An Update on My Blog Goals of the Year

Greetings readers!

At the beginning of 2018, I decided that I wanted to set down some goals for myself. I never thought that this blog would become such an active part of my life, but now that it is getting bigger, I figured I should put down some regulations to keep myself in check.

Now if any of you know me, I stink at meeting goals.

I make excellent lists, I write whole blog posts about them, but can I actually stick to them? That is another thing entirely. So I decided to check in on my goals and see how I’m doing. I’m writing this intro before I even dare to check, so we’re going to be experiencing my failure or triumph together! 😉

Time for Total Recall!

What were my goals? Excellent question! I actually have a fuzzy recollection of what they were, so it’s best that I go read about them in a blog post that I wrote way back in January.

If you want to check that out, I shall leave a link here. But if not, I will give you the quick rundown as I go.

New year reading goals

1.  Read My Shelves
– Read books that I have had on my shelf before the start of 2018. Minimize the number of unread books I have bought in the past months.

My Progress:

OKAY HERE ME OUT. *Wow Rendz, we are starting with excuses? SMH*

linda GIF
via giphy.com

Because blogging has been going so amazing lately and I have had insane luck with giveaways I have required many, many, MANY books to add to my shelves.

That being said, I’ve still been able to read some of my shelved books…

And my grand total is….14

BUT…6 were rereads…..and one of them was borrowed from the library.

Conclusion: I’VE REALLY BEEN SUCKING ON THIS GOAL and I need to read the books on my shelf now more than ever!!!!

2.  Read Debuts
– Read 25 2018 debuts

My Progress:

I have had my luck with ARCs these past few months, so I think I have definitely done a good job of keeping up with this goal! I know there are so many more exciting debuts coming later this year and I cannot wait to read them!

Since January I have read….6 2018 debuts.

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett
Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
The Calculus of Change by Jessie Hilb
Sleight by Jennifer Sommersby
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Okay I swear that number was way higher in my head…

Conclusion: Keep working at it! I know I have quite a few debut arcs sitting on my shelf right now so I am definitely going to get to those and I also have a finished copy of a few!

read suicide squad GIF
via giphy.com

3.  Gain those 1000 Followers
– Interact, self-promote

My Progress:

Yeah I already knew this one is not my best.

Current number of followers: 613 WP + 7 Email followers

That’s a total of 620/1000. Not exactly the closest number, but if we are rounding to the nearest thousandth I totally did it.

Conclusion: Interact!!! I hit a huge blogging slump in the middle of the year and I have been terrible at reaching out which I really blame on school. But I am hoping to get on a better blog hopping track and meet more awesome bloggers that I know are out there!

4.  Manage My Book Money Better
– Try not to have to many splurges!

My Progress:

As mentioned, my luck with giveaways has been insane and publishers have been LOVING Rendz so I think this is my best category! I know I’ve visited Indigo quite a lot, but I haven’t spent much and while I browse BookOutlet almost everyday…I haven’t filled my cart (yet).

rich dave chappelle GIF
via giphy.com

5.  Expand My Genres
– Read at least three books from each of the following genres: Thriller/Mystery, Contemporary, Historical Fic, Romance.

My Progress:

Thriller/Mystery:

2/3 – S.T.A.G.S., The Little Dog

Contemporary:

5/3 – Broken Beautiful Hearts, The Calculus of Change, A Prom to Remember, Save the Date, Tell Me No Lies

Historical Fic:

1/3 – Blood and Sand

Romance:

1/3 – Crazy Rich Asians

Conclusion: So it’s not bad. I have been killing it in the contemporary section! But my Hist Fic and Romance sections have really been suffering. I mean the books I put under them barely even count XD! I need your recs people and I need to actively search for more books under that genre! I have six months to do it!

reading read GIF
via giphy.com

Okay…so I still have quite a lot of work to do. Thankfully I have six months to do it. But if I’m 100% honest, I’ll probably forget about these goals again and have to do a final showdown in December to get them all done XD

Let me know what you think! Do you believe I can achieve these goals? Did you make reading goals this year? Have you been able to keep them?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

A Reaper at the Gates | Review (I tried to make sense, but let’s be honest I’m just rambling at this point!)

Greetings readers!

So it has finally happened. The book most–if not all–of us have been waiting for has finally arrived and been out in the world for a while now. I have actually had possession of the book since a week before the release date because Penguin Teen Canada is literally the best and they hooked your girl up!

That being said, the Reaper has arrived and you guys…after two years you think you’d be ready, right? Wrong, you are not prepared.

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes, #3)
via Goodreads

Publisher: Razorbill
Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
Price: $ 25.95  CAD
ISBN: 0448494507

Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister’s life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she’d have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias’s devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository


*Once again, Penguin CA sent me a copy out, which in no way affects my opinion, but it does make me love them even more!*

SO I AM GOING TO TRY AND BE COHERENT AND ACTUALLY REVIEW THE BOOK AND NOT JUST YELL ABOUT HOW AMAZING IT IS. HOWEVER, I MAKE NO PROMISES.

trying to calm down season 1 GIF by Gilmore Girls
via giphy.com

I don’t even know where to begin. Two years ago when I read An Ember in the Ashes for the first time, I had my doubts before starting it. I wasn’t sure it was going to be for me. But I bought it, didn’t go to Sabaa’s signing in Toronto (because I was stupid). Then I read it AND WAS COMPLETELY FLOORED. A few months later A Torch Against the Night was released, I bought it on release day and proceeded to gobble it up AND WAS FLOORED ONCE AGAIN.

After waiting ever so patiently for Sabaa to publish this third book, I thought I would be ready for anything she threw at me.

I thought and thought and thought….but I was NOT prepared.

I was not prepared.

joseph sikora no GIF by Power
via giphy.com

What I Liked:

Characters:

Laia: MY QUEEN. MY GLORY. MY EVERYTHING. MY GIRL. MIJA BELLA CHULA LINDA. I LOVE THIS GIRL TOO MUCH FOR WORDS TO DESCRIBE. Laia has been my #1 since book one, she has been everything I have ever looked for in a character. Someone who is afraid, not the greatest physical fighter, or the most cunning but she has heart and she builds courage! AND CAN WE TALK ABOUT HER GROWTH IN THIS BOOK! Laia is not perfect. She is compassionate and determined yes, but she also fears, makes mistakes (a lot of them) and is stubborn. But she fights for what she loves and she will go to any end to make the world better for her people, for the people in general, whomever they may be.

I am literally taken away with her. Thinking about her story and how far she has come from the beginning makes me want to cry. I can’t..man..I just….

i love you hearts GIF
via giphy.com

Elias: THE RETURN OF ONE OF MY BOOK HUSBANDS! HOW I MISSED MY BABY SO MUCH. OH ELIAS ELIAS ELIAS. I LOVE THIS MAN TOO MUCH AND I JUST MELT AT THE THOUGHT OF HIM. He is also not perfect and he struggles a lot with his past and his upbringing. In this book he faces a lot of demons and goes through so, so, so much. I won’t spoil it for those who have not yet read Torch, but guys his “new job” turns out to be a lot more costly than I thought!

AND HIS END IN THIS BOOK, I JUST ABOUT DIED. NO, CORRECTION. I DID DIE. I AM TOTALLY DESTROYED.

Elias’ best trait is his willingness to self-sacrifice, but it leads him into so, so much trouble, one of the most prominent things I noticed in this book.

Helene: So I have some conflicting feelings towards Helene. I like her very much and she has some great qualities…I mean her passion and ability to love is astounding. But she is often blinded by the love of her people to see how atrocious she and the Martials have acted towards the rest of the world. (I have hopes that her view of her perfect people will soon change) Despite that…Wow I love Helene, even though Helene isn’t in this book (If you’ve read it, you know what I mean 😉 ) She is head strong, passionate and cunning. I feel like she has quite an impacting POV in this book with reason! I often found myself yelling at her in warning, telling her that she was headed to a trap or telling her that she had to be more open (especially towards Harper *wags eyebrows*)

Do I love her? Yes. Do I fear for her? Yes. ESPECIALLY WITH THAT ENDING OF HERS! OH MY GOD.

Harper: Quick shout out to the one person who kept his cool in literally every situation and is the softest-serious character I know. Avitas Harper. Honey, next time say her name faster!

The World:

We literally go everywhere in this book. The beautiful maps at the front and back of the book are life savers when trying to follow the characters tracks! (Plus they make the end pages all the more beautiful!) But seriously this world is brutal, bloody, magical and all in all terrifying. And Sabaa painted it perfectly. It felt so authentic and painful, but the struggles of the refugees was all too real. Especially as we witness the crisis of today’s refugees, this book is a reminder of the flight people take in hopes of finding a better life and the backlash they receive. It was so heart wrenching and yet it has hope. This world has hope no matter how dark it gets.

The Writing:

I lose myself every time. Sabaa is a master with words. It’s not exactly a flowery prose, but something deeper and more enticing. It literally has claws that take hold and keep your eyes on the page. There was not a thing that felt off or forced about it. It had all the right moods filtered in with the words. Tension. Suspense. Hope. Love. Heartbreak. Pride. Everything and anything it needed to make the moment just right!

AND YOU KNOW HOW I KNOW THAT SABAA IS A MASTER. I FELT FOR THE ANTAGONISTS. I ACTUALLY AND TRULY FELT BAD FOR THE BAD PEOPLE.

W H A T ? ?

Sabaa you’re better than good, you fricking amazing.

The Plot:

Ha! If you think this book is light, I don’t know what kind of book you read because this book is packed. The story is complex because it is in fact multiple stories woven together. Each perspective has their own battles to fight while also tangling with one another. IT HAS A PROPHECY! I love prophecies because I love trying to figure it out and y’all was I wrong!!!!! There are epic battles, moments of happiness (very few though) and scenes where I just wanted to rage and I did. I am telling you that I literally stopped to scream every two pages! Who am I kidding, I BROKE DOWN WHEN I READ WHO THE PERSPECTIVE OF CHAPTER ONE WAS FROM. I RAN AROUND MY HOUSE CRYING LIKE A FOOL. I WAS RAMBLING OFF TO MY SISTERS ABOUT PLOT THEORIES THEY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND.

In short, I was living my best life.

The Twists:

You are not ready for them.

the little mermaid lol GIF
via giphy.com

The Romance:

I CAN’T TALK ABOUT THIS. I LITERALLY DIE WHEN I THINK ABOUT IT. BECAUSE OMG I AM DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD BUT AAAAALLLLLLLIIIIIIIIVEVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

CAN I JUST SAY GOD BLESS PGS 185 AND 317. THAT IS ALL THANK YOU.

The Final Word:

Yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What I Disliked

NOT APPLICABLE. What is a disliked category???????


Overall, I am literally giggling like a fool. I have been ever since I finished that book. I was first left in a state of shock. I just kind of sat in my bed and felt nothing. Then I turned off the lights and everything just came flooding in at once. Every feel. Every realization. Every theory. And the knowledge that the finale is still a long ways off. I will suffer throughout the wait, but the satisfaction I feel from reading this is enough to keep me going for now.

Rating: ALL THE STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Recommend?: Wait..wait…there are people out there who haven’t read Ember? What are you doing with you lives??? READ THIS SERIES.

Let me know what you think! What did you think? Was it all you anticipated? Who are you most worried about? What are you feelings? I simply request that we refrain from spoilers in the comments for now! Feel free to DM on Twitter (@RwRendz) or Instagram (@readingwithrendz) if you want to chat!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Tell Me No Lies | Review

Greetings readers!

What do you do when you find yourself in a book and do not like that character? I had a bad case of this while reading this book. I found a character with an experience almost identical to mine and yet, I thought she handled it way worse than I did. This book started off with a lot of potential for me, but in the end it was one, big nope.

Tell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin

Tell Me No Lies by Adele Griffin
via Goodreads

Publisher: Algonquin Books
Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
Price: $27.95
ISBN: 9781616206765

Can the course of friendship or love ever run true when everyone has something to hide?

Lizzy Swift is a senior in high school, emerging from her nerd chrysalis to become a social butterfly. She’s dating Matt Ashley, the boy who’s been out of her reach since freshman year. Her bold, reckless new friend Claire Reynolds introduces her to Center City Philadelphia—clubs, street life, and the eye-opening art scene. And her Ivy League ambitions take a backseat to nights of partying, dancing, and dating.

But almost as quickly, the heady delight of Lizzy’s new life is clouded by doubts and deceptions.  While she has a special connection with Matt, it’s not the perfect romance she dreamed of. Claire carries around a mysterious sadness and talks about a breakup so bad she changed schools—but she won’t tell Lizzy the whole story. Lizzy wants Claire to confide in her, even as she keeps her own embarrassing secrets from her new best friend.

Will the truth come to light before it’s too late for Lizzy, Claire, and Matt to save their love and friendships?


Buy it!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


*I was provided a review copy by the publisher, Thomas Allen & Son, in exchange for an honest review.*

Look, I tried with this book, but if I am completely honest I saw it going downhill from the beginning.

What I Liked:

The main character, Lizzy, was basically me in high school. And I related quite hard. We were both the “nerdy” type, but not the trademark nerd. We had a very small social group and in terms of actually being a social person, we were not. We loved art, but couldn’t fathom pursuing it because our parents drilled it into us that art was a hobby, not a career. We were panning for college/university quite early on. And that’s where are similarities stopped.

Of course, she is an epileptic and I am not. Throughout the novel, she deals with having to hide her disorder because she doesn’t want it to define her or make people treat her differently. I have never read about an epileptic character and it was interesting to see how the author pursued the topic.

The only other character I liked-liked was Theo and he was in it for five seconds.

The ending was also okay. I was glad that the characters stories were fleshed out more and that they got some much needed revenge and that the circle of friends was pulled closer together.

What I Disliked

I understood that this was Lizzy’s journey to self-discovery, but she honestly takes a hard turn left and completely off the path. I did not agree with any of her decisions. (Well most of them.) I would be one to fantasize about a chaste kiss becoming more, but I think it would lose it’s spark four years later.

I thought the whole friendship theme in this book was really ummmm not great. Friends no matter how social or anti-social they may be are supposed to support you and care about you. I get that these teenagers had their secrets and pasts that barred them from opening up. But the way Claire, Gage and Mimi treated Lizzy was really not that great.

Speaking of secrets. I guessed them. I got Matt’s very early on and was just waiting for it to be confirmed. Claire’s was slightly more mysterious, so I stuck around to figure out what it was. Dave, I felt was really just a decorative character, I found no real purpose for him.

This novel deals with some very heavy subjects like rape, assault, homophobia and the stigma around epilepsy. I felt like some were brushed under the carpet. There was passing mention of it, one of the characters gave there perspective on it and that was it.

This was also set in the late 80s. Your girl got none of the music references. Okay maybe some, but most of the pop culture stuff went right over my head. I understand why this time frame was chosen…but to teens these days the 80s are very distant. Personally, I think they would have a hard time attaching themselves to this book.

It was also really boring and repetitive. Like super repetitive. The only reason I finished was to see Claire’s ending.


Overall, I didn’t like this book. I didn’t like the characters, I didn’t get the world. Did it have its sweet and heartfelt moments? Yes, but there were still so many issues I had with this.

Rating: 2 / 5 Stars

Recommend: It’s a no from me, dogs.

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What did you think? Would you get the 80s pop culture references? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Meeting Morgan Matson | Author Event Recap!

Greetings readers!

I feel like it has been forever since I wrote about an author event? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been to one in ages!! Well, I love author events. Even though I get a little nervous when I have to actually meet the actual authors!

Save the Date
via Goodreads

I decided to attend the Morgan Matson event in Toronto for three reasons.
1) My close friend has read one of Matson’s books before, so I decided to invite her so she could meet the author! (Plus she goes to events when I know the author, so it’s only fair!)
2) The event was for Save the Date, which I just started. It sounds fun, cute and fluffy and I am in a very contemporary mood!
3) Morgan Matson is such a big name! And despite having never read any of her books, I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity!

The Event & Discussion

The signing was held at Chapters Indigo at Yorkdale. The space is not huge, but my friend and I were able to find seats!!! There lots of people present, most of who had big stacks of books all by Morgan. As we sat and waited for the Morgan to show up, the Indigo employees played several rounds of trivia to win gift cards! Most of the questions revolved around Save the Date and since neither I nor my friend had read the book, we totally didn’t win anything! XD

Finally, Morgan arrived and everyone cheered quite loudly. She was interviewed by a Canadian blogger Tiff @ MostlyYALit! Tiff was a great interviewer and asked Morgan really wonderful questions about her books and her writing process!

With regards to her books, Morgan spoke a lot about the characters and how important it is to craft them. Save the Date has major themes revolving family and experiencing change. She also loves writing about realistic friendships and that they come with their own little flaws and perfections. In Save the Date, she reflects upon the friends vs family battle and the jealousy that is sparked between the two groups when they are not getting enough attention!

Although, I haven’t read any of her books yet, I am truly excited to see how she crafts these characters and relationships. Each book she writes is set in the same town, so for those Matsonverse fans out there, there are Easter eggs in every book that sort of connect them, which I find very cool!

With regards to her writing process, Matson talked about her satisfaction with standalones. She says that she loves a conclusive ending and that for her to write a series she would need to find the right story that was big enough to span more than one book! She went in-depth of how hard it was for her to write Save the Date. Most of her other books span a summer, a few months, but this book had only three days from beginning to end. She struggled with finding the right way to describe the time, but she is very thankful for her editors and writer friends that helped her through the process!

I take such crappy photos XD

Her least favourite part of the writing process would be the moments of the middle of the book where everyone is just standing around and she needs to make decisions for them. Matson said she is so indecisive about everything, so writing a book about it seemed like a good idea. Her favourite part of the process, is when things finally start working after a couple drafts and the story is finally something she can look forward to!

The best writing advice she has ever been given is to finish something. (Advice I definitely need to heed) She said that when you finish something you can finally say you have done this before and you can therefore do it again. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to make it to the end! The advice that she would give prospective writers is to read critically and write and rewrite. She said the best way to learn this craft is to study it, and understand what makes a story compelling and entertaining.

Final Fun Fact: Morgan let us know that the cover models on the Since You’ve Been Gone cover are actually wearing her own clothes and accessories!

Since You've Been Gone
via Goodreads

The Signing

In this moment, I’m giving my speech and Morgan’s signing my book!

This is the fun part, isn’t it. Well for me it’s the nerve-wracking part. Since I get quite anxious when I go to these events, I like to rehearse what I will say beforehand. Meanwhile, my friend kept asking me what she should say since she had never been to a signing before. I told her its best to talk about the book and soon enough we both had little speeches prepared when we got to her table.

When it was my turn up, I admitted that I haven’t read any of her books, but that I was excited for her new release as I have a wedding this coming summer! Morgan was so sweet and she hoped that I would enjoy the book and the wedding. My speech lasted a total of what 45 seconds and I ran out of stuff to say, so naturally I stood in an awkward silence. Thankfully, she’s a quick signer XD Then I got my picture taken with her and hopped off the little stand.

You’d think I would have made it through this signing without a fumble, right? Wrong.

As I turned to leave I felt like I was missing something, I had the book, but my left hand…it was empty, it had had something in it before.

Then I hear lots of people calling out my name, I turn and see the Indigo employee who snapped my picture holding out my phone and saying “Hun you forgot this! I don’t think you’d want to lose it.” I took it back in a flash and said my thanks, but I still turned very red since the employees, Morgan and some fans were all giggling and calling out my name.

Classic Rendz. Always has to look even just a little clumsy at a signing.


Overall, I really enjoyed the event! The discussion was great and I am honestly looking forward to going down a Matson spiral sometime soon. Plus, I have a new signed book to add to my collection! This one is actually double signed, since it is also a first signed edition!

I had lots of fun and Morgan Matson was so sweet and funny. I can’t wait to continue reading Save the Date and share my thoughts with you all!

Let me know what you think! Have you read books by Morgan Matson? Which one is your favourite? Have you had the chance to meet her? What author would you like to meet someday?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Flor and Miranda Steal the Show | Review

Greetings readers!

As someone who didn’t grow up reading like I do now, I often take my time to revisit the middle grade section of the bookstore or library. There is just something about middle grade that makes it adventurous even if it isn’t an adventure story per se!

Stories about little Latinx kids makes me jump at the chance to read, so when I saw this in the publishers catalogue, I knew I had to read it!

Hatchette Book Group CA was nice enough to send me an advanced copy of this, so my gratitude goes out to them!

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show by Jennifer Torres

Flor and Miranda Steal the Show
via Goodreads

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: June 12th, 2018
Price: $12.99 CAD
ISBN: 9780316306898

Enjoy carnival rides and deep fried pickles in this warm, funny middle grade novel about family and friendship.
Miranda is the lead singer in her family’s musical band, Miranda y Los Reyes. Her family has worked hard performing at festivals and quinceañeras. Now, they have a shot at the main stage. How will Miranda make it a performance to remember?
Flor’s family runs the petting zoo at Mr. Barsetti’s carnival. When she accidentally overhears Mr. Barsetti and Miranda’s dad talk about cutting the zoo to accommodate Miranda y Los Reyes’s main stage salary, she knows she has to take action. Will she have the heart for sabotage once she and Miranda actually start to become friends?


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Amazon


*I am reviewing an ARC provided by the publisher which does not affect my opinion.*

This book was everything I expected it to be and a little bit more. I absolutely adore carnivals, and although I haven’t been to one in a while, reading this book made me want to go to one this summer! Just like a carnival, this book was fun, light, and easy. It was full of great people and greasy food! Plus I have never related to the family so hard!

What I Liked:

Characters:

They were all so saucy!!! I loved it!! Flor is a character I was immediately drawn to. Her spunk and passion for her family’s petting zoo is adorable and admirable. She is willing to do everything she can if it means saving her family’s business and staying in the one place that truly feels like home. Then there is Miranda who at first I was a little meh towards but as the story gets deeper, I begin to understand her a lot more. Especially with her desire to have everyone  like her or at least not think she is a bad person. I understand it. Miranda is also very passionate though a little too hesitant to take hold of her own choices. I’m not saying she is a push over, but she has been quite pushed over. This story explores her venture into taking even just a bit of control of her own decisions and the length she is willing to go to make them. In the end, I related to her a lot especially with her struggle to get the right Spanish accent! XD

Both girls are intelligent and funny. They have their flaws, fears and triumphs and I really enjoyed reading both of their perspectives.

The Plot:

The story is quite easy to follow and very entertaining. The whole books spans a matter of hours and many things happen in between. I liked Flor’s story and her plan to take down Miranda by pretending to befriend and trick her into missing her show. It was a devilish act and nothing goes according to plan, but she doesn’t give up. Miranda’s story was also fun. As she falls for Flor’s tricks, she is making her own plans to be free of her father’s planning and learning the ways of the carnival. Both stories interlace quite nicely, but I do feel there was just a bit more emphasis on Flor’s arc.

The Atmosphere:

I loved the carnival setting. I have to hand it to Torres, she knew exactly how to invoke all the feelings of the carnival. From the stands of delicious food, to the games to the rides and let’s not forget the sweltering heat! I have been to quite a few carnivals in my time and the fictional one in this book had all the essentials! It was so much fun exploring the grounds with Flor and Miranda, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was there at the fair with them!

The Family/Cultural Values:

If there is one thing you can get out of this book, it is how important family is. Both girls come from Latinx families and while they have their differences, they are quite similar. Both girls’ families struggle with money, a very important motif in the story. It is the centre of everyone’s worry and yet it is what brought both girls together (sort of). Money may not be the most important thing in the world, but it definitely is hard to live without.

I also liked that it showed the general structure of a Latinx family. Both had the head patriarch followed by the mom and then the kids. The patriarch was the one in charge of making sure the family had enough money to live and they are the ones who make all the big decisions (Which isn’t always the best thing.) Obviously, neither family is perfect and this book does a wonderful job of exploring that despite their imperfections, family is always #1.

Relate. Relate. Relate.:

On top of this book having a great portrayal of Latinx family structure, the way they act and behave was sooo relatable. When Latinx people go anywhere, we are literally not willing to spend a penny on something we can easily get at home. At least that is how it was when I was growing up. When I used to go to the carnivals, we would get a free pizza lunch and free ride-all-day passes as part of the package we got to enter the fair. And that was it. Dinner was packed by my mother, we brought our own water and snacks. No one was allowed to waste money on those game stands or frozen drinks with the cool drinking straws. If I wanted a slushie, my dad offered to shave me ice and drench it in syrup when we got home. I have never seen anything like this written in a story, until now! AND I WAS HOWLING. When Miranda mentioned how her mom used to sneak snacks into stadiums/movies, I was just nodding and nodding. That was my entire childhood experience at the carnival. Have fun, enjoy, but don’t waste money on things we didn’t need.

It was the best.

What I Disliked:

I liked this book far too much to think of something that was not satisfactory. But if I have to be 100% honest, the ending was left really open. There wasn’t a clear resolution to any of the girls’ problems which I think was the intention. I would have liked some more clarity, but that’s just me.


Overall, this story was a breath of fresh air. It was light, fun and oh so fast. I finished it in one day and considering how slow of a reader I am, I’d say that’s an accomplishment. It has a great message about friendship and family. It has amazing characters and the whole carnival setting itself was so much fun, I ache to get to one myself this summer!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars!

Recommend: Need a fast middle grade with some fun themes, I definitely say you should read this!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Have you ever attended a carnival? What is your favourite part about carnivals?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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FIFA World Cup Book Tag!! | Because this is Literally the Only Thing I Am Watching on T.V. for the Next Month.

Greetings readers!

It’s that time of year! The only time when I truly and actually care about sports. (Besides the Olympics of course) It’s the FIFA World Cup Tournament!

Soccer–or more correctly put–football runs in my family’s veins. My grandfather was head coach to his city team back home and now my uncle is the team medic. My cousins play on little leagues for the city and even made it so far that they got to travel to Spain and compete there! I played soccer when I was young and joined a little league myself. We won the championship and it was quite fun, although I am bitter to this day that I never scored a single goal.

At this time of year, my family gathers around any TV we can find. We cheer and we yell (yes, at the T.V.). We celebrate and get upset, but mostly we just like to have fun watching and laughing together.

Even though my countries almost never make it to compete (Canada and El Salvador), I still have fun cheering on other Latin American countries, and if they all get eliminated, Spain. XD

SO I decided to come up with a tag to celebrate this tournament! Even if you’re not that big of a sports fan, all the prompts have bookish themes so I’m sure you’ll find some answers!!

Rules!

  • Link back to this post so I can read all your wonderful answers!
  • Answer the questions the best that you can!
  • Tag a few friends at the end to keep this tag going!
  •  Have fun!

Time for kick off!!!

Let the Flags Fly

Wave them high and proudly!!! Look at all the fun colours!!!
A Book from your World Cup  Competing Country/ the Country that You Want to Win!

As mentioned, my countries are not competing in the cup this year, but I do root for many of the Latinx countries!

The Storm Runner (The Storm Runner #1)
via Goodreads

The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes

While Mexico is next to the last team I usually root for…I am really excited for this book! I have always wanted to see Mayan mythology used in books and this sounds like an excellent start!

It’s The Beautiful Game

Football! Soccer! Beautiful! Whatever you call it!
A book with a pretty cover / A book that features soccer

The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi. Just Stunning!

Ferocious Fans

Face paint! Big signs! Lots of noise!
Name a fandom you love being a part of!

Oh wow. Really all of them. TLC. Narnia. SoC.

However, I’m going to give a big shout-out to the AEITA fandom. The Emberlings! This fandom is so funny and beautiful! The fanart is amazing and the people are just as fabulous! We could always use more people, so feel free to read the books, fall in love and join in on the fun!

Teamwork! Teamwork! Teamwork!

There is no way one person can win the game!
Name your Favourite Bookish Crew / A Book that has Co-Authors!

The Rampion crew for life! But also the Dregs. But also the Pevensies and Penderwicks. I’m part of too many clubs.

 

Ref Blows the Whistle

You either love him or you hate him.
Name a book/character that you mixed feelings towards!

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

This book was really beautiful both inside and out. (Seriously have you seen the cover??) But I had major issues with some of the characters and how the romance played out. I was not in agreement with how it ended up being and I was just not for it. I still get a little angry when I think about it, otherwise it was a really good book!

The Wicked Deep
via Goodreads

GGGGOOOAAAALLLL!!!!

Everyone loses their heads and starts yelling at the top of their lungs!
Name your last 5 star read!

A REAPER AT THE GATES by Sabaa Tahir. I am still screaming about it!!

The Gold Cup

It’s what we play for.
The Most Coveted/Loved Book On Your Shelf

I have many many coveted books, I mean, my Narnia bind-up, TLC, my signed books…especially my signed Marie Lu books!!!! But the one book I have that is loved to the point that I bent it, doggy-eared it, left in little tags and highlighted it is….

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy  by Jeanne Birdsall

I love this book that much.

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I Tag…

Mandy @ Book Princess Reviews

Kyera @ Kyera’s Library 

Angelica @ The Book Cover Girl

Shelfish for Books

Let me know what you think! This was my first original tag, did I do okay? Do you watch the World Cup? What team are you rooting for? What books do you think fit the prompts?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Legendary | Review

Greetings readers!

The time has come! One of the most anticipated sequels of the year that is literally on almost everyone’s list! I know this review will be one of MANY you will see about this book, so if you choose to read this, you have my many thanks!

Now to be honest, by the time I had this book in my hands, I totally forgot that I needed to reread Caraval. I didn’t remember much except the most important bits, so after one page of this, I went to read a summary of book 1, which thankfully clarified things for me! I devoured this book in two sittings, and  think if you are a fan, you will too!

*Want to see my thoughts on Caraval? Read My Full Review!*

Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval, #2)

Publisher: Flaitron Books
Pub Date: May 29th, 2018
Price: $24.99  CAD
ISBN: 125009531X

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


When I say I devoured this book. I mean I d e v o u r e d it. Two sittings was all it took. And I am a slow reader, so imagine you speed readers. And this book isn’t even short, its just over 400 pages, and I loved every second of it.

What I Liked:

Characters:

Tella: You know about a year ago when I read Caraval and said Tella was a total rat. Well, things have changed. Due to certain circumstances which will remain un-named because of spoilers, I wasn’t that big a fan of Tella in book one. At the end I started to understand her, in this one she was literally AMAZING. Was she still a little selfish, snarky and stubborn. Absolutely, but for *reasons* and honestly who doesn’t love a flawed character? Tella has passion, wits and determination and Garber shows off these qualities a lot in this book by putting Tella through all this trouble. She is not invincible and totally breaks down. Garber demonstrated that as much as our female heroines are strong, snarky and witty they can fall and be vulnerable. It doesn’t make them any less amazing, it’s just another test of courage.

OH! I also have to say how much I love that Tella doesn’t demean Scarlett for being cautious and not-so-snarky. She loves her sister for who she is and sees Scarlett’s strength despite her not being the trademark “strong.” Sisterhood ftw!

Dante: Who knew this man would be coming back because I didn’t! And I really appreciate that he did come back because he is mysterious, tricky and 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥. Enough of that, Rendz. He really was a great addition as a love interest yes, and his personality is really summed up as a mystery, but I loved his snark and banter. The way in which he was constantly challenging Tella, and reluctantly falling for her. Or maybe not so reluctantly. Hehehehe.

Jacks: He is literally horrible. Rude, angry,–devilishly handsome–but very evil. And. I. Liked. Him. I know I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it. He was a great addition to the story for *reasons* and while I never wanted him to be triumphant, I did enjoy his parts in the book!

Scarlett and Julian do make their appearances in this book. Although they are very few, they are very important. My girl, Scarlett, is keeping secrets and I need to know what they are!

Writing:

I was enchanted by Garber’s writing in Caraval. She gave Scarlett the ability to describe in colour. Everything had a hue, in Legendary everything has a taste or smell. Tella would describe scenes and people with smells and tastes and while sometimes I found it a little odd, it was also captivating. It activates all your senses, so this book goes beyond a visual experience, but also tries to be a tasty one too! XD

World:

Caraval does take place in this book again, but in a different region. The stakes are higher for Tella and the places she visits are even more tricky and dangerous than those on Isla de los Sueños. Valenda was truly magical and I loved how it was a patchwork nation of all different kinds of people serving one kingdom. The magic Garber breathes into the world is marvelous. There is a new map, too! So you can track Tella on her quests, because why not?

The best way I can honestly describe the world is: Magical. No better adjective than that.

Plot & Pacing:

The story picks up right where Caraval left off and it is even more twistier than Scarlett’s adventure. There is so much at stake and Tella takes risks that…well…I may have used the term foolish many times while reading the book, in reference to her. I’m telling you that you will be sucked in immediately. Totally and completely. You will fly through this book. When I reached the half way point after one sitting I almost couldn’t believe it! This story will ensnare you and you’ll have trouble putting it down, but I am telling you it is worth it.

Romance:

It’s 🔥🔥🔥. Like really 🔥🔥🔥. There is a lot of kissing in this book. 🔥🔥🔥 So if you’re not into it, sorry. I can’t say that it overpowers the plot, but it is still an important element to the story…at least kissing is. I’m just gonna stop here before I spoil something.

What I Disliked:

I took off .5 for one tiny reason. As much as the twists were twisty and the revelations..well… revealing….I felt that lack of shock. That moment when my jaw dropped didn’t happen. I can’t explain it really. There was all this build up and build up and then the bomb drops and it feels more like a balloon pop than an explosion! I was just hoping for a lot more from Legend. But then again this story is not finished so I guess I shall have to wait for the finale.


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The ending was not really an ending so I am expecting many, many things from the final book, FINALE. It is going to be quite a book and I hope Garber makes it dual-POV so we see how both Scarlett and Tella’s stories end. I have so many questions. So many thoughts.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars 

Recommend: Yes! *tips top hat*

Let me know what you think! Have you had a chance to read this yet? Who do you prefer Tella or Scarlett? Did this book meet your expectations? I can’t wait to see what you all think!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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