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

Greetings readers!

Thank you to the author for providing me with a digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review!

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

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

Pub Date: June 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Knopf
Goodreads

In the violent urban jungle of an alternate 1828 Paris, the French Revolution has failed and the city is divided between merciless royalty and nine underworld criminal guilds, known as the Court of Miracles. Eponine (Nina) Thénardier is a talented cat burglar and member of the Thieves Guild. Nina’s life is midnight robberies, avoiding her father’s fists, and watching over her naïve adopted sister, Cosette (Ettie).

When Ettie attracts the eye of the Tiger–the ruthless lord of the Guild of Flesh–Nina is caught in a desperate race to keep the younger girl safe. Her vow takes her from the city’s dark underbelly to the glittering court of Louis XVII. And it also forces Nina to make a terrible choice–protect Ettie and set off a brutal war between the guilds, or forever lose her sister to the Tiger.

Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning adventure as a young thief finds herself going head to head with leaders of Paris’s criminal underground in the wake of the French Revolution.


A Prelude for my lack of knowledge

I would like to start off by saying that I think I would have had a deeper and more profound appreciation of this book if I had read/watched Les Misérables and or The Jungle Book before diving into this one.

Um but not having any knowledge of these stories shouldn’t feel so…essential when reading and yet here I am feeling like I missed half the point of the story because I don’t know who Eponine is from the original story and how anything that she goes through in this book is extraordinary. sigh

Okay onto the review…

The characters were just there…

Someone, anyone please tell me if Nina had a personality because frankly I couldn’t find one. Like she seeks vengeance on the people who hurt her and I’m like yesssssssss vengeance, but there’s nothing else to her. Nothing. She was just a notorious thief and so amazing and everybody was like omg you are amazing and she’s like yes I am and I was like girl give me something! anything? Like what’s your favourite colour. Wrong question because it is obviously black since she is THE Black Cat, best thief, mastermind, can do no wrong. She trampled every obstacle! I just found nothing substantial beyond her need for vengeance. She was so distant from the story despite being the voice of the story itself. Does that make any sense!?

As for the rest of the cast. I can’t say I have a favourite. I can’t say I remember many names. Maybe the Ghost Lord just because he was so mysterious and the father-ish figure to the MCs.

The Experience in four parts…

Part one was a doozy. The first part was a bombardment of information that I was literally so lost. So lost. And by the end of it all I think I understood about half of it. There were so many names to remember. So many houses to keep track of. I know that there were guides at the beginning of the book and it’s my fault that I never referenced them again. But should I have to keep going back to remember everyone? Nonetheless, it was a lot of information to take in within the first few chapters.

I will say though that learning about The Court of Miracles was a very interesting. (I didn’t know it was an actual thing, until I googled it after reading.) It had a rich history, with so many interesting characters (that I wished we had delved into more). I liked the sense of found family found among these different guilds. I won’t lie though some-most were pretty shady, some more shady than others: you know if you know. It was a really dynamic setting, despite the fact that it took me most of the book to understand.

Then comes part two and I’m kind of like okay I sort of understand what’s going on. I was wondering about the time jump we did because the math wasn’t really making sense, but then I was able to wrap my head around it.

Then comes part three and I started getting impatient, it was time to get this show on the road. Um but I don’t remember many things happening. Just a lot of planning and planning. Basically part 2 & 3 were blurs of information. It was all build-up and build-up and could get quite tedious to get through.

Then part four came to save this book from being a one-star review. It was pretty good. Like really really good. More on that below.

The times jumps are what really messed me up. From what I remember there was no actual distinction of time, like no year or date. (Or maybe there were? Oh dear… Don’t quote me, it might be different in the finished copy) It was just so confusing because I thought she was a teen at the very beginning and it turns out she is only 9!?!? There were no real explanations for them other than the author wanting to explore this story from the very beginning instead of doing flashbacks. I can’t say it was that effective.

My slow-ass brain. I took me until part 3 to make the connection to The Tiger and honestly I’m more disappointed in myself because hello the book was literally citing The Jungle Book before every part!

We’re gonna talk romance for just a second because it is super background-ish. But y’all. There are like three dudes into her and again I question it because personality-wise Nina is just angry and again while that’s not a bad thing, there was nothing else substantial about her in my eyes. Anyways she’s got 3 dudes into and OF COURSE the one I like seems like he’s the one she might like back BUT I bet he’s the one that will a) betray her or b) die.

o-o

Anyways.

The Way the last 30% of this book saved me!!! We love to see it! 

I was worried for the longest time, friends. Nothing seemed to be really gripping me and while we were making plans and plans and plans, nothing was getting done until finally things started moving!!! I was very much into the secret planning going on. The deception was g r e a t. The aristocratic court life was a little less upfront than I had hoped, but the politics were very fun to read about!

It was super intense because all that build up from the first 70% finally came crashing down. There was so much happening, but it wasn’t confusing at all. The political intrigue was high with so many views clashing and so many needs to be met. It’s a book about the oppressed rising up and clamouring for justice. The resemblances to the modern context are not lost on me.

In the end, the choices that Nina had to make were difficult, but she was unapologetic about it. THERE WAS A REALLY GREAT TWIST. I actually didn’t see it coming and I appreciate it! She had one goal since the very beginning and she achieved it. Will it have serious repercussions for her…oh yesss and that’s what the sequel is for.


Overall, I didn’t have a great time with this book. I struggled mainly due to my lack of knowledge and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the very slow pacing and build-up of the first three quarters. The book had great promise, but it just didn’t grip my attention enough.

Rating: 2 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Um well I wasn’t a big fan of it, but maybe fans of Les Mis or the Jungle Book will find something more substantial to the book.

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you find it necessary to know background story of comp titles before diving into a new story? Has the ending of a story ever saved it from being a DNF or one-star review?

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

Welcome to the final tour stop for Tanaz Bhathena’s newest release: HUNTED BY THE SKY! I couldn’t have been more excited for today’s post! I am very pleased to be part of the blog tour for this amazing story that I am sure will knock your socks off, like it did to me!

Many thanks to Penguin Teen Canada for sending me an ARC!

Hunted by the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

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

Pub Date: June 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Goodreads

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul’s mark is what caused her parents’ murder at the hand of King Lohar’s ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl–Gul–in the capital’s bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance–and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king’s domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.


The Likes

We have to talk about this world because I was absolutely in love with every part of it. Inspired by medieval India and Persian myth, this world had so much to offer in terms of magic and mayhem! I found the apartheid-of-sorts between the magical and non-magical folks to be really interesting. Even though it’s not a good thing, it was a great exploration of class struggle. There were myths and magical people and creatures of many kinds. There was a variety of magical powers and hierarchies. There was a sisterhood (I love sisterhoods!!). There was an evil king. There were ghosts. There was definitely some divine intervention going on there! And of course there was a PROPHECY!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so incredibly magical! And I loved that this book explored its horizons as well. It wasn’t focused solely on the one kingdom, but stretched itself into other territories too and the politics that connected them! It was just incredible overall.

These characters were phenomenal! First we have Gul, this fiery, hot-headed and snarky heroine whose only goal is revenge! I loved that she was so passionate and dedicated to her cause. That’s not to say that she was perfect, oh no siree! Gul is very much set on this one path and not seeing the effects around her leads her into lots of trouble, on top of the fact that she doesn’t exactly think every plan through. But she was a quick-thinker, a cunning magi and an angry bean that I couldn’t help but love!

Then there is Cavas who is—huhhh—who is JUST THE SOFTEST BEAN EVER! I related a lot to him in that he was just trying to get by and avoid being threatened by the more powerful and ruthless magi! He was so incredible! I loved everything about him. He cared deeply for his family and friends (the few that they were). I liked that even though he was quiet and tried to stay under the radar he was so brave and just as determined as Gul! He had some messy family history and it was so heart-breaking, but my boy gets through it all. Gul may have been the chosen one from the prophecy, but I loved that Cavas is an integral part to the success of this story!

Other characters…oh my there were many and I loved them all. (Yes, this review will basically be me saying that I love it all) There were so many personalities to be had. From the sisterhood to the scary/creepy magi-guard to the elusive king. There was even a certain prince that I have to say got on my nerves but is hmmmm well I guess I should say he got more interesting at the end.

With regards to the magic system, I am very much in love with it. It’s not limited to a number of choices since powers are unique to the person (which is something I love to read about)! Gul had the ability to communicate with animals–which is freaking cool if I do say so myself! I also loved that we got to see her grow into her magic. She was not the most adept magi in this book, which gives us this great chance to explore a YA heroine that has to work hard to make it. And then the end comes and things gets *revealed*  and I just know that stuff is going to go down and it is going to be gooood!

The pacing of this story was great. There was bang from the start and then it is a descent into this magical adventure for vengeance! That’s not to say this is only a fast-paced adventure left right and centre, Tanaz did an amazing job of slowing down the game without losing that momentum! It was just a fun ride overall. There were some amazing twists that pop out of no where and some that you anticipate and are so excited for when you get to them!

And now we have to talk about this romance! Because !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! First of all let us take in this ship dynamic. The smol angry bean with the soft cinnamon roll boy. The way that they meet!!!!! I just–I—*I need a moment* It was just so AMAZING! They had sizzling chemistry and yet were at each others necks too because well…they both are experts at saying the wrong thing at the wrong moment. Not to mention **other factors** that get in the way of my plans for this ultimate ship! That being said, I love them and am committed to the end!

The ending. Ahh the ending. I saw it coming and yet I didn’t because it didn’t happen exactly how I thought it would, so thankfully there was still a pleasant surprise! It is cliffhangery, but also perfectly sums up the book while setting you up for the next one! Safe to say I am very much looking forward to book two and all the drama we will have to go through!


Overall, I am so in love with this story. It promises a high stakes-revenge seeking-romantic-magical-adventure and it 100% delivers. Tanaz did an amazing job of creating this incredible world with these brilliant characters that are positively going to leave you begging for more!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes, absolutely!

Be sure to buy the book and enter your receipt into Tanaz’s Summer Hunt Promotion that is running right now!

SUMMER HUNT Promotion_FBTwitter

Let me know what you think! Have you thought of picking up this book? If you could be blessed with a super power what would you choose?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Questionable

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


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

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Mini Reviews | The Winterborne House for Vengeance and Valor [MG] + The Vine Witch [Adult]

Greetings readers!

Today I am reviewing books on total opposite sides of the age spectrum that are both absolute delightful reads! I am slowly making my way through my ARC stack and I am happy to say that I am quite enjoying the reads past-Rendz picked out for me!

The Winterborne House for Vengeance and Valor
by Ally Carter

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor
via Goodreads

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Goodreads

April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t even the one who broke the vase. 

She had absolutely no intention of becoming the only person who knows that Gabriel Winterborne, the missing-and-presumed-dead billionaire, is neither missing nor dead and is actually living in the basement of Winterborne House, sharpening his swords and looking for vengeance. 

Now that April knows Gabriel Winterborne is alive, it’s up to her to keep him that way. But there’s only so much a twelve-year-old girl can do, so April must turn to the other orphans for help. Together, they’ll have to unravel the riddle of a missing heir and a creepy legend, and find a secret key, before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever. 

  • April was such a delightful character to journey with! She was spunky and mischievous and outright daring. Was she a little too adventurous sometimes? No such thing! She was over-adventurous but often threw caution out the window! which may have (always) led to trouble.
  • The other Winterborne kids were also so cute though I wish we would have gotten to know them a little more! Sadie, Colin, Violet and Tim all had such diverse and quirky personalities and the book could have been more rich if it had spent more time spent with these kids. The adults were also quite interesting characters, but let’s be honest we’re here for the kids.
  • The plot itself is a perfect kid mystery. A missing and suddenly found billionaire that is being protected by a bunch of orphans! It was funny and perfectly paced. I would have liked a bit more action, but the antics these kids get into are quite fun.
  • I loved the theme around family. April holds on to a tenuous hope that her mother will come for her and it is so heart-wrenching at times to read her despair, but I love how she slowly grows to embrace the found family around her.
  • The villain, I could smell from a mile away, was a pretty stalk character, but there are other surprises to be had when it comes to twists and turns!

Overall, this was a great kid’s read. I can’t say it is the most spectacular mystery adventure book and it is certainly slow in some areas, but it is a solid read.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Perfect for someone looking for a kid

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

The Vine Witch (Vine Witch, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Oct 1st, 2019
Publisher: 47North
Goodreads

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

  • When I picked this up I was in the mood for something earthy and dark and witch-tastic and this book absolutely delivered!!
  • I loved that it had a magic system dedicated to the cultivation of wine, hence the vine witch *get it!* It was so earthy and magical and just gave off the best witch vibes! I mean I don’t know *anything* about ageing wine, but this book made me feel like I should be sipping a glass by the fire.
  • Of course there were other kinds of witches and I’m so glad we’ll be getting other books to explore those!
  • The characters were fun, but I felt like we were lacking a little depth. Elena and Jean Paul had totally different views of the world that made them clash, but I felt like we only just hit the surface with them
  • The side characters also had quite the personality! Brother Anslem was probably my favourite. I mean a monk who knows all about witches and magic?? We love to see it XD
  • The romance was a little hasty, I felt. The few interactions we got from them were not enough to build that angst which could have made this an epic rivals to lovers story.
  • The plot itself was quite intriguing. There was deception and betrayal and mystery all wrapped up in one. It was not the fastest-paced plot in the world, but it does garner a lot of interest along the way.

Overall, it was quite a fantastical read. I don’t think it is absolutely perfect in terms of characterisation. But in what it lacks it makes up for in a superb magic system. It’s a cosy, earthy and French witch story that I think many people will enjoy!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes!


Let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? What are your favourite kid adventure books? What are some of your favourite witch books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

Frankly I have been doing some serious rereads during the quarantine-life. Never have I ever had so much time on my hands and still manage to get nothing done. Yup you read that right. I have not one, but two piles of *expired* ARCs to get through and what am I doing????? Rereading the Lunar Chronicles.

I feel your judgement and kindly ask you to get over it because I have a plan.

dont judge me GIF
via giphy.com

BUT BEFORE I GET TO THAT I MUST GUSH ABOUT REREADING THE LUNAR CHRONICLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I, however, must address the bitter irony that: yes, I am reading a series in which a deadly plague is plundering the Earth while we are in the midst of a pandemic…I know. Reading these books was oddly too familiar at times.

The last time I reread this series was in 2017, so it is high time that I jump back in to one of my favourite worlds, with some of my favourite characters. Last time I did detailed fangirling posts, but this time I shall just be doing mini fangliring posts because let’s face it nothing I write today will be much different from what I wrote in 2017.

2017 posts can be found below:

A Moment of Fangirling: Cinder
A Moment of Fangirling: Scarlet
A Moment of Fangirling: Cress
A Moment of Fangirling: Winter

Let’s get to it!

Cinder

First of all: What a rush of emotions. It’s been so long since I’ve touched book one and OMG it is so pure *sobs* I literally smiled like a fool the whole time we were with Cinder and Iko as they worried about their escape plan and I just kept thinkging of the other things headed their way! ALSO MY GOODNESS THE FORESHADOWING. Wow. Marissa Meyer really told us the whole plot in book one and none of us were the wiser. I mean *technically* Jacin and Cress are both in this book! Like who knew? I sure didn’t!

Cinder is still my fierce queen. God I love her. Kai is still my naive fool. God I love him. Iko is still a fabulous rockstar. God I love her. Pearl and Adri? Can go to Hell. I will never not be mad at them.

Funny enough. I realized I’ve been pronouncing “Letumosis” wrong. hehehe. Um yeah. BUT the narrator says eye-ko not ee-ko, so I am very happy I at least got that right.

Safe to say, that this is still amazing as ever. My heart swelled with love even though it was torn apart when we get to the harder bits. I loved every single moment of it!

Scarlet

scarlet

There are so many great things about Scarlet and much to my sister’s dismay I forget about them all the time, so rereading this book was such a joy! Scarlet is seriously fierce. She is a force to be reckoned with and I love her. And then there is WOLF!! I forget how ferocious and soft my street-fighter is. Now that I’ve reread this, I think the story would have benefited from a little from more Wolf insight. AND the Wolflet scenes are just too cute they squish my heart. Yes, squish!

Cinder is still my queen. There is never a moment where I do not absolutely love the words coming out of her mouth even when she is seriously doubting everything. Kai, oh my dear Kai. He always gets stuck with dealing with Levana and for that we have to show sympathy for my poor prince.

Now. Carswell Thorne. The chapter opened with his name and I kid you not that I went from being completely deadpanned to smiling and giggling like an absolute fool. I still love him so much and y’all he is so dumb sometimes and unhelpful, I love the fool and the suave charismatic cheat. I love him.

In the end the book was still a great read. The plot is action packed and with Levana on the rise and her new soldiers on the loose things just get more and more intense. I forget how tragic the ending is for so many and it hurt even though I’ve read it before.

The narrator’s French accent was alright. I shouldn’t judge too harshly because you would cringe at hearing my French accent, but I digress.

Cress

If you think I had cheesy grins before you should have seen me listening to this book. First of all, my daughter Cress is still the most pure and adorable cinnamon roll and I love her as much as I relate to her social awkwardness. Thorne, my husband, is still the iconic fool he is and I am still very much in love with him. All the other characters are my children. I would give my life for them.

I forgot so much of what goes on in this book. Usually the main points stick but as I was reading I couldn’t help but be excited about what was going to happen next because I actually didn’t remember! Sometimes it would come back before it actually happened, but the anticipation still got to me!

The narrator was phenomenal in this book! I admire how many voices she can do and her Levana voice is soooo goood! It sounds to haughty and evil! But what I loved the most was the emotion she put behind the big scenes. You know the scene where a certain person ummm dies…yeah I actually teared up at hearing the emotion in their voice.

Cress is a favourite for a lot of reasons. Its funny and tender yet so action packed and adventurous too. Plus it stars the me-character as I like to call Cress hehe and reading about a character you relate to is always great!

Winter

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A 23 hour audiobook. 23 hours. Wow. Okay, I was seriously overwhelmed when I saw how long it was but also so incredibly happy that this book is long. The whole time I was rereading the other books I was like “I can’t wait until the whole squad is together” and this is the book and I just felt so emotional!

I’ll be honest, I forget how much I enjoy the love story between Winter and Jacin. I mean Jacin is a lot to take in, but he is so soft for Winter and she is so soft by nature and they are just so terribly cute together! I also have to admire how amazing Winter is as a character, with endless compassion and empathy despite being told she is “destroying her own mind” for the benefit of others. She is just so amazing. I love her.

I don’t know what kind of knowledge I was using before when I read this book, but it took me until my third read to truly pick out all the connections between this book and Snow White! Like the fact that Winter finds refuge in a mining town in a little crammed with seven other people!! How could I have missed that before!

As for the rest of the book *takes in deep breath* MY EMOTIONS WERE ON OVERDRIVE!!! I JUST LOVE THIS RAT-TAG CREW SO MUCH! THEY ARE SO MESSY AND SWEET AND BRAVE AND CUTE!

The final battle scene with Levana is my favourite. There is just so much manipulation and struggle and *more deep breaths* I just love my babies. All the ship moments. There are too many to count and we all know how I feel about chapter 71, the best chapter out there.

I was sad to have reached the end of the main series, even though I know there is more after that…but just knowing that I got to go through this whole adventure again and found new things to appreciate about it makes me feel so joyful.

Stars Above: Something Old, Something New

I’ll be honest, I just came for the wedding epilogue and Y’ALL IT WAS STILL SO AMAZING. I must prelude by saying I will never live it down that I said this wedding epilogue could not be about Scarlet and Wolf because I was dead set on it being Cinder and Kai. My sister will never let me forget it and I will have to live with that shame forever. REGARDLESS, this wedding epilogue pulled on every heart-string just the right way. The gangs chaotic shenanigans were on full display and we cannot help but appreciate them! Every character had a chance to shine and show how they have changed over the years. I mean I can’t say I love that we got minimal Cresswell scenes, but just having the whole crew together was so wonderful! I’m gonna miss these kids until my next reread!

BONUS: Graphic Novel reread

I just had to reread these or I would feel incomplete. AND IKO SHINED LIKE THE STAR SHE IS! We love one android and one only. I didn’t remember much at all about this storyline so going through them again was such a joy! Her narration is AMAZING! Plus, the Cresswell scenes from volume 1 are amazing and the Kaider scenes from volume 2 are adorable! Not to mention the Wolflet proposal! I feel bad that Jacinter never gets as much page-time because I adore Winter!!!!! And of course Kiko is a thing (?). I also love how we get a glimpse of what happens after Winter and the clean up that has to get done. The illustrations are charming even if they are not in full colour or umm of a more detailed style, still we appreciate the hard work and extra TLC content!!!

What I didn’t reread:

uh oh oops GIF
via Goodreads

Fairest:

I just wasn’t in the mood for more Levana. I never quite sympathize with her when I read about her tragic past, but I just didn’t feel like going through the motions especially after finishing so nicely with Winter. If I do read this, I have to read it before Winter definitely, to get the sad soaked out of me when I finish the series.

The other short stories in Stars Above:

Pretty much for the same reason as Fairest, most of the short stories have tragical feelings at the end and I just want to be happy 🙂 I mean a lot of them end hopefully and they all take place before the end of Winter and yet…I didn’t want to be hampered with the sad feelings…I do love the stories and I think they do add interest to the backstories! But for this reread, I just wanted the happy feels! Next time I do this I will plan a better more grand reread hehe.


IN CONCLUSION,

I am still very much in love with TLC. I can see why people may think its juvenile or kind of out there, but I can’t help but see this as a series about strong friendships, incredible character growth, a scary yet familiar world, the fall of tyranny and the triumph of resilience! Did I get too poetic? Maybe, but I don’t care. I’m so in love with these books!

Let me know what you think! Have you read TLC? Do you have a favourite book? Have you listened to the audiobooks? Did you enjoy them? What is your favourite TLC moment?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

tlcread

Fireborne | Review // A Delightful Dragon Read

Greetings readers!

Lately with my romance binge, I’ve shifted away from my fantastical adventures. But with the quarantine going on it was time for me to switch it up and get back to fantasy! I received an ARC of this book months ago from Penguin Teen CA and because I am a fool I haven’t read it yet, until now obviously.

That being said, I am very excited to be sharing this review with you today because I went through some emotions with this novel!

Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Oct 15th, 2019
Publisher: Putnam
Goodreads

Game of Thrones meets Red Rising in a debut young adult fantasy that’s full of rivalry, romance… and dragons.

Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone—even the lowborn—a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet.

But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

With war on the horizon and his relationship with Annie changing fast, Lee must choose to kill the only family he has left or to betray everything he’s come to believe in. And Annie must decide whether to protect the boy she loves . . . or step up to be the champion her city needs.

From debut author Rosaria Munda comes a gripping adventure that calls into question which matters most: the family you were born into, or the one you’ve chosen.


The Likes

These characters..well well well. This book stars a socially awkward and shy main character and I was living my best life. Annie is great at dragon riding but she is not so great at being in the spotlight and public speaking. She is considered lesser for not being able to exude confidence so easily and is constantly put down for it. And well I adore her. I truly do. And I relate to the struggle. She’s still flawed in many ways and her past is tragic on so many levels, but I really liked reading about her growth and development to making a voice for herself. Then there is Lee. The golden boy. He’s all confidence and smarts and pizzazz and he is totally being raised into the regime that slaughtered his family. Yeah, he is in a sticky situation and it is a constant push and pull with him. I liked Lee well enough although I must admit I was not his biggest fan at some points. But in the end I did like him and admired his ability to muster the courage and face the things he had to do. 

Other characters…made this story all the more fun. At first I thought Duck was a little irritable, but he pulled through in the end. Crissa was fabulous despite um being a little intrusive in my ship plans. Actually both of these last characters were. But the support that these characters have for the MCs is admirable! In addition with a few more secondary characters, I liked the sense of found family among the students. Except for Power. Oh Power. He was a dick and we loved to hate him

The family drama. Gosh wow. So much trauma and tension in one theme. I can’t even begin to explain this without spoilers, but the choices that these characters had to make!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A choice of found family between blood. A choice in which you find both sides disappointed in you in the end! I loved how the book explored the difficulty of this decision. I loved how we got to see both sides and be torn just like the characters. IT WAS SO SOUL CRUSHING!

The political mess. Let it be known that trading in one kind of extreme for another is not always righting a wrong. I could smell the corruption from a mile away, but then again I have the advantage of being the reader. That characters had to figure it out for themselves and I am quite surprised about who actually knocked some sense into Annie and Lee. The political intrigue of this story is a phenomenal. It never stops giving from beginning to end. Truly fantastic.

The dragon goodness. This book promised dragons and it delivered. These majestic creatures were important in every part of this book. From the character development to the political machinations and the history of the culture, dragons just made it more intense. The addition of a tournament with these creatures only added to the fun and suspense!

The romance was tripping me in every which way and I loved it. The synopsis promised romance and boy oh boy did I make a ship and then fear for it! I never expected a slow burn friends to rivals to lovers to questionable relationship kind of thing from this book but that’s what I got and I loved it. It made me wait and yearn and worry and we appreciate that in books.

The Questionable

I was a little confused here and there with the politics and social hierarchy. Basically we have to learn two at a time, the old regime and the new, and unfortunately the systems could get a little convoluted at times. Eventually I was able to get the difference, but it took a while and it gets more clear towards the end. That being said, a glossary or like an index of how the social order worked would have been amazing. If I had that I certainly wouldn’t have been that lost at times.

The pacing was also a bit crazy. The book is told through a dual perspective but the author would switch POVs within chapters. That would not have been a problem if the timelines matched up better. That’s not to say that the timelines were wildly different but it was just a little disorienting how we had to go back and revisit something that happened that we were told about in passing.


Overall, I really enjoyed this book. While it is not perfect, I think it is an incredible story. The dragons and the characters will have you loving every minute. The political turmoil will have you on the edge of your seat. And the tragicish-happyish ending will leave you wanting more which is exactly what makes this book so great!

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this book? What are your favourite dragon fantasy books? What are your favourite mythical creatures?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

Finale | Review // A Grand Finale Buddy Read

Greetings readers!

It’s been a hot minute since the buzz of Caraval’s final book was going around and naturally I am super late to the party. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone and my lovely friend Mandy from Book Princess Reviews joined me in reading this much anticipated book almost a year after its release.

Naturally, I pushed our buddy read off for like 4 months because I struggled to get my life together. But what’s new about that?

Regardless, Mandy and I had a wonderful time reading this book together and we got some interesting results!

Finale by Stephanie Garber

Finale (Caraval, #3)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: May 7th, 2019
Publisher: Flaitron
Goodreads

A love worth fighting for. A dream worth dying for. An ending worth waiting for.

It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist.

With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun. There are no spectators this time—only those who will win, and those who will lose everything.

Welcome, welcome to Finale. All games must come to an end…


The Likes

Garber’s writing doesn’t fail to enchant the reader! If there is one think I will never forget about reading this series is the language that totally and completely wraps around me and sucks me into the story. It is the most flowery of the purpley proses out there and honestly I like it. Are some of the descriptions absolutely out there and kind of bonkers? Yes. But are they also so attractive you can’t help not thinking about them? Also yes. Seriously though, Garber does have a way of completely enchanting the reader and thus enchanting the world that these characters are in. 10/10 I would love to visit this world, as a kindly spectator because I would not win the games and setting myself up for failure is not something I like to do.

I couldn’t put this book down. Let me tell you, I had a lot of issues with this book. It is chaotic as hell, but the chaos is exactly what made me so attracted to the story! That’s not to say that the pacing was great because it was everywhere, but the need to know what happens next, the mini-cliffhangers after each chapter, the way we are clued into things but get just shy of finding out what is going on is so addictive you can’t help but keep reading. It was chaotic yes, but you’re so sucked into the chaos you can’t help but enjoy the ride!

The Questionable

This was the Tella show ft. snippets of Scarlett. As a bigger fan of the older sister than the younger one, I struggled with this. It’s not that I don’t like Tella, it’s that she is a large reason for the chaos and it gets trying to follow her after a while. I’m telling you 90% of this book was Tella and her struggle with Legend, but that is something I’ll complain about later. The other 10% was Scarlett who didn’t get much of a word in more so than a dress change. I just didn’t like the imbalance we had.

The romance was overwhelming. I love the romantic aspects of books, I honestly do! But this book was so focused on the Tella x Legend relationship that I couldn’t stand it in the end. Every other chapter was a “He loves me. He loves me not” and as I mentioned before this book is predominately Tella’s POV so you can imagine how tiring this push and pull gets. Eventually, Legend lost his appeal to me. He was neither enigmatic nor charming, I just wanted him to commit or get out. Julian and Scarlett had there moments. I mean they were already pretty established and lets just say while I wasn’t looking forward to the drama with the Count, what did end up happening with him was so underwhelming. The romance also really messed up the pacing and suspense in this book because we always had to back to the I love yous. Blah.

We were cheated of the fabulous Fates. Both Mandy and I were so upset about how minimal a role these Fates play in the book. They are not totally absent but their potential was held back and it was a complete let down. Even my precious Jacks, who I know I shouldn’t be into because he is bad but I am who I am, he was so cheated of a great character arc in order to highlight Tella. If there is another book, I do sincerely hope he is the star.

The end was kind of cheesy, I’ll be honest. I mean yes, Love is powerful…..but come on give us more than that moral!

There was the most bonkers plan that had me screaming for these characters to stop and think. Let’s just say there was the possibility of incest and I cringed sooooo hard.


Overall, I enjoyed the book for its chaos. It was flawed in many ways and chaotic in every way imaginable and YET I enjoyed myself immensely while reading this. Garber has a knack for sucking readers into her words and even though the ride is bumpy, you can’t help but have fun too!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars

Recommend: I do recommend the series, it is fun in the moment!

Let me know what you think! Did you like this series? Were you satisfied by the ending? Are you interested in reading a next book as there is rumoured to be one?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Romance Reading Round Up | Pt. 3 // Feeling like a Single Pringle

Greetings readers!

Friends, it’s hit. I was calmly reading my cheesy rom-coms and BANG I felt an overwhelming sense of longing.

I felt like a single-pringle.

HOW DARE YOU EMOTIONS? HOW DARE YOU!

I AM IN QUARANTINE! WHERE THE HECK AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND A SIGNIFICANT OTHER!?!?!

Emotions: Rendz…you literally just turned down a guy in my DMs…

I AM IN QUARANTINE.

Well anyways, I didn’t really know what to do with those feelings so I just continued on with my life and kept on reading my cheesy romcoms XD

New Discoveries

New Orleans Rush by Kelly Siskind

New Orleans Rush
via Goodreads

Format: e-book
Rating:
 3 / 5 Stars
Review: Okay I have a love/wtf relationship with this book.
On the one hand it was cute and sweet and the characters were a lot of fun. I mean Huxley is dumb and his name is something else, but you know what? He adores her and I like that.
Beatrice was fun and loving and so compassionate which I liked to.
Of course I fell for the stupid, playboy brother because I am who I am and clearly need help.
On the other hand this book was absolutely bonkers and half the time I was like “What in the actual flying cheeseballs is going on???”
Yet, it was a really charming read and it’s ridiculousness added to the fun!

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher

Not the Girl You Marry
via Goodreads

Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Review: I liked it and at the same time this whole problem could have bee avoided if y’all actually talked to each other. But hehhhhh people aren’t always so easy to talk to I guess.
It was pretty darn funny though, and while I am definitely a Sasha-kind of person I did love reading about Hannah! Also I did get the How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days vibez so I appreciate it.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
via Goodreads

Format: e-book
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Review: *I would like to start off by saying that before I read this book I read another romance novel that was all sex! Sex! SEX! and this was like fade to black! Innuendo here and there! Sweet kissing!  Two very very very different reading experiences*

ANYWAYS.
This book was delightful at the same time as it was “okay then…”
Nina was…a character. Bookish to a tee and very specific about the way she is. I’d like to think we’d be friends even though she’d judge on the books I read 💯 but yes she was delightful. Sarcastic and brilliant but stubborn too
The whole family dynamic thing….was some next level white people nonsense. Don’t get offended, it is what it is. But it made a really big statement on family and what it means to be related, although I can’t say I quite agree on how hereditary the personality traits of this family are.
The romance as I mentioned before was more sweet than spicy. I would have liked a little more of them getting to know each other…. Idk. It just felt very surface level for me.
The writing was not my absolute favourite. I usually don’t mind the narrator talking to the reader but I did mind that this narrator was semi-omniscient at the most sporadic times.

My favourite thing?
It threw so much shade at Harry Potter. I mean it still praised it, but as a reader who will most likely never read HP, I delighted in it.
IT ALSO MENTIONED THE PENDERWICKS so it gets all my votes.
It threw 2 seconds of shade to Canada, but I’ll let it slide.
Overall. though it was fun and quirky. It’s a tale about a book lover and those are always fun to read about. It’s funny and outrageous sometimes but in a calm way that’ll give you some peace in the end.

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

The Worst Best Man
via Goodreads

Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Review: This was lovely!!! I loved the characters and the DRAMA! I mean this is some tricky waters we’re swimming in but I loved that she didn’t gloss over the uncomfortable bits.
This was also freaking hilarious. I laughed soooo many times. Especially that poem he made up, omg I died.
The family dynamic was also amazing. This Brazilian family was close-knit and full of personality! I related hard to the child of an immigrant pressures that Lina was struggling with herself.
The narrators were alright. I mean I liked their voices but sometimes they gave different accents to the same people so I was confusion.
Regardless, this was super fun!

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Date
via Goodreads

Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Review: Wow I’ve said it before and I shall say it again I have never read a book with characters that overthink everything and jump to conclusions to quickly.
It was very entertaining for me and I’m usually so quick to roll my eyes.
I thought the characters were lovely. Alexa was fun and sassy. Drew was kind of a dumbass, but I liked him too.
Carlos…I love him. Can’t wait to read his book.
The meet cute was a meet cute. Lord knows if I was trapped in an elevator with a hot doctor I would have been 100% more awkward but 100% on board with fake dating.
Also, fake dating. Wonderful.
The drama was mostly due to their over thinking so don’t be expecting such a scandal although there was one point where I was like “He did not just say that. Break up with him, honey!” and that was a good part.
I honestly didn’t expect to like this as much as I do and it is a pleasant surprise!


The Lowlie Ones

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

The Honey-Don't List
via Goodreads

Format: e-ARC
Rating: 2.8 / 3 Stars
Review: Okay that was that. Uhhhh. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I’m feeling that neutral feeling where I’m just glad I finished it.
It was lacking a lot in the romance area for me.
And the whole situation with the bosses took over most of the plot and it was resolved very unsatisfactorily.
Idk it just wasn’t what I wanted from CLo.

 

 

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

The Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1)
via Goodreads

Format: Audiobook
Rating: 2 / 5 Stars
Review: Oh my. Okay. Um. Well. I didn’t love this or like it much. If I’m being honest it was boring. Things got more interesting towards the end with all the revelations, but even that felt a little flat.
The characters were meh at best. She was a lot to take in and at the same time not at all. He was boring af.
None of the side characters stood out either.
I was just bored the whole way through.
It wasn’t out right horrible, just dull.


Sequelz

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #2)
via Goodreads

Format: e-book
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Review: So I liked it because hi yes hello Braden Mack was my favourite thing about the previous book.
Liv, I know lots of ppl have qualms with her and while she is very much flawed I think this book gave her some more context to understand her.

Given the #MeToo context of the story, I really like how this book tackled talking about survivors and what it means to support them in helpful ways, especially since lots of peoples “good intentions” turn out to be victim blaming and shaming.

Now the reason they break up is just…. *face palm* so bullshit. More specifically why he lied to her and yada yada she gets mad is just………..Come on. We could have had some serious drama but all we got were petty “you lied to me!” but at least they recognized they were both being dumb at the end so there’s that.

Can’t say I liked this one more than book one but it was pretty solid!

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered, #2)
via Goodreads

Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
Review: Okay. Where do I even begin?
I wasn’t in love with Rosie and Dominic in book 1 so I wasn’t that excited for this one, but I kept an open mind.
I ended really liking Rosie and uh I was alright with Dom (didn’t hate him but he’s more than just okay? 🙃 )
This one was a lot more 🔥 🔥 🔥 than book one so you best be thinking I was tomato faced the whole way through. Yup. (it’s just that I’m not into the possessive territorial “you’re mine” kind of love and this book tried to like play with that and I just don’t know how I feel about it)
Once we got past the 75% mark I felt like it was dragging we kept going back to the same thing and I just wanted to be done already.
Overall though. It was nice. The ending was sweet and I liked how we got to see these characters grow as individuals and not just a couple. Definitely more angsty than romcom-y so mind that.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal
via Goodreads

Format: Audiobook
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
Review: This was alright.
I’m a little disappointed because Carlos was such a star in the last book, but I felt him lack luster in this one! Which is actually about him!!! (even tho I didn’t like that he was just ambiguously Latino until in one of the last chapters it’s revealed he’s Mexican–I think)
Nic was also just alright. Didn’t love her, but didn’t hate her.
I kind of just have this mellow feeling overall. I wanted to love this more but it was simply alright. Definitely has its entertaining and heartfelt moments, but I think it lacked in drama.
It needed an extra oomph.



This round up seemed to be pretty mellow. I’ve been falling out of love with my romances. I think it’s time I shake things up somehow. Maybe switch genres. I don’t know. But if you have any recommendations to liven up the party I am open to hearing about them!

Let me know what you think! What genres have you been gravitating towards lately? Have you read any of these books? What romance stories do you enjoy? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit | Mini Review // Grab your magnifying glass!

Greetings readers!

It’s been a while since I reviewed a Middle Grade novel for you all! It is high time that I do, so here I am today bringing you the content you deserve!

Now let me take a moment to drool over this cover. I just love it. Everything about it. From the muted colours of the comic panel in the back to the vibrant and chic illustration of Goldie smack dab in the middle! Just look at her pose, you can definitely tell she is on the move!

Many thanks to HBG Canada for providing me with an ARC!

Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit by Lilliam Rivera

Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit

Publisher: Little Brown Books
Pub Date: March 17th, 2020
Goodreads

Move over, Nancy Drew–there’s a new sleuth in town! Inspired by the beloved comic series, Goldie Vance is ready to sleuth her way through never-before-seen mysteries in this original middle-grade series by Lilliam Rivera!

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvia, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

While life at the Crossed Palms is always busy, the resort is currently overrun with Hollywood-types filming the hottest new creature feature, and tensions are at an all-time high. Even Goldie’s mom is in on the movie act, doing what she does best: playing a mermaid. Just when Goldie thinks the movie biz couldn’t get any more exciting, a diamond-encrusted swimming cap goes missing, and all fingers point to Goldie’s mom as the culprit. Can Goldie uncover the true thief before it’s too late?

Hope Larson and Brittney William’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic series explores never-before-seen mysteries in this thrilling, original middle-grade debut by Lilliam Rivera. Features a full-color comic chapter that’s essential to unraveling the mystery.


The Likes

I really enjoyed these cheeky and quirky middle grade mystery story! There is already a Goldie Vance comic series out there and this an original novel by Rivera based on the existing characters. I had quite a fun time with it, thankfully! The characters were quite humorous and I loved the Hollywood adventures in this small town! I believe this takes place in the 70s/80s so reading about how movies sets used to be was pretty interesting! Goldie was quite the personality! She had a way of smooth talking herself out of trouble that was a lot of fun to read about! Her relationship with her mentor Walt was golden *pun not-intended…but maybe intended* because she was so much more confident and colourful than his wary tense self, but he is a real MVP too!

The mystery itself was pretty fun! I mean, I guessed it a mile away but its a middle grade novel so I am not going to complain here. I will say that I didn’t see absolutely everything coming, so this still should appeal to many kinds of readers, perhaps those who like soft mysteries the most!

The Questionable

My biggest issue was that Goldie was 16 but she read like a 12/13 year old. It was just not the best. Like I understand this is a book for kids and having them read a language that they will relate to is important, but it felt jarring to know that she was 16 and not acting like a teenager. I’m not saying at 16 I was any more mature or put together than Goldie, it would be hypocritical of me to say that, but I think this book would have worked a lot better if Goldie was 13. It’s a good age, she could of still had a job, not as a valet obviously and her crush on Diane would have still been explored (I actually would have liked to see more of the crush adventure too, but I think there is more to come in another book…don’t quote me on it though). It’s just that her as a 16 year old didn’t work for me.
I don’t know how else to say it 😦


Overall, it was a fun book! I didn’t find anything incredibly amazing about it, but I did have a good laugh and enjoy myself for the most part! I think that this is perfect for kids who want to dive into a funny and quirky story about a girl solving mysteries and taking down adults who are super blah!

Rating: 3 / 5 Stars 

Recommend: Yes!

Let me know what you think! Do you like your mysteries super complicated or more light? Did you read the original Goldie Vance comics? 

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

The Kingdom of Back | Review // In which I cry my heart out and try to make sense of my love for this book

Greetings readers!

Pinterest is a lot of fun and looking up mood boards by your favourite authors and seeing what kind of stories they have lined up in their WIPs is always fun! Well, Marie Lu has lots of interesting boards including one that was entitles The Kingdom of Back. I remember going through it and quickly falling in love with the whimsical pictures she had saved.

The moment I heard the announcement for this book, I was so ready to drop all my dollars to have it in hand.

THE MOMENT PENGUIN TEEN CANADA GOT IN ARCS, I WAS SO HAPPY TO FIND OUT I GOT ONE FOR MYSELF!

Then I read it. Loved it. SOBBED. And here I am trying to write an elegant and coherent review about how much I adored this. I cannot say if my attempt will be successful, but here we go.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

The Kingdom of Back
via Goodreads

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Putnam
Goodreads

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu comes a historical YA fantasy about a musical prodigy and the dangerous lengths she’ll go to make history remember her—perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke and The Hazel Wood.

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.


*Thank you Penguin Teen CA for the ARC*

The LOVES

I didn’t know what to expect, if I am being honest. This was historical fantasy, something I have never read from by Lu, but my oh my did she deliver with this book. I was touched body and soul by this story.

These characters were phenomenal. I’ll be honest (again), I had no idea that Mozart had a sister who was also a musical genius, but if book-Nannerl was anything like historical-Nannerl I would have loved to meet her. Nannerl was a wonderfully crafted character in every way possible. She had a passionate spirit and a wicked imagination that kept her company during her most lonely times. She had a fierce love for her family, especially her brother and she had ambition even when she was told to hold it in. But she was not all heart of gold and devotion, she was petty and jealous and resentful of the conventions that held her back. And I loved her for it. I would find it highly unrealistic if she didn’t feel any of those emotions when she never got any credit or was given less than she deserved. But God I loved her. I loved that she was so real and raw.

Woferl…who I called Will Ferrel for like half of the book. He was such a sweet heart. And wow a genius! And his devotion to Nannerl, I am sobbing!!! He was just a kid for most of the book, but he makes mistakes too and I couldn’t help but feel mad at him and bad for him!

The dad. God I hated him. Nannerl is a better person than I am, trust me.

Hyacinth. Well, if a cute magical boy showed up out of the blue and took me to an imaginary world…I would not have acted much different! He was quite something!

The music. Let me tell you, I know nothing about music and composition and I know nothing about Mozart really. But I did not for one second feel lost in this story when Lu explored the musical adventure of these siblings. The descriptions of music were lovely and it is constantly interwoven beautifully in the narrative! I mean if you have musical knowledge I’m sure you will find even more nuance then I did, but even if you are a music noob like me, you’ll find something impeccably beautiful about its role in the book.

This atmosphere was just ethereal. The real-world itself was pretty enchanting. We get to follow the siblings as they tour Europe and play for different aristocrats. Lu crafted three stupendous settings for readers. There was the warm–sometimes harsh–home of the music room of the family home, the glamorous life of the courts the children got peaks of on their tours and then there was the Kingdom of Back! I loved how Lu transported us to the imaginary world, with subtle changes to the atmosphere as it got more whimsical and magical with each word on the page. The creatures and beings of the kingdom were so rich and mysterious for *reasons* and ugh, I loved everything about it! If I could step into that kingdom, 10/10 I would go!

The FAMILY DYNAMICS. I am sobbing. This family was something else. It was loving at the same time it was suffocating. Nannerl and Woferl’s father had high expectations for his children, he wanted them to achieve everything they could with the talents that they had. And he pushed them hard to get them out there. But he wasn’t always that amazing at being a dad. He actually sucked a lot. You can’t help but be angry every time he praised Woferl and critiqued Nannerl. Her constant desire for his validation and praise—I AM CRYING! All she wanted was to make him proud and be on the receiving end of his unconditional love. AND I AM SOBBING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The things this family goes through honestly pulls so much at the heartstrings you cannot help but sob.

The sibling relationship was my absolute favourite part of this book. I loved that it was a complex dynamic between Nannel and Woferl. There was the unconditional love that just existed between them, then there was the utter devotion to each other and finally the resentment, the jealousy, and the pettiness that exists too! Trust me, I know, I have two older sisters and we all sometimes hate each other as much as we love each other!

I am not one to say that this is historically accurate because I just don’t know, but Lu does hit Nannerl’s historic troubles on the nose. She is a girl of the late eighteenth century who has an amazing talent, but knows she will never amount to much because she is a girl. And I felt rage. A lot of rage. Rage at the unfairness that was and is our world. That her greatest wish to be remembered didn’t exactly come true. She is always in the shadow of her brother as much as she tries to fight it. AND I CRIED. I CRIED. I CRIED. I CRIED AT THE UNFAIRNESS OF IT ALL. Then the Author’s note and acknowledgements did me in because they spit out so much truth and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I sobbed!

The ending. I–I was—Marie Lu did that with her words. And I fucking sobbed. I’m writing this now and choking up a little because she did that. And *that* is probably one of my favourite kinds of way to end a book because it is a full circle. None of what I just wrote makes any sense because I am being super vague. Just know that it is amazing and pulls hard at the heartstrings!

There is not one thing I have to critique about it. Marie Lu completely knocked it out of the park. This is a fabulous and incredible love letter to a lost but never forgotten musical genius. I already want to reread it!


Overall, This book is amazing. The story enchants you from page one and you cannot help but love following these two siblings as they grow up and are thrust into the lime light and create their own magic with music. It is a compelling read and makes an honest and heartfelt statement about the historical limitations put on people like Nannerl who didn’t get to have their glory and names woven directly into the fabric of our cultural history. It’s a story about family and forgiveness and self-love. It’s an emotional roller coaster with a sweet yet longing ending.

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES. YES. YES.

Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this? What is your favourite Marie Lu book? Have you ever cried to books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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