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!

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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

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

Greetings readers!

How do you write a review for the single, most anticipated read of the past year? How do you write a review for a book you’ve been waiting ages for? How do write a review for a finale of a series so near and dear to the heart? How?

It is simply impossible.

But the Commandant beat that word out of my vocabulary.

Or rather Sabaa Tahir wrenched it from my mouth.

So here goes my attempt to describe my love for a series literally EVERYONE needs to read.

Beware of spoilers for books 1-3.

A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir

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

Pub Date: Dec 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Razorbill

Prepare for the jaw-dropping finale of Sabaa Tahir’s beloved New York Times bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series, and discover: Who will survive the storm?

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off…

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory–or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life–and love–he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save–or destroy–all that he knows.


This book took my breath away.

Plain and simple.

First of all, we have to talk about the characters because the characters are what make this series so amazing.

Laia will forever be my queen. You can all complain about the amount of wrong decisions she makes all you want, it will go in through on ear and out the other for me because in this house Laia of Serra is perfection. We root for the fact that she never stops fighting, that she fights for her people, her family, her love (hello Elaia rights) and herself. She fights with her compassion and her sense of justice. Yes, she gets things wrong and she makes mistakes along the way, but when you have everything to lose, you never stop fighting. And geez Laia has just grown so much over the series, she has struggled with her past decisions, they haunt her and continue to haunt her, but the love that she gives is enough to push her, to keep going no matter what and I’m literally here sobbing.

Elias Veturius will forever be my book husband. Considering how Reaper ended, his chapters continuously TORE OUT MY HEART!

tired al pacino GIF

Fighting the magic that has taken over his consciousness takes a toll on him and I loved the exploration of humanity when it came to his arc. Reading about Elias’ fighting to regain the one thing he promised himself he would never give up brought me to tears so many times! And the things my poor baby goes through in this book!!! The pain and suffering he endures because of the deals he’s made to save those he cares for the most even if he cannot remember them! His white knight complex is next level and that really bothers Mauth XD. Learning to let go of that responsibility and shame he feels, learning to fight the magic that tells him to forget, figuring out how to keep the world from collapsing…it’s a lot. (Understatement of the century) And *tears up* my husband takes it all on because he is just that amazing.

Helene will forever be a roller coaster character. Helene suffers in this one. I mean they all suffered, but she dang she goes through a lot. (Another understatement) While trying to protect her nephew, managing a divided empire, fighting a magical demon and his Commandant-shaped henchperson…she deals with A LOT. But you know what? More than anything, I am thankful for the epiphany she finally has! And yes I’m talking about her finally recognizing the atrocities of the empire she holds in such high regard. In the end she needed it to move forward, for her people to have a future she needed to recognize the humanity in all the people the empire has trampled in its path. Does she still have a lot to learn and a lot to change? Oh YEAH, but getting to the start is an important step.

I also have to note how much I loved the friendship between Laia and Helene. Especially after two books of them hating each other, their easy friendship was so heartwarming!

flattered brittany murphy GIF

Other characters…I would die for Musa of Adisa. I WOULD DIE FOR HIM. I would literally lay my life down for him. (We get it, Rendz.) Yes. We love a sassy, snarky and ship-supporting beekeeper. We love a magician with secrets! And we love that he puts people in his place when he needs to! But oh my poor baby suffers. Darin, my sweet summer child. He is the kind of brother I would want. As he fights the dark memories from Kauf, he does his best to fight for Laia, to keep his family united! He is a star! Avitas Harper, sir you deserve the world. Harper, in his quiet and background way always makes himself known and we stan him so hard. I would really love to know more about his backstory.

The Commandant can choke, as usual. The Nightbringer can also choke. But dang I gotta say I love how Sabaa plotted out this villain/antagonist script in the end. I loved the grayness that she poured into the story. Don’t get me wrong, these two needed to be defeated, but I liked the twistiness that prompted their motivations. No tragic past can ever truly justify the evil they unleashed on the world, but dang I have to say I was impressed. I also like how Sabaa showed how none of the groups were 100% *good* or 100% *bad*. Like the Scholars were terrible to the Jinn, the Martials were terrible to everybody, the Jinn also terrible to everyone, the Marinn were kind of snobby, but there was still some goodness in the individuals of these groups. Enough goodness to rock the lines of divide…which I guess is the point of the series!

Now let’s talk ships because I am here for the ships. But of course I won’t be spoiling anything so all I have to say about the romance in this book is that.
It was torturous.
It was constant pining.
It was hot hot hot.
It was heart-SMASHING.
It was MIND BLOWING.

Tim And Eric Omg GIF

Okay so plot wise, things are intense. Just thinking about all the places and people we visit in order to fight this evil. Personally, I loved it. I wanted to savour this world and ending so I was happy that we got to travel and have so many intense mini battles before the big showdown. That being said, it is a slow read. With continuous POV switches and a million things to fix this story is one you have to allow yourself to simmer in. Because before you know it, you are in a pot of boiling water.

AND I MEAN IT. THE WATER IS BOILING.

THE LAST 70ISH PAGES LITERALLY SHATTERED BY HEART INTO A MILLION PIECES.

I’m telling you I sobbed. SOBBED.

I was sitting in my room at 1:30 a.m. in a boogery-teary state. So so much goes on in these final chapters. I was SCREAMING AT LITERALLY EVERYTHING! Sabaa promised a jaw-dropping ending and she delivered! She 100000% CRUSHED MY HEART IN A MATTER OF PAGES.

SABAA DID NOT HOLD BACK IN BRINGING ON THE EMOTIONAL PAIN. 

What can I say…but be prepared to not be ready. Be prepared to not be ready about what goes down, who shows up, what goes wrong, what goes right. I sure as heck was not prepared for a single thing that happened. These 70 pages were the most intense, the most scary, the most hopeful and the most painful pages I have ever read.

And people, be ready to cry because you are not prepared for the character deaths. You are not prepared. I was on the floor. I was on the fucking floor crying my eyes out. I sobbed for three days straight after putting down this book and a lot of it has to do with the characters deaths: Both who dies and how. I just..I’m sitting here getting emotional again.

And then we up the ante with CHARACTER REVELATIONS THAT JUST AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I DID NOT SEE THESE COMING AND I WAS ONCE AGAIN ON THE FLOOR ABSOLUTELY GOBSMACKED. GOBSMACKED BY MY EMOTIONS.

So yeah these last 70ish pages.

Also the section titles: Iconic.

And finally the ending: When I tell you that I was in my feels. I WAS IN MY FEELS.


And we have made it to the end. How are we doing? Because I just relived every emotion I went through while reading this book and to be honest I want to do it again. My heart will never heal. I literally am never going to get over this series and that is exactly how I like it.

I asked for this, friends. I asked to be emotionally wrecked by this finale and when I tell you it delivered, it DELIVERED.

Sabaa is a master storyteller. She is going down in my books as one of my favourite authors ever. She deserves your love and attention!!!

Rating: ALL THE STARS!

Recommend: HELL YES. GET ON THIS SERIES PEEPS!

Let me know what you think? Have you read this series? Were you also emotionally destroyed? If you could pick an Ember character to get more story from, who would you pick?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

January Wrap-Up & February TBR | This semester came for my neck, but my reads keep my going

Greetings readers!

Happy Valentine’s Day, my loves!

What’s new for you? How have you been holding up? I can’t say anything new has been happening in my corner of the internet. I know my blogging has been slow this past month and well…it will probably continue to be slow because if you can tell from the title of today’s post, my school work is really trying to end me!

But my dear friends, this has only made me realize how wonderful it is to be a reader! Books have been a major escape for me as I fumble with my school and I am so blessed to have had such an incredible reading month to start off 2021!

So let’s get onto it, shall we!

wrap-up-3

What Rendz Read

A Thief Among the Trees by Sabaa Tahir – 4.5/5 stars
The Ikessar Falcon by K.S. Villoso – 5/5 stars
Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado – 5/5 stars
The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann – 4/5 stars
Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe – 4.5/5 stars
I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter by David Chariandy – 5/5 stars
Infinite Country by Patricia Engel – 5/5 stars

Highlight Books: Well as you can see they are all pretty much highlight books! I can’t believe how blessed I am to have had such a wonderful January reads! If I had to pick a top book it would be a three-way tie between The Ikessar Falcon, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega and Infinite Country.

The Haul

I haven’t been buying much as of late because well…hehe…money is really something I can spend too much on on books right now. I want to lol but it is not in my best interests. That being said I did get Skyhunter by Marie Lu came in the mail the other day! And I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of Infinite Country by Patricia Engel by the publisher which is very awesome!

Other Going-Ons

Geez if I could remember I would tell you….

Oh wait, one thing!

Shadow and Bone Netflix News

So we now have a teaser trailer, a release date and promo posters!!! I was screaming for the entire day when I saw these beauties!! I just couldn’t stop staring at them. *sobs for an eternity* I would love to hear what you all thought! What was your first reaction? How many times have you stared at them since? Because I am telling you that I have been looking at these beauties ever since that day!

Posts Of the Month

New Year, New Look, Still all about the Books

Pine Island Home | Review // A sisterhood read!

Most Anticipated Reads of the first half of 2021 | The books this year are here to give me LIFE

The Bookish Feels | Books that are emotional roller coasters

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega | Review // THE Contemporary book to read this February!

TBR

TBR

I know we’re already half way through the month, but I’m really playing this month by ear. So far I’ve read:

Love in English by Maria E. Andreu
The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

For the rest of the month, I plan on getting through some upcoming ARCs! I went on a Netgalley binge…and let’s just say I have lots of reading to do. As for my other reads, I will be prioritizing books by Black authors as it is Black History Month. This doesn’t mean that February is the *only* month we celebrate Black excellence and stories, but it is the month where we can be extra supportive! As for me, some reads I have planned are:

Like Home by Louisa Onomé 
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Make a Scene by Mimi Grace
Truly Madly Royally by Debbie Rigaud

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

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega | Review // THE Contemporary book to read this February!

Greetings readers!

HELLLOOOO EVERYONE! AND WELCOME TO A REVIEW I AM VERY EXCITED TO BE SHARING WITH YOU ALL TODAY!

Rendz, be cool with the all caps.

Sorry.

What can I say? When a book with a beautiful cover and and even more beautiful storyline walks into my life, I have to talk about it! I have to shout about it from the roof tops and tell you all to read it!

It starts with this review, which–if I am honest–is a little messy and everywhere because when I love a book so much I feel like I sound like that kid who struggles to form his sentence.

You know this kid:

Have You Ever Had A Dream Kid GIFs | Tenor

Yeah…that’s what I feel this review sounds like.

BUT REGARDLESS OF THAT FACT. I PRESENT TO YOU THE CONTEMPORARY BOOK EVERYONE HAS TO READ THIS FEBRUARY!!!

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega

Pub Date: Feb 2, 2021
Publisher: Holiday House
Buy Links

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.


*Thank you Penguin Teen CA for the digital ARC*

The Likes

How do I even begin to tell you about this book?

How do I begin to tell you how utterly and totally in love I am with this story?

Well I can say that it starts and ends with Charlie Vega. A character who I am sure will capture the hearts of so many readers! (She sure as heck captured mine!) Charlie is a wonderfully dynamic character that charmed me from page one! Told in a sincere, heart-felt and hilarious prose, Charlie’s story is one of a fat, half-Puerto Rican girl navigating high school life in the (very white) suburbs. And I loved it. From raving about #FatFashionistas to dealing with the very real fear of second-place syndrome and re-finding estranged family and culture, Charlie is a character whose experiences of self-doubt, jealousy, resentment, first times, rage, self-loathing, confidence and eventually self-love are multi-faceted and captivating.

I know resonating with characters are only part of the reading experience, but I have to say that whenever Charlie talked about her romantic experiences or lack there-of I couldn’t help but smash the #Relate button. While our reasons for lacking in love life differed, I still couldn’t help but feel a connection whenever she talked about that yearning she felt and the embarrassment of being so inexperienced! I loved that she found escape in her reading and writing and that she lived vicariously through her fictional characters! (Something I think a lot of us can relate to!) To make this ramble short, Charlie is a breath of fresh air character. She sounds and feels like a teenager on every page. She is sweet and fierce. I absolutely adored her!

Other characters…I really enjoyed Amelia’s character. As Charlie’s pansexual, cool, vibrant and beloved BFF she plays a very complex and integral role in Charlie’s story. Their friendship is in many ways the heart of this story, which is written so beautifully! Brian. OMG BRIAN. I was so soft for Brian who was so sweet and kind!!! And Charlie’s mom…..mmmm…I just didn’t love her. She is also in need of her own journey, that’s all I have to say.

The central theme of this book is embracing self-love and it was such a touching and raw journey for Charlie! It is well known how much we can be our worst enemies and this book is all about us being kinder to ourselves. Charlie’s journey to self-love is not easy, especially as she is constantly surrounded by people and media that tell her that she and her body are not enough or too much and do not deserve love until they say so. It’s an even harder road to travel when those messages become so ingrained within ourselves that we become the obstacles that prevent us from opening up! It’s a story that really hammered in the message to find love for ourselves, that in giving ourselves love we can find that happiness.

This story broke my heart and patched it back up in so many ways. Maldonado crafted a story that had me laughing and giggling on one page, raging on the next and being totally and utterly soft on the following page. Her writing style is clean, direct and enthralling! I was flipping the pages so fast, I couldn’t get enough of this story! It was laugh out loud funny and I was SWOONING with every interaction between Charlie and Brian!

On the one hand it has the feel of your typical Teen rom-com, but with the taste of a new and fresh story of love and friendship that has never been written before!!

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

Recommend?: Absolutely!


Let me know what you think! Are you looking forward to reading this? What other books with fat MCs would you recommend? What are your favourite teen rom-coms and coming of age stories?

Happy reading!

~ Rendz

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