Diamond City | Review // I was less than in love with this…

Greetings readers!

Unfortunately, I waited too long to review this from the time I read it. So be prepared for a really vague review of the things I remember. Or at least try to remember.

It’s always super sucky when you have hopes for a book and it falls flat. I was really looking forward to this book because it is Latinx fantasy and we all know how much I am for thisssssss!!! Alas, things don’t always go the way we hope.

Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Diamond City (Diamond City, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Jan 28th, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Goodreads

Good things don’t happen to girls who come from nothing…unless they risk everything.

Fierce and ambitious, Aina Solís as sharp as her blade and as mysterious as the blood magic she protects. After the murder of her parents, Aina takes a job as an assassin to survive and finds a new family in those like her: the unwanted and forgotten.

Her boss is brutal and cold, with a questionable sense of morality, but he provides a place for people with nowhere else to go. And makes sure they stay there.

DIAMOND CITY: built by magic, ruled by tyrants, and in desperate need of saving. It is a world full of dark forces and hidden agendas, old rivalries and lethal new enemies.

To claim a future for herself in a world that doesn’t want her to survive, Aina will have to win a game of murder and conspiracy—and risk losing everything.

Full of action, romance and dark magic, book one of Francesca Flores’ breathtaking fantasy duology will leave readers eager for more!


*Thank you to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

It was all Meh and less than Meh

Aina was…girl. She was trying to be this I don’t give a shit about you or your mom kind of girl, but she kind of does. And yet she just rubbed me the wrong way several times. And I mean I was kind of lost with her most of the time. I found nothing profound about her, if you get what I mean. She had a really interesting past and I would have loved to get a little more into it, but it was always a surface level kind of feel with her.

Teo, he was worth it. I mean, his purpose? Being a good friend. And he did his job.

Riyu. Hehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Honestly boring af. He had the personality of a wet towel that could maneuver a gun.

The other girl, I don’t even remember her name, that’s how not important she was.

BUT HOLY the amount of preachy, inspirational dialogues was too much for me. I like a few inspirational moments in my book, but there was this one chapter where everyone was going around saying something profound and revolutionary….I couldn’t take it. I mean…it just felt so shoved down my throat and I hate the expression, but that chapter didn’t contribute anything at all.

Also the chapters. Oh dear. They were so chopped up and chunky. And I don’t mean that they were long. It’s that some were so short that the next chapter would just be the continuation of the same scene. There wasn’t even that much a cliffhanger between them. They just ended and began again on a new page. Stylistically, it bothered, but maybe they changed it in the finished version.

The world was interesting. It was—I believe—a country that had a mix of different nationalities. There was an industrial boom, one that came at the cost of the religious freedom and ended up in religious persecution. I was really interested in that conversation, but again the book only ever really touched the surface of the problems and they were big problems. There was also gangs, which…is it bad that I like gravitate towards gang-ish books? (since I am Latina and hello stereotype much) And yet I can’t help but like the cutthroat workings of a gang. Especially ones that are less found-family and more I-would-kill-you-given-the-chance. I don’t know why, it just fascinates me and we all know I could never make it a group like that. The politics were pretty straightforward so I didn’t have too much of a hard time following that. The giant spiders….I just…Why? WHAT WAS THE REASON? Literally, she just shoved in these (nasty) creatures and I felt like it did not match the world at all. Like I get it spiders can be big, but this addition felt almost too cheesy futuristic movie to me.

The diamond magic. Well. From what I remember we didn’t get much diamond magic. I could be wrong. I know there are some pretty big moments that feature them and I really liked how they work, but I felt like they were still just glanced at this book. Everything is just a skim of the surface with this book. I felt like it never got bone deep.

You wanna know what I did like? The twisted relationship Aina had with her boss! Was it love? Lust? Hate? Fear? Admiration, as she so often claims? I really liked that she almost “addicted” to him in the sense that she knew he was no good for her and yet couldn’t help going back for more. And let me tell you her boss is like Kaz Brekker but like not even remotely redeemable. This was the highlight of the book and the one thing I felt that we got into!


Overall, the book was not it for me. I felt like it was lacking a lot of substance and the characters were not memorable for me. It sucks because I know I wanted to love this so badly, but I struggled with this.

Rating: 2 / 5

Recommend?: I will always recommend Latinx reads, just be aware I didn’t love this.

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What did you think? How do you deal with disappointing reads? What assassin books do you like?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Romance Reading Round Up | Part 2 // Just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Greetings readers!

As you can guess from the title, I am still very much on my rom-com train. I have decided to become comfortable with this side of myself, it’s part of my own personal growth! Also there is much irony in this. As one who used to–shamefully–crap on the romance drama, I am now becoming a binge reader of it….

Animated GIF
via giphy.com

That’s not to say that every book I read is a massive success and it turns out I’m quite picky with my romances. I stick to contemporary, which is odd because I am a such a hardcore fantasy reader. I have the goal to read a fantasy-romance soon though. Once I find the right one. Don’t even get me started on historical or paranormal…I need time to get comfortable okay.

GETTING INTO CLo

My Favorite Half-Night Stand
via Goodreads

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 3.75 / 5

Review: I enjoyed it. I liked the characters, despite the fact that I was calling them both idiots every five seconds. I mean, I think I kind of liked it more for that fact. Could it get a little tedious at times? Yeah, but still it’s a really good modern love story.
The narrators were both really good, I would listen to them again!

Dating You / Hating You
via Goodreads

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 4 / 5

Review: Thoroughly enjoyed this. I feel very satisfied with the ending. This was a great lovers to enemies to lovers kind of thing.
The characters were amazing! I had so much fun!

The Unhoneymooners
via Goodreads

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 4 / 5

Review: The drama….I was living!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Look I still have issues with Ethan, but like I guess I can’t totally blame him…
ALSO, the revenge bit. I was living. I mean I get that she would be devastated, but I think it would have fed my hate-fire and since I’m pretty, jealous, and vengeful I would have been feeling glorious in the moment. Other than that this was hilarious! And I liked the laughs!
Her Latinx family was fun, if a little cliche, but I wasn’t expecting incredible rep so meh.
Narrators were good. Still not my favourite voices.


TWO FROM MY ORIGINAL TBR

Faker
via Goodreads

Faker by Sarah Smith

Format: ebook

Rating: 1.5 / 5

Review: This was a big thumbs down for me, sorry. Oh wow.
The characters, I didn’t really like.
The writing was not my fave.
The pacing was so weird.
This is not the enemies to lovers it could have been.
The cheesy bits at the end…ugh
Just not for me.

Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1)
via Goodreads

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Format: ebook

Rating: *a decent* 3 / 5

Review: Ummm I liked it but I had some issues.
I think Georgie was a great character and her struggles as a youngest sibling really resonated with me, but with regards to her relationship with Travis… She sort of came off as a little manic pixie dream girl.
Travis was alright. Not horrible, but alright..
The “baby girl” was not working for me. I mean she didn’t want to be seen or treated like a kid but loves being called baby girl?
Everyone has their kinks… And umm I was a little (totally) tomato faced while reading. But then again I’m 10/10 awkward so…

told you so i give up GIF
via giphy.com

The ending was a little no-no-no for me. Um. Yeah. No. Like I love an HEA but I just wasn’t feeling it.
Overall, it was fun. Very funny. And even though it had its drawbacks I think lots of romance readers will enjoy it.

 


THE RANDOS I PICKED UP.
ONE LOVE BETWEEN TWO RAGES.

99 Percent Mine
via Goodreads

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 1.5 / 5

Review RANT: There is a word I used often while reading to describe the characters in this book: Bitch.

Darcy was sold as a boss ass bad bitch but what she truly was was a sad spoiled bitch.
Tom was sold as a good boy with a beast inside, but he was really a little bitch.
Jamie was sold as a bitch and he truly was a Bitch (TM)
Truly was a yasss bitch and I liked her.
And Megan the one and only one who I thought was actually going to be a bitch was actually super nice.
My God I really did not enjoy this experience. I didn’t hate the book, but I couldn’t stand the characters. I couldn’t stand the “Tom is an Animal” imagery and it just ruins everything. It’s like supposed to be a kink but its not. These siblings literally walked over Tom their whole lives and he lets them because he’s a spineless little bitch that is sold as him being super nice, can’t say no kind of guy.
What’s worse is that they recognize this bad behaviour and their moment of “aw man we are actually shitty ppl” spans about one chapter and Tom is back to worshipping Darcy and Jamie.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been walked over like this that I’m on the defense, maybe it’s because I’m not into the territorial/possessive kind of affection or maybe just maybe I hated the fact that she calls him a sled-dog at one point and later on says “fetch Valeska” and I never got over it. 🙃

It’s a hell no from me, dogs.

Moonlight Over Manhattan
via Goodreads

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 4 / 5

Review: This was a sweet book overall. I was mainly here for the MC who I relate to in a lot of ways! It’s a romance between a shy girl and a doctor and honestly…goals. HOWEVER, the drama lasted one chapter and the very last one at that. It had the potential to be great drama too but I was robbed of that tension *sigh*
Still it was very cute!

See Jane Score (Chinooks Hockey Team, #2)
via Goodreads

See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson

Format: Audiobook

Rating: DNF @ 73 %

Review: I couldn’t anymore. This is not worth my time, I’ve got other romances lined up.
Biggest issues:
1) He is such a d*ck. Misogynistic, arrogant, just terrible over all.
2) She (stupidly) falls in love with him despite knowing how awful he is.
3) No one says “aboot” and even if he does, it is not a cute accent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
4) I cannot stress how much of a d*ck he actually is. Him having sex with a girl w/ small boobs instead of big ones is not a moment of growth.

I’m done. This is the second hockey romance to go to the trash for me. As a Canadian (who fully admits to belonging to the stereotype of liking hockey) I am disappointed.


Well that’s it for me! This round had both its highs and lows. I don’t think I have a true favourite from this round, maybe Moonlight over Manhattan and Dating You/Hating You even if they didn’t get the full five stars! My next round of romances will hopefully bring me a true 5-star read!

Let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them? As always, I’m open to all your recommendations!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Untamed Shore | Review // In which I read my first thriller and realize I might be more blood thirsty than I initially thought…

Greetings readers!

Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows how much I adore Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work. I discovered her a few years ago when The Beautiful Ones came out in 2017 and since then I have gobbled up her novels. And we all know how much I LOVE Gods of Jade and Shadow so obviously all her works are on my TBR from now one!

Her latest release, Untamed Shore is a crime thriller and—

—-Rendz you barely read thriller and you’ve a record 0 crime books

Um, excuse me. This is Silvia Moreno-Garcia we are talking about. If it’s got her name on it, I read it. Plus I always like guessing at mysteries!

Untamed Shore by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Untamed Shore
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Feb 11, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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


The Likes

SMG has a way of just totally sucking you into a book. I’ve never set foot in 1970s Baja California and yet I felt like I was intimately involved with the town of Desengaño. The words wrap around you until you feel like you’re standing on the beach and looking at the display of shark corpses. You feel it, you smell it, you can hear every sound. And, yeah, you’ve never even been in a setting like that before, but the writing makes it a whole experience for you anyways.

The writing is gorgeous and stellar, but I’ll be honest, what got me reeled in were the characters!

Viridiana, my girl. She was un-apologetically herself all the time. (Although she has her moments of self-doubt, but don’t we all) She was walking paradox. Practical, straightforward and yet dreamy. She fully understood her confinement in her small town, and the limits placed on her because of her gender, religion and economic status, but that didn’t stop her from dreaming. From imagining herself as a movie star, albeit a hopelessly romantic one. She had a love for languages which hello, hi, same. I really enjoyed reading about her journey and the shit she put herself through and had to get out of. I loved that she was not perfectly capable and when she messes up she has to get her hands dirty to fix it up. And let me tell you she messes up. A lot. But she wants what we all want, a life worth having lived. Where she can reach for the stars like anyone else. And she lies, cheats and maybe does more to get that.

The Americans….HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. The mother fucking Americans. (I am talking specifically about the book’s Americans, not you my dear American readers). Viridiana gets caught up in their web and it takes a lot of work to get out of it. If I’m being honest Gregory was a little beeyatch and Daisy was The Bitch of the Group, so I really hated them, but was also fascinated by them. Viridiana and I were both really in the same boat here, except I was better at calling their bullshit.

The twistiness!!!! You know at one point I thought I had it in the bag. Like I knew exactly what was gonna happen and then I got slapped and realized I needed to humble myself. Suffice to say, the twists were really good. There was a lot of suspense to be had and the book keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly. It’s that kind of tense reading where you’re yelling at the characters to do one thing and they do the opposite which only makes you more stressed but also more intrigued! There were a lot less sharks than I initially anticipated (but they are mentioned a lot), but the Americans and ~others~ do have a certain vicious sharkness to them. I’ll be honest though the beginning sets up a lot of groundwork so it takes a bit to get to that first moment of shit-hitting-the-fan. But it sure does and my girl gets her hands dirty!!

Now, it turns out that I am willing to go way farther than Viridiana is to get out of a mess and she goes pretty far. I had to take a minute to question my moral values and reflect on my blood thirst. Viridiana had the decency to feel some remorse where as I was like yasssssssss I like this blood we are spilling and lies we are telling. So yeah. 🙂 I mean we both had self-preservation in mind, she’s just a little more of a thinker whereas I was like, let’s just take them all down!

The Questionable

Why couldn’t this book get the full five stars from me? I guess it’s because it ended almost too smoothly. Here I am complaining that it was a good ending. I’m a terrible reader, I know! But I guess I was hoping for that last minute WTF moment that I thought would come with thrillers, but no it was pretty chill. It was a good ending, satisfying too, but perhaps I was hoping for one more twist.


Overall, I really enjoyed this! It is definitely a thrilling ride and you will love the havoc these tourists wreak on this small town that, let’s face it, loves the drama just like us readers!

Rating: 4.25 / 5 Stars

Recommend: You know the answer is yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this or are thinking about picking it up? Are you a thriller fan? What are some of your favourites?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January | Review // This book was pure magic!

Greetings readers!

Portal fantasy is probably my favourite type of fantasy and I don’t read it often. Hypocrite much? I know. The Narnia books were my introductory novels to this genre and…well we all know how obsessed I am with that series. I just love stories that go beyond this world and yet keep that connection alive. They are literal stories of escape from this world, just like books are the metaphoric escape from our real lives. I am sure if someone were to pop-psycho analyse me then I would fully understand this inner wanderlust and desire to leave this world for something different, but I’m not sure I want to know those answers yet.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

43521657
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Sept 10, 2019
Publisher: Redhook
Goodreads

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

*Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the review copy!*

The Likes:

I didn’t know exactly what to expect going into this book, but I didn’t actually think I would love it this much. I was absolutely enchanted from the very first page and all of it has to do with Harrow’s writing style! First we have to talk about the narrative voice. I don’t know what the technical term is, but it is when the narrator directly addresses the reader as the story goes on. It’s as if we are sitting side by side and actually being told this story over some cookies and drinks. It is a personal, intimate kind of story telling that I absolutely love.

The actually writing style itself was incredibly whimsical. It’s a flowery, purple prose that has its wild, metaphoric phrases that still surrender you completely under the book’s enchantment. I LOVED IT! The study of the actual physical shape of words and letters was so interesting. I think I may have made it sound too ~scientific~, but I promise you it was delightful! It’s a careful and, again, intimate kind of story telling that just hits you in the feels. Other than that, I think the story flowed wonderfully, it’s not hard to follow along and every turn of the page just gets more and more interesting.

Now we have to talk about these characters because they are incredible! The first shout-out goes to my girl January, who is one of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read. She was a lonely girl, with a big imagination constantly being told to reform, conform and endure a society that didn’t exactly know what to make of her. As much as she loved the fact she was being taken care of, she couldn’t help but hate the suffocation. As much as she hated the way she was left behind, she couldn’t help but love the people who left. She lived a life full of mysteries and curiosities that never gave her the right answers. And while she was incredibly curious herself, she had to find a way to let that adventurous side of her free after years of being told to keep it down. She was naive, but also intelligent. She was sheltered, but courageous enough to face the horrors of her life. She was angry and she learned to harness it to get out of trouble. I loved everything about her if you can’t tell.

Honourable mentions go to Jane, who was seriously fierce and angry! I think that she deserved a lot more than what she got and I felt so angry for her! Shout out to Samuel for being incredibly sweet with a total white knight complex that made me want to melt. To a certain pair of characters whose story made me SOB—I just wanna say #couplegoals…but also maybe not XD

The magic of the doors was marvellous. I loved the history behind it, I loved that we got to explore how these portals are constructed and destroyed. How they bring out the best and the worst of people. With magical doors comes increasingly new and magical lands! The way in which Harrow imagined these other nations with totally different cultural practices and ways of life. I mean…I can barely survive on my own in this world, and there was definitely one world in this book I would not survive in…but I would love to see books based solely in these other worlds.

The book has an incredible conversation about colonialism. There was almost an anti-museum rhetoric to this book. It’s not denying the importance of understanding a people and its culture, but this book is arguing that a culture is not a collectible. An artifact is not something that can be taken from its home and charted across the seas to be locked up and stared at. It is stripping that object of its real purpose, to serve the people it was created for. The book tackles the deeply problematic private collections of stuffy rich people who bought up–stole–precious cultural items (see the British, Spanish, French and basically all other European colonizers) for their own selfish wants. It’s important that we understand how deeply problematic our modern museums are. They are full of items that are labeled as belonging to “collectors” but they don’t. Those pieces belong to people and nations that still exist, that are not extinct and of the past, but increasingly labeled as history long gone.

The plot itself is charming yet wildly fun too. It is more contemplative than action-y although I will say that there is a fair share of blood that is shed and there may or may not be a vampire character? It’s not really a spoiler, but a treat to intrigue you with. I was never bored and I always wanted to keep going! There is also a story within a story being told and let me tell you that inner story is one that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time! Plus since its a story within a story, you are technically getting two books for the price of one!

The ending…how do I even explain the ending. It was beautiful. I had tears in my eyes from the feels that just overtook me in the moment. Not only are the final words so preciously gorgeous and ripped my soul apart, they explain the reason why this book is told the way it is and it makes so much more sense AND OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL I WANTED TO CRYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!

The Questionable:

Nothing. It was amazing.


Overall, I enjoyed this book so much! It was heartfelt, charming, suspenseful and absolutely magical. It is a perfect book for readers like me who are constantly being struck by wanderlust, but don’t have the guts to get out there just yet! It’s also perfect for general fantasy readers, historical fiction lovers and people who just love books about books!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES! Open the doors this book has to offer!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Do you like portal fantasy? What are some of your favourites? If you could open the door to another world, would you go in?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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A Heart So Fierce and Broken | Review // *chants* Grey-by! Grey-by! Grey-by!

Greetings readers!

I know I don’t read it or talk about it a lot, but urban fantasy is a great genre. I’m not saying that every UF book out there is amazing, but there are definitely some special ones! Last year, I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer, which was a pretty stellar urban fantasy which actually ended up being more fantastical than urban! You don’t hear me complaining though!

This year I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of it’s sequel, A Heart So Fierce and Broken! I was very excited for this book because while I enjoyed the characters from book one, this book was going to star my favourite! That’s right my Grey-by! (Which rhymes with “baby” by the way).

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers, #2)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Jan 7, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Goodreads

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

The Likes

GREY-BY! Yes, I still love him. I had my moments before reading where I doubted what I could ever truly like about him, but as soon as I read his first chapter all my doubt flew out the window! Now, I’m not saying my man is perfect, I actually wanted to slap him a couple times in the earlier chapters, but what I admire about him the most is his undying loyalty and his sense of honour. I know, I know–let’s be honest, most of the fictional dudes I like are morally grey (hehehe), but I like to think of myself as a loyal person so I really relate to that I guess. Other than that, he’s broody, secretly charming and does his best to work around the very intense political climate!

Lia Mara, was PHENOMENAL! I loved everything about her! On a personal level, I guess I related to her too. She was very booksy and not at all fiery like her sister (who was tough to swallow for several reasons)! But I think what I loved about her most was her compassion. I feel like people, in fictional worlds and the real one, are constantly trying to portray themselves as cool and tough, with an “I don’t give a shit about anybody” attitude to the world. It’s not exactly the best way to face the world and the book really shows how much compassion is missing in our lives. More importantly it shows how compassionate people see their most glorious trait as a weakness in society. Her journey to finding the strength in her compassion and empathy was truly amazing and I wish to see more of it in other YA books!

Others…Well, the few glimpses we got from Harper were alright. I just think that she was different from the first novel. I missed that sass that she had and instead got this kind of meh character and don’t even get me started on Rhen…I could not with him. And yeah yeah there are *reasons* but ahhh I could not with him. Jake was ugh Jake. I could do without him if I am being 100% honest.

The plot was very politically intense! There were lots of questions that were difficult to answer. Such as choosing the well being of your own nation over the devastation of another. The rift that mistrust causes between a leader and their people. The problem of wanting what’s best for your loved ones but having to go against them in order to achieve it. And most importantly, ignoring the value that you possess when you’ve locked yourself in this box that says you are useful for one thing only. It’s a complex plot, but easy enough to follow. The conflict between nations and people is well drawn out and I liked the suspense that it created between the characters!

The magic was also incredible. I’m still not 100% percent on its origins, but then again my memory is foggy from book one. I still think the exploration of the magic in characters and some special magical creatures was the most fun we had! It was not the most flashy kind of magic, but I really enjoyed it!

It’s a chunky book, but a speedy read. Don’t be intimidated by the size, I flew through this book! The writing is swift and smooth. I’m not saying that its simplicity makes it less fancy, but that is what exactly makes it entertaining. There is a lot of information to get through and Kemmerer doesn’t take up time giving us explanations we don’t need.

The ending was a banger! It hit all the sensitive spots, Kemmerer did not hold back! I totally see why this would be not work that well as a duology. I don’t know who the third book is going to star, but I am excited to find out. I mean, I have a feeling we are going back to Harper and Rhen maybe with some Grey mixed in, but it could also be two totally new characters!

The Questionable

I wouldn’t say there is anything totally terrible that made me knock off the star, but it just wasn’t the full five. I felt like there was something missing. I think it had to do with the magic. There is a lot of history there that is too mysterious. I don’t mind it having an air of mystery, but I am feeling pretty clueless right now.


Overall, I enjoyed this installment immensely, more than the first one. I loved these characters and everything that they stood for! I hope to see them again. If you were hesitant about continuing this series, I highly recommend you do! This book has a lot to offer and we’ve strayed away from the original B&B retelling, so it does offer a new and fresh story line with hints to the old one!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: YES! It’s fun, fast with fabulous characters!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Did you enjoy A Curse So Dark and Lonely? Who is your favourite character? What urban fantasy books do you enjoy? (Let’s be honest though, this one was definitely more fantasy than urban!)

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things | More Rant than Review // Setting myself up for failure

Greetings readers!

Today’s review post is a rant in disguise. Well not really, since I’m telling you exactly what I’m about to do. I just want to warn everyone one that there will be spoilers in this review. I just can’t talk about this book without giving away some big details, so I will be sure to highlight when I get super spoilery!

In the summer, I participated in Raincoast Books’ YA Winter preview. Basically, I drooled over all the books that I added to my TBR right then and there. One such book was a contemporary book based on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, sprinkled with some Narnia references and I was like oooooooooooo. But then the bomb dropped–this book has a love-triangle and I was like nnnnooooooooooo. And yet…I gave it a shot. I thought to myself, I won’t get attached, I’ll enjoy the drama while I can, I won’t get attached, I’ll take in stride the Narnia references, I WON’T GET ATTACHED!!!!!!!

And guess, guess what I did? I got attached and got hurt.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Dec 17th, 2019
Publisher: HMH Teen
Goodreads

In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

The Non-Spoilery (Very Short) Review

This was a fairly entertaining book. The characters were well defined, interesting and flawed. Oh were they flawed, they’re also teenagers so we cut them some slack. The love triangle, was a love triangle in more ways than one, trust me. The friendship aspect was a little lacking, which kind of bothered me. It was funny and charming, even though I had my issues with it. I’m sure people who actually enjoy the drama of love triangles will enjoy this immensely. I know that population is few, but it is mighty.

The Spoilery RANT

*BREATHES*

I knew from the beginning that the childhood crush was going to be the one she ended up choosing. I knew, I knew, I knew. I didn’t actually know for sure, but my heart was set. I knew that from the very first chapter the chemistry between them was still very strong and that were gonna end up together. Lord, did I know. But I am a dumb bitch, and I say that in the most loving way to myself, and I stupidly fell for the other guy. BECAUSE I”M DUMB!

Okay let’s go character by character:

Edie: A vert interesting, unique character…..um. Sure. I really liked that she had her passions, she stuck to them, and she stumbles along the way like every teen girl who is still not 100% sure who she is. I really enjoyed her character, and the struggles she went through. Especially living with estranged family who is not exactly the most loving–not that they treat her bad, just differently. Her approach to life was very literary, literally. She would live by her some of her favourite quotes from classic literature. Not the best way to live life, but she does learn key things and I really enjoyed her growth in the novel. To sum it all up, I liked her well enough. Can’t say I loved her, but I didn’t hate her either.

Sebastian: What a fucking loser. AHHHH the freaking childhood crush, that gets the girl despite the fact that he is very much a loser. And I am being very cruel right now. He is not actually (that much of) a loser. Most of my resentment comes from the fact that he is the reason for the downfall of my ship, but if I am being completely honest, he was the better match for Edie. So why did I dislike him so much…well I found that I related to him way to much. The personal identification is strong with this one.

Narnia-obsession? Yeah, boy.
Having writer dreams? I’m guilty of.
Not meeting those familial expectations? Same here.
Having no real solid plan for what they want in life? Hey there, man.

He was so wishy washy throughout the whole novel. I just couldn’t stand him for most of the novel. Bleh. His struggles may have hit home, but my god he was miserable and I didn’t really reading the book when he walked onto the page. He was just so frustrating ugh. So yeah, he’s a loser. Just like me.

Henry: Another fucking idiot, but lord help me I fell hard and fast and I honestly worry about my future self. He was the charming, suave bad boy, who was most definitely a man-hoe. And I can’t believe I fell for him. He is literally the definition of fuck boi, plus he doesn’t have any actual career plans other than spending his parent’s money. Yes, he has a soft more passionate side. And he works for what he wants, but he is still an entitled white, rich boy–and I can’t believe I fell for it. BUT I DID OKAY. And I really enjoyed it whenever he was on the page!

I was so mad when Edie broke up with him! Like ah he was giving her all and she was like you’re fun but I love Sebastian bla bla bla. I just couldn’t.

Now we have to talk about Maria…who…No. Just no. Look, Maria is a terribly flawed character that keeps getting forgiven when she should not. OH MY GOD. I get it she’s a side character she’s not supposed to have that much growth, but her behaviour was not okay and she is absolved for being “family”. Um, excuse me? No. She is constantly talking down on Edie and her humble choice of wardrobe etc. Not having a filter is whatever, but choosing to constantly demean others around you is not cool.  She repeatedly cheats on her boyfriend and blames him for allowing her and when he finally grows the spine to break up with her, she wallows in self-pity with no actual remorse for the hurt she caused. She was sexting Henry while he was dating Edie!!!! If I found out my cousin had been sexting my boyfriend to seduce him and ignored his constant rejections, I would not let that slide on the basis of being family. That is not okay. But you know what Edie forgives Maria cuz they cousins. Her punishment? Selling old clothes for college funds, she doesn’t even ever sincerely apologize. I couldn’t, this was so toxic!

Aside from the romance and Maria, I enjoyed the events of the novel. Was it anything profound and incredibly inspiring? Not really. This was a novel full of rich white people about rich white people problems so I was really here just to poke fun and engage in their drama! I can’t say that it is completely inaccessible and some of the troubles that the kids face do have their moments, especially the struggles in keeping up friendships and relationships. Choosing who you want to be and not letting others or the past dictate who you will become. Those were the heartfelt moments that I really liked reading about. The pacing was good, although I felt like it was dragging towards the middle when things were just kind of hanging on and stalling while we built this lovely relationship just to crush it.


Overall, this book was fine. I can’t say I loved it, but I didn’t dislike it either! It has its ups and downs, it has a love triangle which is a little obvious, but sometimes you still fall for the traps that authors set. The characters are well written even though some are quite flawed and needed some–lots–of growth. I’ve never read Mansfield Park, but I hope it does Jane Austen justice!

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Recommend?: Uhhh I guess its whether you really like the love triangle or want to give that trope a try, then why not!?

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite or not-so-favourite tropes? What are you more into the childhood friend or bad boy/girl?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Queen of the Conquered | Review // Getting B****-Slapped by the Final Twist, Greatest Reading Pain Ever.

Greetings readers!

I’m reviewing my first book snek cover! *three cheers for Rendz for finally getting parts of her life together* I took a huge break in between reading this book because exams literally tried to end me. But I surpassed and hopefully passed my exams, so now let’s focus on the books!

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

Queen of the Conquered
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Nov 12, 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Goodreads

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression.

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people—and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world—perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab, Kiersten White, and Marlon James.


*Thank you HBG Canada for the ARC*

The Likes

Sigourney…was well an unlikable character to say the least. I mean it and yet I really enjoyed reading her character. She is angry, unsympathetic, and full of hatred. Don’t get me wrong, I was frustrated with her every step of the way. She makes horrible decisions and spends most of the book trying to convince  herself and the reader that she’s not such a terrible person like the elites. Which she’s not…entirely a bad person. And yet she has her really bad moments, but when you look at the big picture could she really have followed any other route? Simple answer: Yes, but it would have made her life 1,000,000x more complicated, the next question is whether she found it was worth the trouble.

Marieke is a boss. Totally amazing. I loved everything about her. She was spitting the truth left, right and center!

Løren was also pretty amazing. He was a little late to the game, but I still really enjoyed his character and the huge development he contributed.

Others…gosh. All the Fjern/Klongelig, I don’t remember exactly what the race was called, but basically all the white people were horrible. Yes, all of them. Were they all on the same level of horrible? No, some were better than others, but still arghhh I couldn’t help but get angry whenever they walked onto the page

This is not-so-fictional

The countries and geography may be fictional, but the stories were very real. The depictions of slavery, abuse and genocide were very much real. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, it makes you feel uncomfortable, it is a bloody, tragic and angry story. Callender did not hold back and you can definitely read their anger in every word on the page. There is an absolute horror in this fictional story that has so many ties to a real history.

It’s a hard-hitting story and very relevant to the times we are living in, particularly the history and present of discrimination against black people. The entire concept of colonialism and how it has tried to destroy the spirits of so many cultures, but the strength of the people to rise up against it. Yes, it’s a hard story to read, but what is your discomfort to the reality of these truths?

The Magic

It was such an interesting addition to the book. I like how it was unique to the individual, although I felt like some of the powers that were presented were a little too similar that I was confused at one point about who had what kind of power. Sigourney’s mind-reading power really was interesting, although it did have it set backs. I mean having the power to know what others are thinking sounds great, until you actually know what everyone is thinking and things get difficult. Other powers, I can’t talk about because spoilers, but still it really was a cool addition.

The End

I was having this horrible feeling in the last four chapters that I had not gotten that BAM moment of just when everything hits the fan or when this huge revelation pulls through. There was all this build up, build up, build up and it sort of fizzled out at one point and I was feeling deflated. But then we get to the third last (?)/second last (?) chapter and ahhhhhhhhhhhhh the revelation. THE REVELATION. I couldn’t believe it and at the same time I could, I ignored the signs just like Sigourney. Then we get to those last two chapters and ahhh it is all high stakes! I totally think it was worth the wait.

The Questionable

Lots to take in at a time

The book takes several tangents basically every 2 pages. Since Sigourney has the power to read minds, so it’s not exactly a story told in first-person. It’s almost as if she is an omniscient narrator because she reveals everybody’s thoughts and tells lots and lots of stories. And while I liked this loophole in the narration, I also felt like it was so much information to take in, back stories I didn’t really care about and I would have rather just not known everything people were thinking. And I feel like thinking this is not exactly fair because this is something that Sigourney struggles with herself and revealing these stories has the reader experience what she is experiences. But my goodness is felt like it was a lot of useless information to take in. It also made getting through this book a whole lot tougher because I didn’t care for these characters yet or at all.

It’s not a huge fault and it does serve a purpose, but I felt like it made this reading experience longer to get through.


Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. It does take a while to get through (took me longer because I accidentally started it before exam season and didn’t finish until after). On top of the fact that it is a poignant and truthful tale, it is entertaining, heart-pounding and intense!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Did you like it? What are your favourite rage-inducing books? If you could have any kind of power, what would you choose?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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