Pardon my absence, I’ve been struggling + books to warm your (*my) cold soulless body (that aren’t YA)

Hi, friends! How are you? Hope this blog post finds you well!

How this blog post finds me

Sorry for being away. I swear I’m alive. Being a frontliner* sucks. Lol. ANYWAY!

With everything going on, I’ve been looking for some heart-warming reads that are easy to consume.

P.s who is giving me access to NetGalley?? WHO?? Because my requests keep getting accepted. And whilst I’m happy with every acceptance (YAY, validation!), that means I must WORK. Nevertheless, I keep getting surprised my requests get accepted despite knowing it was me who’s been logging on and begging for ARCs. Why am I like this lol.

๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: The Tea Dragon Tapestry
๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: K. O’Neill
๐ˆ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ: K. O’Neill
๐†๐ž๐ง๐ซ๐ž: Comics & Graphic Novels
๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ซ: Oni Press


Behold! The Tea Dragon Tapestry is a magical heartwarming story. This book is the equivalent of the perfect marshmallow in the form of a book! However, said marshmallow isn’t edible, but it is sure is light, fluffy, and just melts your heart. Plus, it leaves you a slight concern of developing early-onset diabetes from all the sweetness it exudes. Let me just get this out of the way first: I am in love with the art style. The illustrations are gorgeous, soft, and beautifully detailed. The panels are engaging and the art captures and evokes emotions well. This graphic novel is not only heart-warming in the sense of characters and story-telling, but it also explores other avenues such as disabilities, grief, loss, and acceptance. Overall, this was an amazing book and I would highly recommend this book to everyone.


๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: grief, loss, disabilities, acceptance, purpose
๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: fans of graphic novels, people looking for a wholesome, heart-warming read, basically recommend this to everyone
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Oni Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: That Can Be Arranged
๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: Huda Fahmy
๐ˆ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ: Huda Fahmy
๐†๐ž๐ง๐ซ๐ž: Comics & Graphic Novels, Humour
๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ซ: Andrews McMeel Publishing

I’ve been following Fahmy’s Instagram for quite some time and always thought her comics and content were truly funny and great. And this book definitely delivered. ‘That Can Be Arranged’ is an endearing read where we follow Fahmy’s journey to finding a husband. I liked the insights Fahmy shared upon her journey (self-worth, self-love, taking initiative, staying true to your belief, etc.) and how she kept a light-hearted tone despite covering some serious topics. I truly enjoyed this read. There were plenty of moments that made me smile and chuckle.

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: love, self-love, self-worth, taking initiative, staying true to your beliefs
๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: I’d definitely recommend this to any hopeless romantics, fans of Jane Austen, and anyone curious about this book.
Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: Bear
๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: Ben Queen
๐ˆ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ: Joe Todd-Stanton
๐†๐ž๐ง๐ซ๐ž: Comics & Graphic Novels
๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ซ: BOOM! Studios

In Bear, we follow the paw steps of a guide dog named Bear. As a guide dog, Bearโ€™s job is to assist his owner Patrick, who is blind. Patrick and Bear happily live their lives in-sync until the unthinkable happensโ€”Bear loses his sight. Scared heโ€™ll no longer be useful to Patrick and lose his job, Bear then follows the racoons to find a mysterious bear to teach Bear magic for his sight. Despite making friends in unlikely places, Bear finds trouble and then gets lost. Bearโ€™s search is rewarded and reunites with Patrick. After their reunion, Bear undergoes surgery for his eyes. Whilst Bear states he wasnโ€™t โ€œone hundred per centโ€ after the surgery, he notes that he gained something far greater than what he thought he ever wantedโ€”he becomes Patrickโ€™s friend.

Bear is such an endearing character and I found it easy to emotionally invest in him and his endeavours. I enjoyed the themes explored in this book and liked the unique premise of the story and how it highlights the importance of guide dogs. The book also educates the readers regarding how blindness impacts people.

This is a heart-warming read with themes of identity, friendship, and perseverance woven into Bearโ€™s journey. Through his blindness and his tireless search, Bear discovers true friendship and acceptance. His emotional journey for purpose showcases resilience in the face of adversity. Also, I LOVE the illustration! The artwork is adorable and colourful. The art panels are engaging, successfully evoking intended emotions upon reading the book.

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: friendship, acceptance, resilience
๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: This is a book Iโ€™d highly recommend and Iโ€™d definitely buy a copy. I canโ€™t wait to read this to the kids.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.



๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: All The Colors of Life
๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: Lisa Aisato
๐ˆ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ: Lisa Aisato
๐†๐ž๐ง๐ซ๐ž: Arts & Photography
๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ซ: Arctis Books

๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข Gorgeous, breathtakingly beautiful illustrations depicting different phases of life accompanied by short poems.
โ€ข The illustrations are vivid, whimsical, and engaging. I can’t get over how stunning, atmospheric, and expressive each picture is and how well fitted it was to the prose.
โ€ข I feel like this book would be a perfect coffee table book. Great to peruse and keep around.

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: the exploration of human experiences and life
๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: fans of art, everyone
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Artics Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.



๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: Beneath the Trees
๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: Dav
๐ˆ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ: Dav
๐†๐ž๐ง๐ซ๐ž: Children’s Fiction
๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ซ: Diamond Book Distributors


๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข A charming read about a character (Mister Grumpf) who is a grumpy badger trying to rake leaves in front of his house however, gets continually distracted by his neighbours
โ€ข Simple and fun read with a great message (helping those in need)
โ€ข Gorgeous art style with vibrant and a beautiful colour scheme befitting for Autumn/Fall
โ€ข The ending made me chuckle
โ€ข Perfect Autumnal read

๐ˆ๐ง ๐š ๐ง๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ, ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž:
โœ” grumpy characters with a heart of gold
โœ” seasonal mood reader looking for a cozy read
โœ” fan of Disney-like art style/storytelling

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: community, never judge a person by their appearance, kindness
๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: everyone, fans of Disney, those looking for a charming and cozy read
Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.



๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: My Pet Cloud
๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: Amanda Rawson Hill
๐ˆ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐จ๐ซ: Laia Arriols
๐†๐ž๐ง๐ซ๐ž: Children’s Fiction
๐๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ซ: Capstone


๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข A sweet and charming story about a boy and a pet cloud
โ€ข Not only is this a cute read that explores the importance and responsibilities of owning a pet but there is also an educational factor regarding weather and science
โ€ข Beautiful illustrations with a gentle colour palette, befitting of the narrative and themes
โ€ข Perfect read before bedtime

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: responsibilities of having a pet, friendship, educational (weather and science)
๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: young children, curious children, children wanting pets (great conversation starter when discussing responsibilities and compassion)
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher, Capstone for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


How are you?
What are some of your favourite heart-warming reads?

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Jade Fire Gold | Book Review + Tour

Hello and welcome to my stop. Here, this post will include a review, creative content (music), and favourite quotes.
Many thanks to @CaffeineTours and Harper Teen for the opportunity take part in this tour.

You can check out the Tour Schedule here.

UK edition
Art: Aaron Munday
US edition
Art: GUWEIZ


Title: Jade Fire Gold
Author: June CL Tan
Publisher: Harper Teen (US)
Age group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: โ˜… โ˜… โ˜… โ˜… โ˜†
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of character-driven stories, fans of YA fantasy,
On-page Representation: POC (Chinese-coded characters), LGBTQ+ (Sapphic, gay)
Trigger and Content Warnings: self-harm (gouging, eye horror; non-graphic), child abuse (physical, verbal, emotional manipulation/gaslighting), parent death (implied, off-page), character deaths, mentions and descriptions of fantasy/magical violence (blood, war, political violence), mentions and descriptions of physical symptoms that might be triggering to those with emetophobia, alcohol consumption

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

Girls of Paper and Fire meets The Tiger at Midnight in June CL Tanโ€™s stunning debut, inspired by Chinese mythology, with rich magic and an epic slow-burn romance.

In an empire on the brink of war . . .

Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.

Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.

When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.

But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.

Ferocious action, shadowy intrigue, and a captivating romance collide in June CL Tanโ€™s debut, a stunning homage to the Xianxia novel with a tender, beating heart, perfect for fans of The Bone Witch and We Hunt the Flame.

I asked my partner to create music to accompany this book.
I thought this tune was so fitting and atmospheric whilst read the bookโ€”especially at tense times!
Feel free to listen to it.

I received an Advanced Readerโ€™s Copy of this book from the publisher and Caffeine Book Tours as part of my participation in their tour.

OKAY. First things first, weโ€™ve all read the synopsis? Yes? Yes! Now, let me get this off my chest:

This book was pitched as โ€˜Avatar the Last Airbenderโ€™ inspired! More specifically, inspired by Zutara (Zuko X Katara) dynamics??? My little twelve-year-old self is celebrating. OUR TIME HAS COME!!! Zutara!!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ˜ญ๐ŸŽ‰

Yes, please play the song included above as it adds to the hype. Trust me.

AND THEN! Not only does this novel pays homage to Xianxia (Chinese fantasy influenced byChinese mythology, martial arts, religion, and other traditional elements) perfect for fans of We Hunt the Flame?? Good-bye, monies!

Yes, as exemplified above, Jade Fire Gold was a highly anticipated read.

Alright, now that’s out of my system, the review time.

Told in dual POV, we follow Ahn, the orphaned girl with a mysterious past and Altan, an exiled prince with revenge on his mind. When their paths in twined Ahn sees the opportunity to unlock her memories and powers whilst Altan see this as a means to avenge his family and reclaim the throne.

However, in order to gain, one must give. And the two may have bargained more than they can pay.

๐–๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐ :
The writing is simple and easy to follow which makes the narrative easily digestible. Despite the writing being quite straightforward, it paints beautiful scenery, strong emotions, and great attention into little details which are important aspects (such s as weaponry, colour and clothing).

However, my main concern whilst reading this was that I found the pacing jarring at times. For example, there would be moments where I feel like I was trudging through the desert, in the middle of the day with no water (this was only the first ~30%). And then there are times were it feels like weโ€™re rushing through a whirlwind of events.

Of course, this could be a โ€œmeโ€ thing as I like to get into the โ€˜meatโ€™ of the plot early in the book soo I can divulge myself with more details throughout the journey. Donโ€™t let this deter you!

๐–๐จ๐ซ๐ฅ๐-๐›๐ฎ๐ข๐ฅ๐๐ข๐ง๐ :
Iโ€™m a huge fan of Asian mythology and Asian-inspired stories, so I found it enjoyable finding little nuggets or Lore sprinkles throughout the novel.

๐‚๐ก๐š๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ:
Ahn: one of the protagonist starts off naive and I found her passive at the beginning but I did like how she started to develop and become more confident and critical.

Altan: I found it hard to connect to his character due to his angst, however, I did come to appreciate his character. I liked how he started becoming more open and honest.

๐‘๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐œ๐ž:
I admit Iโ€™m a huge sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope, I enjoy it mainly because I love seeing the relationship develop over time (and often begrudgingly ๐Ÿ˜) and I love the banter. In this case, there was no romance until about halfway, which I didnโ€™t mind it so! I just wished we couldโ€™ve seen the two develop their relationship more. As I really enjoyed reading Ahn and Altanโ€™s interactions and dynamics.

๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข The writing is simple and easy which made this book quick to fly though
โ€ข Intriguing world-building yet consists of common elements in a YA Fantasy, therefore perfect for those who enjoy certain tropes (Royal characters, reunited with someone, dislike to like, finding the magical artefact, etc.) and genres (fantasy).

๐†๐‘๐ˆ๐๐„:
โ€ข The pacing at times (tit took me a while to get into the first 30% or so of the book but then I got so hooked after that)

โ€ข Why was there a need to put chopsticks in ones hair?? That really took me out.

Being of Asian descent and being a diaspora, Iโ€™m aware of the historical context of the use of chopsticks in the hair and the micro aggression regarding that. However, I acknowledge that I am not a Chinese and therefore, perhaps Iโ€™m not familiar with all the nuance.

Edit:

I read another review and noted that the author responded to concerns regarding chopsticks in the hair. I suggest you check out this review!

The author stated that the chopsticks were not for use of eating but rather a concealed weapon.

๐ˆ๐ง ๐š ๐ง๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ, ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž:
โœ” Zutara inspired dynamics (exiled Prince X peasant girl with mysterious powers)
โœ” forbidden magic
โœ” East Asian (Chinese) mythology inspired fantasy

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: empire (explores imperialism), legacy, fate, choice, and power

๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: fans of character driven stories, fans of YA fantasy or new to or enjoy Xianxia or Chinese influenced mythology

๐‚๐–: death, war, gore, torture, murder

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

Some favourite quotes:

โ€œ๐‡๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ง๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ซ๐ข๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ง ๐›๐ฒ ๐ข๐ญ๐ฌ ๐ฏ๐ข๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ฌ.โ€

โ€œ๐ˆ๐ญ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐ข๐œ๐ž. ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ค๐ง๐จ๐ฐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ: ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐œ๐ก๐จ๐ข๐œ๐ž ๐ก๐š๐ฌ ๐ข๐ญ๐ฌ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ž๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž, ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ฐ๐ž๐ข๐ ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ฌ๐ž๐ช๐ฎ๐ž๐ง๐œ๐ž๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐š๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง๐ฌ.โ€

โ€œ๐’๐จ๐ฆ๐ž๐ญ๐ข๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ, ๐๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ง๐จ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐จ๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐๐จ.โ€

June CL Tan grew up in Singapore where she was raised on a diet of classic books and wuxia movies, caffeine and congee. She holds various degrees in communication studies, education, and film. After teaching for a few years, she took a detour into the finance industry. To no oneโ€™s surprise, she soon realized her mistake and made her escape. Now, she resides in New York City, talking to imaginary people and creating fantastical worlds under the watchful eye of her crafty cat. She enjoys telling stories that draw on both the traditional and modern to create something fresh to the eye, but familiar to the heart. Jade Fire Gold is her debut novel. 

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | TikTok

Again, please feel free to follow the next tour stops. The Tour Schedule can be found here.

Have you read this? Will you be reading Jade Fire Gold?

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I Hate You More | Book Review

Title: I Hate You More
Author: Lucy Gilmore
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: โ˜… โ˜… โ˜… โ˜… โ˜†
๐—ฆ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ: ๐ŸŒถ ๐ŸŒถ
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of light-hearted romance, dogs, ambitious main characters
CW: mentions starving oneself, mentions gambling

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

Discover what makes Lucy Gilmore an instant fan favorite with this unforgettably funny enemies-to-lovers romcom starring:
โ€ข a grumpy dog show judge
โ€ข a determined former beauty queen
โ€ข and a Golden Retriever more interested in stealing bacon than winning Best in Show.


Ruby Taylor gave up pageant life the day she turned eighteen and figured she’d never look back. But when an old friend begs her to show her beloved Golden Retriever at the upcoming Canine Classic, Ruby reluctantly straps on her heels and gets to work.

If only she knew exactly what the adorably lazy lump of a dog was getting her into.

If there’s one thing veterinarian Spencer Wilson knows in this world, it’s dogs. Human beings are an entirely different animal. Especially stubborn, gorgeous women clearly in way over their heads. As judge for the local dog show, Spencer advises Ruby to quit while she still can, but her old fervor for winning has returnedโ€•and she wants to show the stern, broody-eyed judge that she’s more than just a pretty face. In the end, she’ll show him who’s best in show.

With many years of beauty pageantry under her belt and a taciturn Golden Retriever in lead, Ruby Taylor has what it takes to make her dog win the dog show. Never mind the fact that Wheezy, the Golden Retriever with questionable heritage, isnโ€™t really her dog or may not respond to commands. Or calls. Or anything, really. But with a self-proclaimed dog trainer and numerous cheeseburgers in hand, Ruby and Wheezy have what it takes to win. The only thing standing in her way of winning is one particular dog show judgeโ€”Spencer Wilson.

As a veterinarian and dog show judge, Spencer thinks itโ€™s an absolute joke and offence to the Classic Canine show that Wheezy, a mutt, is here to win. But with Rubyโ€™s grit determination and Wheezyโ€™s unique charm, they may just win more than a gold medal.

๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข The premise alone lured me to this book because who doesnโ€™t love dogs, a veterinarian + dog judge love interest, and a dog pageant?!
โ€ข I liked the characters here: the star of the show, Wheezy, the questionable Golden Retriever was the cutest! The main character, Ruby, was ambitious, determined, and strived for more. The love interest was taciturn, strict, yet genuine and shy. The side characters (Mrs Orson, Eva, Caleb, etc.) were fun and endearing.
โ€ข This was an entertaining, cute quick read with funny and heart-warming moments. There was little spice but not too much.

๐†๐‘๐ˆ๐๐„:
โ€ข The relationship lacked depth. Whilst I enjoyed the two main characters and their interactions, I failed to see how their attractions developed into love and how they claimed to have loved each other.
โ€ข Some scenes felt like it came out of nowhere? I had to reread certain parts to ensure I did read it right.
โ€ข I appreciate how they wanted the MC (Ex-beauty pageant) to be more than her looks, however, the story constantly referred her to her outward appearance and it felt counterproductive at times.

๐ˆ๐ง ๐š ๐ง๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž๐ฅ๐ฅ, ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐ข๐Ÿ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ค๐ž:
โœ” dogs
โœ” grumpy X sunshine characters
โœ” enemies (sort of) to lovers
โœ” slow-burn romance

โ€œ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐๐จ ๐š๐ง๐ฒ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฉ๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฆ๐ข๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐จ. ๐“๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ข๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ ๐š ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฆ๐š๐ง ๐ฐ๐ก๐จ ๐ฌ๐ฉ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐š๐ซ ๐ญ๐จ๐จ ๐ฆ๐š๐ง๐ฒ ๐ฒ๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ฌ ๐๐จ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ก๐ž ๐ฐ๐š๐ฌ ๐ญ๐จ๐ฅ๐. ๐‹๐ข๐Ÿ๐ž ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐œ๐ก ๐›๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐ฐ๐ก๐ž๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ข๐ญ ๐จ๐ง ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐จ๐ฐ๐ง ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฆ๐ฌ.โ€

~ ๐‘ณ๐’–๐’„๐’š ๐‘ฎ๐’Š๐’๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’†, ๐‘ฐ ๐‘ฏ๐’‚๐’•๐’† ๐’€๐’๐’– ๐‘ด๐’๐’“๐’†

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: self-acceptance, family dynamics

๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: fans of light-hearted romance, dogs, ambitious main characters

๐‚๐–: mentions starving oneself, mentions gambling

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (Sourcebook Casablanca) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ๐Œ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ซ๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ž๐ฐ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐›๐ž ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐จ๐ง ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐›๐ฅ๐จ๐ : ๐›๐จ๐จ๐ค๐ฌ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก๐ฃ๐จ๐ฒ.๐œ๐จ๐ฆ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐›๐ž ๐ฉ๐จ๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐จ๐ง ๐ฆ๐ฒ ๐›๐ฅ๐จ๐  ๐ฎ๐ฉ๐จ๐ง ๐ฉ๐ฎ๐›๐ฅ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐๐š๐ญ๐ž.

๐˜—๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ: ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ง๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ˆ๐˜ฅ๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜™๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜Š๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜บ (๐˜ˆ๐˜™๐˜Š) ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฃ๐˜ซ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ถ๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ.

This book will be published on 2 November 2021, check it out!

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Ace of Spades | Book Review

Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Faridah ร€bรญkรฉ-รyรญmรญdรฉย 
Publisher: Usborneย Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller
Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: everyone, fans of YA thrillers and thrillers
CW: racism, death, homophobia, gaslighting, abuse (bullying, etc.)

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice.

Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.


Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.

Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…ย 

๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข love the narration, the tension and the suspense! I NEEDED to find the answers and refused to put this book down
โ€ข I love the two main charactersโ€”Chiamaka and Devon are both strong and endearing characters in their own right. Chiamaka’s strong-willed, go-getter attitude is something I admire
โ€ข Devon is sweet and caring, but willing to do what it takes for his loved ones
โ€ข The ending!

๐†๐‘๐ˆ๐๐„:
โ€ข pacing at the first 20% felt slow although I can understand the set-up

๐—ง๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜„๐—ต๐—ถ๐—น๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด:

0-10%: Wow, this is so fun. I already like the narration. Chiamaka is the best and I like Devon

Wait WHAT!!!!!! What are they talking about???!!

17%: Ahhh!! The gaslighting is so annoying!!

I don’t know if it’s just my version and the format, but it’s difficult to know who’s narrating at times. (Or maybe I just lack the brain cells… yes, that must be it…)

Chiamaka is pretty naive at times… I DON’T LIKE THIS PERSON, CHI!!

Ahhh!! Don’t trust anyone!! PLEASE!!!

25% ONWARDS: asdhjlsgkl;gslk ????!!!!

Cue song: ‘Oh no’ by Capone.

Honestly, from the 25% mark to the 100% I was on the edge of my seat, anxiously flying through the pages. BUT to ease things up, I did enjoy the ending.

but I’m still thinking about everything… and it’s got me like this:

TO SUM IT UP:

๐–๐ก๐ฒ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฌ๐ก๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ซ๐ž๐š๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ข๐ฌ ๐›๐จ๐จ๐ค:
โ€ข A nuanced take on and the exploration of institutional and systematic racism, classism, white supremacy, and sexuality
โ€ข A queer black story that shows a peek of living under the gaze of white supremacy

โ™ ๏ธ Ace of Spades is a heart-racing and heart-wrenching story with compelling and endearing characters and haunting social commentary. Real and raw, terrifying and thought-provoking, Ace of Spades is a must-read.

โ€œ๐ˆ ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฉ ๐ฆ๐ฒ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฅ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ๐ซ๐จ๐ฆ ๐š๐ฉ๐จ๐ฅ๐จ๐ ๐ข๐ณ๐ข๐ง๐ -๐›๐ž๐œ๐š๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ž ๐ฐ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฐ๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ˆ ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ง ๐›๐ž ๐ฌ๐จ๐ซ๐ซ๐ฒ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ? ๐„๐ฑ๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐  ๐ญ๐จ๐จ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฎ๐?โ€

Faridah ร€bรญkรฉ-รyรญmรญdรฉ, Ace of Spades

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: race, class, sexuality, and familial themes

๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: everyone, fans of YA thrillers, and thrillers

๐‚๐–: racism, death, homophobia, gaslighting, abuse (bullying, etc.)

Thank you to @NetGalley and the publisher (@UsborneYA) for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.ย 

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The Wolf and the Woodsman | Book Review

Title: The Wolf and the Woodsman
Author: Ava Reid
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…
Where can I get this? Goodreads | Booktopia | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble
Recommended for: fans of atmospheric reads set in a magical forest setting, fans of intricate world-building, fans of enemies to lovers
CW: torture, animal deaths, death, self-harm, gore (dismemberment, amputation, mutilation) antisemitism, child abuse, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing

Check out the Goodreads synopsis below!

In her forest-veiled pagan village, ร‰vike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodlineโ€”her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the kingโ€™s blood sacrifice, ร‰vike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but ร‰vike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except heโ€™s no ordinary Woodsmanโ€”heโ€™s the disgraced prince, Gรกspรกr Bรกrรกny, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gรกspรกr fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gรกspรกr understands what itโ€™s like to be an outcast, and he and ร‰vike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as ร‰vike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gรกspรกr need to decide whose side theyโ€™re on, and what theyโ€™re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all. 

๐†๐”๐’๐‡:
โ€ข rich and evocative world-building, great atmospheric read
โ€ข compelling, lyrical writing
โ€ข Jewish mythology inspired
โ€ข Prideful prince brought to his knees
โ€ข ร‰vikeโ€™s (MC) relationship with a certain family member

๐†๐‘๐ˆ๐๐„:
โ€ข pacing especially the last 10%
โ€ข I wish we could witness more resolution regarding certain aspects

Writing:
The writing style immediately drew me in. Whimsical and magical at times, thereโ€™s a dark and gritty atmosphere throughout the novel which is quite fitting to the tone of the story.

Romance:
If youโ€™re a fan of enemies-to-lovers that are not only stuck with each other but must work together, boy, do I have a book for you. Thereโ€™s a romance that will bring you to your knees. Your knees.

Setting & World-Building:
As previously mentioned, this novel is inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology. Additionally, the author states that this is a work reflecting and exploring nation-building. Therefore, brutal themes such as cultural genocide, ethnic cleansing, and religious persecution are explored in this novel.

Also, the scenes and experiences in this novel may give off visceral reactions. There were times where I had to physically put down the book and think, pace around the room, and pick the book up again. For me, being in the diaspora, struggles with identity and searching for a sense of belonging evoked such feelings and emotions I canโ€™t quite articulate yet as I witnessed ร‰vikeโ€™s journey. ร‰vike is a character that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. Despite exploring heavy themes, Reid ensures that joy, wit, and hope are woven throughout the story and I adored it. This is particularly evident when ร‰vike is reunited with a certain character and certain interactions with characters.

Overall, The Wolf and the Woodsman is a riveting read, a book that must be savoured upon reading.

โ€œ๐๐ฎ๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฎ๐ง๐๐ž๐ซ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐จ๐, ๐š๐ฌ ๐ˆ ๐๐จ, ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฌ๐ฎ๐ซ๐ฏ๐ข๐ฏ๐š๐ฅ ๐ข๐ฌ ๐ง๐จ๐ญ ๐š ๐›๐š๐ญ๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฐ๐ข๐ง ๐จ๐ง๐ฅ๐ฒ ๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ž.
๐˜๐จ๐ฎ ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐ข๐ญ ๐š๐ ๐š๐ข๐ง ๐ž๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ฒ ๐๐š๐ฒ. ๐€๐ง๐ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐ญ๐š๐ค๐ž ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐ฌ๐ฆ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ž๐ฌ ๐ฌ๐จ ๐ญ๐ก๐š๐ญ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐œ๐š๐ง ๐ฅ๐ข๐ฏ๐ž ๐ญ๐จ ๐Ÿ๐ข๐ ๐ก๐ญ ๐ญ๐จ๐ฆ๐จ๐ซ๐ซ๐จ๐ฐ.โ€

๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐‘พ๐’๐’๐’‡ ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐‘พ๐’๐’๐’…๐’”๐’Ž๐’‚๐’, ๐‘จ๐’—๐’‚ ๐‘น๐’†๐’Š๐’…

๐“๐ก๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ฌ: culture, religion, and identity are explored in this novel

๐‘๐ž๐œ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ž๐ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ซ: fans of atmospheric reads set in a magical forest setting, fans of intricate world-building, fans of enemies to lovers

๐‚๐–: torture, animal deaths, death, self-harm, gore (dismemberment, amputation, mutilation) antisemitism, child abuse, cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing

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

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OwlCrate October 2020 | Unboxing

OwlCrate October 2020: Legends and Lore

๐—™๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

๐— ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ต๐—น๐˜† ๐—˜๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—น ๐—ฃ๐—ถ๐—ป: designed by @HeyAtlasCreative

๐—ช๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐— ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—น๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ช๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—–๐—ต๐—ถ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜€: from Team @OwlCrate

๐—ฆ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐——๐—ฎ๐˜„๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—•๐—ผ๐˜„๐—น ๐—–๐—ผ๐˜‡๐˜†: designed by Janine Lecour

๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฟ-๐—ง๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ค๐˜‚๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ผ ๐—ฃ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ: designed by @LadyChubbLetters

๐—š๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—น๐˜€ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—™๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—š๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜€๐˜€ ๐—ก๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—น ๐—™๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฒ: by Team OwlCrate

๐—” ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ช๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐˜๐—ต๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—ฅ๐˜‚๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ฎ๐—ฝ ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ฟ: created by @MotherlandEssentials

๐—ฅ๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—”๐˜‚๐—ฑ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ: complimentary from Libro.FM

๐—ข๐˜„๐—น๐—–๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ ๐—ฒ๐˜…๐—ฐ๐—น๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ถ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ ๐˜€๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ธ ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ธ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—ช๐—ฒ ๐—™๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜€

 

My thoughts:

With the limited sneak peaks for that month I was so excited for this box. Not only due to the theme and the book in question, but also how it exclusively features BIPOC sellers and inspired books. However, upon opening the box, I couldn’t help but feel… disappointed. I feel like this theme could have been explored further and be more creative in terms of design and items. I’ll be honest, I feel cheated with this box. I am a POC myself, so naturally, I want to support BIPOC sellers but I feel like this box doesn’t showcase the theme well. Plus, with the lack of BIPOC sellers… I just… SIGH

In terms of the theme, designs, and items, I felt like there was no cohesiveness. I don’t know how the items and design relate to the the inspired books and overall theme. The items feel so randomly shoved together and I suppose this may be due to the fact that I haven’t read some of the books. However, for the books listed that I have read, I don’t understand the choice of items.  For example, I mean, one could do so much with Spin the Dawn. I feel like only the design relates the the book. And not to criticise the design or item–I do appreciate the item and design. The bowl cozy design is gorgeous and wonderfully made. However, I question how it relates to Spin the Dawn other than the cover of the book?  I don’t know.  Like, I do appreciate how useful the items are, but I don’t understand how they relate to each other and the theme?

Cost: I really do not feel like this box was worth my money. However, I am an international buyer so I understand that our currency is weaker than the USD plus shipping expenses, however, I feel like other than the soap, the items could be purchased on cheap websites like WISH and ALIEXPRESS for a fraction of the price. Friends, with the change of shipping, I pay approximately $77+ AUD for this box.  I just feel like slapping quotes on items and claiming it’s exclusive… I don’t think I can justify paying over $77 for that… Also, other than the soap, I would not purchase any of this items for myself. I wouldn’t go as far as say that I’m a minimalist, but I don’t really like to purchase items I don’t use nor need. It’s a shame because since discovering OwlCrate last year I’ve always loved them. I enjoy their monthly picks and loved their items. Perhaps this particular month wasn’t for me.

Conclusion: I’m not too fond of the items but I do love this month’s book. I accidentally slipped up my dates and purchased the November box, so, I will see how that box goes and will determine whether I would like to continue OwlCrate or not. Which is a huge bummer because I usually love OwlCrate book picks and their items.

What are your thoughts on this box?

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FairyLoot September 2020 | Unboxing

FairyLoot September 2020: Under the Sea

๐—™๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—•๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ธ: Fable by Adrienne Young

Not the best picture, but the edges are sprayed a gorgeous glittery aquamarine colour
Authorโ€™s signature

๐— ๐—ผ๐—ป๐˜๐—ต๐—น๐˜† ๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐˜€: Nevernight inspired characters illustrated by Katherine Britt

๐—ง๐—ผ ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฎ ๐—ž๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐— ๐˜‚๐—ด: designed by @gabrielleragusi

Quote: โ€œItโ€™s like holding a story rather than a poison she feels wild and infinite in my arms.โ€

๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฆ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ ๐—ช๐—ถ๐˜๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฃ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—น ๐—–๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ฒ: designed by Ink and Wonder

๐—›๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ฟ ๐—•๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐˜€๐—ต: with a nautical design

๐—ข๐—บ๐—ฏ๐—ฟรฉ ๐— ๐—ฒ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ฆ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐˜„๐˜€: with quotes โ€˜โ€™make wavesโ€ and โ€œbeach pleaseโ€

๐—จ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฎ ๐—ถ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—˜๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—น ๐—ž๐—ฒ๐˜†๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป: designed by Ink and Wonder

Quote: โ€œPoor Unfortunate Soulsโ€

๐—ฃ๐—ผ๐˜€๐˜๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ ๐—ณ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—บ ๐—”๐˜๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐˜€: illustrated by @taratjah

What are your thoughts on this box?

My thoughts: I absolutely love nautical themes and aesthetic, however, this didnโ€™t have the same oomph factor as last months for both items and design. For me, I believe itโ€™s due to the fact that there are so many avenues one can go with a nautical theme. It feels like this month has focused on the โ€˜Little Mermaidโ€™ rather than an overall sea setting or books with a sea setting. I guess this is reflective on the name of the theme. ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ˜…

In terms of items, I like how useful the mug, hairbrush, and reuseable straws are, but I usually prefer buy my own type of hairbrush. Also, this hairbrush may not be useful for all types of hair. However, I thought the resuseable straws were a great idea.

In terms of design, I love how cohesive this theme is for colour. I love the use of blue and aquamarine. However, the pencil case is not my favourite item nor do I feel like I have much use for the enamel keychain. Nevertheless, the items are gorgeous.

๐๐จ๐ญ๐ƒ: Have you read Fabled? What are your thoughts on it? Otherwise, what did you think of this box?

๐€๐จ๐ญ๐ƒ: Iโ€™m so excited to read Fable! Iโ€™ve heard so many great things about ๐Ÿ˜„ plus I absolutely love books with a sea setting ๐ŸŒŠ

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Monstrous Heart | Review

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Title: Monstrous Heart

Series: The Monstrous Heart Trilogy (#1)

Author: Claire McKenna

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜†โ˜†โ˜†

Where can I find this? GoodReads | Book Depository | Booktopia |

Recommended for: Fans of flowery writing, dark romance

 

In Monstrous Heart, we follow Arden, tasked to keep the lighthouse burning with her magical blood. Readers are promised a gothic feel so thereโ€™s a melancholic voice in the narration which works well with the story. However, there were some instances where the prose felt excessively flowery to the point of confusion (at the beginning). Despite that, I did like how the narration complemented the story and overall atmosphere of the novel.

Unfortunately, the world-building felt lacking in some areas. Whilst there was focus on certain aspects (such as characters) which was great, the narration never solidified the world thereby leaving readers confused and baseless. For example, terms and concepts were presented yet never fully explored. Also, the novel utilised words and places from our world (โ€˜Fictionโ€™ and โ€˜Manhattanโ€™) as names of places which felt jarring upon reading.

Despite that, I did like how Arden was portrayed to be determined and hard-working. I also liked and was intrigued by the concept of sea monsters and the world. I just wished the world-building was fleshed out more. Monstrous Heart held so much promise, however, I feel that this book wasnโ€™t for me. If youโ€™re a fan of flowery writing and a determined protagonist, this may be for you. The elements in this story held great potential and I am curious to see more from this author.

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

CW: sexual assault, attempted rape, and violence

 

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Bear | Review

Copy of Copy of to kill a kingdom (1)

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๐“๐ข๐ญ๐ฅ๐ž: Bear

๐€๐ฎ๐ญ๐ก๐จ๐ซ: Ben Queen

Illustrator: Joe Todd-Stanton

Publisher: Archaia

Genre: Childrenโ€™s Fiction

๐‘๐š๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐ : โ˜… โ˜… โ˜… โ˜… โ˜…

In Bear, we follow the paw steps of a guide dog named Bear. As a guide dog, Bearโ€™s job is to assist his owner Patrick, who is blind. Patrick and Bear happily live their lives in-sync until the unthinkable happensโ€”Bear loses his sight. Scared heโ€™ll no longer be useful to Patrick and lose his job, Bear then follows the racoons to find a mysterious bear to teach Bear magic for his sight. Despite making friends in unlikely places, Bear finds trouble and then gets lost.

Bearโ€™s search is rewarded and reunites with Patrick. Upon their reunion, Bear undergoes surgery for his eyes. Whilst Bear states he wasnโ€™t โ€œone hundred per centโ€ after the surgery, he notes that he gained something far greater than what he thought he ever wantedโ€”he becomes Patrickโ€™s friend.

Bear is such an endearing character and I found it easy to emotionally invest in him and his endeavours. I enjoyed the themes explored in this book and liked the unique premise of the story and how it highlights the importance of guide dogs. The book also educates the readers regarding how blindness impacts people.

This is a heart-warming read with themes of identity, friendship, and perseverance woven into Bearโ€™s journey. Through his blindness and his tireless search, Bear discovers true friendship and acceptance. His emotional journey for purpose showcases resilience in the face of adversity.

Also, I LOVE the illustration! The artwork is adorable and colourful. The art panels are engaging, successfully evoking intended emotions upon reading the book.

This is a book Iโ€™d highly recommend and Iโ€™d definitely buy a copy. I canโ€™t wait to read this to the kids.

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

 

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Lobizona | Review

Copy of Copy of to kill a kingdom (1)

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Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: โ˜…โ˜…โ˜…โ˜†โ˜†

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

โ€œYouโ€™re saying if no oneโ€™s told my story beforeโ€ฆ I get to tell it the way I want?โ€ ~ Romina Garber, Lobizona

Behold! Marvel at this cover art! Read the synopsis! Isnโ€™t this promising? Doesnโ€™t this make you wish you had a copy? Because, yesโ€”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 fatherโ€™s past, Manu is undocumented and unprotected. Isolated due to hiding, secrecy is Manuโ€™s constant companion besides Perla and Ma. But hiding Manu isnโ€™t the only secret that gets discovered. When Manuโ€™s mother is taken by ICE, Manu discovers a magical world that is eerily familiarโ€ฆ 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 Manuโ€™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 youโ€™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 wonโ€™t get it. Iโ€™ll be honest, Iโ€™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. thatโ€™s how I learntโ€”when a family member spoke). Often, Iโ€™d have to pause and read passages aloud for my two brain cells to figure out the translation. Yes, Iโ€™m a child of immigrant parents and as a result, lost my motherโ€™s tongue to assimilating to the culture I lived inโ€ฆ Iโ€™m like the meme:

โ€˜Me? Bilingual? More like, bye-lingualโ€™

Therefore, pausing and rereading some phrases often impacted my reading experience. Iโ€™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 wonโ€™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%, thatโ€™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! Iโ€™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 canโ€™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, sheโ€™ll take it. I liked that about her. However, the chosen one trope is strong in this one. If youโ€™re not a fan, you may not enjoy the incessant specialness of Manu. Iโ€™m a fan of the chosen trope so Iโ€™m never really bothered by such thingsโ€”in fact, I relish in it.

Other than Manu, there is a large cast in this book (I canโ€™t remember all their names but I remember Cata and Sasyaโ€”the two other girls). I enjoyed Manuโ€™s and Sasyaโ€™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 wasnโ€™t a fan of how that part was portrayed like the typical ‘popular girl mean to the new girl’ trope.

Another aspect I didnโ€™t enjoy was the romance. long sigh yes, the romance. I didnโ€™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 couldnโ€™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. Manuโ€™s fear of discovery rings true to too many people. Garber writes well, enveloping the reader into Manuโ€™s world that you feel the constant fear and even the threat in living. But despite the fear, thereโ€™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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