March Wrap Up!

Welcome back to my monthly post about all the books I read (and all the one’s I didn’t read) as planned! I initially planned to be super ambitious and read 20 books in March. Spoiler alert: this did NOT happen! But really, who is surprised by this?

I want to say I did well with my reading… but I really didn’t. In total I read 15 books, which is great don’t get me wrong, but it was HARD to read in March. Especially by the end. And still is as I’m writing this frankly. The nonsense with COVID-19 has got me in more of a depressed state, so reading doesn’t hold quite the same stress relief as it normally does. I’m working through it though!

Without further ado, below are the books I read in March, and even further below are the books I meant to read in March but didn’t.

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller – 5/5 stars
  2. Girls with Sharp Sticks (Girls with Sharp Sticks #1), Suzanne Young – 3/5 stars
  3. Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1), Kat Cho – 3.5/5 stars
  4. Ember Queen (Ash Princess #3), Laura K. Sebastian – 5/5 stars
  5. Tigers, Not Daughters, Samantha Mabry – 4/5 stars (ARC)
  6. Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1), Cassandra Clare – 3.5/5 stars
  7. Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1), Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell – 4/5 stars

EARCS

  1. What I Like About Me, Jenna Guillame – 4.5/5 stars
  2. Girls with Razor Hearts (Girls with Sharp Sticks #2), Suzanne Young – 4/5 stars
  3. Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love #2), Alisha Rai – 3/5 stars
  4. What I Like About You, Marisa Kanter – 5/5 stars
  5. You Deserve Each Other, Sarah Hogle – 5/5 stars
  6. Between Burning Worlds (System Divine #2), Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell – 4.5/5 stars
  7. Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3), Julie Kagawa – 4.5/5 stars

AUDIOBOOKS

  1. Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1), Renee Ahdieh – 3.5/5 stars

BOOKS I DID NOT GET TO AS PLANNED

Continuing the theme from February by having 8 books that I did not read from the TBR.

  1. The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1), Katharyn Blair
  2. Diamond & Dawn (Amber & Dusk #2), Lyra Selene
  3. Magic For Liars, Sarah Gailey
  4. Defy Me (Shatter Me #5), Tahereh Mafi
  5. Imagine Me (Shatter Me #6), Tahereh Mafi
  6. Well Met (Well Met #1), Jen DeLuca
  7. The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1), Renee Ahdieh
  8. Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle #1), Adam Silvera

I plan to read all of these, minus The Beautiful and Infinity Son in April. I planned to read those two via audiobook, but with the statewide shut downs and working from home mostly – I’ve given up on audiobooks for the time being. I hope to get back to them once the world is in a better place.

Tune in tomorrow for my April TBR post! Quick, sneak peak… I plan to read a ridiculous amount of books again!

Happy reading, folks!

March Haul!

Anyone else feel like March took exactly 93 days?? I swear March was so ridiculously long, mostly because of all this COVID-19 nonsense. In fact, I spent a week sick because I tested positive for the virus myself!! Unfortunately, April doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any better, so it’s time to hunker down with books and snacks and try to remember what it was like to go outside.

I acquired several books this month, mostly thanks to subscription boxes. Below is a full itemization of my acquisitions!

SUBSCRIPTION BOX BOOKS

This month I got both my Owlcrate and BOTM hauls!

  1. Kingdom of Back, Marie Lu
  2. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird, Josie Silver
  3. Bringing Down the Duke, Evie Dunmore

BARNES & NOBLE

I put in some preorders at Christmas time for two books that released in March.

  1. Chain of Gold (The Last Hours #1), Cassandra Clare
  2. The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1), Marie Rutkoski

How many books did y’all haul this month? What are you looking forward to in April? Check back tomorrow for my March Wrap Up!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – The Night of the Dragon

Title: Night of the Dragon (Shadow of the Fox #3)

Author: Julia Kagawa

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication date: March 31st, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Master storyteller Julie Kagawa concludes the enthralling journey into the heart of the fantastical Empire of Iwagoto in the third book of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy. As darkness rises and chaos reigns, a fierce kitsune and her shadowy protector will face down the greatest evil of all. A captivating fantasy for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Sarah J. Maas and Marie Lu.

Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil—the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realized existed…until now.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Inkyard Press, and Julie Kagawa for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

In the thrilling finale of the Shadow of the Fox trilogy, Yumeko and the gang are still working on stopping the Wish from being made to the Great Kami Dragon by the evil Master of Demons. Night of the Dragon is action-packed, more so than other books. The action really started at the halfway mark and did not stop until the very end. I finished this book all in one day and it just flowed so easily.

By this point, I love all the characters. This group of fighters mesh so well and each bring something different to the table. They all have their own skills and abilities, while working together seamlessly to achieve their goals. I also love the ships that sail during this book, but no spoilers as to which ones!

The plot of this series was really top level, and it culminated in a very well scripted final action scene… which basically was the last half of the book. The ending made me feel so many emotions, all at the same time. I even cycled through several emotions a few times. It was back and forth, give and take, with so many twist and turns. The epilogue was SO needed and continued the emotions.

Seriously, read this series if you love Asian inspired fantasies such as Wicked Fox and Descendant of the Crane.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Sky Without Stars

Title: Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1)

Authors: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 26th, 2019

582 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A thief. An officer. A guardian. 

Three strangers. One shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spying on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a traitor. Groomed to command by his legendary grandfather, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when he discovers a cryptic message that only one person, a girl named Alouette, can read.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have roles to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece Les Misérables.

Review

This book is a chunker y’all. I picked Sky Without Stars up on a Barnes and Noble sale awhile back because this cover is gorgeous. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the next book, Between Burning Worlds, through Netgalley so it was time to dive into this world!

First off, I’ve recently become super into classics re-imagined in space. I’ve only read a few, but I’ve really enjoyed the ones I’ve read, even though I always thought the sci-fi genre was low on my list. Sky Without Stars is basically Les Mis in space, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters were interesting, while also having fatal flaws, which was a really good balance.

First off, the characters. I am here for them all (with a special shout-out to my girl, Chatine, who just can’t seem to get her shit together). I like how you get the story told in alternating POV’s – it goes back and forth between the three main characters; Chatine, Marcellus, and Alouette. They each have a distinct voice, which I think was very well done. I appreciate the differences between these three characters, and how you just know they will all be interconnected by the end somehow.

The plot was great. I really enjoyed the retelling aspect. There were parts that were a throwback to my high school History classes learning about the French Revolution (hey there guillotine) that really showed the class issues that were happening at the time. Humans are broken into three social classes; First Estate (royalty and nobles), Second Estate (middle class), and Third Estate (lower class and workers). You can really see how terribly the Third Estate is treated, and can totally understand why riots and rebellions are breaking out.

Lastly, I thought the Bastille adaptation was genius. A horrible prison built on an orbiting moon where people are sent to mine in hazardous conditions? LOVE IT (the concept, not the actual thing obvi). I thought it added a level of pressure to the story, because no one wants to be sent there. Also, a nod to the actual Bastille in France. It’s like a combination of Azkaban and the mines in the Ash Princess series.

As you can see, I can go on about this book for awhile. Some criticisms include the length, I don’t feel like it needed to be this long to get the point across, and the weird love triangle. I don’t mind love triangles, but this one was just strange. I don’t actually ship any of the budding relationships at this point, but we’ll see what the next book brings!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Between Burning Worlds

Title: Between Burning Worlds (System Divine #2)

Authors: Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

688 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Les Misérables meets The Lunar Chronicles in the out-of-this-world sequel to Sky Without Stars that’s an “explosion of emotion, intrigue, romance, and revolution” (Stephanie Garber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Caraval series).

A thief.
An officer.
A guardian. 
All from different backgrounds, but sharing one same destiny…

The planet Laterre is in turmoil. A new militant revolutionary group has emerged calling themselves “The Red Scar” and claiming responsibility for a spate of recent bombings. The infamous rebels known as the Vangarde believe that in order to bring about a peaceful revolution, their charismatic leader, Citizen Rousseau must be freed from prison right away. Otherwise the bloodshed will only escalate.

Soon Marcellus, Chatine, and Alouette all find themselves pulled into battle with extreme consequences.

Marcellus is determined to uncover his corrupt grandfather’s plan to seize Laterre—even if that means joining the Vangarde.

Aloutte, trying to unearth the truth about her past, becomes a captive of Marcellus’s grandfather, the general.

Chatine, who is serving time on Bastille, hopes to escape the brutal and horrifying reality of the prison moon.

But the failed attempt to break Citizen Rousseau out of prison launches Aloutte, Chatine, and Marecellus into the middle of a dangerous war for control of Laterre. And in the midst of it all is the legend of a secret and dangerous weapon that could mean complete and absolute power to any that wields it.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Simon Pulse, and Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Sequel to Sky Without Stars, Between Burning Worlds picks up pretty much where Sky left off. Our main characters have themselves in whole heaps of trouble, and their ingenuity is the only thing that could possible save them. Without giving too much away; Chatine, Marcellus, and Alouette are separated and on their own paths to start the book. Each trying to find out more about themselves, in different ways. But what they find won’t always be fulfilling or satisfying…

I found Between Burning Worlds to be a satisfying middle book. I don’t think it fell victim so much to the middle book syndrome. The world and plot was pretty much built in Sky, so Between Burning Worlds just continued the action. I liked the new characters who were added to bring extra suspense and drama. However, Chatine is still my favorite character and always will be.

The writing is very good in this book. I love the twists and turns and how you can never tell what really is true and what is just a smoke screen. I love a book that keeps me guessing until the end. Speaking of the end, the CLIFFHANGER y’all. I must know what happens…

Between Burning Worlds continues the Les Mis adaptation of Sky Without Stars. If you loved Les Mis and enjoy science fiction books set in space, this series will be for you.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – What I Like About Me

Title: What I Like About Me

Author: Jenna Guillame

Publisher: Peachtree Publishing

Publication date: April 1st, 2020 (originally February 26th, 2019 in the UK)

304 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES? This vacation is probably not going to be that.

The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she’d be doing over vacation is entering a beauty pageant. Not when she’s spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone. Not when her Dad is AWOL and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie’s already shaky confidence. And especially not when her best friend starts flirting with the boy she’s always loved. But Maisie’s got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this vacation is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn’t let anything, or anyone, hold her back.

Jenna Guillame’s American debut features a plus-size protagonist with a compelling, funny, and authentic narrative voice. This relatable and charming novel about friendship, confidence, and self-love will draw readers in as Maisie’s realistic emotional journey unveils the importance of embracing one’s body and celebrating one’s self.

Review

**Thank you to Peachtree Publishing, Netgalley, and Jenna Guillame for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Trigger warning for: body shaming, body image issues, negative self talk

What I Like About Me is a thoughtful and insightful, yet entertaining and fun all in one. Set in Australia, the book follows Maisie, a 16 year old girl on her family trip for the summer. She’s brought Anna, her best friend, and desperately wants to make a move on Sebastian, her long time crush. When Anna and Sebastian hit if off, Maisie is left with Beamer, the irritating boy child who loves to mess with Maisie. You get a look into her romantic life, but the book is so much more than just her relationship status.

The overarching theme of What I Like About Me is body image positivity and learning to love yourself. The author explores how family and friends can impact your self esteem and the struggles of a young girl growing up overweight, or “less than” as society views it. It is heartfelt and was emotional at times. Maisie has low self esteem and the book really explores what it is like to go about a normal day in the life of someone without confidence.

One thing I would have loved to have seen was more on the romance side. I love the secret love trope but I wanted more. You don’t get to hear the backstory of how he fell in love with Maisie or what it is about her that draws him to her. This is a shorter book, so I feel the romance could have been expanded upon without it taking away from the theme of Maisie finding her love for herself, and coming to terms with her family.

I liked that there wasn’t a huge happily ever after. The ending was very realistic and didn’t end in the normal tropes. I appreciate that the author was authentic with the ending, because there was one easy way to make is unrealistic and she didn’t go for that.

Told through journal entrees, What I Like About Me offers a diverse contemporary on the topic of body weight and self confidence. Please read with caution if you struggle with negative self talk, low self confidence, and body image.

Happy reading, folks!

ARC Review – Tigers, Not Daughters

Title: Tigers, Not Daughters

Author: Samantha Mabry

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: March 24th, 2020

288 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Torres sisters dream of escape. Escape from their needy and despotic widowed father, and from their San Antonio neighborhood, full of old San Antonio families and all the traditions and expectations that go along with them. In the summer after her senior year of high school, Ana, the oldest sister, falls to her death from her bedroom window. A year later, her three younger sisters, Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa, are still consumed by grief and haunted by their sister’s memory. Their dream of leaving Southtown now seems out of reach. But then strange things start happening around the house: mysterious laughter, mysterious shadows, mysterious writing on the walls. The sisters begin to wonder if Ana really is haunting them, trying to send them a message—and what exactly she’s trying to say.
 
In a stunning follow-up to her National Book Award–longlisted novel All the Wind in the World, Samantha Mabry weaves an aching, magical novel that is one part family drama, one part ghost story, and one part love story.

Review

**Thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

TW: death, domestic violence, neglect, emotional abuse

Tigers, Not Daughters is a haunting ghost story with themes of sisterhood and perseverance, and also a hyena. No joke, there’s a hyena on the loose during this story. The Torres sisters have been through a lot. Their mom is dead, their dad is neglectful and abusive, and their oldest sister died tragically a year ago. Jessica, Iridian, and Rosa couldn’t be more different, but the one thing they have in common is missing Ana desperately – and wanting to run away forever.

This book is told from each sister’s POV over the course of a several days. Each sister has a lot going on, and are very different. The book tackles some serious issues for each sister, while also being a ghost story – which is just super fun. The ghost story part was probably my favorite, along with the group of boys who live across the street and lightly stalk the sisters.

The writing is phenomenal, where information is provided in tiny morsels over the chapters instead all at once. It created a captivating atmosphere where you needed and wanted to keep reading to get answers to your questions.

I really didn’t like the domestic violence aspect. It’s mostly just due to personal reasons, I’m sure there was a reason for including that plot line, but it was still hard to read. So please, before reading this understand that there are potentially triggering scenes.

Happy reading, folks!