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A Sky Beyond the Storm | Review // I will NEVER recover from this book, and that’s okay with me

Greetings readers!

How do you write a review for the single, most anticipated read of the past year? How do you write a review for a book you’ve been waiting ages for? How do write a review for a finale of a series so near and dear to the heart? How?

It is simply impossible.

But the Commandant beat that word out of my vocabulary.

Or rather Sabaa Tahir wrenched it from my mouth.

So here goes my attempt to describe my love for a series literally EVERYONE needs to read.

Beware of spoilers for books 1-3.

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

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

Pub Date: Dec 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Razorbill

Prepare for the jaw-dropping finale of Sabaa Tahir’s beloved New York Times bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series, and discover: Who will survive the storm?

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.


This book took my breath away.

Plain and simple.

First of all, we have to talk about the characters because the characters are what make this series so amazing.

Laia will forever be my queen. You can all complain about the amount of wrong decisions she makes all you want, it will go in through on ear and out the other for me because in this house Laia of Serra is perfection. We root for the fact that she never stops fighting, that she fights for her people, her family, her love (hello Elaia rights) and herself. She fights with her compassion and her sense of justice. Yes, she gets things wrong and she makes mistakes along the way, but when you have everything to lose, you never stop fighting. And geez Laia has just grown so much over the series, she has struggled with her past decisions, they haunt her and continue to haunt her, but the love that she gives is enough to push her, to keep going no matter what and I’m literally here sobbing.

Elias Veturius will forever be my book husband. Considering how Reaper ended, his chapters continuously TORE OUT MY HEART!

tired al pacino GIF

Fighting the magic that has taken over his consciousness takes a toll on him and I loved the exploration of humanity when it came to his arc. Reading about Elias’ fighting to regain the one thing he promised himself he would never give up brought me to tears so many times! And the things my poor baby goes through in this book!!! The pain and suffering he endures because of the deals he’s made to save those he cares for the most even if he cannot remember them! His white knight complex is next level and that really bothers Mauth XD. Learning to let go of that responsibility and shame he feels, learning to fight the magic that tells him to forget, figuring out how to keep the world from collapsing…it’s a lot. (Understatement of the century) And *tears up* my husband takes it all on because he is just that amazing.

Helene will forever be a roller coaster character. Helene suffers in this one. I mean they all suffered, but she dang she goes through a lot. (Another understatement) While trying to protect her nephew, managing a divided empire, fighting a magical demon and his Commandant-shaped henchperson…she deals with A LOT. But you know what? More than anything, I am thankful for the epiphany she finally has! And yes I’m talking about her finally recognizing the atrocities of the empire she holds in such high regard. In the end she needed it to move forward, for her people to have a future she needed to recognize the humanity in all the people the empire has trampled in its path. Does she still have a lot to learn and a lot to change? Oh YEAH, but getting to the start is an important step.

I also have to note how much I loved the friendship between Laia and Helene. Especially after two books of them hating each other, their easy friendship was so heartwarming!

flattered brittany murphy GIF

Other characters…I would die for Musa of Adisa. I WOULD DIE FOR HIM. I would literally lay my life down for him. (We get it, Rendz.) Yes. We love a sassy, snarky and ship-supporting beekeeper. We love a magician with secrets! And we love that he puts people in his place when he needs to! But oh my poor baby suffers. Darin, my sweet summer child. He is the kind of brother I would want. As he fights the dark memories from Kauf, he does his best to fight for Laia, to keep his family united! He is a star! Avitas Harper, sir you deserve the world. Harper, in his quiet and background way always makes himself known and we stan him so hard. I would really love to know more about his backstory.

The Commandant can choke, as usual. The Nightbringer can also choke. But dang I gotta say I love how Sabaa plotted out this villain/antagonist script in the end. I loved the grayness that she poured into the story. Don’t get me wrong, these two needed to be defeated, but I liked the twistiness that prompted their motivations. No tragic past can ever truly justify the evil they unleashed on the world, but dang I have to say I was impressed. I also like how Sabaa showed how none of the groups were 100% *good* or 100% *bad*. Like the Scholars were terrible to the Jinn, the Martials were terrible to everybody, the Jinn also terrible to everyone, the Marinn were kind of snobby, but there was still some goodness in the individuals of these groups. Enough goodness to rock the lines of divide…which I guess is the point of the series!

Now let’s talk ships because I am here for the ships. But of course I won’t be spoiling anything so all I have to say about the romance in this book is that.
It was torturous.
It was constant pining.
It was hot hot hot.
It was heart-SMASHING.
It was MIND BLOWING.

Tim And Eric Omg GIF

Okay so plot wise, things are intense. Just thinking about all the places and people we visit in order to fight this evil. Personally, I loved it. I wanted to savour this world and ending so I was happy that we got to travel and have so many intense mini battles before the big showdown. That being said, it is a slow read. With continuous POV switches and a million things to fix this story is one you have to allow yourself to simmer in. Because before you know it, you are in a pot of boiling water.

AND I MEAN IT. THE WATER IS BOILING.

THE LAST 70ISH PAGES LITERALLY SHATTERED BY HEART INTO A MILLION PIECES.

I’m telling you I sobbed. SOBBED.

I was sitting in my room at 1:30 a.m. in a boogery-teary state. So so much goes on in these final chapters. I was SCREAMING AT LITERALLY EVERYTHING! Sabaa promised a jaw-dropping ending and she delivered! She 100000% CRUSHED MY HEART IN A MATTER OF PAGES.

SABAA DID NOT HOLD BACK IN BRINGING ON THE EMOTIONAL PAIN. 

What can I say…but be prepared to not be ready. Be prepared to not be ready about what goes down, who shows up, what goes wrong, what goes right. I sure as heck was not prepared for a single thing that happened. These 70 pages were the most intense, the most scary, the most hopeful and the most painful pages I have ever read.

And people, be ready to cry because you are not prepared for the character deaths. You are not prepared. I was on the floor. I was on the fucking floor crying my eyes out. I sobbed for three days straight after putting down this book and a lot of it has to do with the characters deaths: Both who dies and how. I just..I’m sitting here getting emotional again.

And then we up the ante with CHARACTER REVELATIONS THAT JUST AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I DID NOT SEE THESE COMING AND I WAS ONCE AGAIN ON THE FLOOR ABSOLUTELY GOBSMACKED. GOBSMACKED BY MY EMOTIONS.

So yeah these last 70ish pages.

Also the section titles: Iconic.

And finally the ending: When I tell you that I was in my feels. I WAS IN MY FEELS.


And we have made it to the end. How are we doing? Because I just relived every emotion I went through while reading this book and to be honest I want to do it again. My heart will never heal. I literally am never going to get over this series and that is exactly how I like it.

I asked for this, friends. I asked to be emotionally wrecked by this finale and when I tell you it delivered, it DELIVERED.

Sabaa is a master storyteller. She is going down in my books as one of my favourite authors ever. She deserves your love and attention!!!

Rating: ALL THE STARS!

Recommend: HELL YES. GET ON THIS SERIES PEEPS!

Let me know what you think? Have you read this series? Were you also emotionally destroyed? If you could pick an Ember character to get more story from, who would you pick?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

January Wrap-Up & February TBR | This semester came for my neck, but my reads keep my going

Greetings readers!

Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves!

What’s new for you? How have you been holding up? I can’t say anything new has been happening in my corner of the internet. I know my blogging has been slow this past month and well…it will probably continue to be slow because if you can tell from the title of today’s post, my school work is really trying to end me!

But my dear friends, this has only made me realize how wonderful it is to be a reader! Books have been a major escape for me as I fumble with my school and I am so blessed to have had such an incredible reading month to start off 2021!

So let’s get onto it, shall we!

wrap-up-3

What Rendz Read

A Thief Among the Trees by Sabaa Tahir – 4.5/5 stars
The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso – 5/5 stars
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado – 5/5 stars
The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann – 4/5 stars
Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe – 4.5/5 stars
I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter by David Chariandy – 5/5 stars
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel – 5/5 stars

Highlight Books: Well as you can see they are all pretty much highlight books! I can’t believe how blessed I am to have had such a wonderful January reads! If I had to pick a top book it would be a three-way tie between The Ikessar Falcon, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega and Infinite Country.

The Haul

I haven’t been buying much as of late because well…hehe…money is really something I can spend too much on on books right now. I want to lol but it is not in my best interests. That being said I did get Skyhunter by Marie Lu came in the mail the other day! And I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Infinite Country by Patricia Engel by the publisher which is very awesome!

Other Going-Ons

Geez if I could remember I would tell you….

Oh wait, one thing!

Shadow and Bone Netflix News

So we now have a teaser trailer, a release date and promo posters!!! I was screaming for the entire day when I saw these beauties!! I just couldn’t stop staring at them. *sobs for an eternity* I would love to hear what you all thought! What was your first reaction? How many times have you stared at them since? Because I am telling you that I have been looking at these beauties ever since that day!

Posts Of the Month

New Year, New Look, Still all about the Books

Pine Island Home | Review // A sisterhood read!

Most Anticipated Reads of the first half of 2021 | The books this year are here to give me LIFE

The Bookish Feels | Books that are emotional roller coasters

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega | Review // THE Contemporary book to read this February!

TBR

TBR

I know we’re already half way through the month, but I’m really playing this month by ear. So far I’ve read:

Love in English by Maria E. Andreu
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

For the rest of the month, I plan on getting through some upcoming ARCs! I went on a Netgalley binge…and let’s just say I have lots of reading to do. As for my other reads, I will be prioritizing books by Black authors as it is Black History Month. This doesn’t mean that February is the *only* month we celebrate Black excellence and stories, but it is the month where we can be extra supportive! As for me, some reads I have planned are:

Like Home by Louisa Onomé 
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Make a Scene by Mimi Grace
Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

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

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega | Review // THE Contemporary book to read this February!

Greetings readers!

HELLLOOOO EVERYONE! AND WELCOME TO A REVIEW I AM VERY EXCITED TO BE SHARING WITH YOU ALL TODAY!

Rendz, be cool with the all caps.

Sorry.

What can I say? When a book with a beautiful cover and and even more beautiful storyline walks into my life, I have to talk about it! I have to shout about it from the roof tops and tell you all to read it!

It starts with this review, which–if I am honest–is a little messy and everywhere because when I love a book so much I feel like I sound like that kid who struggles to form his sentence.

You know this kid:

Have You Ever Had A Dream Kid GIFs | Tenor

Yeah…that’s what I feel this review sounds like.

BUT REGARDLESS OF THAT FACT. I PRESENT TO YOU THE CONTEMPORARY BOOK EVERYONE HAS TO READ THIS FEBRUARY!!!

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Pub Date: Feb 2, 2021
Publisher: Holiday House
Buy Links

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.


*Thank you Penguin Teen CA for the digital ARC*

The Likes

How do I even begin to tell you about this book?

How do I begin to tell you how utterly and totally in love I am with this story?

Well I can say that it starts and ends with Charlie Vega. A character who I am sure will capture the hearts of so many readers! (She sure as heck captured mine!) Charlie is a wonderfully dynamic character that charmed me from page one! Told in a sincere, heart-felt and hilarious prose, Charlie’s story is one of a fat, half-Puerto Rican girl navigating high school life in the (very white) suburbs. And I loved it. From raving about #FatFashionistas to dealing with the very real fear of second-place syndrome and re-finding estranged family and culture, Charlie is a character whose experiences of self-doubt, jealousy, resentment, first times, rage, self-loathing, confidence and eventually self-love are multi-faceted and captivating.

I know resonating with characters are only part of the reading experience, but I have to say that whenever Charlie talked about her romantic experiences or lack there-of I couldn’t help but smash the #Relate button. While our reasons for lacking in love life differed, I still couldn’t help but feel a connection whenever she talked about that yearning she felt and the embarrassment of being so inexperienced! I loved that she found escape in her reading and writing and that she lived vicariously through her fictional characters! (Something I think a lot of us can relate to!) To make this ramble short, Charlie is a breath of fresh air character. She sounds and feels like a teenager on every page. She is sweet and fierce. I absolutely adored her!

Other characters…I really enjoyed Amelia’s character. As Charlie’s pansexual, cool, vibrant and beloved BFF she plays a very complex and integral role in Charlie’s story. Their friendship is in many ways the heart of this story, which is written so beautifully! Brian. OMG BRIAN. I was so soft for Brian who was so sweet and kind!!! And Charlie’s mom…..mmmm…I just didn’t love her. She is also in need of her own journey, that’s all I have to say.

The central theme of this book is embracing self-love and it was such a touching and raw journey for Charlie! It is well known how much we can be our worst enemies and this book is all about us being kinder to ourselves. Charlie’s journey to self-love is not easy, especially as she is constantly surrounded by people and media that tell her that she and her body are not enough or too much and do not deserve love until they say so. It’s an even harder road to travel when those messages become so ingrained within ourselves that we become the obstacles that prevent us from opening up! It’s a story that really hammered in the message to find love for ourselves, that in giving ourselves love we can find that happiness.

This story broke my heart and patched it back up in so many ways. Maldonado crafted a story that had me laughing and giggling on one page, raging on the next and being totally and utterly soft on the following page. Her writing style is clean, direct and enthralling! I was flipping the pages so fast, I couldn’t get enough of this story! It was laugh out loud funny and I was SWOONING with every interaction between Charlie and Brian!

On the one hand it has the feel of your typical Teen rom-com, but with the taste of a new and fresh story of love and friendship that has never been written before!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Absolutely!


Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this? What other books with fat MCs would you recommend? What are your favourite teen rom-coms and coming of age stories?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Bookish Feels | Books that are emotional roller coasters

Greetings readers!

I would love to know how emotional you get when you read?

And I’m talking EMOTIONAL! Like facial expressions, odd noises and all. When I tell you guys that a book was an emotional roller coaster, I’m telling you that I experienced a very powerful series of feelings that had me in all sorts of ways XD

So I figured today I would highlight some of the books that made me totally and utterly and completely emotional. I know I usually organize these posts by singular emotions, but today I’m going full scale feeling frenzy.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

We start with my top read of 2020. This book had several SCENES that literally made me scream “AH” out loud. I felt a lot of rage and honestly I think it’s why I loved it so much hehehe This book was so amazing, I read it twice within the same year. And friends it just gets better the second time around! Ahhhhhh this book just had so much to take in at once, my jaw was literally on the floor by the end of it. (It might still be on the floor)

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

Furia

I need to quote my review because past me just knew what she was talking about: “absolutely gobsmacked by my emotions” Oh Rendz how right you were! This was definitely one of my top reads from 2020! It is a contemporary story that packs punch after punch and also very warm hugs. I was squealing and raging and crying and laughing my whole way through this book. Incredible. Simply incredible!

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Hoo. Friends. This book had me bouncing back and forth between stress, rage, hopelessness, love, joy, rage rage rage, and then hope. I just nfjnkajdbhjnjfef this book is soo amazing! It’s one of Marie’s quieter book, but it deserves your love and attention. This historical fantasy swept me off my feet and wiped the floor with me. It is both heart-breaking and inspiring, I cannot recommend it enough!

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Are we surprised to see this book on here? Nope. This book…oh my lord THIS BOOK. *clucthes heart* THIS BOOK WAS MY PERSONALITY for like three months after I read it XD I just ahhh I felt all kinds of things while reading this book. I may have not literally wept, but the squealing and book hugging was real. How many times have I gone back to read my favourite parts? So many times. I adore this book.

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

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

Two words: Weeping Uncontrollably. This book (which I’m still working hard to write my review on) had me on every level of emotion you can imagine. I was dreamy then I was sad, I was hopeful and then I was distraught, I was smiling in glee and then I was sobbing. My body shaking in absolute horror at what happened. And well…I can’t tell you how I felt at the end (you can read that in my review *winks*) but let’s just say my world was ROCKED.


And that is it for me friends! I would love to know what books sent you on an emotional roller coaster! What kind of feelings do you go through? How do you handle the emotions when they wrap you up?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Most Anticipated Reads of the first half of 2021 | The books this year are here to give me LIFE

Greetings readers!

This year we are going to get some amazing books, friends. We are in for some outstanding and mind-blowing reads and people I am living. This year, like last year is going to come with its obstacles, but I am very comforted by the thought that there are so many books coming up that are just totally going to knock it out of the park (or at least I hope they will!)

So let’s get started!

January

Happily Ever Afters
Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0)

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant – I am always on the hunt for fluffy goodness in my YA contemporary reads and this is it friends!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas – I am so excited to see what young Maverick is like! He was one of my favourite characters from THUG

February

The Gilded Ones (Deathless, #1)
Like Home
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna – A new fantasy that I have a good feeling is going to sweep the reading world off its feet! I mean a whole army of magical girls sounds epic on its own!

Like Home by Louisa Onomé – It was pitched as a great read for fans of On My Block and Elizabeth Acevedo and honestly that was enough for me! Looking forward to this story about friendship and community!

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado – I’m in the middle of this and I AM LOVING IT! It is such a gorgeous story I can’t wait to finish it!

March

Lost in the Never Woods
Firekeeper's Daughter
Once Upon a Quinceañera
Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas – I am here for the Peter Pan premise and this cover!!! I just know that this will totally knock me off my feet!

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley – Indigenous YA literature!!! We love to see it! We have to support it! I went to a virtual book event featuring the author last year and she said some pretty interesting things about her research! I’m excited!

Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira – Any and all books that are even remotely related to quinceañeras get put on my radar! I am so excited for this debut!!!

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert – I LOVE the Brown sisters so much! But I am MOST excited for Eve! She is the youngest sister like me! And she is totally chaotic! This is going to be amazing!

April

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet
Witches Steeped in Gold (Witches Steeped in Gold, #1)
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls
The Light of the Midnight Stars

Somewhere Between Bitter & Sweet by Laeken Zea Kemp – This is one book I have been waiting for since its announcement! Here is just a snippet of what I was promised: “[a] stunning story of first love, familial expectations, the power of food” This is going to be amazing!!!

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart – I am here for Caribbean witches. I repeat: I am here for vengeful, magical Caribbean witches!!!!!

Cece Rios and Desert Souls by Kaela Rivera – A mesoamerican mythological magical middle grade read! Yes. WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO SEE IT! I am here for this!!!!!!!! I need everyone to talk about this because I know it will blow my mind!

The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner – I adored Rossner’s first novel and I am so excited she is coming out with another book! If you want Jewish folklore and fantasy in your life then you definitely need her books on your shelves!

May

The Beautiful Ones
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #3)

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I just got approved for an ARC on Netgalley!!!!! AHHHHHHHH!!!!! SO I’m going to read my ARC and then probably read my finished copy again because I can never get enough of this story!

Bitch Queen Book #3 by K.S. Villoso – The first two books took my breath away, I can only imagine what the finale will do to my soul!!!! I am here for it! I am here for my destruction! If you haven’t picked up this adult fantasy series, you better go do it NOW!

June

A Psalm of Storms and Silence (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, #2)
Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic, #1)
The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms, #1)
Sisters of the Snake (Ria & Rani #1)

A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne A. Brown – Who isn’t anticipating this sequel?? A Song of Wraiths and Ruin swept the world of its feet, the sequel deserves the exact same, if not more, attention!

Blood like Magic by Liselle Sambury – Black witches in near-future Toronto!!!!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is all I needed to know, that is all you need to know!

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri – Empire of Sand is one of my favourite books of all time! I am here for this new epic fantasy with forbidden magic, morally grey sapphics and vengeance!

Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua – I am so excited that my fellow Canadian booklovers are going to publish another book! Sarena & Sasha’s new book is going to be The Fantasy Novel to read this year, I hope you have it on your radars!


And done! While these aren’t the only books I’m anticipating this month, these are the ones I’m hoping to yell about the most when I get around to reading them hehe!

There are so many good books coming our way this year! I would love to hear what books you have on your radar!

Keep an eye out for part two coming sometimes soon or not…It will get here when it gets here hehehe

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Pine Island Home | Review // A sisterhood read!

Greetings readers!

Of course my first review of the year is about a book I should have reviewed in the fall of last year. 🙂 But what’s the saying friends?

You: Better late than never.

That’s right, better late than never.

That being said, I love reading books about sisters! I think it is just a natural condition of being part of a sister set myself! There is just something fascinating about the way sisters interact with one another that always seems to amaze me!

I would like to thank Tundra Books for sending me a copy of this book to read and review! It was sold to me as a Penderwicks-like book and let me tell you I was Sold! Sold! Sold!

Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath

Pine Island Home

Pub Date: Sept 1st, 2020
Publisher: Puffin Books
Goodreads

Four sisters search for true family in this story of resilience by a Newbery Honor author.

When the McCready sisters’ parents are washed away in a tsunami, their Great Aunt Martha volunteers to have them live with her on her farm in British Columbia. But while they are traveling there, Martha dies unexpectedly, forcing Fiona, the eldest, to come up with a scheme to keep social services from separating the girls – a scheme that will only work if no one knows they are living on their own.

Fiona approaches their grouchy and indifferent neighbor Al and asks if he will pretend to be their live-in legal guardian should papers need to be signed or if anyone comes snooping around. He reluctantly agrees, under the condition that they bring him dinner every night.

As weeks pass, Fiona takes on more and more adult responsibilities, while each of the younger girls finds their own special role in their atypical family – But even if things seem to be falling into place, Fiona is sure it’s only a matter of time before they are caught.

Written in Polly Horvath’s inimitable style, gentle humor and tough obstacles are woven throughout this story about the bonds of sisterhood and what makes a family.

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


The Likes

These sisters were a fun bunch. They definitely had really distinct personalities and ways of looking at the world. I feel like Fiona got the most page time because she was the oldest making a lot of decisions for her sisters, but I liked her very much! Of the four, she is my favourite!

The supporting cast was really interesting! Al was quite a character. Grumps are one of my favourite kinds of characters, there is just something wonderful about seeing them go soft for certain things or people! There were other characters that hmmm I did not like at all, and I was right not to like them. And that is the tea. On the other hand, Aunt Martha is a character I would love to read about in her youth! She might have been deceased, but her presence in the story is felt!

There is one thing I must warn! Be prepared to suspend your belief a lot. Four children living on their own without a legal guardian is really not realistic. And to go that long unnoticed wouldn’t happen in real life, but this is fiction friends! The book tries its best to find all the loopholes it can, but you still might need to just let some thing slides and go along with the plot! Overall, it was very interesting. I think it can show young people how many decisions adults have to make on a daily basis, that they may not think about.

Nonetheless, the book always takes on a humorous tone and I really enjoyed the antics that the girls get themselves into! That being said, this book can be pretty sad at times. The girls face a lot of disappointment in consecutive sequences, so I wouldn’t call it light read at all. However, I do think that it shows how resilient and hope-filled they are as sisters fighting with all they got to stay together.

The Questionable:

I do have to say that there are some fatphobic jokes at the beginning. It didn’t sit well with me, so be warned of that.

There a few loose ends by turn of the last page, which I just felt left me hanging quite a bit.

I also have to say that this book has the most going-ons, it’s very tame and really focused on the challenge of trying to not be found out. That being said, I can maybe point out only 2 really dramatic things that happened which were great. I still think that there was opportunity for more to happen.


Overall, it was a sweet book! I think that it had the chance to be more dramatic, but the quiet havoc it explored was still very engaging! It’s a quick read and sure to intrigue young and less-young readers alike!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: If you like sister-tales, I think you’ll have fun with it!

Let me know what you think! What is your favourite sister book? Do you find yourself able to suspend your belief easily? What kind of middle grade reads do you like to pick up?

Happy reading!

Rendz

New Year, New Look, Still all about the Books

Greetings readers!

Well it has been a while, hasn’t it? I didn’t mean to push my blogging duties aside so abruptly, but I will be honest I didn’t feel like blogging for several weeks. It was a mix of many going-ons in my life from burnouts that led to zero motivation to limited time to even think about blogging, I just felt like I needed a break from the blogsphere and I took it unannounced.

That being said, I wanted to enter the new year with a fresh perspective, that meant changing up my look and getting creative. So forgive me that it took a while trying to put all this together, but I wanted to be sure I got it right before I showed it off to my corner of the internet!

So what exactly have I been up to this past month?

Well for one, I finished another semester of online schooling, as is the case with many people I presume. I had a very heavy workload towards the end and I just could not find the right time or the energy to muster up any ideas for what to write. I read faster than I could even pump our mini reviews for Goodreads!

tired princess and the frog GIF
via giphy.com

I have also been reading a lot and yet not a lot. I was trying very hard to catch up on my Netgalley percentage, but I didn’t quite make it before I went on another request binge. Oops. However, I did do one thing that brought me much joy. I reread the entire AN EMBER IN THE ASHES series from start to finish! I am emotionally destroyed, but it was so so so worth it!

Q: What are the final book(s) you are reading before the end of 2020?

December has been a Month™ for me and Ive enjoyed it by living in one fictional world from one of my favourite series.

Rereading An Ember in the Ashes series has been one of the best ways to spend this last month. I lived every moment in my ~feels~. These books make me scream, cry, sob, laugh, shriek, melt and basically make me feel every emotion one can conjure and I wouldnt have it any other way. I have gotten some seriously funny looks from my family as they witness my journey 😂.

And now Im in the middle of A Sky Beyond the Storm, and lets just say my emotions are EVERYWHERE. There are times when I wish I could go back to the beginning and there are other times when I want to just get to the next chapter to know what happens!

Ending this decade-of-a-year with this book is a wild kind of ride, but I love it.

I cant wait to read more of Sabaas work and what other kind of pain and wonder she will make me endure and enjoy. I look forward to it.

#ASkyBeyondTheStorm #AnEmberIntheAshes #ATorchAgainsttheNight #AReaperAtTheGates #SabaaTahir #bookstagram #yabooks #books #reader #bookishcanadians #fantasy Mr #emberquartet #mustreads #booklover #bookish #bookishphotography #greatreads #reading #igbooks #igreads #newbooks #finalebooks #penguinteen #laiaofserra #eliasveturius #heleneaquilla #2020books

I have been much more active on my Instagram! I have been trying to build up that platform as much as I could although finding the right lighting in the winter can be quite difficult! But I do enjoy that platform quite a bit! I also ended up taking a Twitter hiatus which I have come to enjoy. Twitter can be fun, but it is also chaotic and taking breaks from it is necessary.

And last but not least, I redesigned my blog! I changed up the theme, colour scheme and my logo! Say hello to the new green bean me!

Reading with Rendz

~Reading Goals!~

Every year I try to make reading goals, and every year I don’t quite achieve them. So this year I am trying to remind myself that the only goal that really matters is that I enjoy my reading and my blogging! That being said, I still want to put up some checkpoints for myself. Give myself some ground lines that will help me from trying to achieve it all and instead simply achieve what I can!

So here we go..

1. Read 100 Books.

Considering that this pandemic doesn’t look to me ending any time soon, I figured this is the perfect year to try and make this goal that I have been working towards over the past 4 years. Last year I read a total of 109 books, which is a good sign. I originally aimed for 80, so let’s see if I can take this big leap!

100 GIF by AT&T
via giphy.com

2. Track my reading with Story Graph and lean away from Goodreads

2020 was the year we talked about changing our habits, so 2021 has to be the year where we actually do the actions of change. Goodreads, despite being a staple in the book community, isn’t the only option. Story Graph is a newer and very user friendly book tracker that has lots of perks like half stars and mood settings! I’m still learning to use it which is why I haven’t deleted my Goodreads just yet. My goal is to use SG as my main platform and only post reviews on GR. I understand how important that platform is for lesser known authors, so I can’t completely do away with it, but the fun of tracking I know I can achieve elsewhere.

Have you made a Story Graph account? Follow me “rendz” and I’d be happy to follow back!

The StoryGraph

3. Read the Books I Own

This has been a goal for every year and every year I feel like I don’t even try to achieve it, so it is going on here again. But this time I want to get serious. I aim to read at least one book I own every single month. At least one. (Please Rendz!) I have so many books on my shelves that have been calling out to me as of late and it is time I give in!

I think I’ll let you all be part of the process and help me choose one book from my shelf each month!

kids read GIF
via giphy.com

4. Plan my Book Buying

Money is just something I have to be conscious of these days when it comes to book buying and that means picking and choosing a limited amount. No more big hauls etc etc. And well since Silvia Moreno-Garcia has 4 books coming out in 2021 we all know where my wallet is leaning towards.

Donald Duck Money GIF
via giphy.com

5. Review my ARCs on time.

This is another goal I’ve noted before, and I’m doing it again because I believe in 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances! Also this is one goal that I just have to get better at. If I want the trust from authors and publishers that means I have to deliver!! Yeah, I’m calling myself out a bit, but it is because I want to do better!

Formula 1 Time GIF by Red Bull Racing
via giphy.com

That’s it from me friends! I hope you are all having a good start to the year and if not then I hope it gets better ❤

I would love to know what you are reading this month and any bookish plans you have for the year! Did you set reading goals? Are you planning any big changes this year? Whatever you will be embarking on this month, I wish you success!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Silvered Serpents | Mini Review + Some Memes I Made to Celebrate

Greetings readers!

Hi again. It’s been a while. The semester has me pretty busy these past couple of weeks and will continue to keep me pretty busy, so I apologize for my absence in advance.

ANYWAYS I am very happy to be bringing this review to you all today! I have been highly anticipated the sequel to The Gilded Wolves since I finished it..a few months ago XD! Yes, I know some people waited over a year for the sequel and I only waited a few months, but still this series is a hard one to wait for. And now I am in the same dilemma because oh my goodness THIS BOOK!

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)
via Goodreads

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost — one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into the icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Returning to the dark and glamorous 19th century world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever in The Silvered Serpents.


*Many thanks to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

  • I loved jumping back into this world. I loved that we traveled from France to Russia and got to spend most of our time in a magical place of winter and ice! (Elsa, is that you?)
  • These characters are still absolutely phenomenal! Laila and Zofia are still my QUEENs! Hypnos was a little sus here and there, but I love that he was a ray of sunshine always and I apologize for suspecting him! Enrique is still the character I identify the most with. My whole heart belongs to him! And Severin. He needed some serious perspective in this book, but *screeches in feels* OH MY GOSH. Eva? I would still fight her.
  • So this is a treasure hunt book and I absolutely love it! Portals, secret rooms, libraries, alternate worlds, myths, legends and so much more to enjoy in this incredible novel!
  • Roshani’s writing is as stunning as ever! She knows how to wrap you in beauty and make you suffer at the same time. The anticipation and suspense in this book is intense. We might be waiting for things to happen, but there is honestly never a dull moment.
  • The romance dynamics are complicated in this one! Remember how I said Severin needed some perspective, a lot of that was in reference to Laila! The yearning was INTENSE. And it didn’t end at them, the Hypnos x Enrique x Zofia also came with the yearning and complications and honestly…I am here for this drama. I live for it. But as much as it is dramatic, the romance is also very poetic: involving self-love and forgiveness and regret. “I wish my love was more beautiful.” <– I cried.
  • I doubted myself to the very end on everything. About who the bad guy was, about how this book would end…that’s how good Roshani is as a story teller! She keeps you guessing and it is so much fun!
  • I need book 3 in hands right now. After that ending…OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME. This book packed the punches. Emotionally, it might wreck you as it did me! The chase for divinity is not a straightforward path and sacrifices must be made. But above all, it is a gorgeous and lush tale of love and betrayal in the hopes of salvation!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend!: Absolutely! This series is not one to miss!

The Silvered Serpents Meme-i-fied

I made these memes in honour of the release of TSS and I thought I’d re-share them here! If you find them funny, I’ll be taking up a degree on comedic genius, thank you very much!

If not…you are welcome to move along.

I think this might be my best meme ever.
Finding homonyms is harder than you think!

Let me know what you think! What was your favourite sequel of the year? Which Gilded Wolves character is your favourite! (I know it is so hard to choose!) Have you ever made a book-related meme? Do share links!

*Please Share and/or Donate = Link to a master list of how you can help/educate yourself on Black Lives Matter and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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September/October Wrap-Up & November TBR // A bump after smooth sailing

Greetings readers!

It has been a while since I’ve wrapped anything up! September and October were incredibly busy months for me! I had lots going on, in terms of reading and school which really brought down the hammer on me. And while another hammer is coming soon…I am very excited to see what books I can get to this month!

So let’s get started!

What Rendz Read!

September (1st-15th) Wrap-Up

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson (5/5) Review
Ciel by Sophie Labelle [ARC] (4/5) Review
The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn (DNF) Review
Fable by Adrienne Young [e-ARC] (5/5) Review
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz [ARC] (4.5/5) Review + Fan Art!

Latinx Heritage Month Wrap-Up

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (5/5) Review
Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez (5/5) Review
You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria (5/5) Review
Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (4/5) Review
Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (5/5) Review
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (4/5) Review
Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez (DNF) Review
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (5/5) Review

October (16th-31st) Wrap-Up

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (4.5/5) RTC
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey (4/5) Review + Fan Art
Holiday Home Run by Priscilla Oliveras (3/5) Review
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (4/5) Review
The Sky Weaver by Kristin Ciccarelli Rating and Review to come

Highlight Book(s): Wow I read so many books these past weeks it’s so hard to choose!!! But if I must: The Barren Grounds, Furia and Don’t Date Rosa Santos are the top top top!

Lowliest Book(s): Two DNFs really disappointed me: The Wedding Date Disaster and Lush Money were just not good. I wish I could get that time back….oop, I said what I said!

The Haul

Let me tell you all lovely people. THE BOOK MAIL HAS BEEN STRONG THESE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS AND I AM VERY HAPPY!

Publisher Sent

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso
Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe
The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Giveaway Wins

Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica
Like Home by Luoisa Onomé

Other Going-Ons

Recreating Silvia Moreno-Garcia Covers with my Sisters

Oh the things I do for my love of books and oh the things my sisters do to please me! But anyways, please enjoy the following images!

Certain Dark Things ft. The Eldest Sister, M (yup that’s her face in there 😂)
The Beautiful Ones ft. The Middle Sister, K (fun fact: she donned her quinceañera dress for this silhouette)
Mexican Gothic ft. The Youngest Sister, aka Rendz (I’m wearing the only red dress I own!)

An Amazing Latinx Heritage Month

Oh my wonderful friends, I had so much fun during LHM this year! Not only did I read a ton of amazing books (though not all the ones I had originally planned), I had so much fun participating in the LHM BookFest prompts on blog and on Instagram! I had to be really brave for some of these posts XD, but it was so worth it!

It was an incredible 30 days, and I cannot wait for next year! Here are some special posts I made!

Happy Latinx Heritage Month!! | We are celebrating all the books!! Day 1 of #LHMBookFest!

Latinx Food in Books | I don’t cook, I don’t clean, but let me tell you…all about these delicious books!

If You Liked this Telenovela, You’d Love this Book| Reminiscing on the ole’ days!

I Figured I’d Up My Love for SMG on Insta

I had already written a blog post on my love for SMG, but I decided to take it to Instagram too and it was a hit! I love getting people onto my band wagon!

The Beautiful Ones & Untamed Shore Paperback Cover Reveal

This came as a total surprise to me and both were only a week apart! I must say that I love both of them so much! I plan on doing a full comparison soon because I do love them BUT I STILL HAVE THOUGHTS. For now I will leave you with these stunning covers and remind you to pick them up in the new year!

Posts Of the Month

You Should read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work and here’s why | A stan account’s mission

A Golden Fury | Blog Tour Excerpt // New Historical Fantasy sure to make our shelves even more magical!

A Touch of Death | Review // A Post-Apocalyptic Quest

TBR

TBR

People I really have no idea what I’m doing this month! Seriously, it’s already halfway through. I took a rather unannounced hiatus from blog because school got intense and it is getting even more intense as we near the end of the semester!

That being said I still have to get some reading done so here is what I propose to you all!

Pine Island Home by Penny Horvath
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson
Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo

Joining in on Indig-a-thon late, but maybe enough to get a bingo!
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Pemmican Wars: A Girl Called Echo by Katherena Vernetto
Surviving the City: Vol 1. Tasha Spillett
Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Will I be getting to all of this with only half a month left? No. I just feel like giving myself some choices for these next two weeks. I feel a slump coming on, but that is not an option so I hope to find something to love this month!


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!

*Please Share and/or Donate = Link to a master list of how you can help/educate yourself on Black Lives Matter and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow | HOV Book Tour // Review in 5 GIFs & FAN ART!

Greetings readers!

Welcome all to my stop on the A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW Book Tour!

I am so excited to be bring you this post today! I had so much fun reading this book and creating some fan art for this wonderful book! Many heartfelt thanks Hear Our Voices Book Tours for welcoming me to the tour!

~ THE BOOK~

A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW
by Laura Taylor Namey

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: Nov. 10, 2020
Genre: YA Fiction

For Lila Reyes, a summer in England was never part of the plan. The plan was 1) take over her abuela’s role as head baker at their panadería, 2) move in with her best friend after graduation, and 3) live happily ever after with her boyfriend. But then the Trifecta happened, and everything—including Lila herself—fell apart.

Worried about Lila’s mental health, her parents make a new plan for her: Spend three months with family friends in Winchester, England, to relax and reset. But with the lack of sun, a grumpy inn cook, and a small town lacking Miami flavor (both in food and otherwise), what would be a dream trip for some feels more like a nightmare to Lila…until she meets Orion Maxwell.

A teashop clerk with troubles of his own, Orion is determined to help Lila out of her funk, and appoints himself as her personal tour guide. From Winchester’s drama-filled music scene to the sweeping English countryside, it isn’t long before Lila is not only charmed by Orion, but England itself. Soon a new future is beginning to form in Lila’s mind—one that would mean leaving everything she ever planned behind.

Goodreads| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Bookshop.org

~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~

Laura Taylor Namey is a Cuban-American Californian who can be found haunting her favorite coffee shops, drooling over leather jackets, and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two superstar children.

This former teacher writes young adult novels about quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. Her debut, The Library of Lost Things, published 10/08/19 from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. Her #ownvoices sophomore project, A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW is coming November 10, 2020 from Atheneum Simon and Schuster, with a third title to follow fall 2021.

Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads

~ REVIEW ~

Pack your bags, friends. We are headed across the pond! Forced out of her Miami home, we travel with Lila all the way to a grey and chilly summer in England. This proud Cuban-American girl experiences a bit of a culture shock in the midst of all these Brits, but I loved the adventure that we embarked on! (Also, this book was a practice in my British accent!! XD)

Hunger. You will feel it constantly while reading this very food-orientated book. Lila is an excellent baker and chef who knows how to make a kitchen her palace! I loved that Lila learned to remix her favourite dishes and combine British goodies with Cuban flavours. The different foods and sweets that she baked all sounded delicious and made me very very very hungry. I’m not exaggerating when I say my stomach grumbled every single time I opened this book.

Lila is such a great character! She’s a runner and more often than not the reader chases after her! Complex and savvy are two words that really capture her! She knows she’s the best, and I kind of love that she embraces it. However, she is not perfect and reading about her perseverance is very emotional! She has to take some “hard to swallow” pills which is not easy for anyone, but for Lila it is a huge moment of growth!

Slow burn romance! Like tea that you steep, you have to wait for it to get just the right flavour before you consume it! I loved the relationship between Orion and Lila. I loved that it bloomed from a hesitant friendship into something closer! I loved that they were realistic about their goals and aspirations before they decided on what their future as a couple would look like. Not to mention their relationship buds from tea tasting…I may not love the drink, but if a cute British boy was flirting with me via tea-tasting…I would swoon.

It was a love story and a story of loss! A story about embarking on new adventures and letting go. It’s always hard to let go of the things you love most, especially when they leave you so unexpectedly, but it is necessary for growth and change. Namey did an incredible job of showing this bittersweet aspect of life and how it is never easy, but sometimes essential to move on.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Yes! This is a delightful and delicious read!

~ FAN ART ~

I present to you “Hunting for castles” a piece inspired by the book! I really enjoyed creating this! The image popped up right into my head when I read a certain scene. If you’ve read or when you read the book you will definitely get why I named it that! XD

~ FOLLOW THE TOUR ~

Click below to find other amazing posts celebrating this book!


Let me know what you think! What are your favourite foodie books? Are you looking forward to picking this one up? Are you more of a tea-drinker or coffee-drinker?

*Please Share and/or Donate = Link to a master list of how you can help/educate yourself on Black Lives Matter and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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