ARC August Review: Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

 Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Published by: Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books

Date of Publication: August 8th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy/Magical Realism

Pages: 368

Format: eGalley

   

If you’re not careful, you can spend your whole life looking for what you’ve lost.

One stormy summer in a small Irish town, things begin to disappear. It starts with trivial stuff—hair clips, house keys, socks—but soon it escalates to bigger things: a memory, a heart, a classmate.

Olive can tell that her best friend, Rose, is different all of a sudden. Rose isn’t talking, and Olive starts to worry she’s losing her. Then diary pages written by someone named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing development. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tightly to painful secrets.

When a tattered handwritten spellbook falls into the lives of these six teenagers, it changes everything. The spellbook is full of charms to conjure back that which has been lost, and it lists a part for each of them to play in the calling. It might be their best chance to set everything back to rights, but only if they’re willing to pay the price.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found takes place in Ireland, much of the time is spent outside in the woods, a abandoned house, and a pub with a mysterious owner whose age remains unknown. The teens in this book are pretty much left to their own devices. It’s during a bonfire party that one of the characters by the name of Laurel, wakes up inebriated to find the spellbook that would inevitably bind all of their fates together. The spellbook contains the ingredients to cast the spell that would find what you’ve lost however…for every thing found…you must be willing to lose something & the choice is not always yours to make. These characters have all lost something valuable that they are willing to take the risk in order to get it back.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found was one of those books I spotted early on & just knew I wanted to read right away. I’m a lover of all things witches, spells, and mysterious atmospheres and this book delivered on all three. We follow multiple POV’s as there are three sets of friends:

Rose & Olive: Best friends and polar opposites

Rowan, Hazel, and Ivy: Rowan and Hazel: are fraternal twins squatting in a abandoned house after leaving a toxic home environment. Their childhood friend Ivy followed them & plays a protective role over them

Laurel, Ash, & Holly: with this set of friends we only get Laurel’s POV as she tells her group of friends story

Stories told in Multiple POV’s tend to be some of my most favorite because it’s a great way to have each character fleshed out, by getting in their heads. It did take me some time to get used to all of the players in this book because some shared striking character similarities with each other. I didn’t find any of these characters to have a real distinct voice but I enjoyed following the threads that connected them nonetheless. I did however, appreciate the diversity in this cast of characters with Rose being a bi-sexual POC, Olive being deaf & bi-sexual, and Hazel being gay. Friendship played a big theme in this book as well as sibling relationships. These characters for the most part are deeply flawed but what stood out most was the genuine concern for one another.

Spellbook of the Lost and Found is my first read by Moira Fowley-Doyle since I haven’t yet had the chance to pick up The Accident Season. Although there were moments of confusion, I was invested in this story and seeing it all the way through. Also, I wasn’t expecting the writing to be heavy with prose & so that took some getting used to but again it still maintained my interest. This is a slow paced read but the pay off makes it all worth your time. I found myself constantly trying to connect the dots & even went as far as making a little tree chart to see how each person knew the other haha! I can tell you this much…you won’t see the ending coming! & that alone was wonderful! seeing how well constructed & detailed this story really is was a real treat & speaks to the skill our author honed with her pen. I highly recommend Spellbook of the Lost and Found to those who enjoyed the movie The Craft & for anyone who enjoys piecing together a good mystery 😉

*HUGE Thanks Penguin Random House/Kathy Dawson Books & Moira Fowley-Doyle for the eGalley of Spellbook of the Lost and Found in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! Have any of you had the chance to read Spellbook of the Lost and Found? if you have, did you see that ending coming? btw, since this is a mystery & those are best to go into blind lol, I opted to go with this review format instead of my traditional categories…thoughts?


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Friday Reads 8/11/2017

Happy Friday Readers!!! This has been one long and trying week, so happy to see it come to an end *whoop whoop* I’m actually surprised to have finished any books but I managed 3! LOL!

Earlier in the month I decided to join #arcAugust to help me make a dent in my physical & digital stack (see here). I opted not to have a set TBR because I am a mood reader and because I love to genre hop to keep things interesting and avoid slumps. I’ve read two eGalleys for #arcAugust & listened to 1 audio book from my back list…

  

I cannot even begin to tell you all how The Serpent King BROKE MEEEE!!! left me walking the New York City platforms hopping from 1 train to the next all the while trying to keep my tears under control. This story about friendship between 3 very different characters has managed to find a forever home in my ❤ for so many reasons (trigger warning: child abuse, racism, and homophobia) I will discuss in my review. I will be picking up a physical copy this month for my shelves & writing a Audio-book review over the weekend, just trying to decide between spoilery vs. non-spoilery haha! I have too many feels that need to be discussed! smh.

Soon after or around the same time really, I finished & reviewed The Epic Crush of Genie Lo which was my 1st chosen arc for the readathon. This was such a fun & diverse read with elements similar to those found in Rick Riordans books. Except we follow Chinese folklore centered around The Monkey King & I am so ready for more books with Asian representation. In my review I also linked two Own Voices reviews that I really enjoyed reading myself from two amazing bloggers.

Lastly, last night I finished reading Spellbook of the Lost and Found & will be writing my review tonight. I have not yet come up with a rating but I can say it’s between 3.5-4 stars. This book had that dark vibe that kept reminding me of the cult classic The Craft & could easily see it play out on the screen. Still gathering my thoughts but more to come…and will most likely watch The Craft cuz Fall please, I’m ready for my favorite season <3’s

 


I started When I am Through With You (Sins and Scandals #1) by Stephanie Kuehn….I legit JUST realized as I’m writing this post that this is going to be a series! GAHHH! freaking out at my desk cuz YASSSS! I started reading it this morning on the train ride to work & jeez it’s 50 shades of effed up! but oh sOoOo good! I’m already wondering if I’m in the mind of a psychotic killer. Just as soon as I publish this post I will be back to reading. This is also my 3rd read for #arcAugust & I’m content with that since it’s more than I’d have read by this date any month haha!


Also on the night stand for this weekend, is The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace which I am pretty excited about! my twin Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads LOVES this collection so much & I honestly don’t know what has taken me this long but better late than never 😉

Happy FriYay Readers! hope you’re all having a wonderful end of the week! what are YOU reading? watching? planning this Weekend?


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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: The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy

Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: July 4th 2017

Genres: YA Historical/Fantasy/Mystery

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

    

What if the ordinary things in life suddenly…disappeared?

Aila Quinn’s mother, Juliet, has always been a mystery: vibrant yet guarded, she keeps her secrets beyond Aila’s reach. When Juliet dies, Aila and her younger brother Miles are sent to live in Sterling, a rural town far from home–and the place where Juliet grew up.

Sterling is a place with mysteries of its own. A place where the experiences that weave life together–scents of flowers and food, reflections from mirrors and lakes, even the ability to dream–vanish every seven years.

No one knows what caused these “Disappearances,” or what will slip away next. But Sterling always suspected that Juliet Quinn was somehow responsible–and Aila must bear the brunt of their blame while she follows the chain of literary clues her mother left behind.

As the next Disappearance nears, Aila begins to unravel the dual mystery of why the Disappearances happen and who her mother truly was. One thing is clear: Sterling isn’t going to hold on to anyone’s secrets for long before it starts giving them up.

I’ve always loved books that take place in small towns where generations of families have lived weaving their own stories. A lot of the times it becomes a game of separating fact from fiction. In The Disappearances we get introduced to the town of Sterling, a place shrouded in mystery and most unwelcoming to any newcomers.

Unfortunately, our main protagonist Aila & her 8 year old brother Miles have just lost their mother after taking ill & their father has just been drafted. Set against the backdrop of the 1940’s, World War II has just begun and we see a bit of the daily affects on American life. Since Miles is known to be a mischievous child, their dad ends up having to leave them in the care of Juliet’s (Aila & Miles mother) childhood best friend in another town. Aila & Miles leave behind the only home they’ve ever known to stay with people they don’t really know. The town of Sterling isn’t too happy about their arrival either for reasons the siblings have yet to uncover. From the minute they step foot in the town, all manner of strange occurrences take place & observant Aila is taking notes. They are taken in by the Cliftons, a very important & well respected family in Sterling. It isn’t long before The Cliftons explain to Aila that every 7 years, Sterlings residents (born & raised) lose something of value. At the time of their arrival, the towns people have already lost scent, reflections, and the night skies stars. The Disappearances is at its core a mystery as Aila sets out to find the answers that may or may not clear her mothers name from the list of possible Catalysts, after all…it all had to start somewhere…

Aila- is a bookworm who reads mostly classics and Poetry, she’s what is considered a good kid. When her & Miles are uprooted and taken to live with The Cliftons, she becomes very protective of her little brother Miles. While reminiscing on things their mother used to do with them to mark special occasions, she looks for ways to keep them going for Miles. I loved seeing them bicker & have a normal sibling relationship. They had moments where they didn’t speak over petty things but ultimately she made sure they made up fairly soon after.

Miles- 8 years old and missing his mother terribly is trying to hang on to her memory. He may have been known for mischief in his old town & still gets into trouble here & there but overall really wants to be happy with the Cliftons who have welcomed them with open arms.

Will, Beas, & George- 1 plays a love interest, 1 is a new friend for Aila, and the other is a friend who sort of has feelings for Aila but also has other passions renting space in his mind 😉

The Cliftons- knowing they would face much controversy for taking in Juliet’s kids, the Cliftons opened their doors & their hearts to Aila & Miles. This family is actually really special for a very important reason but that would be spoilery, instead I’ll just say that I loved this entire family. They put others needs before their own & overall just ROCK!

Towns People- I honestly came to understand these folk after spending so much time with them lol. Juliet wasn’t the only person to be accused of starting “the curse” as some call The Disappearances. Many other theories evolved over time and many prominent families were added to the list of potential catalysts. Besides the typical small town gossip & drama, these people did really band together in time of need.

It seems 2017 is the year of discovering many new authors with amazing stories to tell! The Disappearances took me by surprise in that I wasn’t expecting to be pulled into the mystery to the point I was at the edge of my seat in anticipation for the next Disappearance. This by no means is a fast paced book, rather it’s slow winding while still holding you in its grasp. I really felt for these people who were losing some of the most basic under appreciated wonders of life. I found myself Imagining what it would be like to not be able to see my reflection or smell my food…they lose way more than this. Ultimately I found the way it wrapped up to be very unique, I can honestly say I’ve never read anything like this before. Lastly, as a bookworm I’ll say that this will appeal to those who love solving a good mystery filled with literary references and a bit of magic 😉

*Thank you HMH Books for Young Readers, Edelweiss, and Emily Bain Murphy for the eGalley in exchange for an honest review

Lovely Bookworms! who has already read The Disappearances? Thoughts? did you see that ending coming? or were you pleasantly surprised as I was?


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Gush Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Published by: Simon and Schuster

Date of Publication: July 18th 2017

Genres: YA Historical Fantasy

Pages: 512

Format: eGalley

    

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Some of you may have already noticed my header but for those that haven’t, this will be for all intents and purposes be a Gush Review!

The Last Magician was after my heart with its magic infused Gangs of New York/Six of Crows vibes *heart eyes emoji* 

We get introduced to our main protagonist Esta who is a Mageus with the ability to time travel. As an orphan Esta was taken in and trained by Professor Lachlan to steal magical artifacts. The purpose of each task is to prepare her for her toughest and take her back the furthest in time…going back to New York City 1902. Esta has studied many different languages, fashions, ways of life but nothing will prove as challenging as the early 1900’s. So much depends on her succeeding in stealing the Ars Arcana aka the oldest book of magic out of 1902 & getting it back to professor Lachlan. The Ars Arcana contains many of the oldest secrets of magic & is protected by The Order, an elite society created to protect the city against magic by way of the Ars Arcana and The Brink. At the very edge of the city is The Brink which serves as a barrier to contain those with magical abilities inside NYC. Those who have dared to cross it have either died or been left as empty vessels of their former selves unable to live life stripped from their magic. Esta travels back to 1902 to steal the Ars Arcana before The Magician can get away with it altering Present time for the worse.

Much of the book is spent in 1902 due to unforeseen circumstances & since this was a time where Old magic was alive & vibrant, the city is crawling with hidden Mageus. For Esta this comes as a surprise since in present time NYC where she comes from, much of the Old magic no longer exists having been weakened through the passage of time & generations. Esta finds her way into one of the gangs roaming the streets of NYC who happen to all be Mageus by using her abilities to prove her worth. I LOVED EVERYTHING about this plot line! Maxwell covered everything so well from gang rivalry, politics, and the slums of the Lower East side Manhattan to the Mageus and each of their individual abilities. I was sucked in from the very 1st page!

Esta- Our main protagonist is a Feminist Mageus with the ability to time travel & manipulate time…need I say more? HAHA! On a serious note, seeing her in 1902 NYC surrounded by men who viewed women as the inferior sex gave readers a realistic view of the times. Misogyny wasn’t a word being thrown around, it was the norm. Esta at times found herself scoffing at comments made at her more risqué choice of clothing only to remind herself that these people are a product of their time. Esta is also very loyal, smart and plays her cards close to her chest which made her an instant fave of mine.

Harte Darrigan- Not a part of anyones gang really, he’s a loner with a dark past & an even more messed up childhood. Harte is also a Mageus (won’t spoil his affinity since its spoilery) & is completely taken aback by Esta, a woman so ahead of her times that he can’t spend more than 5 minutes around her w/out turning 50 shades of red & yea I enjoyed their interactions a ton! Harte also has his own agenda that may or may not be an issue for Esta…

Dolph Saunders- The leader of the gang Esta joins & this character has that Kaz Brekker feel but he’s def way more cold hearted when need be. Dolph is a man carrying around his regrets & on a mission for vengeance by way of freeing all Mageus from the constraints of The Brink & The Order. He’s only interested interested in your loyalty & your affinity otherwise you have no seat at his table.

Nibs- The right hand young man Dolph keeps around handling the finances at the bar where he conducts all matters of business. Dolph trusts Nibs more than he does anyone else & often will look to him for their next move 😉

Viola- LOVE HER! described as Italian with dark hair & lavender colored eyes, Viola is sick with blades & her affinity is very valuable. She also happens to be the sister of another major gang boss. Dolph offered her a home & safety once her family turned against her. Viola is a lesbian & these times were no where near as accepting as Present time. I really wanted to see this character get her happy ending but understood that it wouldn’t be true to the time.

Jianyu- A man more comfortable hidden within the shadows he is VERY valuable as well. Jianyu is the equivalent of Varys The Spider on Game of Thrones only not as manipulative lol. He is observant & similarly to Viola, has a family head who is the head of a gang in Chinatown. Jianyu however, opted for the lesser of two evils with Dolph 😉

I’ve always been a fan of time pieces & seeing YA books dipping into Historical Fiction has been so much fun! this YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy was EVERYTHING I never knew I needed! Seeing my city back in the 1900’s was a real treat sans the misogyny of course lol. The inclusivity of such diverse characters did not go unnoticed, the author had bits and pieces of other languages giving the characters that fleshed out feel I LOVE! It was interesting reading a diverse Fantasy that also shed light on the inequalities that existed during the 1900’s. Maxwell calls The Last Magician a “behemoth” of a book in the Authors Afterward & that it is but I enjoyed every minute I spent in this world. I can see this heist playing out on the big screen with flashes of old NYC & present day modern NYC, I’d buy that ticket ASAP! This was my 1st Lisa Maxwell book & I’ve fallen in love with her writing! I’ve heard mention that this is a standalone & yet THAT ENDING! bookworms…dare I grasp on to hope for more? I really hope we get at least a Duology *fingers crossed*

*Huge thanks to Simon & Schuster, Netgalley, & Lisa Maxwell for the eGalley copy of The Last Magician in exchange for an honest review

Lovely Bookworms! who has already read The Last Magician? Thoughts? Who was your fave Mageus? & if you had to choose, would you live in 1902 NYC or Present Day NYC?


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Review: Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh

Published by: HarperCollins

Date of Publication: July 11th 2017

Genres: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA+

Pages: 400

Format: eGalley

   

*Many thanks to HarperCollins, Edelweiss, and Blair Thornburgh for the eGalley copy of Who’s That Girl in exchange for an honest opinion

Junior Nattie McCullough is totally OK with her place in life: Latin whiz. Member of the school’s gay-straight alliance. Joni Mitchell superfan. Seventeen-year-old who has never been kissed. So when last summer’s crush and her former classmate—Young Lungs lead singer Sebastian Delacroix—comes back to town with his new hit single “Natalie,” she can’t bring herself to believe it could possibly be about her…could it?

As Nattie sorts through the evidence (the lyrics, Sebastian’s elusive text messages, and their brief romantic encounter last year), the song’s popularity skyrockets, and everyone starts speculating about “Natalie’s” identity. If that wasn’t mortifying enough, Nattie runs into another problem: her confusing, flirtation-packed feelings for her good friend Zach. With her once-average life upended, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her short-lived past with Sebastian was something love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

Who’s That Girl in many ways felt like a blast from the past to my High School days. A time when you’re dealing with all sorts of emotions and also self identity not to mention, your first shots to the heart *insert pesky cupid here* When we first meet Nattie, she is OBSESSED with Pixstagram which as you’ve probably guessed is this books version of Instagram HAHA! On this app she keeps up with Sebastian and his band as they grow  their fandom. Sebastian graduated the previous year & they had 1 brief encounter that could be seen as romantic. Well for Nattie that one brief encounter was all she needed to feel a “connection” & when Sebastian’s song “Natalie” hits the air waves, she is convinced. Mostly Nattie feels admired by Sebastian but then she starts feeling self conscious about the lyrics which then leads to her trying to remain anonymous. To distract her from Pixstagram every once in a while are Nattie’s crew of friends who were my personal fave parts of this book. Nattie’s best friend Tess is a lesbian & she’s trying to bring the school together for a dance that would be inclusive of all those who fall in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. We see Nattie & crew come up with ways to raise funds for this dance & deal with opposition. Now, there is sort of a love triangle if you’re counting Sebastian as a thing…I sure didn’t haha!

Our main protagonist Nattie wasn’t my favorite in this book & that’s only because her stream of conciousness was a bit difficult to follow. At times she does come off as annoying because her actions contradict what she’s saying she doesn’t want to happen. Specifically that she doesn’t want anyone to know she’s the infamous Natalie but continues to pursue Sebastian in public venues. The book however has some amazing secondary characters that I LOVED!…

*The Parentals- AKA the funniest parents I’ve come across in a very long time! & REAL! when we meet mom & dad they are getting on each others nerves over backyard projects that will make the neighbors raise a brow. I loved reading their dialogue & shaking my head at how authentic they come off. Their relationship with Nattie, specifically dad with Nattie made me heart smile more than once. If you’ve been around my blog a bit, you know I have a soft spot for father/daughter relationships 😉

Tess- AKA the BFF and leader of the OWPALGBTQIA (you’ll have to read the book to get what this acronym stands for hehe) is legit ride or die for Nattie. Always there for Nattie, she will literally drop everything when she gets that Jamba alert. Tess is a lesbian who hasn’t come out to her parents yet & hopes to do so by hosting her high schools 1st all inclusive dance. Loved seeing this friendship play out through ups & downs.

The Crew (with some honorable mentions)- As a whole, I loved this group of friends! they were fun and truly caed about one another. They knew each others likes/dislikes down to who has an allergy to what. In other words, they were TIGHT!

Although the characters were not all individually fleshed out, we still spend enough time with them to get to know their personalities. They each have nicknames they refer to each other by which I found very 80’s like (Loved it!). My faves were Zach the Anarchist & Tall Zach, besides having the same first name they don’t have very much in common but they’re great friends. Tall Zach is gay, liked by many in the school, and just a sweet caring guy. Zach the Anarchist is sarcastic & loves to bake, he has no hairs on his tongue winning extra brownie points in my book.

Who’s That Girl is heavy in dialogue & I struggled a bit with Nattie’s inner monologue for the first half which is why I rated it a 3.5 stars. I guess I was way more invested in the crew & her parents that Nattie fell to the background. This is weird of me to say since she is who the story revolves around but not the most interesting in my opinion. This was however an absolute fun read with one of a kind friendships I could relate to which raised my appreciation. I have a thing for groups of friends that possibly dates back to The Breakfast Club & Nattie’s friends felt like coming back home ❤ ❤ ❤

Readers, I’m looking for more books that feature groups of friends you just can’t get enough of! please leave me some good recommendations & if you’ve read Who’s That Girl, who was your fave character?

WWW Wednesday 7/19/2017

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?

*Covers—>GR Link*

I’m kind of cheating here since I meant to start this today but wasn’t feeling too well & decided to leave it for tomorrow. Well I did take a peak at the first page & knew if I flipped to the next page that I’d be saying goodbye to my beauty sleep lol. The map alone had me giggling because it’s set in NYC (my home city) & some of the places have been changed. J.P. Morgan Chase in the book is “J.P. Morgan Mansion” & there’s a “Schwab Mansion” that has me raising a brow haha! I had no idea this book is 500+ pages long until I checked in with my spreadsheet & that led to some re-arranging on what I’ll be reading for the rest of the month. I have a really good feeling about this book & i’m feeling a bit excited to read on my commute to work tomorrow. By the time this goes live, I should have already started this book 😉


I finished reading Who’s That Girl by Blaire Thornburgh this morning & will
have a review up by this Friday. I definitely feel this one ended much stronger than it’s Ok beginning. I’m still undecided on a rating but it’s looking like a 3.5-3.75 if I’m being honest. I really wanted to LOVE this book but for a book that is dialogue heavy, the first half struggled a bit. The characters however are perhaps the strongest part of this book & I have a few stand-out favorites. I’d recommend Who’s That Girl to anyone looking for more books based on friendship. Although there is somewhat of a romance in this book, the friendships play center stage & I appreciated that so much.


I also recently finished reading Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica, a Mystery/Suspense novel that made a fan out of me. I also wrote a review that you can check out here. This book had me up at all hours and very concerned for the characters. I spent a good portion of my morning looking into all of her books & trying to pick my next read. open to suggestions down in the comments <3’s

 


Once I’ve read The Last Magician, I will be diving right into The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy. This book gives me dark, mysterious, and atmospheric vibes. I LOVE stories that take place in towns that have a story to tell. Sterling is probably not a town I’d like to live in but I wouldn’t mind being sucked in for a few days to unravel some secrets 😉

 


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!


Review: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Published by: Harlequin/Park Row Books

Date of Publication: June 27th 2017

Genres: Mystery/Thriller/Suspense

Pages: 331

Format: eGalley

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*HUGE thanks to Harlequin/Park Row Books, Netgalley, and Mary Kubica for the eGalley copy of Every Last Lie in exchange for an honest opinion

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche. 

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

WoW! ok! here goes my attempt to write words that will do this book justice…I’ll start off by saying that this is my 1st book by Kubica & that I am now going to need all the monies just so that I can read all her other books smh haha! No but seriously, I have heard plenty about this author on all of the well known platforms & knew that I’d be reading her books at some point. Every Last Lie just so happened to pique my interest because it features a young mom as the protagonist as well as her deceased husband through alternating POV’s. As a young mom myself I thought hmmm…a relatable new character possibly? well sort of, in the sense that this can actually happen & unfortunately has to many others. I don’t know about you but I try to live an honest life & part of the reason for that is, I don’t want anyone to be hurt by anything left unsaid when my day comes. This book had me hooked from start to finish at all hours of the day & night. My heart went out to Clara who just lost her husband and is left with her 4 year old daughter & an infant son. She’s still in the post delivery months trying to adjust to her new life as mommy of 2. This is a time of exhaustion for Clara who is learning her new baby, his wants and needs and also adjusting to her post baby body. The last thing she could’ve fathomed was losing her husband in a tragic car accident.

It’s so easy to judge Clara as we read along and count the times she leaves her babies in the car with the windows down while she tries to get information on Nick’s death. The thing is, she’s doing the best she can & with that comes trying to console her 4 year old daughter who was in the car & miraculously walked away unharmed. Clara’s little girl is having recurring night terrors that wake her up running to the nearest safest hiding place. She’s running from “the bad man” but won’t say more than that which leaves Clara with so many questions & no answers. We see her try to put bits and pieces together on Nick’s state of affairs before his death and with that you see her make many assumptions. This is Clara trying to get some sort of closure on losing her husband & I felt every bit of desperation she was feeling.

Through alternating POV’s we get Nicks narrative before his tragic passing & I neither loved or hated him if I’m being honest. Nick is a man trying his hardest to provide for his wife & kids as a dentist with his own private practice. In a field that is extremely competitive, his office wasn’t doing well at all and this led to him making some very bad decisions. Decisions that he kept away from his wife who he loved & wasn’t trying to stress out with financial worries. He adored his beautiful wife & the comfortable life they lived and so instead chose to find other means of making money. We follow Nick from one bad decision to the next all the while knowing that it doesn’t end well.

The way Kubica chose to write Every last Lie was very effective in giving the reader a sense of desperation felt by both Nick and Clara. Nick had one foot in bankruptcy & the other in denial. Clara was coming off the hinges trying to piece together Nicks troubles. I kept rooting for Clara to get some closure & start living her new life but that wasn’t going to happen until she could separate fact from fiction. We see her turn over every rock looking for answers to questions about their financial ruin & their own marriage. I sat up reading & hoping that at the very least, Nick really loved his wife. Such a rollercoaster of a emotions during my time with this book but all I can say is, please READ this book! haha! If you’re someone who loves a good mystery/suspense novel on the beach, this is for you! If you’re getting your Fall TBR ready & filling it up with mystery/suspense, this is for you! I’m hooked *adds Kubica to auto-buy list*

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Lovely Bookworms! who has already read Every Last Lie? Thoughts? & for the Kubica fans, pretty please leave below your fave Kubica book 🙂


Review: The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

the-library-of-fatesThe Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Published by: Penguin/Razorbill

Date of Publication: July 18th 2017

Genres: YA Fantasy

Pages: 354

Format: eGalley

Rating:★★★★ 4 Stars

*HUGE thanks to Penguin/Razorbill & Aditi Khorana for the eGalley copy of The Library of Fates in exchange for an honest opinion

 

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A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn’t enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?

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The Library of Fates took me on a journey full of growing pains, sacrifice, friendship, and fated love against the backdrop of a vibrant colorful land full of hope. The introduction to this story starts with the very special bond between father and daughter. Princess Amrita is the daughter to the ruler of the country of Shalingar who loves his people and goes above & beyond to keep them safe, free, and prosperous. However, while on a visit the Emperor Sikander sets his sights on Shalingar, Amrita volunteers her own hand in marriage to keep the peace. Amrita’s father did not want this for his daughter & tried everything in his power to reverse his daughters fate. Although Amrita and her father have a tight bond, there are still many secrets he is keeping from her regarding her mother who he refuses to speak about. As a result of tragic events that take place during the Emperors visit, Amrita is forced to go on the run far from the palace walls & her beloved country of Shalingar. She does not go alone, as a true testament of her character & beliefs, she saves the oracle who was enslaved by the emperor. Thala has been mistreated since the age of 9 when she was first ripped away from her home by the emperor. She has been forced to take the drug Chamak to enhance her visions (Think Grishas/Six of Crows) & serve the Emperor. Although Amrita is forced to leave everything & everyone behind, she is focused on finding a way to defeat the emperor & warn her people of the dangers to come. Thala on the other hand is seeking for a way to reverse their fate by finding the Library of All Things. The only ones (besides the Emperor) in their way are themselves. Amrita is a non-believer of all things magic/fables and Thala believes whole-heartedly. This unlikely pairing embark on an adventure that will leave them changed forever…

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Although there are many characters along the way shaping Amrita’s fate, these are the ones that stood out the most for myself…

The Amrita we meet at the start of this story isn’t the one we see by the time we read the last sentence. She has been forced to run for her life leaving behind her home & all those she loved. She has no real destination in mind and we see her & Thala tough it out, really shedding her life as a princess. Also, she is having a hard time accepting the possibility that the fables her father imparted her with as a child may actually be closer to reality. She’s on a path that will challenge her to grow & make some tough decisions regarding her fate & those of her people. Amrita was the most fleshed out character we get in The Library of Fates and following her journey full of twists & turns was unpredictable and satisfying.

Amrita’s father ChandradevI am a sucker for father/daughter relationships and so I can’t speak about characters without showing Chandradev some love. A father who loved his country & his people but fought hard to not have to sacrifice his daughter to a tyrant. Chandradev also won my ❤ for being a lover of folklore/mythology, telling Amrita stories that always made her wonder. I’d love to see more father figures like Chandradev on the page seeing as they are scarcely written.

Thala was an interesting character to get to know, she has a lot of hurt and pain when she is gifted as a slave to Amrita by the Emperor. Shalingar did NOT believe in enslaving people & so when Thala arrived, Amrita and her father were immediately appalled at the offer. This set the tone for Tala’s journey beside Amrita, their friendship very unlikely yet  strengthening from the minute they set off. This friendship was slow building & met with many bumps on the road which made it more authentic.

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The first half of this book reads very differently than the second half. At first I really did think I was getting the same story we’ve all read before…you know? the one where the princess is forced to marry a megalomaniac while her true love comes to her rescue? YEAH that’s the one! Whelp, I can assure you the this was NOT that story! The Library of Fates took such an interesting turn at the midway point leaving me enamored with the way Khorana wove fate into this story. The belief that there are many different versions of ourselves living many different lives all at the same time following the threads of their own fate really intrigues me. I docked it one star only because I felt it didn’t really find its footing till after the half-way point which is about the time I started to really fall in love with this story. I also would’ve liked to have been given some answers regarding Amrita’s mother but won’t go into detail for fear of spoilers. Overall I really enjoyed this read & the world Khorana has created, lush with Persian influences & steeped in Indian folklore. I reccomend The Library of Fates to those who’ve ever wondered whether our fates are written for us or if it’s entirely within our control…& for those who believe in magic 😉

The Library of Fates will be out on shelves Tuesday July 18th. will you be picking up a copy? If you’ve already had the opportunity to read, what were some of your thoughts on this tale?

WWW Wednesdays

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 at the 50% mark in Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica and It’s either a case of me being a terrible detective OR Kubica is just that DAMN GOOD! I haven’t read any of her other books but have already added a few to my TBR. I think what also has me hooked in this mystery/suspense is that the protagonist is a young mom who I find very relatable. I won’t lie though (see what I did there, eh? lol) the husband in this book has me raising an eyebrow at my own LOL! I’m hoping to finish this one by tomorrow, I really need to know what really happened on the night Nick went to get Chinese food & I’ll leave it at that 😉

I recently read, reviewed, and LOVED The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee *all the hearts* & I genuinely miss these characters & how much fun it was to follow their adventures. This was hands down a 5 star read & was so happy to hear one of my fave characters (Felicity) in TGGTVAV is getting her own spin-off companion titled The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy slated for 2018 *excited* TGGTVAV is THE book to read this summer if you’re looking for diverse characters (POC & LGBTQIA+), Feminism in YA Historical/Fantasy, and non-stop laughs 😉


I recently read The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana & will have a review up this Friday 😉 I love Indian folklore and so it came as no surprise that I’d be very interested in this book. Although the first half had me feeling like it was following the same formula other books have…a Princess is married off to a tyranical maniac to keep the peace between two houses?…yes but, it actually ended up surprising me. Fate as implied by the title plays a big role & I enjoyed the way it was woven into the story. More to come on Friday…


Last time I featured my next two reads however, this time around I’ll be posting only one since I can’t seem to settle on a July “TBR” of sorts. I def think it’s the weather and the fact that I am busy with my little family, less reading & more mood reads lol. Originally I had planned on reading The Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy however, the mood is calling for something much lighter cuz life has been hectic lately & so I’m going with my eGalley of Who’s That Girl by Blair Thornburgh. This book features a Latinx main protagonist in what may or may not be a love triangle. Now, typically I stay away from love triangles but guess what? I haven’t read very many from a Latinx perspective…Labyrinth Lost is the only title that comes to mind & so I shall. Also, I WAS Junior back in H.S. & so this read screams RELATABLE to me which is rare in YA & therefore a nice change of pace. This YA Contemporary seems to be full of diversity & I am ALL on board for that. Fingers crossed that I’ll love Junior Nattie McCullough 🙂

 

Edelweiss Synopsis (GR Synopsis wasn’t all that great) 

With the compulsive readability of Audrey, Wait! and Boy Meets Boy, Who’s That Girl by debut author Blair Thornburgh delivers laugh-out-loud awkward romantic encounters, a supportive LGBTQ organization, and too many cheesy lyrics to count.

Junior Nattie McCullough has always been that under-the-radar straight girl who hangs out in the cafeteria with her gay-straight alliance friends. She’s never been the girl that gets the guy, let alone the girl that gets a hit song named after her. But when last summer’s crush, smoking-hot musician Sebastian Delacroix, returns home to play a local show, that’s just what she gets. He and his band, the Young Lungs, have written a chart-topping single—“Natalie”—which instantly makes Nattie second guess everything she thought about their awkward non-kiss at that June pool party. That it was horrific. That it meant nothing. That Sebastian never gave her another thought.

Things get even more confusing when Nattie starts to develop feelings for her good friend Zach. With the song getting major airplay and her once-normal life starting to resemble the cover of a gossip magazine, Nattie is determined to figure out once and for all if her brief moment with Sebastian was the stuff love songs are made of—or just a one-hit wonder.

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!