Waterstones Mail | Book Hauls

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Hope everyone has been well. Given this whole situation, I’m fully aware of how we (okay, I mean myself) have taken full advantage of online shopping.

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Anyway, props to the postal workers because I’ve received some book mail today. (I may or may not have obsessively checked the tracking every day since ordering but that’s not the focus here haha). Thankfully, I’ve managed to fight off temptation and reduce my original total of eight books down to four. Progress. Now, I’ve never worked in Waterstones, but I’ve ordered four books, paid for postage for one package and have been receiving each book one. By. One. (Insert privileged crying here). As of today, I’ve received two books. I’ve received the last book of a series (haha) and a standalone.

My anticipated book haul:

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (1/3 of Winternight series)

The Winter and the Witch by Katherine Arden (3/3 of Winternight series)

Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris (standalone)

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (standalone)

Okay, I’ll be honest. I usually prefer UK covers over the US version and that definitely was the case for The Bear and the Nightingale. AND! Because vain Joy just had to purchase the UK versions, I disregarded the fact that the middle of the series was out of print. LOL. I usually prefer to have one type and one copy of a book/series but that usually isn’t the case. Have a gander of my The Folk In The Air trilogy: two copies of two of the books (first and last book) but!!! Again I’m missing the second book??!! I am noticing this reoccurring pattern here…

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Okay. Let’s ignore my terrible shopping habits and marvel at the two gorgeous books!

 

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#ARCAugust Attempt |Book Thoughts

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Oh no. I think I developed a new bad habit and it’s in the form of constantly requesting titles on Netgalley. What’s Netgalley? Netgalley is a website where you can request Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of books in exchange for reviews and raising awareness/sharing the love. My little eager heart has been requesting all these amazing books and I know there are various posts recommending you to NOT request away. And yet, here I am…

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I am unsurprised and unimpressed with myself haha. (Why am I like this?)

Does anyone have any specific criteria as to what they do and don’t request? Because I need an adult. How do I control myself?

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I like to read broadly as much as I can, so I’m always open with genres but I can see myself falling into a hole of continuously requesting for books (and I kind of am already?). There are so many great books out there! I don’t want to overwhelm myself with all these commitments (but let’s be honest, I’m always overwhelmed haha). Also, I like to keep my ratio above 80% because lol it tells you to and my vanity likes the badge.

Anyway, I’m a temperamental mood reader, so here’s the plan: I’m going to join #ARCAugust. Or at least, attempt to.

In actuality, I had been planned to binge read all my ARCs and I happened to see a friend post they’re taking part in #ARCAugust so why not join?

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BANNER

Chosen Ones — April (the publishers threw a wishbone at me???? thank you??)

The Girl and the Stars 30 April (currently reading)

Dark Skies — 5 May (writing review help)

Santiago’s Road Home 20 June *date changed (writing review help)

The Midnight Bargain 13 October (just go accepted??? wow thank you)

The Tea Dragon Tapestry13 October (currently reading)

How to Break an Evil Curse13 October (currently reading)

The Stitcher and the Mute12 November (my foolish self didn’t realise this was a SEQUEL; currently reading the first one)

The City of Zirdai21 June 2021 (AGAIN my foolish self didn’t realise this was a SEQUEL; currently reading the first one)

 

TO DO LIST:

☒ Read book ☐ write review ☐ post review close to the published date

There are three steps!! Three! Yet why is this so difficult? Why am I like this???

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Anyway, how’s your reading going? Do you read any ARCs? Otherwise, how do you organise your reading?

 

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Lobizona | Review

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Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Where can I find this? Goodreads | Book Depository | Booktopia | Google Play | Apple

“You’re saying if no one’s told my story before… I get to tell it the way I want?” ~ Romina Garber, Lobizona

Behold! Marvel at this cover art! Read the synopsis! Isn’t this promising? Doesn’t this make you wish you had a copy? Because, yes—after seeing the cover art and the synopsis, I desperately wanted to read this book. I needed this book. And the bookish gods of Netgalley smiled graciously on me and granted my earnest wish.

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my face @ netgalley. yes, I’m aware I’m probably annoying lol

In Lobizona, we follow Manuela (Manu) as she navigates life without detection. Hiding from both the US government and from the people of her father’s past, Manu is undocumented and unprotected. Isolated due to hiding, secrecy is Manu’s constant companion besides Perla and Ma. But hiding Manu isn’t the only secret that gets discovered. When Manu’s mother is taken by ICE, Manu discovers a magical world that is eerily familiar… Now in a magical world, Manu wages forward to uncover the secrets that gnawed on her since childhood. And just like the secrets that fought so hard to remain hidden, Manu must fight harder to uncover the truth.

Plot
The book weaves Argentinean folklore surrounding lobizon and bruja into Manu’s world which presents an interesting aspect into the novel. I liked how Argentinean culture was incorporated into the storytelling. Garber naturally incorporates Spanish into the dialogue. I appreciate how flawless and natural it was. However, the Spanish can make the reading experience disjointed if you’re not familiar with the language. There were times where the narrator (Manu) will translate, and other times where one can gauge the meaning from context and times where you won’t get it. I’ll be honest, I’ve never formally learnt Spanish nor learnt how to read it but can only understand and pick it up from sound (because 1. I’m uneducated hahah and 2. that’s how I learnt—when a family member spoke). Often, I’d have to pause and read passages aloud for my two brain cells to figure out the translation. Yes, I’m a child of immigrant parents and as a result, lost my mother’s tongue to assimilating to the culture I lived in… I’m like the meme:

‘Me? Bilingual? More like, bye-lingual’

Therefore, pausing and rereading some phrases often impacted my reading experience. I’m already a slow reader haha… ANYWAY! I like how Garber unapologetically and fluidly weaves Spanish into her novel.

Lobizona is broken down into four phases. I won’t say much to spoil the story; however, the story really picks up in phase two for me. In phase two, we discover more about this magical world. The world-building felt a little thin and due to that, the story felt more of magical realism rather than fantasy.

This book takes a while to get into the promised action. After the 40%, that’s where all the action began and it was great. Although, the pacing felt disjointed at times. For example, the first 40-50% of the book we are dragging our feet to this magical world. And then, at the last 15-20% action happens! All! At! Once! I’d appreciate if there were moments for the audience to process all that is going on.

Despite the pacing, I did appreciate Garber’s writing style. Garber weaves emotions well into her characters without weighing down the narrative with too many descriptions. The read was compelling and I read this novel in one sitting.

Characters
I love an underdog character. With everything going on, you can’t help but root for Manu! I was invested in her and her dreams. Yeah, she has her insecurities and doubts, but Manu is determined despite all odds. She dreams and yearns for more and when an opportunity shows itself, she’ll take it. I liked that about her. However, the chosen one trope is strong in this one. If you’re not a fan, you may not enjoy the incessant specialness of Manu. I’m a fan of the chosen trope so I’m never really bothered by such things—in fact, I relish in it.

Other than Manu, there is a large cast in this book (I can’t remember all their names but I remember Cata and Sasya—the two other girls). I enjoyed Manu’s and Sasya’s interactions. Sasya is a kind and gentle soul, the welcoming friend to Manu. Whereas, Cata is perceived to be the ‘mean girl’ who is ruthless to Manu. I wasn’t a fan of how that part was portrayed like the typical ‘popular girl mean to the new girl’ trope.

Another aspect I didn’t enjoy was the romance. long sigh yes, the romance. I didn’t like how the romance gave a forbidden vibe to it (spoiler-y: more like almost cheating vibes). And when the truth came out it felt convenient and cheap. Also, I couldn’t understand why the love interest and Manu had feelings for each other? It felt superficial. I would rather focus on other pressing matters, such as Manu’s mother and Manu’s discoveries.

Enjoyment
Aside from the romance, there were many aspects I liked. I liked how alienation and challenging the norm was a major factor in this book. I liked how the themes of alienation and immigration were woven in the story. Manu’s fear of discovery rings true to too many people. Garber writes well, enveloping the reader into Manu’s world that you feel the constant fear and even the threat in living. But despite the fear, there’s the unyielding hope. It was hope in the characters that I loved in this book. Lobizon grapples with and comments on various themes such as misogyny, privilege, undocumented immigrants, amongst many more and I deeply appreciated it did so.

I, myself am a child of immigrants and I have experienced cultural assimilation so on one side, parts of this book resonated with me. I liked how powerful Garber wrote various aspects (especially the first phase). Again, I liked how she wove another language into her book so naturally and how this book was an easy and compelling read. I just wished there were more. In actuality, I think I had higher expectations due to wanting to really love this book. (Why do I do this to myself?) Despite that, I’m very curious to see where this tale (or… tail) will go.

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Recommended for: fans of fantasy schools with magical creatures, fans of YA fantasy, latinx readers looking for latinx authors, people looking for diverse books

Content warning: xenophobia, sexism, bullying, trauma, misogyny, homophobia

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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This Book Is Anti-Racist | Review

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Title: This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work

Author: Tiffany Jewell

Illustrator: Aurelia Durand

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Genre: Children’s non-fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

This book serves as a great source for information for recognising racism and intentionally taking action to address and help dismantle it. This book presents information that is both applicable at an individual and a group level. Furthermore, not only does this book armour the reader with information, but it also provides practical activities such as reflection and journaling throughout the read. The reflective and journaling activities are extremely beneficial, enabling readers to effectively dismantle concepts and therefore grapple better in reacting to various situations.

The book is divided into four sections and comprises of concepts that are broken down into concise chapters within the sections. The four sections of this book consist of:

1. Waking up: understanding and growing into my identities
The first phase introduces concepts such as identity, social constructions, and defines racism whilst providing examples and activities to deconstruct and help identify.

2. Opening the window: making sense of the world
The second phase builds upon the first, presenting a little bit of world history (mainly in the West) as well as introducing more deeper concepts such as micro-aggressions, colonisation, assimilation, amongst many other concepts. I appreciate how this book mentions colonisation and the effects of it.

3. Choosing my path: taking action and responding to racism
Following that, the third section concentrates reacting to racism and ways to do so.

4. Holding the door open: working in solidarity against racism
Finally, the final phase focuses on the portrayal of privilege and allyship.

I liked how the book introduced topics like intersectionality, concepts such as gender, neurodiversity, class, religion, amongst many other factors are considered and discussed.

Also, I loved the illustrations—they’re bright and vivid, complementing the book well. The art style keeps the reader engaged without detracting too much attention away from the narrative.

As a PoC (person of colour) myself, this book truly resonated with me and I deeply appreciate this book. Despite being a PoC, I, too have much to learn. And quite frankly, there is always more to learn in this field and I definitely learnt something new upon reading this book. Moreover, despite being marketed for a younger audience, I feel that this book is suitable for all ages. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Overall, this is a highly beneficial book, presenting important information regarding racism whilst also emphasising application in real-world scenarios.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Unboxing: May FairyLoot 2020

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May FairyLoot 2020: Desert Dreams

I was pleasantly surprised upon seeing a FairyLoot box on my doorstep. And this month did not disappoint! This was such a gorgeous box and I’m so glad to be subscribed to FairyLoot. And now, for the unboxing…

Featured Book: Girl, Serpent, Thorn: by Melissa Bashardoust

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Blurb from Goodreads

With an exclusive pink cover, green sprayed edges, reverse artwork in the dust jacket illustrated by @orikye, and signed by the author, this book is my favourite cover change yet from FairyLoot! This edition is absolutely gorgeous.

Monthly Character Cards: Throne of Glass inspired characters designed by @Gabriella.bujdoso

City of Brass inspired Tea Towel: designed by @eviebookish

Dessert Bath Salts: made by Little Heart Gifts

An Ember in the Ashes inspired Tribal Desert Candle: by Wick and Fable

The Forbidden Wish inspired Sunglasses Pouch: designed by @kitstercronk

Hero of the Fall inspired Wooden Spoon: designed by @kdpletters

We Hunt the Flame inspired Bookish Tin: designed by @chattynora

This box arrived earlier than my other boxes so I was surprised when it turned up. Also, my tracking wasn’t updated. Yes, my boxes had been shipped with Hermes…

Anyway! Other than the book, I absolutely loved the Bookish Tin! I love the design and how useful it can be. I’m not sure what I’d put in the tin right now (probably tea, or something) but I’ve already placed it on my shelf. Overall, this was a gorgeous box and again, I was thoroughly impressed.

What are your thoughts on this box? Like any of the items?

 

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Book International Giveaway

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To celebrate my Bookstagram anniversary, I’m holding an International book giveaway where there will be two winners. One winner will win a book of their choice equivalent to $25 and another winner will be an Australian based person who will win a bookish swag pack (candles, book art, book prints, etc.). 

For more details, check out my Bookstagram.

For more details of my International Book Giveaway, check out my Bookstagram. Here is the post.

 

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Bookstaversary (Bookstagram Anniversary)

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Like many people, I’ve always enjoyed reading and then stumbled a little corner of the internet filled with fellow book lovers. I discovered Bookstagram, Booktube, and later, Book twitter and loved the concept of it. After many hours (possibly hours) of perusing Bookstagram and binge-watching Booktube, I decided to join the Book community. One year later, and who knows how much dollars spent, I’ve joined a beautiful community and filled the spaces of both my bookshelf and heart with amazing friends and books. 

I’ve made many book friends in the book community and they spark so much joy in my life. Not only do they hold bookish chats, readathons, but also go above and beyond and somehow sent me bookish candles for my birthday. How sweet and thoughtful! 

The candles my beautiful bookish friends gifted me included two candles—’Cardan’ and ‘Jude’. The two candles are inspired by the characters in The Folk in the Air trilogy (The Cruel Prince). The Cardan candle has a fruity aroma and smells so delicious! On the other hand, the Jude candle smells of cinnamon. Also, not only do these candles smell amazing, they are also gorgeous to look at!

Anyway, the past year has been truly amazing and I am so glad to have joined the online book community.

Bookstagram made me do it. Cruel Prince was the first book Bookstagram influenced me to read. This book is Illumicrate’s edition of The Cruel Prince. Also, look at the gorgeous candles my Bookstagram fam gifted me—aren’t they so pretty?

 

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Girl, Serpent, Thorn | Currently Reading

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After reading on-and-off for a few weeks, I decided to be much more intentional with my reading. And what better way than to join a read-along? FairyLoot holds monthly read-alongs and despite the shipping delays, I received my May book just before the cut-off date to join.

My current read, a YA fantasy

So far, I’m really enjoying it. It’s great to be back into reading.

What are you currently reading?

 

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Sneaking through the window | Book Rambles

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Hello, everyone! My apologies for being a little MIA here. As some of you may or may not know, I’m a frontline worker. More specifically, my specialty lies in critical care (ughh I hate saying that lol). I’ll be honest, given the whole situation in the world, I’ve been feeling quite discouraged. Other than what’s going in the world, work had been (and continues to be) tough and whilst I work with amazing people like with every job, things can be busy and/or overwhelming. Not only that, I had a situation that made me question a few things and as a result lost inspiration to read, blog, and go on Bookstagram.

My self-growth tbr

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Of The Blood | Review

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𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Of The Blood

𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Cameo Renea

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: ★★☆☆☆

I’ll be honest, the cover sucked me right in. The characters look intriguing and deadly. And the premise is promising! However, upon reading this, I discovered this was going to be difficult to rate because whilst I can appreciate this book for what it is, it wasn’t for me.

 

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