The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng | Review // Summing up how this book destroyed me!

Greetings readers!

This review has been sitting in my drafts for MONTHS and it is now finally getting its time to shine.

Let’s just say that I had so many things to say about this book, but I never could find the right way to say anything. Go figure. Nonetheless, I found myself wanted to express my thoughts and the time has come to share it with you all!

So bear with me as I chaotically tell you all about how AMAZING THIS BOOK IS and why you must read it!!

Many thanks to HBG Canada for providing me with a review copy!

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso

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

Pub Date: May 4th, 2021
Publisher: Orbit Books

The stunning finale to the Chronicles of the Bitch Queen trilogy where the queen of a divided land must unite her people against the enemies who threaten to tear her country apart. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)

Queen Talyien is finally home, but dangers she never imagined await her in the shadowed halls of her father’s castle.

War is on the horizon. Her son has been stolen from her, her warlords despise her, and across the sea, a cursed prince threatens her nation with invasion in order to win her hand.

Worse yet, her father’s ancient secrets are dangerous enough to bring Jin Sayeng to ruin. Dark magic tears rifts in the sky, preparing to rain down madness, chaos, and the possibility of setting her nation aflame.

Bearing the brunt of the past and uncertain about her future, Talyien will need to decide between fleeing her shadows or embracing them before the whole world becomes an inferno.


THE REVELATIONS HAD ME FEELING SOME TYPE OF WAY

Scene Stealers: Charlie Day in Pacific Rim - One Room With A View

The first half of this book is just discovery after discovery. Revelation after revelation. I was so shook. Secrets from past books are no longer secret which means that all of Yeshin’s ploys he had set beyond the grave get uncovered. In a way we sort of get into his head and wow what a place to be. Honestly, it was a perfect way to plot an intense and incredibly suspenseful book! Trying to connect all the dots of every ploy and scheme in this book really had me feeling like this ^.

And the aftermath of all these revelations is bloody. Uncovering these secrets comes with hard decisions and sacrifice that honestly leaves the pages drenched in blood.

THESE INCREDIBLE CHARACTERS ARE THE HEART AND SOUL OF THIS SERIES.

Drunk Hot Mess GIF by Loryn Powell

If you like messy human beings, then you need to read this book.

Tali: I just *scrunches up face* I just love her. The messiest of all queens, she is simply a phenomenal character. In my review of book 2, I asked if Tali will ever see herself as more than Yeshin’s daughter and my oh my I got my answer. This entire book was here to give me an answer and WOW Tali’s reckoning with her identity, her reputation and her father’s ghost all came to push every one of Tali’s boundaries.

Khine: Literal messy perfection takes form in Khine Lamang. I said, what I said. I dubbed him my forever man. Forever haunted by the mistakes of his past. Forever dedicated to the people that he chooses to care for. And forever the most resourceful character in this book. A brilliant man, yes I love him.

Rai: So this book asked me to have a little empathy with Rai and ugh I think it worked!!! Don’t get me wrong I still detested this man for 85% of this book. He can be a real despicable mess BUT I must say there is an intense 15% where I feared for Rai and felt his every emotion. I can only attest this to the brilliant writer that is Villoso.

And I’m just going to say it – no character is unimportant in this book. Not even the ones you think are just passing by. Everyone had a role in this story, they all legitimately had a purpose and gosh darn it I was IMPRESSED.

And on that note I would just like to add that the stars of this show were WOMEN!

Image about quotes in Memes by 🌙zahra on We Heart It

Every woman in this story was simply iconic in their own unique way! Did I love them all? Absolutely not! But that’s not the point, is it? The point is that these women were chaos-makers, revenge-seekers, and power-wielders. They were ambitious and fiery and passionate. Don’t even get me started on the different tiers of mother-daughter relationships because I will literally turn into a MESS. To keep it simple: Keep an eye on all the ladies of this story. Whether you love them or hate them, they are the game changers in this book!

THE NARRATION WILL FOREVER BE THE MOST ICONIC ASPECT OF THIS BOOK SERIES

Sad Ded GIF

Tali writing down her own story will always put me in my feels. Finding out why she started writing and WHO pushed her to start writing will forever have me on the FLOOR IN TEARS. This novel reminds us that history books have a way of blurring what actually happened, of missing important details and of painting figures, especially women, in certain ways that give into misogynistic traditions. So taking it upon herself to write her story, to tell us about her life as she lived and experienced it will forever be the most iconic move she (really Villoso) made. I just loved it.

WE GOT MORE MAGIC AND DRAGONS AND GHOULISH CREATURES.

smaug the terrible GIF

If I thought book 2 was chock full of magical beings, this book upped the ante by like five levels! This final installment gets us closer to this mysterious agan that has been so far in the periphery of the story. With this third book, we get to dive deep into the lore of this magic and find out how it is connected to dragons, the land and the people. And you’d think that the looming threat of a magical bomb would lull people out of their political squabbles, but no. Of course not, *See “Messy characters”* But this squabbling just made the book all the more intense and stressful to read which is exactly what I wanted to feel. I mean it’s a political plot in combination with a magic doom, plus a mad prince wreaking havoc, a son in hostage, people trying to kill the main character on every page and the knocking consequences of a long deceased father’s decisions IT’S A LOT! And I love it.

LOVE. DUTY. SACRIFICE.

Sad Doctor Who GIF

Three words that make up three major themes of this book. There is no singular meaning to any of these words, each means something unique to different characters. You can find these themes so closely woven into every corner of the story as characters are tested to find out how far people are willing to go to gain power, save a nation, find a loved one and even obey a long dead war lord. Shooketh to my very core doesn’t even begin to cover the sheer brilliance of the story. And all of this magnificence comes from Villoso’s excellent writing. Icon moves only!

IN SUMMARY

I love this book. I love this series. The detail and the emotion Villoso put into creating this world and characters is wonderfully evocative and gut wrenching. I’m so glad that we are getting more books in this world and more work from Villoso!!

Rating: 5/5 stars! ALL THE STARS!

Recommend: HELLS TO THE YES!!


Let me know what you think! Have you read this series yet? (If no, go do that now!) Are you excited for more books set in this world? Have you ever been at a loss for words when writing a review for a book you love?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Flamefall | Review // That moment when a book blows every single expectation away!

Greetings readers!

First of all, I know for a fact that not enough of you have read Fireborne by Rosaria Munda. And I’m going to need you to go do that…like now. Do that and come back for this because if you have any doubts that you should be reading this series, let me put those worries to rest!

Many thanks to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an e-ARC!

Flamefall by Rosaria Munda

Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle, #2)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: March 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Putnam

Revolutionary flames ignite around Annie, Lee, and a brand new POV character in the second book of the Fireborne trilogy.

After fleeing the revolution and settling into the craggy cliffs of New Pythos, the Dragonlords are eager to punish their usurpers–and reclaim their city. Their first order of business was destroying the Callipolan food supply. Now they’re coming for the Dragonriders.

Annie is Callipolis’s new Firstrider, and while her goal has always been to protect the people, being the government’s enforcer has turned her into public enemy number one.

Lee struggles to find his place after killing kin to prove himself to a leader who betrayed him. He can support Annie and the other Guardians . . . or join the radicals who look to topple the new regime.

Griff, a lowborn dragonrider who serves New Pythos, knows he has no future. And now that Julia, the Firstrider who had protected him, is dead, he is called on to sacrifice everything for the lords that oppress his people–or to forge a new path with the Callipolan Firstrider seeking his help.

With famine tearing Callipolis apart and the Pythians determined to take back what they lost, it will be up to Annie, Lee, and Griff to decide what to fight for–and who to love.


I just have to say…

I FUCKING KNEW IT. AHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE THIS BOOK.

Alright so these characters are so foolish, so hurt and so so so complex. And yes I love them all. Throughout the entire book I was simultaneously rooting for them but also screaming for them to get their acts together!!!

We start with my fave, Annie. Even though there were times when I wanted to shake her, she is brilliant. This book has her in the limelight where lots of voices, opinions and agendas are being pushed onto her and she is being picked at and judged with every word and turn of her head. Annie has so much responsibility thrust upon her and has to contend with people opposing her every move, confronting the big mistakes she makes and keeping her head up when her name is dragged through the mud. My baby goes through so much, but her strength and inner fire warmed my heart. She grieved, gave into her pettiness and got mad with herself and through it all I am a proud mama. And on a final note: Sweetie, thank you for not letting Power get in the way.

And now Lee. Babe, your grief, your sense of lostness and conflict between these two worlds was so compelling and frustrating to read about. Lee spent the entire book questioning where he belonged, who he was and to whom his allegiance lied. And these are not easy questions for him to answer. So obviously he screws up multiple times and pays the price for it, but watching him grow into himself and make some tough choices was *sobs* as I said very compelling.

Finally, the new guy, Griff. Sir, at first I was like “um okay you’re here I guess” and then I was like “AHH GRIFF, YOU’RE HERE! BABE!” so it is safe to say that I enjoyed his POV very much. I love that his personality really is “IDGAF, I am willing to risk it.” Griff’s story is one that pulled at the heart strings, made me rage on his behalf and sob at one point. He was brave and passionate and yearned for the freedom of his greatest loves. We stan.

Other characters…I can’t even say much because *spoilers* But I will say: Thank you, Crissa, for being the only character with reason and brain cells. To summarize, EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER HAD TO MADE TOUGH CHOICES. AND THEIR DECISIONS DO NOT ALIGN MOST OF THE TIME. This book is all about choices. More often than not, the ones where options are between evil and deplorable.

So the politics GOT EVEN MESSIER. So much stuff happens I can’t even explain it all. Clashes between classists and revolutionists. The exhausting plight of sexism and how women are painted as villains and promiscuous snakes for the sake of preserving the image of golden boys. And to top it off, the horrors of colonialism and conquest are central to the politics in New Pythos. When I say so much goes on…I mean it. SO MUCH GOES ON.

So this world brilliant. I love that we got to go beyond Calliopolis and into New Pythos. I loved that these places were so distant yet closely tied to one another I also loved that we got to see more kinds of dragons spring up and up the ante for our dragonriders. And my oh my, even though this book didn’t have a competition to keep dragons in this story, the beasts played an even more important role this time around. Their presence was so central to the story, to the history of violence and the freedom/victory so many of these characters desire.

This book was hella stressful and I am telling you there was NEVER A DULL MOMENT! Annie, Lee and Griff get caught up in so many plots, get caught up in who others say they should be, get caught up in their own emotions and consequently find themselves in lots of traps that they then have to get themselves out of! The twists and turns kept me entertained from the beginning to the very end. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

This book is wrought with emotion. So much grief and exhaustion. So much rage. Despite having been entrusted with leading a future, these characters are constantly being restrained by the adults who have wreaked havoc before them. The emotions that bubble up from memory of what happened in the past make each character so human. Real, raw and flawed. And it is these emotions that unifies the characters under a banner of hope that change is possible and I cry. (Did these last two sentences even make sense, I—)

We’re gonna talk a bit about romance because I AM SO SOFT! Lee x Annie is The Ship. I love them so much and omgggg let me tell you their relationship is complicated AF. There is so much baggage!!! And then we add Griff x Delo to the mix who are also complicated AF and bring even more baggage to this boat, but they are so so sweet and !!! I mean I live for this drama and all these ship moments together!!! And it all boils down to THE YEARNING! Both ships are all about agnst and pining and it is sweet, sweet torture. *chef’s kiss*

THE ENDING. Munda really said I’m giving you all a final page twist and she did. She really did. I GUESSED IT, DOUBTED MYSELF, AND THEN WAS GOBSMACKED IN THE END REGARDLESS. The wait for book 3 is torture .


Overall, I love this book. Even better than book 1. Simply brilliant.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Recommend: YES!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this yet? What are your favourite yearning ships? Have you ever rooted for characters that are on two different sides of a conflict?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Light of the Midnight Stars | Review // A gorgeous fairy tale read! *Updated*

Greetings readers!

Update May 8th, 2021: It has come to my attention that author Rena Rossner, has been silent in light of the oppression Palestinians are facing at the hands of the Israeli state sanctioned violence. There are also several tweets in which the author misrepresents the relationships between Israelis and Palestinians for a manuscript wish list during heightened times of violence. I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t do thorough research beforehand and apologize for my ignorance when I initially published this review. What is going on is an extreme violation of human rights, and for this author to live in the same place where this is happening and stay silent about it is appalling.

I encourage you to learn more about what is happening in Palestine and support the Palestinian community in any means you can. For resources to educate yourself please visit @theimeu and Free Palestine Carrd, to donate please refer to this thread of organizations.

I will leave my review for accountability purposes, but moving forward I will not be further endorsing this book/author.


Have you ever experienced a reading moment where you read an author’s debut book and you love it so much that you HAVE to read everything else that they put out? Yes.

Well that is exactly what happened with me and Rena Rossner. After falling in love with The Sisters of the Winter Wood, I was so excited to find out she was releasing another historical fantasy book based in Jewish folklore!

May is Jewish Heritage Month and Rena’s books are definitely deserving of your attention!

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

The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner

The Light of the Midnight Stars

Pub Date: April 13th, 2021
Publisher: Redhook

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

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

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


The Likes…

I was promised a fairy tale like feel and I got exactly that. This book was incredibly magical in that atmospheric way where every turn of page just ups the enchantment! But like any good fairy tale it was both warm and enticing but dark and dangerous in the corners. I really enjoyed how the historical setting and mythology worked together to create this beautiful story about family and faith.

As for the characters, I am always a sucker for a trio of sisters! Woohoo! And I am glad to report that I liked these sisters very much! Obviously I attached myself to the youngest (how could I not) but all in all I really enjoyed how sisterhood was portrayed in this book. It is not always sunshine and rainbows. There are some bumpy roads and distances to bridge even between the closest of sisters. I liked that they each had a distinct personality, a distinct voice and individual story line that still blended so well with the others. I was a little wary about how young they were, but I had to constantly remind myself that the time period this book was set in had young girls living very different experiences.

The story itself was nicely done. The first half is very different from the second half for *reasons* and I just really liked seeing how the events changed these characters! There were so many instances where the themes of love and grief were intertwined. Finding love after a first is so hard and letting it go is even harder. The plot is really multiple stories in one, or rather one story that then splits off into different directions but collectively united under the threat of this looming darkness that they must face off together. There was lots of intensity and some mystery to be had and for history-lovers they might find something extra fun to love by connecting this book to reality!

I could tell Rena did her research even before I read the author’s note. There is so much history, folklore and tradition in this book to take in. This combination really sets the tone for this book as wonder. There is a lot to be said about the Jewish way of life in this time period which anchors the story in a distinct tradition and experience. There are so many journeys and hardships that this family endures throughout the book, but it does have that touch of wonder woven throughout. It’s a dark fairy tale no doubt, but there is a light up ahead that you chase as you read on and it is quite intriguing!

I’m so happy Rena included poetry that was reminiscent her storytelling in Sisters and ahhh it just made reading so much more exciting and suspenseful! This book in general is gorgeously written and phrased. It is very image-provoking and full of symbolism that I think was perfectly evoked on the cover! There is an elegance to it that weaves in history, magic and languages! I am someone who loves a good glossary so I was living for this (again!)

And here we find some questionable items…

Okay, I liked the emphasis of storytelling. There is something very meta in finding stories told with stories told with stories. There is a depth in this form of narrative. But damn the stories within the story in this book were very elaborate and stylized, and if I am being honest I am pretty sure some metaphors just went way over my head. I would get stuck trying to figure out what was the point about this story since I could figure others out with not much trouble. It was beautiful yes, but sometimes a little distracting.

And while I liked the diverging storylines, sometimes I had trouble wrapping my head around things. This reading definitely requires lots of focus to be able to keep track of who is who, who is doing what and why and where in the world it is taking place.

So why don’t I love this book as much as I loved Sisters? I think it boils down to the fact that I wanted a more exciting confrontation between the sisters and the Black mist. To be honest, the ending left me hanging. I had so much anticipation, but no closure really. Like there is more to tell, more I want to know. It ended very abruptly and quietly. And it is very much possible that this was the intention of the novel. Has this darkness truly been defeated? No. (It’s a metaphor for anti-Semitism so I believe that this unfinished feeling I feel is what I am supposed to be feeling) It was nonetheless a very subdued ending. There was lots of build up and tiny sparks, but no burning in the end.

Also there was a death that hmm did not sit well with me, but who am I to say whether a death is merited or not?


Overall this book is gorgeously written, filled with stunning imagery and wordplay that brings forth an elaborate and intricately woven tale of sisterhood, grief and destiny. While it could get a little convoluted at times, these characters and their hopes, dreams and fears will keep you hooked no matter what!

Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

Recommend?: Yes! We all need some elaborate dark fairy tales to fill our days!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What are some of your favourite fairy tales, dark or otherwise?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

5 Reasons to read The Beautiful Ones | In other words…I lived my best life reading this masterpiece again!

Greetings readers!

In 2017, I read my first Silvia Moreno-Garcia book and it was The Beautiful Ones. So to be talking to you about this book again in 2021 is well…MY FAVOURITE PART OF TODAY.

If you want to read my original review, I will leave that link here. My thoughts have remained pretty much the same so for today’s post I wanted to highlight the 5 main reasons why I love this book and why I think you might love this book too!

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones

Pub Date: April 27, 2021
Publisher: Tor Books
Buy Links Below!

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

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

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

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


*Thank you to the publisher for the advances reader’s copy!*

5 REASONS TO READ THE BEAUTIFUL ONES…

1. Charismatic Characters!

Love them or hate them, these characters make this book incredibly fun to read! Personally, I love them! They may seem at first like your typical one-sided stock characters, but then they show so much more depth and colour to them! SMG always wins me over with the dynamic characters she writes and this book is no different!

Nina – The hopeless romantic speaks to my soul in every way possible! But she’s also stubborn, curious, dedicated and vulnerable! She wears her heart on her sleeve and I love every part of her! Even if the secondhand embarrassment is real when it comes to her, I love that she doesn’t let it bother her too much!

Hector – The foolish man who endears me with his level of obsession. If I share one quality with Hector, it is definitely our tendency to obsess (and I admit it is not the healthiest tendency to have). In my original review I noted that he was “the tortured, romantic heartthrob” and I stand by it!

ValĂ©rie – The prickly and cool socialite who intrigues me with her ferocity but is #toxic! Oooooooooooh ValĂ©rie!!!!! I cannot lie that she spills some truths in this novel about the marriage market and how women are bartering chips for family status. But she is also a classist manipulator, so unhappy in her own life that she wills it on everyone else. She is, nonetheless, a very interesting character to read about!

2. Delicious Drama!

This book is really 2-in-1 (the closest we’ll ever get to having an SMG sequel imo) and well let me tell you: they are both wild rides! Book 1 literally has me flushing with second-hand embarrassment with every turn of the page! And I love it! This first section is full of awkward first meetings, secret encounters, deceptions, whispers and revelations! I love it with all my heart, but the second part owns my soul! Book 2 has the second-chance story line that makes hope bloom in every part of me! The characters are changed, much more tender and hurt from the events of book 1. This second section is full of heartfelt confrontations, shy reconciliations, but also more deception, revenge and passionate plights! Most of my favourite scenes happen towards then end, it is just magnifique!

3. An Enchanting World!

This gorgeous world full of manners and wonders is EVERYTHING. I love how SMG develops Loisail as a Belle Epoque-esque world and if you’re running off the high of Bridgerton’s posh social order and policy, then you might find a kindred spirit in this book. The ladies and gentlemen in this book have strict rules to abide by and social convention to uphold and well…some of our characters may or may not be good at following them! Reading about these very different characters from very different backgrounds and histories navigate this socialite world is so intriguing.

4. Sweet Romance!

Emphasis on the sweet! I will tell you here: Don’t go in expecting the sexy times you got from Bridgerton, expect instead a tender and heartwarming fast, fall-hard turned second-chance slow burn of two people hurting and finding themselves back to one another. It is all about the repercussions of falling in love hard and quick at such a young age! It’s about the pain and struggle that sprouts from bitter heartbreak when things don’t go according to plan. It’s about the slow healing process of opening up to possibility of love again and letting it just flow!

5. Just the slightest touch of magic!

This book wins in every category for me because it has that touch of wonder. It’s not really magic per se, but it is that element of sparkle that I think every book needs! SMG explores telekinetic power in Hector and Nina with much intrigue. She tackles how it sets them apart in this very classist society, how it makes them the same despite their differences and what it means for their future! It’s BRILLIANT!


This is a 5 star book for me!

Screw what past me said about predictability, I found that I didn’t mind it in this re-read at all! I just had so much fun reading this book again! I experienced ALL THE FEELS. And I’m sure that you will find similar things to love and cherish about this book when you pick it up!

This book releases APRIL 27, 2021!

Get in your pre-orders and library requests NOW!

For Canadian and American pre-orders, TOR will send you a beautifully illustrated postcard! Read more here!

The Beautiful Ones TPB

Let me know what you think! Have you read this book? Are you looking forward to picking it up (again)? What kind of romance novels do you love to read?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

BUY LINKS!

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from IndieBound
Buy from GoodReads

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet | HOV Book Tour // Review + Fan Art

Greetings readers!

I am so, so pleased to bring you this post today! Thank you to Hear Our Voices Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of the tour for this amazing book coming out April 6th!

Forgive my rambling friends, but there is just so much to say about this book!

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Publisher: Little Brown
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Genre: YA Fiction

Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Bookshop.org

As an aspiring pastry chef, Penelope Prado has always dreamed of opening her own pastelerĂ­a next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. But her mom and dad have different plans — leaving Pen to choose between disappointing her traditional Mexican-American parents or following her own path. When she confesses a secret she’s been keeping, her world is sent into a tailspin. But then she meets a cute new hire at Nacho’s who sees through her hard exterior and asks the questions she’s been too afraid to ask herself.

Xander Amaro has been searching for home since he was a little boy. For him, a job at Nacho’s is an opportunity for just that — a chance at a normal life, to settle in at his abuelo’s, and to find the father who left him behind. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his new found family and himself.

Together, Pen and Xander must navigate first love and discovering where they belong — both within their families and their fiercely loyal Chicanx community — in order to save the place they all call home.


~ ABOUT LAEKAN ZEA KEMP ~

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicanx grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health. Her debut novel, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER & SWEET is forthcoming from Little Brown in spring 2021.

Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads


*Thank you to the publisher, HBG Canada, for an advanced copy!*

~ REVIEW ~

To put it simply, THIS BOOK IS INCREDIBLE!

Now let’s elaborate on that, shall we?

The writing is EVERYTHING! I know I talk a lot about being “immersed in an author’s writing” and well friends…I am speaking my truth! It was wonderful to be totally immersed in Kemp’s writing! That first kitchen scene! Just wow. I felt the heat and sweat building up inside of me as I read about the chaos that was cooking up. Every written word sprouted emotion within me. Every feeling that Pen and Xander felt, I felt too. It was just such incredibly engaging and heartfelt writing.

The second best thing about this novel was certainly the characters! They came for my heart! Pen was a brilliant and complex character. The ferocity in her coupled with the hardships she deals with on the inside and outside create such a well-rounded and rich personage. Her voice is so raw and relatable. Stunning. And then there is Xander! Honestly, he is perfection! Well, no he is not perfect, but close enough. He is sweet, adorable and so caring but he is also so caught up in the question of who he is and what his past is all about. He does the most for the people he loves and reading his journey to finding himself just crushed me in the best way possible. And I have to do an honorary shout out to the supporting cast! They are dubbed “the most faithful and fucked up family” and it is a very accurate description. There is so much love and loyalty within this Chicanx community and characters and they deserve your attention!

With Pen, comes the portrayal of a teen living with mental illness. Reading about her past and current battles with depression and anxiety gave readers a much deeper understanding of how Pen sees herself and why there was so much tension between her and her family, especially her father. I like how it was imagined as a cacophony of voices in her head. While I cannot comment on the accuracy of its portrayal, it was such an integral part of Pen’s journey.

As with any book that deals with cooking and food, I was a) HUNGRY ALL THE TIME and b) reminded of my absolute inadequacy in the kitchen. Remember that immersive writing? Yeah, immersive writing coupled with the theme of food makes me salivate with every turn of the page! (TMI? Maybe, but I speak my truth) Alongside food, this book covers so many incredible themes like love and loyalty for the Chicanx community, found family, lost family, fighting corruption and seeking passion. Every aspect of this book is full of life. And all of these themes come collectively under the bigger theme of dreaming! This book holds so many dreams, so many hopes. Stunning” is the only way I can put it.

THE ROMANCE HAD ME SO SOFT. I cannot explain it to you friends, you’re just going to have to read it for yourselves. I ship these two so hard, y’all don’t understand! *Breaks down into sobs*

And since I’m already sobbing, I might as well state it plain and clear: This book is very emotional. (See the exploration of depression, anxiety and self-doubt) Past mistakes whether self-made or otherwise really impact how Pen and Xander navigate their lives throughout the story. In searching for acceptance they often face the fear of never being enough and falling victim to false hope. I love how this books talks about facing fears. I love how it dissects the effects of swallowing fear. Avoiding it and thinking about fear like its a game to win will only lead us down some even darker roads. I like that the book really advocated for seeking support from others even though everyone is on their own path. Pen and Xander both have a not so easy time dealing with fear individually, but reading about how they help one another in big and small ways warmed my heart so much!

The title is BRILLIANT and we just have to contemplate it for a second. All in all, the title really encompasses the moments and spaces these characters inhabit. They are literally always somewhere between bitter fears and sweet hopes. And reading about how these characters’ move between these two emotional poles was a tender and endearing experience no matter the flavour.

I cried maybe a little at the end. It was an ending that just *phew* just brought everything together so beautifully! My heart squeezed and I loved that feeling so much!

TL;DR This book is absolutely beautiful and you need to read it.

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES, GET THIS BOOK ON YOUR TBR NOW.


~ FAN ART! ~

Please enjoy this illustration of Pen and Xander sharing a very special and sweet moment together! This is definitely one of my favourite scenes from the book! Read it to find out more!!


FOLLOW THE TOUR!

Let me know what you think! What are your favourite emotional reads? What are your favourite books about food? Are you looking forward to reading this?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Ikessar Falcon | Review // Literally here without an eloquent thought in my head, I’m just screaming! + My Fan Art

Greetings readers!

Here I am with another attempt at trying to explain how much I absolutely adored a book! This was my first read novel of the new year and AH it delivered. It delivered so hard my friends!

I can only hope my words make enough sense to tell you how much this book ROCKED MY FRICKIN WORLD.

If you haven’t read book one, I highly recommend dropping by my review of The Wolf of Oren-Yaro and as always beware of spoilers below!

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso

The Ikessar Falcon (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #2)

Pub Date: Sept 22nd, 2020
Publisher: Orbit

The stunning sequel to The Wolf of Oren-yaro where the queen of a divided land struggles to unite her people. Even if they despise her. K. S. Villoso is a “powerful new voice in fantasy.” (Kameron Hurley)

The spiral to madness begins with a single push. Abandoned by her people, Queen Talyien’s quest takes a turn for the worst as she stumbles upon a plot deeper and more sinister than she could have ever imagined, one that will displace her king and see her son dead. The road home beckons, strewn with a tangled web of deceit and impossible horrors that unearth the nation’s true troubles – creatures from the dark, mad dragons, and men with hearts hungry for power. To save her land, Talyien must confront the myth others have built around her: Warlord Yeshin’s daughter, symbol of peace, warrior and queen, and everything she could never be. The price of failure is steep. Her friends are few. And a nation carved by a murderer can only be destined for war.


*Thank you HBG Canada for the review copy!*

I LOVED EVERYTHING.

Villoso really knows how to write messy humans. And make it a good time. For me, that is. A good time for me.

Tali – I bow to the queen, but this does not mean that the queen makes good decisions. I love Tali with all my heart. I love that she is fighting twice as hard to find that peace she still thinks she can achieve. But I also see her flaws. She does wear her heart on her sleeve and it is constantly getting her into trouble. She may be ruler but she is still quite naive. She’s a queen, but her status as mother takes over in this book and I really liked this angle. Why wouldn’t a mother fight tooth and nail for her son she loves? But even in that fight there is some naivety. Tali is messy and makes mistakes which in my opinion makes her an INCREDIBLE CHARACTER. It means that she has room to grow, to change, to mess up again and repeat the process! I think a lot of reader’s will be put off by some of the choices she makes (I was too) but, nonetheless, her desire to see things through makes me admire her all the more! And I can’t wait to see if she will ever consider herself more than Yeshin’s daughter? Will she break free of this dead man’s grip? I don’t know, I’m excited to find out.

Queen GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
via giphy.com

Khine – Sweetie, you are doing amazing. My heart aches for one man in this series and it is KHINE LAMANG. He is resourceful, he knows how to make a plan, he has medical experience, he can make a friend out of an enemy, he will tell you as it is, HE IS SIMPLY THE BEST. he was thrown into this political, violent mess and he endures time after time. We love to see it. BUT WE ARE ALSO VERY AFRAID FOR HIS WELL-BEING. OMG but seriously the best character in this series. It goes Khine then Tali. Khine is #1! Never forget.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians Youre Doing Amazing Sweetie GIF by  PeacockTV - Find & Share on GIPHY
via giphy.com

Agos – I don’t know. I sat there after closing the book (whilst reeling) trying to understand my emotions towards this character and all I can is that they are quite complex and not at the same time. Agos is far more fleshed out and present in this book than in the first one. We see first hand how far he goes for Tali and how much his position as her servant, her guard, makes him both a man with less power and yet one who still feels himself entitled to some anyways. Not sure that makes sense, I’m still working him out. There is this reoccurring imagery of Agos as Tali’s dog, obedient to her every beck and call. But can there also be a point where the dog overpowers the chain and drags the master? *shrugs suggestively* This is not say Agos is some poor chap caught up in this mess like Khine. No, no, no, Agos is a hypocrite, overbearing and possessive which is why I can’t say I like him very much even though he spat some truths here and there.

Rayyel – I definitely see how we were supposed to empathize with this man, but the note I wrote to myself in the middle of the night right after closing the book is this: “Rayyel – useless ass mofo. I still hate you.” Which is a little unfair because he isn’t totally useless and again I’m coming from a very biased POV. He is 100% still a bitch (not the cool kind) and yeah I don’t like him, but I can’t deny he isn’t as conniving as I once thought.

So this a chunky book because we go exploring friends. WHO DOESN’T LOVE A GOOD QUEST NARRATIVE?! Thank goodness for the map because I loved tracking where our characters travelled too! I loved that we got to explore Jin-Sayeng in much more depth. I loved that we got to see the differences between the east and west! But buckle buds, because it is a long and winding road we travel!

Adventure Going GIF
via giphy.com

This book is all about the political intrigue! It’s about the divide of a nation no longer split in two, but in absolute shambles. I love that Villoso wove in so many opposing views and voices within a single part of the nation to emphasize just how shattered ties between countrymen are. I also loved that we got to break down the class system! I loved how privilege and poverty, power and oppression were dissected within the characters from their blood down to the very structure of their names! Who gets caught in the cross-hairs of warring aristocrats? How much power is held within a name and title? Can one life replace another? These are the questions that seep through the story, the haunting words that follow Tali as she comes to terms with her own privilege and persecution.

Fantasy elements? You name it, this book has it. Assassins, zombie-like things, DRAGONS, DRAGON FIGHTS, creatures of the dark, gore, blood blood blood. And this only adds to THE INTENSITY OF THIS NOVEL. People this book is so INTENSE. There was literally no break. Twist after twist. Turn after turn. THE BETRAYALS. I, for one, LOVED IT. I loved that I couldn’t catch my breath, I was so invested in this story, so eager to find out what happened next! It’s a suffering fest and I loved it.

once upon a time dragon GIF by HULU
via giphy.com

I can’t even talk about the romance plot because it is so much more complex than I could ever put into proper words that make sense without spoiling anything. On the one hand, it is an element of the story that has sparked so much of the fire that is going on in this story and on the other hand it can be so insignificant because of the even bigger, hotter fires burning around the characters! It is truly just a wonderful level of complex drama that I lived for while reading. So, so much tea was spilled.

The best, absolute best, element of this series is the narration style. I love that future Tali is telling us this story. I love that she is talking to us, the readers. Feeding us her version of the events of her life and nation. Telling us what happens…and holding back on certain details, perhaps? It was subtle in book one, but this book really plays with this idea of what Tali is telling us and what actually happens to her, what she thought then and what she thinks now. I try so hard to read between the lines and I am sad to say I have not yet found the HEA I am looking for *sobs*

So the ending, specifically the last 20 pages, HAD ME ON THE FLOOR. I saw things coming and yet…I ABSOLUTELY DID NOT SEE THOSE THINGS COMING! It was a whirlwind of emotions at the end. So many things go down…and not very happy things *sobs some more* But gosh Villoso really pushed in the knife sheath-deep with this end. The blade had been hovering over me the entire time, inching in little by little, but these last pages were the final painful stab.

Tired King Of Queens GIF by TV Land
via giphy.com

I loved it.

People will critique the book for being too long, but it was such an adventure. You have to accept it and bask in its length.

Final words: K.S. Villoso has brought down the hammer with another incredible installment of this epic fantasy series! If you want to dive into a captivating world of shady politics, fiery dragons, raw, messy characters and tantalizing revelations, then this pulse-pounding page-turner is for YOU. I cannot wait for book 3, we are in for so much trouble!!!!!!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES. You all need to get on this series LIKE NOW!


My Fan Art

To commemorate my love for the series, I made a painting of one of my favourite scenes from book 1! If you guys want to find out why Tali is looking fierce in the rain, I suggest you read the books!

Let me know what you think! What fantasy series are you loving these days? Any recommendations for dragon-y stories? Do you have this sequel on your TBR?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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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