Spoiler Free Review: She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Title: She Who Became the Sun

Author: Shelley Parker-Chan

Pub. Date: July 20th 2021

Genre: Fantasy/Queer

Format: eGalley

Publisher: TOR Books

Pages: 416 pages

It’s 1345 and China is under Mongol rule. A famine is killing many, leaving villages with nothing in its wake. To be born male is to be deemed of value and families will sacrifice their daughters in exchange for food and safety from bandits. We’re introduced to a boy destined for greatness and his sister who is one of the few (if not the only) girls left in her village. A prophecy is issued and the boy is said to be destined for greatness whereas the girl would amount to “nothingness.” When a bandit attack leaves them orphaned, it’s the girl who takes fate/destiny into her own hands. Taking her brother’s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to greatness. She is 10 years old when she goes to the local monastery with hopes of being allowed entrance as a young novice. She spends several nights at the monasteries gates amongst others who are also trying to gain acceptance, a monastery is said to never go without food. She is beaten and pushed away until eventually she’s the only one left and therefore allowed access. Head shaved and prepubescent, armed with her brother’s identity, Zhu Chongba begins her journey to power. Her ambition and drive will take her to unthinkable heights. For Zhu a life well lived is one of value and accolades, she sees clearly the role that gender plays in politics and uses that insight to rise through the ranks as Zhu Chongba. Driven by purpose, Zhu will stop at nothing to achieve the greatness the prophet once said her brother would attain. 

“Most strong-willed people never understand that will alone isn’t enough to guarantee their survival. They don’t realize that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.”
― Shelley Parker-Chan

I wasn’t expecting to get lost within the power hungry pages of this book but from the moment I picked it up I was transfixed by our main character. In a famine filled world where everyone is fighting to live one more day, our MC has the innate ability to turn the tides in her favor. Zhu is fiercely determined to make her life mean something by any means necessary. With every connection she makes, she strategically advances towards the top. Her biggest enemy is Ouyang, a Eunuch General who has his own agenda and has targeted Zhu as the only one standing in his way. Shelley Parker-Chan gives us a revenge plot along with themes of destiny, gender, power and the ambition to defy that which your gender has predetermined. These characters are ALL morally grey and multi-faceted, often times I found myself rooting for each of their agendas as cut throat as they were. If you love Historical Fiction and/or intricately written political power plays, this can absolutely be your jam! If you enjoy reading characters that have been discarded and despite all odds rise to the top, then this book will more than tick off the box! This book is violent yet engrossing with its animated war scenes and will leave you in awe of our MC. I simply cannot wait for the next book in The Radiant Emperor series.

Content warnings (as provided by the author):
* Dysphoria
* Pre-existing non-consensual castration
* Misgendering
* Internalised homophobia
* Life-altering injury (amputation)
* Ableist language
* Non-graphic depictions of death by torture
* Major character death
* Offscreen murder of a child
* Scenes depicting extreme hunger/starvation
* Graphic depiction of a person burning to death


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August 2021 Anticipated New Releases

I’m making up for skipping out on my July Anticipated Releases post with this nice and LONG early list of anticipated August New Releases. There’s a little of everything for everyone and while gathering these titles I realized I have some books to read ASAP since this month is sequel heavy! *sideways glance at Raybearer* I have been blessed by the Book Gods with early access to some of these titles (Currently Reading: Velvet Was the Night) and will be sharing my reviews for them here on the blog. Not sure how my internal bookish clock just knows that it’s August and even though I don’t ever pre-plan on participating in ARC August…it always ends up happening that I do, possibly cause Netgalley guilt is a real thing *silent nod* Anyways let’s get to it, If there are any titles I’ve left out please drop them down below in the comments <3’s!

FANTASY & SCI-FI

DEVIL IN THE DEVICE (GODDESS IN THE MACHINE #2) BY LORA BETH JOHNSON – The sequel to Goddess in the Machine which I have not yet read, follows Andra in the year 3102 as she awakens from a cryonic sleep only to discover that all of her friends and family have died while she survived. The descendants of those that have passed see her as a deity and she’s game to play the part if it means finding answers and making her way back to Earth. The sequel Devil in the Device hits shelves on 8/24/2021

THE SECOND REBEL (THE FIRST SISTER TRILOGY #2) BY LINDEN A. LEWIS – Geared towards fans of The Red Rising series, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Expanse. The original, The First Sister follows a Priestess of the Sisterhood as she travels alongside soldiers from Mars & Earth. When her former captain abandons her and she’s forced to stay aboard the ship with no friends or power alongside a new captain, she is commanded to spy for the Sisterhood. Complications arise when she finds herself falling in love. The sequel The Second Rebel hits shelves on 8/24/2021

THE WITCH HAVEN BY SASHA PEYTON SMITHThe Last Magician (Gasps) meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. A Historical Fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrown into a battle with witches and wizards. Oh, and it’s set in 1911 New York City. That is ALL I need to know tbh. 8/31/2021

THE PARIAH (THE COVENANT OF STEEL #1) BY ANTHONY RYAN – Set to be an EPIC Fantasy trilogy, we follow an Outlaw living amongst thieves until an act of betrayal sets him on a new path of vengeance and living a soldier’s life in the Queen’s army. He will be up against both human and arcane forces as he is forced to decide whether he can be a warrior or forever an Outlaw. Orbit NEVER fails to deliver heavy hitters – on shelves 8/24/2021

A LESSON IN VENGEANCE BY VICTORIA LEE – “For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past”-Goodreads …Witchery & a Boarding school? SIGN ME UP! – 8/3/2021

REDEMPTOR (RAYBEARER #2) BY JORDAN IFUEKO – A HIGHLY anticipated sequel and yea shame me now for not having read Raybearer but I promise it’s happening SOON! Raybearer follows Tarisai who longs for the warmth of family. Raised in isolation by a mysterious and often absent mother called The Lady, she is sent to compete with other children for a chance to be chosen to join the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. Why? because The Lady has a magical wish Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince. The Sequel Redemptor hits shelves on 8/17/2021

THE SISTERS OF RECKONING (THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS #2) BY CHARLOTTE NICOLE DAVIS – The sequel to The Good Luck Girls which is described as Westworld meets The Handmaid’s Tale. A western with a sisterhood of queer girls who are sold to a “Welcome House” as girls, branded with cursed markings. Setting off on a dangerous escape to freedom, the girls are up against a country who doesn’t want them to have freedom and forces both human/inhuman. The sequel The Sisters of Reckoning hits shelves on 8/10/2021

CAZADORA (WOLVES OF NO WORLD #2) BY ROMINA GARBER – The follow-up to Lobizona & YES I absolutely did read and LOVE Lobizona! (My review) Argentinan Folklore weaved in with real world issues make this Fantasy a MUST read! We get witches and wolves in a magical school setting. The sequel Cazadora hits shelves on 8/17/2021

ROMANCE

THE DATING DARE (SWEET MESS #2) BY JAYCI LEE – I have been meaning to read the first book in this cute new series but it doesn’t seem like you have to read them in order. Here we have Tara Park who doesn’t hop into bed with perfect strangers but then she meets Seth Kim. Her friends new brother-in-law who is very tempting, handsome and charming. A game of truth or dare leads these two to a four date arrangement. Doesn’t seem like this fling with no strings attached is set to be very successful, not when they find each other to be the perfect package- 8/3/2021

BATTLE ROYAL (PALACE INSIDERS #1) BY LUCY PARKER – OK! baking rom-coms are my WEAKNESS BOOK LOVERS! a hate-to-love rom com where we meet Sylvie, she once was a contestant on a hit baking show where her creation of a glittery unicorn went sideways. Dominic, a judge on the panel was quick to vote her off but Sylvie still uses her platform to open up her own magical bakery. Fast forward to present time where the the royal family is having a wedding and the Princess wants both Sylvie and Dominic to compete for the opportunity of making the royal wedding cake. This just sounds like a fun time! 8/17/2021

CONTEMPORARY YA

HOW MOON FUENTEZ FELL IN LOVE WITH THE UNIVERSE BY RAQUEL VASQUEZ GILLIAND – THE HATING GAME meets I AM NOT YOUR PERFECT MEXICAN DAUGHTER; a YA Romance starring a Mexican American teenager who discovers profound truths about the universe as she spends her summer on a road trip across the country – 8/10/2021

EDIE IN BETWEEN BY LAURA SIBSON – Described as a modern day Practical Magicwe meet Edie one year after the death of her mother. But her ghost never left. According to Edie’s GG, it’s tradition for the dead of the Mitchell family to linger with the living. Edie stumbles upon the diary of her mother along with some talismans that transport her to different times in her mother’s life where Edie witnesses her mom experience love, loss and hope. Edie is still grieving her mother’s death and hopes she can find a way to make peace with her loss and put the past to rest – 8/24/2021

ADULT FICTION/THRILLERS

VELVET WAS THE NIGHT BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIAThis is 100% a SMG STAN BLOG! I nearly fell off my chair when the Publisher granted my request and I’m currently reading this title, too early to speak on thoughts. This one is for lovers of Noir, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thrillers. We follow Maite in 1970’s Mexico City where she is a secretary who loves reading Secret Romance. In the backdrop there is political unrest with students protesting and taking over the city. Maite escapes into her romance reads until her next door neighbor Leonora goes missing & Maite goes searching for her. Meanwhile, she’s not the only one searching for the missing woman. We have a shadowy figure who runs goon squads that target political activists and stopping them. Elvis is one of the goons and he LOVES movies & Rock n Roll…he comes to observe Maite from a distance and grows obsessed with her, the woman who shares his taste in music is also lonely- 8/17/2021

THE HEART IS A CHAINSAW BY STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES“Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.” Goodreads8/31/2021

A SLOW FIRE BURNING BY PAULA HAWKINS – “When a young man is found gruesomely murdered in a London houseboat, it triggers questions about three women who knew him. Laura is the troubled one-night-stand last seen in the victim’s home. Carla is his grief-stricken aunt, already mourning the recent death of yet another family member. And Miriam is the nosy neighbor clearly keeping secrets from the police. Three women with separate connections to the victim. Three women who are – for different reasons – simmering with resentment” – 8/31/2021


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Top Ten Tuesday: The Ten Most Recent Additions to My E-Reader

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This weeks topic is “The Ten Most Recent Additions to My Bookshelf” which I’ve amended to those that I hauled to my e-reader cause they deserve some love too. I’ll admit some of these I already own physical copies to, but its just easier nowadays to read from my tablet. Ok, this list here is QUITE the mixed bag which pretty much speaks volumes on my undying love for mood reading. These also happen to be the books I’ll be using as palette cleansers as I make my way through my ARC spreadsheet, a lot of which are Fantasy.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – Our MC works in a bookstore and is pretty much a happy introvert who thinks she’s an only child. When she finds out the father she never knew has passed away & that she’s one of many siblings, her whole life makes a huge turn. Add to this a unexpected romance with her trivia nemesis, I’m all IN!

Kushiel’s Dart (Phèdre’s trilogy #1) by Jacqueline Carey – I’ve heard SO much about this series & finally got my copy. It’s a dark sexy Fantasy where the MC is trained as both a spy & a courtesan. When she stumbles across a plot against her homeland, she sets out to save that which she loves.

“Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.”

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1) by Helen Hoang – this well loves contemporary is about a MC with Aspergers who hires a Vietnamese/Swedish professional to help her in all things dating & bedroom. This eventually turns into more & I’m really just way overdue to read this one.

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang – The sequel to The Kiss Quotient cause lets face it, I will most likely fall in love with TKQ & crave this one! $1.99 on Kindle last time I checked (1/19/2020) is a steal. Following characters from TKQ, this time our MC is a Vietnamese Autistic guy who feels he’s incapable of loving after experiencing a loss. The MC’s mother travels to Vietname to see if she can find him a bride. The love interest is a Bi-racial (Vietnamese/White) single mom who is willing to take  his mom up on her off to marry her son in hopes for a better life.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite – a F/F Historical Romance that comes HIGHLY recommended by some of my closest bookish buddies. Here we follow Lucy who is hoping to get the job translating a groundbreaking French astronomy text by a deceased Scientist. Recently widowed, Catherine isn’t expecting to fall in love as Lucy spends her nights translating scientific text.

The Queens Of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton – A land drained of it’s magic by a mad King who Is obsessed with property is being circled by enemies who want control over its ideal port for trades. The King must choose an heir on the longest night of the year. His three daughters care not to leave this decision to rituals & instead choose to go to war. Having really enjoyed Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton, I’m really hoping to LOVE this one *fingers crossed*

GUAPA by Saleem Haddad – A coming of age story following a Gay man in a unnamed Arab country during much political and social upheaval. In the course of one night his whole life changes. Caught in bed with his lover by his Grandmother, our MC heads out only to find three of his closest friends to be missing. Ashamed to return home he sets out to find his missing loved ones which takes him throughout the countries seediest slums. 

The Walflower Wager (Girl Meets Duke #3) by Tessa Dare – It wasn’t until I sat down to draft this post that I realized this is book 3 in this series SMH! however, it does seem like it can be read on its own as a stand alone. This one features a wealthy ruthless MC who just wants his neighbor to clear out all of the furry animals she’s keeping next door. Lady Penelope Campion however, cannot truncates away any animal in need. She strikes a deal with the Duke, if he can find homes for all of her wounded charges the & only then will she clear out her home. THIS should be innneresting haha!

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) by Evan Winter – “Game of Thrones meets Gladiator in this debut epic fantasy about a world caught in an eternal war, and the young man who will become his people’s only hope for survival.”—> This is an African inspired EPIC Fantasy I’ve heard good things about. I am ALWAYS looking for Diverse/Own Voices high Fantasy reads & so this was a MUST!

Shadow Frost (Shadow. Frost #1) by Coco M

IN THE KINGDOM OF AXARIA, a darkness rises.

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.

Not one has ever returned.” —>This is a YA Fantasy I caught wind of last year. Having heard it features a cast of very funny characters, that’s just about all I needed to know I’d give it a go.


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MARCH BOOK HAUL

Hello Hello is anybody out there? It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a blog post & I’m admittedly a bit rusty 🙈 but ummm have no fear! I am quickly getting back in the swing of things. 2018 was a bit rough at the end for a number of reasons but 2019 so far has proven to be full of blessings & beautiful surprises 💓 I thought I had lost my love for books & blogging, turns out *Maury Voice* the lie detector determined THAT WAS A LIE!!! 🙌🏽 my appetite for books has returned full force. I recently finished & LOVED Daisy Jones & The Six, a gift from my Twin Soul Gretchen over at ChicNerdReads who truly knows when to send a book recc my way (thanks Twin!) 🖤 I’m currently reading Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncanmy first Fantasy of the year & so far I’m really enjoying this one 🤞🏽I have reviews I’ve been working on & will start to sprinkle out over the next week. One major thing did change & that’s the way I buy books. After un-hauling 50+ books, I knew I was going to be hella selective going forward. This haul contains only books that I’ve HIGHLY been anticipating & will be reading very soon. Whether you’re new or a Ol’ G here on my blog, thank you for sticking around & stay tuned for all the new content 🖤

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The Weight Of The Stars| Dealing In Dreams| Queenie (Book Of The Month)| LOT (Book Of The Month)| The Priory Of The Orange Tree| Fence Volume One


Hello Bookworms! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day with your next best read  I am STOKED to be reading & blogging again. This blog & community has brought me so much happiness & friendships I am so thankful for 💓 I think I’m going to enjoy making up for lost time ☺️ Happy reading!


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Spoiler Free Review: Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2)

Title: Grey Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2)

Author: Mark Lawrence

Pub. Date: April 3rd 2018

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Ace/Penguin Random House

Pages: 400

Format: Physical finished copy from Publisher

Content Warning: gore, torture, loss of a child

*HUGE thanks to Ace and Mark Lawrence for the early finished copy in exchange for my honest opinion. 

    

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain.
.
There will be blood.

Grey Sister was on my highly anticipated list of sequels being released in 2018 after reading & loving Red Sister (my review here) to pieces last year. The main protagonist Nona still remains one of my all time favorite kick a** females I’ve come across on the page. If you’re primarily a YA Fantasy reader but have been curious & feeling the urge to dip your toes into the waters of adult fantasy then I’d say please start here! If you’ve been looking for more books featuring positive female friendships, please start here! & if you are a lover of school settings where magic & martial arts come together, please start here! If you’re looking for positive LGBTQIA+ representation in Fantasy, please start here! I was one of those readers intimidated by adult fantasy because of the vast world building & discovering Mark Lawrence will always be one of the best reader moments in my bookworm life. The complexities of the world building once again felt weightless when I picked up Grey Sister which speaks to the talent behind the pen. The inclusion (before the prologue) of a quick run-down of the major happenings in Red Sister is a wonderful courtesy to readers & so appreciated by this bookworm!

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Hunska: Speed (faster than your average human)

Gerrant: Physically large & strong

Marjal: ability to do magic on a smaller scale

Quantal: ability to walk the path & more complex magic

*Nona is a rare triple blood having Hunska, Marjal, and Quantal abilities

Novices have 10 years to complete training & take orders as one of the four classes “Holy Sister (entirely religious duties), Grey Sister/Sister of Discretion (trained in assassination and stealth), Red Sister/Martial Sister (trained in combat), Holy Witch/Mystic Sister (trained to walk the path)”

When we pick up, Nona has moved up to Mystic class (she’s completed both Red & Grey Class) and is on her way to becoming one of the illest Red Sisters alive. Sweet Mercy is still her home where she trains alongside friends and foes. Classes are way more intense & so are the rivalries but this time is a little different. Nona has a unwelcome companion that adds a bit of dark humor to the mix & I found myself laughing out loud at his “words of encouragement”🤦🏻‍♀️one thing does remain the same, Nona may be fierce as hell but she is still willing to forgive those who have wronged her. Friendship is once again center stage & is one of the things I love most about this series. Nona has pretty much had to create her own family within Sweet Mercy, her sisters are all she has. We see the return of some favorites while they mourn the loss of others & cope with the betrayal of those they thought most loyal. For Nona, letting go of the past without answers to the questions haunting her every move is just not an option. This book sees Nona take action and go after those corrupt leaders  in the Empire who are thirsty for more power.

We also got to see more of our favorite teachers in action alongside Nona & crew. This time around there’s also more opposition from some of the teachers who’d rather Nona be released from her duties in Sweet Mercy. Nonetheless, Abbess Glass (reminds me a bit of Dumbledore hehe) is fair & just, taking a rather protective stance over Nona who she knows has no ties to the outside world. Revenge is a recurrent theme, Nona is out to get hers while also being sought out for her actions in Red Sister. Nona’s character development is perhaps one of the best aspects of this series. She’s no longer the 8 year old we met at the gallows in book 1, she’s matured into a teenager who is learning how to manage her demons. If you’ve been around my blog for a minute, it’s no secret I admire Nona and  Grey Sister only amplified my love for this character. If she wasn’t dealing with her new Nemesis in Sweet Mercy (who btw made me want to jump through the book and back up my girl Nona), you could probably find her in the caves underneath Sweet Mercy with her friends, plotting her next moves.

My favorite parts were seeing Nona both prep and  actually go through the Shadow Trial, in Sweet Mercy these convent games determine your passage to the next class. The ingenuity she mustered up in the face of truly devious competition had me smiling from ear to ear rooting her on. The action sequences have a cinematic feel making it very easy to picture & get caught up in the moment. Lawrence takes us along on Nona’s journey through the ranks, her victories and failures are truly felt on the pages. The villains in this installment have been identified on the chess board but I have a feeling Lawrence has a few more tricks up his sleeve for the final installment in this trilogy, Holy Sister. The Book of the Ancestor is set to wrap up in 2019 with Holy Sister already completed 🤗 SUPER STOKED to see how it all ends & seeing Nona in all her Red Sister glory!

Buddy read with the wonderful Melanie from Meltotheany, seriously bookworms if you’re not following her you’re missing out on some of the BEST EPIC reviews & insight in the blogosphere & Goodreads 💜


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Top Ten Tuesday 12/19/2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Each week, a new topic is put into place and bloggers share their top ten accordingly. This weeks topic is: Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings (If you celebrate a different Winter holiday, adapt this topic to fit it!). I don’t always have 10 to actually list for this meme & so being the rule follower that I am smh lol, I usually pass. I also didn’t think I’d have many to list for this week seeing as I have a self confessed problem with book shopping & for the most part I’m very blessed to own the books that I do. This list won’t contain much Young Adult because again lol, I book shop all year long & own my favorites. No, this list will appeal to my book vanity…yea, don’t judge me, chances are you too love a beautiful cover. It’s a weakness & I fully embrace it!

Book covers—>  Book Depository = U.K. Covers

                    Amazon = U.S. Covers

On to the list…

 

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

1. The U.K. edition of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

If you’ve been around my blog for a while now, you probably know how much I love this book! It’s become an all time favorite of mine & I’m a bit OBSESSED with Katherine Arden’s writing & world building. I own a copy of the U.S. Edition & missed out on the opportunity to get a U.K hardback Edition when it was still available at Bookdepository. I’ve got my notifications on for whenever it’s re-stocked but chances are it’s not going to happen anytime soon so Santa if you’re listening I’ve been too good this year! HAHA!


2. The U.K. edition of The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

I actually just finished reading this AMAZING sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale & ahHHH!!! how can this have been even better than The Bear?!?!? How?!?! I still can’t believe it & will treasure these books FOREVER! I am in the process of getting my thoughts together for a GUSH review this week. I have an arc of this book & am patiently waiting for this hardback to be released in the U.K *eeeeeK*


3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Illustrated edition by J.K. Rowling/illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gil

I mean…C’mon! if you’re a Potter head, chances are you either already own a copy or it’s on your wishlist. I was surprised to not have known this was even a thing! I’ve seen the U.K. edition which is a nice soft blue but there’s something about this red that I am in LOVE with! Really looking forward to flipping through what I can imagine are STUNNING illustrations *heart eyes*


4. An Illustrated History of Shadowhunters and Denizens of Downworld

This one has been on my wishlist for WAY TOO LONG! I started reading the Shadowhunter books way before I became a blogger & it’s probably one of the longest series I’ve pretty much stayed committed to. I haven’t loved all of the books but I have for the most part enjoyed most of them. The Infernal Devices trilogy will forever be one of my top faves. I’ve seen so much of the artwork in this Edition all over Bookstagram & OHMYGOODNESS! hats off to the illustrator! *heart eyes emoji* 


5. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

I have not yet picked this one up & it’s not for lack of want. I do want to read this but there’s also a part of me that needs to mentally prepare for this read. I know it will rock me to my core & it’s one that I absolutely MUST read as I myself am a mother of a tiny human who one day will be a young black man. I will be reading Long Way Down in the New Year.


6. Tarnished City (Dark Gifts #2)

I thought I had completely gotten over Dystopia as a whole…until I came across Vic James’ Gilded Cage which was the first book in the Dark Gifts series. I am SOOOO ready to read Tarnished City which I’ve heard from some trusted bookworms, is EPIC!!! Well, unfortunately this isn’t out yet in the U.S. only in the U.K. & I am quite split between the covers…I love them all lol! but I’ve recently decided to go with the U.K. editions but then again that might just be me trying to read the sequel NOW! haha 😉


7. The Name of the Wind: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Kingkiller Chronicle)

*Usher voice* This is my confessionjeje!I haven’t read Name of the Wind but again it isn’t for lack of want lol. I know I’m going to love this book, call it Bookworm radar? well, I haven’t started the series because I’ve heard that there are extensive waiting periods between books & I already have enough of that with dear Ol’ George RR Martin. Anyways, this Edition has red sprayed edges & that is yet another one of my bookish weaknesses I’ve come to accept so yea this is definitely on my Christmas wishlist 🙂


8. The Secret History: 25th Anniversary Edition by Donna Tartt

I’ve had Donna Tartt on my list of authors I’d like to get around to but haven’t been able to decide between The Goldfinch & The Secret History as a stepping stone. I finally decided after reading several non-spoilers reviews that this is the one I want to start with. TBH, a college setting just seemed more appealing to myself over the art world The Goldfinch is set in. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t read The Goldfinch, I just can’t resist college drama bahhha! also, I love the all white minimilistic paperback edition currently in the U.K. a ton more than the U.S. Edition, please don’t ask me why LOL!


9. Gray Sister (Book of the Ancestor #2) by Mark Lawrence 

This is a arc I have requested from the Publisher & I’m REALLY hoping the book Gods put in a good word for me. I LOVED Red Sister to the moon & back! So I guess you can call this a Christmas wish to the publishers? I’m counting it! lol. Look at that cover?!?! Nona is one kick a** MC & I am SO ready to return to this world *fingers crossed*

 


10. The Heart Forger (The Bone Witch #2) by Rain Chupeco

one of MOST highly anticipated sequels of 2018 & I CANNOT contain my excitement!!! It wouldn’t be a Christmas list if I didn’t include at least 2 Christmas miracles lol so this is my 2nd wish. I e-mailed the Publisher for a arc & was shooketh when I received  response that a copy would be sent my way. I still haven’t received my copy & am patiently awaiting its arrival. Legit, I’m probably going to faint a million faints when it arrives!!! *fingers crossed*


Happy Tuesday Bookworms!!! If it isn’t a book or bookish related, I really don’t know what to say when over ones ask me what I want for Christmas smh. I think they’ve come to expect it by now lol, what are some of the books on your Christmas wish list? sound off in the comments below <3’s!


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Review: Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Title: Before She Ignites (Fallen Isles Trilogy #1)

Author: Jodi Meadows

Pub. Date: September 12th, 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books

Pages: 400

Formats: eGalley 

    

Filled with political intrigue, betrayal, and well fleshed out characters, Before She Ignites is the start to what I’m sure will be a epic Fantasy. We get introduced to our MC Mira Minkoba who comes from a prominent family & whose father wrote the Mira treaty. Because of this she’s also been groomed to be the face of the treaty aimed at creating peace & unity among the 7 islands against any outside threats. On these islands, people co-exist with dragons who are respected and known as the children of the Gods. For their own protection against humans, dragons were relocated to the Sanctuary (large piece of land separate from civilians) & it is there that Mira and her two best friends go to train with dragons.

Mira is passionate about dragons & when she discovers some nefarious dealings concerning dragons, she takes it to the Ministry thinking they will get to the bottom if it all. When she is imprisoned without rhyme or reason and taken to the Pit, everything & everyone she thought had her back are no where to be found. Worse of all, Mira is left to deal with her crippling anxiety in a dark & lonely prison cell. Almost the entirety of this book does take place in prison & so, although above ground there is a lush & mystical world, below ground for Mira it is a completely different way of life. While the lover of dragons in me really wanted to see Mira bust out of prison, hop on a dragon & kick some a** haha! I understood by the end of this book that the time Mira spends in jail is crucial to who she will become in the next book. This essentially is the catalyst for her transformation, she is broken down & left raw. There were some scenes that were hard for me to read as a person who also deals with anxiety & mild OCD. The Mira we meet at first is no where near who she is by the time you read the last sentence.

Before She Ignites is Mira Minkoba’s story through & through. We do get a set of amazing secondary characters both before her time in the Pit & underground. However, the focus is Mira & I’m glad for this because never before have I read a book with an MC who suffers from crippling anxiety & seen it play center stage like it does for so many in real life. Also, our MC is a woman of color as seen depicted on the books cover, & as I am a proud advocate of diverse MC’s, this made me very happy.

A little bit about Mira… she is someone who prior to being imprisoned, was used to a comfortable life enjoying routine. She has a skin & hair routine in order to maintain her beauty and servants tending to her every want or need. The cushy life however, hasn’t changed her heart towards those around her. Mira at her core is someone who believes in the foundation of the Mira Treaty. She comes from the island of Lovers & as such values friendship above all. Having been sheltered all her life & treated as a puppet by her own mother, the Pit seems like the end of life for her. Seeing this character grow & really come out of her shell was so empowering! her episodes felt so real & my heart broke to see her be reduced to the littlest version of herself but the come up was so worth it. Her anxiety is very much a part of her & we see her continue to deal with it til the very end. Stand-out Secondary character: Aaru, a prisoner from a neighboring island known for its silence. This character is just as broken as Mira & he doesn’t speak, instead he communicates in a different manner. I’d like to see what becomes of him in this journey.

Although the time we get on the island is brief, the description of island life was so appealing. The reader most definitely does time in the Pit along with Mira, which now that I’ve had some time away from it, realize how much more rewarding the sequel will be. Although it may seem slow paced, there is always something happening with our MC. She is learning her new environment & we get to see a side of her that she hasn’t herself yet explored. There’s cruelty all around her but there’s also humanity in the darkest of places. The time she spent with the dragons although brief is enough to let us know they will play a much bigger role in the next book. There’s also more to Mira than meets the eye but first we had to see her transformation. This is a heroine I can get behind & root for!

Interestingly enough, although the majority of this book is set in prison, Meadows did a FANTASTIC job of world-building above ground. We get the history behind the 7 islands and the Gods they were named after. Each island has something they’re known for & it made for a richer world. I am really looking forward to continuing on with this trilogy & can’t wait to see what’s next for Mira…

*HUGE Thanks to Harper/Katherine Tegen Books, Edelweiss, & Jodi Meadows for the eGalley of Before She Ignites in exchange for an honest review.

Hello Readers! has anyone read or plan on reading Before She Ignites? I’m really hoping for some more on the page time with the dragons in the sequel & have a strong hunch that it’ll be the case *fingers crossed* 🙂


Review: Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Title: Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1)

Author: Heather Fawcett

Pub. Date: September 5th, 2017

Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray

Pages: 304

Formats: eGalley 

Actual Rating: 3.5 Stars

   

I typically read the Goodreads Synopsis before writing my Plot summary & I’m a bit confused this time around. The order of events & how they happened aren’t exactly correct in the synopsis & this is the first time I’ve seen this happen on GR. So, my Plot discussion will differ from what is listed in GR and for that reason I’ve decided to exclude their synopsis from my review.

We meet our MC Kamzin in the midst of the excitement surrounding the arrival of River Shara, a famed explorer for the Royal Emperor. River has been tasked with finding a Talisman of great value for the Emperor. However, his business in her small village is yet known, Kamzin’s sister Lusha is skilled & well versed in the study of the stars and maps & it is assumed River is there for her assistance. Kamzin however, isn’t one to be left behind & so she sets out to meet this man of great fame in order to join his quest. A turn of events (vague for fear of spoilers) sees Kamzin paired off with River Shara as his guide. Kamzin may not know much at all about astrology however, she knows maps better than anyone & she also has grit, a quality River admires. For Kamzin this is the opportunity of a life time to see the world outside of her small village, it’s also a chance to step outside of her older sisters shadow. However, when it’s revealed that Lusha is also on her own mission to retrieve the Talisman it becomes a race to the finish. The Talisman is rumored to be located at the very top of the tallest most deadliest mountain. Many have attempted this climb including Kamzin’s own mother, and none have made it back. We follow Kamzin, her bff Tem, River, a Shaman, and two adult siblings (brought along for their physical strength) as they take on the grueling task of climbing Raksha.

The plot is slow moving start to finish which if you really think about it, is fitting to their journey. Getting to the top is no easy feat & it also isn’t without its losses. Something to keep in mind: the entire story takes place in the middle of mountains & ice and so you can expect it to be very character driven. These traveling companions have a ton of time on their hands to get acquainted & that made for many moments of comedic relief. I can easily see this book play out on the big screen with the beautiful backdrop of the icy mountains. The author really gives you vivid imagery that had to have taken some serious research. That being said, I did feel that the descriptions of the climb itself did have an impact on the plot itself. The ending felt a little rushed but it also didn’t make me lose interest in continuing with this series. I NEED to know what happens next!!! haha!

Although there are some amazing side characters in Even the Darkest Stars, I’ve decided to highlight the main players on the chess board…

Kamzin- This MC has to be one of my newest faves for her persistence, ambition, intelligence, determination, and true grit! she will not give up once she’s set to task. She’s also very funny unintentionally, Kamzin is being trained to be the next village Shaman when we meet her but she’s terrible with magic & has no problem critiquing herself.

Lusha- I really wanted to like Kamzin’s older sister but sadly she was as cold as the mountains they were climbing lol. I did love that she is a wiz at Astrology & that her Familiars are two fierce looking Raven so there’s that.

Tem- Kamzin’s bff who had a romantic past with her but has since settled for friendship. I enjoyed this character & how well he wielded his magic. perhaps what I liked most was how he never made Kamzin feel bad for her shortcomings.

River Shara- This guy! lol smh, he’s charismatic & lives life on the edge. I really enjoyed the banter btwn. him and Kamzin, there were many LOL moments. I’m very curious to see how he develops in the next book & what path he takes 😉

The Familiars-  I mentioned Lusha’s Ravens but the real star of the show goes to kamzin’s Familiar Ragtooth. A feisty little fox who has Kamzin’s back with or without invitation lol. It’s rare for anyone to have a Familiar aka a animal protector & so that makes these siblings really important in their village.

Ultimately, Even the Darkest Stars was an enjoyable journey with amazing characters both human and animal. There were some aspects I would’ve liked to have seen expanded upon like the “villains” in this story. Although we do get some of their backstory, we don’t actually get much on-the-page time with them & our cast of characters. The final part of their journey also seemed a little rushed but it also spiked my interest up ten fold for the next installment. I am really looking forward to the follow-up & getting some of my questions answered. I had so many LOL moments which is rare in Fantasy so I’m hoping for more of that as well. Even the Darkest Stars has a very cinematic feel to it & I can’t wait to see what Fawcett has in store for us next 🙂

*HUGE Thanks to Harper/Balzer + Bray, Edelweiss, & Heather Fawcett for the eGalley of Even the Darkest Stars in exchange for an honest review

Hello Readers! has anyone read or plan on reading Even the Darkest Stars? I was OBSESSED with Ragtooth! I need more furry book companions please & thank you 🙂


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Waiting On Wednesday

 

29522966Title: The Beast Is An Animal

Author: Peternelle Van Arsdale

Book: Hardcover, 352 pages

Expected Publication: March 7th 2017

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis

A girl with a secret talent must save her village from the encroaching darkness in this haunting and deeply satisfying tale.

Alys was seven when the soul eaters came to her village.

These soul eaters, twin sisters who were abandoned by their father and slowly morphed into something not quite human, devour human souls. Alys, and all the other children, were spared—and they were sent to live in a neighboring village. There the devout people created a strict world where good and evil are as fundamental as the nursery rhymes children sing. Fear of the soul eaters—and of the Beast they believe guides them—rule village life. But the Beast is not what they think it is. And neither is Alys.

Inside, Alys feels connected to the soul eaters, and maybe even to the Beast itself. As she grows from a child to a teenager, she longs for the freedom of the forest. And she has a gift she can tell no one, for fear they will call her a witch. When disaster strikes, Alys finds herself on a journey to heal herself and her world. A journey that will take her through the darkest parts of the forest, where danger threatens her from the outside—and from within her own heart and soul.

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

Every once in a while I come across a book whose cover stops me in my tracks & although this cover is STUNNING! it’s the title that caught my attention. After reading the synopsis and getting creepy dark mythological vibes, I was left with a ton of questions. First off, why were Alys and the other children in the village spared? Who is this Beast? how exactly were the twin sisters turned into soul eaters? is there a myth to explain it? last but not least, what lies deep within Alys? I know the title alludes to something & I have a theory, curious to see if i’m on the right track lol. To say that I am deeply intrigued is an understatement. I’m a big sucker for mythology & any stories about Soul Eaters, probably why two of my favorite shows are Supernatural and Grimm. Very tempted to request this book from the publisher but alas, I am practicing self control with my book impulses HAHA! Also, I am really looking forward to this dark fairy tale because the author is a former editor who has worked for a ton of major publishing houses. I’m curious to see the transition from editor to writer in this Indie book & whether I have found a new author to follow for dark fantasy.

 What are you wonderful Bookish Peeps waiting on this Wednesday? anyone else heard of The Beast Is An Animal? any of you reading the ARC? i’ve seen a few bloggers reading them & curiosity has me itching to ask if it’s as dark as its vibes *insert excited face*