September 2021 TBR

September 2021 TBR

I have a lot of hope for my September TBR! Not only have I painstakingly put in the time to pick these books, I made sure to follow my own advice and give myself space to breathe. I’m also organizing my reads and trying some new methods to maximize my reading time everyday. It’s a big experiment with lots of hope and I can’t wait to share it all with you throughout the month.

This month, I’m finally getting into The Wheel of Time ahead of the TV series premiering in November, I’m reading some very new releases, some excited sequels, a little bit of romance, and even a middle grade book! I can’t wait to dive into all of these. Here’s what I’ll be reading.

The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

This is the second book in the Wheel of Time series and I’m so excited to finally read it. I’ve actually carved out a good chunk of this month dedicating it to this story because I just want to get lost in a good fantasy story.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

For centuries, gleemen have told the tales of The Great Hunt of the Horn. So many tales about each of th Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of…Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages. And it is stolen.


Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Good Omens meets The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet in this defiantly joyful adventure set in California’s San Gabriel Valley, with cursed violins, Faustian bargains, and queer alien courtship over fresh-made donuts.

Shizuka Satomi made a deal with the devil: to escape damnation, she must entice seven other violin prodigies to trade their souls for success. She has already delivered six.

When Katrina Nguyen, a young transgender runaway, catches Shizuka’s ear with her wild talent, Shizuka can almost feel the curse lifting. She’s found her final candidate.

But in a donut shop off a bustling highway in the San Gabriel Valley, Shizuka meets Lan Tran, retired starship captain, interstellar refugee, and mother of four. Shizuka doesn’t have time for crushes or coffee dates, what with her very soul on the line, but Lan’s kind smile and eyes like stars might just redefine a soul’s worth. And maybe something as small as a warm donut is powerful enough to break a curse as vast as the California coastline.

As the lives of these three women become entangled by chance and fate, a story of magic, identity, curses, and hope begins, and a family worth crossing the universe for is found.


The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

This is the first adult fantasy novel from Zoraida Cordova. I loved her Incendiary series and her Brooklyn Brujas, so I know I’ll enjoy this immensely.

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers.

Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador—to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back.


Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M Lee

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Lori M. Lee’s middle grade debut about a lonely Hmong girl who discovers she’s a powerful shaman warrior in this fantasy inspired by Southeast Asian mythology.

“I love the adventures Pahua has in this book. I also love the sense of humor, the clever plotting, and the fantastic cast of characters. But most of all I love Pahua: her courage, her kindness, and her love for family.”–NYT best-selling author Rick Riordan

Pahua Moua has a bit of a reputation for being a weirdo. A lonely eleven-year-old Hmong girl with the unique ability to see spirits, she spends her summer days babysitting her little brother and playing with her best friend, a cat spirit no one else can see.

One day Pahua accidentally untethers an angry spirit from the haunted bridge in her neighborhood–whoops. When her brother suddenly falls sick and can’t be awoken, Pahua fears that the bridge spirit has stolen his soul. She returns to the scene of the crime with her aunt’s old shaman tools, hoping to confront the spirit and demand her brother’s return. Instead, she summons a demon.

Thankfully, a warrior shaman with a bit of an attitude problem shows up at the last minute and saves her butt. With the help of this guide, Pahua will have to find her way through the spirit worlds and rescue her brother’s soul before it’s too late. Little does she know she’ll have her own discoveries to make along the way. . . .

With its unforgettable characters, unique nature-based magic system, breathtaking twists and reveals, and climactic boss battle, this story based on Hmong oral tradition offers everything a fantasy lover could want.


Jade War by Fonda Lee

In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.


The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.

Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.

As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

In this witty and heartwarming romantic comedy—reminiscent of Red, White & Royal Blue and One to Watch—an awkward tech wunderkind on a reality dating show goes off-script when sparks fly with his producer.


Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.


Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

Long ago, a magical war destroyed an empire, and a new one was built in its ashes. But still the old grudges simmer, and two siblings will fight on opposite sides to save their world, in the start of Django Wexler’s new epic fantasy trilogy

Gyre hasn’t seen his beloved sister since their parents sold her to the mysterious Twilight Order. Now, twelve years after her disappearance, Gyre’s sole focus is revenge, and he’s willing to risk anything and anyone to claim enough power to destroy the Order.

Chasing rumors of a fabled city protecting a powerful artifact, Gyre comes face-to-face with his lost sister. But she isn’t who she once was. Trained to be a warrior, Maya wields magic for the Twilight Order’s cause. Standing on opposite sides of a looming civil war, the two siblings will learn that not even the ties of blood will keep them from splitting the world in two.

August 2021 wrap up: what I learned from a tumultuous month of reading

August 2021 wrap up: what I learned from a tumultuous month of reading

Have you ever started your month with some pretty hopeful feelings only to really struggle through it? I started August with a lot of hopeful reads and ended up with a completely different feeling than I had when I first started the month. Let me tell you how glad I am August is over so I can start again in September.

I had put together a TBR of eight books, my regular routine, and excited to read them all. But the first book I picked up was a DNF. Then I read a couple that were exceptional. Then I picked up another DNF book mostly because I wasn’t in the right headspace to read it. Then I had a wonderful little streak of books only to end it with another DNF.

It’s always frustrating when you struggle through a book, go through the routine of whether you want to keep reading the book, and then dump the book despite the number of hours and days you spent putting time into it. However, I’m trying to get better at that aspect and really learned a lot of lessons this month. Before I go into my reading, I wanted to share them:

  • Let books that you aren’t loving go: This is probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned this month. Give myself 100 pages to read a book and if it doesn’t grab me in anyway, let it go. Either make the decision to put it off for another day or put it in the donate pile. But I’m no longer sacrificing so much of my energy and time to read a book that I hope will get better as I continue.
  • Always have some backups when you’re feeling burnt out: I put too many fantasy and science fiction books back to back with very little room for me to decompress. In future months, I want backups so that if I’m not feeling a book at that time, I can pick up a contemporary story to just cleanse the palate a little.
  • It’s okay if you haven’t read as much as you wanted to: I always get mad when I don’t read as many books (if not more) than I expect during the month. I need to let this go too. Reading one book is better than forcing yourself to read eight when you’re not in the right mindset. Reading may be a part of my self-care, but there’s also great value in rest.
  • You can always try again next month: Not finishing the books by the end of the month isn’t the end of the world. And a crappy month can be fixed with a new month of reads. Don’t be discouraged by a crappy reading month because there’s always next month to try again.

I hope these reminders help you out if you’re having trouble with reading lately. Here’s what I ended up reading this month (with links to my reviews if available):

Pub Day Picks // August 31, 2021

I need to say it, August isn’t my favorite month. It’s the end of summer feeling and it’s longer so I feel like summer lasts forever. I wish I would love it more, but I think the only positive thing I can say about August ending is that it’s ending with a big publishing bang. There’s so many great stories coming out today and I can’t wait to read all of them. Here’s my picks:

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this heartfelt new romance by USA Today bestselling author Helen Hoang.

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange.

Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Woods are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

I was so surprised to see Stephanie Perkins writes YA thrillers now. I had read her Anna and the French Kiss series many moons ago, so it’s surprising that she’s made the switch.

New from bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, and the perfect companion to her New York Times bestseller There’s Someone Inside Your House, soon to be a Netflix feature.

Bears aren’t the only predators in these woods.

Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest.

Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

Stephanie Perkins, the bestselling author of There’s Someone Inside Your House, returns with a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching novel about friendship, survival, and navigating unmarked paths even as evil watches from the shadows
.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


Forestborn by Elayne Audrey Becker

I just finished reading this one and I’m totally in love with the story. I’ll have the review up in a couple of days, but I highly recommend it!

TO BE BORN OF THE FOREST IS A GIFT AND A CURSE.

Rora is a shifter, as magical as all those born in the wilderness–and as feared. She uses her abilities to spy for the king, traveling under different guises and listening for signs of trouble.

When a magical illness surfaces across the kingdom, Rora uncovers a devastating truth: Finley, the young prince and her best friend, has caught it, too. His only hope is stardust, the rarest of magical elements, found deep in the wilderness where Rora grew up–and to which she swore never to return.

But for her only friend, Rora will face her past and brave the dark, magical wood, journeying with her brother and the obstinate, older prince who insists on coming. Together, they must survive sentient forests and creatures unknown, battling an ever-changing landscape while escaping human pursuers who want them dead. With illness gripping the kingdom and war on the horizon, Finley’s is not the only life that hangs in the balance.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

June Jones emerges from her shell to fight for her beloved local library, and through the efforts and support of an eclectic group of library patrons, she discovers life-changing friendships along the way.

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

Joining a band of eccentric yet dedicated locals in a campaign to keep the library, June opens herself up to other people for the first time since her mother died. It just so happens that her old school friend Alex Chen is back in town and willing to lend a helping hand. The kindhearted lawyer’s feelings for her are obvious to everyone but June, who won’t believe that anyone could ever care for her in that way.

To save the place and the books that mean so much to her, June must finally make some changes to her life. For once, she’s determined not to go down without a fight. And maybe, in fighting for her cherished library, June can save herself, too.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org


The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

Which books are you excited for this week?

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire // Book Review

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire // Book Review

Have you ever looked for a door to another world? I still find myself trying to find a doorway in almost every apartment I live in. In fact, there’s a tiny door in my reading nook that I immediately opened when I moved in. Sadly, it’s just a door to the HVAC system. However, if you’ve ever been curious about those doors or always wanted to find one for yourself, then I think you might really enjoy this book.

TW: child death, blood, missing body parts, and acid dissolving.

Here’s more about Every Heart a Doorway

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost
.

My Thoughts

I had only read one other book from the Wayward Children series and it was a bit later. It was a cute story, but I didn’t like it all that much. However, after reading this story (the first in the series), I kind of want to go back and reread it with the context in mind about this entire series.

I could gush about this book for forever. It was funny and dark and sweet and filled with magical ideas and gruesome endings. It was everything I really love about a good fantasy story; a little magic, a little dark, and extremely beautiful. I’m also surprised with how little book there is and how much story was told. I love it when a short book packs a punch!

While the book follows one character, Nancy, you also get an idea of the other characters that live in the Home for Wayward Children. I loved each student on their own because of their different personalities, experiences, and sadness. Because there’s definitely a lot of sadness in this book, especially since the kids have all been abandoned by their parents to try and re-acclimate to life after their travels. The one thing that each of these students have in common is that and their want to return to the worlds they visited.

Also, it was interesting to see how Seanan McGuire incorporates gender identity and sexual identity conversations into the story. I remember the other book I read also included it, but I didn’t realize it was a running theme in the books. It was really awesome to see the inclusion in this one as well!

The worlds themselves were also intriguing. Some were filled with dark and scary things and others were filled with silly and beautiful things, but the beautiful part is that each world is there for each of the kids. If the kid was living a strict life of rules and boredom, they may be sent to a world filled with no rules and you never get bored. I loved that the worlds were so specific to the kid and filled the massive holes they had in their hearts.

You also end up rooting for a lot of them hoping that they do get their happy ending and return to the worlds that they came from. But things start to get real when students start to die. The mystery component of the story was probably the least favorite part, but didn’t take away from the rest of the book. I was so intrigued by the students, their stories, and wanted to see if they were able to get back to the worlds they came from. Honestly, I had such sadness for the ones who wouldn’t make it back.

Definitely not a book for the faint-hearted, especially since there’s a few children dying and there’s some processes taking place that were a little out of a horror movie. They don’t bother me, so I wasn’t grossed out by it, but I can also see how these things can upset you if you’re not into it.

Overall, fantastic story that really reignited my imagination and made me dream big of a world beyond the walls. I’ll definitely be checking out more from this series.

Why Do I Struggle With DNFing Books?

Why Do I Struggle With DNFing Books?

This month has been a bit of a struggle when it comes to reading books. I’ve picked up about six books and put down three. I wasn’t feeling them! I tried to read them, but they didn’t capture me or set my mood. I wanted to spend more time doing something else than reading the book, which is huge indicator that things are not okay with me.

But the one thing I hate the most about reading is putting down a book. There’s a piece of advice I give everyone all the time: if you’re not loving the book, you can let it go. The wild part about this bit of advice? I never actually follow it myself.

DNF or “did not finish” is a term used by the bookish world to describe a book we, well, did not finish. These are the books that didn’t capture us or we hated and couldn’t read another word of even if we tried. It’s common practice because not every book you pick up will give you the wow factor you want from a book.

And as easy as it sounds to just drop a book when you’re not enjoying it, it’s actually much harder than you think! Many people struggle with this. Some folks have been taught that you MUST finish every book you start under penalty of death. Others just don’t have the heart to put down a book they started. I’m in the latter camp and it’s starting to get frustrating for me.

There’s plenty of reasons why you should put down a book that you’re not enjoying. First is the most obvious: you’re not enjoying a book. There’s no point in continuing to read something that’s not giving you anything in return. Even if the book you’re reading is actually a textbook where you’re studying for a class, you’re getting something out of that read. If you’re reading for enjoyment and you’re not happy, that’s going to lead to some disasterous results.

My Pollyanna brain is always looking for the silver lining in everything. Maybe it’s because I’ve already spent so much of my reading time into reading them that I want that return on investment. Maybe it’s because I always think that if I give it another 100 pages that it will get better. I already know how toxic it can be when I’m trying to find the silver lining and I’m not happy and that’s something I’m working on, but I’m always hopeful there will be something that will pull me into it. I’m always hoping a book will surprise me and that surprise is hidden on the pages I haven’t read. But maybe it’s just me not liking the book.

But that also results in me reading a bunch of books that were fine, mediocre, or just meh for me. I try to be fair with all my reviews, so you don’t see me telling you “it’s just okay,” because I know someone else out there will probably enjoy it more than me. However, it’s a habit that I want to break for a few reasons:

If you try to extrapolate the number of books that are published each year (and I’m not just talking fiction, I’m talking about everything), there are thousands and thousands of books coming out. As humans, we only live a finite number of years and depending on the type of reader you are, that only means a specific number of books. Even if you read 100 books every year from the time you were 15 to 100 years old, that’s only 8500 books which only covers maybe a couple of years of published books.

On top of that, there’s time. I work full time, I have other hobbies, I make time to hang out with my husband, I workout regularly. I like going for walks and getting out in nature and all of that is done without a book in hand. If I have a finite amount of time to read on a daily basis, then why do I want to waste that time reading books I’m not enjoying?

So we have time against us, the number of books coming out is way more than anyone can possibly read even if you are the type that can read A LOT. So shouldn’t you be picky about the books you read?

I recently read this article at Book Riot about how you don’t have to read everything. And there’s some really great practical advice you can take away from this post if you’re considering being a book blogger, but the most valuable lesson I took away is that I don’t have to read everything. I don’t have to be Wonder Woman and read every book I put in front of me. I’m allowed to put down a book. I’m allowed to be in the middle of eight books at one time! The whole point is that reading should be just as enjoyable as any other thing you do.

It’s definitely something I encourage anyone to do because it isn’t worth the time and energy to read a book you’re meh about. And it’s actually something I’m coming to terms with myself. I’ll continue to DNF books and hopefully it’ll become second nature.

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky // Spotlight

Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky // Spotlight

I didn’t end up finishing this one when I started it. Mostly because it was too serious and too hard sci-fi for my tastes. But I know that many folks out there still love these kinds of books, so I wanted to spotlight it for those who may be interested in this Shards of Earth by Arthur C. Clarke winner, Adrian Tchaikovsky. If you’re into reading a space opera with tons of alien life, a rag-tag crew of misfits on board with the one person who can possibly save humanity from this dangerous enemy, and some deeper conversations about what would happen if humans were to leave Earth?

Here’s more about Shards of Earth

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared—and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects—but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

  • Published: August 3, 2021
  • Publisher: Orbit Books
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎560 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0316705853
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0316705851

Add it to Goodreads | Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko // Book Review

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko // Book Review

I read this book on the suggestion of my friend at @deedireads. It’s been on my radar for quite some time, but we all know what that reader life is like. But I’m so glad that I actually took the time to read it because it is well worth the read! I’m honestly mad at myself for not reading this sooner. I definitely won’t hold off on reading Redemptor, which is out this week!

Here’s more about Raybearer

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11.

If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

My Thoughts

Wow, this book right off the bat is incredible. This is a beautiful and complex YA fantasy story filled with intrigue, mystery, political suspense, likeable characters, and so much more. I’m honestly surprised this is a YA book and a debut.

I love a book with great world building and this one delivers so much of it. I felt like Jordan Ifueko put in a lot of effort into this part because if the lore and world-building didn’t make sense, then the story wouldn’t make sense either. It’s always great to read YA fantasy books that have much more depth to it. The lore itself is also incredible. I was telling my husband how the systems of government worked with the 12 ruling parties, the sacrificial children to the Underworld, the political struggle to keep everyone happy, but everyone isn’t. And then on top of that, a massive overtaking of people’s culture and traditions all in the name of unifying the country. There’s so much that this book deals with and does it so expertly that I’m really shook by how this is just a debut!

I also really appreciated that the book had inclusive characters that came from all parts of the world. It made the story feel bigger than just a tiny speck of a world. Everyone’s character carried something important and you’ll want to make sure that every character gets to be happy at the end; even the prince! I honestly was worried that Dayo would be this egotistical little brat, but he turned out to be just a kind and loving human being that I would most definitely follow.

Tarisai was probably my favorite character (alongside her buddies Kirah and Sanjeet). She had that extra something, which was wild when I read the other characters felt like she had a little extra something going on. While she wasn’t the most fearless person, she did approach things in a pragmatic and detailed way rather than just diving right into danger. She has this background in being isolated and alone for most of her life dreaming of the day she would see the rest of the world and that’s just a feeling I deeply understand. Writing the story in her perspective allows you to really understand what kinds of thoughts she has and they are numerous. From trying to figure out the puzzle that is the political structure to finding out the truth behind the throne, it’s incredible to see it through Tarisai’s eyes.

There was no skimping on magic either. Not only was there there a complex magic system, it was so interesting to see how it worked. All the characters had a Hallow (extrasensory power) that helps them in some way. Some characters have the ability to change faces, others to heal, others to find weaknesses in others. On top of that, there’s the magic of the Council of Eleven which keep the Emperor and the Crown Prince from dying of the eleven different ways to die. Then there’s the magic of the Underworld, magical histories being told, and even the history of how all the magic came to be in this world. It truly is so complex and intricate that if you’re the kind of person who loves big puzzles with lots of pieces, this is for you.

The plot itself was so good as well. From studying at the Children’s Palace when they were kids to becoming Dayo’s council and even when Tarisai fights with everything she has to avoid killing the Crown Prince. I loved the journey Tarisai and her friends go on to help each other, the bigger plot of the kingdom trying to unify the country in the worst way possible, and how Tarisai plans on helping the Redemptors from losing more children to the Underworld.

When the truth is finally revealed, it was nothing like I imagined, but all the bits of story finally fit together like an intricate puzzle. You step back and you see how all of this is coming together and it truly is such a beautiful tapestry. Honestly, I 100% urge you to pick up this book if you haven’t. If you’re a fan of YA fantasy novels, then this is definitely a book you’ll enjoy as much as I did.

New to Me Series // The Legacy Trilogy by Matthew Ward

New to Me Series // The Legacy Trilogy by Matthew Ward

Thanks Orbit Books for the gifted books.

Do you ever go online and find yourself completely overwhelmed by the number of books that are coming out? I feel that all the time, but the worst is when I see a book I haven’t seen before or new to me. If it sounds super good, then I rush to find it and add it to my ever-growing list of “radar books.”

This week, I wanted to share with you a series that’s new to me and releasing the final book later this month. I’m talking about The Legacy Trilogy by Matthew Ward. I didn’t hear about this one until I saw a few people discussing it on bookstagram. Then, an influencer program I’m a part of included it in their recent email list. It seemed like such an interesting series, that I decided to check it out for myself.

This series definitely doesn’t look like it’s for the faint of heart; a deep and rich adult epic fantasy with multiple characters to follow, political powers to disrupt, and three people who need to bond together beyond their egos and grudges. It definitely sounds like the kind of series I would really love! Also, the books are deliciously floppy, which is always a bonus for me.

Here’s more about Legacy of Ash

A shadow has fallen over the Tressian Republic.

Ruling families — once protectors of justice and democracy — now plot against one another with sharp words and sharper knives. Blinded by ambition, they remain heedless of the threat posed by the invading armies of the Hadari Empire.

Yet as Tressia falls, heroes rise.

Viktor Akadra is the Republic’s champion. A warrior without equal, he hides a secret that would see him burned as a heretic.

Josiri Trelan is Viktor’s sworn enemy. A political prisoner, he dreams of reigniting his mother’s failed rebellion.

And yet Calenne Trelan, Josiri’s sister, seeks only to break free of their tarnished legacy; to escape the expectation and prejudice that haunts the family name.

As war spreads across the Republic, these three must set aside their differences in order to save their home. Yet decades of bad blood are not easily set aside. And victory — if it comes at all — will demand a darker price than any of them could have imagined.


Here’s more about Legacy of Steel

A year has passed since an unlikely alliance saved the Tressian Republic from fire and darkness, at great cost. Thousands perished, and Viktor Akadra – the Republic’s champion – has disappeared.

While the ruling council struggles to mend old wounds, other factions sense opportunity. The insidious Parliament of Crows schemes in the shadows, while to the east the Hadari Emperor gathers his armies. As turmoil spreads across the Republic, its ripples are felt in the realms of the divine.

War is coming . . . and this time the gods themselves will take sides.


Here’s more about Legacy of Light (out August 17, 2021)

Warfare, myth and magic collide in Legacy of Light, the spectacular conclusion to Matthew Ward’s acclaimed Legacy trilogy.

For the first time in many years, the Tressian Republic and the Hadari Empire are at peace. But war never sleeps.

In Tregard, Empress Melanna Saranal struggles to protect a throne won at great cost.

In Tressia, Lord Protector Viktor Droshna seeks to harness forbidden power to restore all he’s lost.

As the sins of the past are once more laid bare, every road leads to war. Darkness gathers, alliances shatter and one final battle looms. What hope remains, lies within the light

Add The Legacy Trilogy on Goodreads | Find The Legacy Trilogy on Amazon | Find The Legacy Trilogy on Bookshop.org

Pub Day Picks // August 17, 2021

Happy Tuesday! Another glorious pub day with some great books I’m excited are now in the universe. I’m most excited for Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko mostly because I just finished Raybearer and astonished at how incredible that book was. Seriously, I highly recommend that one.

But there’s some others as well, including my favorite romance of August, a new book from Sylvia Moreno-Garcia, and the end of a big fantasy trilogy.

Velvet was the Night by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic comes a “delicious, twisted treat for lovers of noir” about a daydreaming secretary, a lonesome enforcer, and the mystery of a missing woman they’re both desperate to find.

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance. While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman—and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.

Meanwhile, someone else is also looking for Leonora at the behest of his boss, a shadowy figure who commands goon squads dedicated to squashing political activists. Elvis is an eccentric criminal who longs to escape his own life: He loathes violence and loves old movies and rock ’n’ roll. But as Elvis searches for the missing woman, he comes to observe Maite from a distance—and grows more and more obsessed with this woman who shares his love of music and the unspoken loneliness of his heart.

Now as Maite and Elvis come closer to discovering the truth behind Leonora’s disappearance, they can no longer escape the danger that threatens to consume their lives, with hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies all aiming to protect Leonora’s secrets—at gunpoint.

Velvet Was the Night is an edgy, simmering historical novel for lovers of smoky noirs and anti-heroes

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko

The hotly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestselling YA fantasy about Tarisai’s quest to change her fate

For the first time, an Empress Redemptor sits on Aritsar’s throne. To appease the sinister spirits of the dead, Tarisai must now anoint a council of her own, coming into her full power as a Raybearer. She must then descend into the Underworld, a sacrifice to end all future atrocities.

Tarisai is determined to survive. Or at least, that’s what she tells her increasingly distant circle of friends. Months into her shaky reign as empress, child spirits haunt her, demanding that she pay for past sins of the empire.

With the lives of her loved ones on the line, assassination attempts from unknown quarters, and a handsome new stranger she can’t quite trust . . . Tarisai fears the pressure may consume her. But in this finale to the Raybearer duology, Tarisai must learn whether to die for justice . . . or to live for it.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon

When a personal trainer agrees to fake date her client, all rules are out the window in this delightful romantic comedy from the USA Today bestselling author of The Boyfriend Project!

When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle.

And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch — no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

Legacy of Light by Matthew Ward

Warfare, myth and magic collide in Legacy of Light, the spectacular conclusion to Matthew Ward’s acclaimed Legacy trilogy.

For the first time in many years, the Tressian Republic and the Hadari Empire are at peace. But war never sleeps.

In Tregard, Empress Melanna Saranal struggles to protect a throne won at great cost.

In Tressia, Lord Protector Viktor Droshna seeks to harness forbidden power to restore all he’s lost.

As the sins of the past are once more laid bare, every road leads to war. Darkness gathers, alliances shatter and one final battle looms. What hope remains, lies within the light.

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

What are you excited for today?

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker // Spotlight

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker // Spotlight

Thanks Avon Books for sending me a gifted copy.

Every once in a while, I get the urge to read a little bit of romance. I guess that’s probably obvious from the romance reviews I share on this page. But when you combine royalty and baking in an enemies-to-lovers/grumpy and sunshine story, I couldn’t help myself and grabbed a copy.

Battle Royal by Lucy Parker sounds like a fun-filled book with delicious treats, some awkward moments, and a whole lot of romance. I can’t wait to pick this one up soon.

The book is out on August 17th!

Add it to Goodreads | Find Battle Royal on Amazon | Find Battle Royal on Bookshop.org

Beloved author Lucy Parker pens a delicious new romantic comedy that is a battle of whisks and wits.

Ready…

Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.

Set…

Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.

Match…

When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.

In this royal battle, can there be room for two?

  • Publisher: ‎Avon (August 17, 2021)
  • Language: ‎English
  • Paperback: ‎416 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0063040069