starts off in a new place/different year where Weylyn has tried to settle down in but we also see him pop in & out of Mary’s life. This is mainly because he believes he is a danger to those he loves, strange & mysterious things like sudden tornados striking or storms tapering off. It seems he has the ability to manifest & also dispel weather phenomena. We get to see how others perceive Weylyn, some are nicer than others but all come away with a different perspective on life after witnessing things that can’t be explained.

For those readers who love character driven books, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance will prove to be a real treat. This is one boys journey to manhood as he touches the lives of many and discovers that home is what you make it. I really enjoyed getting sucked into this world and the nostalgia it stirred in me when recalling some of my favorite childhood reads. Lang’s writing is beautiful & the imagery left me smiling on many occasion. I did wish we had perhaps less characters introduced along the way & a bit more of the love story that is hidden underneath all of the extraordinary. I’m not typically the one to go for the romance but we meet a plethora of characters & their time with Weylyn is brief, I wanted a bit more of Mary since she is the most important person in Weylyn’s life. Overall, this is one story i’m sure will remain with me for a long time & as a person who has also moved around a ton, I can definitely appreciate the message. Best read on a cool night with a hot cup of cocoa, Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is an atmospheric read sure to feed the imagination!

*Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Ruth Emmie Lang for the eGalley copy of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance in exchange for an honest review.


Happy Monday Bookworms! Hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good reads. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance was recently a Book Of The Month pick which made me happy to have my own physical copy, have any of you read this magical book? if so, sound off in the comments down below.


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Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Title: Renegades (Renegades #1)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Pub. Date: November 7th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends/Fierce Reads

Pages: 576

Format: Physical ARC

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

    

Are you a Renegade or a Anarchist? is it really as simple as choosing a side? and is it really good vs. evil? The city of Gatlon has been divided by those who admire the Renegades & those who detest them. Our MC Nova aka Nightmare is a Prodigy, someone born with superhuman abilities. Nova at a very young age was raised by her parents to trust in the Renegades to save the day however, too soon she learned this was not the case for her. When tragedy struck Nova at the age of 6, everything she believed in crumbled & the seed of resentment towards the Renegades began to grow deep within. Vowing vengeance, Nova takes to life underground with other Anarchists intent on the destruction of the Renegades. The overall consensus is that Renegades aren’t out on the streets saving lives, they are glorified super stars that the people have come to idolize through parades and intense media coverage. The Renegades themselves believe everything they do is in the best interest of society. However, not just anyone can become a Renegade, Prodigies interested in joining must go through what is known as the Renegade Trials. Based on your super human ability, Renegade teams can choose you to join their squad very much like the American tv show The Voice haha!

We follow Nova as she sets out to get back at those she believes have failed her and the city she lives in. I enjoyed seeing how Nova went about positioning herself to enact her plan however, I do believe plot pacing took a hit. Renegades is generous on the page count & although I LOVED every single one of the characters, there were some moments of no real activity. That being said, my enjoyment wasn’t too impacted & towards the end there are certain elements introduced that serve sort of as a jet-pack concluding with a strong and unsuspecting finish.

Although the story does focus mostly on Nova, we meet a slew of characters both Renegades and Anarchists alike. The finished copy actually has a small glossary in the front of the book. Nova was pretty much raised in a underground subway tunnel surrounded by a handful of other Anarchists. It’s made clear that the Anarchists ranks have taken a severe hit and not many are left. Nova spends her time with her adopted family of Anarchists Queen Bee (has a special connection to bees), Cyanide (King of poisons & natural gasses), Phobia (will draw the fear right out of you), The Detonator (BOOM!), and The Puppeteer (creepy as hell lol) who are all Prodigies with innnnneresting abilities. I REALLY liked all of the Anarchists which speaks to how well Meyer blurs the lines between who is good and who is evil.

The Renegades are more of a corporation expanding world wide with many arriving in Gatlon city to train. We meet Adrian Everheart at the start of the story while he is experimenting with his abilities (vague for fear of spoilers). Adrian is the adopted son of Captain Chromium & Dread Warden who are both leading political figures and part of the Council which governs over the Renegades in protecting Gatlon. I appreciated the LGBTQ representation with Adrian’s dads who although they are side characters, are still very important people in leading roles in fictional Gatlon city & that’s pretty damn awesome!  Adrian is team leader of his squad & we are introduced to Red Assassin (Gem & Rubies manipulator), Monarch (special connection with butterflies), and Smokescreen (smoke manipulator who is also disabled). However, Adrian is the character we spend most our time with & I ended up loving him to pieces. Although we get some moderate page time with Adrian’s squad, I do wish they were as fleshed out as the Anarchists were.

Any time I can get my hands on a Marissa Meyer story, I will! One of my all time favorite YA authors, I cannot resist her writing and the worlds she creates full of complex & morally gray characters. By the time you reach the end of Renegades, it will be hard for you to choose a side. Although the Renegades mean well, are they really helping or hurting the people of Gatlon city? & although the Anarchists claim to want independence for the people of Gatlon city, is full fledged freedom with no government really the answer? I myself haven’t chosen a side yet & love that about this story. Start to finish I enjoyed my time with these characters & found myself at times rooting for both sides lol. The plot could’ve been paced a bit better & I would like to see the other characters fleshed out a bit more, particularly on the Renegade side. Other than that, I CANNOT WAIT for the sequel!!! anyone who has already devoured this knows that with that ending, the suffering will be long & hard haha! MARISSA HAS DONE IT AGAIN!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

*Special thanks to Fierce Reads for providing ARCS of Renegades in exchange for an honest review

*Images not my own, gathered from Marissa Meyer’s Pinterest Board. She has loooooads of pics but these called out to me most 🙂

Hello bookworms! many of you are either in the middle of or finishing up Renegades…isn’t it sooo good?!?! I finished it in the tub & tweeted my reaction to the finale while trying my hardest not to drop the book smh LOL! more importantly, are you a Anarchist or a Renegade? 😉


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Review: The Dark Intercept by Julia Keller

Title: The Dark Intercept

Author: Julia Keller

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-fi/Dystopia

Publisher:  Tor Teen

Pages: 320

Format: Physical ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for a honest review, all opinions are my own.

  

The State controls your emotions. What would you pay to feel free?

In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors and provokes emotion. But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.

The dark Intercept caught my attention with its interesting concept & cool cover depicting a sleek new planet suspended above another that is gray & ominous. In a world filled with violence, crime, sickness, and hopelessness; science & technology have provided a way out. Not everyone however has been granted access into New Earth, that right has been reserved only for the privileged elite. Everyone else has been left behind on Old Earth to fend for themselves. The invention of the Intercept has made it so that there is no need for law enforcement to be present at all times. Every single human being both on Old Earth & New Earth have had a chip inserted in their arm & emotions have been weaponized as a method of control over the populace. Every single emotion is digitally recorded by the Intercept & law enforcement is called the minute it picks up on any nefarious actions. Criminals caught in the act are subjected to the Intercept while it selects your most painful memory on record & replays it for you so vividly it’s as if you are re-living the moment over & over again until left in crippling agony. I found this alone to be a scary concept simply because the implementation of chipping in humans isn’t far fetched in real life today, as a matter of fact you may have heard of one company in Wisconsin who has embedded them in their employees. In The Dark Intercept, we have a population that has been entirely abandoned to its own devices on Old Earth & it’s pretty much survival of the fittest down there.

We get introduced to 16 year old Violet who works at an office monitoring The Dark Intercept for any signs of malicious activity. Whenever the Intercept picks up on criminal activity, Violet initiates the feed of painful memories/emotions to the criminal. Violet is also the daughter of the man who created New Earth & because she is able to see the live feed of Old Earth, has a deep appreciation for the Intercept. This is why Violet can’t understand why Danny, a guy she has feelings for, can’t seem to stop himself from going down to Old Earth despite orders not to. Danny works for law enforcement on New Earth but unlike Violet, he was born on Old Earth & has plenty of secrets to hide. For the majority of this book we follow Violet as she tracks Danny’s moves on Old Earth in an attempt to discover his motives. I really wish this has been multiple POV, I was very interested in Danny & a few of the other supporting characters. I also didn’t really see much chemistry between these two characters in a romantic sort of way particularly because Violet came off as very immature in contrast to Danny who is in his early 20’s.  Since that didn’t really go anywhere, I’m hoping it stays that way and that instead we see a platonic relationship between these two characters. Less focus on Violet tracking every move Danny makes & more on the characters in the shadows is what I’d like to see in the sequel.

Along with multiple POV’s I also would’ve liked Old Earth to have been a bit more fleshed out. We do get introduced to a woman on Old Earth & there is mention of a group of teens who stick together in survival mode by any means necessary but it’s not really as fleshed out as New Earth. There is one character in particular who goes by the alias Tin Man that I was REALLLLLY interested in & would’ve loved to see more story on. I love stories where the oppressed fight back against a system that’s broken & for a minute there I had some guesses as to who would helm the revolution if there were to be one.  I’m hoping to see some of these predictions come true in the next installment *fingers crossed*.

In terms of writing, the second half of The Dark Intercept was definitely stronger than the first. I found myself flipping pages a bit faster when plot twists were introduced but also found that I had reached the end by the time my interest was at its most highest. Above all, what I liked most about the Dark Intercept is perhaps the potential for conversation it opens up on the ramifications of human chipping. This may be a YA Sci-Fi but a lot of what was going on doesn’t seem far fetched anymore in the real world of today. Overall, The Dark Intercept presents an interesting concept with some flaws in terms of world building/character development however, the Big Brother element hooks you in & the plot twists make for an entertaining read, I gave it 3.5 stars.

*HUGE thanks to Tor Teen and Julia Keller for the arc copy of The Dark Intercept in exchange for an honest review.

*Images for book aesthetic obtained from Pinterest

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books! ❤ ❤ ❤


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Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Title: You Bring the Distant Near

Author: Mitali Perkins

Pub. Date: October 31st, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary, #Ownvoices

Publisher:  Macmillan Children’s Publishing

Pages: 320

Format: eGalley/Netgalley

    

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.

You Bring the Distant Near truly felt like a gift I was unwrapping Christmas morning. It’s not often that we get stories based on Indian culture yet here we have a multi-generational book spanning the lives of 5 women in the Das family. We first meet Ranee & Rajeev Das, the parents of Tara & Sonia Das as they move from Bangladesh to London & finally Queens, New York. Rajeev Das is a hard worker & provider for his family, his wife Ranee wants them to own a beautiful home in a safe neighborhood. The Das family has very humble beginnings in a apartment in Queens that is located in a predominantly black neighborhood. We see Ranee struggle with her own prejudices & how her fear leads her to restrict Tara & Sonia. We also get an inside look on her marriage & the disconnect that often leads to arguments in the Das home. Underneath it all however, is a whole lot of love. This book truly has it all! the immigrant experience, marital woes, intersectional issues, colorism, feminism, Islamophobia, complex characters and so much more. I couldn’t put this book down other than to shed some tears every now & again. Seeing three generations of women try to retain some of their culture while also trying to fit in to their new lives was rewarding for me as a reader. Having had some of my own family immigrate from Salvador to the United States, I knew assimilating would be difficult but never really thought about how difficult it must be to try & retain some of their own culture. I found myself rooting for these characters to win their battles & stand up for what they believe is right. This isn’t by any means a fast paced book, it is however a heart warming read that gives you a inside look to a culture & people not often seen in YA books.

The author kindly included a family tree at the very beginning of the book but I found I didn’t really need it since the characters were very well fleshed out. 5 women’s stories spanning over 3 generations, all so very different from each other but the one thing they have in common is their wish to hold onto some if not all of their roots. I LOVED all of these characters, they’re the type to stick with you way after you’ve read the last page.

Rajeev & Ranee Das- mother & father to Tara & Sonia are struggling to meet eye to eye when it comes to settling down on a place to live. Rajeev is sweet & the definition of a proud & doting father. He has a ton of love for his daughters & I found myself crying the most whenever he interacted with Tara & Sonia because this is the closest a character has come to resembling my own father & how he cared for my sister & I. Rajeev is incredibly supportive of his daughters & encourages them to follow their dreams. Our matriarch Ranee Das on the other hand is the law in her home & perhaps has the most character growth in this book. She has a ton of prejudices to sort through & we get to see her struggle with her marriage, daughters, grand daughters and her own internal struggle to both let go & hold on to some cultural beliefs. I loved seeing how realistic this marriage was portrayed & the underlying love that shines through.

Tara & Sonia Das- Since the majority of this book is told in alternating POV’s between these two sisters, I felt that I really got to know them. Tara aka Star is in love with acting, drama, entertaining, and fashion. She loves studying different icons on tv & imitating their style. This is something she sees as a useful tool whenever she has moved to a new country & started a new school. Tara is also the sister everyone considers the beauty who is sure to find a suitable husband. Sonia aka Sunny is a reader & writer, she loves retreating into her own world where she can journal & read non-fiction. The move to NYC places her on course to becoming a feminist & activist. I enjoyed seeing the contrast between Sunny, Star, and Ranee. Sunny is very vocal in squashing any prejudices coming from her mother which is why they clash the most. Sunny is also of darker complexion & we see the affects of colorism both in her home & with other Indian neighbors.

Chantal & Anna-  the daughters of Sunny & Star, the latter part of YBTDN is told in alternating POV chapters with these cousins. We still get to see their parents but the focus shifts to their high school lives. Chantal is Sunny’s daughter & she is trying to find peace between her two grandmothers. Chantal is bi-racial & we get to see the very realistic familial battles that take place when two very different cultures come together through marriage. Anna is Star’s daughter & she for the most part has been raised in Mumbai. Her parents do travel with her to & from NYC to Mumbai but she has no interest in American life. We see her get uprooted & the difficulties she faces when trying to hold on to her roots.

Grandma Rose- doesn’t come into the picture til’ we meet Chantal later in the book but I seriously LOVED seeing her duke it out with Ranee for title of best grandma. Grandma Rose is black & is very involved in Chantal’s life. I loved seeing her pride & confidence in Chantal, she really is her #1 fan. Some of my favorite scenes were those between Rose & Ranee, these two had me smiling & shaking my head.

Rich in culture & family dynamics, You Bring the Distant Near is easily a top contender for my top 10 favorite books of this year. For any bookworms looking for #ownvoices reads, I highly recommend picking this book up. In just 320 pages we get wonderful character development & a ton of tough topics thrown in the mix making this one hell of a journey. I felt a range of emotions seeing this family try to set down new roots in a strange land while also learning to adapt when life throws you a curve-ball. I also found myself wanting more story once I finished reading & perhaps that’s due to how well it was structured. The alternating POV chapters between Sunny & Star and later their daughters Chantal & Anna really allow you to form attachments. This bookworm would love to see more of the Das family & their growing pains. I am so happy to have read YBTDN & wish only to see more from this author in the very near future *fingers crossed*

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing, Netgalley, and Mitali Perkins for the eGalley copy of You Bring the Distant Near in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Monday Bookworms! hope you all had a wonderful weekend & managed to squeeze in some good books. You Bring the Distant Near is hands down a highlight in my October reading. Have any of you lovely bookworms had the chance to read YBTDN? or plan on adding it to your TBR? Sound off in the comments down below 😉


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Review: Berserker by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Berserker (Berserker #1) 

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Pub. Date: October 10th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends

Pages: 352

Formats: eGalley/Netgalley & physical arc won from a Goodreads Giveaway

Rating: 3.75 Stars

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.

Berserker wasn’t at all what I was expecting & for a minute there I wondered aloud what exactly I was reading? the answer took me by surprise & intrigued the hell out of me enough for this frightful bookworm to read through the bloody scenes. I can only describe Berserker as Norse Mythology meets the American Frontier with hints of the classic novel Of Mice and Men & guess what bookworms?!?! IT WORKS!!! part of the reason I think that it did is because Laybourne has created her own lore in this world instead of using everything we know about Norse Mythology. The opening scene really sets the tone for this short read, bloody and raw. Our MC Hanne & her siblings (with the exception of the youngest) all have been gifted/cursed with special abilities from the Viking Gods. It is believed that the Viking God Odin gifted three of his favorite Kings with special abilities known as The Nytte. This gift/curse doesn’t come without its consequences, there is a big price to pay as a result of using their ability. The odds of inheriting The Nytte are greater if both parents are descended from these kings & such is the case for our MC & her siblings. They don’t know the names of each ability or even if they quite believe in the origin of these abilities but they’ve learned to use them to make a living. Hanne is a Berserker which is the only gift that is focused on taking life whenever someone she loves in danger. While in Norway, her father has her using her “gift” to slaughter pigs for local farmers (detailed in the book) because her technique leads to better quality meat. A incident on the farm triggers Hanne’s Berserker abilities ending in tragedy & the need to go on the run. While on the run they manage to catch the interest of a man who has made it his mission to find Nyttes daughters & sons with a keen interest in their abilities. Although this mans intentions are not readily made known, Hanne doesn’t trust him & will keep her siblings running to put as much distance as possible between the law & this stranger.

*In order not to spoil anything, i won’t be including each characters Norse gift/curse…besides it’s more fun finding out for yourself along the way 😉

Hanne- The MC aka the Berserker & sort of the matriarch of the family. She loves her family fiercely & her abilities have sharpened her senses to the point where if any danger is even headed their way she is ON IT! Hanne doesn’t see The Nytte as a gift but rather a curse she can’t control & when it strikes it leaves her mortified at the end results. When I picture Hanne there is only one Goddess that comes to mind…Lagertha!

Stieg- not sure if he’s the oldest or second oldest to Hanne but either way he is more of the patriarch of this family. Stieg is a intellectual with a passion for knowledge & conversation. He knows more than one language & will never pass up the opportunity to teach. Stieg also has a ability that he uses sparingly whenever in dire straights. What I liked about Stieg is that he wasn’t made out to be the stereotypical bookworm, he’s just as much down to have fun as he is to hit the books. Also, his ability is pretty bad a** 😉

Knut- Knut reminded me most of Lennie from Of Mice and Men which meant that I was already on Over protective mode upon meeting him. Tender hearted standing at 6’2, Knut also carries The Nytte & it is tied to his physical strength. There’s no way you won’t love him when you meet him 🙂

Sissel- my least favorite of the siblings, she is the youngest and most spoiled. Sissel is all about comfort and finding a good match for marriage, in other words being taken care of. Sissel is described as frail in physical appearance & very likely to have had The Nytte skipped her. This being book 1 in the series, I can’t help but wonder if Laybourne has special plans with this sibling…

Owen- The cowboy the siblings pay to safely guide them to a uncle who could possibly help Hanne control her Berserker abilities. He is actually one of my favorite characters in this book, its just him and his dog Daisy until he meets the siblings. Owen loves Daisy to pieces & has trained her to help herd cattle with dreams of one day training pups on a farm to do the same. He minds his business & lives a simple life until chaos is introduced and he has a decision to make…

I managed to fly through my reading of Berseker because of my general interest in Norse Mythology & the ease with which Laybourne used the well known mythos as a jumping board. This is a VERY bloody read & had some cringe worthy passages that surprisingly engrossed me. Why the 3.75 rating? well for starters, this is still a good rating in my book & translates into a 4 star rating on Goodreads. The siblings were for the most part traveling in this book trying to reach their uncle to help Hanne & I enjoyed that adventure very much. However, my only complaint is how neatly the ending was presented compared to how bloody, chaotic, and raw Berserker was for the most part. Berserker could also easily be viewed as a stand-alone which really left me thinking where the series would take Hanne and her siblings. I’m still curious & have every intention on continuing on to read the next book. It may very well be that in the sequel the siblings find a way to reverse or at least stop the consequences of their abilities…So, I do have questions bookworms which means I’ll be returning to this world when the next book is released 😉

HUGE thanks to Feiwell & Friends, Netgalley, Goodreads, and Emmy Laybourne for the ARC copy of Berserker.

Hello Bookworms! Happy FriYAY! have any of you read Berserker? has it made its way onto your radar? If you’re a fan of Norse Mythology, Berserker will probably intrigue you & Laybourne will surprise you with her twist on Viking lore. It’s a bloody gripping read! 😉


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

Title: Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad #1)

Author: Scott Reintgen

Pub. Date: September 12th, 2017

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Publisher:  Crown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 384

Formats: eGalley

    

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

Forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gush Review: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Title: Moxie

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Pub. Date: September 19th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/Feminism

Publisher:  Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Pages: 330

Formats: eGalley

Trigger warning: Sexual harassment & attempted rape

    

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu but what I got was all around awesomeness cover to cover! If you are a feminist such as myself, picking up this book is almost a no brainer but even if you’re not, this may be the book to change that. Much like our MC Vivianne, I was witness to many of the sexist games played by the opposite sex that are seen as harmless. Viv lives in a small town & attends the local High School where the schools Football team is the center of town life. Everyone down to the teachers & principal give the football team  much favoritism. This led to the blind acceptance of their treatment towards the females in the school & Viv has had enough.

Grabbing inspiration from her mother’s box of Zines where she’s stored memories of her Feminist activist days, Viv sets out to bring change to her school. She decides that anonymity is probably best in a school where the captain of the football teams father is also the Principal. What starts off as a Zine left inside the girls bathroom stalls, snowballs into a feminist movement no one in their small town Texas school would’ve imagined. We follow Viv as she slowly builds up her confidence & finds her voice through a movement she names Moxie. We see girls from all cliques start to answer the call to take a stand against age old “traditions” that are degrading to the females in the school.

Although most of the action takes place in Viv’s High School, we do also get to see her home life. Having lost her father at a very young age, it’s just her & her mom. I loved seeing Viv admire her mom without her knowing & how organic their relationship translated on to the page. There are also some really strong female friendships giving Viv the validation she needs to know she is doing the right thing. Moxie is all about fighting back the tired ideologies of women needing to behave “lady-like” or proper. It strengthens & uplifts women coming together & how powerful that can be.

Illustration from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Our MC Vivianne is not at all the person you see portrayed on the cover of this book, not at first anyway. She loves listening to her moms stories of growing up and fighting back the patriarchy. Quietly wishing she had the courage to do something about the jocks and administration in her school who think it’s ok to objectify girls/women. Viv’s character development felt authentic for a teenager living in a small town in Texas. She didn’t voice her opinions right away, she found her voice within the other girls in her school. Viv is hands down a fave character for me because every time she felt like throwing in the towel she didn’t & instead came back harder! Viv’s mom is legit one of the coolest & hardest working moms I’ve come across in YA. She’s a nurse working long hours but who also has an amazing relationship with her daughter. She may not know it but she is also the source of inspiration for Viv creating Moxie. Viv’s grand-parents live next door & we often seem them around dinner time. LOVED the inclusion of grand-parents since that is very rare in YA books. Better yet, the fact that Viv loves them so much and can equally accept her own frustration at their old school mentality made her all the more relatable. A place of comfort for Viv, the scenes with her grand-parents gave the book a homely feel.

Lucy is the not quite so new girl but still pretty new to the school. She is taken aback by the things allowed from the male students having come from a more progressive school/city. At times she also gave Viv the motivation she needed to keep Moxie going all the while not knowing Viv was its creator. Seth plays the new guy in school & fits the mold of quiet-loner-mysterious-guy but there’s more than meets the eye with him. I was pleasantly surprised with Seth but I’ll be vague because I consider that spoilery. The Moxie Girls are not just from different cliques, they are also diverse in skin color and ethnicity. The inclusivity promoted by Viv spreads like wildfire throughout the school encouraging many to join. LOVED seeing the diversity bringing girls together to bring change!

Can you tell I LOVED Moxie to pieces?!?! I couldn’t flip through the pages fast enough, easily a 2017 top fave for the empowering message it sends across. United, girls/women are a force to be reckoned with! We don’t have very many books like these encouraging girls to stand together & fight for their rights. As I am writing this review, Twitter is ablaze with the mess that is Harvey Weinstein & the brave soul that is Rose Mcgowan standing up to an industry known for covering up sexual harassment. My first thought was, how appropriate that I am writing this review now. We need more Vivianne’s & Rose McGowans rallying the troops of women, together we are stronger & won’t be silenced. I cannot recommend Moxie enough to Feminists & those who have yet to find their voice…we all have Moxie in us 💪🏽

*HUGE Thanks to Macmillan, Netgalley, and Jennifer Mathieu for the galley of Moxie in exchange for an honest review. The physical arc pictured below I won from a Twitter giveaway.

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Some Sites Jennifer Mathieu included in her Author Note:

Feministing.com

rookiemag.com

bitchmedia.org

bust.com

thefbomb.org

scarleteen.com

therepresentationproject.org


Can you see yourself as a member of Moxie? I sure can! are there any lovely bookworms who’ve read Moxie or plan to? sound off in the comments below <3’s! 


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WWW Wednesday 10/11/2017

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?

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

*I started Moxie yesterday & am currently 53% head over heels in LOVE with this book! trying to stop myself from inhale reading it has been a challenge. The MC Viv is someone who knows she wants to be a part of the change needed in her school but fears being ostracized. Her mother is her inspiration for the creation of Moxie, a “zine” aka magazine calling all girls to stand united against the sexism & misogyny widely accepted in her school. Best part: getting to see the Zines Viv creates, LIVING for the illustrations! ❤ review to come this week.

On Monday I finished & reviewed the EPIC time traveling adventure that was Invictus by Ryan Graudin (my review). If ever I were to have a checklist of things I’d like to see in a YA Sci-fi book, Invictus sure came close to meeting them all. Fun, well paced, amazing characters you can’t help but get attached to…sigh…I miss this crew so MUCH!!! *sobs* while I wait for Graudin to bless us with news of ANYTHING else set in this world, I’ll console myself by reading her other books 🙂

A banished princess.
A deadly curse.
A kingdom at war.

Wil Heidle, the only daughter of the king of the world’s wealthiest nation, has grown up in the shadows. Kept hidden from the world in order to serve as a spy for her father—whose obsession with building his empire is causing a war—Wil wants nothing more than to explore the world beyond her kingdom, if only her father would give her the chance.

Until one night Wil is attacked, and she discovers a dangerous secret. Her touch turns people into gemstone. At first Wil is horrified—but as she tests its limits, she’s drawn more and more to the strange and volatile ability. When it leads to tragedy, Wil is forced to face the destructive power within her and finally leave her home to seek the truth and a cure.

But finding the key to her redemption puts her in the path of a cursed prince who has his own ideas for what to do with her power.

With a world on the brink of war and a power of ultimate destruction, can Wil find a way to help the kingdom that’s turned its back on her, or will she betray her past and her family forever?

Next I’ll be reading The Glass Spare (The Glass Spare #1) by Lauren DeStefano. I was lucky enough to get a Galley from Harper & can’t wait to dive in. From the synopsis I’ve gathered that this is sort of inspired by King Midas and his golden touch. I’ve also heard mention of mental health & disability rep being included in this story which makes this a MUST READ for me. 


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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GUSH Review! Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Title: Invictus

Author: Ryan Graudin

Pub. Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

Publisher:  Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Pages: 464

Formats: eGalley & physical ARC

    

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Since finishing up Invictus I’ve gone on a Ryan Graudin video binge on Youtube…this is when I KNOW I love a book! when I can’t let it gooooo! *cue Elsa/Frozen*  well in one of these videos Graudin mentions getting inspiration from Dr. Who and Fire Fly. These are shows I’ve only watched in passing & that now have immense curiosity for after finishing this book. Time travel alone has always intrigued me in Sci-Fi & that’s probably because I love History so much that the idea of traveling back to ancient Rome was SUPER appealing. We get introduced to our MC Farway Gaius McCarthy as he preps to take his final SIM exam to determine whether he is Recorder material. You only get 1 shot to pass this exam & failure means expulsion. Things go haywire during his SIM & Farway is given the boot from the academy. Being the best of the best, Farway knows his exam was tampered with however he has no real way of proving it. Faced with the reality of having all of his dreams of one day commanding his own time travel machine & crew taken away, Farway is quick to accept a offer from a Boss in the black market.

The opportunity: to man his own time travel machine in exchange for his services stealing valuable pieces from the past that will not be missed.

Translation: Stealing valuable pieces that won’t alter history & in turn alert the time travel police.

Farway of course gathers his most trusted friends from the academy and forms his crew to carry out these heists through different periods in time. When I think of my experience reading Invictus, the first word that comes to mind is FUN! popping in & out of time, wearing period fitting costumes, stealing ancient items all the while trying to stay incognito was insanely fun! Besides the awesome plot we get this great set of characters you can’t help but get attached to. I feel Graudin accomplished exactly what she said she set out to do with this crew & that was making them feel like home. By the end of the book I could tell you who was who blindfolded & that just made my reading experience all the more better. In terms of plot pacing I wouldn’t say it was fast paced however, there was never a time something wasn’t happening with one of the characters. There are also elements of parallel universes which I’ll be the first to admit intimidated the hell out of me however, I was able to follow the madness without having to double back haha!

Farway- at the top of his class, he knows he is destined for time travel. He is also well known for being born outside of times parameters. His mother is a Recorder of much fame garnering recognition for her many achievements. The truth about Faraways conception however is one well kept secret. Faraway wants nothing more than to follow in his mother’s footsteps in hopes that it will lead him back to her (trying to be vague here lol). It’s hard not to like Farway, he’s great with his friends aka crew and isn’t scared to take some risks for the sake of time travel 😉

Imogen- I LOVE THIS GIRL! I mean, who wouldn’t love a character who wakes up every day & colors her hair in with different colored chalk? 😂 funny, sweet, always positive, & loves her cousin Farway to pieces! She also keeps a Red Panda fur baby she named Safron who is feisty & offered up a couple of laughs along the way. Imogen is also the Historian on the crew & is in charge of researching the time periods they’ve been sent to steal from in order to dress them all accordingly.

Gram- you can find Gram at his station playing with his rubix cube & or computations to make sure they land in the exact time period desired. He is the Engineer who double majored as a recorder & basically I saw him as a Jack of all Trades. Gram is also a POC & I was glad to see this brought up by him seeing as time traveling may take them to places that would put him in danger. Gram is a very quiet character with a high IQ & the few times he was off the Invictus to aid in a mission I really enjoyed (hope to see more of this).

Priya- The medic on board & also resident beat master, Priya is known for compiling epic playlists. Her spicy Chai tea keeps everyone going & when she isn’t jamming to her tunes she can be found either patching up one of the crew members with stitches OR lending her mechanic skills to the maintenance of the Invictus.

Eliot- This character is SUPER mysterious & carries with her many truths. At first she annoyed the hell out of me but I came around to appreciate her resourcefulness. Without saying too much about this character for fear of spoilers, I will say that she kept things very interesting on board. As the source of Farways frustration I thought Graudin was writing her in as a love interest however, I’m so glad that isn’t the case & that her role is way more interesting than that.

I loved this cast of characters & the dynamic they brought to the page on board the Invictus. Although we don’t get a ton of time to delve deep into each one, I felt Graudin gave us enough to get to know them for their quirks & personalities. If you loved the cast of characters in Gemina, then chances are you’ll also love this crew 😉

Many of my book blogging buddies have recommended Graudin’s books & until now sadly I hadn’t picked one up. I’m so glad I finally listened & found a new favorite. This was a almost 500 page book and yet it didn’t drag & actually left me flipping for more pages knowing very well that I had reached the end LOL! I ABSOLUTELY LOVED the ending & how everything led up to what isn’t necessarily a happy ending but one full of hope…these are always the best in my opinion. I haven’t seen any news of a sequel however, it was left with plenty of room to expand which again leaves me oh so hopeful! haha. In the mean time I have my imagination to conjure up ideas of where this crew could possibly be headed next, although not as good as Graudin, it will have to do 😉

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*HUGE Thanks to Little Brown Books, Netgalley, and Ryan Graudin in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Bookworms! I’m hoping some of you out there have already read & loved Invictus cuz I am really trying not to fall into a book hangover & need some support lol! who was your fave character? better yet, do you know if Graudin is in her lair writing us a sequel? *fingers crossed*


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