Waiting On Wednesday

Invictus by Ryan Graudin

Publisher: Little Brown Books

Publication Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Time Travel

Pages: 464 pages

*click on cover for Goodreads

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past. 
But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

In this heart-stopping adventure, Ryan Graudin has created a fast-paced world that defies time and space.

I legit hadn’t heard of Invictus up until a few nights before I attended Bookcon this past weekend. Turns out that there was an ARC drop & I missed it which was sucky but September is right around the corner & before you know it *grabby hands* haha! I also haven’t done a Waiting on Wednesday for quite some time because I’ve been very blessed to already have copies of my most highly anticipated books of the year & for that I am very thankful. Until Invictus came along, caught my eye, made me trip over my own feet with outstretched hands LMAO! Time Travel is my drug of choice folks, I can’t resist a good one & this one has EPIC stamped all over its cover. I already have questions just off the blurb…like how in the world is it even possible for Far to exist with parents who each exist in different time periods?!?!? I’m SUPER intrigued by the parents origins. Next, there’s mention of the Titanic & a heist….So, Far seems like the most innnneresting fictional character I haven’t met yet. Being that this book is close to 500 pages, I’m also hoping for a kick a** crew of misfits that I’ll inevitably grow attached to. Yup, it’s definitely a haul worthy book for me in September 😉

Sci-Fi (yes!). Time Travel (Yes!). Heists (Yes!). Titanic (Yes!)…*heart eyes*

Is Invictus on your radar for September? Already snag a copy? don’t tell me! *side eye* Haha! 😉

Review: The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

Publisher: Macmillan

Publication Date: May 16th, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary/LGBTQIA

Pages: 384 pages

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★ (4 Stars)

Cover = Goodreads

Amazon/Barnes & Noble

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan, Netgalley, and Cale Dietrich for the eGalley of The Love Interest in exchange for a honest review. All opinions are my own.

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

If you’re anything like me, after reading the Goodreads blurb for The Love Interest, you immediately got This Means War vibes. You know? the one with Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy? yea, that would be the one! & just like the rom-com, The Love Interest doesn’t take itself too seriously & this alone made it a fun read. This book is a satire of all those YA tropes we either love or hate. It’s self aware & as such, is chock full of laugh out loud moments that will leave you shaking your head. We first get introduced to the love interests Caden & Dylan while they’re in the facility that houses others like them while they get all of the necessary spy training. A spy is said to have been taken from their home (voluntary/involuntary is unknown) from childhood & sorted based on personality to either be a Bad or a Nice. Depending on which you were sorted under, you’d receive specific training & skill sets to ultimately be paired up with a person of importance in the outside world. Julia is a high school student who is set to have her pick of universities based on the fact that she is a GENIUS inventor. Targeted as a V.I.P. by the secret organization that deals with selling secrets for top dollar, Julia has no idea she’s about to be highly sought out. Caden is a Nice & Dylan is a Bad, both sent in to better the odds of Julia picking one of them as her love interest. These guys go out of their way to woe Julia in their own ways & will offer you non-stop entertainment. However, it’s not all fun & games for these guys who have the constant threat of death over their heads if they fail. Whoever Julia doesn’t choose will be put to death which only serves as motivation in the race to Julia’s heart. What happens when a Love Interest falls in love for someone other than their intended target? *GASP*

Told in first person point of view, we get Caden (the Nice) as our narrator. Caden is your cliche blonde guy with blue eyes and abs for days haha! I don’t want to give away too much but just know that the spy organization plays no games when it comes to perfecting their love interests. Caden will come off as self absorbed & I believe it’s purposely done. I love my YA books but if we’re being honest, we all know that Caden is a representation of what we see as the male lead interest. Now Dylan doesn’t fall short either lol he plays the broody bad boy, so dark & mysterious with his book of poetry & leather jacket. Then we have Julia who is a a genius inventor in high school who has that quiet beauty. She’s so focused on her inventions that dating isn’t at the forefront. By the end of this book, Julia was hands down my favorite of the characters but no spoilers here lol. We get two other supporting characters, Natalie & Trevor who also attend the same high school and are in a relationship. They also happen to be best friends with Julia & so we get to see them join in on the battle of the Nice vs. Bad. These characters are over the top versions of what we see in the YA genre & I enjoyed the satirical take. I’ve seen other reviews critique the one-dimensional characters which is true…but I don’t think the author set out to have us connect with these extremely tropey characters. If you’re looking for characters you can connect with, this isn’t the book for you. This is the book you pick up if you’ve read tons of YA, love it to death but can still poke fun at the many tropes we often see in our beloved books.

This is Cale Dietrich’s debut album & I love that it was so much fun to read. I took it for what it presented itself to be…a parody of all the YA tropes you can possibly find in the YA genre lol. I laughed so hard reading this book, an overall good time. Those who have been with my blog for a while now know how much I love YA & that I read/review tons of it. I also love good humor and The Love Interest provided a few hours of comedy. I docked it a star simply because it wrapped up too quickly in the end. I recommend this one for all those looking for some light hearted fun & a plot that will keep you guessing the outcome 😉

The Love Interest is out today (links to buy can be found at the very top), have any of you awesome bookworms picked up a copy? if you’ve already read it, what are some of your thoughts?

New York Comic Con/Bookcon 2016 Haul

Last weekend I attended my very first Comic Con which also happened to be hosting Bookcon for their very first time. The experience is one that i’ll never forget because of how much fun I had as well as the tips & tricks I picked up along the way. As a book blogger, Bookcon was definitely a motivator in buying my tickets since let’s face it, getting physical ARCS is no easy feat for small time bloggers like myself LOL. My hubby & I purchased the 3 day passes with hopes that all would fall into place as far as sitting for our 2 tiny humans and it did *Whoop Whoop* well on day 3 we didn’t have sitting but hubby gracefully bowed out while I attended with Gretchen @Chicnerdreads who was already set to go for the day.

Day 1 was a bit on the overwhelming side since we didn’t really know what to expect tbh. It was a huge crowd & I’ve never seen so many people come together for one event but i’m glad that it was this one. Everyone for the most part was friendly which is also rare cuz hellO! it’s New York jeje! as expected we spotted tons of Jokers & Harleys, seemed to be the popular costume choice of the year. Most of the entertainment panels I was interested in, took place in the evening which meant that I missed them. I arrived at opening and left each day between 2-4pm therefore I made the showroom floor my main focus with some occasional wanderings into artist alley. Bookcon itself was held in the building across the street from the Javits Center but it mostly was for the author panels. At the end of each panel, each author would be giving away an ARC of their new book. Most ARC giveaways were held in the Javits center on the showroom floor.

Days 2 & 3 were much more successful & is when we scored most of our ARCS. Day 3 (Sunday) being the MOST EPIC because all of the publishing houses were having crazy sales & giveaways since it was the last day of Comic Con. Below is my very 1st Bookcon Haul…

Books I purchased at reduced price:

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Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

  • Release Date: 10/25/2016
  • Urban Fantasy/Horror

The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh 

  • New paperback edition on sale now (The Rose & The Dagger will follow April 2017)
  • YA Fantasy-Fairy Tales

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

  • October 4th 2016
  • YA Mystery/Contemporary/LGBTQ

Replica by Lauren Oliver

  • October 4th 2016
  • YA Sci-Fi

The Female of The Species by Mindy McGinnis

  • September 20th 2016
  • YA/Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi

  • August 30th 2016
  • Fantasy/Middle Grade

YA ARCS: 

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The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

  • November 1st 2016
  • YA/Sci-Fi/Dystopia

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

  • November 8th 2016
  • YA Fantasy/Re-telling

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

  • January 10th 2017
  • YA Fantasy/Re-telling

The Edge Of Everything by Jeff Giles

  • YA Fantasy

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James (author signed)

  • YA Fantasy

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston THANK YOU GRETCHEN @CHICNERDREADS!!! she gave me her copy cuz she knew how badly I wanted this ARC & missed it 2 days in a row *covers eyes*

  • February 14th 2017
  • YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

  • March 28th 2017
  • YA Historical Fantasy

The Freemason’s Daughter by Shelley Sackier

  • April 11th 2017
  • YA Historical Fiction

Non-YA ARCS (hehe)

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The Hidden People by Alison Littlewood

  • October 6th 2016
  • Historical Fiction/Horror/Mystery

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson

  • January 10th 2017
  • Thriller/Mystery/Suspense

The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden (signed by author)

  • January 17th 2017
  • Historical Fiction/Fantasy

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

  • February 7th 2017
  • Sci-Fi Fantasy/Time Travel

Published books obtained through Signings/in booth giveaways

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The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin (signed by author)

  • August 4th 2015
  • Sci-Fi Fantasy

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

  • October 11th 2016
  • YA Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Vassa In The Night by Sarah Porter (signed by author)

  • September 20th 2016
  • YA Fantasy/Re-telling

Comics Purchased

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Lazarus (Volume 1) Greg Rucka, Michael Lark (Artist), Santiago Arcas (Illustrartor) (gift from hubby)

Black #1 by Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith III (illustrator), Jamal Igle (Illustrator), Robin Riggs (Illustrator), Sarah Stern (Illustrator), Khary Randolph (Illustrator), Dave Sharpe (Illustrator), Sarah Litt (Editor) (signed by Tim Smith)

Bookish Freebies

Penguin Journal, Carve The Mark phone charger (universal), and the Heartless tee given away by Fierce Reads as a cover for the real score LOL (Heartless ARC)

I don’t even know where to start but I am beginning to form some sort of TBR for the rest of the year leading into 2017 🙂

 

 

 

Waiting On Wednesday: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

we-are-okay-by-nina-lacour

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Published by: Penguin Random House/Dutton Books For Young Readers

Date of Publication: February 14th 2017

Genres: YA Fiction

Pages: 240

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Hold Still comes an achingly beautiful novel about grief and the enduring power of friendship.
“You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

An intimate whisper that packs an indelible punch, We Are Okay is Nina LaCour at her finest. This gorgeously crafted and achingly honest portrayal of grief will leave you urgent to reach across any distance to reconnect with the people you love.

 

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

 

Reasons 4 Book Lusting We Are Okay by Nina LaCour (Goodreads Link here):

I recently read and loved Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads To You (review here) for her writing style & ability to bring to life the settings in her book. I’m big on character development and LaCour knows what she’s doing with the friendships/relationships she builds. We Are Okay takes place in New York City (my home city) where Marin now lives in her college dorm after leaving California in an attempt to flee her past. This being a story about grief and friendship, i’m hoping we get some amazing story telling and truly get a sense of the events that make Marin who she is now. I’m curious about her friend Mabel & how she is connected to Marin’s past. I get the feeling from the synopsis that Marin doesn’t have a family or has had a disconnect & i’m wondering whether we’ll get an amazing cast of supporting characters like we did in Everything Leads To You. I also love that this story is about female friendship because we don’t see that enough in YA. LaCour really knows how to portray the ups & downs of female friendships, hoping this will be a new favorite. Although she writes YA, in her last book I got the sense that the characters were much more mature for their age & had some life experience points under their belt. I’m hoping for a complex & deeply layered Marin, yea I like my characters rough around the edges lol smh.  Also, LaCour gets serious brownie points for this cover! at first I thought that she had gone the Graphic Novel route but quickly realized (& jumped 4 joy a bit) that it was her next YA Fiction book. Love the pastels against the night sky, she appears to be standing on her dorm room bed while looking out into a field somewhere that’s not NYC while snow falls…innnnnnneresting!

Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (non-spoiler)

leigh-bardugo-six-of-crows-new-book-01

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Series: Six of Crows #1

Published by: Henry Holt and Company

Publication Date: September 6th 2016

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 465 pages

Format: Hardcover (I own)

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge.

A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.

A runaway with a privileged past.

A spy known as the Wraith.

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

 

Plot

Six of Crows takes place in the same world as Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, 2 years after the Ravkan Civil War. The Six of Crows series however, was written so that readers who haven’t read The Grisha trilogy can still enjoy. There are references to characters from The Grisha trilogy purposely name dropped however, the characters in Six of Crows themselves do not have an accurate account of the events that followed the Ravkan Civil War. In other words, you won’t be missing out on any crucial bits of information. Leigh Bardugo has been interviewed & has answered questions on Goodreads where she tells readers that clarification will later be provided so there’s that. We get introduced to Kaz Brekker who is the leader of the Dreggs. The Dreggs are a rag tag team of criminals from all walks of life who Kaz has recruited to run heists on the wealthy. Just like in the movies (Oceans Eleven comes to mind lol) where THE BIG heist presents itself, Kaz is offered 30 million Krug to take back a scientist that is being held captive by the government. The scientist is their most prized asset because he has come up with a way to enhance a common drug. The drug, when ingested by Grisha can enhance their magical abilities to unimaginable heights making them unstoppable. Oh the damage one can do with just 1 Grisha on this drug *hides* There are many different types of Grisha & thanks to Google I will list them for you:

Corporalki

  • Healers
  • Heartrenders
  • Tailors

Etherealki

  • Inferni
  • Squallers
  • Tidemakers
  • Summoners

Materialki

  • Durasts
  • Alkemi

Characters

Photo Credit: Lauren’s Tumblr Page

This is by far my most FAVORITE Cast of characters in a Fictional Fantasy world PERIOD! Not only did Leigh Bardugo give us some of the most beloved characters, but she made a whole lot of people fall in love with their imperfections & complexities. None of her characters are perfect but it’s their flaws that make you fall in love with each & every one of them. We have Kaz Brekker aka Dirty Hands, leader & head schemer HAHA! Inej AKA The Wraith or The Spider, a female POC known for her stealthy abilities. Even with bells on you will NOT hear Inez creeping up on you & she holds many of Kaz’s secrets close to heart. Jesper sharpshooter extraordinaire & Kaz’s Second, walks around with 2 pearl handled guns that he is more than happy to pull out & show off lol. Nina the Heartrender, she’s a Grisha who has the ability to alter or stop your heart. She’s also a semi trained Tailor which means she can alter physical features on a person (she’s not very good at this lol). We also have Matthias & Wylan but i’ll leave these characters roles out of the description cuz spoilers 😉 I found myself rooting for these characters, getting mad at some of them, and other times very protective over them. Thanks again Gretchen @Chicnerdreads for pointing me in the right direction for the perfect Fan cast art 😉

“Kaz leaned back. “What’s the easiest way to steal a man’s wallet?”
“Knife to the throat?” asked Inej.
“Gun to the back?” said Jesper.
“Poison in his cup?” suggested Nina.
“You’re all horrible,” said Matthias.” 
― Leigh BardugoSix of Crows

Writing

Leigh Bardugo aka My Queen Of Darkness has a way of infusing her sense of humor in her writing & since she is one funny lady, I often found myself chuckling at the dialogue between characters. The story is fast paced but it’s appropriate for a heist that typically you would see playing out on the big screen. The fact that she managed such a feat is impressive enough but that she did so by managing 6 different characters without skipping a beat is utterly INSANE & proof that she is QUEEN! The characters she created are so fleshed out that they practically leap off the pages which I LOVE! I can’t get enough of Six Of Crows & can’t wait to start Crooked Kingdom.

Thoughts

I have fallen in love with the world Leigh Bardugo has created & hope that she has more for us reader fans. She did say at the Strand NYC event this past Monday, that there are plenty more stories to tell in this world but that she couldn’t say anything was for certain (Leigh Bardugo event post here). It’s pretty clear to me that Leigh Bardugo really got to know her characters well & brought them to life on the page. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in a long time. The story gave me Ocean’s Eleven & Boardwalk Empire feels but in the end nothing compares to Six of Crows 😉

September’s Owlcrate Unboxing

It’s that time again!!! My September Owlcrate box arrived & the theme this month is DARKNESS! I am VERY happy with the curating of Owlcrate’s boxes but this one takes the cake! They’ve outdone themselves with an EPIC box. Three Dark Crowns is one my most highly anticipated books for fall 2016 so pardon me while I *SquEeee*🤗🤗🤗 lol. 

Favorite item in the box has to be the Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children canvas pouch & the Raven Cycle series inspired fortune telling bath fizzers from Da Bomb Bath Fizzers. Also in this box is a bookmark Inspired by Leigh Bardugo’s Six Of Crows from Evie Seo aka Eviebookish (my next read 😉), a Throne of Glass inspired candle by The Melting Library in the exclusive scent Celeana’s Cake (smells like cotton candy YUM!) & the first episode in a 15 episode YA sci-fi series titled ReMade. For those of you who have an account with NetGalley, they currently have some of the next few episodes in this 15 episode series available as “Read Now”.

I feel like these past few boxes, Owlcrate has been raising the bar for themselves. This has to be my favorite box this year (so far). I’m already using the canvass pouch as my makeup bag & Im reading Six Of Crows so the bookmark came at the perfect time. Now, to find the time to enjoy the bath bomb, is my next mission in life! #goals 😂

Did anyone else LOVE this month’s Owlcrate? Also, I have this thing where I have to guess the next month’s box & so far I’ve been right the past 3 boxes lol. I must say that I have NO clue what October’s pick could possibly be. Open to some guesses though, leave them right down below lol.

Review: Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J. Maas

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sara J. Maas

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Publication Date: September 6th, 2016

Format: I own HC

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Page Count: 693 pages

Rating: ★★★ 3.5 stars

 

  

Goodreads Synopsis:

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down? 

 

 

PLOT

This being the 5th book in the Throne of Glass series, I will keep my review short to avoid spoilers. However, if you’re anything like me who avoids ALL talk revolving my current read for fear of what I may or may not consider to be a spoiler myself, then maybe save this review for another time? lol

We see Celeana aka Aelin Galathynius & her rag tag group of friends (including her consort) on the hunt for the wyrdkeys while fending off threats & attacks from opposing forces. In this book they actually go up against more than one enemy, all of who want the wyrdkeys for their own evil doings. Aelin finds that taking up her throne is not as easy as just revealing her identity; she will actually have to prove she deserves to be queen. Terrasen has been without their queen for many years & to protect her homeland she will have to fight true & hard. Empire of Storms chronicles Aelin’s quest for the wyrdkeys, allies, and ultimately the truth.

 

Characters

I am a HUGE Manon & Abraxos fan & in the beginning chapters could not get enough of them. So much so that I was anxiously if not impatiently getting through the 1st non-Manon chapters rather quickly just to get back to her story. This is a close to 700-page book & I’m glad that it did NOT take long for the action to start (pg 60 to be exact lol) & continue all throughout. Empire of Storms came with tons of nuggets of background information for some of our most favorite characters. I especially loved getting more info on Aedion, Brannon, and Elena. Lysandra also came to be a favorite since she’s evolving & becoming a valuable player in Aelin’s court also, who doesn’t love a shapeshifter? she managed to pull off some really neat tweaks that left me thinking she’s a baddie lol. When it comes to Aelin aka Celeana I kind of wasn’t the biggest fan of our young queen, in this installment. Specifically because certain power moves make you question whether Terrasen is enough or whether she will want more. I also wasn’t too keen on how she treated specific characters when it came to matters of the court & war. Her dialogue in general peeved me off quite a bit, it’s almost as if she had taken 20 leaps backwards in maturity. All in all, I enjoyed being back in this world with most of the characters. 

On the topic of coupling, although I loved some of the relationships that developed into a bit more… I can’t say that I am completely pleased with how closely Empire of Storms follows A Court of Mist and Fury in this aspect. I’m glad that certain things left off where they did because realistically, not everyone will find their perfect mate or match w/out some obstacles within that relationship (excluding the outside powers that be) making it more challenging to co-exist.

 

tumblr_o7rfk6YBRZ1snasqho2_540.jpgPhoto Credit: http://blackbeakbitch.tumblr.com

 

Writing

One thing I love about these books is how quick paced they are without compromising the story. With so many characters in a book, some with their own story lines taking place apart from the group; Maas manages to tie them all in to the central story very effectively. I also have to give it to Maas for giving each of these characters such strong personalities & their own distinct voices, they practically jump off the page. Which I guess is a good thing seeing as Hulu has picked up the Throne of Glass series for production & i’m psyched to see the cast assemble.

 

Final Thoughts

Ok, so I guess I should explain why i’ve given Empire of Storms a 3.5 instead of the 5 stars mostly everyone has rated it. I can’t deny that I enjoyed the hell out of this book & it was a fun & obstacle filled quest I was more than happy to embark upon. I did however have issues with the last 200 pages of this book or what i’ve come to call…”The Final Stretch” I buddy read this book with my husband who loves the series for it’s brutal fighting scenes which led to him finishing this book the night before I did. Since he did not read Sarah J. Maas’ other ongoing series A Court of Thorns & Roses, the final stretch was original to him. I however, I found too many similarities if not outright exact scenes from A Court of Thorns & Roses to truly enjoy some of the things that took place. This is not to say that I hated the ending, on the contrary I actually really liked some of the final wrap-up. I just couldn’t give this 5 stars after reading A Court of Mist & Fury very recently and loving that series for what it is-a separate series of it’s own. Also, in regards to that ending…it seems we were being told a story from an unreliable narrator which is fine with me. Sometimes those make for some of the most interesting stories. However, after riding hard lol with Aelin & crew through 5 books…I felt a little blindsided? I’m still working through these thoughts gals & ghouls. Overall, a fun read with plenty of power moves & scheming to keep you on your toes…Oh & plenty of heart wrenching moments to tug at your heart strings til’ you possibly shed a few tears 😉

Friday Reads aka Currently Reading

Happy Friday Readers!!! It’s been a L-O-N-G and unexpectedly emotional week for my little fam & I. Today completes Izzy’s (my 5-year-old daughter) first week & a half (lol) of Kindergarten & although my girl is usually ready to conquer the world with her larger than life old soul personality…this was a new beginning & there were some tears from the both of us. I was allowed to walk her to class the first 2 days after which I was then told that my baby was growing up & basically it was time to “cut the cord” drop off’s would be in the cafeteria…does anyone else find the cafeteria to be one scary big place? I always have. Nonetheless, off I went to work but not before I had myself one good sob during my 7-minute walk to the train station on the phone with my husband. I boarded the train & to be honest had no desire to read. By Wednesday, Izzy & I had befriended the cafeteria lady & her daughter who also attends the school. Needless to say this brought me much comfort & Izzy re-assured ME (smh) that she was NOT scared. With her assurance I boarded my train & dived back into SJM’s Empire of Storms…

Empire of Storms by Sara J. Maas is the 5th book in the Throne of Glass YA Fantasy series & one of my most highly anticipated reads for the second half of 2016! I hadn’t realized how much I had missed certain characters in this world, specifically my favorite kick butt witch Manon & her Wyvern Abraxos who would follow her to the depths of the world if need be. I think what appeals to me most about these characters is the loyalty they have to each other (excluding Celeana who at times makes questionable decisions). I am really enjoying seeing the friendship btwn Aedion & Lysandra develop as well as Lorcan & Elide. Whether these friendships develop into something more, I’m not sure yet (on pg. 400 of 693) but wouldn’t be completely surprised if they do. Yes, SJM enjoys coupling up her charcters making it a bit predictable at times but I think it’s done well. In any case, I love these books for the character development & world building. I am currently OBSESSED with the Manon chapters smh, in the beginning I really just wanted to get to those chapters alone. Thankfully 🙌🏼 the story picks up the pace fairly quickly & never stops. Can this be the best book in the series? It’s sure looking that way but I still have about 300 pgs to go & that leaves Maas plenty of time to turn my world upside down. I kid you not, I really do think she types away with an evil smirk on her face, knowing she’s going to leave us in our feels in need of our blanky’s & the nearest teddy 😂😂😂


The other book I’m reading or rather should I say listening to? Is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I had used one of my Audible credits a few months back on this one but could NOT for the life of me, get people to stop interrupting me while I listened. After reading a review for this book on Amanda’s blog Cover2CoverMom, I decided to pick it back up again. For the most part, I’d rather listen to than read comedienne’s memoirs. They narrate their own books & therefore know when a line should read as funny or not. This makes a big difference for me. Perfect example is  Mindy Khaling who I adore for the goddess that she is 🙌🏼 has written 2 books & it wasn’t until I switched to audio that I was able to enjoy her narrative. To be honest I had never heard of Jenny Lawson but the cover with the over the top excited raccoon made me smile every time I walked by it in B&N. After reading the synopsis & seeing that Jenny suffers from mental illness and that this was a collection of stories infused with her humor…I was intrigued. Now, I’ve heard great & not so great things about this book. Primarily, people taking offense to her use of humor when it comes to the topic of her mental illness or labeling herself. As a person who deals with anxiety, mild OCD, and others I don’t need to list…my sarcasm/dark humor IS my coping mechanism. It’s the blanket that provides comfort when faced with the alternative which is to let it overcome & that’s just not the choice that I’ve made. I’m now following Jenny on her blog The Blogess & I’m listening to Furiously Happy. Jenny’s husband Victor reminds me a bit of my husband. She does not shy away from listing their differences & the less than “normal” but still very humorous arguments they have because of her mental disorders. Her interactions with her pets (Ferris Mewler is a fave of mine) including Rory the raccoon who is deceased but has been brought back through her friend the taxidermist, provide plenty of entertaining moments. Overall, what I’m finding the most enjoyable are the many relatable day to day moments & thoughts she has  at home and in social situations…

Waiting On Wednesday 

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.


Title: The Valiant

Author: Lesley Livingston

Book: Hardcover, 288 pages

Expected Publication: February 14th 2017

Publisher: Razorbill Young Readers (Penguin Random House)






Edelweiss Synopsis:

A richly-imagined, gripping historical fantasy for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Cinda Williams Chima,The Valiant recounts a seventeen-year-old’s tumultuous journey from fierce Celtic princess to legendary female gladiator and darling of the Roman empire.

The youngest daughter of a proud Celtic king, Fallon has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Sorcha’s legendary reputation as a warrior. But when Fallon was a young child, the armies of Julius Caesar invaded the island of Britain and her beloved older sister was killed in battle.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her rightful place in her father’s royal war band. But she never gets the chance. Instead, Fallon is captured by a band of ruthless brigands who sell her to an exclusive training school for female gladiators—and its most influential patron is none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, Fallon’s worst enemy, the man who destroyed her family, might be her only hope of survival.

Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, chilling threats and the dangerous attention of Caesar himself to survive the deadly fights that take place both in and out of the arena—and claim her place in history among the Valiant. 

Reasons:

When a synopsis includes the words/names: Gladiators, Julius Caesar, Celtic King, fighting arena, and warrior…I stop for a moment of silence while I try to contain my excitement. Female warrior protagonists? *SqUEeee* & it’s being released on Valentine’s Day, what better gift to give myself? Ok! fangirling over lol. A school of female gladiator’s run by none other than Julius Caesar himself?!?! SIGN ME UP! to read all about it that is (Lol). I’m a sucker for a strong female protog who isn’t afraid to get down & dirty, throw in a bit of Rome & you’re basically serenading me. I also love the names Fallon & Sorcha, they scream Fantasy & that cover is AWESOME to say the least. I only wish that the book was a bit longer but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this is the beginning of a possible trilogy.

Slowly but surely we’ve been seeing YA branch into different sub-genres and Historical Fiction is finally getting some love. With some of the more popular books like Eleanor Herman’s Legacy of Kings & the collaborative project My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Asthon, and Jodi Meadows leading the way, I am hoping Lesley Livingston’s The Valiant joins their ranks & makes for a brutal & kick butt Valentine’s Day. Also, for those of you attending New York Comic Con this October like myself, Edelweiss has The Valiant listed for promotion at this event. So yes! I am already crossing my fingers & toes for the Book Gods to bless me with either a eGalley or physical ARC of The Valiant.

BTW, did any of you catch the “for fans of SJM & Cinda Williams Chima”? …Signed, Sealed, Delivered *sings* I’m YOURS!

Have any of you heard about The Valiant? If so, does it tickle your fancy? Eh? Lol. Feel free to drop THAT link with your Waiting On Wednesday’s. I have my Goodreads open & TBR ready for suggestions <3’s!
 
 

Author Spotlight & Giveaway: Zoraida Córdova

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About the Author:

Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of the Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic. Send her a tweet @Zlikeinzorro or visit her at zoraidacordova.com.

 

I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Fire for offering my blog & I the opportunity to feature Zoraida Córdova, author of Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1). After reading (My review can be found here) & falling in love with the characters & world in Labyrinth lost, I just knew that this was something i’d love to do.  Not only because I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but also because it is a perfect example of of a #ownvoices book. Zoraida Córdova has now become an auto-buy author for me & I look forward to continuing with the Brooklyn Brujas series. To best describe Labyrinth Lost I would say that Daniel José Older (author of Shadowshaper) hit the nail on the head….“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” I truly enjoyed being able to recognize many of the Mexican, Ecuadorian, Caribbean, and African influences that made up the magical experience that is Labyrinth Lost. The central theme in this book was family (ancestral-living & dead) & self identity. We also get LGBTQIA diversity in Labyrinth Lost, our characters didn’t see gender which is rare. We usually get quite the opposite in the Latino community, the way Zoraida Córdova handled her characters & themes has made Labyrinth Lost an instant fave for the year (probably of all time lol). Last but not least, Kudos to the author & publishing house for the awesome giveaway (runs Sept 6th-19th) at the end of this post!

 

Summary:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Goodreads Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27969081-labyrinth-lost?from_search=true
Buy Links:
http://books.sourcebooks.com/labyrinth-lost/
Book Trailer Link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_DBTALS6bI
Labyrinth Lost Coloring Page:
http://www.sourcebooks.com/images/LabyrinthLost-ColoringPage.pdf

 

 

The following is an excerpt from labyrinth Lost provided by Sourcebooks Fire:

 

1

Follow our voices, sister.

Tell us the secret of your death.

—-Resurrection Canto, 
Book of Cantos

The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing.

Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”

But I was seven and asked too many questions. Every Sunday, cars piled up in our driveway, down the street, and around the corner of our old, narrow house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mom’s Circle usually brought cellophane–wrapped dishes and jars of dirt and tubs of brackish water that made the Hudson River look clean. This time, they carried something more.

When my sisters started snoring, I threw off my covers and crept down the stairs. The floorboards were uneven and creaky, but I was good at not being seen. Fuzzy, yellow streetlight shone through our attic window and followed me down every flight until I reached the basement.

A soft hum made its way through the thin walls. I remember thinking I should listen to my mom’s warning and go back upstairs. But our house had been restless all week, and Lula, Rose, and I were shoved into the attic, out of the way while the grown–ups prepared the funeral. I wanted out. I wanted to see.

The night was moonless and cold one week after the Witch’s New Year, when Aunt Rosaria died of a sickness that made her skin yellow like hundred–year–old paper and her nails turn black as coal. We tried to make her beautiful again. My sisters and I spent all day weaving good luck charms from peonies, corn husks, and string—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. Not even the morticians, the Magos de Muerte, could fix her once–lovely face.

Aunt Rosaria was dead. I was there when we mourned her. I was there when we buried her. Then, I watched my father and two others shoulder a dirty cloth bundle into the house, and I knew I couldn’t stay in bed, no matter what my mother said.

So I opened the basement door.

Red light bathed the steep stairs. I leaned my head toward the light, toward the beating sound of drums and sharp plucks of fat, nylon guitar strings.

A soft mew followed by whiskers against my arm made my heart jump to the back of my rib cage. I bit my tongue to stop the scream. It was just my cat, Miluna. She stared at me with her white, glowing eyes and hissed a warning, as if telling me to turn back. But Aunt Rosaria was my godmother, my family, my friend. And I wanted to see her again.

“Sh!” I brushed the cat’s head back.

Miluna nudged my leg, then ran away as the singing started.

I took my first step down, into the warm, red light. Raspy voices called out to our gods, the Deos, asking for blessings beyond the veil of our worlds. Their melody pulled me step by step until I was crouched at the bottom of the landing.

They were dancing.

Brujas and brujos were dressed in mourning white, their faces painted in the aspects of the dead, white clay and black coal to trace the bones. They danced in two circles—-the outer ring going clockwise, the inner counterclockwise—hands clasped tight, voices vibrating to the pulsing drums.

And in the middle was Aunt Rosaria.

Her body jerked upward. Her black hair pooled in the air like she was suspended in water. There was still dirt on her skin. The white skirt we buried her in billowed around her slender legs. Black smoke slithered out of her open mouth. It weaved in and out of the circle—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. It tugged Aunt Rosaria higher and higher, matching the rhythm of the canto.

Then, the black smoke perked up and changed its target. It could smell me. I tried to backpedal, but the tiles were slick, and I slid toward the circle. My head smacked the tiles. Pain splintered my skull, and a broken scream lodged in my throat.

The music stopped. Heavy, tired breaths filled the silence of the pulsing red dark. The enchantment was broken. Aunt Rosaria’s reanimated corpse turned to me. Her body purged black smoke, lowering her back to the ground. Her ankles cracked where the bone was brittle, but still she took a step. Her dead eyes gaped at me. Her wrinkled mouth growled my name: Alejandra.

She took another step. Her ankle turned and broke at the joint, sending her flying forward. She landed on top of me. The rot of her skin filled my nose, and grave dirt fell into my eyes.

Tongues clucked against crooked teeth. The voices of the circle hissed, “What’s the girl doing out of bed?”

There was the scent of extinguished candles and melting wax. Decay and perfume oil smothered me until they pulled the body away.

My mother jerked me up by the ear, pulling me up two flights of stairs until I was back in my bed, the scream stuck in my throat like a stone.

“Never,” she said. “You hear me, Alejandra? Never break a Circle.”

I lay still. So still that after a while, she brushed my hair, thinking I had fallen asleep.

I wasn’t. How could I ever sleep again? Blood and rot and smoke and whispers filled my head.

“One day you’ll learn,” she whispered.

Then she went back down the street–lit stairs, down into the warm red light and to Aunt Rosaria’s body. My mother clapped her hands, drums beat, strings plucked, and she said, “Again.”

 

Labyrinth Lost
By Zoraida Córdova
September 6, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN 9781492620945

Praise for Labyrinth Lost

“This work is a magical journey from start to finish… A compelling must-have for teens”
–School Library Journal, STARRED review

“Córdova’s (the Vicious Deep series) magic-infused, delightfully dark story introduces readers to an engrossing, Latin American–inspired fantasy setting and an irresistible heroine”
–Publishers Weekly

“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.”
—Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper

“Labyrinth Lost is more like reading Paradise Found. Zoraida Córdova brings us a new generation of witches, enchanting and complex. And every page is filled with magic.”
—Danielle Page, New York Times bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

Córdova’s world will leave you breathless, and her magic will ignite an envy so green you’ll wish you were born a bruja. Delightfully dark and enchanting. An un-putdownable book.”
-Dhonielle Clayton, author of The Belles and Shiny Broken Pieces

“Córdova’s rich exploration of Latin American culture, her healthy portrayal of bisexuality and her unique voice allow this novel to stand out among its many peers.”
–RT Book Reviews

“Cordova draws inspiration from Ecuadorian, Spanish, African, Mexican, and Caribbean folklore and mythology to craft a page-turning tale about a young bruja unsure of her place in the world.”
–Bustle.com
“Córdova pulls elements from Greek mythology and Spanish and Latin American legends to craft a memorable world in Los Lagos, a supernatural realm that is as fascinating as it is threatening. The history and customs of Alex’s family’s type of witchery are also carefully constructed, giving readers a complete world to sink into with satisfaction and wonder.”
-Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“This succeeds with its lush use of Latin American mythologies, an unexpected love story, and, above all, in Alex’s complicated relationship with her family. Alex is a necessary heroine, and this dark fantasy nicely”
-Booklist

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link for 2 Copies of Labyrinth Lost with Signed Labyrinth Lost Bookmarks

 

Runs September 6th-September 19th (US & Canada only)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/54ca7af7402/ 

Social Media Links:
Author Website: http://www.zoraidacordova.com/
Labyrinth Lost Website: http://books.sourcebooks.com/labyrinth-lost/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CordovaBooks
Twitter: @zlikeinzorro
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wanderwheel/
Author Tumblr: http://wanderlands.tumblr.com/
Labyrinth Lost Tumblr: http://labyrinthlostbooks.tumblr.com/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ZoraidaLandLabyrinth Lost