Most Anticipated Reads of August 2019

Morning, bloggers!

As we all say hello to August, I’m trying to wrap my mind around the fact that we’re in the eighth month of the year. I can’t believe we’re in the middle of summer.

Before I started this post, I didn’t know if it’d be larger than what it is now. Typically, my upcoming TBR list is always long, whether or not my bank account has a say in the matter. But with August though, I hesitated with many forthcoming titles. But I am loving the variety.

I hope you love the post! What is your most anticipated book?

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LGBTQ+ Books I Need to Read

Morning, bloggers!

Pride Month is an annual celebration that honors the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan in 1969. Over the decades, it has transformed into something more.

And while I see my community start its Pride festivities, more gay and trans people are being targeted. In my town, a rainbow crosswalk was vandalized. However, it is rallying around the residents affected. So I want to show my support by highlighting books I’ve been wanting to read.

I hoped to publish my post yesterday, but I wanted to take some time, do more research, and show respect for the titles and authors. So I hope you love this post!

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Most Anticipated Reads of May 2019

Good morning, readers,

May is my birth month. Typically, it’s pretty quiet for me. I don’t do much, and this years, all I want to do is read and avoid the world. But the book community is buzzing with new books. And I haven’t been this excited for a month until I saw what is being released. I feel it now. May will be exceptional.

Now, I haven’t listed all the forthcoming titles. So this list isn’t complete. But here are my most anticipated releases:

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Most Anticipated March Reads

Morning, book lovers!

Honestly, I don’t believe this winter will end any time soon. So I need some positive vibes to keep me from the gloom and doom of the next few weeks. Do you feel the same?

Anyways, I want to try something new on my blog. I’ve seen a lot of similar posts. But I’ve never dabbled with this one though. So here is my first official “most anticipated reads” post.

Now, I’ve included only the upcoming titles that have either snagged a spot on my TBR list or captivated my attention. This list isn’t complete, and I don’t want to bore you with an entire one. What’s the point? So hopefully, you find some new additions to your TBR list. I sure have!

I hope you all enjoy.

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Beyond the Blurb | Books with Nonbinary, Genderfluid, and Trans Characters

Morning, everyone!

One negative aspect of politics is how politicians use their ideology as a way of completely wiping out the great strides LGBTQ+ people have made. Earlier last weekend, the provincial Conservative party wanted to talk about excluding transgender identity from sexual education. This topic is extremely heated right now.

I never knew this hatred would hit a new low in my province. But unfortunately, Ontarians decided to vote in a bigoted man who believes religion and conservative views should reign supreme. Does he sound familiar? Thankfully, for now, he has backed down from that rhetoric. So how to combat it? Well, you stand up against it.

Now, I have read many books with gay and lesbian characters, not with trans, genderfluid, or nonbinary characters though. But I want to change that. Trans, nonbinary, and genderfluid characters and authors deserve their time and their recognition. A literary revolution is occurring, and we should give our time to explore more diverse stories. So for my next Beyond the Blurb, my weekly/monthly discussion post, I want to highlight LGBTQ+ books you definitely should read.

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Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Published by: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy

Page Count: 556

Rating: 3.75/5

Source: Purchase

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Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone…except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.


“There are many dangerous people in this world. but there are also many good people. Brave people. No matter how bad things get, we have to remember that. So long as there are heroes in this world, there’s hope that tomorrow night might be better.”

Imagine that the X-Men have won, supernaturals reign, and humans no longer control the world governments. Now, throw in political intrigue and mystery, compelling characters, and a solid world-building, then you have Renegades.

Renegades, human prodigies with supernatural abilities, rise from the ashes of a ruined society after they dethrone the Anarchists, who previously ruled. When these villains find a chance to destroy the Renegades, they send in Nova Artino, who wants nothing more than to avenge her family. But loyalties are tested when she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy.

Renegades is my first book written by Marissa. I’ve heard a lot about her Lunar Chronicles series and even bought most of it on a whim. I enjoyed reading this book, and it contains some interesting themes, which I loved, and character conflicts that will surely hook you in. But I can’t quite bump up my rating. I took a long time reading it, and I usually finish a book within a week. However, more than a month has passed since I’ve cracked open Renegades. At this point, I’m a bit disappointed with some scenes, but not the book though.

Clearly, the X-Men series inspired Marissa. You have a prodigy who steals another person’s powers (sound familiar?). Yes, undoubtedly, it’s hard not to see the similarities. However, she introduces new supernatural abilities, like ones Adrian possesses (and no, I won’t spoil you there). The nerd in me groaned at some Renegades and their powers. However, I loved the characters. Nova lost her family when she was young, and she builds quite an impressive hatred for the Renegades, who didn’t save them. Her anger and growth make the story complex. Adrian is the exact opposite. While he lost his mother and wants to find the murderer, he shines with justice.

Even though I found character dialogue and fighting scenes lacking, Renegades is a solid and refreshing play on the fantasy and sci-fi front. The characters, their inner battles, and their development and history stand out the most. Additionally, how Marisa represents diversity also adds to the story. All these qualities are what kept me reading.

Marissa’s world-building will delight new readers and her dedicated following. I was curious to see how she might craft this unique universe. And since the Renegades series is a duology, I was hesitant, not quite sure what she can pull off. But she does so naturally. I wanted to delve into this dark, gritty, and healing world, where the minorities are the rulers, not the humans. And the politics will also intrigue any sci-fi and fantasy lover looking for intricate storytelling.

If you’re a Marissa fan or are looking for something new, Renegades is your next read. I’m eager to see how she wraps up this new series.

 

“One cannot be brave who has no fear.”

Review: Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count: 471

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.


“She was a dragon. She was a prince. She was the only hope Wallachia had of ever prospering.”

And she would do whatever it took too get there.”

If you want a richly intense and savage story that shows women, too, are just as ruthless and dangerous as men, then put down your book and pick up this one.

Lada Dracul has given up the love she holds for her brother, Radu, and Mehmed, the sultan who claims her heart. With only her soldiers, she tears her way through the countryside so she can claim her birthright: the Wallachian throne. But her brother chooses Mehmed, who tasks him the perilous duty to infiltrate Constantinople. As empires fall, and faiths are pitted against each other, Lada and Radu test not only their loyalty but also their souls.

I haven’t heard of Kiersten or her books, but I fell in love with this series when I first picked up And I Darken. She creates a realistic portrayal of what life was, how religion clashed and even destroyed civilizations and countries, and how war moulded people into their own enemies. Her writing envelops and delivers you to a savage world where women and children are often used as currency, and religion has shaped this harsh backdrop. Now I Rise is an eloquently crafted sequel that will break your heart, disgust you, yet demand your attention. This book wants to be heard, and you cannot help but hear its call.

The characters drive the storyline, and I love Lada’s and Radu’s character progression. Kiersten cleverly reverses the gender roles. At first, I couldn’t stand Radu because he was often the weak child, but he transforms into a man who is tormented by his true desires and is shaped by his morals and faith. When he allows Mehmed to send him to Constantinople, my heart broke. Radu’s pain and unbreakable loyalty he possesses for Mehmed splash across each page, and this heartache is simply haunting. I wanted to shield him from this suffering because this spy game conflicts with who he is as a person. I haven’t sympathized over a character this much.

I find Lada challenging. I love her tenacity, her drive, her passion, her fire, and her strength. Yet sometimes those qualities are all you see in her. However, while the story progresses, Kiersten gives readers a glance into Lada’s vulnerabilities, which I mentioned in my review of the first book. Now they’re few and far between. And I was hoping to see more of them so that Lada can develop into a character who is more tangible. Anger will only get you so far, and unfortunately, Lada may figure out that problem sooner than she thinks.

I give credit to Kiersten for respectfully representing the Muslim faith, which just seems to be attacked by all sides lately. You see, faith plays a strong part in this series. And I thought it might turn me off, but she depicts the conflict between the Muslim and Christian faiths beautifully. She doesn’t pick a side though, and I appreciate her decision not to.

The Conquerer’s Sage keeps on surprising me. And while I showed up late to this series, I keep loving it more. It’s brutal, harsh, dangerous, and deadly, yet it shows you the human strength. I absolutely adore these books. Now I Rise rightfully deserves its spot on my favourites list!

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Published by: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance

Page Count:

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.


“So the question becomes, Daughter of the Dragon, what will you sacrifice? What will you let be taken away so that you, too, can have power?”

Powerfully captivating, richly dark, emotionally disturbing, and utterly gut-wrenching, And I Darken captures readers from the opening sentence. Don’t expect this world to be kind, and certainly don’t hope for the characters to be either. This princess will not only slit your throat but also revel in doing so.

Lada Dragwlya, the princess of Wallachia, thrives in brutality. She lives in a world where women do not rule and are the possession of men. When her father uses her and her young brother, Radu, as political pawns and sends them to their enemy, the Ottomans, she must play a deadly game in order to survive. When they meet Mehmed, the son of the sultan, their lives change. While they band together, their troubled and poisonous relationship may test even the strongest bond.

Historical fiction is somewhat difficult to work with since the author must not only make it believable and factual but also make it entertaining. Kiersten takes this part of history and claims it as her. Yes, she does stay true to important events, but she brings a new twist to this written past. And I Darken is dark, rich, engrossing, and richly detailed. It compels you to turn the page.

While I found this world Kiersten builds sinister and haunting, I wanted to find out how these characters survive in such a brutal world. I enjoy reading twisted stories, but sometimes I needed some time to process what just occurred and separate myself from the book.

And I Darken may be the difficult yet rewarding book I’ve read this year. It is a story about survival. Sometimes, people simply survive or die, and in this world, the odds are stacked against everyone, especially women. Kiersten explores the way life existed back in the 15th century. What she achieves is a beautifully written and plot-driven story. I haven’t read any of her previous work, but her attention to detail and richly layered and complex character arcs set the bar for other historical fiction novels.

 

“Her spine was steel. Her heart was armor. Her eyes were fire.”

The characters are at the centre of this piece, and Lada, Radu, and Mehmed captivate me beyond what I thought they would. Lada, my spirit animal and queen, will burn this world down and walk through its ashes. Her cruelty hides her weaknesses and her love she holds for Radu and Mehmed. Sometimes I thought that she was too vicious, but look at who she is. She’s the female Vlad the Impaler. The scenes where she shows her vulnerabilities overshadow her savagery. I love her progression throughout the story. And her scorn for the treatment of women enrichens the story.

Radu, my little cinnamon bun, breaks my heart. He faces constant beatings and torture at the hand of his brother and other children. But he transforms into a complex character. I welcome more gay characters, and Kiersten elegantly handles his secret part of his life, and I have to thank her for doing so. Mehmed, the sultan’s son, is iffy for me. The relationship among the three are more complicated than the synopsis portrays. Half the time I wanted to throttle him, and the next I sympathized with him.

If you’re looking for a YA story that breaks the mould and strikes its own path, pick up And I Darken. But understand that this book demands more than just your attention. Take a chance on it. This well-woven novel surprises even me. And I cannot wait how Lada, Radu, and Mehmed survive the next journey.

 

“Fire burned in her heart, and her wounded soul spread out, casting a shadow like wings across her country.”

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Extent: 336 pages

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchase


Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland.


“It’s my turn to shape the galaxies.”

Are you looking for a story with brujas, brujos, magic, love, and betrayal? Well come here. I have a book to tell you about.

Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Brujas series, takes you a magic-filled journey that will thrill you from the first to last chapter. Alejandra, also known as Alex, lives in world where magic rules and may take away everything you’ve ever loved. She doesn’t want to claim her powers, yet refusing them is simply unheard of. But when she decides to give them up, her world is torn apart when she inadvertently sends her entire family, living and dead, to Los Lagos.

I’ve been dying to finally crack open this book. Just look at it. It’s gorgeous. I’ve fallen in love with the design already. Sourcebooks Fire, you’ve done great! More importantly the author weaves together a colourful and diverse story where a teenage girl learns of self-acceptance, falls in love, and rises above her former self.

One quality that sets this book apart from other YA fantasy books is Alex’s family structure. It’s paramount in this book. And it’s something I’ve been waiting to read for a long time. How many books do I know of, where the family’s bond is positive? I can’t count on my left hand. She and her sisters share a typical sibling relationship, one I’ve been craving to read. And their mother gives up everything to ensure they’re safe. But the story doesn’t stop there.

Labyrinth Lost is rich in Latin American history. Zoraida incorporates many Latin-inspired traditions and mythology (some she’s created her own). A great aspect to this book is the level of detail in culture and lore. It keeps me turning the page and wanting to explore this world more. When Alex uses magic, it comes with a steep price (when doesn’t it?). A price that all brujas and brujos pay. And given she is a novice bruja, she doesn’t understand the consequences. Alex and Nova, a guide who conveniently knows the way, must travel to the centre of Los Lagos, an Underworld-type dimension. But magic isn’t as it seems in this other world.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

Alex, the leading lady, is a strong protagonist. She’s spunky, lively, reserved, and guarded. Instead of being afraid of her sexuality, she fears her powers, which she cannot control. She even believes that they chased her father away. Throughout the story, she faces many tests so she can save her family. But in doing so, she needs to learn how to trust in who she is, what she can do, and why she owns this power.

Nova is your typical badass. He’s cocky and sometimes self-absorbed. Yet I find his history intriguing. I’m sorry, but not sorry. I’ll always look for a broken character who has a deeper and more caring soul than any other. Rishi is a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting her to be included in Alex and Nova’s journey, because she doesn’t know Alex’s secret. But she offers an airy and uplifting side to this trio. And I love her unwavering faith in Alex.

I think the only negative I have with Labyrinth Lost is Alex’s relationships with the secondary characters. I’m thrilled to read a LGBTQ book. I want to find more strong and positive gay stories. Yet I find the relationship Alex has with Rishi is slightly strained. Rishi, in my opinion, almost worships her, and sometimes I wonder if the relationship Alex has with Nova holds a stronger flame against Rishi. I feel that Alex has more attraction toward him. Even with that negative though, I love Alex’s sexuality. She’s free and not afraid to show who she is. And I adore these parts in the book. Her sexuality doesn’t hold her back, certainly isn’t a struggle she must overcome, and is a natural extension of her. Zoraida beautifully represents the LGBTQ community, and I’m proud she’s done so.

So say your cantos, jump through the portal, and take a trip to Los Lagos. Labyrinth Lost won’t disappoint, and I’m sure you’ll be wanting more when you finish the book. I know I do.

 

“We all get scared and want to turn away, but it isn’t always strength that makes you stay. Strength is also making the decision to change your destiny.”

 

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