The Girl the Sea Gave Back | Review // It was…alright?

Greetings readers!

Coming at you today is another ARC review! One that is actually being published before its release date! Ahhh *feels accomplished*

I had an adventure with viking books this summer and I have to say I’ve been having quite a lot of fun with them! Adrienne Young’s YA debut, Sky in the Deep blew me out of the water! I absolutely adored it and if you want to know more of my thoughts you can read my review! Today I’m reviewing the companion novel which is set in the same world but follows a new set of characters and features new clans!

The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

The Girl the Sea Gave Back
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Sept 3rd, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Price: $25.99 CAD
Goodreads

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

*Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an ARC*

The Likes

The World was still as wonderful as ever! I really enjoyed getting to know about the other clans that had passing mentions in Sky. The frigidness of the winter and the brutality of the people was all so fascinating to read about.

The writing was just as lyrical! Young has a way with words that make the story seem like a fairy tale. It is a beautiful prose that really captures those moments of wonder and fantasy! I think this is what really kept me in this story.

The plot of the story was interesting. Getting to see how the politics of the clans have changed now that there is a new-born clan (You’ll have to read Sky to get it  *winks*) I loved reading about the decisions of the war councils and deceptions of different clan leaders. The new clans mean that there are new traditions and gods and practices. The Svell were quite an interesting bunch and I wish we had got to see more of the Kyrr, but I guess that is why they are so mysterious.

The epic battle scene was an epic battle scene, no doubt.

The Questionable

The characters were okay at best. Tova had a rough life, I totally get that. I really felt for her, especially since her childhood was spent lonely and constantly being exploited for her powers and her life threatened. But she spent a lot of the book wallowing and sulking and I got bored real fast! *Is that too harsh* Halvard was……………………………………… he needed to stay 7 years old. He was just not as interesting as an adult! I’m sorry, but it’s true! I know he was having a very hard time trying to be the best of both worlds in his new-born clan, but I was often bored with his side of the story.

To be honest, I didn’t connect to any of the characters. Both Tova and Halvard fell extremely flat to me. I tried my best, but there was nothing that grabbed at me. I thought that Tova’s Truthtongue prophecies would real me in, but they didn’t. There weren’t many side characters to get into either and the few glimpses we got at Eelyn were NOT enough!

To be even more honest, I was very disconnected from the whole story. Even if the politics were interesting, the characters really brought me down. I was just feeling meh a lot of times and it didn’t help that I had to read about characters that I frankly didn’t care much about!

Young tried to sell me a romance that did not work for me at all. They don’t even know each other!!!!!!!–literally–and they already be thinking that they’re ready to move clans for one another? Uh-uh. No.


Overall, I really don’t know how to feel about this book exactly. I liked it while I read but after having it simmer for a bit, I find it very lackluster. It just does not compare to Sky in the Deep in my opinion! I didn’t really connect to those characters which was the biggest upset. I had hoped the plot and action would be enough, but they really kept this book just above average!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Mmmm sure. But read Sky in the Deep first!

Let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? Are you excited for it? Did you read Sky in the Deep?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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How do you audiobook? | A Discussion

Greetings readers!

It’s a spontaneous post today! I’ve recently been thinking about different ways in which books are available to us. Whether it be in a physical book form, digitally or in audio, there are so many methods in which one can read!

But today we are going to focus on audiobooks. More importantly–I am going to discuss what a total noob I am with audiobooks.

90s 80s GIF by Doctor Popular
via giphy.com

My History with Listening to Books

It is not extensive lol. I have officially only listened to 3 audiobooks. Two that I did not finish and one that I recently did get through in its entirety. I used to not be the biggest fan of audiobooks because well I neither had the patience nor the attention span to get through one. Every time I would try to get into it, I would miss so much as I stopped paying attention. You see, my mind tends to wander a lot. A lot. The perks of having a very good imagination in my opinion. And I would get so lost and lose out on a lot of info as I was reading.

However….recently I listened to the audio of The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth and I ABSOLUTELY adored everything about it. It was the first time that I didn’t get bored and quit halfway. I even listened to it mostly at normal speed! I picked it up on a whim because I felt like jumping back into the story and it was honestly one of the best decisions I made. I absolutely loved the narrators. I loved listening to the emotion that they put in their voices of Ev and Phil. I thought it was so incredibly wonderful!

(The only con is that it was hard to tell when the characters were speaking out loud vs in their heads…)

So naturally I’m very curious about audiobooks now since the last one was such a success with me.

rhian brewster smile GIF by Liverpool FC
via giphy.com

So…How DO you audiobook?

I’m very curious about it because I am not 100% sure if there is a certain way to do it…

Like, for example, do you have the book in front of you and follow along with the narrator in your ear?

When I listened to TLBW I didn’t have the the book in front of me. I listened to it at night, in my room, in the dark, with my eyes closed (most of the time). It was the perfect setting for no distractions, but still my mind wandered every now and then. I don’t know if I would like following along with the book as I listen because I tend to read quicker than the narrator (even when I bump up the speed).

Thinking of speed…Do you bump up the speed as you read?

I do. Not dramatically. Usually just 0.2x/0.4x faster. I don’t like the sound of people speaking so quickly because I feel like I lose some of the enchantment and emotion in the story. However reading at normal speed can get tedious because they take such long, dramatic pauses!

Where/when do you listen?

I’ve already said that I listened to TLBW in a dark, quiet room with barely any distractions so that I could focus…but I know lots of people listen to them while doing other things! I know people listen to them as they drive, work or do homework AND I WISH I COULD DO THAT. But my brain is just not that great at multitasking I guess!


Those are the top questions I have about audiobooks! I am really looking forward to picking up a new read sometime soon, I shall browse Overdrive and see what’s available. I like the idea of using them for rereads because I can get through them quickly and my commutes could be a perfect setting for listening to them too!

However, I do have one final question:

WHAT ARE YOUR AUDIOBOOK RECOMMENDATIONS?!

schitts creek comedy GIF by CBC
via giphy.com

I would love to know how you guys feel about audiobooks and the methods in which you read them!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Sky in the Deep | Review // THIS WAS AMAZING!

Greetings readers!

I’ll be honest, I bought this book on a whim because I had just received bad news from school so to console myself I bought a book. That was over a year ago. It took me over a year to actually pick up this book………….and I regret not picking it up sooner.

Because friends. This book. THIS BOOK.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sky in the Deep

Pub Date: April 24th, 2018
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Price: $23.50 CAD (Hardcover)/ $14.50 CAD (paperback)
Goodreads 

Part Wonder Woman, part Vikings—and all heart.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

The Likes:

Characters:

Eelyn was AMAZING. Uh amazing. So fierce and stubborn and brave and she has the biggest heart! I cannot properly express how I feel about her because there are just so many emotions swimming around in my head. She felt so raw and honest about her whole self. (Rendz, do please try to make some sense) It’s just that I related to her despite having nothing in common with her! It’s her undying loyalty to the family she has always known and comes to know that really got to me.

Fiske! I had to get over his name (I mean fish. Fish.) but he was so so good too!!!!!!!!!!! I had to say that it took a little warming up to him because he was so cold and distant it was hard to see that warm, intense passion that he was made of. I would have loved if we had gotten to see some of his perspective too, I think it would have added a lot of interest to the story. But reading him from afar was pretty fun too.

Iri, ok son…I questioned him for the longest of time for reasons you shall read about in the book. However, I did like him. Perhaps not my fave, but still worth the mention.

Halvard = adorable.

The slowburn romance to die for!

Wowowow. Okay. This was intense, I don’t even know where to begin. For the longest time throughout my read I was like hurry up and kiss alreadyyyy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was a little worried because not only did he shoot my girl, but she was also labeled as his “slave”, a fake one, and yet I hesitated. However, I thought that it was written really well and it does take forever to happen which makes it all the more intense.

The Thing that really won me over was the dynamic between Blood family and Found family

I was so conflicted the whole way! It really made me think about my own perceptions of family! Let me tell youuuuuuu. For the first half I was like blood family, blood family, blood family, but then the book got me thinkinggggg. And it made me think hard. I mean before going in, I had an appreciation for found family relationships yet blood family still sort of topped it, but after having read this book they are more at an equilibrium. I just feel like this theme taught me so much. About family, about myself and about the universal family that connects us all, the one that makes us kin rather than enemy.

The Epic Vikingness of it all

This world was absolutely thrilling. It was cold, brutal and yet so warm in its sense of community. It was the middle of summer and yet I felt the cold while reading, it was all so vivid and alive! The cultures of the clans and their traditions and religions that were so wonderfully explored and explained.

The fighting was so intense and there were some scenes that were just so brutal! The eyeball (ahhhh)!!! I cannot explain to you all how incredibly action-packed this story is, along with the political intrigue and family issues, it was so so so intense. It’s a type of intensity that grabs you so hard you feel it in your bones!!!

IT BASICALLY EMBODIES ONE OF MY FAVOURITE NARNIA QUOTES:

“A common enemy unites even the oldest of foes.”

I MEAN, IF YOU’VE READ IT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

The Questionable

Mmmmm…nada!


Overall, I loved this book. I think this review basically explains how inexplicable my emotions are about this, but rest assured that they are all on the positive side. I loved the characters of this story. They are what made it for me, but the whole family dynamic is the winning factor of it all. I was so completely blown away!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Absolutely!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite viking books? Do you like books that deal with family issues?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Below | Review // A frigid read to turn your thoughts!

Greetings readers!

Last year I read The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick, which turned out to be an amazing read! It actually made me cry! So I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to read Warwick’s new book, Below!

Below by Alexandria Warwick

Below (North #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Feb 4th, 2020
Publisher: Wolf Publishing
Goodreads

From the author of The Demon Race comes a YA dark fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister’s face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister’s face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister’s face in hand. But in Yuki’s harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

*I was provided an advanced copy by the author* 

The Likes

I really enjoyed reading from Apaay’s POV. I thought she was such an interesting character. She was someone who was always striving to be enough but finding herself continuing to let down those she wanted to impress the most. She had so much heart and love that she didn’t see just how spectacular she truly was.

I’m not very familiar with Inuit mythology, but I definitely want to know more after reading this book. I was definitely hesitant about reading this book because as far as I am concerned the author is not of Inuit descent (I may be wrong). However from what I read, I think the book is well researched and the use of magic and myth is very interesting. The Face Stealer was definitely my favourite character and the actual depiction of the effects of his powers was scary to think about as much as it was enthralling to read about! I also loved to hate Yuki! A villain in the form of a child with knowledge that extends generations, so so wicked!

I thought the story was very unique. It is a tale of sisterly love and self-discovery. There were so many moments of heartbreak and suffering, so be aware that this book definitely packs the punches and pulls the heartstrings!

The ending was satisfactory and yet not at the same time. And not in a bad way per se. I was very much pleased with the direction the story took at the end there, but I was also left wanting a lot more!!!

The Questionable

The pace is what really got me. The story is quite slow and quite repetitive. It is not exactly the fastest quest narrative because there are a lot of stalled moments. There are not many action scenes and the thrilling ones don’t last very long. A lot of the book takes a big focus on the mental and psychological state of Apaay as she goes through these devastating trials in her life, which was actually very interesting to read about. I had just hoped for a quicker movement and flow of the story.


Overall, this was a good story. It is definitely unique and something I have never read before. It is a story of sisterly love, of proving ones-self and myth all set in the cold, deep north. While the pace is slow, the psychological and emotional journey of Apaay is surely one to interest many!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars 

Recommend: Yes, especially since Apaay is such a great character!

Let me know what you think! What books have you read where you get deep into the minds of the characters? Are you more plot-driven or character-driven?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Re-reading My First Ever Vampire Series | The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey

Greetings readers!

The time has finally come. The time to share the story of my first ever vampire series.

I’m sure we all have that series. That book that first introduced us to vampires. The living undead that should be more horrific and less smexy than they are in the current context. For most of us readers, the first time reading about vampires might have been in Twilight. But even at a young age I broke away from convention and read a different vampire series!

The Drake Chronicles by Alyxandra Harvey.

It’s not a very popular series (I think) and it’s on the older side, I think it came out circa 2009-2012, but it is my first ever vamp series!! And this past June, I decided to reread the books for fun because I felt this random urge to! Thankfully my random urges bring out fun blog posts!

THE ORIGINAL READ

Ruling Passion (Drake Chronicles, #1-3)
via Goodreads

I originally read this series a very long time ago. Let’s say around 2011. My mother took us (my older sisters and me) to the library to pick out some books we could read when we went camping later that month. Of course I ran to the MG section and lived my best life and picked out the book Storybound, which was magical and the perfect adventure read. My older sisters went off to the teen section, obviously, and picked out their own reads. I didn’t really notice what they picked.

It wasn’t until I came back from camping that I really paid attention to what they were reading. My eldest sister told me all about her vampire book that had super hotsy vampire brothers and quite quirky ladies. She also told me that it was romantic. And me + romance didn’t work in 2011. I avoided it like the plague. BUT I WANTED TO READ ABOUT VAMPIRESSSS.

So I read it. And it was something different. I’ll sum up my original thoughts in the following list.

  • The vampire bros were hot
  • I did not like the sister vampire, Solange
  • I love(d) Lucy! (See what I did there)
  • I was confused with the politics of it all
  • I swear this takes place in Canada
  • Gosh, I hate Solange
  • Which brother is my fave????
  • I kinda wanna be a vamp now too? When is Halloween coming around?

I never actually finished the series, so this is why I decided to pick them up again in June! I thought it would be fun to see if I was still as fascinated by the vamp bros and the whole scene. These books also marked a really dark moment in my life, which I won’t really get into because this is supposed to be the fun post! Let’s just say that the We Need Diverse Books campaign is a very important one, little Rendz just didn’t know it.

THE BOOKS

My Love Lies Bleeding Blood Feud Out for Blood

I didn’t really read them! I skimmed, I’ll be honest! I just didn’t have time for all of this and I’ll be honest again, I was more interested in my ships and banter bits than the whole plot…

So yes, I skimmed all 6 books of this series. I didn’t read the novellas because there were a lot and not all were relevant! And it is safe to say I had a pretty great time with them.

Each book features a different brother as the MC/LI up until the last two books. And did I mention there are 7 brothers? We don’t get to get into all their lives (sorry Duncan, Marcus and Sebastian) But with every brother comes an epic lady character (some more epic than others!) which was lots of fun to read about!

Bleeding Hearts Blood Moon Blood Prophecy

MY FAVOURITE CHARACTERS – I’M RANKING THEM!

At the  bottom of this list is Solange. The youngest Drake, the prophesied one, the princess. She could have been something. But after book 1, I just could no longer tolerate her. She was so spoiled and privileged and A RATTTTTTTTTT. I can’t talk about it. I just can’t.

At the top of the list is Lucy! I loved her. I loved her personality, her ferocity, her courage, her idiocy, everything about her made her an incredibly well-rounded, fun character!

Ranking of the Brothers (Not including the eldest three we don’t get to know)

  1. Quinn (The charming, bad boy — my poison)
  2. Nicholas (A little too clingy, but sweet)
  3. Logan (He’s cute also a charmer)
  4. Conner (The nerdy sweet one!)

Ranking the Ladies

  1. Lucy (For being an Icon)
  2. Hunter (For being a badass vamp hunter)
  3. Isabeau (For being a badass wolfie vampire!)
  4. Cristabel (Kinda irrelevant but funny)
  5. Solange (trash)

OH HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

You could tell this takes place in the early 2010’s (other than the fact that it’s on the timeline). You can tell that people were listening to Evanescence too. I am guilty of that. But the fashion of their dress, their old iPhones and so many other things but here are two of my highlights.

Ties over shirts. Nicholas really wore a tie over his shirt. Can you get more early 2010s fashion than a tie over a shirt! (I mean you can…but like STILL)

He made her a mix tape! AHHHH XD I died. Nicholas really, truly and honestly made Lucy a mixtape and I was crying and laughing and living my best life when I read that.

cassette tape party hard GIF by Dude Bro Party Massacre III
via giphy.com

OK OK SO THE ACTUAL STORY

While it’s not the most eloquent writing style it is funny and sassy and easy to get through. It is all very fast-paced, the books aren’t too long and they have a good touch of romance (although I must say every kissing scene reads the same).

There is also an overuse of the word “yummy” in these books. Um. Yeah. I’ll let you imagine that. There just needed to be another adjective used to describe vampire hotness.

The endings were also always abrupt. Were they the best endings? No…and the last books really doesn’t do overall story plot justice, but they clean up the work nicely.

FINAL THOUGHTS

These are certainly my guilty pleasure reads. My first ever vampire series and its one that is gonna stick with me for life. I had a lot of fun skimming through them again. Of course I pointed out all of the problematic areas so I cannot say they are perfect. What I will say is that they are 100% entertaining as much as they are trashy (in the best way possible).


Let me know what you think! What was your first vampire series? Are you willing to pick up more vampire books? What is your guilty pleasure read? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Gods of Jade and Shadow | Review // In which I try to express myself as eloquently as possible

Greetings readers!

Many, many moons ago I saw the announcement for this book and stars bloomed into my eyes! A Mayan mythological extravaganza set in 1920s Mexico! I was overly excited but I also agonized over the fact that I would have to wait so long for it to finally fall into my hands.

And here we are today. (Well I actually read it about a week ago) But today is the day the review is actually going up!

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2019
Publisher: Del Rey
Price: $35.00 CAD
Goodreads

The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


The Likes

The Characters

Casiopea has to be the most raw, daring and incredibly real character I have ever read. As much as I like to believe that I find all characters believable there is always something inexplicably fictional about them that prevents that wholehearted belief, but there was something different about Casiopea. Reading about her felt trans-formative to the point where I was her at one point.  And perhaps this is all credit to Moreno-Garcia’s talent for writing because I 100% felt like I was in Mexico during the 20s living her life. That being said Casiopea was an angry, adventure-seeking, weary, courageous and witty character. I loved everything about her, from her bone-deep resentment of her family situation to her free-spirited, no shit-taking confidence. She was as about dynamic as one could get, constantly re-evaluating herself, the life she has lived, the one she is living and the one she dreams to live. Her coming-of-age story is an unforgettable one no doubt.

Hun-Kamé, Lord of Xibalba is most definitely my second favourite character of this whole lot! Moreno-Garcia’s take on the personality of a this Mayan god is definitely similar to what I pictured, but then she gave it that twist. That gut-wrenching twist that brings down the stoic, distant divine figure and like Casiopea makes him far much more real and tangible. He goes through quite a journey and transformation too which, alongside Casiopea’s, means that things get dangerous, murky and most certainly bloody.

Other characters…Should I mention Martín? Must I mention him? Is he worth my mention? He is not. He shouldn’t even really be in the “like” section. But I will say that I loved that Moreno-Garcia explored his mind too and the inner workings of his deep-set tyranny.

The World-Building

Mexico in the 20s was a wild time, as I’m sure it was elsewhere in the world. There was the inconsequential influence of American and European trends and fashion, but there was also the already established Mexican way of life. There was the once non-disputed authority of the Church being challenged by the state. There was (and still is the) colourism and racism manifested within the people separating neighbour from neighbour and family member from family member. All of which were touched upon in this amazing novel.

I loved that we got to see how starkly different life could be in different places of the time. There was the tiny, suffocating, strict streets of the pueblo. Then there was the fun yet dangerous paths of Mexico City. We even get to the flashy, high life of America for a bit.

But the best part had to be the Underworld. It just was. Trust me. It is a haunting type of beauty that really had me wanting to go there while simultaneously never, ever wanting to go there.

The Writing

There is just something about Moreno-Garcia’s prose that always gets me. Maybe it’s the information that she sneaks in here and there that enriches the story’s detail. Maybe it’s the wittiness of her characters that always had me cracking up. Maybe its the way that she most definitely made this feel like a fairy tale and yet still the most serious tale ever told. I don’t know what it is and I’m not making any sense so it leaves only one logical answer: magic. It’s magic.

There is a great amount of adventure to be had. It does have a quest narrative after all! The stakes are high, the challenges are messy, there is more than one Mayan god of death so you can definitely plan on some havoc coming from them! The action and intensity were perfect. The pacing was just right, speeding up when we needed to move and slowing down when we needed those sweet moments!  And it’s chalked full of myth and legend, with a glossary at the back so you don’t get lost at any point in turn!

THE DIVINE INTERVENTION PLOT. THIS BOOK IS THE EMBODIMENT OF THAT PLOT. YOU GUYS KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE IT WHEN THE GODS COME OUT TO PLAY AND MESS UP EVERYTHING.  It is truly wonderful.

There was a slow burn romance that literally tore me to pieces. And that’s all I’ll say on that.

And the ending. The ending. The ending. The ending. T H E   E N D I N G.

The Questionable

There are no questions to be had. The book is amazing.


Overall, I loved this book. It lived up to my very high standards and I think it shattered them. If you are one who gravitates towards historical fiction, this is for you. If you love fantasy, this book is for you. If you love fairy tales, then this is for you! If you want an incredibly well-written story with incredibly complex characters that is also full of danger, suspense and magic, then this is the book for you!!!!!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Of course I do!

Let me know what you think! Have you had the chance to read this one yet? Are looking forward to picking it up? Did I convince you to pick it up today? Please read this book. 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Queen of Ruin | Review // A Solid Sequel!

Greetings readers!

Here I am with a long overdue review! Last year I had the lovely opportunity to read Grace and Fury and I am so fortunate to have been able to read the sequel this year! I really enjoyed myself  in the first book and I am proud to say that the sequel did not disappoint!

Queen of Ruin by Tracy Banghart

Queen of Ruin (Grace and Fury, #2)
via Goodreads

Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Pub Date: July 2nd, 2019
Price: $24.99 CAD
Goodreads

A fierce sequel full of sisterhood, heart pounding action, betrayal, and intrigue in the royal court in a series that “breathes new life into the feminist story of oppression and resistance” (Publisher’s Weekly).

Banished by Asa at the end of Grace and Fury, Nomi and Malachi find themselves powerless and headed towards their all-but-certain deaths. Now that Asa sits on the throne, he will stop at nothing to make sure Malachi never sets foot in the palace again. Their only hope is to find Nomi’s sister, Serina, on the prison island of Mount Ruin. But when Nomi and Malachi arrive, it is not the island of conquered, broken women that they expected. It is an island in the grip of revolution, and Serina–polite, submissive Serina–is its leader.

Betrayal, grief, and violence have changed both sisters, and the women of Mount Ruin have their sights set on revenge beyond the confines of their island prison. They plan to sweep across the entire kingdom, issuing in a new age of freedom for all. But first they’ll have to get rid of Asa, and only Nomi knows how.

Separated once again, this time by choice, Nomi and Serina must forge their own paths as they aim to tear down the world they know, and build something better in its place.

The stakes are higher and the battles bolder in Tracy Banghart’s unputdownable sequel to Grace and Fury.


Buy It!

Indigo Chapters | Amazon


*Many thanks to Hachette Canada for providing me with an ARC*

The Likes

Serina was a really fun character to read about. She’s still dealing with how to be a leader on this island full of women when she’s been trained to submit for so long. It’s a struggle for her to find that sense of being in charge when she’s never even felt like she was in charge of her own self. I also loved how she put some of that grace training to work and that this book didn’t dump on “being a lady”.

Nomi was always fun to follow. She is just so fierce and determined and passionate. Qualities that she had been told to keep down and out of sight because they do not become of a woman, but after all she’s been through, the betrayal she has faced, she works hard in this sequel to make up for it.

Others… There were so many great characters in this book. You get to know a bit more about Val and the crown Prince, whose stories were a little flat before, but this time we get into some of the nitty gritty of their lives.

The plot was fast paced and always had that cliff hanger bit at the end of a chapters that would keep me totally sucked into the story. The trials that these sisters go through are truly heartbreaking, but I loved reading about how their different strengths helped them in different times.

The action and intensity were so spot on. I have to say that the final battle scene was classic and made me feel like a warrior myself!

The sisterhood was there and even though they get separated for a while the connection between these two MCs is stronger than ever because they have the hope of meeting again. And the sister-love stretched beyond Nomi and Serina, there is sisterhood and female friendship across the characters in this book as they come together to fight against their oppressors and society that have brought them down.

The Questionable

I just wasn’t fully on board with how the politics of it all was resolved. I mean I liked that they weren’t fully resolved and there were still questions to be had, but I felt like there was room for more…


Overall, this was a very good sequel! It held a lot more action scenes, and the feminist agenda was still there. The incredible sisterhood and girl power was a wonderful experience that I think lots of readers will enjoy!

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Recommend: Yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this one yet? Are you looking forward to reading it? What are your favourite sisterhood books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Flashback Fangirling | Narnia Edition // It’s a long one!

Greetings readers!

SO a while ago I did a post on how The Hunger Games created a huge fangirling phase in my life. I really liked the idea of it so I decided to put out posts about all my odd obsessions that I’ve had in my life. Trust me that there are quite a few phases in my life and all of them have weird things that I did!

And of course I had to start with the biggest obsession I have: NARNIA

I debated with myself quite a bit about posting this because well it’s kind of embarrassing. Talking about the old things (and some current ones) I used to fangirl about just bloom this squishy feeling in my stomach. It’s part embarrassment, part old feelings of intense thrill and part nostalgia. It’s a crazy mix because when I was young, I fangirled hard to the point of obsession.

This is the official inauguration of the first Flashback Fangirling!

Narnia ~ A 13+ Year Obsession (and counting)

So I am going to start obvious. I have been (and still am) obsessed with this fandom for over a decade. It all really began with the first movie because I was not a reader when I was young (the books would come later).

film love GIF
via giphy.com

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie came out in 2005 and I was both terrified and in love. The monsters were scary, but the magic, the battles, the world was amazing and I prayed, pleaded and begged for the chance to go to Narnia.

So I looked for it. I searched every closet in every relatives house. When my family moved homes, every open house we went to had their doors opened by little Rendz. No door was left unopened. None. I even opened doors in my schools! My friends didn’t even question me because they knew what I was doing.

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via giphy.com

Speaking of my friends, I honestly had the best kind when I was young. I often made them play “Narnia” at recess. We would run and and scream into battle. We would fight evil witches and be friends with lions. We would have magic. Of course they got tired after a while, but I somehow managed to always make myself a Narnian-like character in whatever game we played.

the witch GIF
via giphy.com

GETTING CRAFTY ~ A NARNIAN COLLECTION

Making myself Narnia-like was a very serious deal for little Rendz. My mother had this lovely maxi red dress that I would often don when I was pretending to be Lucy. And since I had *some* artistic skills on my side when I was a kid, I fashioned Lucy’s silver crown out of pipe-cleaners and paper-cut flowers all painted silver. (I also made a gold version for when I played Susan)

But my arts and crafts didn’t stop at crowns. No way. I had to make the props, people. THE PROPS. There was no way my parents would ever buy me toy replicas from the movie when they came out, but little Rendz was resourceful and also very creative.

So for Susan’s bow and arrow. I painted a plastic bow I found at my local dollar store (I did have to beg my Mother to buy it). It came with suction cup arrows, but it was for the best since I am not an archer and my general aim is terrible. I never got the chance to make her horn, but one day maybe.

Lucy’s props included a little dagger and a vial with juice of the fire flower. Clearly my parents would not let me run around with a knife so I made a mini dagger out of paper toilet rolls and cardboard (this project was unfortunately never finished). I did however work really hard on the glass vial of fire flower juice. This prop was the most magical of all so clearly I had to have it. This project went through several trials, mostly because I could never get my hands on a good glass bottle. I ended up using an empty glue bottle and created the gold stopper out of a gold painted Styrofoam ball. I even dyed a little bit of water red to put inside to act at the juice of the fire flower. Yeah, I did that.

I did once attempt to make Peter’s sword and collected a lot of rolls, but I waited until Christmas to get my hands on a wrapping paper roll because they are nice and long. Unfortunately, some projects just never happen and this was one of them.

never spring best friends GIF
via giphy.com

TAKE A LOOK IN THE NARNIAN SKETCHBOOK

Stepping away from my actual role playing, as I got older I just started drawing a lot more. I have a binder full of sketches of magical forests and bridges. (I have always been a hardcore fantasy lover) I sketched of Peter, Susan, (a very terrible) Edmund and I think an unfinished Lucy. I was just getting into portraiture so of course I had to draw my favourite characters ever!

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c. 2011
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c. 2014
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c. 2014

I even drew the movie cover. Twice. Wow Rendz, wow.

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c. 2012
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c. 2012

OH WOW. I 1000% promise you my artistic abilities have improved immensely.

*Also these photos are atrocious XD*


I MADE MY OWN WARDROBE

As a teenager the obsession lived on.

For a senior art project I created a cardboard sculpture of the wardrobe. It has coats in it and a lamppost and everything. It is not an exact replica, but I put in a lot of Narnian detail.

 

 


I’LL BE HONEST, IT’S REALLY THE MOVIES

I have read the books a couple of times now, but the first and second movie are what really stick with me. I have the entire first film memorized. I know every line and will randomly just start reenacting a scene. The scene where the White Witch kills Aslan is my best performance. (Morbid, I know) I even get my sisters to memorize some lines so I don’t have to play all the parts. It is, however, to my shame that Maz knows more lines from Prince Caspian than me.

I might do a post on how I feel about the books vs. movies thing. Interesting…

the witch narnia GIF
via giphy.com

TO THIS DAY

I don’t think I do anything really obsessive anymore. I mean I am still very obsessed.

I am not one of those people to own a lot of merchandise and have 20 million copies of the books. I have one bind-up of the books. One copy of the first and second movie. Several homemade props and my imagination. I was just a kid and not owning any merch has never lessened my love for the fandom or makes my love for it any less.



THANK YOU FOR READING (SOME, MOST OR ALL OF IT!)

So yeah. I just rambled on about all the things I used to do as a kid. I am sure I missed a couple things over the years, but this is the gist of what kind of fangirl I was in this Narnian fandom growing up. Who knows what I’ll do in the future. Frankly, I’m excited to find out.

Let me know what you think! Are you guys interested in reading about my old obsessions? I promise I’ll have more to come with a few embarrassing stories. Some are not all book related and some are just plain weird. What kind of fandoms were you obsessed with when you were younger? And of course I invite my fellow Narnians to prattle on about their fangirl/boy things they have done! Come my darlings, come!

Reaching out tilda swinton GIF
via giphy.com

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Stripped | Review // Stepping out of my reading comfort zone!

Greetings readers!

Today we are stepping away from the YA world and jumping head first into the land of New Adult Romance.

You right now probably: WHat???? Rendz reading pure romance??? How???

And you are correct in questioning me because we all know I like romance as a subplot and not the whole plot! But when I got a reach out email about supporting Latinx romance writers I was all like “Well now I have to read it!” So that’s exactly how I talked myself into reading a book starring a school teacher and a male stripper. Yup.

Stripped by Zoey Castile

Stripped (Happy Endings, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Aug 28th, 2018
Publisher: Kensington
Goodreads

Skilled, sculpted, and sexy, the men of adult entertainment are the kind of guys a woman reserves for her fantasies, not her reality. But is there more to these professional hotties than meets the eye?…

The day Robyn Flores meets Zac Fallon is one of those days. You know, when you’re already late for work. Mostly because you haven’t really slept since your best friend abandoned you for her fiancé and her exponentially better life. The kind of day you drag yourself to the cleaners to pick up your laundry, only to discover you’ve got the wrong bag—Star Spangled sequined thong, anyone? So Robyn is definitely not ready for the ridiculously gorgeous guy at her front door, except that they have each other’s clothes. But then, is any woman ever ready to meet the love of her life?

There’s just one problem: Zac Fallon is not the love of Robyn’s life. Zac knows, despite the all-too-intimate dinner they share, he doesn’t have a shot at her. Because the next time Zac sees Robyn, he’s front and center of the male revue headlining her best friend’s bachelorette party. So much for wooing the pretty schoolteacher, much less impressing her old-fashioned family, with his upstanding lifestyle. Now he’s only got one way to win his dream girl. It’s gonna be the steamiest, most irresistible seduction she’s ever seen. And this time it will be no act…


Buy It!

Amazon


*I was provided a review copy by the editor in exchange for an honest review*

Context of Me:

I am probably one of the most awkward people on this planet when it comes to reading about sexy times. I mean I’ve read it before, I get red and blush but reading this was going to be different for 2 reasons. The first being that I 100% knew there would be plenty of sexy times so my face was prepared to blush. The second reason is that I told my sisters I would be reading this and the knowledge of them knowing I was reading a sexy-times book had me all kinds of colours. You know those memes about watching a movie and then all of a sudden a sexy times scene comes on and everyone looks at anything but the tv and each other??? You know that one, because basically its the same.

The Likes

The characters were interesting. I related a lot to the main character, Robyn. Her life’s story just resembled sort of where I’m headed and honestly that’s not the greatest thing, but you know it helped with relating to her. Some of the experiences with her Latinx family were really similar to my own, which was so awesome to read about. It talks a great deal about academics at one point and I was just hitting that #relate button time after time.

Now Fallon. Okay, after taking the time to get over his name (because I had a problem with it at the beginning) I enjoyed his character. He was interesting to say the least apart from his choice of career. I liked that we got to see the inner workings of his mind too and all the outside struggles that he had to deal with beyond his work. Personality wise, he is what I expected. Cocky, dirty boy with a soft heart.

Now let’s get to the romance because that’s what we are all here for!

Did I ship them? Sure.

Was it a little insta? Yeah yeah but like its cool. Actually it does take a little while for them to actually sleep together, so as a slow-burn lover I appreciated that!

On a scale of apple to firetruck, how red was I? Let’s just say my cheeks burned and I did my stupid giggle that comes out when I’m uncomfortable. That’s not to say the sexy scenes were bad, they were uh quite fun (is that a good adjective to use?). I’m a horrible judge of this, forgive me. I’ll just say that the sexy times were sexy, they are all different. I learned lots of new words. It was hot hot hot and I’m sure many people who gravitate towards the genre will find themselves enjoying the banter between Fallon and Robyn.

Now the cheese factor of this book was high. And I appreciate it because I was looking for cheese and I got the cheese and that made me happy.

Oh the DRAMA because if its one thing I live for in contemporary set books is the drama. There was good drama in this one. Lots of betrayal and awkward moments. I cringed, laughed and gasped so I’d say that the drama aspects were very successful.

The Questionable

The very ending. I just wasn’t on board with it because the realist in me came out and said “Woah, woah darlings, hold your horses there.” It didn’t spoil the whole book for me, but I just couldn’t get along with it.


Overall, for it being my first time reading a romance book it was a good experience. It’s a fast read, great characters, fun times, sexy times and a solid story. I’m glad I took a chance on it, reading out of my comfort zone is always a good thing. Next I hope to read a book that is a little bit more on the romcom side.

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: For my romance loving readers!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you ever read outside of your comfort zone? What romcom read would you recommend me?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

The Merciful Crow | Review // I didn’t know what to expect, but what I got was totally AMAZING!!!

Greetings readers!

You know when you go into reading a book and you really have no idea what to expect? I think I’ve asked this existential reader question before. From personal experience, I understand that there are two possible outcomes for something like this.

A) Either you are confused the whole way through and you have no idea what is truly going on.

OR

B) You come out pleasantly surprised and full of feeellllzzz

Thankfully after reading this book, fully unaware of anything about it, I came out more in the option B category.

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 30th, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Price: $25.99 CAD
Goodreads

A future chieftain

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*I read an ARC sent by Raincoast books!*

The Likes

Characters:

Fie: I’m not really a big user of the word “rad” but if I do use it I now have the perfect entity to which compare anyone or anything else’s radness. Because let me tell you Fie is 100% my definition of rad. She was an incredible character to say the least. Her family values alongside her own morals, goals and hopes were so intriguing. She would literally do anything for her fam (which Hi yes I relate to most definitely), but she also had that side of her that wished she wasn’t so part of the community she was in. I loved that this story explored how hard it was for her to be in the community she was but also be herself and defy the values that have been engraved in her so that she could save her family. I just really enjoyed reading about her journey, her struggle to accept that she wasn’t a carbon copy of every other member of her caste, but that she chose to branch out and break through the rigid class lines. That’s not to say that she doesn’t embrace her people, but through many obstacles she comes to learn that her breaking the cycle is what needs to be done.

I tried to make sense of that too. Just know that I loved her.

ON A FUN NOTE: I didn’t know exactly how to pronounce her name. I wasn’t sure if it was Fee or F-eye. SO throughout the whole book whenever I read her name in my head I would actually read Fee–Feye–Fo-Fum. How tragic.

Tavin: I tried hard to put up a brave face against him too, but I am a sucker for charmers and charm me away he did. Although we didn’t get a perspective from Tav, he does go through a lot of growth. There are prejudices to unlearn and bigotry that he has to recognize in himself and his own caste. What I really liked about him was how much heart he had and that he was willing to die so many times for others. It’s not surprising he had a self-sacrificing complex because that literally was his job. His little secret I guessed at..but was still super surprised.

Jasimir: So this relationship started out very rocky. Why? Because I did not like him for 70% of this book. Oh geez. Um. How do I even explain this. If we need to talk about growth, then Jas is one who definitely needed to grow. He needed to learn the difference between sympathy and empathy because as much as he felt sorry for those who were suffering around him he did little to make a difference or to show his compassion. AND THIS FRUSTRATED ME like it did Fie. But then we get to that 30% and he really starts to change and stops being the brat I had been calling him and that is why he is in the liked category. There is definitely still a lot to come from him, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we don’t revert back to the mess he was before.

The World and It’s Politics

A caste system based on different birds. Um YES. This was actually so cool. It was a harsh system no doubt and I wouldn’t exactly want to part of this world but it was an interesting take on a caste system. It is an unfair world in which the Crow Caste, Fie’s people, are treated like less than dirt, hunted to extinction, yet are so critical to aiding the other castes from a plague. Fie spoke so much truth, I was nodding my head and agreeing with her so much. The extent to which the Crows were mistreated was so mind-boggling, but you can’t help but look through history of the real world and find the parallels that run through it.

The Magic

It is in the teeth. TEETH. Owen really put magic in teeth and I am 1000% on board with this. I loved that each bird had it’s special power, I loved that the teeth could call on the power of the people who once lived but also allow the crows to relive those lives in memories. I don’t want to say much because I want you to experience the glorious magic when you read this book.

BUT THE BEST PART. I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed when I read this book so reading about bloody, magical teeth was such great irony I couldn’t help but love it more.

The Romance

Slow burn, enemies-to-lovers that shipped with my entire being. Thank you very much.

There was an abundance of diversity in terms of sexuality and gender identity. Jasimir is gay, and I’m pretty sure Tav is pansexual because he says he doesn’t care for gender. There is a non-binary side character. There are also characters of colour throughout the novel. And these are more than just quite side characters but major persons in the novel that are critical to the plot!

The Questionable

It’s a lot of walking. A lot of journeying. So the action was not the most prominent thing. I am an action kind of girl, I live for the thrill of the fictional fight. And there are plenty of action scenes still I felt like there was a lot of slow movement that had me teetering on the edge of disengagement.


 

Overall, I super duper enjoyed this one. I think the characters just did it for me. I think Fie completely won me over and I loved her story and everything to do with her. The writing was wonderful, the pace a little slow, but the overall story was a very powerful one!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES! I think lots of readers will like this one!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What kind of bird would you want to resemble? A weird question, I know.

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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