HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO MEXICAN GOTHIC BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA!
I cannot tell you all how excited I am that today has finally arrived! I have been waiting for this book since it was announced and have since then fed on whatever news I could get about it! From the announcement to the cover reveal (my cover tweet is still my fave tweet!!!) to the book club kit and finally the music that went along with it!
Silvia Moreno-Garcia made a whole playlist for the book and as I was listening to it, I just had to pick my favourite song to honour this release on Tune & Title Tuesday!!
Tune:Wicked Game – Ursine Vulpine ft. Annaca
I was listening to the playlist while writing up an assignment and this song made me do a full stop! First came in the haunting piano and I was like ~woah hold on there, this is definitely a song I would be into~ and it turns out I was very much right! I don’t know how much it has to do with the book…but dang I’m intrigued. It could be a Catalina song or a Noemí song, but either way I’m into it! Even though I haven’t read it, I can definitely get the vibe that this Gothic novel is giving off!
Obviously I haven’t read the book yet, but I am very very very VERY much looking forward to it! I have seen a couple of reviews from people that have loved it and have been totally creeped out by it and I can’t help but be excited. I’m not a big horror reader, but I’ll be whatever kind of reader when it comes to Silvia Moreno-Garcia, so let’s do this! The song repeatedly states over and over that “I don’t want to fall in love” but HEY I’m very much looking to fall in love with this book!
If you’re on Instagram, follow me @readingwithrendz because I’m spending the whole week posting about Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s amazing work!!!
Let me know what you think! Have you gotten your copy of Mexican Gothic yet? What horror novels do you love? Do you listen to book playlists?
*Link to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements across the globe*
Thank you to the author for providing me with a digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review!
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
Pub Date: June 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Knopf Goodreads
In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie).
When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.
Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.
A Prelude for my lack of knowledge
I would like to start off by saying that I think I would have had a deeper and more profound appreciation of this book if I had read/watched LesMisérables and or TheJungleBook before diving into this one.
Um but not having any knowledge of these stories shouldn’t feel so…essential when reading and yet here I am feeling like I missed half the point of the story because I don’t know who Eponine is from the original story and how anything that she goes through in this book is extraordinary. sigh
Okay onto the review…
The characters were just there…
Someone, anyone please tell me if Nina had a personality because frankly I couldn’t find one. Like she seeks vengeance on the people who hurt her and I’m like yesssssssss vengeance, but there’s nothing else to her. Nothing. She was just a notorious thief and so amazing and everybody was like omg you are amazing and she’s like yes I am and I was like girl give me something! anything? Like what’s your favourite colour. Wrong question because it is obviously black since she is THE Black Cat, best thief, mastermind, can do no wrong. She trampled every obstacle! I just found nothing substantial beyond her need for vengeance. She was so distant from the story despite being the voice of the story itself. Does that make any sense!?
As for the rest of the cast. I can’t say I have a favourite. I can’t say I remember many names. Maybe the Ghost Lord just because he was so mysterious and the father-ish figure to the MCs.
The Experience in four parts…
Part one was a doozy. The first part was a bombardment of information that I was literally so lost. So lost. And by the end of it all I think I understood about half of it. There were so many names to remember. So many houses to keep track of. I know that there were guides at the beginning of the book and it’s my fault that I never referenced them again. But should I have to keep going back to remember everyone? Nonetheless, it was a lot of information to take in within the first few chapters.
I will say though that learning about The Court of Miracles was a very interesting. (I didn’t know it was an actual thing, until I googled it after reading.) It had a rich history, with so many interesting characters (that I wished we had delved into more). I liked the sense of found family found among these different guilds. I won’t lie though some-most were pretty shady, some more shady than others: you know if you know. It was a really dynamic setting, despite the fact that it took me most of the book to understand.
Then comes part two and I’m kind of like okay I sort of understand what’s going on. I was wondering about the time jump we did because the math wasn’t really making sense, but then I was able to wrap my head around it.
Then comes part three and I started getting impatient, it was time to get this show on the road. Um but I don’t remember many things happening. Just a lot of planning and planning. Basically part 2 & 3 were blurs of information. It was all build-up and build-up and could get quite tedious to get through.
Then part four came to save this book from being a one-star review. It was pretty good. Like really really good. More on that below.
The times jumps are what really messed me up. From what I remember there was no actual distinction of time, like no year or date. (Or maybe there were? Oh dear… Don’t quote me, it might be different in the finished copy) It was just so confusing because I thought she was a teen at the very beginning and it turns out she is only 9!?!? There were no real explanations for them other than the author wanting to explore this story from the very beginning instead of doing flashbacks. I can’t say it was that effective.
My slow-ass brain. I took me until part 3 to make the connection to The Tiger and honestly I’m more disappointed in myself because hello the book was literally citing The Jungle Book before every part!
We’re gonna talk romance for just a second because it is super background-ish. But y’all. There are like three dudes into her and again I question it because personality-wise Nina is just angry and again while that’s not a bad thing, there was nothing else substantial about her in my eyes. Anyways she’s got 3 dudes into and OF COURSE the one I like seems like he’s the one she might like back BUT I bet he’s the one that will a) betray her or b) die.
The Way the last 30% of this book saved me!!! We love to see it!
I was worried for the longest time, friends. Nothing seemed to be really gripping me and while we were making plans and plans and plans, nothing was getting done until finally things started moving!!! I was very much into the secret planning going on. The deception was g r e a t. The aristocratic court life was a little less upfront than I had hoped, but the politics were very fun to read about!
It was super intense because all that build up from the first 70% finally came crashing down. There was so much happening, but it wasn’t confusing at all. The political intrigue was high with so many views clashing and so many needs to be met. It’s a book about the oppressed rising up and clamouring for justice. The resemblances to the modern context are not lost on me.
In the end, the choices that Nina had to make were difficult, but she was unapologetic about it. THERE WAS A REALLY GREAT TWIST. I actually didn’t see it coming and I appreciate it! She had one goal since the very beginning and she achieved it. Will it have serious repercussions for her…oh yesss and that’s what the sequel is for.
Overall, I didn’t have a great time with this book. I struggled mainly due to my lack of knowledge and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the very slow pacing and build-up of the first three quarters. The book had great promise, but it just didn’t grip my attention enough.
Rating: 2 / 5 Stars
Recommend?: Um well I wasn’t a big fan of it, but maybe fans of Les Mis or the Jungle Book will find something more substantial to the book.
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you find it necessary to know background story of comp titles before diving into a new story? Has the ending of a story ever saved it from being a DNF or one-star review?
*Link to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements across the globe*
Welcome to the final tour stop for Tanaz Bhathena’s newest release: HUNTED BY THE SKY! I couldn’t have been more excited for today’s post! I am very pleased to be part of the blog tour for this amazing story that I am sure will knock your socks off, like it did to me!
Many thanks to Penguin Teen Canada for sending me an ARC!
Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
Pub Date: June 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada Goodreads
Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.
Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.
Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.
We have to talk about this world because I was absolutely in love with every part of it. Inspired by medieval India and Persian myth, this world had so much to offer in terms of magic and mayhem! I found the apartheid-of-sorts between the magical and non-magical folks to be really interesting. Even though it’s not a good thing, it was a great exploration of class struggle. There were myths and magical people and creatures of many kinds. There was a variety of magical powers and hierarchies. There was a sisterhood (I love sisterhoods!!). There was an evil king. There were ghosts. There was definitely some divine intervention going on there! And of course there was a PROPHECY!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so incredibly magical! And I loved that this book explored its horizons as well. It wasn’t focused solely on the one kingdom, but stretched itself into other territories too and the politics that connected them! It was just incredible overall.
These characters were phenomenal! First we have Gul, this fiery, hot-headed and snarky heroine whose only goal is revenge! I loved that she was so passionate and dedicated to her cause. That’s not to say that she was perfect, oh no siree! Gul is very much set on this one path and not seeing the effects around her leads her into lots of trouble, on top of the fact that she doesn’t exactly think every plan through. But she was a quick-thinker, a cunning magi and an angry bean that I couldn’t help but love!
Then there is Cavas who is—huhhh—who is JUST THE SOFTEST BEAN EVER! I related a lot to him in that he was just trying to get by and avoid being threatened by the more powerful and ruthless magi! He was so incredible! I loved everything about him. He cared deeply for his family and friends (the few that they were). I liked that even though he was quiet and tried to stay under the radar he was so brave and just as determined as Gul! He had some messy family history and it was so heart-breaking, but my boy gets through it all. Gul may have been the chosen one from the prophecy, but I loved that Cavas is an integral part to the success of this story!
Other characters…oh my there were many and I loved them all. (Yes, this review will basically be me saying that I love it all) There were so many personalities to be had. From the sisterhood to the scary/creepy magi-guard to the elusive king. There was even a certain prince that I have to say got on my nerves but is hmmmm well I guess I should say he got more interesting at the end.
With regards to the magic system, I am very much in love with it. It’s not limited to a number of choices since powers are unique to the person (which is something I love to read about)! Gul had the ability to communicate with animals–which is freaking cool if I do say so myself! I also loved that we got to see her grow into her magic. She was not the most adept magi in this book, which gives us this great chance to explore a YA heroine that has to work hard to make it. And then the end comes and things gets *revealed* and I just know that stuff is going to go down and it is going to be gooood!
The pacing of this story was great. There was bang from the start and then it is a descent into this magical adventure for vengeance! That’s not to say this is only a fast-paced adventure left right and centre, Tanaz did an amazing job of slowing down the game without losing that momentum! It was just a fun ride overall. There were some amazing twists that pop out of no where and some that you anticipate and are so excited for when you get to them!
And now we have to talk about this romance! Because !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First of all let us take in this ship dynamic. The smol angry bean with the soft cinnamon roll boy. The way that they meet!!!!! I just–I—*I need a moment* It was just so AMAZING! They had sizzling chemistry and yet were at each others necks too because well…they both are experts at saying the wrong thing at the wrong moment. Not to mention **other factors** that get in the way of my plans for this ultimate ship! That being said, I love them and am committed to the end!
The ending. Ahh the ending. I saw it coming and yet I didn’t because it didn’t happen exactly how I thought it would, so thankfully there was still a pleasant surprise! It is cliffhangery, but also perfectly sums up the book while setting you up for the next one! Safe to say I am very much looking forward to book two and all the drama we will have to go through!
Overall, I am so in love with this story. It promises a high stakes-revenge seeking-romantic-magical-adventure and it 100% delivers. Tanaz did an amazing job of creating this incredible world with these brilliant characters that are positively going to leave you begging for more!
Rating: 5 / 5 Stars
Recommend:Oh yes, absolutely!
Be sure to buy the book and enter your receipt into Tanaz’s Summer Hunt Promotion that is running right now!
Let me know what you think! Have you thought of picking up this book? If you could be blessed with a super power what would you choose?
Last month, Mandy and Sha from Book Princess Reviews created this splendid tag to celebrate the amazing Disney movie that is Hercules!
With the announcement of the live action of Disney’s Hercules on the way, I couldn’t be more excited to do this tag!! This movie has a great story, yes, but it also has some of the greatest songs! Shower concerts are always pumping when a Hercules song pops in 😉
Zero to Hero – Name a Character That You Didn’t Think Much Of At First But Ended Up a Favorite
Lee – Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
I didn’t love Lee at the beginning of this story because he was just so golden-boy and some of the stuff he did I just couldn’t get behind. Nevertheless, I really warmed to him in the end. He made some really tough choices and I had to give him credit for them!
The Muses – Name Some Characters/Books/Authors That Inspire You
Characters: Laia of Serra, Cress Darnell, Nina Beaulieu
Books: Gods of Jade and Shadow, The Penderwicks, Empire of Sand
Authors: Sabaa Tahir, Marie Lu, Marissa Meyer
Megara – Name a Character Who Has to Do Morally Complex Things To Save Themselves/Others/World
Viridiana – UntamedShore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Oh yess she does some shady things. I mean other characters do even worse things, but I really liked reading about Viridiana getting herself out of some serious trouble that she is lured into. This crime story has lots of morally complex things going on so I definitely recommend picking it up if you’re into that!
Hercules – Character That Goes Through a Huge Change
Maia Tamarin – Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
One transformation is obviously the disguise as the boy to enter the competition and so on, but I feel like Maia goes through a lot in this book. She learns so much and embraces new techniques in the hope of becoming the best. Plus she goes through a rather BIG and DANGEROUS transformation at the end so…
I Won’t Say (I’m in Love) – Name Your Favorite Romance With the Miscommunication Trope
Oh geez, what romance doesn’t have this trope!!! Honestly I don’t love this trope, but if I had to choose one book that I love…
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
I’m pretty sure this book has miscommunication or rather lack of communication in it. I really enjoyed how the author explored the struggle between the characters though and 10/10 I would read it again!
Hades – Name a Villain That Stole the Show
Adelina Amouteru – The Young Elites by Marie Lu
This trilogy follows the villain origin story of a young girl so of course she steals the show! It is action-packed, magical and heart-wrenching all in one! I love this trilogy and it deserves your love too, especially those of you who love villainous characters.
Go the Distance – A Book World Where You Feel You Would Fit In/Belong
This one is hard!! I want to say Narnia, but I’m not 100% sure I’d fit in! But let’s be honest I wouldn’t survive in a lot of the fantasy worlds I love, so Narnia would be my best choice. Plus, I must honour little-Rendz’s dreams—so Narnia it is!
With the Black Lives Matter movement creating waves of awareness across the world right now, a lot of us non-Black folk have been asked to think critically about how and what we read and so that is what I’m doing today.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I am a great diverse reader. Because I’m not. I’m a slacker and having looked at my shelves and Instagram feed I see a lack of Black experiences. Now more than ever we need to start changing. This isn’t a pledge for a month, or a year or for now. This is a pledge for a life time. To yes think about the race of the author and consciously pick up books by Black authors from all kinds of backgrounds, to read them and review them.
Before I start, I want to leave a link here to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements across the globe. From donating to signing petitions to educating yourself about what is happening right now, it is all in this link. For those who can’t donate (like me) because of financial difficulty, there are several YouTube videos you can stream that will donate all ad-funds accumulated to different foundations supporting BLM. Do what you can to help! We, as non-Black folk, need to keep up the momentum of the fight because if we are promising change we need to stick to that promise.
Between the months of January and May 2020 I have read 51 Books.
White: 32 ~ 63% Black: 6 ~12%
Latinx: 10 ~20%
Asian: 3 ~ 6%
Among the approximately 285 books I own:
White: 198 ~70% Black: 10 ~ 4%
Latinx: 24 ~ 8%
Asian: 48 ~17%
Indigenous: 2 ~ 0.7%
Yup the numbers are staggering. I really thought I was a decent diverse reader, but as you can see I’m not nearly good enough. Which means that there is only room for improvement and change, which starts now and basically never ends.
To help me (and you), I’ve created a list of books by Black authors I most definitely want to read in the (near) future. I know that I won’t get to them all by the end of the year, but reading Black-authored books doesn’t stop when 2020 ends. It needs to keep going and having this list will help me look back at all the options I have whenever I’m looking for something.
NOTE: I realize didn’t include a selection of anti-racism reads on this post. I wanted to mainly focus on fictional books about Black joy and magic etc. but this doc has a great list for beginners!!
ANOTHER NOTE: I also know that my Indigenous reads are also *severely* lacking and I intend to do something about it too. I plan on making a comprehensive list of books by Indigenous authors that I want to read as well and I will share it once I have it together!
On My Shelves Right Now
– Because it’s best to start with what you have –
Row 1: The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin Fate of Flames by Sarah Raughley Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
Row 2: The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Phillipe Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Ghost by Jason Reynolds King and the Dragon Flies by Kacen Callender Clean Getaway by Nic Stone Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson
Row 1: Truly, Madly, Royally by Debbie Rigaud I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest Slay by Brittney Morris Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Row 2: Color Me In by Natasha Diaz The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds If it Makes you Happy by Claire Kann
Row 1: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert Finding Joy by Adriana Herrera
Row 2: Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera
Row 1: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler Legendborn by Tracy Deonn A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
Row 2: Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo King of the Rising by Kacen Callender Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron
Row 1: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo Dear Haiti, Love Elaine by Maika and Maritza Moulite
Row 2: Pride by Ibi Zoboi Oculta by Maya Motayne American Street by Ibi Motayne Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Other Things To Do To Show Your Support!
Support your local Black-owned book store (google it!)
If you read Black-authored books, review them on Goodreads & retail sites
Tip: Round .5 ratings up on GR (bc that’s what we’re supposed to do anyways)
Remember that ARCs about/by BIPOC should go to BIPOC bloggers first
Request anticipated books by Black authors at your library
As you read books about racism/anti-racism remember to also read books about Black joy
Remember that this is a long-term commitment. Keep track of what you’re reading and remember to diversify your shelves!
I’m not here to preach to you because Lord knows I’m not very adequate at doing so. I made this post mostly to call myself out and get my act together. But I do ask that you actually look at the books on your shelves, in your shopping carts, on your TBR list and think about who you are missing.
And when you do your audit and see your disparaging numbers…feel the shame, feel the guilt but don’t let it consume you. Pick yourself up, promise to do better and actually do better.
It’s a long road ahead of us and we all need to do our part to better the world around us! Including our reading world!
Let me know what you think! Have you read any of these books? How are you planning on diversifying your shelves? What are some Black books you are looking forward to reading? Anybody up for a buddy for the books on my shelf?
I really had no idea what song to do this week because I haven’t really been listening to music these past few days. But randomly I just started belting out this song Monday evening and I thought: Why not!?
Look. I am not Britney’s biggest fan, but you could say I am a Britney Spears fan-ish. She was one of the firsts artists whose music we had on our first computer growing up. My favourite song of hers EVER is “Lucky” and I would listen to it on r e p e a t. I would even reenact the music video!!! I was that obsessed.
Yet, that is not the song I’m focusing on today o_o
STILL I love this song too
Tune: I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman – Britney Spears
I sing this alllllll the timeeeee. I just feel in my bones sometimes XD It’s a great tune, it has some long notes, it has Britney’s signature ohwowhowohwo XD. It’s perfect for those melodramatic teenage moments when you’re trying to be grown up but you just haven’t reached that point yet. But it’s also about just trying to figure out who you are on your own. It’s a great song, I can’t deny it.
Title:The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
A teenager who’s just trying to figure out who she is on her own???? That would be one Miss Margot Sanchez. My girl goes through a lot to try and figure out who she is. And along the way she messes up enormously. But it is a really great book. Her journey has so much to offer. It’s hard, it’s embarrassing, but it is so so important. I enjoyed reading every minute of it even though I raged *for reasons* And while Britney might not capture the image of the book, the song definitely does.
Let me know what you think! Are you a Britney fan? Have you read this book? Did you have or are you still going through a period of figuring out who you are?