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

Greetings readers!

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

It is simply impossible.

But the Commandant beat that word out of my vocabulary.

Or rather Sabaa Tahir wrenched it from my mouth.

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

Beware of spoilers for books 1-3.

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

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

Pub Date: Dec 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Razorbill

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

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

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

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

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

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


This book took my breath away.

Plain and simple.

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

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

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

tired al pacino GIF

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

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

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

flattered brittany murphy GIF

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

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

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

Tim And Eric Omg GIF

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

AND I MEAN IT. THE WATER IS BOILING.

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

I’m telling you I sobbed. SOBBED.

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

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

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

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

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

So yeah these last 70ish pages.

Also the section titles: Iconic.

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


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

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

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

Rating: ALL THE STARS!

Recommend: HELL YES. GET ON THIS SERIES PEEPS!

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

Rendz, be cool with the all caps.

Sorry.

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

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

You know this kid:

Have You Ever Had A Dream Kid GIFs | Tenor

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

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

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

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

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

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

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

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

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


*Thank you Penguin Teen CA for the digital ARC*

The Likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Absolutely!


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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Pine Island Home | Review // A sisterhood read!

Greetings readers!

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

You: Better late than never.

That’s right, better late than never.

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

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

Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath

Pine Island Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


The Likes

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

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

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

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

The Questionable:

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

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

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


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

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

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

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

Happy reading!

Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


*Many thanks to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

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

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

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

The Silvered Serpents Meme-i-fied

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

If not…you are welcome to move along.

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

~ THE BOOK~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~

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

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

Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads

~ REVIEW ~

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

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

~ FAN ART ~

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

~ FOLLOW THE TOUR ~

Click below to find other amazing posts celebrating this book!


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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

It only took me forever to finally put this review together! I would like to send my thank yous to the author for proving me a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

If you guys are looking for a dark read at the end of this spooky month, I definitely recommend checking this out!

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1)

Pub Date: Feb 23rd, 2017
Goodreads

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.


Review

Catherine is someone who thinks she comes off as the quiet docile type, but is actually quite ferocious and I like it. She has bite and opinions and you will hear them! She comes from a very privileged background and reading her fall from grace and seeing her realization of the corruption of the society she was so closely tied to was really interesting!

Nate was interesting if still a little enigmatic throughout the book! A disgraced son and criminal who is wanted by the law and seen the horrors of prison.  He is the tragic rebel who wants to destroy the system that has killed so many! Honestly though I feel like we didn’t get much about him. The author wrote a lot about Catherine’s inner thoughts, but we lacked that depth with Nate.

This post-apocalyptic world was a doozy to wrap my head around at first, but thankfully as the story went on I was able to understand it a lot better! The kingdom we are thrown into is cutthroat and strict from the get-go. Any dissenters are punished and what little freedoms the citizens do have are actually manipulated by the regime in control. I thought it was really well-crafted in the end! And while the details around the Mutants and Outlands were still a little fuzzy, I have a feeling more exploration of those come in the sequels!

The plot itself is quite gritty and evenly paced. As our two main characters are on the run from authority, we are constantly moving and discovering new places and people! I also liked the timer that was put on their lives with the disease that is coursing through their bodies and killing Nate!  I will say though that the beginning sequence is just a whirlwind and I was a confused. It took me a while to understand why they were on the run and what the danger was.  And yet their resolution to their problems is not the greatest or well thought out. *spoiler* calling Nate’s mom is their best bet? Seriously? Not really a great idea *End of Spoiler*

The romance…It took me a while to get comfortable with it, but honestly I think it is well written. It’s complicated and I cannot really say I ship the characters together yet, although I am leaning towards a yes!

The whole ending sequence was WOW! I seriously went through a roller coaster of emotions! It was intense and all that build up finally paid off! Even though the reason they got into the situation was meh, I’ll forgive it for the drama that the last 20% gave me! It was tragic and full of fury! My heart hurt by the end! But I was also full of so much respect for Catherine and the things she went through!

The final-final scene might have not been the most cliff-hangery but the despair and hope that it leaves behind was quite an experience!!


Overall, this book is an experience, but an interesting one! It has grit and it’s dark! Running from a cruel and corrupt regime always makes for a gruelling and entertaining adventure! Mix in some romantic drama and suspense, and you get this great story!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! There is definitely room for some post-apocalyptic fun on your shelves!

Let me know what you think! What post-apocalyptic books do you love? Have you read this story? What do you envision the future to look like?

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

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

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

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

Furia by Yamile Saied MĂ©ndez

Furia
via Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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


I loved everything!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

~ THE BOOK ~

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

BUY THE BOOK!

Amazon
B&N
Book Depository
Indiebound
Goodreads

Synopsis:

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

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

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


~ MY REVIEW ~

It’s simple. This book was amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

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


~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


~ MY ART ~

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


~ FOLLOW THE TOUR ~

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


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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

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

I will never forget these books! XD

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

*Many thank to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

The Faithless Crow by Margaret Owen

The Faithless Hawk (The Merciful Crow, #2)

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

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

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

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

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


The Likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

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

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

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

Happy reading!
~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

*Many thanks to PRHC for the review copy!*

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

The Barren Grounds
via Goodreads

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

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

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


The Likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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