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

Greetings readers!

Welcome one, welcome all to the blog tour for A GOLDEN FURY by Samantha Cohoe!

This new YA historical fantasy novel brings a new dark magic to our shelves! And I for one am very excited to read this one! Alchemy and magical schools always call for a grand adventure and mystery. Just from reading the synopsis I can tell that this book is going to bring the girl power, high stakes and dark secrets to unravel!

Read on for a sneak peek into this new amazing book!

~ The Book ~

Title: A Golden Fury
Author: Samantha Cohoe
Pub Date: Oct 13, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
ISBN: 9781250220400

BUY THE BOOK

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.

*A Nerd Daily YA Debut to Watch Out for in 2020*

“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.”
– Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

~ Author ~

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Visit Samantha: Twitter | Instagram

Visit Wednesday Books: Twitter | Instagram


~ EXCERPT ~

To celebrate the release with you today, I have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt of CHAPTER 1 today! And boy let me tell you is it intriguing! I mean just look at that very first line! I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

My mother was screaming at the Comte. Again.

I slammed the front doors behind me and walked down the carriageway, under the dappled shade of the pop- lars that lined it. A hundred paces away, I still heard her, though at least I could no longer hear the Comte’s frantic endearments and low, rapid pleading. He should know by now that wasn’t the way. Perhaps I should tell him. Adrien was the first of my mother’s patrons I had ever liked, and I did not want to leave Normandy just as spring was break- ing. Just as we were beginning to make progress.

Though perhaps we were not. Mother would not be screaming at the Comte if the work were going well. She would not take the time. Alchemy was a demanding sci- ence, even if some scoffed and called it charlatanry or magic. It required total concentration. If the work were going well, the Comte would scarcely exist to her, nor would I, now that she would not let me be of use. The com- position must have broken again. This was about when it had, last round. I could not be certain, since she had taken away my key to the laboratory. She could hardly have de-vised a worse insult than that if she had tried, and lately she did seem to be trying. The laboratory was mine as much as it was hers. If she did succeed in producing the White Elixir—which turned all metals into silver—then it was only because of my help. She had found Jābir’s text languishing in a Spanish monastery, but it had been I who translated it when her Arabic wasn’t nearly up to the job. I had labored for months over the calcinary furnace to make the philosophic mercury the text took as its starting point. I had the scars on my hands and arms to prove it. And now that success might be close, she wished to shut me out and deny my part, and claim it for herself alone.

But if she was acting ill and cross, it meant she had failed. A low, smug hum of satisfaction warmed me. I didn’t want the work to fail, but I didn’t want her to suc- ceed without me, either.

A distant smashing sound rang out from the chateau. My mother shattering something against the wall, no doubt.

I sighed and shifted my letter box to the crook of my other arm.

I knew what this meant. Another move. Another man. The Comte had lasted longer than the rest. Over two years, long enough that I had begun to hope I would not have to do it all again. I hated the uncertainty of those first weeks, before I knew what was expected of me, whether Mother’s new patron had a temper and what might set it off, whether he liked children to speak or be silent. Though I was no longer a child, and that might bring its own problems. A chill passed over me, despite the warm afternoon sunshine. God only knew what the next one would be like. My mother had already run through so many of them. And with the recent changes in France, there were fewer rich men than ever looking to give patronage to an expensive alchemist, even one as beautiful and famous as Marguerite Hope.

I veered off the carriageway, into the soft spring grass, dotted here and there with the first of the lavender anemo- nes. I sat by the stream, under the plum tree.

There was no screaming here, no pleading, no signs that my life was about to change for the worse. I inhaled the soft, sweet scent of plum blossoms and opened my letter box. If this was to be my last spring in Normandy, I wanted to re- member it like this. Springtime in Normandy was soft and sweet, sun shining brightly and so many things blossoming that the very air was perfumed with promise. Everything was coming extravagantly to life, bursting out of the dead ground and bare trees with so much energy other impos- sible things seemed likely, too. I had always been hopeful in Normandy when it was spring. Especially last spring, when Will was still here. When we sat under this very tree, drank both bottles of champagne he had stolen from the cellars, and spun tales of everything we could achieve.

I took out his last letter, dated two months ago.

Dear Bee,

This is my address now—as you see I’ve left Prussia. It turns out that everything they say about the Prussians is quite true. I’ve never met a more unbending man than my patron there. One day past the appointed date and he tried to throw me in prison for breach of contract! He thinks alchemy can be held to the same strict schedule as his serfs.

Laws against false alchemists were very harsh in Germany, as Will knew full well when he sought patronage there. I had begged him to go somewhere else, though he had few enough choices. He was my mother’s apprentice, with no achievements of his own to make his reputation. His training had been cut abruptly short when Mother found us together under this plum tree, watching the sun- rise with clasped hands and two empty bottles of cham- pagne. She’d seen to it that Will was gone by noon. It was no use telling her that all we’d done was talk through the night, or that the one kiss we’d shared had been our first, and had gone no further. He had behaved with perfect re- spect for me, but she wouldn’t believe it. My mother had imagined a whole path laid before my feet in that moment, and scorched it from the earth with Greek fire.

I turned to the next page.

I blame myself, of course, Bee, for not heeding your advice. I can picture your face now, wondering what I expected. It would almost be worth all the trouble I’ve caused myself if I could come to you and see your expression. You must be the only woman in the world who is never lovelier than when you’ve been proven right.

The keen thrill of pleasure those words had brought me when I first read them had faded now, and left me feeling uncertain. Should I write back knowingly, teasing him for his recklessness? I had tried this, and was sure I sounded like a scold no matter what he said about my loveliness when proven right. I took out my latest draft, which struck a more sincere tone. I read the lines over, saying how I worried for him, how I missed him. I crumpled it in my hand halfway through. Too much emotion. It didn’t do to show such dependence on a man. My mother had shown me that. I didn’t wish to emulate her in everything, but I would be a fool to deny her skill at winning masculine devotion. I tried again.

Dear Will,

I am sitting under the plum tree where we had our last picnic. I know how you feel about nostalgia, but I hope you will forgive me this one instance. I fear this will be our last spring in Normandy—perhaps even in France. Many of my mother’s friends have left already, and though you may well condemn them as reactionaries, the fact remains that there are very few good Republicans with the ready cash to pay for our pursuits.

I sighed again and crumpled the page. Somehow I could never seem to write to him about the Revolution without a touch of irony creeping in. I didn’t want that. Will had put his hopes for a better world in the new order, and even though I was less hopeful than he, I loved him for it. At least he wanted a better world. Most alchemists simply wanted better metals.

I tried to imagine he was here. It wouldn’t be difficult then. He was so good at setting me at ease. His admira- tion was as intoxicating as wine, but unlike wine it sharp- ened my wits instead of dulling them. I was never cleverer than when Will was there to laugh with me.

My chest constricted at the memory of Will’s laugh. I didn’t know anyone who laughed like him. The Parisian aristocrats I had known all had so much consciousness of the sound they made when they did it. The Comte wasn’t like them, but he was a serious man and laughed rarely. My mother didn’t laugh at all.

But Will. He laughed like it came from the loud, bursting core of him. Like he couldn’t have kept it in if he wanted to, and why would he want to? And when he was done laughing, he would look at me like no one else ever had. Like he saw only me, not as an accessory to my mother, but as myself. And not as an odd girl whose sharp edges would need to be softened. Will liked the edges. The sharper they cut, the more they delighted him.

“Thea!”

I threw my letters into the letter box and snapped it shut. I looked around for somewhere to hide the box, and noticed too late that one of my crumpled drafts had blown toward the stream. My mother appeared on the hill above me, the late afternoon sun lighting up her golden hair like an unearned halo. She walked down the hill with measured steps and stopped a few yards above me, I assumed because she wished to enjoy the experience of being taller than me again for a few moments. Her eye moved to the crumpled paper. I ran to it and stuffed it into my pocket before she could take it, though my haste in hiding the failed letter told her all I didn’t wish her to know.

“Oh dear,” said my mother. “I do hope you haven’t been wasting your afternoon trying to find the right words to say to that boy.”

My mother was tolerant of my letter writing these days, perhaps because she was confident I would never see Will again. She had smiled when she heard of Will’s contract in Prussia. He won’t find it so easy to charm his way past the Prussian alchemy laws. In Germany, one must deliver results, not pretty smiles, or end in prison.

“I wouldn’t have an afternoon to waste if you would let me into the laboratory,” I said.

“Don’t be pitiful, Thea,” said my mother. “Surely you can think of something worthwhile to do when I don’t happen to need your assistance.”

I clenched my teeth so tight that my jaw ached. Shut- ting me out of the laboratory, our laboratory, was the great- est injustice she had ever committed against me. Worse than all the moving about, worse than sending Will away, worse than any insult she could think to level at me. Before she had done that, I believed we were together in alchemy at least, even if nothing else. That she had raised and trained me not simply to be of use to her, but to be her partner. Her equal, one day. Throwing me out of the lab- oratory just when we might achieve what we had worked for told me that Will was right. She would never let me claim credit for my part of the work. She would never ac- cept me as an alchemist in my own right.

And yet she described it as though she had simply let me off my chores. As if I were no more necessary than a servant. There was no point in arguing with her, but even so I could not let it stand.

“I am not your assistant,” I said.

“Oh?” she asked. “Do you have news, then? Have you found a patron on your own merits? Do you intend to strike out on your own?”

“Perhaps I will,” I said, my face growing hot. “Perhaps I will stay here when you are finally finished tormenting the poor Comte.”

My mother had a perfect, deceptively sweet beauty: golden blond and blue-eyed with a round, doll-like face. It made the venom that sometimes twisted her expression hard to quite believe in. Many men simply didn’t. They preferred to ignore the evidence of their minds for the evidence of their senses. I, of course, knew her better than they did. I tensed, preparing.

But instead of lashing out, my mother turned aside, a hand to her chest. A tremor passed over her; she bowed her head against it.

Mother had been strangely unwell for weeks. At first I responded to her illness as she had taught me to, with distaste and disapproval, as though falling sick were an ill-considered pastime of those with insufficient moral for- titude. But if she noticed how unpleasant it was to receive so little sympathy when unwell, she did not show it. She had locked herself away in the laboratory every day until late at night, ignoring my silence as much as she ignored the Comte’s pleas that she rest. I had not thought much of it until this moment. Any pain great enough to turn her from chastising me for thinking I could do alchemy with- out her must be serious indeed.

“Mother?” I asked.

“You will go where I tell you.” Her voice was low and breathless, almost a gasp. “For now, that is to dinner. Wear the green taffeta.”

“The robe à la française?” I asked, perplexed. I hadn’t worn that dress since before the Estates General met. Its style was the hallmark of the ancien régime: wide pan- niered hips, structured bodice, and elaborate flounces. “But it’s out of fashion.”

“So is our guest,” said my mother.

She went up the hill again, then turned back to me at the top.

“Thea,” she said, all the sharpness gone from her voice. “I know you do not believe it any longer, but everything I do is for you.”

It was the sort of thing she always said. Before this year, I had always believed it, more or less. At least, everything she did was for the both of us. She had considered me an extension of herself, so that doing things for me was no different than doing them for herself. Why else take so much care to train me, to see to it that I had the tutors I needed to learn every language necessary—more even than she knew? To take me with her in all her travels to seek out manuscripts? She was an impatient teacher at times, but a good one. A thorough one. And in turn I was a good student. The best.

Until we were close to our goal. Then, suddenly, I was a rival. And my mother did not tolerate rivals.

“You are right, Mother,” I said. “I don’t believe that any longer.”


Let me know what you think! Would you continue reading this book? Are you looking forward to reading this book? What are some of your favourite Historical fiction/fantasy books? If you had access to a secret dangerous power, would you destroy it or keep it for yourself?

Many thanks to Wednesday Books for inviting me to be a part of this tour!

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

Greetings readers!

As we end Latinx Heritage Month (in the US at least), I come to remind you of two things:

First: You should be reading Latinx books year round. So if you have found a groove this past month, I encourage you to keep it up!

Second: You should be reading Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work!

You: But why Rendz? Why SMG?

Well here’s why:

Versatility. Atmospheric writing. Unforgettable characters. These three key things among a number of others are what attracted me to and kept me reading SMG’s work until I became a self-proclaimed stan! I have now read all five of her published novels and have thus been blessed with so many amazing reads! So to convince you to read them and lessen your google searching, I figured I would present them all to you today with reasons why I love them and why I think you would love them too!

Of course is every SMG book going to be for you? Probs not. (Sucks for you though) But like I said SMG is a versatile writer and she has written in many different genres so there is a story for everyone!

Before we start:

  1. All of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s books are Adult fiction – so while they may have cross-over appeal, tag them as Adult Fiction.
  2. You can find out more about Silvia on her website!

Signal To Noise (2015)

Signal to Noise
via Goodreads

A literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery.

Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends – Sebastian and Daniela – and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. The three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…

Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, reviving memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? Is there any magic left?

This SMG’s first novel and my latest read of hers ironically! Here are 5 reasons I loved it and why you should read it:

  1. Misfit characters so witty they charm the heck out of you
  2. Dual timeline that makes perfect sense and amps up the drama
  3. Talk about DRAMA. Lots of ~interesting~ things go on between family dynamics, friendship pacts, crushes, love and betrayal!
  4. Music! So many tunes to jam out to with this one!
  5. Magic! For fun, loving and…revenge!

Certain Dark Things (2016)

Certain Dark Things
via Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a pulse-pounding neo-noir that reimagines vampire lore.

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

This novel will be re-released on May 11, 2021 so get in your pre-orders! Having had the privilege to read the first edition I’m excited to see what changes will be made to this already astounding novels!

Here are 5 reasons to read:

  1. Vampires galore! Mexico City is a hot spot for these ancient creatures from different cultures!
  2. An omniscient view lets us know what is happening in every corner!
  3. Bloody, dark and gritty atmosphere! It is what one expects of vampiros!
  4. Rival gangs (human and undead) out for blood…literally
  5. Twists and turns that you definitely don’t see coming!

The Beautiful Ones (2017)

The Beautiful Ones
via Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a sweeping romance with a dash of magic.

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina — and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

This novel will be re-released on May 11, 2021 so get in your pre-orders! This is my first SMG novel and my favourite probably!

  1. Nina Beaulieu is a QUEEN. I love her.
  2. A Belle Epoque world to enchant everyone
  3. Romance so sweet it squeezes the heart!
  4. Telekinesis to enhance the FLAVOUR
  5. Pure happiness after some DRAMA

Gods of Jade and Shadow (2019)

Gods of Jade and Shadow
via Goodreads

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

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

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

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

This is also my favourite! (Yes, I have two favourites. Let me live!)

  1. Casiopea has to be the most raw, daring and incredibly real character I have ever read.
  2. Mexico in the 1920s is the place to be!
  3. Not to mention Xibalba, the Mayan Underworld
  4. THE DIVINE INTERVENTION PLOT. 
  5. Fairy-tale like feel but make it darker!

Untamed Shore (2020)

Untamed Shore
via Goodreads

Renowned author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s first thriller, UNTAMED SHORE, is a coming-of-age story set in Mexico which quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists.

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most exciting voices in fiction, and with her first crime novel, UNTAMED SHORE, she crafts a blazing novel of suspense with an eerie seaside setting and a literary edge that proves her a master of the genre.

This book needs more love! Crime and thriller fans out there need this book in their hands!

  1. A hot, sticky, summer setting in a shark fishing town!
  2. Murder! Fraud! Blackmail! All that good stuff!
  3. Viridiana – Practical, straightforward and yet dreamy MC
  4. American tourists who are fishy AF
  5. Edge of your seat THRILL

Mexican Gothic (2020)

Mexican Gothic
via Goodreads

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 

The perfect read for SPOOKY SEASON! This is the time to get it friends!

  1. ATMOSPHERIC. Seriously, the chills and eeriness are real!
  2. Noemi Taboada – An absolute queen.
  3. Slow burn that just EXPLODES in your face!
  4. Gorey, creepy, dark, gritty!
  5. “A stylish and sinister read” – Gwenda Bond. Truer words have never been spoken.

Coming Soon…

coming soon GIF by arielle-m

A Dangerous Eagerness (2021)

Dangerous Eagerness, is a noir crime novel set in Mexico in 1971, against the backdrop of the student movement that was taking place in Mexico City at the time, and the student massacre that took place in the city on a certain day in June.”

The Daughter of Dr. Moreau (2022)

Pitched as a reimagining of The Island of Dr. Moreau, set in the volatile Yucatan in the 1800s.
Have I read the original novel? No, but I will just to have the privilege to read this book!!!

And a third novel with no details…yet!!


SO yes! On this the last day of LHM, do me a favour, do yourself a favour and READ BOOKS BY SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA!

As for me? I’ll be highly anticipating her next novels, while also diving into to her short fiction over the next couple of months! I will definitely be back to share some of my favourite short stories with you!

If you have read a book by SMG, I would love to hear your thoughts about it! Please share and spread the love as much as you can!

*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

Furia | Review // How to articulate my love for this book?

I want to say in advance that this is one of those times where I feel like my words cannot accurately express my feelings for a book. There is just so much I want to say and I feel like the words I have don’t quite convey that love taking up my thoughts!

So please bear with my scrambled words and just know that I love this books with every fiber of my being!

Many thanks to Thomas Allen & Son for sending me an ARC!

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Furia
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Sept 15th, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Goodreads

An #ownvoices contemporary YA set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.


I loved everything!

How do I even begin to express my love for this book? I knew going in I was going to get the fútbol, Argentina, and girl power greatness. What I didn’t know was that I would be absolutely gobsmacked by my emotions.

This book has a lot, but it starts and ends with the amazing Camila Hassan. She was incredible. Wow. From her passion for soccer to her complicated love for her family to her dreams of success, Camila was a force in this story. She’s burdened with the weight of so many secrets and expectations that life gets way complicated for her. She falls hard for her childhood best friend but she doesn’t dare risk her dreams for it AND THAT’S WHAT I LOVED ABOUT HER. Yes, she’s makes mistakes along and she doubts herself at times, but it just made her story all the more compelling!

The family life is complicated on so many levels in this book. We have Pablo, the superstar brother who is not superstar enough, Camila’s hardworking mother who feels like she in general is never enough and her father who…who is stuck thinking about what could have been and that he can never have enough. It’s a family of very complex and toxic relationships on so many ends, with so many secrets and they make this story a wild and emotional journey. Then Diego walks on to the page trying to be all perfect and he is something alright. No spoilers here. But wow. OKAY THEN. I can’t say too much about him because I will spoil things! XD

This book is a lot more than just Camila playing soccer, it’s about her journey to proving that her dreams and aspirations are just as valid and achievable as her brothers, boyfriend’s or any other male athlete. And let me tell you this book is AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER! It had me feeling soft one moment and absolutely raging the next moment! The amount of opposition and disapproval that Camila faces from those closest to her is hard to read about, but also made me root for her even more.

This book takes machismo and wrings it by its neck. YSM doesn’t shy away from exposing the violence against women and toxic masculinity that have plagued this society. No, these problems aren’t solved in this book, but they are key reasons that lead Camila to fight back. This book screams girl power, that is not always easy to wield when faced with so much opposition, but something that is liberating and empowering all the same. Yes, this book is feminist af and brings to light the Ni Una Menos movement that is roaming its way through Argentina and the rest of Latin America, fighting for to end femicide and establish rights for women.

It’s a book about a teen being a teen in a little barrio called Rosario in Argentina. We get music references to Maluma and J Balvin, like YES AMAZING. Homework and menstrual cycles are part of this girl’s life, as they should be! Friendship and first love and all the complexities that come with navigating life at an age where huge decisions about the future make this book remarkable and intriguing at every turn of the page. Not to mention the Argentinian daily life and food and culture woven into every action characters make! (Every time alfajores were mentioned my mouth started salivating! *sobs*)

And the beautiful game. I haven’t played soccer in oh god YEARS, but this book brought me back to the pitch. It made my lungs burn, it made my heart race, my hamstrings tighten. It brought up the feelings of team-love, team-pressure and the thrill of competition! It brought joy and sadness! Just that feeling of being in a field chasing the ball and cheering and yelling for a pass! I—omg why am I getting emotional writing this?—Yes, soccer is an central aspect of this story, but more than anything the pitch is where we see Furia come alive and become the dreamer that she is.

So yes. I did tear up at the end. It was a culmination of so many big changes that happened in Camila’s life that brought both joy and sadness. It was a beautiful ending, one that gives mighty hope and vision for girls chasing their dreams against all odds.

And there was a Narnia reference. 🙂 Books always win when they have a reference to Narnia. 🙂


Overall, this book completely swept me off my feet! I can with absolute surety say that this book will be on my top 10 list at the end of the year! This book is a fierce tale of a girl pushing back against every barrier to achieve her dream. It’s a story about first love and the complexities of family. Your emotions will be kicked around from player to player until finally with the last turn of the page you can’t help but scream GOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES! PLEASE! EVERYONE! READ! THIS!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? Did you ever or do you still play a spot?

*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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Blazewrath Games | Blog Tour Review // Latinx Fantasy out to steal our hearts!!!

Greetings readers!

Welcome everyone to my stop the BLAZEWRATH GAMES Blog Tour! I am so excited to be sharing this post with you all today! I had so much fun reading this book, writing this review aaaand creating art for my tour stop so I hope you all enjoy my chaos today!

I would like to thank Caffeine Book Tours for hosting this tour, choosing me to take part and supporting this amazing new Latinx Fantasy novel that is sure to take the world by storm!

~ THE BOOK ~

Title: Blazewrath Games
Author: Amparo Ortiz
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 06 October 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

BUY THE BOOK!

Amazon
B&N
Book Depository
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Synopsis:

Experience the World Cup with dragons in this debut fantasy, set in an alternate contemporary world, in which riders and their steeds compete in an international sports tournament.

Lana Torres has always preferred dragons to people. In a few weeks, sixteen countries will compete in the Blazewrath World Cup, a tournament where dragons and their riders fight for glory in a dangerous relay. Lana longs to represent her native Puerto Rico in their first ever World Cup appearance, and when Puerto Rico’s Runner—the only player without a dragon steed—is kicked off the team, she’s given the chance.

But when she discovers that a former Blazewrath superstar has teamed up with the Sire—a legendary dragon who’s cursed into human form—the safety of the Cup is jeopardized. The pair are burning down dragon sanctuaries around the world and refuse to stop unless the Cup gets cancelled. All Lana wanted was to represent her country. Now, to do that, she’ll have to navigate an international conspiracy that’s deadlier than her beloved sport.


~ MY REVIEW ~

It’s simple. This book was amazing!

I have to start with how much I enjoyed the World Cup vibes we got from it. If Blazewrath were real, I would 10/10 be watching it every two years. I got that same giddiness and high energy that comes with getting to cheer for your team on a world stage! Reading about Lana’s excitement about watching and then getting her dream to compete only intensifies this feeling of pride and delight! (Who hasn’t dreamed of competing in a cup to represent their people!??) Best of all this book brought in and embraced the international love!! I mean a book where a major world event actually features an entire cast of international characters outside of the USA??? YUP. It is absolutely wonderful!!!!

It might take place in an alternate universe of our world, but it felt like a whole new place! I loved that this book explores world building not only in text, but in excerpts of journals and interviews! I loved how these snippets set up the chapter and gave us insight into the history of Blazewrath and dragon origins! It honestly explains so much and deliciously teases readers about what is going to happen next!

I loved Lana! She was fierce, ambitious and did everything with heart. She was kind of just thrown into this chaos and gladly allows it because this has been her dream. She was also the ultimate fangirl! Like who wouldn’t totally squeal when they meet their heroes?? That’s not to say her dream works out perfectly! As she struggles to find her spot on this team, understand her relationship to Puerto Rico, deal with some family drama and figure out the shady things going on behind the scenes, Lana Torres is character that will wiggle her way into your heart and make it home as you embark on this dragon filled journey together!

This book has an incredible and diverse supporting cast! Team Puerto Rico was a boatload of fun! As per my usual style, my heart softened for the comedic relief, Luis. He knew how to crack a joke and lighten the mood and I adored him. You know who my heart did not soften for? Victoria. I’m sorry…it just…it took a while for me to even tolerate her. And ahh there were so many others who shone in the spot light that brought so much richness and fun to this novel! Others could have choked…but I guess those characters are necessary to stir rage too. And rage can be fun XD

I loved that this book focused on building friendships and how difficult it is to be the newbie or late comer! Lana really felt like she had to prove herself to her teammates and that’s not easy! I liked that we got to see her transition from seeing them as her idols and then her equals! There is no romance, but it honestly isn’t necessary! The growing bonds between these teammates and Lana sort of feels like a found-family trope and pulls on the heartstrings enough.

We were promised magic and dragons and we got ’em! Ortiz really wove these mythical creatures into the fabric of the world by giving them national origins which I found so unique! I also like that the dragons themselves had personality too, so those How To Train Your Dragon vibes were strong! And if dragons aren’t enough for you, witches also exist in this world! Lana’s bff Samira is a witch with enough sass and finesse to charm anyone! We get to go wand shopping and transporting and get so many more glimpses into the witch life! The book really takes on the complex politics between humans and witches and dragons. Things can get complicated with so many different views, but it honestly adds to the drama and twistiness of the novel.

This book pulls on the heartstrings! I wasn’t expecting to be hurt and lo and behold I got hurt! So while I felt those happy and giddy feelings of being in the atmosphere of this world event, it also had it’s really sad and hard moments. One in particular that I don’t think I am quite over yet!

Overall, this was a fun and exciting new fantasy adventure! It’s evenly-paced, has some amazing plot-twists and features an incredible cast of characters! Lana is sure to capture the hearts of many readers as the ultimate fan girl finally living her dream and then fighting for a better world! The energy and scandal of Blazewrath is a force that will surely pull readers in and have them cheering on for their favourite characters! With wonderful world-building and magic woven into each turn of the page, this book is sure to knock the socks off of many readers!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Yes! Read all the Latinx fantasy!!!


~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~

Amparo Ortiz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. Her short story comic, “What Remains in The Dark,” appears in the Eisner Award-winning anthology Puerto Rico Strong (Lion Forge, 2018), and SAVING CHUPIE, her middle grade graphic novel, comes out with HarperCollins in Winter 2022. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.A. in Psychology from the UPR’s Río Piedras campus. When she’s not teaching ESL to her college students, she’s teaching herself Korean, devouring as much young adult fiction as she can, and writing about Latinx characters in worlds both contemporary and fantastical.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


~ MY ART ~

To pay homage to Lana’s role as the Puerto Rican flag bearer, I decided to paint her holding the flag as if she were posing for one of her promotional portraits!! I had a lot of fun designing and creating this so enjoy!


~ FOLLOW THE TOUR ~

Check out the Tour Schedule to read other wonderful reviews and creative posts!


Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this book? What are your favourite dragon books? Given the options between being a witch or dragon rider, what would you choose?

*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

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

Greetings readers!

If there is one thing I know about myself it is that I got my love for dramatic flare from watching telenovelas. Hundreds of episodes of misunderstandings, chaos, messy villains, brutish fights and love triangles leaves an impression on a girl.

Now I was really young like 6-9 years old when my family went through their intense telenovela phase. I remember coming home from school to my cousin’s house where my aunts, older cousins and sisters sat around the TV to watch a novela. Then when our dad picked us up and to took us home we watched another novela! I was young and not very interested, but believe it or not I paid some attention!

We are less involved in watching novelas today, especially since the Latinx channel stopped showing them on cable TV. Now only that aforementioned cousin’s family still regularly watches novelas XD It’s basically their family time, I love it!

All this to say that my telenovela knowledge is minimal at best, but it is there. I may not have been so invested, but they are still a staple image in my childhood memories. And like I said, they are probably 99.99% responsible for the reason I love drama and scandal! XD

So why not reach into my memories and pair books with telenovelas? Anything for Latinx Heritage Month, I say!

REBELDE

Rebelde Single.jpg

via Wikipedia

Your high-school drama with musica! It’s the novela of my childhood days. My sisters and cousins used to watch it after school and on the weekends. I don’t really understand anything that went on, but I do remember the songs.

Book Rec: Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

nlb

I know what my RBD peeps are thinking. This book is all about Bachata and RBD was more of a pop rock, but both are about Latinx teens living their best musical lives so, I’m leaving it! I know I haven’t read it YET, but the connections are there I can feel it.

CÓDIGO POSTAL

cp

via IMDb

I remember very little about this novela other than it was a bunch of surfer teens getting into trouble, falling in love and having fun at the beach! When I asked my cousins about it, the best memory they had of it was the theme song! Which had me thinking that a lot of telenovelas have iconic theme songs!

Book Rec: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

ddrs

Rendz, you haven’t read this book either! I know, I know. BUT. I really caught on to the sea themes and from what I can tell from the synopsis this book is about teens by the sea falling in love, trying to figure out their futures. It might turn out that the sea theme is all they have in common, but I think they are still a worthy match XD!

AMOR REAL

Amor real" (2003) tv posters

via CineMaterial

My cousin was/is obsessed with this novela! I cannot even tell you the amount of times she has re-watched it or scavenged YouTube for clips! It’s a historical romance set in post-Independence Mexico. It is dramatic AF. From the plot to the characters to the costume to the twists and turns. I have a few memories of seeing this one on TV, but I think I paid more attention to the clothes than what was going on!

Book Rec: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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While not set in Mexico, this gorgeous novel sweeps us into this Belle Epoque world full of beauty, betrayal and romance! I love this book so much! It gives us POVs of all three main characters including the “villainess” which I totally think this fits the telenovela bill perfectly.

Note: This book will be re-released on May 11, 2021!!!

Other honourable telenoleva mentions:

ALMA INDOMABLE – A diamond in the rough/Cinderella/good-girl vengeance story. Make of that what you will.

RUBI – Villain origin story. She is fierce and brutal and quite honestly a queen.


That’s it for me friends! Let me know what you think! Have you ever watched a telenovela? Do you ever match books with shows you watch? Which Latinx book 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

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

Greetings readers!

Full discretion: I can’t cook, but I can clean. I said what I said to create a snazzy tagline line and get your attention here, so forgive my dishonesty. Although if you ask my mother I can’t really do both to her standards.

Welcome one, welcome all to a post that is sure to get those salivary glands working! Today’s Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest challenge is to talk about Latinx food in books! I have been blessed to read some very delicious books so I am here to share them with you today!

A Note: Obviously I wanted to include photos of what the food looks like, but I’ll be honest I didn’t have the time to find the right photos and be sure I got the right permissions, so instead I linked to some very delicious recipes! You can visit these sites or just do a google search to see what the food looks like!

Lobizona by Romina Garber – Choripan

I don’t think I’ve ever really had Argentinian food. I cannot recall a time, but having read Lobizona I definitely want to try choripan. My mouth is SALIVATING at the thought of it friends! It looks simple enough to make, which is a plus because I suck at cooking, but also quite elegant! All in all I’d gobble this up! Lobizona has lots of references to Argentinian foods, but this dish is definitely the one that caught my eye!

via Goodreads

I found this great recipe on Taste.com!


With the Fire of High by Elizabeth Acevedo – Lemon Verbena Templeque

With the Fire on High
via Goodreads

First of all, this whole book made me feel inadequate about my cooking skills. I felt attacked. Second of all, I loved this book. Emoni’s journey and pursuing her culinary passion despite juggling so many other things in her life was a heartfelt and stunning to read about. I loved that each section of the book started off with a recipe and the Puerto Rican Lemon Verbena Templeque caught my eye right away. I didn’t know what it was so I googled and was quite intrigued. It sounds delicious. I mean coconut, lemon and vanilla sound like a delightful mix in my head!

While googling I stumbled across a post by Eating Books where they actually made LVT (And took some really STUNNING photos)! I highly recommend reading their post!

Emoni’s Lemon Verbena Tembleque @ Eating Books


A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano – Conchas

Every time autumn rolls around, my Mexican Bookstagrammer friends start showing off their books and bread posts and I get hungry. The most famous of all the bread pieces obviously being the concha, which if you didn’t know is sweet bread shaped like a sea shell (or concha)! When I read A Dash of Trouble, which is about a Mexican family and their bakery (of magic), I instantly fell in love and wanted to try all their sweets, especially conchas. I know what you’re thinking: “Rendz, it’s bread.” YEAH. IT’S BREAD and I want to try it. I’m a picky eater, but bread is one of the few foods that I’m a little more adventurous in trying. AND JUST LOOK AT THE SHAPE! It’s an experience eating this bread and I want to live it!

Here is a recipe I found by a Mexican home cook and food blogger, Mely Martinez!

Concha Recipe @ Mexico in My Kitchen


Let me know what you think! What books make you hungry? Have you ever tried to make a recipe from book? What are some of your favourite cuisines?

*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

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

Greetings readers!

Today is the day! AND BOY HAS IT BEEN A WHOLE DAY FOR SINCE THIS POST IS COMING TO YOU AT NIGHT!

On September 15th, five Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica celebrate their independence day from Spanish rule in 1821. On September 16th and 18th, Mexico and Chile also have their independence days respectively! And because there is so much Latinx goodness to celebrate, the month between Sept 15th and Oct 15th has been designated Latinx Heritage Month!

So why not also celebrate bookishly?

This is the first LHM where I have made plans to participate in as many challenges and read as many Latinx books as possible and I am so excited!

If you would like to know about all the books I will be reading this month and the challenges I will joining you can check out this post that I made!

Latinx Heritage Month TBR | Preparing for Bingo, Latinx-a-thon, & IG festivities! // Es mes de fiesta

But if you are too lazy to click through posts (I get it, it’s been a whole day! phew) I will leave the image of all the books I’m planning to read! I have lots of new books, some backlist and some on my library app! There is just so much goodness to come! I cannot wait!


This first day of LHM also happens to be a huge day for Latinx Releases!! So several Happy Book Birthdays are in order!:

Happy Book Birthday to NEVER LOOK BACK by Lilliam Rivera

Never Look Back

Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera blends a touch of magical realism into a timely story about cultural identity, overcoming trauma, and the power of first love.

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

This Own Voices retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is perfect for fans of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper.

Happy Book Birthday to FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez

Furia

An #ownvoices contemporary YA set in Argentina, about a rising soccer star who must put everything on the line—even her blooming love story—to follow her dreams.

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother’s narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother’s shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she’d get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn’t easy. Her parents don’t know about her passion. They wouldn’t allow a girl to play fútbol—and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn’t have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren’t the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her.

Happy Book Birthday to EACH OF US A DESERT by Mark Oshiro

Each of Us a Desert

From the award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life.

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Fresh off of Anger Is a Gift’s smashing success, Oshiro branches out into a fantastical direction with their new YA novel, The Stars Around Us

I cannot wait to read all three of these! They will be the first books I tackle this month and I know I am going to enjoy them!


Let me know what you think! What books will you be reading this LHM? What kind of Latinx books would you love to read? What Latinx books are on your to-buy list?

Be sure to tune in for more LHM Book Fest posts on the blog and IG! There are a lot of great things happening and I am EXCITED!!!!

*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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The Faithless Hawk | Review // A Series I Will Never Forget

Greetings readers!

Never have I had a book series so intimately connected to my life. And I’m not even talking emotionally. I’m talking about major life connections.

When I read The Merciful Crow, I was healing from having my wisdom teeth removed only to crack open a book where magic is found in pulled teeth!!! People!! Are you listening to me!

Then this year, I picked up The Faithless Crow only to immerse myself in a world where there is a plague and people need to practice proper hygiene and quarantine themselves. PEOPLE, ARE YOU SEEING WHAT I AM SAYING.

I will never forget these books! XD

Lucky for me, I enjoyed them very much! And this sequel was quite epic!

*Many thank to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

The Faithless Crow by Margaret Owen

The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2)

Pub Date: Aug 18th, 2020
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Goodreads

Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.

As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.

With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.

A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.


The Likes

Fie is still the raddest of all characters! She is a ferocious girl with a soft side and we love to see it. Her loyalty to her band and the people she loves most in the world is incredible! She doesn’t always think every plan through and sometimes her bite gets the better of her, but I really enjoyed her character. She is someone I would definitely want to be friends with!

Jas…you know for disliking him so much in the first book, I loved him during every second of this book. You can see how much he has developed since the first chapter in book one! If you ever feel like you can’t unlearn the hatred/biases you’ve been taught, his character is proof that it is possible. It’s not easy to do, but it is doable and necessary!

Tav…OMG. I shouldn’t say much because of spoilers, but you know what we go through a boat load of emotions. I mean it’s not really a spoiler, but the book is called what it is called for a reason! I really can’t talk about him, any words I can think of typing come out spoilery. He’s just someone to look out for.

Other characters…we have your iconic evil queen, Rhusana, who is *roars* just awful. Then there is Khoda who is a new and pleasantly wonderful character. He is a bit uptight, but him hanging around with these chaotic kids made things all the more fun.

The world is still quite fascinating. The caste system and the societal divide and classification was so interesting and scary to read about. But I loved that we dove deeper into what the Covenant was, how these different castes were connected, learning about their vulnerabilities and dependencies. The rich history that Owen endows us with may seem confusing at first but boy oh boy do we get some answers!

The Magic! It is still in the teeth! This is still one of the most unique sources of power that I have read in a book! I want to explore this system even more! I loved that everyone had a sense of magic and I also liked that we got to explore the repercussions of power imbalances.

The plot was very a deep dive into the questions from book one. This time we dive deeper into the persecution of the Crow Caste. We dive deeper into the magical history that governs the relationships between castes. Unlike book one where we had a lot of reflection through walking, in this book we are dumped right into the belly of the beast as Fie and her new crew pull off a heist of sorts within the palace walls. There were disguises, scheming and revelations galore!

The romance was *incoherent screeching noises* I really cannot talk about this without getting spoilery. BUT I must say that relationships play a huge part of Fie’s journey. The question of how far you’re willing to go for love and how far is too far are huge hurdles for many characters!

This is a slow-burn again and you really have to be patient and immerse yourself into the lives of these characters, but it is so worth it. The twists just keep coming and when things go wrong they go wrong and then finally things get WILD in the end. I really really really liked those final few chapters. They were INTENSE and all that build up throughout the beginning of the book really came crashing down.


Overall, I really enjoyed this conclusion. I feel like this was a perfect ending, although I wouldn’t mind having one more book just to get some more tooth magic! This is a great slow-burn that leads to an explosive ending. The characters that endeared themselves to me in book one got even better in this book! If you are looking for an intriguing and new magic system and mythology, a cast of colourful characters, cats and great twists, I highly highly recommend this series!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! Duology lovers will definitely want to check this out!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this series? Which character is your favourite? What is your favourite kind of magic system?

*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

The Barren Grounds | Review // Living my best life reading portal fantasy!

Greetings readers!

I don’t ask for much in life, but I do ask for all the portal fantasies to make their way to me. It’s a love that stems from my younger days watching and reading about Narnia and wanting so desperately just to go somewhere else. I think that desire is what really got me into reading and engaging in that whole escapism complex.

But enough about me, I’m here today to scream about this incredible book. It promised me delight and gave me much delight! So Happy Book Birthday to The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson!

*Many thanks to PRHC for the review copy!*

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

The Barren Grounds
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Sept 8th, 2020
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Goodreads

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.


The Likes

This book has a fantastic cast of characters that never allows for a dull moment.

Morgan was such a delight. She was fierce and soft. She was sassy and sweet. She loved reading fantasy novels and imagining up wild scenarios! I could tell she engaged very well in the arts of sarcasm and she knew how to crack a joke which I appreciated very much. She also had quite a temper. She struggled with handling her anger that often made her “unlikable”. (I like how Robertson used the imagery of fire to illustrate the pain and fury coursing through her.) Nevertheless, Morgan’s journey to self-discovery and identity was an emotional one that takes her across lands to find answers. She was an incredible character who saw much growth!

Eli was the purest child! So soft! I loved how he complemented Morgan’s spikier personality. He was a more quiet kid to begin with, but I loved watching his journey in grow more brave and heroic. His talent for drawing and his pull of adventure into lands unknown makes him the perfect partner for Morgan. His levels of compassion were *clutches heart* so pure and I loved how he always fought for what was right!

Other characters…Ochek and Arik were the best companions to have on this adventure! From Ochek’s serious, noble and humble heart to Arik’s snarky and sneaky charm, these two were absolutely delightful. They were also just as dynamic as our MCs. I enjoyed that they grappled with their own flaws in their efforts to save themselves and the land they cherish.

The writing was wonderfully whimsical in a not too flowery way. As Morgan mentions in this book there is such a thing as “fantasy talk” in which the characters use grand words that bring out an other-worldliness of a fantasy land. Well this book does a great job of balancing the contemporary talk and the fantasy talk. From the humour and snark to the whimsy and enchantment, this book used that traditional grandeur of fantasy talk but made it way more accessible to readers so we don’t spend half a page trying to figure out one metaphor. It was easy to follow and yet it wrapped you up in its magic too!

This story takes us to lots of places, from the halls of a Winnipeg school to an in-construction attic to a snowy plain. However, the journey across landscapes of Aski is the most exciting part. I absolutely loved how Robertson made us travel so far without needing to do so much. (Vague much, Rendz?) I don’t want to spoil, but I loved the portal in this book. It was simple and yet essential to the plot. It reminded me of my own childhood tactics to finding other magical lands!

The Misewa community was beautifully crafted! The Cree language and traditions were very important aspects to this world and I loved that Morgan (and the reader) learned new words and phrases and stories along with her. I loved that we delved into the history of Misewa and the two-legged animals that walked and talked. It is a community that has been doomed by humans, but who will need two human children to help find the key to their salvation.

The story had a strong message about importance of the relationship between people, animals and the land. It emphasized the need for balance and warned of the dangers that come from taking too much and being greedy. The antagonist is one we often find throughout history and even today. (I actually gave a snort-laugh when I read it) Themes of environmentalism and the dangers of consumerism were beautifully woven into this tale of wonder that has two kids, a fisher and a squirrel journeying across dangerous terrains to save Misewa.

This book also puts forwards the truths of the foster care system in Canada that has an over-representation of Indigenous children. It shows the deep emotional effects it has on children who are removed from their people at such young ages and put into situations that leave them questioning and wondering about who they are. Especially for kids like Morgan, who has been fostered since she was a toddler, with little memory of her family from before. No matter the intentions of the foster family, this book puts into light the experiences of the child and the feelings of constant displacement. I love that in Misewa they find another place of care, one in which Eli and Morgan find themselves feeling more at home than ever before.

Maybe I cried a little bit? There is just a very emotional scene in this book. You might think middle grade is all fun and smiles and adventure, but there is some bittersweetness too. It’s not tragic, it just pulls very hard on the heart-strings. And I would just like to say that book design is there for a reason and wow I was delighted and hurt at the same time!

And finally, I caught 2 Narnia references. TWO! I was living!


Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It is a story about family and finding home in people who may not be blood, but with whom you share ties with. It’s a story about adventure and valuing yourself. It’s about sticking up for yourself and knowing how to practice compassion. It warmed my heart even though it brought the chilly vibes! I think it is a perfect fall or winter read if you really want to be immersed in the atmosphere and feel that bite of the wind!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Absolutely! For all the portal fantasy lovers!

Let me know what you think! Are you a fan of portal fantasy? Are you going to pick up this book? What world would you wish to travel to?

*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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August Wrap Up & September TBR | Two piles of books I need to read + the start of a new academic year = I really think too highly of myself

Greetings readers!

And we are closing off another month of 2020. It’s been another month, friends. Wow. Time flies and yet this year has been an entire decade. We’re still fighting though and we will keep fighting. A reminder to keep unlearning and relearning. BLM is a marathon not a moment, as so many have put it. And when you catch yourself slipping, to pick yourself back up again.

My August was pretty chill, but I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped. My summer semester came to an end and then I was just burnt out from studying. I found that I felt more crafty than bookish, so I spent some time drawing and painting. But other than that I really did not do much this month and yet I don’t feel rested. Ugh, but I’m just ranting now.

Let’s move on to the stats.

wrap-up-3

What Rendz Read

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope e-📘 (4/5) *Reread*
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle e-📘 (5/5) Review
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 📘(4/5) Review

THE GILDED WOLVES

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon (5/5) Review
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso 📘 (5/5) *Reread*
A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden e-📘 (4/5) RTC

Don't Ask Me Where I From

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles [e-ARC] (3.5/5) Review
The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen 📘 [ARC] (4.5/5) RTC
Check Please!: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu e-📘 (5/5)

Where Dreams Descend

Highlight Book(s): You Deserve Each Other lived up to hype I had for it and I really enjoyed it! But #1 from this month is definitely Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From! It was such a powerful and emotional read for me!

Lowliest Book(s): I didn’t have any low read this month. Everything was pretty awesome!

The Haul

I’m telling you all my family is worried for me! XD There was one week where I got book bookmail 4 days consecutively! I was living whereas they were seriously questioning me. I should note that I didn’t buy any of these books and all were gifted XD

Giveaway Wins!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
The Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez-Gilliland

ARCs

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo
Lightbringer by Claire LeGrand
Ciel by Sophie LaBelle
The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

Finished Copies
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath

Yeah…this has been a really good month for bookmail in this household. 🙂

Other Going-Ons

Celebrating 4 Years of Blogging!

On August 31st, WordPress notified me that I have been doing this blogging gig for four years now. WHAT!? I know. It has been quite an adventure and I want to thank you all for sticking around these past years. It has been an up and down slope with this site, but I am so proud for sticking to this. I love books and I love sharing my love for books and this has been one of my best passion projects! Life can get busy, but I love this baby of mine too much to let it go! So thank you for following and reading and just letting me ramble on this corner of the internet!

You Had Met At Hola Challenge

Andrea @ Page Cactus on Instagram created this amazing challenge where you recreate a candid celebrity photo to celebrate the release of Alexis Daria’s You Had Me At Hola! I participated by recreating that viral photo of Chris Pine strutting his stuff with a paper bag full of books! I had so much fun that day and I cannot wait to read the book later this month!

yhmahc

Mexican Gothic is Getting a Limited TV Series

This announcement came as a surprise and you bet that I freaked out!!! Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos came to deliver to the SMG hive and I am living for it! No news on when it’s going to happen, but I would fly to wherever the sit will be to be an extra in this movie!

Read the article

Bitch Read-a-thon – Rereading The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

I had no plans on reading this again but when two twitter fans decided to collab and host a read-a-long I just had to join!!!!!! And let me tell you it was one of the greatest decisions I made this summer! Being emotionally crushed by this book again and discussing it with other readers was the most wonderful experience. The questions made me think critically and reading through peoples answers made me realize how insightful others are.

oren yaro

New Rena Rossner Book!

EEEEH I found out about this new book by surprise and it made my entire day! Last year, I read The Sisters of the Winter Wood and was totally blown away. This book was everything and now we are getting new material and y’all I am sooooo excited!! If you are missing Jewish Fantasy authors on your shelves, I highly recommend adding Rena Rossner to your lists!

The Light of the Midnight Stars
via Goodreads

An evocative combination of fantasy, history, and Jewish folklore, The Light of the Midnight Stars is fairytale-inspired novel from the author of The Sisters of the Winter Wood.

Deep in the Hungarian woods, the sacred magic of King Solomon lives on in his descendants. Gathering under the midnight stars, they pray, sing and perform small miracles – and none are more gifted than the great Rabbi Isaac and his three daughters. Each one is blessed with a unique talent – whether it be coaxing plants to grow, or predicting the future by reading the path of the stars.

When a fateful decision to help an outsider ends in an accusation of witchcraft, fire blazes through their village. Rabbi Isaac and his family are forced to flee, to abandon their magic and settle into a new way of life. But a dark fog is making its way across Europe and will, in the end, reach even those who thought they could run from it. Each of the sisters will have to make a choice – and change the future of their family forever.

For more from Rena Rossner, check out The Sisters of the Winter Wood.


Posts Of the Month

Tune & Title Tuesdays | If I may so bold as to call it the quinceañera anthem

Tune & Title Tuesdays

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet | COVER REVEAL // JAWS?? DROPPED.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

The Bookish Feels | Books That Give Me Wanderlust // We’re going on a trip…

Copy of THE BOOKISH FEELS laugh

Would You Rather Book Tag | Answering the hard questions

BOOK TAG!


TBR

TBR

Let me tell you: I am being far, far, far too ambitious this September. I’m going to attempt to complete two TBRs this month.

From Sept 1st-14th, I plan on reading:

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera
Fable by Adrienne Young
Ciel by Sophie Labelle
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

From Sept 15th-Oct 15th, I have prepared to focus on all books Latinx. You can read more about those plans in this post:

Latinx Heritage Month TBR | Preparing for Bingo, Latinx-a-thon, & IG festivities! // Es mes de fiesta

Latinx Heritage Month TBR

Lord knows I won’t be completing all of this, but I am going to try my absolute best! Please send good vibes!

lhm2020


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*