The No Disclaimers Book Tag

Greetings readers!

Hello there, hi! It’s been a while hasn’t it? Haha. Yes, these days have been *busy* for me. I know I said July would be a month of catching up on blogging and reviews, but I promise I will say more on that in a wrap up that is forth coming.

I am doing great, I have just lost track of time per se. Nonetheless, I figured I’d ease my way back into the bloggoverse with a fun tag! I was tagged by the incredible Michaela @ Journey into Books! Many thanks to her and this is your reminder to check out her blog (it is fantastic!)

Alright, no disclaimers only honest answers…Here we go!

Which trope(s) in books annoys you the most?

I am not a fan of love triangles! I get that they can be realistic-ish (because humans are messy), but I hate being on the losing side (which happens often) so I prefer if romances are just clear from the start but with lots of drama hehe.

Archie Andrews Love GIF by Archie Comics

Which writer(s) do you feel is overrated/overhyped?

Sarah J. Maas. I’ll be brief: I think she can write entertaining books, but I don’t like how she treats her characters of colour and in the end the plots weren’t very memorable for me.

Jay Kristoff. I’m not a big fan of his writing style and I’m not super interested in his newer works…so yeah.

Drama Club No GIF by Nickelodeon

What are your least favorite books you’ve read since joining BookTube blogging?

Oh gosh, well certainly the final books of Throne of Glass, 99% Mine is awful imo, but I think The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting takes the cake. I hated that book! To this day I still think about how I hated it so much XD

The Good Luck Charm

What is a terrible ending that ruined an otherwise quality book?

The ending to Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes was just not it…

It wasn’t a terrible ending, but this whole series was top quality and then this final book was just so lackluster! My disappointment was real.

Immortal Reign (Falling Kingdoms, #6)

Which fictional character(s) do you wish was not killed off?

As much as I loved Jade City by Fonda Lee, I feel like if this *one* character had not been killed off we still could have had so much drama, suspense and action. Like maybe they could have gone missing or faked their death teehee but yeah I wish we could bring this one back.

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)

What are some of your bookish pet peeves?

Saying that listening to an audiobook or reading a graphic novel is not “real” reading. You can kindly exit the premises if you believe that, I will not have people trying to police what is and what isn’t reading around me.

GIF by Amazon Prime Video

What are some books you feel should have more recognition?

The Chronicles of a Bitch Queen by K.S. Villoso needs your attention now! If you are a fantasy reader, you need to read these now. This character-driven fantasy is phenomenal. There is deception, betrayal, action and dragons plus so so so much more! The fact that these books have been slept on enrages me!! So read it, please!

Q: Name that series finale that will also spell your end.

THE DRAGON OF JIN-SAYENG will be the end of me and I cannot wait to be obliterated by it ✌️.

Its no secret that I like emotionally destructive and stress-inducing reads. And this whole series has been a wonderfully stressful and destructive experience AND I LIKE IT LIKE THAT.

What can I say? Theres just some extra special about having a book make you feel scared, frustrated, sad and anxious while also being the *best* thing happening in your life at the moment.

Its a sweet kind of pain that I live for in my reads 😂 Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree and are seriously concerned for the well being, but I am who I am 😌😌😌

If you havent picked up this series yet, I HIGHLY recommend doing so! Here are some things to look forward to:
⚔ Filipino-inspired world
⚔ Messy and complex characters
⚔ Revenge and quest narratives
⚔ Political intrigue
⚔ Emotional destruction (oh but you knew this already 😉)

Shout out your favourite emotionally destructive reads, Im always looking for more!

[ID: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, The Ikessar Falcon and The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng laying diagonally on a fluffy white background]

#TheDragonOfJinSayeng #TheWolfofOrenYaro #TheIkessarFalcon #KSVilloso #TheChroniclesofaBitchQueen  #HailTheBitchQueen #fantasy #adultfantasy #bookstagram #igbooks #igreads #fiction #mustreads #booklover #bookish #bookishphotography #greatreads #reading #bookishcanadians #bookish #newbooks #seriesfinale #emotionalreads

What are your thoughts on censorship and banning books?

I don’t think anything good comes out of either and it often makes me question who has the authority to ban/censor books these days, when historically these tactics have been used to silence voices of those being oppressed and/or marginalized. So yeah, miss me with those.

I tag…

Anyone who feels up to the challenge (Yes, I am lazy right now hehe)


Let me know what you think! What are your opinions on these prompts? What is one bookish opinion you will never back down from?

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

May Wrap-Up & June TBR | Slow reading, but new obsessions…

Greetings readers!

Here we are half way through the year and ahh the days are getting gorgeous outside. I love summer and everything that has to do with vacation vibes (even thought there will be no vacation this year) so I am *smiles* taking it day by day.

May was a pretty good month. It was a great reading month even though I didn’t read many books. Then again, quality over quantity!

wrap-up-3

What Rendz Read!

Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart (3/5 🌟)
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean (4/5 🌟)
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso (5/5 🌟)
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He (3/5 🌟)
Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (3.5/5 🌟)
Jade City by Fonda Lee (4.5/5 🌟)

Highlight Book(s): So definitely The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng and Jade City by Fonda Lee. Two books that ahh blew me away for so many reasons. The first the end of a beloved series and the second the start of a new one. I am living.

Lowliest Book(s): While these aren’t low ratings I was not quite happy with Witches Steeped in Gold and Descendant of the Crane. I just felt like they both lacked some luster for me.

The Haul:

Let’s just say I have been very, very lucky with the publisher love.

For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June
The Unpopular Vote by Jasper Sanchez
Don’t Breathe a Word by Jordyn Taylor

On the Hook by Francisco X. Stork

Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry
Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa
Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Millow

Other Going Ons

~ Shadow and Bone Meet & Greet ~

I lived my best life on May 8th 2021. I was in the same Zoom room as the Shadow & Bone cast. I WAS IN THE SAME ZOOM ROOM AS BEN BARNES. I can honestly tell you that I do not remember a single thing from my session. I was so focused on getting screenshots and staring lovingly at the actors that I do not remember a single thing that was actually spoken about during the 20 minute interview period. 🙂

Luckily someone uploaded my session to YouTube so it is there forever.

~ Speaking of which…I Binged Shadow and Bone Again ~

You know I had to. You just know that I had to. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed myself a second time around and ahh I am eagerly awaiting any news on season 2!

~ So I watched my first K-Drama ~

I really needed something to watch and my cousin, who recently started watching K-Dramas herself, recommended that I start “Crash Landing On You.” And all I have to say is this: I AM OBSESSED. This drama delivered everything that I could possibly want from a TV show. The tropes, the romance, the plot…I–I loved, I loved it. I loved it. If you have any recommendations for me I AM TAKING THEM.

Crash Landing on You (TV Series 2019–2020) - IMDb
IMDb

Posts of the Months

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

Goodreads Was Wrong Book Tag

TBR

TBR

Boy do I have so many books to read this month! I already know that I won’t get to all of them, but I am going to try my best!! I really want to prioritize Indigenous and Pride reads this month because June is commemorative of both communities.

Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun by Jonny Garza Villa
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
Skraelings: Clashes in the Old Arctic by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley
Sisters of the Snake by Sarena and Sasha Nanua
Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten


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!

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

Goodreads Was Wrong Book Tag

Greetings readers!

Today, I figured we’d have some fun and do a good ol’ tag to spice up the blog. And why not do a tag about a booklover’s greatest frenemy, Goodreads. Goodreads has been a hot topic as of late, while it may be a great site for readers, it also has its problems hehe. I for one have been slowly moving away from GR to use other book platforms to track my reading (StoryGraph!). But for the sake of this tag, I hopped onto to the old, big G and went through my shelves (which need some major editing).

I found this tag on A Dominique Reads! This tag is originally created by GabsAboutBooks! Definitely give both posts a look through, both have such great answers!

What is the highest rated book that you gave a low rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Average Ratings and find the highest rated book you gave a low rating)

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7)

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
GR rating: 4.57
My Rating: 2 (should be a 1)

Not surprised. I have not been a fan of this series since book 2, just one big swoop downhill for me. The fact that I endured however many hundreds of pages this book contained is a small miracle. But yeah, this was such a huge no for me.

What is the lowest rated book that you gave a high rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on Avg Ratings, in reverse order, and find the lowest rated book you gave a high rating)

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi.
GR rating: 3.56
My Rating: 5

I know the rating is not bad, but this was such a beautiful book! The writing, the imagery, the plot. ALL OF IT was spectacular in my eyes and the reasons why I love Roshani’s books so much.

What is the most popular book you disagree with the avg rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on number of Ratings, and find the first book you disagree with the avg rating)

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4)

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
Number of Ratings: 288,861
GR rating: 4.54
My rating: 3 (It should really be 2)

This book was just *shakes head* torturous for me to read. Again, no surprise. This series just was not for me after book 3 and my ratings reflect that despite it being so popular.

What is the least popular book you disagree with the avg rating? (Sort your books in Goodreads based on number of Ratings, in reverse order, and find the first book you disagree with the avg rating)

A Mark Unwilling (The Reckoning #1)

A Mark Unwilling by Candace Wondrak
Number of Ratings: 126
GR Rating: 3.76
My rating: 1

This book is *shivers* a big nope! A. BIG. NOPE. The characters, the writing style, the plot, the token PoC character no no no.

Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a higher rating

The Matchmaker's List

The Matchmaker’s List by Sonya Lalli
GR rating: 3.34
My Rating: 4

Obsidian Mirror (Chronoptika, #1)

Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher
GR rating: 3.67
My rating: 5

I really enjoyed both of these books! The Matchmaker’s List was funny and intense, but definitely not perfect. Still I laughed a good bunch. As for Obsidian Mirror, it’s a very quiet YA novel, but I enjoyed it so much! I picked it up on a whim from my library and it turned out to be quite entertaining!

Choose two books that have an average rating of 3/5 stars but you gave a lower rating

The Good Luck Charm

The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting
GR rating: 3.59
My Rating: 2 (But it should be 1)

The Wedding Date Disaster

The Wedding Date Disaster by Avery Flynn
GR Rating: 3.75
My rating: 1

Both of these books were technically DNFs but I made it almost to the end…so I’m counting them. These were AWFUL reads for me. I hated almost every second which is why I had to stop. I hated the romance in The Good Luck Charm and it’s a romance book, so yeah. As for The Wedding Date Disaster, it was one disastrous CRINGE-fest. Nope. Nope. Nope.

Choose two books that have an average rating of 4/5 stars but you gave a lower rating

Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked, #1)

Kingdom of the Wicked by Keri Maniscalco
GR Rating: 4.01
My Rating: 2

The Sky Weaver (Iskari, #3)

The Sky Weaver by Kristin Cicarreli
GR Rating: 4.10
My Rating: 2

Sigh. These books were highly anticipated but ending up being such let downs. Kingdom of the Wicked was so bland, to put it simply. I expected so much more, but plain, bland and boring is all I got. As for The Sky Weaver, my buddy reader and I both agreed that it did not live up to the vibe and feels of the previous books in the series. Disappointing.

Choose two books that have an average rating of 2/5 stars but you gave a higher rating.

I don’t have any avg 2/5 stars books on my shelves!

Do you tend to agree or disagree with GR average rating and do you use GR as a guide for books you want to read?

It depends. But from my shelves, it seems my ratings tend to match the average ratings. Other times they are way off. I try not to use GR as a guide, usually I just take a quick glance at star raitngs, but mostly I don’t. Unless I’ve heard about some questionable things I tend to go in blind and just give the book a try! 🙂

I TAG…

Anyone! I would love to see what answers you would put in!

Let me know what you think! Do you use Goodreads? Do you follow GR ratings and reviews closely?

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

March/April Wrap-Up & May TBR | I’ve been busy living my best (Shadow and Bone) life!

Greetings readers!

So it has been a while since I’ve come at you with a wrap-up, hasn’t it? Let’s blame it on the fact that the end of the school semester was quite an end. I won’t go into much detail, but it is the reason I’ve been feeling a little unmotivated and uninspired with some of my blog posts. I hope to come with new material soon. Perhaps a fun tag or two!

In terms of reading though…I have had an incredible time with my reads. No lies detected. I’m at that point where I am reading faster than I can review, but it just means that I’ll have lots of great reviews coming your way soon.

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What Rendz Read

~ March ~

Truly, Madly, Royally by Debbie Rigaud 3.5/5 🌟
Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira 3/5 🌟
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laeken Zea Kemp 5/5 🌟
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (re-read) 5/5 🌟
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert 4/5 🌟
Fireborne by Rosaria Munda (re-read) 5/5 🌟
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Bouley 4.5/5 🌟
Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau 3/5 🌟

Grishaverse Re-Read!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

~ April ~

The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner 3.5/5 🌟
Flamefall by Rosaria Munda 5/5 🌟
Make a Scene by Mimi Grace 5/5 🌟
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela Rivera 4.5/5 🌟
The Ikessar Flacon by K.S. Villoso (re-read) 5/5 🌟
Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras 3/5 🌟

Grishaverse re-read!
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Highlight book(s): Apart from my phenomenal rereads of The Ikessar Falcon, The Beautiful Ones and The Grishaverse reads, the top spots goes to Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, Firekeeper’s Daughter, and Flamefall!

Lowliest book(s): Nothing was truly lowly. I enjoyed all of my 3 stars they just needed more pizzazz.

The Haul

March

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

April

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry

Other Going Ons

New Cover for CERTAIN DARK THINGS

As always, I try to be Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s #1 hype-person and this past March the cover for her re-release of the Mexican vampire novel she wrote was revealed and it is stunning! There is so much symbolism and colour to behold! I loved the original cover, but this one…this one has the pizzazz and spark that I’m sure will intrigue many a reader to pick it up!

Certain Dark Things
via Goodreads

My Grishaverse Re-read Extravaganza!

In preparation for the show, which I talk about below, I decided to do a grand Grisha Reread and it was the best decision. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have. I really need to get focused on those ARCs that I have, but I am pleased to say that I did in fact read the majority of my e-ARCs in time (getting reviews up is another matter entirely) but all will be updated soon hopefully. But anyways. I indulged myself with this reread and I can’t complain. I enjoyed myself immensely. It hasn’t been that long since my last reread of Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows on the other hand…that is a duology I haven’t picked up since I read it the first time around when this blog was just beginning. To be concise. I loved it. I loved everything about reading these books again because 14 year old Rendz was living her best life and I want that girl to have her best!

I Attended to Bookish Events with Publishers!

Let’s just say that there are plenty of books to look forward to! Both HCC Frenzy and Penguin Teen CA had some amazing teen book previews at the end of April and I was lucky enough to attend (virtually, of course!). Wow, friends. We YA Lovers have lots to look forward to in the coming months! Here are some titles I am excited for:

Sisters of the Snake (Ria & Rani #1)
Beasts of Prey

I binged Shadow and Bone & lived my BEST life.

Yes, I really did spend roughly 9 hours in my room Friday, April 23rd 2021 to watch the entire series in one go. Lunch and bathroom breaks were really the only moments of not-watching that I had for most of the day. And I regret ABSOLUTELY NONE OF IT. I have waited how long for this show? Ages. Big question: Did I enjoy it? HELLS YES. MY goodness. I was screeching alongside my cousin as we shared thoughts, predictions and critiques over a series of audio and video messages on Snap Chat XD. This adaptation was definitely not perfect, but it had heart in it. I think it did a great job of melding these two different series together and bringing these beloved characters to life! 10/10 recommend you watch it (mainly because I need high ratings for a season 2! but also because it is really good!!)

As for me…I’m stalking the actors and watching cast interviews like its my job.

Posts of the Months

I’ve been feeling a little creatively dry with blog content as of late. I’m trying to find some interesting tags or discussion topics to tackle so it you have any suggestions, I would love to know about them!

Get to Know the Fantasy Reader Tag

This was a really fun tag to take part of! Even as a serial fantasy reader I know I am always lacking or missing out on some sort of amazing story so please direct all your recommendations to me!

Infinite Country | Review // A short, but mighty read

It’s a 200 page book that you all need to read.

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

I made some fun fan art for this book that I hope you all check out!

5 Reasons to read The Beautiful Ones | In other words…I lived my best life reading this masterpiece again!

I mean the title says it all. 🙂 This is one of my top SMG books, I ~need~ you all to read it. And if you love it, I need you to come yell at me about it.

Anchored Hearts by Priscilla Oliveras | Release Blitz + Review!

A quick review for the summer romance readers! The sunny days are coming and I anticipate some romcom bingeing in my future.

TBR

TBR

Well as always, I’m going to be slightly ambitious with my TBR 🙂 I will always try my hardest to get to as many books as possible I just need some good luck and good vibes from you all!

I also happen to start my summer semester this month so…le sigh. I need to take that into account as well.

Since it is Asian Heritage Month in Canada and in solidarity with my American friends celebrating AAPI Heritage Month, I plan on reading books by API authors as much as I can 🙂 I’m excited because there are some good ones of my shelf calling out to me! And it should go without saying, but a friendly reminder that we should be supporting API voices 24/7/365 and not only in May!

The Dragon of Jin-Sayeng by K.S. Villoso
Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri
Rising Like a Storm by Tanaz Bhathena

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo
Indivisible by Daniel Aleman

And that’s all I have planned for now. I feel like I’m in need of some more romance-y reads especially considering I have some heavy fantasies that will leave me emotional distraught. Any recommendations by API romance authors are welcome!


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!

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

February Wrap-Up & M(ARC)h TBR | Well March, we meet again.

Greetings readers!

Well another month of 2021 down for the books. And I have to say it was both quite hectic and wonderful at the same time. There were so many wonderful stories to tell you about!

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What Rendz Read!

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel – 5/5 Stars Review
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna – 4/5 Stars Review
Love in English by Maria E. Andreu – 4/5 Stars Review
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – 5/5 Stars
Like Home by Louisa Onome – 4/5 Stars Review
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory – 3/5 Stars
Some Other Now by Sarah Everett – 5/5 Stars Review
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo – 4/5 Stars Review

Highlight Book(s): Oh I have a pretty incredible reading month, but picking a favourite is not too hard because Infinite Country and Some Other Now were simply SPECTACULAR! Absolutely amazing! Both of these reads swept me off my feet.

Lowliest Book(s): I don’t think I have a book that truly fit this category from this month. Even if I had some mid level reads, I don’t think they can be considered lowly!

The Haul:

Oh…my. No physical book mail to report, but…my oh my has my Netgalley been bursting! Seriously *sobs* I have so many e-ARCs to get to…but more on that later.

Other Going-Ons:

A new, powerful Silvia Moreno-Garcia cover – Velvet was the Night:

Oh the power. The power. The power. I cannot wait to read this book *Yes, I have an ARC! Eh!* Just feast your eyes on this! The fashion, the style, the entire vibes! ugh I love it so much!

Shadow and Bone Netflix Teaser Trailer #1

When I tell you I am obsessed, I mean it. I AM OBSESSED. To say it has been on repeat since it came out is exactly what is going on these days. From the looks of it, I think the show is going to be really good! I know that 25% of me will be enjoying the show, another 25% will be comparing it to the books and a full 50% will be obsessing over Ben Barnes. I speak my truth.

Posts Of the Month:

A Sky Beyond the Storm | Review // I will NEVER recover from this book, and that’s okay with me

This was so much fun to write! Even though I relived every painful emotion that I endured while reading the book, this post is probably one of my favourites ever!

TBR

TBR

Two factors have affected my TBR this month:

1. The great Netgalley binge!
2. Yup, the Shadow & Bone trailer

So here is what I have lined up for March:

Truly, Madly, Royally by Debbie Rigaud (Read)
Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira (Read)
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laeken Zea Kemp (Read)
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Flamefall by Rosaria Munda
Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Bouley
Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

And also a very slowly paced re-read of the Shadow and Bone trilogy and Six of Crows duology!


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!

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

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