Oddly specific and very curious reading cravings I’ve had as of late | Reading Slump Diaries

Greetings readers!

How has your reading been as of late? Because if you ask me…it’s not been so great. It’s sort of an odd reading slump where I still have some amazing reads, but my desire to pick up a book comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Real-life Rendz has been quite busy and this summer has been different for me, so while I miss reading I find myself having trouble to get into the groove of it.

However, this doesn’t mean that I never think about reading. In actuality, I’ve been doing lots of day dreaming about what kind of books I want to read and it has led to the discovery of some odd but intriguing book concepts. These reading cravings aren’t books that necessarily exist, but if you have a recommendation that you think fits the vibe, hit me up!

Middle school drama with a hint of summer adventure

Yes, it specifically has to be middle school drama because I feel nostalgic for the grade school life. I also feel like the tween years are the prime age to have summer adventures that completely change lives. I want trials of friendship, tests of courage and family hijinks. In terms of genre, I’m good with either something contemporary or fantastical, though I would have to say I’m leaning towards the former. For reference I want to feel that nostalgia for my middle school years when I read The Penderwicks, the Accidentally series and other Candy Apple books

Accidentally Fabulous (Accidentally, #1; Candy Apple #12)

A magical forest setting that is both chilly and cozy

Let me tell you now that I’m craving a magical forest setting because I am nostalgic for Narnia vibes and For The Wolf left a bad taste in my mouth with its lackluster setting. But more than anything I want a new special twist to this kind of setting, I don’t know exactly what but something that makes this trope fantastical in a new light. I want goosebumps and thrills but also whimsy and wonder! It can be any age range, but I was really hoping for a middle grade book maybe. I don’t know how well adult or young adult might fit this! Or maybe I’m just hoping for any kind of news on the sequel of The Barren Grounds. Hmmm….

The Barren Grounds (The Misewa Saga, #1)

A sports rom-com with an emphasis on the COM – I want to laugh, first and foremost.

For some reason I want to read about the athlete life but in a comedic setting with love and laughter! I know a lot of sports romance books out there are a lot more smexy, but I really want the laughs. Like can it be both ridiculously hilarious and swoony? Does such a book exist? If it does, I wants it. I’m currently reading Isn’t It Bromantic which has a bit of this vibe, but still not as humourous as I’m craving you know? I want love yes, but more than anything I want the laughs!

Isn't It Bromantic? (Bromance Book Club, #4)

An urban fantasy (but like a non-cheesy one please)

Believe it or not, I want something sassy and fantastical but make it *modern* If I had to confess my one problematic bookish trait, it’s that I don’t love and often put down urban fantasy books without giving them much of a chance. (Just look at the judgmental title of this section *shame on me*) This is very wrong of me, I admit. And I need to be more open to reading these stories, which is why I’m kind of loving that I’m having a bit of a craving for a story like this! I never thought the day would come, but here it is. I have ZERO knowledge of UF books, so please bestow me with your expertise!

Conor Mckenna Fah GIF by FoilArmsandHog

Let me know what you think! Do you ever get oddly, specific reading cravings during reading slumps? Do you have any recommendations to match any of these moods? How do you find your way back to reading?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Most Anticipated Reads of the *Second* half of 2021 | The gift that keeps on giving

Greetings readers!

Can you believe we are already half way through the year!?!? What?!?! And boy has it been a year…I hope this post does honestly find you in good health and if not, I hope it at least brings you some comfort.

Since we have made it to July, I figured it would be good to do a recap of how much of my anticipated reads I have read and of course list the books I am excited for coming in the next six months!!

So let’s get on with it!

The Recap

In my last post I listed about 2-4 books I was super excited for each month coming to grand total of 19 anticipated reads!

Of those 19, I have…
*Read 14
*And have enjoyed the majority of them considering my average rating among them is about 4.08

So let’s just say that 2021 has been giving the GOODs so far and I cannot wait to see what is coming our way next!

Alright…on to the reason we are all here

The List

JULY

Book Cover
Six Crimson Cranes (Six Crimson Cranes, #1)

Isn’t it Bromantic by Lyssa Kay Adams – Yes, The Russian’s book!! Vlad is my favourite character above the rest and I can’t wait to see him shine in the spotlight!

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim – I’ve been eagerly waiting this one ever since we got that snippet of this story in Unravel the Dust!

AUGUST

Velvet Was the Night
The Heart Principle (The Kiss Quotient, #3)

Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Do I need to explain?!? It’s SMG people, of course I am highly anticipating it every day of the week! Lucky for me, I got an early copy 🙂

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang – IT’S QUAN’S STORY EVERYONE. MY SWEET QUAN. So if you can’t tell, Quan is my favourite and I will be inhaling this book once it comes out.

SEPTEMBER

The Bronzed Beasts (The Gilded Wolves, #3)
Beasts of Prey
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The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina

The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi – A final installment that is sure to be glamorous and emotionally destructive!!! I am ready!!!!!!!

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray – This one pushes all the right buttons for me!!! I mean a dangerous alliance to hunt down an ancient creature while the main characters keep their motives secret from each other? Yes, give it to me!

Walking in Two Worlds by Wab Kinew – A new Indigenous YA novel about a virtual reality?!?! Yes, sign me up. I am here for this.

The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova – An adult Latinx novel about a family of witches and secrets! This sounds like the most perfect fall read, I cannot wait!

OCTOBER

Jade Fire Gold

Jade Fire Gold by June C.L. Tan – Chinese mythology + rich magic + epic slow-burn romance is a recipe for EPICNESS. This book sounds so incredibly amazing. I can already tell its going to be one of the biggest releases of the year and I AM HERE FOR IT.

NOVEMBER

Gilded
A Rush of Wings
Skin of the Sea

Gilded by Marissa Meyer – Yes, the queen of retelling is back with a Rumpelstiltskin remix! I know I shouldn’t compare it to TLC and I will try my best not to…but I’Il be thinking about them the whole time probably XD

A Rush of Wings by Laura E. Weymouth – Laura knows how to hook me with her fairy tale stories so I am 10/10 excited for this story of swans, magic and monsters!

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen – Say it with me know *MERMAIDS* and *VENGEFUL GODS* ahhhhhh what a combination! I wants it.

DECEMBER

I actually have nothing set in stone for December yet…I sure as the months go on, more than one book will be added to the list but for now I leave this space open!


Let me know what you think! What books are you eagerly anticipating now that we have entered the second half of the year? What was your favourite book from the first half of 2021? Anyone have any recs for December?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

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

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart

Pub Date: April 20th, 2021
Publisher: HarperTeen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Recommend: Yes!


Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After, #1)

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Pub Date: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Flaitron Books

This was so cute. Literal serotonin .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Recommend: Yes!


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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Sunshine Blogger Award | The sun is shining, so I shine as well

Greetings readers!

I was tagged by the amazing Michaela @ Journey Into Books to do this fun tag and answer her excellent questions. I must confess that…I have been tagged to do this award many times but have lost count so I’m sorry to those I’ve missed, but I am starting anew.

Rules

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to there post.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked of you.
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and showcase the logo in your post.

Michaela’s Questions

1. What was your last 5 star read and why?

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
An absolutely incredible finale to what is one of my favourite series ever. I cannot recommend it enough! This book was a rollercoaster of emotions. Screaming, crying, laughing and my total destruction. I love it.

2. Recommend a book for each season?

Spring: The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall (So cozy and warm, total new life vibes)
Summer: Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp (Hot and sweaty and MARVELOUS)
Fall: The Bitch Queen Chronicles by K.S. Villoso (So much chaos, so much emotional destruction)
Winter: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (A chilling and thrilling horror novel)

3. If you weren’t a reader what do you think you would spend your time doing instead?

I’d probably spend my days doing more art! Even though I get a lot of my artistic inspiration from books, without reading I would definitely spend more time actually making art and refining my skills hehe.

Fan art for The Wolf of Oren-Yaro

4. What book would you love to see turned into a movie or tv show?

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir!!
This needs to be done and it needs to be done NOW! I want this on screen so bad!!

5. Which fictional character would you want to travel the world with?

Nikolai Lanstov. My suave king knows how to have a good time and I want to have a good time with him everywhere!

6. Most anticipated release for this year?

Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia!
This is an obvious one if you know me! I love everything SMG and I am so lucky to already have an ARC of this book! It comes out in August so have your eyes peeled for it!

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

7. Why did you decide to start blogging?

I attended a bookish event held by Canada’s biggest book retailer, Indigo, where we basically talked all things books! I met so many bloggers, got some ARCs a stuffed swag pack and well I just knew I wanted to be part of this beyond that night. I started up my blog a few days later and well it’s been a journey ever since!

8. What is your favourite thing about blogging.

I love getting to express myself as a total bookworm! I know there are lots of platforms where I can do that, but on this blog that I created, it just feels extra special! There is no limit to how much or how little I can write! I can add all sorts of fun images, videos and clips. It’s just a space that is so near and dear to my heart and the very first place that published my voice!

9. Is there a specific book or series that made you fall in love with reading?

Hmmm…I would say The Hunger Games, but I think more likely it was Marie Lu’s Legend series. It was the first series I picked up of my own volition (not because it was becoming a movie) and I loved it!! It was the first series that I became obsessed with and am still obsessed with today!

10. Favourite fictional pairing? (Romantic or Platonic)

Oh wow this is such a hard question to answer!!!!!!

But you know what? Cresswell (Cress x Thorne) still owns my heart.

11. What book do you planning on reading next?

I’m in the middle of three reads right now, but I’m planning on picking up The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri next! So excited for this next glorious adult fantasy!

The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms, #1)

My Questions:

  1. What is your favourite book trope?
  2. Which book brings you the most comfort?
  3. Spill the tea, what is one book you will *never* be picking up?
  4. What song do you associate with a certain book?
  5. Who are your favourite authors?
  6. Which book character would you want to trade lives with?
  7. What is the first book you remember reading?
  8. How often do you buy/borrow books?
  9. During what time of the day do you like to read?
  10. What is one non-bookish fun fact about you?
  11. What is your star prediction for your current read?

I tag:

Hehe…I won’t be nominating 11 people, but some bloggers I have loved as of late. As usual there is no pressure to do this and if I didn’t nominate you, you are more than welcome to answer my questions!

Gaby @ Living in Libros

Angele @ A Dominique Reads

That’s it for me folks! Let me know what you think! What would be your answers to some of these questions?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

Flamefall by Rosaria Munda

Flamefall (The Aurelian Cycle, #2)
via Goodreads

Pub Date: March 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Putnam

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

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

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

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

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

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


I just have to say…

I FUCKING KNEW IT. AHHHHHHHHHHHH I LOVE THIS BOOK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Recommend: YES!

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

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

Amazon | Barnes & Noble  | Bookshop.org

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

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

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


~ ABOUT LAEKAN ZEA KEMP ~

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

Twitter | Instagram | Website | Goodreads


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

~ REVIEW ~

To put it simply, THIS BOOK IS INCREDIBLE!

Now let’s elaborate on that, shall we?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

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


~ FAN ART! ~

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


FOLLOW THE TOUR!

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Get to Know the Fantasy Reader Tag

Greetings readers!

As you all know fantasy is my genre! If I had to pick one genre of books to read for the rest of my days, we all know it would be fantasy no question about it! So when I found this tag on Angele @ A Dominique Reads‘s blog, I knew I really wanted to give my shot at it! The fantasy version of this tag was created by  The Book Pusher.


WHAT IS YOUR FANTASY ORIGIN STORY? (First fantasy novel you read)

I think the first fantasy novel I ever read was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. Okay, it was read to me in the sixth grade and I had already been OBSESSED with the movie since the tender age of six…but still it definitely was the first fantasy story in my life.

IF YOU COULD BE THE HERO/HEROINE IN A FANTASY NOVEL, WHO WOULD WRITE IT, AND WHAT IS ONE TROPE YOU WOULD INSIST ON BEING IN THE STORY?

Oh my…such hard decisions! Well if we’re going for a magical and mythical fantasy I want Silvia Moreno-Garcia to write me as a heroine with rivals to lovers THAT STAY TOGETHER. I just gotta make that note because SMG does have a track record here and there *eyes two of her novels*

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

WHAT IS A FANTASY YOU’VE READ THIS YEAR THAT YOU WANT MORE PEOPLE TO READ?

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso! Well, first you would have to read The Wolf of Oren-Yaro…so maybe it would be more relevant to say that I want you all to read The Chronicles of a Bitch Queen! It is a high stakes, character driven epic fantasy set in a world that draws from the author’s Filipino heritage. It is an absolutely brilliant series that I recommend to all fantasy readers!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FANTASY SUBGENRE? WHAT SUBGENRE HAVE YOU NOT READ MUCH FROM?

Favourite subgenre is definitely Portal Fantasy! (Hello Narnia obsession) Any and all books that deal with travelling to a different world instantly grabs at my attention. And even though I haven’t read many (I know, I know) it is a subgenre I absolutely love.

A subgenre I have not read much from is Urban Fantasy. There are lots of UF books out there but there is just something that gives me a pause before I pick them up. I want to give them a better shot, so if you have any recommendations I am all ears!

WHO IS ONE OF YOUR AUTO-BUY FANTASY AUTHORS?

Sabaa Tahir. K.S. Villoso. Leigh Bardugo. Marie Lu.

Ahh and I’m hoping to lengthen the list with time. I definitely want to add more BIPOC to the list!

HOW DO YOU TYPICALLY FIND FANTASY RECOMMENDATIONS? (Goodreads, YouTube, Podcasts, Instagram, etc.)

I think mainly Instagram! People just have a way of selling books to me with gorgeous pictures and fun captions. I have gotten so many amazing recommendations from my bookstagrammer friends! I also look through the weekly publishing announcements to find out what books I can look forward to!

WHAT IS AN UPCOMING FANTASY RELEASE YOU’RE EXCITED FOR?

Oh so, so many!

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner
The Dragon of Jin Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri 

Witches Steeped in Gold (Witches Steeped in Gold, #1)
The Light of the Midnight Stars
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng (Chronicles of the Bitch Queen, #3)
The Jasmine Throne (Burning Kingdoms, #1)

WHAT IS ONE MISCONCEPTION ABOUT FANTASY YOU WOULD LIKE TO LAY AT REST?

“Fantasy books are all always way too long and complex.”

There are a lot of long and complex fantasy novels. There are some series that just go on and the worlds get more convoluted as you go. There are some books that are chunky and thick that intimidate even me! Can’t deny that, BUT fantasy books come in all shapes and sizes! Using the excuse that they are all long and complex makes you miss out on all the short and concise fantasy books there are to enjoy! Need some recommendations? Here you go:

*These are all less than 400 pages*

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (standalone)
The Young Elites by Marie Lu (trilogy)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (standalone w/ companion sequel)
Raybearer by Jordan Ifeuko (duology)

Gods of Jade and Shadow
The Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)
The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)
Raybearer (Raybearer, #1)

 IF SOMEONE HAD NEVER READ A FANTASY BEFORE AND ASKED YOU TO RECOMMEND THE FIRST 3 BOOKS THAT COME TO MIND AS PLACES TO STARTWHAT WOULD THOSE RECOMMENDATIONS BE?

Ahhh the pressure is on! Okay top 3…here we go!

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown


I’m tagging ANYONE who wants to give this tag a shot!

Ahhh this whole tag has only made me want to drop everything and go read a fantasy novel! I don’t even know which one! But I just want the magic and tension and high stakes of a good book to immerse myself in!

Let me know you think! What kind of fantasy reader do you consider yourself? What is your ultimate favourite fantasy book? What fantasy worlds/stories would you love to visit yourself?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

The Bookish Feels | Books that are emotional roller coasters

Greetings readers!

I would love to know how emotional you get when you read?

And I’m talking EMOTIONAL! Like facial expressions, odd noises and all. When I tell you guys that a book was an emotional roller coaster, I’m telling you that I experienced a very powerful series of feelings that had me in all sorts of ways XD

So I figured today I would highlight some of the books that made me totally and utterly and completely emotional. I know I usually organize these posts by singular emotions, but today I’m going full scale feeling frenzy.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

We start with my top read of 2020. This book had several SCENES that literally made me scream “AH” out loud. I felt a lot of rage and honestly I think it’s why I loved it so much hehehe This book was so amazing, I read it twice within the same year. And friends it just gets better the second time around! Ahhhhhh this book just had so much to take in at once, my jaw was literally on the floor by the end of it. (It might still be on the floor)

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

Furia

I need to quote my review because past me just knew what she was talking about: “absolutely gobsmacked by my emotions” Oh Rendz how right you were! This was definitely one of my top reads from 2020! It is a contemporary story that packs punch after punch and also very warm hugs. I was squealing and raging and crying and laughing my whole way through this book. Incredible. Simply incredible!

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Hoo. Friends. This book had me bouncing back and forth between stress, rage, hopelessness, love, joy, rage rage rage, and then hope. I just nfjnkajdbhjnjfef this book is soo amazing! It’s one of Marie’s quieter book, but it deserves your love and attention. This historical fantasy swept me off my feet and wiped the floor with me. It is both heart-breaking and inspiring, I cannot recommend it enough!

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Are we surprised to see this book on here? Nope. This book…oh my lord THIS BOOK. *clucthes heart* THIS BOOK WAS MY PERSONALITY for like three months after I read it XD I just ahhh I felt all kinds of things while reading this book. I may have not literally wept, but the squealing and book hugging was real. How many times have I gone back to read my favourite parts? So many times. I adore this book.

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

A ​Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes, #4)

Two words: Weeping Uncontrollably. This book (which I’m still working hard to write my review on) had me on every level of emotion you can imagine. I was dreamy then I was sad, I was hopeful and then I was distraught, I was smiling in glee and then I was sobbing. My body shaking in absolute horror at what happened. And well…I can’t tell you how I felt at the end (you can read that in my review *winks*) but let’s just say my world was ROCKED.


And that is it for me friends! I would love to know what books sent you on an emotional roller coaster! What kind of feelings do you go through? How do you handle the emotions when they wrap you up?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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

Greetings readers!

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

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

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


*Many thanks to Raincoast Books for the ARC*

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

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars

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

The Silvered Serpents Meme-i-fied

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

If not…you are welcome to move along.

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

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

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

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

read

September/October Wrap-Up & November TBR // A bump after smooth sailing

Greetings readers!

It has been a while since I’ve wrapped anything up! September and October were incredibly busy months for me! I had lots going on, in terms of reading and school which really brought down the hammer on me. And while another hammer is coming soon…I am very excited to see what books I can get to this month!

So let’s get started!

What Rendz Read!

September (1st-15th) Wrap-Up

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson (5/5) Review
Ciel by Sophie Labelle [ARC] (4/5) Review
The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn (DNF) Review
Fable by Adrienne Young [e-ARC] (5/5) Review
Blazewrath Games by Amparo Ortiz [ARC] (4.5/5) Review + Fan Art!

Latinx Heritage Month Wrap-Up

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (5/5) Review
Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez (5/5) Review
You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria (5/5) Review
Each of Us a Desert by Mark Oshiro (4/5) Review
Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (5/5) Review
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera (4/5) Review
Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez (DNF) Review
Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (5/5) Review

October (16th-31st) Wrap-Up

The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (4.5/5) RTC
A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey (4/5) Review + Fan Art
Holiday Home Run by Priscilla Oliveras (3/5) Review
Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade (4/5) Review
The Sky Weaver by Kristin Ciccarelli Rating and Review to come

Highlight Book(s): Wow I read so many books these past weeks it’s so hard to choose!!! But if I must: The Barren Grounds, Furia and Don’t Date Rosa Santos are the top top top!

Lowliest Book(s): Two DNFs really disappointed me: The Wedding Date Disaster and Lush Money were just not good. I wish I could get that time back….oop, I said what I said!

The Haul

Let me tell you all lovely people. THE BOOK MAIL HAS BEEN STRONG THESE PAST COUPLE OF WEEKS AND I AM VERY HAPPY!

Publisher Sent

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso
Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe
The Other Side of the Sky by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Fat Chance Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Giveaway Wins

Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica
Like Home by Luoisa Onomé

Other Going-Ons

Recreating Silvia Moreno-Garcia Covers with my Sisters

Oh the things I do for my love of books and oh the things my sisters do to please me! But anyways, please enjoy the following images!

Certain Dark Things ft. The Eldest Sister, M (yup that’s her face in there 😂)
The Beautiful Ones ft. The Middle Sister, K (fun fact: she donned her quinceañera dress for this silhouette)
Mexican Gothic ft. The Youngest Sister, aka Rendz (I’m wearing the only red dress I own!)

An Amazing Latinx Heritage Month

Oh my wonderful friends, I had so much fun during LHM this year! Not only did I read a ton of amazing books (though not all the ones I had originally planned), I had so much fun participating in the LHM BookFest prompts on blog and on Instagram! I had to be really brave for some of these posts XD, but it was so worth it!

It was an incredible 30 days, and I cannot wait for next year! Here are some special posts I made!

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

Latinx Food in Books | I don’t cook, I don’t clean, but let me tell you…all about these delicious books!

If You Liked this Telenovela, You’d Love this Book| Reminiscing on the ole’ days!

I Figured I’d Up My Love for SMG on Insta

I had already written a blog post on my love for SMG, but I decided to take it to Instagram too and it was a hit! I love getting people onto my band wagon!

The Beautiful Ones & Untamed Shore Paperback Cover Reveal

This came as a total surprise to me and both were only a week apart! I must say that I love both of them so much! I plan on doing a full comparison soon because I do love them BUT I STILL HAVE THOUGHTS. For now I will leave you with these stunning covers and remind you to pick them up in the new year!

Posts Of the Month

You Should read Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work and here’s why | A stan account’s mission

A Golden Fury | Blog Tour Excerpt // New Historical Fantasy sure to make our shelves even more magical!

A Touch of Death | Review // A Post-Apocalyptic Quest

TBR

TBR

People I really have no idea what I’m doing this month! Seriously, it’s already halfway through. I took a rather unannounced hiatus from blog because school got intense and it is getting even more intense as we near the end of the semester!

That being said I still have to get some reading done so here is what I propose to you all!

Pine Island Home by Penny Horvath
Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Crow Rider by Kalyn Josephson
Historically Inaccurate by Shay Bravo

Joining in on Indig-a-thon late, but maybe enough to get a bingo!
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse
Pemmican Wars: A Girl Called Echo by Katherena Vernetto
Surviving the City: Vol 1. Tasha Spillett
Those Who Run in the Sky by Aviaq Johnston
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

Will I be getting to all of this with only half a month left? No. I just feel like giving myself some choices for these next two weeks. I feel a slump coming on, but that is not an option so I hope to find something to love this month!


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*

Happy reading!

~ Rendz


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