Happy Latinx Heritage Month!! | We are celebrating all the books!! Day 1 of #LHMBookFest!

Greetings readers!

Today is the day! AND BOY HAS IT BEEN A WHOLE DAY FOR SINCE THIS POST IS COMING TO YOU AT NIGHT!

On September 15th, five Central American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica celebrate their independence day from Spanish rule in 1821. On September 16th and 18th, Mexico and Chile also have their independence days respectively! And because there is so much Latinx goodness to celebrate, the month between Sept 15th and Oct 15th has been designated Latinx Heritage Month!

So why not also celebrate bookishly?

This is the first LHM where I have made plans to participate in as many challenges and read as many Latinx books as possible and I am so excited!

If you would like to know about all the books I will be reading this month and the challenges I will joining you can check out this post that I made!

Latinx Heritage Month TBR | Preparing for Bingo, Latinx-a-thon, & IG festivities! // Es mes de fiesta

But if you are too lazy to click through posts (I get it, it’s been a whole day! phew) I will leave the image of all the books I’m planning to read! I have lots of new books, some backlist and some on my library app! There is just so much goodness to come! I cannot wait!


This first day of LHM also happens to be a huge day for Latinx Releases!! So several Happy Book Birthdays are in order!:

Happy Book Birthday to NEVER LOOK BACK by Lilliam Rivera

Never Look Back

Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, acclaimed author Lilliam Rivera blends a touch of magical realism into a timely story about cultural identity, overcoming trauma, and the power of first love.

Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria–and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there’s this boy . . .

Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives.

This Own Voices retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is perfect for fans of Ibi Zoboi’s Pride and Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper.

Happy Book Birthday to FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez

Furia

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.

Happy Book Birthday to EACH OF US A DESERT by Mark Oshiro

Each of Us a Desert

From the award-winning author Mark Oshiro comes a powerful fantasy novel about finding home and falling in love amidst the dangers of a desert where stories come to life.

Xochital is destined to wander the desert alone, speaking her troubled village’s stories into its arid winds. Her only companions are the blessed stars above and enimagic lines of poetry magically strewn across dusty dunes.

Her one desire: to share her heart with a kindred spirit.

One night, Xo’s wish is granted—in the form of Emilia, the cold and beautiful daughter of the town’s murderous mayor. But when the two set out on a magical journey across the desert, they find their hearts could be a match… if only they can survive the nightmare-like terrors that arise when the sun goes down.

Fresh off of Anger Is a Gift’s smashing success, Oshiro branches out into a fantastical direction with their new YA novel, The Stars Around Us

I cannot wait to read all three of these! They will be the first books I tackle this month and I know I am going to enjoy them!


Let me know what you think! What books will you be reading this LHM? What kind of Latinx books would you love to read? What Latinx books are on your to-buy list?

Be sure to tune in for more LHM Book Fest posts on the blog and IG! There are a lot of great things happening and I am EXCITED!!!!

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

*Many thanks to PRHC for the review copy!*

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

The Barren Grounds
via Goodreads

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

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

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


The Likes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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August Wrap Up & September TBR | Two piles of books I need to read + the start of a new academic year = I really think too highly of myself

Greetings readers!

And we are closing off another month of 2020. It’s been another month, friends. Wow. Time flies and yet this year has been an entire decade. We’re still fighting though and we will keep fighting. A reminder to keep unlearning and relearning. BLM is a marathon not a moment, as so many have put it. And when you catch yourself slipping, to pick yourself back up again.

My August was pretty chill, but I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped. My summer semester came to an end and then I was just burnt out from studying. I found that I felt more crafty than bookish, so I spent some time drawing and painting. But other than that I really did not do much this month and yet I don’t feel rested. Ugh, but I’m just ranting now.

Let’s move on to the stats.

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What Rendz Read

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope e-📘 (4/5) *Reread*
You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle e-📘 (5/5) Review
The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 📘(4/5) Review

THE GILDED WOLVES

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon (5/5) Review
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso 📘 (5/5) *Reread*
A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden e-📘 (4/5) RTC

Don't Ask Me Where I From

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles [e-ARC] (3.5/5) Review
The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen 📘 [ARC] (4.5/5) RTC
Check Please!: Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu e-📘 (5/5)

Where Dreams Descend

Highlight Book(s): You Deserve Each Other lived up to hype I had for it and I really enjoyed it! But #1 from this month is definitely Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From! It was such a powerful and emotional read for me!

Lowliest Book(s): I didn’t have any low read this month. Everything was pretty awesome!

The Haul

I’m telling you all my family is worried for me! XD There was one week where I got book bookmail 4 days consecutively! I was living whereas they were seriously questioning me. I should note that I didn’t buy any of these books and all were gifted XD

Giveaway Wins!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown
The Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo
Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez-Gilliland

ARCs

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo
Lightbringer by Claire LeGrand
Ciel by Sophie LaBelle
The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life by Dani Jansen

Finished Copies
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson
Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath

Yeah…this has been a really good month for bookmail in this household. 🙂

Other Going-Ons

Celebrating 4 Years of Blogging!

On August 31st, WordPress notified me that I have been doing this blogging gig for four years now. WHAT!? I know. It has been quite an adventure and I want to thank you all for sticking around these past years. It has been an up and down slope with this site, but I am so proud for sticking to this. I love books and I love sharing my love for books and this has been one of my best passion projects! Life can get busy, but I love this baby of mine too much to let it go! So thank you for following and reading and just letting me ramble on this corner of the internet!

You Had Met At Hola Challenge

Andrea @ Page Cactus on Instagram created this amazing challenge where you recreate a candid celebrity photo to celebrate the release of Alexis Daria’s You Had Me At Hola! I participated by recreating that viral photo of Chris Pine strutting his stuff with a paper bag full of books! I had so much fun that day and I cannot wait to read the book later this month!

yhmahc

Mexican Gothic is Getting a Limited TV Series

This announcement came as a surprise and you bet that I freaked out!!! Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos came to deliver to the SMG hive and I am living for it! No news on when it’s going to happen, but I would fly to wherever the sit will be to be an extra in this movie!

Read the article

Bitch Read-a-thon – Rereading The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

I had no plans on reading this again but when two twitter fans decided to collab and host a read-a-long I just had to join!!!!!! And let me tell you it was one of the greatest decisions I made this summer! Being emotionally crushed by this book again and discussing it with other readers was the most wonderful experience. The questions made me think critically and reading through peoples answers made me realize how insightful others are.

oren yaro

New Rena Rossner Book!

EEEEH I found out about this new book by surprise and it made my entire day! Last year, I read The Sisters of the Winter Wood and was totally blown away. This book was everything and now we are getting new material and y’all I am sooooo excited!! If you are missing Jewish Fantasy authors on your shelves, I highly recommend adding Rena Rossner to your lists!

The Light of the Midnight Stars
via Goodreads

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.

For more from Rena Rossner, check out The Sisters of the Winter Wood.


Posts Of the Month

Tune & Title Tuesdays | If I may so bold as to call it the quinceañera anthem

Tune & Title Tuesdays

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet | COVER REVEAL // JAWS?? DROPPED.

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

The Bookish Feels | Books That Give Me Wanderlust // We’re going on a trip…

Copy of THE BOOKISH FEELS laugh

Would You Rather Book Tag | Answering the hard questions

BOOK TAG!


TBR

TBR

Let me tell you: I am being far, far, far too ambitious this September. I’m going to attempt to complete two TBRs this month.

From Sept 1st-14th, I plan on reading:

Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera
Fable by Adrienne Young
Ciel by Sophie Labelle
The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson

From Sept 15th-Oct 15th, I have prepared to focus on all books Latinx. You can read more about those plans in this post:

Latinx Heritage Month TBR | Preparing for Bingo, Latinx-a-thon, & IG festivities! // Es mes de fiesta

Latinx Heritage Month TBR

Lord knows I won’t be completing all of this, but I am going to try my absolute best! Please send good vibes!

lhm2020


Let me know what you think! What have you read this month? What books did you get? What books are you looking forward to reading!

*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*

Latinx Heritage Month TBR | Preparing for Bingo, Latinx-a-thon, & IG festivities! // Es mes de fiesta

Greetings readers!

I happy to say that Latinx Heritage Month is right around the corner and I hope you are all ready to celebrate with me! From September 15th to October 15th, I will be reading, promoting and enjoying all books Latinx! This will be the first year that I’m putting together a proper TBR and joining in on other challenges too.

And let me tell you there are a lot of challenges! But I am here to give you a list of things going down!

Latinx Book Bingo 2020

This Bingo is hosted by three amazing Latinx booklovers, Sophia, Paola and Allie! It runs all month long and has some incredible prompts to follow and enjoy! For those of you who want to participate and/or just want Latinx Book recommendations in general, Sophia @ Bookish Wanderess made this amazing list of 170 titles to read from and enjoy! Please show your support for the incredible amount of work she did to put this together!

This is my first year joining and I am very, very, very excited and maybe even a bit nervous! I want to get at least one bingo so help me God!

Follow along online:

IG: @LatinxBookBingo
Twitter: @LatinxBookBingo 

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MY TBR

1st Row

Afro-Latinx: Dear Haiti, Love Elaine by Maika & Martiza Moulite or Freedom Soup by Tami Charles
Lighthearted Story: A Sprinkle of Spirits by Anna Meriano
Set in/MC from LATAM: Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Any Book by a Latinx author: You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

2nd Row:

Backlist Title: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno
Rec’d by a Latinx Reader: Sia Martinez & the Moonlit Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez-Gilliland (Rec’d by Cynthia’s Reading List)
Nonfiction: In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
On Cover Rep: Furia by Yamile Saied-Mendez

3rd Row:

Never Before Read Latinx Author: Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez
Cover with Latinx Flag-Colours: Category Five by Ann Davila Cardinal (Red for Puerto Rico)
Award-Winning: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Group Book: By Any Means Necessary by Candace Montgomery

4th Row:

2020 Release: Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo
Queer Rep: Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro
Immigrant Story: We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Intersectional MC: The Resolutions by Mia Garcia

Latinx-a-thon

Here is another fun 10-day readathon running from September 15th – September 24th! The hosts are also doing a giveaway for the group book! There are three ways to enter so be sure to get in your entries before September 1st!

Check out this Info Thread for more!

VOICES: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

LATINIDAD: Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro

ROOTS: Mi Papi Tiene una Moto/My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero OR You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria (I’m pretty sure the MCs are bilingual)

HERITAGE: Dear Haiti, Love Elaine by Maika & Martiza Moulite or Freedom Soup by Tami Charles

LATINXLIT TAKEOEVER: By Any Means Necessary by Candace Montgomery

Latinx Heritage Month Book Fest

This is going to be a month long festival of blog posts and Instagram features and fun! I am planning accordingly! While I hope to get to do all the challenges and join in on as many discussions as I can, I am only human so forgive me if I miss one!

Nevertheless, I am super excited to be joining in! Be sure to follow me on Instagram where I will most likely be posting the most! But I am still 10/10 still going to post on here so please stop by to say hola!

Twitter: @LHMBookFest

Instagram: @lhmbookfest

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That’s it for me! I’m sure there is more that is going to happen throughout the month! I hope everyone comes out to celebrate, whether you identify as Latinx or not, I encourage us all to read Latinx books as much as we can!

I know for a fact that I probably won’t finish this huge TBR, but I hope to get at least one bingo and fulfil 3 of the five prompts for Latinxathon! Who knows?! I am just so excited to be celebrating and I hope you join the fiesta!

*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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Would You Rather Book Tag | Answering the hard questions

Greetings readers!

I’ve been in a creative blog slump as of late because I’ve been busy enjoying my reading and doing other things. Not to mention some big things I’m preparing for a certain celebratory month that is coming up soon (more on that later!)

I found this tag on Kaya @ A Fictional Bookworm’s blog! I had so much fun reading through her answers that I decided to have a go at it myself!

Would you rather only read ebooks or audiobooks?

Where Dreams Descend | Review // Only sparks when I wanted to be burned!

Greetings readers!

Here I go again being unfamiliar with popular culture things and still reading books based on them anyways! That’s right, I’m doing it again. To be fair though, I know the absolute bare minimum details of the two comp titles used to promote this book, so I didn’t feel as lost as other times.

And yet even if I hadn’t been exposed to The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge before reading this I would 10/10 want to know all about them afterwards!

Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: August 25th, 2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Goodreads

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

The Likes:

Kallia is *chef’s kiss* phenomenal! A powerhouse is the best description for her. She was fierce and unapologetic all the time. She had dreams and a goal and boy did she risk it all for to get what she wanted! She has been living in the cage all her life and I love that she takes her chance at freedom despite the fact that she might be headed into more danger. She got bite and she not afraid to use it!

Demarco was your broodster and I liked him well enough. He was more reserved for *reasons* He was not running from his past, but more trying to do penance for tragedy that stopped him from performing. I liked how much he overthought things. Quite opposite from our dear Kallia who went in head first and damned the consequences.

Jack is most mysterious of all the characters and I liked that we got to circle back to him every once in a while. I liked the intrigue and danger that surrounded him and his club that was in the middle of the woods. He’s not a villain per see, but I can definitely tell he is not everything that he seems!

Aaros is my favourite character. Gosh I loved him. He was charming and silly and complemented Kallia perfectly as her assistant (no toxic masculinity here), I don’t know why I always fall for the side characters, but I did and I love him! His platonic relationship with Kallia was so great! We love to see it!

The world building…oh I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but this world is quite intriguing! I raged at the patriarchal society that tries to squash Kallia, but I gotta say I loved to see her break every barrier and overcome their fragile gender ideals! That being said there is some mystery deeply engraved in this world. The dynamics between the magicians and non-magicians were interesting because the people with power were both revered and feared! Then we throw in a circus and things just get way more fabulous! I loved the Conqueror ladies and I would 10/10 read a book solely based on them! And finally put in a deceptive and dangerous forest that isolates this city and you are fully immersed in this world of wonder and magic!

Spectaculore was exciting! I’m always a sucker for competitions in books! As I said before, Kallia had to break through several hurdles set in her path because she was a female magician performing on stage as herself and not an assistant or showgirl. This competition had high stakes and always held a surprise. Personally, I loved reading about Kallia excel in this craft! I loved reading about the shows she put on and the magic she made happened.

The romance was triangular and yet…was not. I can definitely see The Phantom of the Opera influences when it comes to the romance. I liked the hate-to-love thing going on between Kallia and Demarco! It kept things interesting. I liked Jack’s secret visitations to Kallia, even though they bordered stalker creepiness! It just kept things interesting. And I hesitate to call this a true triangle because I’m not sure if Kallia can truly be interested in Jack after having kept her trapped for so long.

The ending was quite quite QUITE fascinating and cliff-hangery. I’m into it.

The Questionable

Alongside the competition plot is also this mystery that well stays a mystery XD It digs into every corner of the story and it brought some thrill which I liked, but in the end it’s just a series of bad things that happen. It hooked me in the moment, but then we quickly forgot about it so I didn’t find it all that compelling in the end. 

This story is a slow burn, it was a lot of build-up as these characters danced around revealing their secrets to each other and to the readers! I like the slow burn, but this one led to some not really jaw-dropping reveals. Like I wasn’t shocked when the revelation happens. It was a little underwhelming really. I had hoped for something more. Something big and explosive, but I felt only a little glimmer of “Oh!” I was just not that surprised or shocked by the secrets that get revealed.

The magic is just magic. I didn’t really identify any origins other than some are born magical and some acquire it. I was left with several questions of what exactly this magic is to a person, born or acquired. Like what do they feel? Is it a force they pull from within? How does magic vary from person to person? What makes one stronger than the other? It was a book full of magic, and yet I felt like it was the least explained part of the novel.

I wanted to see more of Jack and Kallia and Hellfire House’s past to feel that emotional intensity. I get that Kallia was supposed to be really attached to Jack and the house, but I just didn’t feel it. I think more time should have been spent in Hellfire House before we left for Glorian. The former had thrill and was such a big part of Kallia’s life, but we spend so little time there. Like we are told that her connections to this house are big, but we hardly spend enough time there to feel that same pull ourselves. It’s simply a place I would have liked to spend more time in, even though I understand the bigger part of the story happens in Glorian.


Overall, this book was a magical experience that sparked but didn’t catch fire. It is long and you have to be patient with the slow burn, but I think that it was pretty entertaining overall. I’m sure big fans of The Phantom of the Opera and Moulin Rouge will find little Easter eggs and nuggets to enjoy. I, myself, found this book enjoyable but not astounding. It has magic, but the mystery of the unexplained bad thing kept me from truly being swept off my feet. I think even a tiny more information about it could have helped. I think the characters and the circling perspectives were the greatest assets of the story. This book might have not met the shock I had hoped for, but I would be willing to read book two!

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: I’d say yes for the slow-burn lovers!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading this? Are you fans of the musicals?

*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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The Bookish Feels | Books That Give Me Wanderlust // We’re going on a trip…

Greetings readers!

Books are really the only way to travel these days. At least for me.

I’m not really up to going that far, except a park or two. That being said, I thought I’d celebrate some of the books that give me wanderlust.

The desire to get up and go somewhere doesn’t hit me often, but when it does it comes in full force and I am left feeling on edge. Which is why I often turn to books to fill in that need!

So what book worlds would I want to visit?

Real World Roaming

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette (The Penderwicks, #3)
via Goodreads

This book gave me the urge to go to a cottage in Maine. Like what? I don’t know a single thing about Maine. For that matter, I’m not even sure if Maine is where they end up going!! The bigger picture is that I want to go to a rustic cottage by the sea!

Island Affair by Priscilla Oliveras

Island Affair (Keys to Love, #1)
via Goodreads

Oh to be lying and chilling on a beach right now. I read this book when it was still cold out and it gave me major beach nostalgia. Who knew I wouldn’t be able to fulfill that wish once summer arrived? *sigh* Alas, this book is like a ray of sunshine and a warm breeze all in one!


Take Me Back to the Magical Ole Days

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

gojas

Roaming around 1920s Mexico with a Mayan god of Death??? Yes. Sign me up. I want the glitz and glam of it all! To visit the pueblos and Mexico city and even step into the dangerous roads of Xibalba, I’m all for it! I’m ready!

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

KOB

Touring with the Mozart siblings and visiting magical music worlds too? Sounds like an adventure and I am all for it! Not only that, I would also get to see Europe  in the late 18th century with all this glam! YES.


Whimsical Wayfaring

Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

night witch

This book was positively magical. It’s a world full of different magical creatures and life. It was dangerous yet whimsical all in one. And above all else there was so much colour. The vibrancy of the words on the page enticed me into the grips of that story so wonderfully!

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)
via Goodreads

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: This book was weird but in a very magical and whimsical way. It’s a world that I would love to see for myself. From the ruins of the gods to the beasts that roam far and wide. Taylor painted quite a picture and I would love to see it for myself!


Let me know what you think! What books have given you wanderlust? Have you ever visited a place because of a book? What wanderlust-inducing type books would you recommend?

*Lebanon Needs You – Please Share and/or Donate + Link to a master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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The Gilded Wolves | Review // This Street Team Member is FINALLY in on the epicness!

Greetings readers!

Have you ever uhhh been a part of a street team to promote a book and never actually read the book??? Yeah. I know. It’s a bad look.

But hey I don’t have that problem anymore because I HAVE FINALLY READ THE BOOK I’VE BEEN MEANING TO READ!

Round of applause for me for having done the absolute bare minimum! *claps for self*

In all seriousness though, I am very excited to be presenting this review for you today! I have been anticipating this book for a while and I am glad I have finally had the chance to read it!

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)

Pub Date: Jan 15th, 2019
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Goodreads

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.


The Likes

These Snarky Bantery Characters are to die for! We love a found family trope!

I love Laila. We can only stan a mom friend who is also sassy and loves some scandal. I adored her. Her compassion and loving kindness was unconditional. We love to see it.

I love Séverin. Mysterious and suave. He is all angst. He loves his brother and his friend-family! He tries so hard not to thirst, but my man is thirsty for ^ for 90% of this novel. XD And honestly we love to see it.

I love Enrique. A historian with wit sharp like a knife. He was unapologetically himself all the time even though he also struggled with his identity and figuring out his place in the world. He was charming and witty and we love to see it.

I love Zofia. Her chapters brought me back to my calculus days and while it was a little triggering, her chapters were always wildly interesting! I wish I could be half as intelligent and caring as she is! I loved that knew her boundaries and drew her lines, but was still brave enough to step out her comfort zone every now and then. We love to see it.

I love Tristan. So soft. So sweet. He was 16 but I felt like he read a little younger (then again it only added to his softness so I’m not really complaining) He was not as present in the book for reasons, but whenever he did show up on the page he was cheeky and sweet and yes, we love to see it!

And Hypnos. You know I suspected him for a bit, but I did ended up loving him. If you think Enrique was a charmer, Hypnos was The Charmer. Always had something suave to say and flirting is his first language. He added the fun and quips and we love to see it!

This world building was amazing! Set in 1889 Paris, on the eve of the opening of the Exposition Universelle, this book is chock full of history. You can tell Chokshi did her research and dug deep into what this world would be like. This was the age of invention and discovery for some, while it was also full of destruction. I loved that this book put the disastrous effects of colonialism front and centre. That it paints an authentic picture of what Paris would have been like for these characters of colour and other marginalized backgrounds.

What’s more is that this world is magic, for history is boring if you don’t twist and add some kick to it. The story of the Tower of Babel plays kind of a big part in the book, but it is explained so no need for any biblical knowledge really. I love how Chokshi created different houses that people belonged to (House Kore member here 😉 ). The seven deadly sins also play a really big part of this and I liked how she incorporated them. The Magical Society was super intriguing. It’s courts and politics messy. And yet it was glamorous. This was a world of opulence and finding rare and precious objects. AND YET it is also tied to colonialism and the theft of sacred cultural objects and people!

In terms of overall plot, I love me some heist stories. It packs in both the suspense and the mystery. It had action and analytics. You can definitely see the inspiration Chokshi took from National Treasure, as the characters search for artifacts and try to piece together a puzzle of riddles. The chase never lets up and just when you think the calm has settled, the storm comes crashing down once again!

The romance. This was a book of yearning. Lots of romantic and sexual tension. Some characters were more thirsty than others is all I have to say! There may even be a triangle of sorts going on…I’m not really sure how this will end up playing out, but I’m actually into this.

The Ending. I’m sitting there all happy and then BAM. Tragedy strikes and my heart literally breaks. The last 40 pages of this novel just brings down the hatchet on everyone’s neck! Seriously, Rosh wasn’t playing around!

The Questionable

I think I was just overwhelmed sometimes with information. I usually like when we get snippets of “direct sources” but for some reason the snippets we got in this book just confused me. I think they might have been a little too abstract for me and trying to find the connections to the actual story occupied my mind to much.


Overall, I very much enjoyed this book! I feel much better as a street team member now that I have read it and I don’t have to avoid spoilers like the plague! This book promised high stakes, treasure hunting, romance and suspense and it delivers! I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2 as every character has to face the choices they made in the end of book one!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Yes!

Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to the sequel? Who is your favourite character?

*Lebanon Needs You – Please Share and/or Donate + Link to a master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

July Wrap-Up & August TBR | Happy Book Lovers Day!

Greetings readers!

How have my wonderful book lovers been on this our day to celebrate us? To be honest I didn’t know today was a thing, but I’m into it!

I’m coming at you a little late with this monthly wrap-up and haul, but better late than ever am I right? July was a month, in that I had school and not much else going on.

I wouldn’t say I’m suffering from cabin fever, but being in the house studying is getting quite boring, and yet the thought of going to other places is not so attractive either ugh. It’s a tricky situation but I’m managing.

So I’ve set myself up with quite the ambitious TBR this month even though we’re a third of the way in and I am failing so so so hard rn.

wrap-up-3

What Rendz Read

Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman e-📘  (4/5) Review
Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim (4/5) My Review

Unravel the Dusk

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova 🎧 (3/5) Review
Awk-Weird by Avery Flynn e-📘 (5/5) Review
The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall 🎧 (3/5) Review
A Songs of Wrath and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown e-📘  (5/5) My Review

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory  🎧 (4/5) Review
Lobizona by Romina Garber e-📘  [ARC] (4/5) Review

LOBIZONA

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo e-📘 (4.5/5) Review
Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu e-📘 (5/5) Review
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia (5/5) My Review

MGR

11 books in total! Not too shabby might I add. I really enjoyed my reads this month as you can see there aren’t really any low ratings!

Highlight Book(s): A Songs of Wrath and Ruin, Awk-Weird and Check, Please! were definitely at the top. But Mexican Gothic….y’all MEXICAN GOTHIC…I—I—

celine dion im in love GIF
via giphy.com

Lowliest Book(s): Labyrinth Lost wasn’t a very low book, but it was a 3 stars for me. I was hoping for a lot more, but I just did not find myself liking the characters much.

The Haul

Giveaway Wins!

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
Cry of Metal and Bone by L. Penelope

Purchases

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

ARCs

Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz (I’m part of the Caffeine Book Tour!)

Other Going-Ons

I celebrated Mexican Gothic Week / I waited 27 Days for this book

I went on an Instagram hype spree and posted a bunch of pictures in honour of Mexican Gothic’s release. I basically featured different books Silvia Moreno-Garcia has published up to date! I even featured the special announcement that Certain Dark Things and The Beautiful Ones are going to be reprinted in 2021! Then after waiting very patiently, although complaining on social media every week, I finally got my copy in the mail! I made use of IG musics feature to really show how I was feeling that day!

smg

More Silvia Moreno-Garcia Books are on the way!

I had been celebrating SMG books practically the entire month and then 2 days after I get my copy of Mexican Gothic, it is announced that SMG has sold three more books! I just keep winning these days with all this amazing news! Check out the announcement below!

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I have nothing else exciting to report. Other than I celebrated my birthday (teehee) and I finished another chunk of summer school. All that’s left is one exam and while the semester took a bit of a down turn, I’ll be accepting any and all good vibes my way!

Posts Of the Month

The Stuck at Home Book Tag | Because we should all mostly be staying at home!

BOOK TAG!

Romance Reading Round Up | Pt. 4 // We Hit a Bit of a Slow Down these Past Months

Romance Reading Round Up

Indigenous Reads to Add to Our TBRs!

indig recs

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

BOOK TAG!

Tune & Title Tuesday Round Up

Tune & Title Tuesdays

July 7, 2020
July 14, 2020
July 21, 2020
July 28, 2020

TBR

TBR

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
The Sky Weaver by Kristin Ciccarelli

tgw

ARC AUGUST CHALLENGE!

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso (a reread for @Bitchreadathon)
Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz
Category Five by Ann Davila Cardinal
Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon
The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson
The Faithless Hawk by Margaret Owen
Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao
A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy

Plus like a ton of digital library books that I keep borrowing!!!

I already know that I won’t be able to complete everything since I’m still working my way through TGW. But I did up my reading to three books at once, so I’m hoping to blast through much of these reads once I get out of school. It might not happen but a girl has got to tryyyy!


Let me know what you think! What have you read this month? What books did you get? What books are you looking forward to reading!

*Lebanon Needs You – Please Share and/or Donate + Link to a master list of how you can help 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?

*Lebanon Needs You – Please Share and/or Donate + Link to a master list of how you can help Black Lives Matter and other humanitarian movements across the globe*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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