May-Read Reviews | Witches Steeped in Gold & Tokyo Ever After

Greetings readers!

Today I am coming at you with some reviews for some books that I read this past May!

Many thanks to the publishers for approving me for an e-ARC from Netgalley. (Yes, this is me finally posting reviews that have been sitting in my drafts for weeks!)

Witches Steeped in Gold (Witches Steeped in Gold, #1)

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Pub Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen

I liked it but at the same time gosh this took a while to get through.

1. The world building was interesting, but there was so much to take in at the very beginning. The world and its conflict needed a lot of attention to know who was who and who hated who and who wanted revenge on whom. I also felt like there were lots of important aspects that were overlooked despite being quite pivotal to the plot, like The Yielding. I did not understand its purpose until about halfway through. It kept being mentioned, but we never really got to see it happen on page.

2. I really liked the characters. Usually when it comes to dual-POVs I have a favourite, but this time around I was pretty intrigued by both sides. Jazmyne the “meek ” and Iraya the “reckless” are really how I’d describe them. Other characters weren’t as fleshed out as I’d hoped and I was hoping for so much more from them. But then the ending came around and there was a complete 180 character change and I was seriously confused.

3. So this was a revenge story on multiple fronts and what can I say other than TRUST NO ONE. People were pulling alliances and betrayals left, right and center. It was good because it kept me engaged in trying to figure out who was on whose side…and what they were after.

4. I found the pacing off. It wasn’t smooth and there were some time jumps that skip over possibly exciting events which was disappointing. Instead we got a lot of repetitive secret meetings and talks. This is supposed to be a long book about witches! Give me more witchy action!

5. The magic system was cool but still needed more flesh to it too. Again it took me a while to understand how it works, and I still might be unclear about some stuff, but it does have potential. I like that it was forged from gold and how if created different power dynamics for different users. Very interesting.

6. Speaking of power, the politics were messyyy which is always my favourite thing. We have people seeking power, running from power, betraying power and its just a big mess. The race to become ruler is not simple. It crumbles relationships and leaves people in the dust (read sacrifices). And as I said this is a revenge story on many fronts and phew, ultimate power plays a big part in this. I liked that there is clear no good side or bad side. Each side has oppressed the other. Each has a hero that is villain to the other. And working together honestly seems like such a far fetch idea. I enjoyed the questions it made me ponder.

7. So it’s slow, lots of repetitive secret meetings and too many unknowns made the story drag in the beginning and middle. The third act though? Great. I wish we had gotten more of that. Things got 10x messier and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

8. The “romance” if you could call it that was not it for me. There were no interactions for the characters to truly find chemistry, they just started looking at each other at some point I guess. There are two potential romances…and well neither seem to be it for me. Who knows about later.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Recommend: Yes!


Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After, #1)

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Pub Date: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Flaitron Books

This was so cute. Literal serotonin .

1. The characters were so much fun. Izumi is the living the actual fantasy of finding out you’re a princess and then dealing with the entire package. She was funny and cheeky. Her voice was simultaneously self-deprecating and very serious. And I loved Akio, serious grumps/poets are adorable.

2. The whole finding out you’re a princess plot was wonderful. Learning all the rules and then trying to meet these impossible standards is stressful and not easy. Plus being a woman means your every move is picked at! It was a strong message this book wanted to relay… although I do wish it had gone a little deeper into it.

3.Strong themes of identity and family. Izumi struggles with finding her balance as both Japanese and American. Especially growing up in a white neighbourhood with confederate and rainbow flags flying as the book says Izumi deals with many feelings of “unbelonging” that she has to work through. And then finding her place with her newfound family proves to be just as difficult. I loved exploring the relationship with her dad. They were so awkward together lol but I would have loved more moments between them.

4. The romance was sweet. A total modern princess and her guard trope?! Yes, give it to me and it GAVE. I like how Izumi acknowledges that she’s in her own enemies-to-lovers romance, but that she’s also such a romantic. I giggled every time she was like “he’s hot, but ughhh” or when she’d start fantasizing about him. That was fun. I would like to petition for a book about the mom and dad though. Thank you.

5. The whole book was evenly paced and there wasn’t too much action save for some hijinks Izumi gets into and the scandals that follow. It was pretty entertaining throughout and I wasn’t bored, but I felt like a little more drama was missing.

6. It is tagged as Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians and I think it delivers. Even without those comps, this book alone has much to say about identity, family, self-acceptance and love. They’re all messy and complicated. Even when perfection and answers are demanded, we might not have them all and that’s okay because as we grow and discover more about ourselves we learn to embrace our imperfections and unknown answers more. 

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Recommend: Yes!


And that’s it for me! Let me know what you think! Have you read either of these? What kind of fantasy and contemporary books have you been loving as of late?

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!

Valérie – The prickly and cool socialite who intrigues me with her ferocity but is #toxic! Oooooooooooh Valérie!!!!! 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

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

Pine Island Home | Review // A sisterhood read!

Greetings readers!

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

You: Better late than never.

That’s right, better late than never.

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

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

Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath

Pine Island Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection


The Likes

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

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

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

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

The Questionable:

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

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

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


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

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

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

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

Happy reading!

Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


*Many thanks to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

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

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

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

The Silvered Serpents Meme-i-fied

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

If not…you are welcome to move along.

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

~ THE BOOK~

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~

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

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

Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads

~ REVIEW ~

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

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

~ FAN ART ~

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

~ FOLLOW THE TOUR ~

Click below to find other amazing posts celebrating this book!


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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

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

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

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

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Furia
via Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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


I loved everything!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Mexican Gothic | Review // The Book of the Summer is for the Trashy yet Classy. And I can confirm that I am trash for this book.

Greetings readers!

How does one eloquently review a book that they have been waiting forever for? Better question: How does one eloquently review a book that they have been waiting forever for and has had their expectations superseded by said book?

You can’t. It’s simply impossible.

Well it’s simply impossible if your name is Rendz and you are me.

But I’m gonna try it anyways.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic
via Goodreads

Pub Date: June 30th, 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Goodreads

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. “It’s Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird” (The Guardian).

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.


The Likes

This book was brilliant in so many ways. My experience with Gothic literature is minimal, but after reading this book it is definitely a genre that I would be more into. Mexican Gothic brings together both the supernatural and the realistic. It’s cozy and yet most definitely not. It entices you with the promise of danger, and while you relish in the thrill you fall into the dark with Noemí and need to claw your way back out. Classy and creepy all in one. A stylish and sinister read, as said by Gwenda Bond.

Noemí was the epitome of fabulous. I cannot explain to you how much I adored her character. As a young socialite who is working her way through the high life of Mexico City she is driven by her ambition and desire to get what she wants. She may not have a clear plan and changes her mind many times, but when she wants something she goes for it and we love to see it. She is fierce and sassy and flirtatious and stylish. The clothes she wore in this novel are divine. She was such an incredible character. From her strong desire to protect her cousin to her tumultuous rescue mission, she was always entertaining to read about. Does she tumble and fumble along the way? Absolutely.  She likes the danger, she likes the scandal and the thrill. Probably not the best traits to have when interacting with this family. But she is also someone who deep down never lets anything truly stop her.

Catalina, while she was more of a background character, was still really fascinating. We mostly get a sense of Cata’s character from the anecdotes Noemi tells us about her fairy-tale, tragic romance loving cousin. She was a hopeless romantic and she sought the high that comes from having a lover that may be a little on the dark side. However, Cata *changes*. Oh I am treading the spoiler line, but wow I just really enjoyed seeing this transition in character. She is after all sort of the reason Noemi is pulled into this story, and she plays a big part in how it unfolds. We stan her, trust me.

(While we’re on the topic, fairy tales actually play somewhat of a symbolic role in this novel. And I’m not talking about the Disney kind, I’m talking about the old grim stories that are gruesome and horrific tales of gore and grief, but that attract the reader with a ~romance~ woven within its twists. hint hint nudge nudge.)

The Doyles. Oh the Doyles. I shouldn’t say much about them because spoilers, but I will give my two cents on them anyways. They were a creepy bunch from the very beginning to the very end. They were the symbol of white colonialism and the destruction colonists caused the people and the land that they infiltrated. They rub you wrong in every single way. And I can’t lie they are intriguing. I was simultaneously repulsed by them, but also wanted to know what’s up with them. We can only stan one young shy Doyle.

This is a slow burn so be prepared to spend some time soaking in the Gothic goodness and history that SMG provides us with. A good chunk of this book has Noemi getting a feel of what High Place is like. There’s lots of exploring and dreaming and realizing that things are not what they seem at all. And what makes this slow tread so special is that this book is incredibly atmospheric. The sun never shines in this novel. It doesn’t help that High Place has strict rules: no electricity, no hot water, no casual conversations. It thrives in gloom, cold and silence. Creepy right? SMG did a perfect job of transporting the reader into the house and wrapping them in the mist that surrounds the mountain. It furthers that sense of suspense that has us hanging on to every word that is put forth. This book is an experience, it’s the best way I can explain what it is like to read it. You are not merely an observer, but you are in the house with its listening walls and gloomy corridors.

So then we get to the 60% mark and things just start to happen and we tumble down this series of things getting bleaker and bleaker. Boom. Boom. Boom. As I discovered more about the history of the family and the house, things just get twistier and harder to piece out. And let me tell you this family is MESSED UP. There isn’t such a thing as an easy solution, Noemi is literally trapped in this house with these people.

That being said, the creep factor is high. And the dark factor is even higher. There are some things in this book, some images that I cannot get out of my head. Once specific image with mushrooms is just…*shivers* Towards the climax when the once mysterious elements of the story are brought to light, my heart actually started pumping. I haven’t had a heart-pumping read in a while. I was actually getting nervous. I was scared about what would happen next. And this is not like the movies where you can look away or cover your eyes and wait for things to pass. You have to read the things that happen, you have to live through it with Noemi and it is CREEPY.

And the horror isn’t only tied to the freaky supernatural things that go on. But also the repercussions of colonialism that lead to the deaths of so many Mexican minors. Eugenics and its twistedness was a huge factor in this novel. Especially when it comes to keeping bloodlines pure *looks judgmentally at a certain family* But it also explores Mexico in the 1950s where misogyny was rampant and women were trapped in the cages of their husbands rules. All these just add to the danger of what the supernatural elements impose on Noemi and so many others.

A Bonus Thought: After reading the novel, I read the Book Club Kit that goes into details about Real del Monte, the English colony that inspired the setting for this novel, and goes in depth about what the Gothic genre is about. And let me tell you, it just opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t know about. It gives lots of insight into how the setting and genre tie into the aims of the novel!


Overall, I think this book is a perfect creepy yet classy read. Noemi was such a fantastic character to follow. High Place and its ruling family kept up the sinister trap from beginning till end. This slow burn Gothic novel kept me hanging on with every turn of the page. It made my heart race and tingled my spine as it wrapped its misty cloak around me. I had wildly high expectations and because Silvia Moreno-Garcia is such an epic writer, she soared high over my hype.

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes. Of course. Give yourself some chills this summer.

If you read that long as review, thank you! You’re a real one. If you just read the bold bits, thank you as well. You’re also a real one!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What was your favourite part? What books give you the creeps? Who are favourite sassy and classy characters?

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Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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