Hello there, hi! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Haha. Yes, these days have been *busy* for me. I know I said July would be a month of catching up on blogging and reviews, but I promise I will say more on that in a wrap up that is forth coming.
I am doing great, I have just lost track of time per se. Nonetheless, I figured I’d ease my way back into the bloggoverse with a fun tag! I was tagged by the incredible Michaela @ Journey into Books! Many thanks to her and this is your reminder to check out her blog (it is fantastic!)
Alright, no disclaimers only honest answers…Here we go!
Which trope(s) in books annoys you the most?
I am not a fan of love triangles! I get that they can be realistic-ish (because humans are messy), but I hate being on the losing side (which happens often) so I prefer if romances are just clear from the start but with lots of drama hehe.
Which writer(s) do you feel is overrated/overhyped?
Sarah J. Maas. I’ll be brief: I think she can write entertaining books, but I don’t like how she treats her characters of colour and in the end the plots weren’t very memorable for me.
Jay Kristoff. I’m not a big fan of his writing style and I’m not super interested in his newer works…so yeah.
What are your least favorite books you’ve read since joining BookTube blogging?
Oh gosh, well certainly the final books of Throne of Glass, 99% Mine is awful imo, but I think The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting takes the cake. I hated that book! To this day I still think about how I hated it so much XD
What is a terrible ending that ruined an otherwise quality book?
The ending to Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes was just not it…
It wasn’t a terrible ending, but this whole series was top quality and then this final book was just so lackluster! My disappointment was real.
Which fictional character(s) do you wish was not killed off?
As much as I loved Jade City by Fonda Lee, I feel like if this *one* character had not been killed off we still could have had so much drama, suspense and action. Like maybe they could have gone missing or faked their death teehee but yeah I wish we could bring this one back.
What are some of your bookish pet peeves?
Saying that listening to an audiobook or reading a graphic novel is not “real” reading. You can kindly exit the premises if you believe that, I will not have people trying to police what is and what isn’t reading around me.
What are some books you feel should have more recognition?
The Chronicles of a Bitch Queen by K.S. Villoso needs your attention now! If you are a fantasy reader, you need to read these now. This character-driven fantasy is phenomenal. There is deception, betrayal, action and dragons plus so so so much more! The fact that these books have been slept on enrages me!! So read it, please!
What are your thoughts on censorship and banning books?
I don’t think anything good comes out of either and it often makes me question who has the authority to ban/censor books these days, when historically these tactics have been used to silence voices of those being oppressed and/or marginalized. So yeah, miss me with those.
Anyone who feels up to the challenge (Yes, I am lazy right now hehe)
Let me know what you think! What are your opinions on these prompts? What is one bookish opinion you will never back down from?
Can you believe we are already half way through the year!?!? What?!?! And boy has it been a year…I hope this post does honestly find you in good health and if not, I hope it at least brings you some comfort.
Since we have made it to July, I figured it would be good to do a recap of how much of my anticipated reads I have read and of course list the books I am excited for coming in the next six months!!
So let’s get on with it!
In my last post I listed about 2-4 books I was super excited for each month coming to grand total of 19 anticipated reads!
Of those 19, I have… *Read 14 *And have enjoyed the majority of them considering my average rating among them is about 4.08
So let’s just say that 2021 has been giving the GOODs so far and I cannot wait to see what is coming our way next!
Alright…on to the reason we are all here
Isn’t it Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams – Yes, The Russian’s book!! Vlad is my favourite character above the rest and I can’t wait to see him shine in the spotlight!
Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim – I’ve been eagerly waiting this one ever since we got that snippet of this story in Unravel the Dust!
Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Do I need to explain?!? It’s SMG people, of course I am highly anticipating it every day of the week! Lucky for me, I got an early copy 🙂
The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang – IT’S QUAN’S STORY EVERYONE. MY SWEET QUAN. So if you can’t tell, Quan is my favourite and I will be inhaling this book once it comes out.
The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi – A final installment that is sure to be glamorous and emotionally destructive!!! I am ready!!!!!!!
Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray – This one pushes all the right buttons for me!!! I mean a dangerous alliance to hunt down an ancient creature while the main characters keep their motives secret from each other? Yes, give it to me!
Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew – A new Indigenous YA novel about a virtual reality?!?! Yes, sign me up. I am here for this.
The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova – An adult Latinx novel about a family of witches and secrets! This sounds like the most perfect fall read, I cannot wait!
Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan – Chinese mythology + rich magic + epic slow-burn romance is a recipe for EPICNESS. This book sounds so incredibly amazing. I can already tell its going to be one of the biggest releases of the year and I AM HERE FOR IT.
Gilded by Marissa Meyer – Yes, the queen of retelling is back with a Rumpelstiltskin remix! I know I shouldn’t compare it to TLC and I will try my best not to…but I’Il be thinking about them the whole time probably XD
A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth – Laura knows how to hook me with her fairy tale stories so I am 10/10 excited for this story of swans, magic and monsters!
Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen – Say it with me know *MERMAIDS* and *VENGEFUL GODS* ahhhhhh what a combination! I wants it.
I actually have nothing set in stone for December yet…I sure as the months go on, more than one book will be added to the list but for now I leave this space open!
Let me know what you think! What books are you eagerly anticipating now that we haveentered the second half of the year? What was your favourite book from the first half of 2021? Anyone have any recs for December?
Today I am coming at you with some reviews for some books that I read this past May!
Many thanks to the publishers for approving me for an e-ARC from Netgalley. (Yes, this is me finally posting reviews that have been sitting in my drafts for weeks!)
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Pub Date: April 20th, 2021 Publisher: HarperTeen
I liked it but at the same time gosh this took a while to get through.
1. The world building was interesting, but there was so much to take in at the very beginning. The world and its conflict needed a lot of attention to know who was who and who hated who and who wanted revenge on whom. I also felt like there were lots of important aspects that were overlooked despite being quite pivotal to the plot, like The Yielding. I did not understand its purpose until about halfway through. It kept being mentioned, but we never really got to see it happen on page.
2. I really liked the characters. Usually when it comes to dual-POVs I have a favourite, but this time around I was pretty intrigued by both sides. Jazmyne the “meek ” and Iraya the “reckless” are really how I’d describe them. Other characters weren’t as fleshed out as I’d hoped and I was hoping for so much more from them. But then the ending came around and there was a complete 180 character change and I was seriously confused.
3. So this was a revenge story on multiple fronts and what can I say other than TRUST NO ONE. People were pulling alliances and betrayals left, right and center. It was good because it kept me engaged in trying to figure out who was on whose side…and what they were after.
4. I found the pacing off. It wasn’t smooth and there were some time jumps that skip over possibly exciting events which was disappointing. Instead we got a lot of repetitive secret meetings and talks. This is supposed to be a long book about witches! Give me more witchy action!
5. The magic system was cool but still needed more flesh to it too. Again it took me a while to understand how it works, and I still might be unclear about some stuff, but it does have potential. I like that it was forged from gold and how if created different power dynamics for different users. Very interesting.
6. Speaking of power, the politics were messyyy which is always my favourite thing. We have people seeking power, running from power, betraying power and its just a big mess. The race to become ruler is not simple. It crumbles relationships and leaves people in the dust (read sacrifices). And as I said this is a revenge story on many fronts and phew, ultimate power plays a big part in this. I liked that there is clear no good side or bad side. Each side has oppressed the other. Each has a hero that is villain to the other. And working together honestly seems like such a far fetch idea. I enjoyed the questions it made me ponder.
7. So it’s slow, lots of repetitive secret meetings and too many unknowns made the story drag in the beginning and middle. The third act though? Great. I wish we had gotten more of that. Things got 10x messier and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
8. The “romance” if you could call it that was not it for me. There were no interactions for the characters to truly find chemistry, they just started looking at each other at some point I guess. There are two potential romances…and well neither seem to be it for me. Who knows about later.
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Pub Date: May 18, 2021 Publisher: Flaitron Books
This was so cute. Literal serotonin .
1.The characters were so much fun. Izumi is the living the actual fantasy of finding out you’re a princess and then dealing with the entire package. She was funny and cheeky. Her voice was simultaneously self-deprecating and very serious. And I loved Akio, serious grumps/poets are adorable.
2. The whole finding out you’re a princess plot was wonderful. Learning all the rules and then trying to meet these impossible standards is stressful and not easy. Plus being a woman means your every move is picked at! It was a strong message this book wanted to relay… although I do wish it had gone a little deeper into it.
3.Strong themes of identity and family. Izumi struggles with finding her balance as both Japanese and American. Especially growing up in a white neighbourhood with confederate and rainbow flags flying as the book says Izumi deals with many feelings of “unbelonging” that she has to work through. And then finding her place with her newfound family proves to be just as difficult. I loved exploring the relationship with her dad. They were so awkward together lol but I would have loved more moments between them.
4. The romance was sweet. A total modern princess and her guard trope?! Yes, give it to me and it GAVE. I like how Izumi acknowledges that she’s in her own enemies-to-lovers romance, but that she’s also such a romantic. I giggled every time she was like “he’s hot, but ughhh” or when she’d start fantasizing about him. That was fun. I would like to petition for a book about the mom and dad though. Thank you.
5. The whole book was evenly paced and there wasn’t too much action save for some hijinks Izumi gets into and the scandals that follow. It was pretty entertaining throughout and I wasn’t bored, but I felt like a little more drama was missing.
6. It is tagged as Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians and I think it delivers. Even without those comps, this book alone has much to say about identity, family, self-acceptance and love. They’re all messy and complicated. Even when perfection and answers are demanded, we might not have them all and that’s okay because as we grow and discover more about ourselves we learn to embrace our imperfections and unknown answers more.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
And that’s it for me! Let me know what you think! Have you read either of these? What kind of fantasy and contemporary books have you been loving as of late?
Here we are half way through the year and ahh the days are getting gorgeous outside. I love summer and everything that has to do with vacation vibes (even thought there will be no vacation this year) so I am *smiles* taking it day by day.
May was a pretty good month. It was a great reading month even though I didn’t read many books. Then again, quality over quantity!
What Rendz Read!
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart (3/5 🌟) Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean (4/5 🌟) The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso (5/5 🌟) Descendant of the Crane by Joan He (3/5 🌟) Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (3.5/5 🌟) Jade City by Fonda Lee (4.5/5 🌟)
Highlight Book(s): So definitely The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng and Jade City by Fonda Lee. Two books that ahh blew me away for so many reasons. The first the end of a beloved series and the second the start of a new one. I am living.
Lowliest Book(s): While these aren’t low ratings I was not quite happy with Witches Steeped in Gold and Descendantofthe Crane. I just felt like they both lacked some luster for me.
Let’s just say I have been very, very lucky with the publisher love.
For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten TheJasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June The Unpopular Vote by Jasper Sanchez Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor
On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Millow
Other Going Ons
~ Shadow and Bone Meet & Greet ~
I lived my best life on May 8th 2021. I was in the same Zoom room as the Shadow & Bone cast. I WAS IN THE SAME ZOOM ROOM AS BEN BARNES. I can honestly tell you that I do not remember a single thing from my session. I was so focused on getting screenshots and staring lovingly at the actors that I do not remember a single thing that was actually spoken about during the 20 minute interview period. 🙂
Luckily someone uploaded my session to YouTube so it is there forever.
~ Speaking of which…I Binged Shadow and Bone Again ~
You know I had to. You just know that I had to. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed myself a second time around and ahh I am eagerly awaiting any news on season 2!
~ So I watched my first K-Drama ~
I really needed something to watch and my cousin, who recently started watching K-Dramas herself, recommended that I start “Crash Landing On You.” And all I have to say is this: I AM OBSESSED. This drama delivered everything that I could possibly want from a TV show. The tropes, the romance, the plot…I–I loved, I loved it. I loved it. If you have any recommendations for me I AM TAKING THEM.
Boy do I have so many books to read this month! I already know that I won’t get to all of them, but I am going to try my best!! I really want to prioritize Indigenous and Pride reads this month because June is commemorative of both communities.
Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten
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!
I was tagged by the amazing Michaela @ Journey Into Books to do this fun tag and answer her excellent questions. I must confess that…I have been tagged to do this award many times but have lost count so I’m sorry to those I’ve missed, but I am starting anew.
Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to there post.
Answer the 11 questions asked of you.
Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask 11 new questions.
List the rules and showcase the logo in your post.
1. What was your last 5 star read and why?
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso An absolutely incredible finale to what is one of my favourite series ever. I cannot recommend it enough! This book was a rollercoaster of emotions. Screaming, crying, laughing and my total destruction. I love it.
2. Recommend a book for each season?
Spring: The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall (So cozy and warm, total new life vibes) Summer: Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp (Hot and sweaty and MARVELOUS) Fall: The Bitch Queen Chronicles by K.S. Villoso (So much chaos, so much emotional destruction) Winter: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (A chilling and thrilling horror novel)
3. If you weren’t a reader what do you think you would spend your time doing instead?
I’d probably spend my days doing more art! Even though I get a lot of my artistic inspiration from books, without reading I would definitely spend more time actually making art and refining my skills hehe.
4. What book would you love to see turned into a movie or tv show?
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir!! This needs to be done and it needs to be done NOW! I want this on screen so bad!!
5. Which fictional character would you want to travel the world with?
Nikolai Lanstov. My suave king knows how to have a good time and I want to have a good time with him everywhere!
6. Most anticipated release for this year?
Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia! This is an obvious one if you know me! I love everything SMG and I am so lucky to already have an ARC of this book! It comes out in August so have your eyes peeled for it!
7. Why did you decide to start blogging?
I attended a bookish event held by Canada’s biggest book retailer, Indigo, where we basically talked all things books! I met so many bloggers, got some ARCs a stuffed swag pack and well I just knew I wanted to be part of this beyond that night. I started up my blog a few days later and well it’s been a journey ever since!
8. What is your favourite thing about blogging.
I love getting to express myself as a total bookworm! I know there are lots of platforms where I can do that, but on this blog that I created, it just feels extra special! There is no limit to how much or how little I can write! I can add all sorts of fun images, videos and clips. It’s just a space that is so near and dear to my heart and the very first place that published my voice!
9. Is there a specific book or series that made you fall in love with reading?
Hmmm…I would say The Hunger Games, but I think more likely it was Marie Lu’s Legend series. It was the first series I picked up of my own volition (not because it was becoming a movie) and I loved it!! It was the first series that I became obsessed with and am still obsessed with today!
10. Favourite fictional pairing? (Romantic or Platonic)
Oh wow this is such a hard question to answer!!!!!!
But you know what? Cresswell (Cress x Thorne) still owns my heart.
11. What book do you planning on reading next?
I’m in the middle of three reads right now, but I’m planning on picking up The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri next! So excited for this next glorious adult fantasy!
What is your favourite book trope?
Which book brings you the most comfort?
Spill the tea, what is one book you will *never* be picking up?
What song do you associate with a certain book?
Who are your favourite authors?
Which book character would you want to trade lives with?
What is the first book you remember reading?
How often do you buy/borrow books?
During what time of the day do you like to read?
What is one non-bookish fun fact about you?
What is your star prediction for your current read?
Hehe…I won’t be nominating 11 people, but some bloggers I have loved as of late. As usual there is no pressure to do this and if I didn’t nominate you, you are more than welcome to answer my questions!
Today, I figured we’d have some fun and do a good ol’ tag to spice up the blog. And why not do a tag about a booklover’s greatest frenemy, Goodreads. Goodreads has been a hot topic as of late, while it may be a great site for readers, it also has its problems hehe. I for one have been slowly moving away from GR to use other book platforms to track my reading (StoryGraph!). But for the sake of this tag, I hopped onto to the old, big G and went through my shelves (which need some major editing).
I found this tag on A Dominique Reads! This tag is originally created by GabsAboutBooks! Definitely give both posts a look through, both have such great answers!
What is the highest rated book that you gave a low rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Average Ratings and find the highest rated book you gave a low rating)
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas GR rating: 4.57 My Rating: 2 (should be a 1)
Not surprised. I have not been a fan of this series since book 2, just one big swoop downhill for me. The fact that I endured however many hundreds of pages this book contained is a small miracle. But yeah, this was such a huge no for me.
What is the lowest rated book that you gave a high rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Avg Ratings, in reverse order, and find the lowest rated book you gave a high rating)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. GR rating: 3.56 My Rating: 5
I know the rating is not bad, but this was such a beautiful book! The writing, the imagery, the plot. ALL OF IT was spectacular in my eyes and the reasons why I love Roshani’s books so much.
What is the most popular book you disagree with the avg rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on number of Ratings, and find the first book you disagree with the avg rating)
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas Number of Ratings: 288,861 GR rating: 4.54 My rating: 3 (It should really be 2)
This book was just *shakes head* torturous for me to read. Again, no surprise. This series just was not for me after book 3 and my ratings reflect that despite it being so popular.
What is the least popular book you disagree with the avg rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on number of Ratings, in reverse order, and find the first book you disagree with the avg rating)
A Mark Unwilling by Candace Wondrak Number of Ratings: 126 GR Rating: 3.76 My rating: 1
This book is *shivers* a big nope! A. BIG. NOPE. The characters, the writing style, the plot, the token PoC character no no no.
Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a higher rating
The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli GR rating: 3.34 My Rating: 4
Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher GR rating: 3.67 My rating: 5
I really enjoyed both of these books! The Matchmaker’s List was funny and intense, but definitely not perfect. Still I laughed a good bunch. As for Obsidian Mirror, it’s a very quiet YA novel, but I enjoyed it so much! I picked it up on a whim from my library and it turned out to be quite entertaining!
Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a lower rating
The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting GR rating: 3.59 My Rating: 2 (But it should be 1)
The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn GR Rating: 3.75 My rating: 1
Both of these books were technically DNFs but I made it almost to the end…so I’m counting them. These were AWFUL reads for me. I hated almost every second which is why I had to stop. I hated the romance in The Good Luck Charm and it’s a romance book, so yeah. As for The Wedding Date Disaster, it was one disastrous CRINGE-fest. Nope. Nope. Nope.
Choose two books that have an average rating of 4/5 stars but you gave a lower rating
Kingdom of the Wicked by Keri Maniscalco GR Rating: 4.01 My Rating: 2
The Sky Weaver by Kristin Cicarreli GR Rating: 4.10 My Rating: 2
Sigh. These books were highly anticipated but ending up being such let downs. Kingdom of the Wicked was so bland, to put it simply. I expected so much more, but plain, bland and boring is all I got. As for The Sky Weaver, my buddy reader and I both agreed that it did not live up to the vibe and feels of the previous books in the series. Disappointing.
Choose two books that have an average rating of 2/5 stars but you gave a higher rating.
I don’t have any avg 2/5 stars books on my shelves!
Do you tend to agree or disagree with GR average rating and do you use GR as a guide for books you want to read?
It depends. But from my shelves, it seems my ratings tend to match the average ratings. Other times they are way off. I try not to use GR as a guide, usually I just take a quick glance at star raitngs, but mostly I don’t. Unless I’ve heard about some questionable things I tend to go in blind and just give the book a try! 🙂
Anyone! I would love to see what answers you would put in!
Let me know what you think! Do you use Goodreads? Do you follow GR ratings and reviews closely?
First of all, I know for a fact that not enough of you have read Fireborne by Rosaria Munda. And I’m going to need you to go do that…like now. Do that and come back for this because if you have any doubts that you should be reading this series, let me put those worries to rest!
Many thanks to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an e-ARC!
Flamefall by Rosaria Munda
Pub Date: March 23rd, 2021 Publisher: Putnam
Revolutionary flames ignite around Annie, Lee, and a brand new POV character in the second book of the Fireborne trilogy.
After fleeing the revolution and settling into the craggy cliffs of New Pythos, the Dragonlords are eager to punish their usurpers–and reclaim their city. Their first order of business was destroying the Callipolan food supply. Now they’re coming for the Dragonriders.
Annie is Callipolis’s new Firstrider, and while her goal has always been to protect the people, being the government’s enforcer has turned her into public enemy number one.
Lee struggles to find his place after killing kin to prove himself to a leader who betrayed him. He can support Annie and the other Guardians . . . or join the radicals who look to topple the new regime.
Griff, a lowborn dragonrider who serves New Pythos, knows he has no future. And now that Julia, the Firstrider who had protected him, is dead, he is called on to sacrifice everything for the lords that oppress his people–or to forge a new path with the Callipolan Firstrider seeking his help.
With famine tearing Callipolis apart and the Pythians determined to take back what they lost, it will be up to Annie, Lee, and Griff to decide what to fight for–and who to love.
I just have to say…
I FUCKING KNEW IT. AHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE THIS BOOK.
Alright so these characters are so foolish, so hurt and so so so complex. And yes I love them all. Throughout the entire book I was simultaneously rooting for them but also screaming for them to get their acts together!!!
We start with my fave, Annie. Even though there were times when I wanted to shake her, she is brilliant. This book has her in the limelight where lots of voices, opinions and agendas are being pushed onto her and she is being picked at and judged with every word and turn of her head. Annie has so much responsibility thrust upon her and has to contend with people opposing her every move, confronting the big mistakes she makes and keeping her head up when her name is dragged through the mud. My baby goes through so much, but her strength and inner fire warmed my heart. She grieved, gave into her pettiness and got mad with herself and through it all I am a proud mama. And on a final note: Sweetie, thank you for not letting Power get in the way.
And now Lee. Babe, your grief, your sense of lostness and conflict between these two worlds was so compelling and frustrating to read about. Lee spent the entire book questioning where he belonged, who he was and to whom his allegiance lied. And these are not easy questions for him to answer. So obviously he screws up multiple times and pays the price for it, but watching him grow into himself and make some tough choices was *sobs* as I said very compelling.
Finally, the new guy, Griff. Sir, at first I was like “um okay you’re here I guess” and then I was like “AHH GRIFF, YOU’RE HERE! BABE!” so it is safe to say that I enjoyed his POV very much. I love that his personality really is “IDGAF, I am willing to risk it.” Griff’s story is one that pulled at the heart strings, made me rage on his behalf and sob at one point. He was brave and passionate and yearned for the freedom of his greatest loves. We stan.
Other characters…I can’t even say much because *spoilers* But I will say: Thank you, Crissa, for being the only character with reason and brain cells. To summarize, EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER HAD TO MADE TOUGH CHOICES. AND THEIR DECISIONS DO NOT ALIGN MOST OF THE TIME. This book is all about choices. More often than not, the ones where options are between evil and deplorable.
So the politics GOT EVEN MESSIER. So much stuff happens I can’t even explain it all. Clashes between classists and revolutionists. The exhausting plight of sexism and how women are painted as villains and promiscuous snakes for the sake of preserving the image of golden boys. And to top it off, the horrors of colonialism and conquest are central to the politics in New Pythos. When I say so much goes on…I mean it. SO MUCH GOES ON.
So this world brilliant. I love that we got to go beyond Calliopolis and into New Pythos. I loved that these places were so distant yet closely tied to one another I also loved that we got to see more kinds of dragons spring up and up the ante for our dragonriders. And my oh my, even though this book didn’t have a competition to keep dragons in this story, the beasts played an even more important role this time around. Their presence was so central to the story, to the history of violence and the freedom/victory so many of these characters desire.
This book was hella stressful and I am telling you there was NEVER A DULL MOMENT! Annie, Lee and Griff get caught up in so many plots, get caught up in who others say they should be, get caught up in their own emotions and consequently find themselves in lots of traps that they then have to get themselves out of! The twists and turns kept me entertained from the beginning to the very end. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
This book is wrought with emotion. So much grief and exhaustion. So much rage. Despite having been entrusted with leading a future, these characters are constantly being restrained by the adults who have wreaked havoc before them. The emotions that bubble up from memory of what happened in the past make each character so human. Real, raw and flawed. And it is these emotions that unifies the characters under a banner of hope that change is possible and I cry. (Did these last two sentences even make sense, I—)
We’re gonna talk a bit about romance because I AM SO SOFT! Lee x Annie is The Ship. I love them so much and omgggg let me tell you their relationship is complicated AF. There is so much baggage!!! And then we add Griff x Delo to the mix who are also complicated AF and bring even more baggage to this boat, but they are so so sweet and !!! I mean I live for this drama and all these ship moments together!!! And it all boils down to THE YEARNING! Both ships are all about agnst and pining and it is sweet, sweet torture. *chef’s kiss*
THE ENDING. Munda really said I’m giving you all a final page twist and she did. She really did. I GUESSED IT, DOUBTED MYSELF, AND THEN WAS GOBSMACKED IN THE END REGARDLESS. The wait for book 3 is torture .
Overall, I love this book. Even better than book 1. Simply brilliant.
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Let me know what you think! Have you read this yet? What are your favourite yearning ships? Have you ever rooted for characters that are on two different sides of a conflict?
Update May 8th, 2021: It has come to my attention that author Rena Rossner, has been silent in light of the oppression Palestinians are facing at the hands of the Israeli state sanctioned violence. There are also several tweets in which the author misrepresents the relationships between Israelis and Palestinians for a manuscript wish list during heightened times of violence. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t do thorough research beforehand and apologize for my ignorance when I initially published this review. What is going on is an extreme violation of human rights, and for this author to live in the same place where this is happening and stay silent about it is appalling.
I encourage you to learn more about what is happening in Palestine and support the Palestinian community in any means you can. For resources to educate yourself please visit @theimeu and Free Palestine Carrd, to donate please refer to this thread of organizations.
I will leave my review for accountability purposes, but moving forward I will not be further endorsing this book/author.
Have you ever experienced a reading moment where you read an author’s debut book and you love it so much that you HAVE to read everything else that they put out? Yes.
Well that is exactly what happened with me and Rena Rossner. After falling in love with The Sisters of the Winter Wood, I was so excited to find out she was releasing another historical fantasy book based in Jewish folklore!
May is Jewish Heritage Month and Rena’s books are definitely deserving of your attention!
Many thanks to HBG Canada for providing me with an ARC!
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner
Pub Date: April 13th, 2021 Publisher: Redhook
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.
I was promised a fairy tale like feel and I got exactly that. This book was incredibly magical in that atmospheric way where every turn of page just ups the enchantment! But like any good fairy tale it was both warm and enticing but dark and dangerous in the corners. I really enjoyed how the historical setting and mythology worked together to create this beautiful story about family and faith.
As for the characters, I am always a sucker for a trio of sisters! Woohoo! And I am glad to report that I liked these sisters very much! Obviously I attached myself to the youngest (how could I not) but all in all I really enjoyed how sisterhood was portrayed in this book. It is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are some bumpy roads and distances to bridge even between the closest of sisters. I liked that they each had a distinct personality, a distinct voice and individual story line that still blended so well with the others. I was a little wary about how young they were, but I had to constantly remind myself that the time period this book was set in had young girls living very different experiences.
The story itself was nicely done. The first half is very different from the second half for *reasons* and I just really liked seeing how the events changed these characters! There were so many instances where the themes of love and grief were intertwined. Finding love after a first is so hard and letting it go is even harder. The plot is really multiple stories in one, or rather one story that then splits off into different directions but collectively united under the threat of this looming darkness that they must face off together. There was lots of intensity and some mystery to be had and for history-lovers they might find something extra fun to love by connecting this book to reality!
I could tell Rena did her research even before I read the author’s note. There is so much history, folklore and tradition in this book to take in. This combination really sets the tone for this book as wonder. There is a lot to be said about the Jewish way of life in this time period which anchors the story in a distinct tradition and experience. There are so many journeys and hardships that this family endures throughout the book, but it does have that touch of wonder woven throughout. It’s a dark fairy tale no doubt, but there is a light up ahead that you chase as you read on and it is quite intriguing!
I’m so happy Rena included poetry that was reminiscent her storytelling in Sisters and ahhh it just made reading so much more exciting and suspenseful! This book in general is gorgeously written and phrased. It is very image-provoking and full of symbolism that I think was perfectly evoked on the cover! There is an elegance to it that weaves in history, magic and languages! I am someone who loves a good glossary so I was living for this (again!)
And here we find some questionable items…
Okay, I liked the emphasis of storytelling. There is something very meta in finding stories told with stories told with stories. There is a depth in this form of narrative. But damn the stories within the story in this book were very elaborate and stylized, and if I am being honest I am pretty sure some metaphors just went way over my head. I would get stuck trying to figure out what was the point about this story since I could figure others out with not much trouble. It was beautiful yes, but sometimes a little distracting.
And while I liked the diverging storylines, sometimes I had trouble wrapping my head around things. This reading definitely requires lots of focus to be able to keep track of who is who, who is doing what and why and where in the world it is taking place.
So why don’t I love this book as much as I loved Sisters? I think it boils down to the fact that I wanted a more exciting confrontation between the sisters and the Black mist. To be honest, the ending left me hanging. I had so much anticipation, but no closure really. Like there is more to tell, more I want to know. It ended very abruptly and quietly. And it is very much possible that this was the intention of the novel. Has this darkness truly been defeated? No. (It’s a metaphor for anti-Semitism so I believe that this unfinished feeling I feel is what I am supposed to be feeling) It was nonetheless a very subdued ending. There was lots of build up and tiny sparks, but no burning in the end.
Also there was a death that hmm did not sit well with me, but who am I to say whether a death is merited or not?
Overall this book is gorgeously written, filled with stunning imagery and wordplay that brings forth an elaborate and intricately woven tale of sisterhood, grief and destiny. While it could get a little convoluted at times, these characters and their hopes, dreams and fears will keep you hooked no matter what!
Rating: 3.75/5 Stars
Recommend?: Yes! We all need some elaborate dark fairy tales to fill our days!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What are some of your favourite fairy tales, dark or otherwise?
So it has been a while since I’ve come at you with a wrap-up, hasn’t it? Let’s blame it on the fact that the end of the school semester was quite an end. I won’t go into much detail, but it is the reason I’ve been feeling a little unmotivated and uninspired with some of my blog posts. I hope to come with new material soon. Perhaps a fun tag or two!
In terms of reading though…I have had an incredible time with my reads. No lies detected. I’m at that point where I am reading faster than I can review, but it just means that I’ll have lots of great reviews coming your way soon.
What Rendz Read
~ March ~
Truly, Madly, Royally by Debbie Rigaud 3.5/5 🌟 Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira 3/5 🌟 Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweetby Laeken Zea Kemp 5/5 🌟 The Beautiful Onesby Silvia Moreno-Garcia (re-read) 5/5 🌟 Act Your Age, Eve Brownby Talia Hibbert 4/5 🌟 Fireborneby Rosaria Munda (re-read) 5/5 🌟 Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Bouley 4.5/5 🌟 Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau 3/5 🌟
Grishaverse Re-Read! Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Siege and Stormby Leigh Bardugo Ruin and Risingby Leigh Bardugo
~ April ~
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner 3.5/5 🌟 Flamefall by Rosaria Munda 5/5 🌟 Make a Sceneby Mimi Grace 5/5 🌟 Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera 4.5/5 🌟 The Ikessar Flaconby K.S. Villoso (re-read) 5/5 🌟 Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras 3/5 🌟
Grishaverse re-read! Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Highlight book(s): Apart from my phenomenal rereads of The Ikessar Falcon, The Beautiful Ones and The Grishaverse reads, the top spots goes to Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, Firekeeper’s Daughter, and Flamefall!
Lowliest book(s): Nothing was truly lowly. I enjoyed all of my 3 stars they just needed more pizzazz.
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
Other Going Ons
New Cover for CERTAIN DARK THINGS
As always, I try to be Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s #1 hype-person and this past March the cover for her re-release of the Mexican vampire novel she wrote was revealed and it is stunning! There is so much symbolism and colour to behold! I loved the original cover, but this one…this one has the pizzazz and spark that I’m sure will intrigue many a reader to pick it up!
My Grishaverse Re-read Extravaganza!
In preparation for the show, which I talk about below, I decided to do a grand Grisha Reread and it was the best decision. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have. I really need to get focused on those ARCs that I have, but I am pleased to say that I did in fact read the majority of my e-ARCs in time (getting reviews up is another matter entirely) but all will be updated soon hopefully. But anyways. I indulged myself with this reread and I can’t complain. I enjoyed myself immensely. It hasn’t been that long since my last reread of Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows on the other hand…that is a duology I haven’t picked up since I read it the first time around when this blog was just beginning. To be concise. I loved it. I loved everything about reading these books again because 14 year old Rendz was living her best life and I want that girl to have her best!
I Attended to Bookish Events with Publishers!
Let’s just say that there are plenty of books to look forward to! Both HCC Frenzy and Penguin Teen CA had some amazing teen book previews at the end of April and I was lucky enough to attend (virtually, of course!). Wow, friends. We YA Lovers have lots to look forward to in the coming months! Here are some titles I am excited for:
I binged Shadow and Bone & lived my BEST life.
Yes, I really did spend roughly 9 hours in my room Friday, April 23rd 2021 to watch the entire series in one go. Lunch and bathroom breaks were really the only moments of not-watching that I had for most of the day. And I regret ABSOLUTELY NONE OF IT. I have waited how long for this show? Ages. Big question: Did I enjoy it? HELLS YES. MY goodness. I was screeching alongside my cousin as we shared thoughts, predictions and critiques over a series of audio and video messages on Snap Chat XD. This adaptation was definitely not perfect, but it had heart in it. I think it did a great job of melding these two different series together and bringing these beloved characters to life! 10/10 recommend you watch it (mainly because I need high ratings for a season 2! but also because it is really good!!)
As for me…I’m stalking the actors and watching cast interviews like its my job.
Posts of the Months
I’ve been feeling a little creatively dry with blog content as of late. I’m trying to find some interesting tags or discussion topics to tackle so it you have any suggestions, I would love to know about them!
A quick review for the summer romance readers! The sunny days are coming and I anticipate some romcom bingeing in my future.
Well as always, I’m going to be slightly ambitious with my TBR 🙂 I will always try my hardest to get to as many books as possible I just need some good luck and good vibes from you all!
I also happen to start my summer semester this month so…le sigh. I need to take that into account as well.
Since it is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and in solidarity with my American friends celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, I plan on reading books by API authors as much as I can 🙂 I’m excited because there are some good ones of my shelf calling out to me! And it should go without saying, but a friendly reminder that we should be supporting API voices 24/7/365 and not only in May!
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri Rising Like a Storm by Tanaz Bhathena
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo Indivisible by Daniel Aleman
And that’s all I have planned for now. I feel like I’m in need of some more romance-y reads especially considering I have some heavy fantasies that will leave me emotional distraught. Any recommendations by API romance authors are welcome!
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!
I am so excited to be a part of the release blitz for ANCHORED HEARTS by Priscilla Oliveras which hits shelves today! The Keys to Love series is a perfect set of romance books for those in need of a little summer escape and summer lovin’! I enjoyed the first book, Island Affair, and Anchored Hearts is here to deliver a new set of tropes to love and enjoy! If you want so more Latinx books on your TBR, then get these on your radar!
Stay tuned for my review going up a little later this week!
*Update: Read my review below!*
Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras is now live!
Sparkling with humor, romance, Latinx culture, and the unique island energy of Key West, Florida, the acclaimed Keys to Love Series by USA Today bestselling author Priscilla Oliveras is the perfect summer read. Sparks fly for a second time when award-winning photographer and prodigal son Alejandro ends up back home, forced to face the familia–and the girl he left behind–for the first time in years. Can these two Key West natives learn to put away old hurts and embrace a new future under the tropical sun?
Award-winning photographer Alejandro Miranda hasn’t been home to Key West in years–not since he left to explore broader horizons with his papi’s warning “never to come back” echoing in his ears. He wouldn’t be heading there now if it wasn’t for an injury requiring months of recuperation. The drama of a prodigal son returning to his familia and their beloved Cuban restaurant is bad enough, but coming home to the island paradise also means coming face to face with the girl he left behind–the one who was supposed to be by his side all along . . .
Anamaría Navarro was shattered when Alejandro took off without her. Traveling the world was their plan, not just his. But after her father’s heart attack, there was no way she could leave–not even for the man she loved. Now ensconced in the family trade as a firefighter and paramedic, with a side hustle as a personal trainer, Anamaría is dismayed that just the sight of Alejandro is enough to rekindle the flame she’s worked years to put out. And as famillia meddling pushes them together, the heat of their attraction only climbs higher. Can they learn to trust again, before the Key West sun sets on their chance at happiness?
“A big-hearted, beautiful book about first love, second chances, and finding one’s place in the world. An exceptional getaway of a book!” —Emily Henry, NY Times bestselling author, Beach Read
“Anchored Hearts has it all: undeniable chemistry between its irresistible leads; believable roadblocks to their happy ending; a heartwarming world filled with familia and comunidad; and a lush Key West setting that leaps off the page. Alejandro and Anamaría’s love story is not to be missed!” —Mia Sosa, USA Today bestselling author, The Worst Best Man
Priscilla Oliveras is a USA Today bestselling author and 2018 RWA® RITA® double finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latinx flavor. Proud of her Puerto Rican-Mexican heritage, she strives to bring authenticity to her novels by sharing her Latinx culture with readers. She and her work have earned praise from O, The Oprah Magazine, Washington Post, New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist, among others. Since earning her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, Priscilla now serves as adjunct faculty in the program and teaches the online class “Romance Writing” for ed2go. While she’s a devotee of the romance genre, Priscilla’s also a sports fan, beach lover, and Zumba aficionado, who often practices the art of napping in her backyard hammock.
I liked that we got to follow a different sibling from the Navarro family and delve into their roots in the Key West! The second chance romance with childhood friends was sweet and understandably a slow burn. These characters simply weren’t ready to make such big decisions when they were so young and rebuilding that connection that has been neglected (but never forgotten) over the course of ten years was going to take up most of the book! But he adored her and she adored him and their mutual pining was lovely.
The family drama was my favourite aspect! This meddling Cuban-American family is funny and heartwarming and full of hijinks. There were definitely instances that resonated with my own family and their meddling ways. Although, I will say I would have like a deeper look into Alejandro’s strained relationship with his father. It was such a pivotal aspect to his arc and I feel like it needed more attention throughout and especially at the end of the book.
As for the main characters. I liked them well enough. I cannot say they were my favourite, but for the most part I enjoyed being around them. I liked that Anamaria was very connected to her home and family, while also focusing on herself and her business (we love to see that), but sometimes I felt that she was wishy-washy. She’d put her foot down about something and the next second her thoughts would back track to opposite side. As for Alejandro, he was interesting. He was definitely a heartthrob but he was also slightly–nay–definitely self-centred. Sir, you have daddy issues. We got it. Was there evidence of any character growth by the end? Perhaps a bit, but it was very surface level.
This book is a bit cheesy. I am frankly okay with it. It added to the fluff, fun and flirting that I was hoping to get from this book! Were some of the lines a tad cringey? Maybe, but given that I expected nothing less from it means I wasn’t disappointed.
Overall, this is a sweet and simple read. If you are looking for a book to enjoy the summer heat and love the childhood friends-to-lovers in combination with the second-chance romance tropes then I think this might be the read for you!
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
Recommend?: YES, for those wanting a sweet and savory summer romance!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading this? What kind of summer books do you love to read?