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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Tune & Title Tuesdays | Really this song can go with a lot of books…

Greetings readers!

A few weeks ago my sisters and I watched Mamma Mia! because they were showing it on TV and there was literally nothing else to watch. Now I wouldn’t call this movie is our favourite movie really, but we enjoy the songs so we usually watch it.

I may not have been part of the ABBA generation, but I fully admit they have some GREAT songs. This particular song has been stuck in my head for a while now and I admit I am on the way to learning all the lyrics!

Tune: Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) – ABBA (Mamma Mia! version)

It’s just so catchy!!!! How can you not want to just belt it out after hearing it once?! I don’t have much to say other than yes this is one of my favourite ABBA songs and I will always do a little shimmy dance whenever I hear it!

Title: Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

brown sis

It’s plain an simple. Dani Brown asked the universe for someone to spend the nights with her and the universe answers in the form of Zafir Ansari. While Dani definitely doesn’t need any literal help chasing the darkness away, she wouldn’t mind a little company. I don’t know if she’d be a fan of ABBA or this song, but I can’t help but connect the two! XD


Let me know what you think! What is your favourite ABBA song? Have you read this book yet? Have you watched Mamma Mia!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Mini Reviews | The Winterborne House for Vengeance and Valor [MG] + The Vine Witch [Adult]

Greetings readers!

Today I am reviewing books on total opposite sides of the age spectrum that are both absolute delightful reads! I am slowly making my way through my ARC stack and I am happy to say that I am quite enjoying the reads past-Rendz picked out for me!

The Winterborne House for Vengeance and Valor
by Ally Carter

Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor
via Goodreads

Pub Date: March 3rd, 2020
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Goodreads

April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t even the one who broke the vase. 

She had absolutely no intention of becoming the only person who knows that Gabriel Winterborne, the missing-and-presumed-dead billionaire, is neither missing nor dead and is actually living in the basement of Winterborne House, sharpening his swords and looking for vengeance. 

Now that April knows Gabriel Winterborne is alive, it’s up to her to keep him that way. But there’s only so much a twelve-year-old girl can do, so April must turn to the other orphans for help. Together, they’ll have to unravel the riddle of a missing heir and a creepy legend, and find a secret key, before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever. 

  • April was such a delightful character to journey with! She was spunky and mischievous and outright daring. Was she a little too adventurous sometimes? No such thing! She was over-adventurous but often threw caution out the window! which may have (always) led to trouble.
  • The other Winterborne kids were also so cute though I wish we would have gotten to know them a little more! Sadie, Colin, Violet and Tim all had such diverse and quirky personalities and the book could have been more rich if it had spent more time spent with these kids. The adults were also quite interesting characters, but let’s be honest we’re here for the kids.
  • The plot itself is a perfect kid mystery. A missing and suddenly found billionaire that is being protected by a bunch of orphans! It was funny and perfectly paced. I would have liked a bit more action, but the antics these kids get into are quite fun.
  • I loved the theme around family. April holds on to a tenuous hope that her mother will come for her and it is so heart-wrenching at times to read her despair, but I love how she slowly grows to embrace the found family around her.
  • The villain, I could smell from a mile away, was a pretty stalk character, but there are other surprises to be had when it comes to twists and turns!

Overall, this was a great kid’s read. I can’t say it is the most spectacular mystery adventure book and it is certainly slow in some areas, but it is a solid read.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Perfect for someone looking for a kid

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

The Vine Witch (Vine Witch, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Oct 1st, 2019
Publisher: 47North
Goodreads

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

  • When I picked this up I was in the mood for something earthy and dark and witch-tastic and this book absolutely delivered!!
  • I loved that it had a magic system dedicated to the cultivation of wine, hence the vine witch *get it!* It was so earthy and magical and just gave off the best witch vibes! I mean I don’t know *anything* about ageing wine, but this book made me feel like I should be sipping a glass by the fire.
  • Of course there were other kinds of witches and I’m so glad we’ll be getting other books to explore those!
  • The characters were fun, but I felt like we were lacking a little depth. Elena and Jean Paul had totally different views of the world that made them clash, but I felt like we only just hit the surface with them
  • The side characters also had quite the personality! Brother Anslem was probably my favourite. I mean a monk who knows all about witches and magic?? We love to see it XD
  • The romance was a little hasty, I felt. The few interactions we got from them were not enough to build that angst which could have made this an epic rivals to lovers story.
  • The plot itself was quite intriguing. There was deception and betrayal and mystery all wrapped up in one. It was not the fastest-paced plot in the world, but it does garner a lot of interest along the way.

Overall, it was quite a fantastical read. I don’t think it is absolutely perfect in terms of characterisation. But in what it lacks it makes up for in a superb magic system. It’s a cosy, earthy and French witch story that I think many people will enjoy!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes!


Let me know what you think! Have you read any of these? What are your favourite kid adventure books? What are some of your favourite witch books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Tune & Title Tuesdays | A new and *hopefully* ongoing blog feature!

Greetings readers!

As part of my new year goals, I wanted to come up with a post that I could feature on this blog weekly and after months of thinking and thinking…I came up with nothing.

Then I had some very amusing talks with my sisters and Kez gave me some wonderful ideas…that I adapted into:

TUNE TUESDAYS

Every Tuesday, share a song that you’re currently listening to and a book that you think goes really well with it! It can be a profound connection or a simple one, so long as you give us all the best music and book recs!

Be sure to leave a YouTube link to the song for curious listeners!

I’m pretty sure something like this exists out there, so I am not going to claim this to be an original idea. If you guys wish to participate with me, I would love you to tag me anyways, especially if you use my graphic 😉

Tune: Medusa — Jhay Cortez, Anuel AA, J. Balvin

Look this song is….maybe not the most sentimental and profound song out there, but it has a beat and I like to rock out to it. The lyrics when you translate them are something else, y’all. You name it: drugs, money, killing, sex, it’s all in there.

What book could I possible associate with this tune?

Title: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Here me out, this book is about Mexican vampires and narcos and yes, it does have drugs, money, killing and sex. But I chose this book because the beat and the first lyric “No hay excusa” (There is no excuse) match the cutthroat atmosphere of the book. The vampire life is tough and one of the main characters, Atl does what she has to do to survive. The song might be a little more macho-oriented, so it would be a good song for the bad buys I think, especially Nick!


Let me know what you think! Have you listened to this song? Have you read this book? What song would you associate with bloody vampire books?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

Diamond City by Francesca Flores

Diamond City (Diamond City, #1)
via Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


*Thank you to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

It was all Meh and less than Meh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 2 / 5

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

Animated GIF
via giphy.com

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

GETTING INTO CLo

My Favorite Half-Night Stand
via Goodreads

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 3.75 / 5

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

Dating You / Hating You
via Goodreads

Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 4 / 5

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

The Unhoneymooners
via Goodreads

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 4 / 5

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


TWO FROM MY ORIGINAL TBR

Faker
via Goodreads

Faker by Sarah Smith

Format: ebook

Rating: 1.5 / 5

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

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

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Format: ebook

Rating: *a decent* 3 / 5

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

told you so i give up GIF
via giphy.com

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

 


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

99 Percent Mine
via Goodreads

99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 1.5 / 5

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

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

It’s a hell no from me, dogs.

Moonlight Over Manhattan
via Goodreads

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Format: Audiobook

Rating: 4 / 5

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

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

See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson

Format: Audiobook

Rating: DNF @ 73 %

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

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


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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

get-reaidng

 

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

Greetings readers!

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

Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

Queen of the Conquered
via Goodreads

Pub Date: Nov 12, 2019
Publisher: Orbit
Goodreads

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

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

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

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

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


*Thank you HBG Canada for the ARC*

The Likes

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

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

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

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

This is not-so-fictional

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

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

The Magic

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

The End

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

The Questionable

Lots to take in at a time

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

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


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

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Oh yes!

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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MINI REVIEWS! | Library Reading Round Up! // Dealing in Dreams & Kingdom of a Blazing Pheonix (These are long overdue)

Greetings readers!

It’s time to do some wrap-up on my first (of only two) library haul. I was hoping to get my hands on these two books and I was so glad that they were both available at the library the day I went! I wish I had gotten these reviews out a lot sooner, but better late than never right?!

So Imma cut the intro short and just get to it…

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Dealing in Dreams

Pub Date: March 5th, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Goodreads

At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?

***

  • So the world building is great. It’s totally clear, I get the history and geography of it (even though there is no map). It’s a matriarchal futuristic society with girl gangs running the streets, yes it sounds as cool and scary as it seems. I would not, 100%, I would not survive in this world. It doesn’t allow girl to be soft and I am softtttt
  • The characters…I enjoyed reading from Nalah’s POV. I thought she had such a rich voice and her determination to keep her family safe is admirable, although she does not always make great decisions
  • Reading about characters who have to challenge the thinking they have been always told to do is always eye-opening because it is not easy, it is uncomfortable, but ultimately important
  • The dreaming aspect of the book was really cool. I loved how it acted as a currency and literally embodied the idea of money as a drug because it is a drug.
  • The tension, action and twists were great. I pretty much expected most of them, but they were still quite enjoyable
  • I was not the biggest fan of the writing style…I know it was styled to fit how these teenagers would talk with their slang and colloquialisms but I just wasn’t a fan. It’s not that I wanted them to talk in giant complex sentences, but I felt like it was all super choppy and cut. I missed the flow. it just wasn’t for me…
  • The ending isn’t conclusive and I get why it’s not, but I maybe would have liked a little more closure
  • I just felt mellow the whole time, like I never truly, fully felt immersed into the story. There was a lot of down time where the characters were just travelling. I was invested but still absent in a way.

Overall, I think my expectations were too high and my hype too much for this book. It was good but just not that jaw-dropping story I was hoping for.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Recommend: Yes! I still think it is a very relevant and timely read!


Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix (Rise of the Empress #2)

Pub Date: Nov 6th, 2018
Publisher: Philomel Books
Goodreads

This fairy tale retelling lives in a mystical world inspired by the Far East, where the Dragon Lord and the Serpent God battle for control of the earthly realm; it is here that the flawed heroine of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns finally meets her match. An epic fantasy finale to the Rise of the Empress novels.

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire?

Set in an East Asian-inspired fantasy world filled with breathtaking pain and beauty, Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix is filled with dazzling magic, powerful prose, and characters readers won’t soon forget.

Fans of Stealing Snow, Red Queen, and The Wrath and the Dawn will hungrily devour this page-turning read.

***

  • It is about time I get to this read! I loved Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, an Evil Queen origin story, which was great!!! And I am so glad that this book is the Snow White retelling!
  • Jade was awesome! I really enjoyed her shyness, her courage (which she worked hard to find) and her will! I know lots of reviewers complained about her, but I thought she was amazing!
  • In the last book, I complained about not knowing a lot about the mythology of the world, but this book brought all the magic and myth and legend to life! It was truly epic!
  • DRAGONZ
  • The romance was maybe still a bit out of no where but the LI was so sweet!
  • The fact that I loved Xifeng in book one and then in this one…girl…she uh she uh she is definitely an evil queen.
  • This book made me sympathize for the Emperor after I called him a bitch who knows how many times throughout book one!
  • That scene with Xifeng and a certain someone…AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
  • This was a fabulous quest book!! It held a lot of suspense and action and lots of things went wrong!!!
  • The ending was a little too rushed, I wished we could have had a little more time to develop it.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book! I loved Jade and reading her story unfold in contrast to Xifeng’s was quite fun! I cannot wait to read Dao’s next book which is set in the same world but new, original characters!

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

Recommend: Yes! This is honestly a great series to diversify your retelling lists!



Let me know what you think! Have you read either of these? Are you more of a dystopia fan or fantasy fan? How about a mix of both?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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Spin the Dawn |Review // This book. This. Book. Ahhhhhh

Greetings readers!

One of the many, many flaws I possess, according to my mother, is that I cannot sew. Correction: I cannot sew properly. I can do a sloppy job of it, but actually doing a clean seam is beyond my abilities.

Alas, I still read this book which was all about sewing. And it was quite something. Quite something.

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Knopf
Price: $24.99 CAD
Goodreads

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.


Buy It!

Chapters Indigo | Amazon


*My thanks goes out to Penguin Teen CA for providing me with an ARC*

I had the lovely opportunity to buddy read this with my fabulous friend, Mandy @ BookPrincessReviews. Considering our last two buddy reads went less than spectacular, we were pretty stoked knowing that this book came with such good buzz! And we are both so happy that we both actually enjoyed the book this time!

The Likes

The Characters

Maia: Ohhhh I loved her. I loved her. She was truly a fantastic MC to follow. She grew up in a house full of brothers who loved and doted on her. She had a mother, who was taken too early, but adored her so much as well. And her father who taught her almost everything she knows about being a seamstress. I loved the way she treasured and practically carried her family in the toughest of times, especially as a woman in a trade meant for men. I loved that she literally risked it all for her family, even if on the inside she knew that she really wanted to risk everything for her own aspirations. I loved her honesty because she literally couldn’t lie to save her life.

Edan: I pitched it to Mandy that he was a Tragic Magic boy and honestly I still stand by it. He was all charm and you guys all know how much of a sucker I am for the charming, borderline annoying ones. He was mysterious and harbored lots of secrets, some of which we get into. He was an interesting character to have around as more than just simple a love interest. His role was pivotal to the politics of the book too, which are quite tricky to maneuver.

Others…There aren’t many. The other tailors in the competition are not at all what they seem at first glance. Trust me, keep yer eyes on them. Then there are the emperor and Lady Sarnai, who were quite, quite not at all who they seemed to be!!!

The World

It was so, so rich. And we go everywhere–well most everywhere. It was incredibly fascinating to explore the different landscapes that the characters live in and journey. You get a sense of the difference in lifestyle between the royal characters and the civilians. The politics of the world are communicated very well. The society is suffering after a war and the court machinations in the palace may not be helping at all. It is a seducing setting no doubt.

The Plot

I loveeeeeeeeee competition books. And I also adore quest books. And this story was literally the best of both worlds.

The first part was all about Maia making it as a tailor and passing all the tests in order to serve Lady Sarnai as her official tailor. It was soooooo crazy and cool at the same time. It was a cutthroat killer competition about sewing!!! Sewing! I loved the challenges that they got, with materials so unconventional that I applaud Lim’s imagination for creating pretty pieces (even if they are just being described in words 😉 )

Then came the journey which takes up a chunk of the novel. it comes with three pivotal challenges that Maia has to pass in order to A) survive and B) become the Imperial tailor. It was full of danger and intrigue and risk. I know they have a lot of down time during this part of the book, but I didn’t mind. I lived for every moment between Maia and Edan.

It lived up to its selling points

Mulan x Project Runway. Let me tell you. This book is most definitely Mulan x Project Runway in every way that you can think and beyond. Maia had such a moment when she cuts her hair, I actually screeched a little bit to myself. It might not have had dramatic music in the background, but it was no less intense and magical.

I’ve already talked about the tailoring competition, but I cannot stress how Project Runway it truly is! So much talent, trash talking and crazy amazing dresses. The tailor competition is a little (a lot) more umm bloody, but still. Amazing. And the PR vibes run beyond just the competition. Maia’s skill is so wonderfully explored, I would LOVE to wear any of her creations!

ALL THOSE COVER SECRETS

This stunning cover gives a lot more away than you might think. I’m screaming.

The Romance

I didn’t think we’d get that far with them in this book, but neither Maia nor I could resist Edan’s charm! I loved them together. I truly did. Mandy is right when she says that they goes back and forth a little too much, but I was swooning the whole way there. AND OF COURSE THINGS GET ROUGH TOWARDS THE END. But I still truly love them together!!!

The Questionable

Just one tiny thing. The antagonist(s) were a little lack luster. Um I wanted a little more sleeziness and creepiness and well villain power. They were a little too mellow for me, even though they caused plenty of trouble for our dear characters. So I lacked that drama. However, I think we are gonna get a lot more from them in the sequel!!!


Overall, I loved this book. I loved the ending because it is not at all what I expected and it has been a while since I have been surprised by a book! I also LOVED that Lim put in this little excerpt before chapter one that when I read it again after having read the whole book…it just transformed the whole experience for me.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

Recommend: YESSSSSSSSSSSSS

Let me know what you think! Are you excited for this book? How easily do you trust comps/selling points? How stunning do you think this cover is? Can you sew, are you any skilled in tailoring?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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