Friday Reads

Happy Friday Readers!!! I haven’t done one of these in a while but I’m trying to get in the habit of scheduling posts for days or weeks that i’m not feeling my best. Also, I’d like to know what you’re currently reading and enjoying or maybe not enjoying. My weekends usually see me putting my books away to spend time with my 2 tiny humans but I’m also working on ME time when they’re napping. For those that have responsibilities (doesn’t necessarily have to be kids) which is probably most of us, then you know that time is always evading us. I think this week alone has taught me the importance of self-care & stepping away when necessary for mental health. Starting next wknd I’ll be carving out ME time since this weekend is my 1 year Wedding Anniversary & there’s no escaping that LMAO!

Kicking off my Friday with the highly anticipated season 5 return of Orange Is The New Black!!! I’ll admit, last season wasn’t their best but that ending has me clamoring back for more so without shame I will binge the hell out of OITNB tonight into the wee hours of the morning. Sure I’ll pay for it come Saturday morning when the insanely cruel tiny humans sound the alarms at 7am…then again they may just meet me channeling my fave character “Red” in the kitchen 😉

I’m actually back to reading 2 books at a time, I had taken a long break from that but the mood called to me & I answered. So I have 1 audiobook & 1 eGalley that I’m currently working my way through. I’m about 38% into Let’s pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson & once again Jenny has me making awkward gasping sounds in public while I try not to die of laughter. I loved Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things (review here) which came after this one but I am SERIOUSLY LOVING Let’s Pretend! but this time I’m savoring it & only listening to it when my anxiety is high or I’m feeling a bit down. It is legit the best medicine for any down day. I find myself enjoying this one more simply because she’s including stories about her dad and husband Victor pre-marriage that have me shaking my head in disbelief. The Taxidermy stories are still awkward but very funny & Jenny is unapologetically Jenny. Hearing how she thinks is kind of liberating, we all have a little quirk in us…she has a ton & I love her for it!

This morning I started Song of the Current (Song of the Current #1) by Sarah Tolcser a YA Fantasy with its own mythos centered around a River God. The main protagonist Caro is strong willed & waiting for the day that the River God calls her name as has been the case for generations in her family. I’m only a chapter in & already hooked wondering where this adventure will take me. After reading & loving Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller earlier in the year, I am looking forward to another waterways adventure &&& PIRATES! I can always go for Pirates 😉

What are you reading/watching this Friday? any plans for the weekend? 🙂

Review: The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

Publisher: Skyscape

Publication Date: June 1st, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 300 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

*HUGE thanks to Skyscape, Netgalley & Emily R. King for the eGalley copy of The Hundredth Queen

As an orphan ward of the Sisterhood, eighteen-year-old Kalinda is destined for nothing more than a life of seclusion and prayer. Plagued by fevers, she’s an unlikely candidate for even a servant’s position, let alone a courtesan or wife. Her sole dream is to continue living in peace in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple.

But a visit from the tyrant Rajah Tarek disrupts Kalinda’s life. Within hours, she is ripped from the comfort of her home, set on a desert trek, and ordered to fight for her place among the rajah’s ninety-nine wives and numerous courtesans. Her only solace comes in the company of her guard, the stoic but kind Captain Deven Naik.

Faced with the danger of a tournament to the death—and her growing affection for Deven—Kalinda has only one hope for escape, and it lies in an arcane, forbidden power buried within her.

In Emily R. King’s thrilling fantasy debut, an orphan girl blossoms into a warrior, summoning courage and confidence in her fearless quest to upend tradition, overthrow an empire, and reclaim her life as her own.

The Hundredth Queen centers around Kalinda who was really trying to live a low key life in the Sisterhood’s mountain temple where she’s lived all her life as a orphan. Prone to strange fevers, Kalinda isn’t able to train as the other sisters do in the ways of the sister warrior Ki. Spending her days sketching or in the infirmary is what she is used to. Due to her sickness, she isn’t the strongest or what they’d consider the prettiest either. A moment of righteousness shines a spotlight on her placing her on Rajah Tarek’s path. She is selected as his One Hundredth Queen & yanked out of the one true home she ever knew. Taken to the palace as a wife is considered by many in the Sisterhood to be a privilege and a honor. Rajah Tarek has wives & consorts all living in the palace separated by position (wives vs. consorts) but the One Hundredth Queen holds a very special place. See, the One hundredth has the luck of being open to challenges. Any consort may challenge Kalinda for her position in the tournaments held whenever the Rajah brings a new wife to the palace. The difference here is that since she will be his last wife, it will also be the tournament to end all tournaments. This would be the only opportunity for any of the courtesans to knock Kalinda off her highly esteemed position. From the moment she enters the palace walls, all eyes are on her and she is sized up for some as competition and others a threat. Kalinda may not be the strongest however, deep within her she holds a power that is old and unknown to her. The underlying emphasis placed on friendships between women was one of my favorite aspects of this book. The Hundredth Queen is filled with lush world building, action, cunning, betrayal, and plenty of curve balls you won’t see coming.

The characters in The Hundredth Queen are primarily female, we first get introduced to Kalinda’s best friend Jaya. the friendship between these two was more akin to blood sisters than friends & it was refreshing to see them look out for one another. Once selected as the one hundredth, she is escorted by the Rajah’s captain of the guards, Deven. This character serves as a love interest to Kalinda & I must admit he felt a bit lack luster to me lol but to others he may be swoon worthy 😉 he did manage to grow on me but that was more towards the final chapters. Once in the palace where the Rajah’s wives & courtesans live, we meet some very interesting women to keep an eye on. Starting with the one to fear the most. the Rajah’s Kindred aka 1st wife. She is not playing nice & throughout the book Kalinda must watch her back at all times. The Rajah himself is a worm! baha! I knew I wouldn’t like him the minute I read the Goodreads blurb. The man is a polygamist who has some deep rooted issues with women & there were plenty of times I wanted to square off with him lol. I was left very intrigued by Deven’s brother who shares the same powers as Kalinda (shhhh secret!) and others like them introduced towards the end. I’m hoping to get to know them better in the next book, also Deven’s brother was way more alluring to me jeje.  The characters are not the most fleshed out you’ll come across in Fantasy seeing as this one is more plot driven, but they do let you get to know them just enough to want to know more.

Overall The Hundredth Queen is filled with the magic and fantasy it promises in the blurb. I did wonder when I started reading whether this was truly YA considering it’s a story about a polygamist tyrant. Although there weren’t any sexual scenes depicted, it was implied given the nature of this book. I was honestly swept away by the story itself that my loathing for the Rajah was ever present but it didn’t prove to be an obstacle in my enjoyment of this story. I do wish Kalinda as a character was a bit more fleshed out but there’s plenty of implied growth for the sequel that I’m looking forward to. In regards to the world building, I am aware that there’s some buzz on the author’s inspiration. King does preface the book with a Author’s Note that briefly states the following:

“The religion of the Tarachand Empire, the Parijana faith, is a fictional variation derived from Sumerian deities. However the Parjina faith and the Tarachand Empire do not directly represent any specific historical time period, creed , or union. Any other religious or governmental similarities are coincidental and do not depict actual people or events”

To be honest, it didn’t seem like any one particular culture/religion rather bits and pieces gathered to create this fantasy setting. I’ve made my rounds reading reviews & looking out for solid issues found within this book & I have not yet found one. On the contrary, I have seen readers who are cautious & insightful when reading/reviewing diverse books, give The Hundredth Queen the green light of approval. I may be wrong, and if there are any solid reviews out there providing insight, I’ll def read them. For now, I’ll sign off by saying that I look forward to Kalinda’s continued adventures in the sequel The Fire Queen 😉

Have you read The Hundredth Queen? Isn’t the cover gorgeous?!? have you seen the cover for the sequel?!?! *heart eyes*

 

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

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

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

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 368 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Spindle Fire By Lexa Hillyer

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: April 11th, 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling

Pages: 351 pages

Format: eGalley & physical ARC (giveaway win)

Rating: ★★★ (3 Stars)

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

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

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWW Wednesday

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 = Links to Goodreads 

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I’m currently reading Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer which I’ve read so many negative reviews on *unfortunately* but I’m not hating so there’s that *glass half full* I wouldn’t say that this a 5 star read but at the 50% point I see some things that I do like. I’ve always been a sucker for a Sleeping Beauty re-telling & couldn’t resist this one but I am feeling a bit under-whelmed.

I recently finished Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis (review here) which I rated 3 stars. Although I didn’t LOVE it, I am in love with two of the characters in this book to actually want to pick up the conclusion to this duology. This is Mindy’s 1st dip into YA Fantasy pool & in the spirit of giving authors a 2nd chance, I’d say that yes I would give it another go. I admire authors who take risks and cross genre’s (thinks of Adam Silvera & smiles lol) when done right, it can be interesting to see a different style of story telling from your favorite author. Now, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli I believe was aiming to shatter my cheeks with how much smiling I was doing haha! I have been seriously going through a YA Fantasy burn-out/slump due to ARCS I’m trying to do right by smh lol. I needed a contemporary & I’m so glad I picked up Upside!!! I have a review going live on Thursday & I can’t recommend this book enough. The positive body image representation for plus size was FLAWLESS! and yea I can say this since I am plus size 😉 

I’m not really sure in which order I’ll read these yet, it really all depends on my mood after I finish Spindle Fire. Although I am currently feeling slumpy with YA Fantasy…I’ll shamefully admit, I haven’t read anything by Renee Ahdieh *for shame* &&&& I’m curious about her writing now. I mean I own The Wrath & The Dawn but don’t honestly know why I haven’t read it yet…the woman obviously speaks to my cover lust/vanity side. Also, who doesn’t want to read a Mulan re-telling? I think ya’ll know which one I’m leaning towards LOL! it’s a close tie if i’m being honest only because I love Magical Realism & have heard lovely things about A Million Junes so far 😉

Comment down below whether you think I should read A Million Junes or A Flame in the Mist next? Also, did any of you participate in WWW Wednesday? if so, drop that link & i’ll swing by your blog for a peek. <3<3<3 XOXO!

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

30095464The Bone Witch (The Bone Witch #1) by Rin Chupeco

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy 

Pages: 400 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★

*HUGE thanks to Sourcebooks Fire, Netgalley, & Rin Chupeco for the eGalley of The Bone Witch

 

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The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

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The Bone Witch is a beautifully dark woven tale filled with dark magic, runes, tradition, sisterhood, greed, loss, and betrayal. We meet our protagonist, young Tea who has just been discovered as a Necromancer. In the very first pages she raises a familiar back from the dead & is cast as a Bone Witch. Feared but very much needed by her kingdom to keep them safe & away from the Daeva (aka beasts), Bone Witches are still few and far between. Tea is mentored by one of the most powerful Bone Witches in the land far away from her family. We follow Tea as she studies to become an Asha by taking lessons in the arts, history, physical combat, meditation, etc. which gave me Geisha vibes all the way. Tea starts off as a novice in a Asha-Ka where she must earn for the house she lives in & climb her way up to being a well respected & highly sought out Asha. Her training is rigorous & through a network of sisters she is taught the art of entertaining very important nobles, politicians, and royals. Tea however, won’t be your average Asha since as a Bone Witch, her calling is the Dark. Bone Witches are the only asha that can kill Daeva whenever they resurrect & the time spans for resurrection are different for all Daeva. Tea sees the task that Bone Witches take on for what it truly is…a sacrifice. For every Daeva that is slaughtered, the Bone Witch is physically & mentally drained. Their lives are spent hunting & killing Daeva for a kingdom that sees them as lepers because they are able to raise the dead.

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Photo credit@MoonRaven NightShadow

characters-banner The main protagonist Tea is a Bone Witch who is discovering just how powerful she is among the few Bone Witches that are left. She is young and has to depend on her new found Sisters to show her the ropes & teach her how to control her power. I loved that Tea was hungry to learn everything she possibly could to further her ascension in the ranks. I’ve grown accustomed to meeting female protagonists in YA Fantasy that tend to only be about self or having these GY-NORMOUS (totally made this word up lol) egos…Tea is none of that. She is humble enough to remember the kitchen staff as she grows in rank, seeing her sneak them food because she remembered what it was like to go without, spoke to her character. I ABSOLUTELY love that Tea is a POC (person of color) because they are so rare in Fantasy (YA or Adult) & like many of my fellow blogger buddies have mentioned, if you can create a whole host of supernatural beings then it can’t be that far fetched to include POC’s in Fantasy. Tea is mentored by Lady Mykaela who is known as the best of the best & was the person to personally seek a young Tea out when she sensed her powers at work. Lady Mykaella’s story is also told in bits & pieces, we get a sense that she’s suffered heartbreak & carries a heavy burden. I enjoyed seeing this female bond play out positively on the pages. We also get introduced to some of the asha who play supporting characters & those who work within the village selling all of the things an asha needs from head to toe (clothing, hair, magical potions woven into clothing). Of these my faves were Polaire who also serves as a Sister to Tea & made me giggle with her brash no hair on the tounge comments, Rahim who custom designed all of the asha’s Hua’s always brought color to the page, Likh who worked in the special hair trinket store is a boy who wanted nothing more than to become an asha & dance all of the traditional dances. I loved that Likh felt comfortable enough in his own skin to go for what he wanted & stay true to himself. With an array of characters of all ranges, The Bone Witch gave me a new set of characters to love & worry about haha!

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Ok, so here’s where it gets a bit tricky! I am a lover of lush worlds and if done right, I don’t mind the slower pace or the attention to detail. That being said, I did feel that plot was sacrificed a bit in place of characters & world building. It isn’t until the very end that we come full circle with what led to Tea being in her current situation (no spoilers). I didn’t mind the slow pace at all because I truly can get lost in a world & lose track of time as a whole when the writing is as good as it is in The Bone Witch. I also feel that The Bone Witch makes for a great Adult Fantasy even if it is YA Fantasy. I say this because of the complex magic system, AMAZING world building, and fleshed out characters that suck you in. This isn’t a book you’ll read in one sitting, I actually gave it my Junior’s Strawberry Cheesecake treatment…that is I savored it for as long as possible. Each & every time I picked it up, I sunk into the nearest recliner and shut myself down to the real world. This is very descriptive writing & if you enjoyed Memoirs of a Geisha, then this is a must have! as a person who enjoys reading about other cultures, I enjoyed the Asian influences in this Fantasy setting. The story alternates between past & present. In between the chapters we are given brief accounts of Tea’s past in pages that are italicized, however they are being recounted in the present. Tea decided to call on an Asha whose specialty is that of a historian, to chronicle her side of the story. It is within the pages that are italicized, in between the chapters that we get Bard’s POV as he chronicles Tea’s stories. Being that this is book 1 in a series & since the author has hooked me in with her writing style, I know I will definitely  be picking up the next installment. I also feel that we will see the action we wanted to see in this 1st book, in the next one. Tea’s story is far from over, I am super curious as to what she has planned up her hua’s sleeves cuz THAT ending!!! smh I need more 🙂

My Bookish Peeps, those of you that have read The Bone Witch please drop your thoughts or links to your reviews down below. I’m curious to see how it fared with you all & do you plan on continuing with this series? If so….are you team Kance or Kalen? BAHA! I kid I kid! 😉

Review: Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

30320053Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

Published by: HarperTeen/HarperCollins

Publication Date: February 21st 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 432 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to HarperTeen, Edelweiss, and Rhiannon Thomas for the eGalley of Long May She Reign in exchange for an honest review

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns meets The Queen of the Tearling in this thrilling fantasy standalone about one girl’s unexpected rise to power.

Freya was never meant be queen. Twenty third in line to the throne, she never dreamed of a life in the palace, and would much rather research in her laboratory than participate in the intrigues of court. However, when an extravagant banquet turns deadly and the king and those closest to him are poisoned, Freya suddenly finds herself on the throne.

Freya may have escaped the massacre, but she is far from safe. The nobles don’t respect her, her councillors want to control her, and with the mystery of who killed the king still unsolved, Freya knows that a single mistake could cost her the kingdom – and her life.

Freya is determined to survive, and that means uncovering the murderers herself. Until then, she can’t trust anyone. Not her advisors. Not the king’s dashing and enigmatic illegitimate son. Not even her own father, who always wanted the best for her, but also wanted more power for himself.

As Freya’s enemies close in and her loyalties are tested, she must decide if she is ready to rule and, if so, how far she is willing to go to keep the crown.

plot-banner The 1st YA Fantasy standalone I’ve read with an interesting premise in a very long time, Long May She Reign is more than just a Fantasy, it can also be classified as a mystery. The blurb & beginning pages disclose that the King of Epria & his court have all been poisoned to death during his birthday celebration leaving Freya the 23rd in line, the heir to the throne. Freya, a self-proclaimed Scientist who loves to experiment in her lab away from court & all of its politics would never have imagined herself sitting on the throne as Queen. Surrounded by the nobility & citizens of Epria who lost family as a result of being poisoned, Freya’s reign begins on a dark note. Met with opposition, anger, accusations, and suspicions she takes on this task she’s inherited & tries to find answers while also bringing about some much needed change in the kingdom.

When we first meet our main protagonist Freya, she is in her laboratory working on an experiment to self-create heat in your hands. She lives alone with her father a man who climbed his way up the nobility ladder with the help of his now deceased wife. Freya’s mother was of a noble family & was known for her charm whereas Freya experiences anxiety at the thought of working a room. I instantly found myself relating to Freya who is more comfortable amongst her books and test tubes & not socializing. Rhiannon Thomas gave us some of the most common symptoms of anxiety. Those of us who have anxiety know that everyone is different & we don’t all experience the same symptoms yet I was able to recognize & relate to what Freya was feeling. I also found myself feeling uncomfortable with her which speaks to the authors writing & knowledge of anxiety. Freya has BIG dreams which her father & the rest of the world would deem non-traditional. Court life just isn’t for her, not when there’s a whole world of Who? What? Where? When? Why? to be answered. She’s known since she was a little girl that science was her calling. As the 23rd in the royal line, it was highly unlikely that she’d ever inherit the throne. When the unlikeliest of events occurs & she is thrust into the throne, we get to see Freya’s personality unfold. She could’ve been selfish & run away from everything she feared & disliked but instead she decided to rule like only Freya could. I enjoyed seeing her infuse her ingenuity into strategies of war & apply her knowledge to investigate the poisoning. Freya developed strong female friendships within the court which I absolutely loved reading since again, we don’t get them enough in our books. We also get introduced to the King’s illegitimate son who also is presented as a love interest to Freya. I’ll admit to being a bit weirded out by this one…Freya being 23rd in line & all at some point I wondered aloud…aren’t they related? I guess this would be a good question to ask the author *mental note*… I do wish we’d been given a little more background on the King’s son & some of the other supporting cast. I will say though, the characters in Long May She Reign delivered when it came to politics & court intrigue. They had me suspecting each & every one of them of murder & high treason LOL!

Long May She Reign may be at its core a YA Fantasy however, it also fits in the Mystery genre. I was pretty much consumed, following Freya’s science experiments & deductive reasoning. Freya doesn’t have a large court to begin with since they were for the most part all in attendance for the King’s birthday where they ate their last meals. This helped in limiting the amount of players on the board but it also meant that those closest were to be suspects. I had wondered how a YA Fantasy standalone would read since I’m accustomed to long standing series or trilogies but it worked well. Since this is a standalone we don’t see too much world building, instead this book is very plot driven. The supporting characters aren’t really too fleshed out. We do get a well developed female protagonist, Freya was pretty awesome however,her development wasn’t w/out its faults. The Freya we meet in the beginning who suffers from anxiety isn’t quite the Freya we get at the very end. I wondered what happened to her anxiety since I myself am a person who deals with this disorder every day. Then again, as I mentioned at the very beginning of my review…we don’t all suffer the same symptoms or cope the same way 😉

The writing style is engaging, I felt very much a part of Freya’s investigations which I really enjoyed. This is a slow build which is something that as a YA Fantasy reader I’m also not accustomed to & yet it never once lost my interest. I’d definitely recommend Long May She Reign for those bookworms looking for strong female friendships, ingenuity, & a good ol’ murder mystery 😉

Long May She Reign was released this past Tuesday (while I was moving to my new home lol), & so I’m a little late with my review. How many of my bookish peeps have Long May She Reign on your TBR’s? a Scientist Queen? Who can resist?!?! 🤴🏻💰❌👸🏻🔬📚

Review: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

wintersongWintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Published by: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: February 7th 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy/Re-telling/Romance

Pages: 448 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5 Stars)

I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press, S. Jae-Jones, and NetGalley for the eGalley of Wintersong in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

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Wintersong weaves the tale of Leisl, a young woman who has more than her fair share of duties in her home. Kathe’s father is a fallen musician who is mostly inebriated, Mother is more of a partner in running the household, younger sister is seen as the beauty, and younger brother is a musical prodigy. Leisl herself is musically talented, specifically in composition but has set that aside in favor of helping her brother perfect his craft and one day gain notoriety. Besides the fact that she is running the household, her gender is one of the reasons for which her father discourages her from taking interest/composing music. As young children both Leisl & her young brother Josef would play their music in the Goblin Grove for the Goblin King, a mysterious figure who played music with them. As time passed & Kathe’s responsibilities grew, the Goblin King was slowly forgotten. That is until Leisl’s sister is taken by the Goblins into the Underworld by order of the Goblin King. Leisl finds her way into the Underworld and strikes a bargain with the King to release her sister…A life for a life…she will remain in the Underworld & marry the King and he will let her sister return to the land of the living. Although it may seem harsh at first, Leisl’s “selfless” deed is a bit selfish. She is tired of being unseen , unheard, not beautiful, and cast aside in the shadows of her younger brother’s musical genius. What Leisl didn’t know, was that her sacrifice was much heavier than at first it seems. Leisl & the Goblin King reconnect through their love for music & soon enough a love for each other. As long as her passion shines bright, the Underground will sustain and the land of the living will see Spring instead of being thrust into a deep dark never ending winter…she is essentially it’s life force all while she physically fades away…

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Our main protagonist Leisl isn’t your typical YA character & this was both a good and I wouldn’t say bad thing, but definitely someone to get used to lol. She is very much aware of her musical talent & oftentimes a bit of envy sneaks up when she is helping her brother Josef in composition. Josef is precise, he has been able to play the violin since the age of 5 while Kathe is wild passion and emotion in her composition. She also looks upon her younger sister’s beauty & is self-aware of what comes across as her own plain Jane appearance (nothing wrong with a plain Jane *winks*). Her sister is already betrothed to someone that Leisl also can’t stop herself from wanting for herself. It isn’t so hard for her to (at first) leave this life behind in favor of one where she is the center of the Goblin King’s attention & her musical abilities are praised. We get to see major character development with Leisl which I came to appreciate because it provided a better understanding of all her underlying emotions. Although her family were central to her story, they also weren’t the focus & were more in the background of the story. The Goblin King himself is actually perfectly suited for Leisl in many ways lol, he’s pretty arrogant and controlling which probably can be credited to being immortal & seeing many brides come and go. He’s also musically talented and although he comes off as having this jerk-like exterior, can actually be a decent guy…it’s a common trope, I know but it happens to work well in Wintersong. This is a a 448 page book and the author gives us full on character development & history. The Goblin King’s history is interesting and I can understand how his story and how he came to be the king of the Underworld, molded him into such a undesirable character. I wasn’t a fan of the Goblin King, particularly because of his selfishness which he fully owns up to. Also, certain parts regarding Leisl’s appearance & what he thought of her made me a bit squeamish. I appreciate however, that these characters weren’t your typical cookie cutter personalities found in YA. They were flawed & complex, which oftentimes led to me holding back judgement until I got more story. There were however, two characters that I ABSOLUTELY loved and couldn’t get enough of. Twig & Thistle are two Goblins who are tasked with the not so easy job of tending to Leisl’s needs & wants as Queen of the Underworld. Although all Goblins can’t be trusted, Twig came as close to a friend to Leisl as possible. Twig is the sweeter of the two Goblins. Thistle is Twigs opposite, sarcastic & not happy whatsoever with having to tend to Leisl. Twig is also very vocal about this and gets a kick out of withholding information from Leisl. Thistle’s mischief really added the Goblin touch & those scenes were very entertaining.

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The writing in Wintersong is beautiful, atmospheric, lyrical, and dark which managed to keep me enthralled whenever I picked this book up. However, there were two things that I struggled with just a bit. This is a slow paced book which typically I don’t have any problems with, however it may just be the dark mood and setting that made this one feel a bit too slow. The second issue I had isn’t really one that bothered me too much but it did affect the reading experience a bit, the heavy use of Classical music terminology. Its been years since I took the basics of Classical music in college but that didn’t help me much here. Although one can easily say that it’s not necessary to be knowledgable of the subject, because it was such a focal point & the author used a lot of terminology…I did feel left out of the story on more than one occasion. I won’t however, take away from the writing because it is seriously some of the most beautiful writing I have come across. I also couldn’t stop diving back into this world which leads me to the excellent world building. The Underground came to life through vivid description, the author left nothing out down to the Goblin furniture. I loved the attention to detail that was given in creating this world & can honestly say it played out like a movie for me. I will most definitely keep an eye out for this author’s future works & recommend Wintersong for those who love great world building, Romance, Fantasy, lyrical writing, and especially those who enjoy Classical music/Composition 😉

December Owlcrate & Book Of The Month Unboxing

Wowserz! December came & is already almost gone *eeeeK* my Owlcrate & Book Of The Month arrived very early this month since the subscription services were attempting to beat the holiday rush that is inevitable with snail mail. I held off on posting it since I know some prefer to be surprised. I honestly haven’t been surprised lately with the exception of Vassa In The Night, which had me diggin’ for clues LOL. I’m not sure why but I quite enjoy figuring out what they’re going to send each month. Yes, I already have a 99% positive educated guess on what the January selection will be *winks* Book Of The Month recently started the option of “ship now for free” whenever you add a past months selection to your current box. I added All the Ugly and Wonderful Things since i’ve had it on my mind ever since hearing the synopsis read aloud by a favorite Booktuber of mine. I struggled a bit this month with selecting my BOTM book & hope that I don’t regret going with Swimming Lessons. I know now that the option to skip is available but still holding out hope for my pick, it also happens to be an advanced reader copy (finished) since it isn’t set to hit shelves til’ February 2017 😉


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  • Of Fire and Satrs by Audrey Coulthurst (GR Synopsis also below)
  • Harry Potter Funko Mystery Mini Figure
  • The Lord of the Rings Pin
  • Dark Horse Game of Thrones Coasters (hands down favorite items in the entire box!)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic Sticker (this was missing in my box. 1st time an item was left out)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Mini Cardgoodreads-synopsis-2

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


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Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan.

Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her. Scandalous and whip-smart, Swimming Lessons holds the Coleman family up to the light, exposing the mysterious truths of a passionate and troubled marriage.

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

What are your thoughts on December’s Owlcrate? Do you prefer to be surprised each month or go full on Nancy Drew? For my fellow BOTM subscribers, what were your selections for December? 

Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Weekend XOXO!!!

September Wrap-up & Book Haul

September…a month that I am usually looking forward to every year by the time the sweltering 90 degree weather in June make it’s presence felt. This year however, I was a bit apprehensive about all of the changes taking place with my little one starting in a “real” school lol. After completing pre-k in the same center as her daycare, this would be her 1st venture into an actual school building. Thankfully all went well & we just received news that she is actually at a 1st grade level. Could not be any more happier honestly. My reading month however, wasn’t the best but I managed to get 5 in & a very special book event (check out my About Last Night post here). October will be MUCH better 😉

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I’ve linked my reviews for each of my reads down below

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Empire of Storms by Sara J. Maas ★★★ (3.5 stars @ the time of review but…lol)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Wrecked by Maria Padian ★★★★ (4 stars)

After having a pretty slow book buying month in August (view August Book Haul here)…well slower than my usual LOL, I thought September would be mayhem but I think I kept it reasonable HAHA!…

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Follow me on Instagram @Lair_Of_Books for more photos 😉

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Kindle Deal $1.99 (no longer available however if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s currently free)

I’ve read 2 of the books I hauled in September & i’m seriously avoiding Crooked Kingdom smh, I’m just not ready Gals & Ghouls *hides face* to let go of my favorite fictional characters or this deliciously dark world *sigh* avoiding book spoilers on Twitter has become quite the challenge. I’m not sure what i’ll read after my current eGalley (When The Moon Was Ours), i’ve managed to get my Netgalley ratio at a respectable percentage that i’m content with. It may not be perfect but it’ll do 😉

As for my viewing, cuz ya girl really does love TV & movies! it was actually really meh LOL. I didn’t catch any movies in the theatre BUT I did binge watch season 2 of Gotham with the hubby. truthfully speaking, I wasn’t a big fan of the first season but it’s so atmospheric & they did an AMAZING job of giving it authentic classic Gotham feels that we stuck with it. I enjoyed season 2 WAY more because we get a different side of Gordon, he’s been through a lot that I won’t list because of spoilers but he’s pretty bad a** now. The performance I enjoyed the most however, goes to Cory Michael Smith who plays Edward Nygma aka future Riddler. Season 2 focused on Nygma’s development into who he will ultimately become. I can’t get enough of this guy’s shenaningans but in all seriousness he truly kills it on this show *tips hat off*

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Photo on IMDB

Fun fact: a lot of the outdoor filming in Gotham was done around my neighborhood. Some around the corner from my block & other shots were filmed by the train station near my place. We often joke our neighborhood might as well be Gotham since it’s so Gray smh. Whelp I guess word got out to FOX & Gotham has come to us. My husband took photos of the vehicles parked overnight for the shoot. There’s a pretty big old abandoned building that looks like an old bank but served as a Boys & Girls club many years ago, that was also used in one of their episodes where a banquet/party was filmed. I couldn’t get photos of that w/out trespassing though LOL.

 

Hope you all had an AMAZING September! We are now in October & i’m sure a lot of us are looking forward to all of the exciting book releases this month. What are some October books you all are looking forward to?