Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Greetings readers!

I would like to thank Blogger Books for tagging me in this! We have finally reached halfway point of this doozy of a year and let’s be honest we’re all hoping that the second half treats us better.

I hope that you are all taking care of yourselves and each other. Considering the quarantine we’re in I was able to get a lot more reading done for which I am grateful so I’m hoping I can take that energy into the second half!

#1 The best book you’ve read so far in 2020?

Gosh such a hard question! I’ll go with my top three though!

  1. The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso
  2. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
  3. This Train is Being Held by Ismée Williams

Three completely different works. Three completely different genres. All totally incredible!

#2 Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020?

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)
via Goodreads

I haven’t read many sequels this year, but this was one of the better ones! It starred my favourite character from book one so I was very excited to read this one! Thank fully it worked out for me in the end!

#3 New releases you haven’t read but want to?

MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic
via Goodreads

The only reason I haven’t read this one yet is because my pre-order hasn’t been delivered yet! Please send me some good vibes y’all I need this book to get to me fast!

Others I’m excited for:

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

#4 Most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

I think my excitement for these books is pretty justified…I mean two of my favourite authors. One conclusion to a series, another a new beginning. I’m getting blessed this winter!

A ​Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes, #4) Skyhunter (Skyhunter, #1)

#5 Biggest disappointment?

Diamond City by Francesca Flores

It was just not for me unfortunately. I had such high hopes, but the characters really fell flat for me.

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

Again, the characters really fell flat for me. I was also really confused for most of the story and I only really got invested in the last 30%.

Diamond City (The City of Diamond and Steel, #1) The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)

#6 Biggest surprise?

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

I seriously did not know what I was going to get from this portal fantasy and I was swept off my feet my this book! It is whimsical and magical and I wanted more but at the same time the book was perfect the way it was written! I highly recommend!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

#7 Favorite new author (new to you or debut)?

K.S. Villoso.

I loved The Wolf of Oren-Yaro so much, I proceeded to buy all of her other self-published works set in the same world. I haven’t read any yet — because hello I never get my act together– nevertheless I’m hoping to jump into another book of hers before the sequel to Oren-Yaro!

oren yaro

#8 Newest favorite fictional character?

The Russian from The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

I’m a sucker for a comic relief and this man is a COMIC RELIEF. But he is getting his own book so we cannot help but stan him!

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)

#9 A book that made you cry?

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

I was going strong and then the end came around and I just got so emotional at the end of it all. I didn’t full on sob, but tears did collect in my eyes. It was a story of sibling love and those always always get to me!

KOB

#10 A book that made you happy?

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega

This book was pure joy! I mean it did have its more sorrowful themes, but in the end it was a story of family and friendship and love. It was adorable and I loved the relationships between the different characters!

Ghost Squad

#11 Favorite book-to-movie adaption you’ve seen this year?

I don’t think I’ve seen a book to movie adaptation this year…

Unless we count the 10000th Narnia re-watch I did.

#12 Favorite post you’ve written this year?

Mood Reading | Super specific environments that make me want to read a certain genre…

Mood Reading

I had a lot of fun thinking about how my mood is affected by the environment I am in. I know I say I’m a mood reader all the time, but this post really made me think about what exactly triggers my moods and how the books I read are related to them!

#13 Most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year?

I haven’t bought many books, but the cover of The Kingdom of Back always stuns me!

KOB

#14 What books do you need to read by the end of 2020?

Well

Mexican Gothic!! But I also need to read my 2020 ARCs like Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro! And on top of that I want to read some of my backlist books on my shelf like the rest of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work!

#15 Favorite book community member?

I love all of you! I couldn’t pick a favourite 😉


I won’t be tagging anyone specific because I am too tired, but please feel free to do the tag yourself if you haven’t done so yet!

Let me know what you think! How has the first half of your year been so far? What has been your favourite book? What book are you still looking forward to reading? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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June Wrap-Up & July TBR | I still don’t have my copy of Mexican Gothic…

Greetings readers!

I hope you find yourselves doing well. June was quite a month and we are now half way through the year. I hope you’re taking some time to rest, but also keep up with the movements across the globe.

As you have read in the title, I am still waiting for my copy of Mexican Gothic to arrive, which is very disappointing. I thought pre-ordering would get me my book on time but alas here we are. In the mean time, I’ll happily enjoy some of the other books awaiting to be read by me!

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What Rendz Read

Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega e-📘 (4/5) Review
Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena 📘 (ARC) (5/5)
How Long Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin e-📘 (4/5) Review
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary 🎧 (4/5) Review
If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann  e-📘 (4/5) Review
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert e-📘 (4/5) Review
PET by Akwaeke Emezi 🎧 (4/5) Review

7 books in total! A little less than initially desired and as usual I didn’t complete my planned TBR since my mood took over. But I’ll allow it since it was much needed change.

Highlight Book(s): Hunted by the Sky was just as incredible as I was hoping! I was also super in love with Dani Brown! So looking forward to the next book!

Lowliest Book(s): None this month! They were all pretty high ratings!

The Haul

WELL I CERTAINLY DIDN’T GET MY COPY OF MEXICAN GOTHIC!

ARCs

The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson
The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen
Lobizona by Romina Garber
Category Five by Ann Davila Cardinal
Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

Giveaway win!
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Other Going Ons

Keep up the momentum

News cycles move on, but it’s important to stay in the loop! Keep on signing, learning and donating what you can! ❤

Link to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements across the globe

Half-way through my summer course! 

This also consequently means that I’m closer to the end of the summer and beginning of my next fall term, but we celebrate the small victories!

Posts of the Month

Tune & Title Tuesdays

June 2, 2020

It’s MEXICAN GOTHIC release day + Tune & Title Tuesday! So we are going to celebrate!

MEXICAN GOTHIC

The Court of Miracles | Review // When the last quarter saves you

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Hunted by the Sky | Blog Tour Review // Socks? They’ve been knocked off!

Hunted_by_the_Sky-Twitter

The Hercules Book Tag

BOOK TAG!

Books by Black Authors to Read Today, Tomorrow and To the End of Our Days | A Shelf Audit & a Promise to do better

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TBR

I really do want to stick to this plan as best as possible so wish me luck!

  1. Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
  2. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman
  3. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (Buddy read w/ Natalie @thefineartofreading)
  4. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
  5. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
  6. The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson

And whatever other library books I get in the mean time!

Ambitious much? Absolutely. So I’m asking you all to send me some good vibes so I can actually get through these all!


Let me know what you think! What have you read this month? What books did you get? What books are you looking forward to reading!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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It’s MEXICAN GOTHIC release day + Tune & Title Tuesday! So we are going to celebrate!

Greetings readers!

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!

Listen to the full playlist on Spotify!

Title: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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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*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Court of Miracles | Review // When the last quarter saves you

Greetings readers!

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

The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)
via Goodreads

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 Les Misérables and or The Jungle Book 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.

o-o

Anyways.

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*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Hunted by the Sky | Blog Tour Review // Socks? They’ve been knocked off!

Greetings readers!

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

Hunted by the Sky (Hunted by the Sky, #1)

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.


The Likes

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!

SUMMER HUNT Promotion_FBTwitter

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?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Hercules Book Tag

Greetings readers!

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

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
via Goodreads

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

Untamed Shore
via Goodreads

Viridiana – Untamed Shore 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

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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 (The Wedding Date, #1)
via Goodreads

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

The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)
via Goodreads

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 

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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!

I Tag…

Kaya @ A Fictional Bookworm

Nadwa @ Painfully Fictional


Let me know what you think! Are you excited for the Hercules movie? Which Hercules character is your favourite? Which song is your favourite?

*Link to the master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Books by Black Authors to Read Today, Tomorrow and To the End of Our Days | A Shelf Audit & a Promise to do better

Greetings readers!

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.


The Audit

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%
Indigenous: 0

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 –

1

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

Middle Grade

2

Row 1:
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

Row 2:
Ghost
by Jason Reynolds
King and the Dragon Flies by Kacen Callender
Clean Getaway by Nic Stone
Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson

Young Adult

3

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

Romance

4

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

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

6

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

Afro-Latinx 

5

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!

*more here @tae_keller*

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?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Tune & Title Tuesdays | It’s Britney Bitch

Greetings readers!

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

The Education of Margot Sánchez
via Goodreads

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?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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May Wrap Up & June TBR | Just trying to keep it together

Greetings readers!

Well hello everyone. I hope that you are taking the necessary precautions to ensure your safety and keep in good health. Times are really tough right now and I hope that you are reaching out to your friends and loved ones.

In terms of reading and being bookish, y’all I’m actually keeping up with my blog schedule, what???? Well that’s a first for me and honestly I’m very proud of myself!

wrap-up-3

What Rendz Read

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda 📘 (ARC) (4.5/5) Review
Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter 📘 (ARC) (4/5) Review
Winter by Marissa Meyer 🎧 (5/5)
Wires and Nerve Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer 📘 (5/5)
Wires and Nerve Vol 2.: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer 📘 (4/5)
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall 🎧
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith 📘 (45) Review
Well Met by Jen DeLuca 🎧 (2.5/5)  Review
Always Never Yours by Austin Sigmund-Brokka and Emily Wibberley 🎧 Review
Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster 📘 (ARC) Review
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant 📘 (e-ARC) RTC
Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas e-📘 Review
Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn e-📘 Review

13 books! I beat my total from last month! I honestly could have done more but there was one point in the month where I got lazy. Also most of these were books I got from my digital library since all my holds came in at practically the same time!

Highlight Book(s): Fireborne was really good, but it can’t top the emotions I went through while rereading TLC and The Penderwicks!

Lowliest Book(s): The Court of Miracles and Salty, Bitter, Sweet really lacked for me.

night witch


The Haul

NOTHING. NOTHING. NOTHINGGGGGG.

Nothing except for digital library books.


Other Going Ons

I only have one summer course and it is really out to get me

I had so many things planned to do while I was home and since I was only taking one course I thought that I could keep up with my art projects and reading schedules but no. Of course not. Here I am struggling to learn and have fun at the same time. While I can’t say the course is very stressful, it is heavy and I resent having to take it. But it is what it is and I hope I at least learn something!

Penguin Teen Virtual Events

Penguin Teen Canada has hosted some pretty cool virtual  events this month and I was so grateful to be a part of them! My partner and I even won the Trivia Night they had one day and I was so excited! So many great authors joined in, including Marie Lu!!!! It was just a great way to spend Friday nights talking about books!


Posts of the Month

Tune & Title Tuesdays

May 5, 2020
May 12, 2020
May 19, 2020
May 26, 2020

Tune & Title Tuesdays

My Favourite Book Children | I Am A Mother of Many

My Favourite Book Children

Rereading The Lunar Chronicles | Audiobook Edition // I. am. still. so. obsessed.

Rereading the Lunar Chronicles

Animal Crossing New Horizons Book Tag

BOOK TAG!

My Signed Books Collection | Second Edition

MY SIGNED BOOK COLLECTION


TBR

I have a plan people! If I get to every single book is another story entirely, but I have a plan and I am so very excited!

  1. Legend Series Reread leading up to Rebel by Marie Lu
  2. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
  3. Con Sabor Reading Challenge: The Moon Within by Aida Salazar, Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
  4. Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
  5. Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
  6. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (also for CSRC)

Plus whatever digital books I get from my library! You just never know exactly what you’re gonna read!


Let me know what you think! What have you read this month? What books did you get? What books are you looking forward to reading!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Curse of the Night Witch | Review // A truly magical and mythological read!

Greetings readers!

I am so happy to be bringing to you a review for one of my most anticipated reads of June! You all know–or will now know–that I am part of the Con Sabor reading challenge in which I will be reading as many Latinx books as I can. One of the categories calls for fantasy and today’s book falls into that category!

Many thanks to Raincoast Books for providing me with an ARC!

Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island, #1)

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pub Date: June 9th, 2020
Goodreads

On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.

Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.

The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin…the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.

With only his village’s terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.


The Likes

This world was truly magical. It was recognisable in some ways, with the school and such,  but it had a totally different societal structure and history that I loved to read about. I loved that we got to read about the legends that are so ingrained in the stories of the people and how the magic of the emblems developed among them. Aster did an amazing job of using whimsical imagery and Latinx legends to create such a wonderful and intriguing world.

The magic system was so interesting. I know lifelines already exist, but not like they do in this book. Here they are 10x more vivid and trusted sources of information about your future. Then there is the magical marker/tattoo, the Emblem, that tells you exactly what kind of special power you will inherit. It is a magic that is quite interested in who the person will become and to reject it becomes a test against fate and destiny which is always fun to read about.

These characters were delightful. Tor, Melda and Engle had such personality and banter that I loved watching them squabble and bicker as they get themselves into more and more danger. I loved that Tor was like any other regular 12 year old who unhappy with his predicted future and did something about it that may have not been the greatest decision. I really related to Tor’s desire for adventure and excitement in his life that was just quiet and comfortable. I don’t know if I could have gone to the extremes he did when I was 12, but I admire his effort.

The plot itself was really interesting. It’s a race against time that keeps the book moving. I Love Quest Narratives!!! The characters are fighting for their lives as they trace back legends and magical monsters which lead them into lots of danger and trouble. I can definitely see how Aster took inspiration from Latinx myths and tales which she also cites in her acknowledgements. I think tracing back the magical tales was my favourite aspect of the book because we get to see the original written tale and then interact with the tale in real time with the characters. I’m not sure that last sentence made sense, but basically what you have to know is that this story is closely tied to myth so pay attention!

I had an epiphany at the very end about Tor and wow. I really did not catch it until the last turn of the page and it made me so excited for the next book. There is always something more than meets eyes about characters and it is so thrilling when you find those tid-bits the author leaves behind.

The ending itself is quite nice. Not too cliff-hangery but definitely cliff-hangery. It sets up great intrigue for the next book and I am excited to read it.

The Questionable

Despite being a race against time, the book does take a while to get moving. It’s not very fast-paced since the characters meet so many people/myths along the way and they each have to get their moment. I think it might also be a little repetitive in the middle. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the myth-hunting very much but I could sense the pattern in the middle and eventually the story felt like it was dragging a little too slow. Nonetheless, each myth was very interesting!


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It wins most definitely for its magical prose and charmingly realistic characters! It was exciting, whimsical and totally immersive. I think young readers and older ones alike will find something to love about this story!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Absolutely! This is a great read for fantasy lovers!

Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this book! Do you like to learn about myths from different book worlds? What is your favourite magical quest read?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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