The Beholder | Review // It was good but also (maybe) comes with a side of cringe???

Greetings readers!

I hope you have all been having a wonderful month so far! I’m coming at you with a post that is long long overdue! Today I’m reviewing the first book I completed in June and I’m very excited to share my thoughts about it since I am sure EVERYONE is salivating over this cover!

I mean…BEHOLD THE BEHOLDER!

The Beholder by Anna Bright

The Beholder
via Goodreads

Pub Date: June 4th, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Price: $21.99 CAD
Goodreads

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.


BUY IT!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*I read an ARC of this book handed over to me by a friend!*

The Likes

The Characters

The Author’s letter did not lie when she mentioned that there were going to be a lot of male characters because oh boy there were many. But let’s start with the star of this whole thing.

Miss Selah. Wow. She is me and I am her. I’m not even joking. Except for the fact that she has a very troubling family situation and a very green thumb, neither of which pertain to me. Still, personality wise, I was in a way reading about myself. The shy and reserved kind of a pushover, yet 10/10 ready to fight when enough courage is mustered. I really enjoyed reading from Selah’s perspective and going through the works of juggling political machinations and her own feelings. Those are some tricky waters to deal with. That is to say, I didn’t agree with all her decisions and I think she is a little more put together than me…because I most certainly would have thrown a bigger tantrum in this book than she did at a certain point and that’s all I’ll say.

Okay so the boyzzz. I don’t know how to go about this because it could get spoilery….

So maybe I’ll just be vague and say that they were more interesting as you spend some more time with them. At first glance they all seem a little similar but give them some time and you can see the different colours. I for one think she’ll end up with a *someone* but um I don’t wanna say who or think to much about it in case I’m wrong.

The Plot and Pace

Like I said before this really is a book about treading in the waters of international courts. This is Selah’s story of finding a way to be political and be true to herself but also about her really finding out that politics is never a fair game and people will use you to their advantage. It was a lot less Pirate-y than I was hoping. We spend some time on the sea, but not enough to say this is a Pirate title. But the cover still 100% matches the book.

As for the pace, it was fairly even. It was not fast-paced, but not incredibly slow either. There are definitely some intriguing twisty things that happen and you have to give it time to do so.

I Loved That She Brought in the Classics

Bright’s book is advertised as a Cinderella x Odyssey kind of read.  10/10 you will get that. But what they don’t tell you is that if you have a degree in English studies or you fancy yourself knowledgeable of Old English lit then you will definitely find much more to enjoy in this book! Beowulf was here. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was most definitely here. And a few more European fairy tales and legends you might not have been expecting! I thought it was GREAT. Like it’s not that obvious, but I could totally pick out the connections.

The Romance

Talking about this counts as spoilers. I’m keeping my lips locked, but the romance aspect of the book is very important to how things roll.

The Questionable

Just two things. But two major things that kinda had me at a crossroads of whether I really liked it.

The World

What? When? Where? Why? How?  So it takes place on our Earth. I know this because England, Mexico, the US and other real countries were mentioned. I was kind of uneasy with the way she explained the origins of the Asian characters because she just kept using “Asia” …unless they were from another made-up country.

Other than that, the point of the story is that we have this made up country who is basically unknown to the world. Okay fine. But then Bright brings in this made up empire that is out colonizing and terrorizing other countries. And there is a really complex story there to understand it all, but I feel like I didn’t quite get it.

Then can we talk about the time period because I don’t get it. Given the info I got from the book, this story could either be taking place right after the big movements  in colonization or a few decades after. I was very unclear about it all. Like it didn’t seem modern, but the characters dress wasn’t a good indicator either since she talked about cardigans and leggings and dresses….

I am confusion.

The Language

She calls her dad “Daddy” and I just can’t.

And I say this as a hypocrite because I, Rendz, call my father “Daddy” too.

BUT I AM 21ST CENTURY WOMAN and Selah is an honestly Idek what century woman!

She also calls her step-mother “smother” many, many times. And ummmm nope.

I know authors can choose whatever language and style they want for the voice of their characters and not every fantasy book I read has to have that distant, rich, guttural voice. But I couldn’t help but cringe at times, sorry.


Overall, this was a fun read no doubt despite my qualms with it. It is not a high fantastical, fast-paced adventure, but it is the story of a girl, forced to do lots of things against her will and tread the murky waters of political courts. It’s a romantic and mystical tale I’m sure many story and fairy tale lovers will appreciate!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! It is a story to behold! (Bad joke I know)

Let me know what you think! Have you read this yet? Did you enjoy it? How stunning do you think that cover is? What fairy tales or legends would you love to read about?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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I’m Back, I’m Behind and Better than Ever | Sharing a little about my trip!

Greetings readers!

It has been a very hot minute since I last posted and if you’ve read through my last post you’ll know it is because I was on vacation!

I spent the last two weeks in El Salvador, which is where my family hails from before my parents immigrated to Canada. I haven’t been back to ES in about 6 years. The last time I went I stayed there for about 6 weeks so the 2 weeks that I spent there this year felt supremely short! Still I had a fabulous time there!


What can I say about going back?

It’s been a while. I forgot how mountainous the country is so getting from one place to another means going up and down a lot of hills and there are lots of curves in the roads. It is actually a very difficult place to drive in I would not want to get a license there. Car sickness there would not be fun.

But going back to my family’s town and seeing how its look hasn’t changed one bit was so nostalgic. I mean the house my family lives in has changed, but the streets are the same, the colours are the same if a little faded, the smells are the same and the people, the people. The people may be different, but the same too.

Now we have to talk about the sounds because Oh My Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone there is a morning person.

The roosters start cocking at 3:00 AM. The bread vendors are yelling on the streets at 4:00 AM. The vegetable vendors follow the bread vendors. Then come the ringing of the bells of the school calling all the students to class. The students themselves are noisy af. There are cars and car alarms going off every couple of minutes, motorcycles zipping by. It’s crazy.

NOT TO MENTION! When we first arrived the town was in the middle of a week long celebration of its Patron Saint (because the Catholics over there like to party) so at around 4:30 AM on the first two nights there were parades. Yes, parades. And fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. In the early, early morning.

But I cherished every sound however annoying it was. Even the kisses that the geckos on the walls of the house sent my way.

Now we must talk about the relentless heat. Geez, you guys it was HOT. Every single day. A suffocating heat alongside a killer sun that beat down. My Abuelita’s house doesn’t have AC so the fan was my best friend. There were days I could stand it, when I ate lots of cold treats (my Abuelita has a famous Popsicle recipe) and remembered to drink water. But there were other days when I got desperate and might have thrown a tantrum about the heat. Maybe. But after six months of cold weather the heat was a welcome change.

I won’t say much about the mosquitoes other than that they ate me alive. I applied as much repellent as I could but they still found spots of get at me.

We celebrated my Abuelita’s birthday and had a huge family reunion since most of the family was visiting! It was so much fun and all my cousins are crazy so you know we had a party! Then later in the week we celebrated my birthday which was fun, they even had a piñata at my party!

I did lots of touristy things while I was there. We visited the local water attractions. We went to this cool maze that was actually pretty tricky to navigate. We even had the privilege to go to a resort there. But mostly I spent time with my family. Uncles, aunts and cousins who have grown so much! I adore them, they know I do. I’m lucky my parents basically grew up across the street from each other so seeing both sides of the family was easy!


The Question You Might Have…

Now I know some of you may be thinking about the whole situation of El Salvador. Lots of you have probably heard of the refugees fleeing to the US, being detained and put in cages. And you’ve heard about the violence and poverty that has overrun the country. And it’s all true. I’m lucky that I can still visit. I’m lucky that the town where my family lives is still far enough from the gang violence. But it’s still risky, it always is. The gangs might not be as visible, but they are there. There is an unspoken curfew in the town, but by 9 PM the streets are empty, not a soul in sight. There are streets you can’t walk alone, if you have a purse you have to watch it and hold on tight. There is immense poverty. My family gets by but that doesn’t mean its easy for them all especially with my grandma’s health. They only get running water every other day, sometimes they have to wait longer. The water isn’t even drinkable. It’s not pure and really can only be used for showering and washing. Most people have to buy clean water. It’s a hard life and I only lived two weeks of it. Can you possibly imagine how hard it could be for someone poorer, being extorted that has their whole life there?


What Reading I got Done?

None. Literally read 6 chapters of Sky in the Deep. I just didn’t have the time to sit down reading while I was there. My time was short and I had to spend as much as I could living in the real world.

Before I left I meant to do a lot of blogging but that didn’t happen either so I have a lot of catching up to do believe me.


Let me know what you think! What have you been up to so far? What books have you read? Where have you travelled?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Early June Wrap Up and July TBR | I’m off to the Motherland!

Greetings readers!

Well here I am wrapping up the month rather early because I am leaving for vacation! I am headed to El Salvador for the next two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited! I haven’t been back in a very long time, so this is a very important trip! I promise to share some nature-y pictures when I get back and if you follow me on Instagram (@readingwithrendz) you will probably see some story updates!

I am pretty sure I don’t have that much to wrap-up this month, June flew by. But I do have some exciting things to share!

What Rendz Read (officially)

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
I absolutely loved this book! I buddy read it with Mandy and it was our first mutually enjoyed book! My Full Review

Spin the Dawn

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson
I LOVED this book! It has a great magic system and the characters are amazing! My Full Review

The Storm Crow Blog Evite

Stripped by Zoey Castille
This was a surprising read and so out of my comfort zone. I have a whole post planned for this, so stay tuned!

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
This was a very spontaneous reread but I still loved them all!!

The Haul

Purchased:
Jade City by Fonda Lee

Q: What is your take on used books? Yesterday I picked up this gorgeous copy of Jade City by Fonda Lee at used book store! It's in mint condition and I'm so glad to have it now. I've been eyeing this series for a while and since Orbit has such amazing new Adult Fantasy coming out this year I want to catch up on some of the ones I might have missed! #JadeCity #FondaLee #TheGreenBoneSaga #orbit #books #reader #bookishcanadians #fantasy #adultfantasy #bookstagram #igbooks #bookstagramer #bmvbooks #newbooks #usedbooks #fiction #reading #igreads

Raincoast Books:
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson
Heart, Strings, and other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young
The Grace Year by Kim Ligget
Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Q: Would you fly atop a giant magical crow if you could? The answer is YES. But since that isn't possible at the moment you can read all about what it would feel like in The Storm Crow by @kalynmjosephson! A new review for this book is up on my blog today so definitely go check it out! I absolutely loved it and I cannot wait for the sequel! I even made a little fanart to go along with it 😉 that is also up on the blog. I have big plans for the sketch I made! #TheStormCrow #KalynJosephson #bookstagram #yabooks #books #reader #bookishcanadians #fantasy #youngadultbooks #newbooks #firereads #sourcebooksfire #igbooks #bookstagramer #yafantasy #igreads

Hachette:
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter

Penguin Teen CA:
Bid My Soul Farewell by Beth Revis
Grave Maidens by Kelly Coon

Posts from Last Month

Disney Princess Hair Book Tag

Only one post, but it was super fun to write!

Reviews You Might’ve Missed

The Grief Keeper 
The Grief Keeper

The Girl Who Sailed the Stars

The Girl Who Sailed The Stars

Other Going-Ons

I Attended the Raincoast Books Preview Event

It was short, sweet, to the point and while I didn’t love the books I got in my goodie bag, I did get some Marissa Meyer swag which was a plus!!!! Plus the books they have coming out sound incredible!! I cannot wait to read them!

I Went to the Raptors Victory Parade

Being the huge bandwagoner that I was the entirety of the post-season of the NBA. I stayed up to watch the Toronto Raptors win and then went to their parade on Monday. I stood in the same spot for 4 hours to see them pass by within three minutes. My feet hurt, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere. There was an accident later on in the day, but I got home safely thankfully.

lets go basketball GIF by NBA
via giphy.com

I reread my first ever vampire series

I don’t want to get into too much because I am planning a special post for when I get back from vacay! This was really out of the blue, but it was such an interesting experience, I can’t wait to tell you all about it in about two weeks!

My Spontaneous Penderwick Reread

I had no plans on reading them, but Sam Devotta from Penguin Teen CA emailed me to discuss the books since she recently binged the series. I couldn’t help but get all giddy and nostalgic and I picked up the books instead of one of my ARCs! I only had time to get to the first 3 before my vacay, but those are my favourites so it’s all gooood!

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TBR

The Vacay TBR

I am taking Vikings to El Salvador! Yup! I am finally going to pick up Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young! And to go along with it, I will also be taking The Girl the Sea Gave Back, it’s companion novel!

ba6fa-33817152_816280881910893_3143826167006494720_n

The Rest of July TBR

I have quite a few ARCs to get to like Queen of Ruin and The Witching Hours. But I hope to also get to Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer duology or possible King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo like I had BEEN wanting to read since it came out! Who knows what the rest of July will have in store, we shall see!


Let me know what you think! What stood out for you this month? What books did you get? Do you have any vacation plans for the summer?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Storm Crow | Blog Tour // Review

Greetings readers!

I am so glad to be part of this blog tour for The Storm Crow, a new and highly anticipated read! Many thanks go out to Raincoast Books for inviting me to be a part of the tour and for sending over an ARC!

The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

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

Pub Date: July 9th, 2019
Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Price: $25.50 CAD
Goodreads

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.


Buy It

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


The Likes

The Characters

Let’s start with Thia who was such an incredible character! I absolutely adored her. After basically witnessing the destruction of her beloved country, Thia’s grief totally overwhelms her and succumbs her to a several months long depression and it takes her a long time to call it what it is. She carried this exhausting weight with her all the time and it prevented her from being who she was before the destruction. Throughout the story and the challenges she is put through, Thia has to find a way to live on with that sadness that used to keep her under her covers. And as the story goes on, Thia really starts to shine. We get to see her spunk, her extreme curiosity and her passion. Her fears and grief are always near at hand, but she slowly starts to creep out of the darkness that she once found so comforting and confronts the world before her. The struggle is never easy and Jospehson doesn’t shy away from showing how tough it can be to hold on to hope. It’s very rare to see mental health rep in fantasy and I thought that this was an incredibly interesting take on it!

Ericen…hmmmmmmmmmmm okay. So I really liked to hate him??? And then I pitied him??? At one point he is just so terribly horrible and then things happen and other things are brought to light and it’s just a whirlwind of emotions with this guy. I don’t even know exactly what to say. I can’t say we get a completely unbiased portrait of him because the entire story is told from Thia’s POV so we don’t get to go into his mind. But he is very interesting and mysterious. And at the end there I had a lot of questions about him and I honestly don’t know what he is going to do next which is the most exciting bit.

Other characters…Are kind of spoilery if I talk about who I want to talk about. Um, but here are some I can talk about! The best friend, Kiva, was so ferocious and charming I loved her! She was a great, fiery addition to this adventure! The sister, Caliza, is also really interesting. We don’t get a lot from her, but she is in a tough situation, that by no means excuses some of the things she says to Thia, but a little empathy is required everywhere.

BUT THE VILLAIN-CHARACTER…OMG I HATE HER!!!!!!!

The World

Love. Love. Love. 

Okay, first off the ARC came with a map and an index with all the countries of the world and it was just amazingly helpful. There’s a lot happening here and not all of it is easily memorable so having those two points of reference was amazing.

Besides that, the countries and people of this world were so fascinating. The ways in which they lived and practiced and fought were pretty, pretty different. The story revolves largely around the threat of one country becoming too powerful and conquering and slaughtering only to swallow their victims into their own body.  Thia is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen to her country of Rhodaire but things get messy.

The politics of this world were very tricky. Thia gets into a very sticky and messy situation where they are trying to break her and use that depression against her. It was hard to read about sometimes because I wanted to help but there was nothing I could do obviously, so I really had to hang on during this wild ride. It’s not all black and white. There are are shades of grey that really bring a richness to the troubles of these countries.

The Magic

Giant, magical, elemental, crows. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. The index also explained the types of magic found in these birds so that was really helpful too because we get a better understanding of how Rhodaire used to function with them and why they are so pivotal to the characters. I really liked this magic system, I did. It was not exactly what I was expecting and it definitely comes with it’s surprises.

The Action and Intensity

Perfect for this high fantasy! There were lots of moments when I was screaming and yelling at the characters for making terrible decisions, but it was fun! I enjoyed myself immensely while reading this. It has an even pace with the promise of danger always looming and when it finally comes you can’t help but be surprised and completely sucker punched by it!

The ending took me a little by surprise, I was not expecting things to go down the way they did and that is always a wonderful thing because it amped up the risk!

The Romance

I’m not gonna even spend time on this. Um. What do I even say? Things happened. Then more things happened. Then some things happened too quickly and I was kind of like ??? and then OTHER things happened and I cringed out of second-hand embarrassment. So I will just say that it helped with the drama, but I refuse to get attached for *reasons.* But I think others who’ve read this might already have made an attachment. Who knows?

The Questionable

Maybe I just wanted a little more with the magic. I felt like bigger things could have been done there even though the window for it was limited. I just think that’s what’s missing for me to give it the full stars!


The Quickie Fan Art

This is a very–very–quick sketch of a certain drawing that is actually in the book. I felt inspired when I read it so I took a shot at it!

It’s most definitely not perfect and I plan on doing a much better and cohesive version of it sometime soon! But for now enjoy the quickie sketch!


Overall, I had a wonderful time reading this book! It had all the right action and suspense. Thia is an incredible character with such raw experience and heart. The politics of the world will have you nervous and the magic in awe! I am so excited to see where the sequel takes us next!

Rating: 4.85 / 5 Stars (What is even this rating, Rendz????)

Recommend: YES! Oh yes, oh yes!

Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this? Have you ever read fantasy mixed with a mental health rep before? Isn’t that cover gorgeous!?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Spin the Dawn |Review // This book. This. Book. Ahhhhhh

Greetings readers!

One of the many, many flaws I possess, according to my mother, is that I cannot sew. Correction: I cannot sew properly. I can do a sloppy job of it, but actually doing a clean seam is beyond my abilities.

Alas, I still read this book which was all about sewing. And it was quite something. Quite something.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Knopf
Price: $24.99 CAD
Goodreads

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*My thanks goes out to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an ARC*

I had the lovely opportunity to buddy read this with my fabulous friend, Mandy @ BookPrincessReviews. Considering our last two buddy reads went less than spectacular, we were pretty stoked knowing that this book came with such good buzz! And we are both so happy that we both actually enjoyed the book this time!

The Likes

The Characters

Maia: Ohhhh I loved her. I loved her. She was truly a fantastic MC to follow. She grew up in a house full of brothers who loved and doted on her. She had a mother, who was taken too early, but adored her so much as well. And her father who taught her almost everything she knows about being a seamstress. I loved the way she treasured and practically carried her family in the toughest of times, especially as a woman in a trade meant for men. I loved that she literally risked it all for her family, even if on the inside she knew that she really wanted to risk everything for her own aspirations. I loved her honesty because she literally couldn’t lie to save her life.

Edan: I pitched it to Mandy that he was a Tragic Magic boy and honestly I still stand by it. He was all charm and you guys all know how much of a sucker I am for the charming, borderline annoying ones. He was mysterious and harbored lots of secrets, some of which we get into. He was an interesting character to have around as more than just simple a love interest. His role was pivotal to the politics of the book too, which are quite tricky to maneuver.

Others…There aren’t many. The other tailors in the competition are not at all what they seem at first glance. Trust me, keep yer eyes on them. Then there are the emperor and Lady Sarnai, who were quite, quite not at all who they seemed to be!!!

The World

It was so, so rich. And we go everywhere–well most everywhere. It was incredibly fascinating to explore the different landscapes that the characters live in and journey. You get a sense of the difference in lifestyle between the royal characters and the civilians. The politics of the world are communicated very well. The society is suffering after a war and the court machinations in the palace may not be helping at all. It is a seducing setting no doubt.

The Plot

I loveeeeeeeeee competition books. And I also adore quest books. And this story was literally the best of both worlds.

The first part was all about Maia making it as a tailor and passing all the tests in order to serve Lady Sarnai as her official tailor. It was soooooo crazy and cool at the same time. It was a cutthroat killer competition about sewing!!! Sewing! I loved the challenges that they got, with materials so unconventional that I applaud Lim’s imagination for creating pretty pieces (even if they are just being described in words 😉 )

Then came the journey which takes up a chunk of the novel. it comes with three pivotal challenges that Maia has to pass in order to A) survive and B) become the Imperial tailor. It was full of danger and intrigue and risk. I know they have a lot of down time during this part of the book, but I didn’t mind. I lived for every moment between Maia and Edan.

It lived up to its selling points

Mulan x Project Runway. Let me tell you. This book is most definitely Mulan x Project Runway in every way that you can think and beyond. Maia had such a moment when she cuts her hair, I actually screeched a little bit to myself. It might not have had dramatic music in the background, but it was no less intense and magical.

I’ve already talked about the tailoring competition, but I cannot stress how Project Runway it truly is! So much talent, trash talking and crazy amazing dresses. The tailor competition is a little (a lot) more umm bloody, but still. Amazing. And the PR vibes run beyond just the competition. Maia’s skill is so wonderfully explored, I would LOVE to wear any of her creations!

ALL THOSE COVER SECRETS

This stunning cover gives a lot more away than you might think. I’m screaming.

The Romance

I didn’t think we’d get that far with them in this book, but neither Maia nor I could resist Edan’s charm! I loved them together. I truly did. Mandy is right when she says that they goes back and forth a little too much, but I was swooning the whole way there. AND OF COURSE THINGS GET ROUGH TOWARDS THE END. But I still truly love them together!!!

The Questionable

Just one tiny thing. The antagonist(s) were a little lack luster. Um I wanted a little more sleeziness and creepiness and well villain power. They were a little too mellow for me, even though they caused plenty of trouble for our dear characters. So I lacked that drama. However, I think we are gonna get a lot more from them in the sequel!!!


Overall, I loved this book. I loved the ending because it is not at all what I expected and it has been a while since I have been surprised by a book! I also LOVED that Lim put in this little excerpt before chapter one that when I read it again after having read the whole book…it just transformed the whole experience for me.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

Recommend: YESSSSSSSSSSSSS

Let me know what you think! Are you excited for this book? How easily do you trust comps/selling points? How stunning do you think this cover is? Can you sew, are you any skilled in tailoring?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Grief Keeper | Review // A great page-turner for Pride Month!

Greetings readers!

I would just like to say that when I saw this book was starring a Salvadoran MC I almost squealed! I have never, ever seen my people represented in books and this was my first time reading one so I am super excited to share my thoughts with you today!

The Grief Keeper
via Goodreads

Pub Date: June 11, 2019
Publisher: Putnam
Price: $23.99 CAD
Goodreads

This stunning YA debut is a timely and heartfelt speculative narrative about healing, faith, and freedom.

Seventeen-year-old Marisol has always dreamed of being American, learning what Americans and the US are like from television and Mrs. Rosen, an elderly expat who had employed Marisol’s mother as a maid. When she pictured an American life for herself, she dreamed of a life like Aimee and Amber’s, the title characters of her favorite American TV show. She never pictured fleeing her home in El Salvador under threat of death and stealing across the US border as “an illegal”, but after her brother is murdered and her younger sister, Gabi’s, life is also placed in equal jeopardy, she has no choice, especially because she knows everything is her fault. If she had never fallen for the charms of a beautiful girl named Liliana, Pablo might still be alive, her mother wouldn’t be in hiding and she and Gabi wouldn’t have been caught crossing the border.

But they have been caught and their asylum request will most certainly be denied. With truly no options remaining, Marisol jumps at an unusual opportunity to stay in the United States. She’s asked to become a grief keeper, taking the grief of another into her own body to save a life. It’s a risky, experimental study, but if it means Marisol can keep her sister safe, she will risk anything. She just never imagined one of the risks would be falling in love, a love that may even be powerful enough to finally help her face her own crushing grief.

The Grief Keeper is a tender tale that explores the heartbreak and consequences of when both love and human beings are branded illegal.


Buy It!

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*Thank you to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an ARC!*

The Likes

The Characters

I really enjoyed reading from Marisol’s perspective. I thought she was so incredibly raw and brave. Her courage to travel with her younger sister from her home country all the way to the US was amazing and to keep that courage no matter how many times she felt like things were going wrong was heart-warming and wrenching at the same time. Fleeing from everything she has ever known for being herself, for loving, she does everything and gives everything she can to keep her sister safe. The love she had for Gabi was so pure, my heart. Throughout the book, Marisol does a lot of self-discovery, of learning to accept herself and opening herself to new love, it’s amazing.

Gabi was a pretty remarkable character too. We don’t follow her perspective at any point, but just the knowledge of what she lived through is terrifying to think about. Don’t get me wrong, she had lots of smiles to share and a bubbly personality which was adorable, but you can’t read this book, or at least I couldn’t read this book without thinking about how much Gabi went through too. The things that she has seen and the things she knows and how she deals with it. She’s a spectacular character.

Rey was another incredible character. One that you kind of have to let grow on you. She has been through a terrible trauma and is living with this grief she refuses to let go of. She is stubborn and could be quite mean but she also had this noble heart to her that I loved reading about.

The Actual Grief Keeping

It was so scary to think about. That this could be a reality. That the way the world is working could actually lead to immigrants choosing to use their bodies as containers of grief to have a chance to live safely in the States. The book explores a lot of this. Of how far someone will go to find safety and freedom. Marisol’s experience as a grief keeper is not easy and it was really hard to read about sometimes. There was a terrible hope in it and as much as it was a chance to *save* lives, it also heavily discounted the lives of others.

The Hard Stuff

Immigration is really the big topic of the book and it’s accompanied by the persecution of LGBTQ+ folx in Central American countries. Which also comes with the discussion on gang violence and extortion. There are a lot of heavy subjects that this book deals with and Marisol goes through so much. While we don’t actual go on a linear storyline from El Salvador to the US, there are plenty flashbacks of her times in ES and the struggles she went through!

Grief was such an important theme in this novel. It was tied to every aspect of each character’s life, not just Marisol. The grief in family, of when you lose family and of when you stop loving your family. There is the fear of being branded illegal in every aspect of your life, in getting caught and stomped and trampled over.  There was sadness, but there was also hope. I don’t want you guys to think that this book is just sad, there is so much hope to be had in it too. Marisol is such an incredible character to journey with as she deals with all of this.

On a lighter note…It referenced Narnia twice.

Can I get a high five? *High fives self*

The Romance

It wasn’t a slow burn…but these girls didn’t click right away. Marisol and Rey both had a lot to deal with before they could factor in a relationship. Their backgrounds were different and their life experiences were quite opposites too. But I really enjoyed watching them grow together, of leaning with each other. Bonding and creating new memories together. Talking things out and accepting the other for everything they were flaws and all.

The Writing

It was beautifully written. The Spanish that was incorporated in it was seamless and I LOVED the fact that it included actual Salvadoran slang. A+. But seriously there were a lot of quotable moments in the book.

There is a really shocking revelation that made my jaw drop. I mean I was sort of expecting it, but not exactly! A tease I know. But it was…wow.

The Questionable

I’m not 100% sure why I took off the 0.25 in the end. I think most of it is due to the fact that I waited two weeks to write this review so I really don’t remember. UGH. But I think I would have liked to read a little bit more about Gabi and how exactly she copes with everything that happens, but maybe that’s for another book.


Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It’s not the easiest to read in terms of content, but I really flew through the book so it’s definitely a page-turner. I know this isn’t exactly the El Salvador book I wanted because the country itself doesn’t have a good rep in this particular case, but it needs to be talked about anyways. The toxic culture of a country is one thing, but the people that it hurts, the people like Marisol are the ones who really need the highlight. It is a poignant tale, and an important one too.

Rating: 4.75 / 5 stars

Recommend: Yes! I think it is a great Pride Month read for those who are looking!

Let me know what you think! What did you think of this book? Are you looking to read it?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Disney Princess Hair Book Tag

Greetings readers!

I feel like I haven’t done a tag in ages, so here I am with one that is long, long overdue. Two of the most wonderful bloggers I know, Mandy and Kyera created this very special tag that combines two wonders of the world: Books and Disney Princess Hair. That’s right: HAIR.

The Rules:

  • Link back to Kyera’s original post on Kyera‘s Library and Mandy’s post on Book Princess Reviews so we can see all your answers! (Be sure to do this via pingback, we don’t get notified if you just tag our URLs)
  • Thank the person(s) who tagged you… show the community some love!
  • Obviously, come up with your own wonderful answers!
  • Don’t forget to tag others to keep the tag going!

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Accessory

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Princess: I’ve always been enchanted by Jasmine’s jeweled headband. I can just imagine the sparkle it might have.

Book: Hound in the Penderwicks series. If I could ever have a dog, I hope it would be one like Hound.

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Change

mulan GIF Raging Star (Dust Lands, #3)

Princess: I mean. I mean. I MEAN.

Book: THE TWIST in Raging Star by Moira Young. OMG When I went through that twist I…I was left speechless. Like I did not expect that to happen at all. It was amazing!

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Bun.png

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Princess: I need you all to take a good look at how the mechanics of this bun exactly work. It is difficult to do, trust me, I HAVE TRIED TO DO IT ON MYSELF AND IT IS NOT THAT EASY. Plus the way they draw Cinderella in modern images is just wrong wrong wrong.

Book: Roshani Chokshi hands down.

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sleeping beauty disney GIF Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika, #1)

Princess: Look at that volume at the bottom there!

Book: The Chronoptika quartet by Catherine Fisher. This is a series on time travel after all, so there is quite a bit of jumping.

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Braid

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Princess: Those three little girls did a great job with Rapunzel’s hair.

Book: TLC obviously!!! Marissa Meyer did an amazing job weaving together all these fairy tales.

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princess charlotte disney GIF Clara Voyant

Princess: I know it’s only a small scene where she has this do, but Tiana’s bob is just so cute!!! And in that dress, hat and boa…perfection.

Book: Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney. This is such a cute read and I loved that I was able to fly through this!

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Half

beauty and the beast belle GIF Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars, #1)

Princess: I believe she is the only princess who actually has a half-up/-down do!

Book: Kazmin from Even the Darkest Stars. Both Sha and I had so much trouble with this girl. AHHH but River from the same book was just a lot of down hill work.

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happy disney GIF Dealing in Dreams

Princess: Two simple braids, always an easy fix for medium hair.

Book: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera. I liked it, but at the same time, I struggled with some of the characters. A review is coming for this one soon. Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Bangs.png

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Princess: Even messy, these bands are still on point.

Book: Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim. I am so in love with it. UH.

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Princess: There were so many good gifs to use for this one, I had trouble choosing.

Book: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand. It took a while to feel like I made a dent in this book but it was sure was quite something.

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Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Pony.png

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Princess: I know she’s not a princess, but I mean look at that pony!

Book: The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner! This had the most interesting POV switching ever!!!!!!!!!!! It is very distinct so you always know who is talking!!

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Straight.png

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Princess: I mean for her to have been able to slice it off so nicely it has to be silky!!!!!

Book: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir! THIS SERIES IS SO INCREDIBLE AHH. AND EACH BOOK IS BETTER THAN THE LAST!

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Curls.png

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Princess: Just look at that wild red hair!

Book: A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna is so underrated and that should be fixed!! It is action packed and there are lots of twists!

Disney Hair Tag Prompts - Close

disney how far i'll go GIF by Moana disney curly girl problem GIF

Princess: I’m definitely a cross between Moana and Merida. All curls, all day.

Book: The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena. I related to the MC a lot in this novel even though we come from different ethnic backgrounds.

THE BEAUTY OF THE MOMENT by @bhathenatanaz 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 What is your favourite contemporary novel? I'd have to say that as of last week, The Beauty of the Moment really has taken top spot for me in contemporaries. I know I don't read them often, but this one is definitely worthwhile!  Today is my Blog Tour stop for this amazing book so please check out my full review! (Link in bio) And don't forget to follow along the rest of the tour! @penguinteenca  #TheBeautyoftheMoment #tanazbhathena #bookstagram #reader #books #ya #contemporarybooks #CanLit #yabooks #youngadultbooks #blogtour

 I Tag…

Blogger Books

JoBeth @ Blue Binding

*If you’ve already done this no need to repeat!*


Let me know what you think! Which Disney princess do you think has the best hair? Have a favourite princess? What kind of hair do you have?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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