Tuesday, 7 April 2020

MARCH '20 WRAP-UP


Time for another wrap up!

This last month was interesting and a struggle for a lot of people. I am currently not working because our store closed until the coronavirus situation improves in our area so I am solely reading, blogging, writing and worrying about college next year.

This month I ended up reading a lot of books that I rated five stars and I am hoping that I find some more amazing books next month.

Time to talk about the books I read this month.


PHYSICAL BOOKS


The first book I read was The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco. This was such a good book and I am very glad that I decided to read it. This is about a planet that has long been ruled by generations of twin goddesses however, was split in two seventeen years ago because of one sister's betrayal. Now, the planet doesn't spin and there's two realms divided by a great abyss. One sister rules Aranth (a frozen city surrounded by a stormy sea) and one rules the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter and each keeps her own secrets about the other. However, this all changes when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee to the great Abyss in order to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice. This book has a whole cast of diverse characters as well as intense feminist undertones. I loved the characters, the thrilling plot and everything in between. I highly recommend this book and I rated it 5 Crowns. 

The second book I read was The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. The Night Circus by the same author is one of my favorite books, so naturally, I was very excited for Erin Morgenstern's future books. This was very different from The Night Circus and a little hard to explain. Basically the main character, Zachary, is a graduate student in Vermont who finds a mysterious book without a title hidden in the stacks at the library. He is entranced by the tales until he reads a story from his own childhood. When he tries to figure out how his life was recorded, he uncovers a series of clues that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club and eventually through a doorway to an ancient library, hidden deep underground. Once there, he finds a lot more than just a buried home for books and here he discovers his purpose in this new world. This book started out really slow and was a little bit confusing at times but I still really enjoyed it and ended up rating it 4 Crowns. 

The third book I read was Immunity by Erin Bowman. The first book in this series, Contagion, is one of my favorite books and got me into reading sci-fi/horror books. I won't say much about this book considering it will spoil the first book. This series is about a ragtag crew who are set to an outer rim planet, in response to a distress call and they are not at all qualified for this type of mission. They have no idea what to expect and when they arrive they find it abandoned and littered with dead bodies. They all have to figure out what could have happened and what they should do next. This duology is such a good mix of horror and science fiction and it draws you into the action from the very beginning. I rated this one 5 Crowns. 



The fourth book I read was Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. This is about Mehr who is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother who she can barely remember, but whose magic she has inherited. When her power comes to the attention of the Emperor's most feared mystics, she has to use everything she has to resist their cruel agenda. This book was something that I decided to pick up because of a recommendation on Goodreads and I am very glad that I decided to give it a try. I loved the two main characters and I thought their relationship was very well written, however, the plot was a little slow. I ended up rating it 4 Crowns. 

The fifth book I read was In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund. This is a Young Adult mystery novel based on the game CLUE. It's set at Blackbrook Academy which is an elite prep school in the woods of Maine. When a storm strikes, several students are stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it's clear his death was no accident. And with this group of students who are all hiding something, they all could have a motive for murder.  It was a really cool and interesting modern reimagining of CLUE and murder mysteries. I ended up rating it 3.5 Crowns. 



The sixth book I read was The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. This was a reread for me and since saying much about this book will spoil the beginning of the series, all I am going to say is I loved this as much as the first time I read it. I rated it 5 Crowns. 

The seventh book I read was Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim. I ended up writing a full review of this which I posted at the beginning of April. This is about Amaya who works on a debtor ship where she has been held captive for years. When she is days from being free she rescues a man from drowning and he offers her unimaginable riches, a new identity and promises of revenge against the man who ruined her and her family's lives. However, as her path intertwines with the son of the man she's plotting against, she discovers more about her past and realizes that she shouldn't trust anyone. This book ended up being a new favorite of mine and I really enjoyed the characters and the plot. You can find my full review here. I rated it 5 Crowns. 


AUDIOBOOKS READ

NONE


ARC'S READ

NONE


REVIEWS IN DECEMBER: 

NONE

WEEKLY WRAP-UP:


DISCUSSIONS/OTHER:




FAVORITE COVER OF THE MONTH:



NEW FICTIONAL BAE'S: 

Arjun from The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Coen from Immunity by Erin Bowman

Amun from Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Cayo from Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim


NEW FAVORITE FEMALES: 

Lan from from The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Haidee from from The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Mirabel from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Thea from Immunity by Erin Bowman

Nova from Immunity by Erin Bowman

Mehr from Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Amaya from Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim


NEW FAVORITE BOOK RELATIONSHIPS: 

Arjun and Haidee from The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Lan and Odessa from The Never-Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Zachary and Dorian from The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Coen and Thea from Immunity by Erin Bowman

Amun and Mehr from Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

Amaya and Cayo from Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim


TV SHOWS I WATCHED THIS MONTH:




MOVIES I WATCHED THIS MONTH:



WHAT BOOKS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH:



There's so many more but these are the main ones! 


NEW BLOG FINDS

NONE


SONGS ON REPEAT

No Time to Die - Billie Eilish 

Addicted - Kelly Clarkson 

Love and War - Fluerie 

Lonely Boy - The Black Keys

React - The Pussycat Dolls

E.V.O.L. - MARINA 

New Angel - Niall Horan

Okay - Chase Atlantic 

Dynasty - MIIA 

Bad Memory - K.Flay 

When the Truth Hunts You Down - Sam Tinnesz 

Joke's On You - Charlotte Lawrence 

Myself - Rachel Levin 

Myself and Me - Halocene

My Oh My - Camila Cabello 


 BOOKS I WANT TO READ NEXT MONTH



The graphics at the top belong to me. The background pictures for them, however do not.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

2020 O.W.L.S Magical Readathon Introduction + TBR

Hello everyone! I think it's safe to say that the last couple of weeks have been tough for a lot of people. When I saw that the O.W.L.S. Readathon was happening this month, I decided to try it. Last year, I was curious but I was busy with college and I didn't participate. However, now that I have more time on my hands, I am going to give this readathon a try. 

For those of you who haven't heard of this readathon, you can find all of the information on the website here. During this readathon you can choose which magical career you want to have and once you choose, you'll see which O.W.L.S. you have to pass and from there you can find the reading prompts related to those O.W.L.S. 

For this challenge I chose Curse Breaker (which sounds so cool) and Auror (which is another career that I would go for in the Wizarding World). I'll also be taking Animagus Training which is an optional class/section. 

Below is my work load and TBR (that is very tentative): 


CURSE BREAKER O.W.L.S. 


ANCIENT RUNES (CURSE BREAKER): 

(Read a Book with a Heart on the Cover or Title)



ARITHMANCY (CURSE BREAKER, ANIMAGUS TRAINING):

(Read a Book Outside of Your Own Genre)




CHARMS (CURSE BREAKER, AUROR):

(Read a Book with a White Cover)





DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS (CURSE BREAKER, AUROR):

(Read a Book Set at the Sea/Coast)




HERBOLOGY (AUROR): 

(Read a Book with a Title that Starts with M)




POTIONS (CURSE BREAKER, AUROR):

(Read a Book Under 150 Pages)




TRANSFIGURATION (CURSE BREAKER, AUROR, ANIMAGUS TRAINING) :

(Read a Book with Shapeshifting)




Are you participating in the O.W.L.S this year? 

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim Book Review

This is a spoiler free review.



Scavenge the Stars
Written by Tara Sim
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Pages: 327
Source: Library
Places to Get this Book: Amazon Barnes and Noble Book Depository

Recommended Age: 13 and up!


Summary:

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…

Packed with high-stakes adventure, romance, and dueling identities, this gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo is the first novel in an epic YA fantasy duology, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo.
 

(Summary from Goodreads)

Review:

Scavenge the Stars is a YA gender-swapped retelling of The Count of Monte Christo, and was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and I think it's safe to say that it lived up to my expectations.

COVER

I think the cover for the most part relates to the book and I like it though it does look a little bit like a lot of other Young Adult covers.

WORLD-BUILDING

Scavenge the Stars is set in Moray which is a costal city state caught between two waring empires, where "old-world opulence" and gamblers collide. The world-building in this book was one of the only things that I had complaints about. Tara Sim seemed to have a grand world planned but it wasn't communicated well on the page. In fact, it seemed to be narrated as if the reader was supposed to know everything about the waring empires and the culture and history, and while that is great for a sequel or a companion book, it wasn't so great for the first book in a new series. I'm hoping that the world-building will be explored a lot more in the second book because I really want to get a good sense of the world.

Then there are the characters. (This book is told in two POVs)

AMAYA

When we first meet Amaya she is known as Silverfish, a seventeen year old girl who works on a debtor ship led by Captain Zharo, in order to pay the debts of her parents. She is days from finally being free when she saves a man from drowning, and suddenly the Captain tacks on four more weeks of work for her. However, she manages to escape and head to the city of Moray and teams up with the man she saved in order to enact her revenge on Captain Zharo and the people who put her there as well as find her true self.

Amaya is a strong female protagonist who perfectly balances being a badass with still being feminine. Amaya is a female protagonist who is also a biracial woman of color! She is also kind and determined to protect the other children who were also on the debtor ship, even if it means going down a path of revenge that she may never be able to turn away from. Amaya is definitely a survivor and her bravery and resilience help her throughout the book. I enjoyed her character a lot



CAYO

A noble's son, Cayo has just gotten himself (relatively) clean of a gambling addiction that nearly bankrupted his family and he is trying to put that past behind him. However, when his sister gets a dreaded, almost always fatal disease and his father informs him that they don't have the money to properly treat her, he is close to falling back into his bad habits. Cayo's regret for his old behavior clearly shows and his mission is to become better for himself and his sister. He also happens to be a bisexual character who I believe is also a person of color. I really liked the journey he goes through and how unique his character really was.

FRIENDSHIP/FAMILY

Family and its importance and complications is at the very heart of this novel. For Amaya, family is why she's on this path of revenge as she's trying to discover what happened to her mom and she's also trying to figure out why her dad sold her to the ship. Amaya had been waiting to reunite with her mom for seven years and when she discovers that her mother is not alive anymore, she is determined to figure out why.

For Cayo, family is why he decided to turn around his life. He doesn't have a good relationship with his father as his father views him as more of a disappointment than his son and heir. Cayo however, has a good relationship with his sister and that is who he is trying to save and would do anything for.

PLOT

Scavenge the Stars is about Silverfish (who we later know as Amaya), a seventeen year old girl who works on a debtor ship led by Captain Zharo, that uses child labor. She's been held captive for years to pay off the debts of her parents and she is days from being free and all she can think about is going home to visit her mother. However, when she rescues a man from downing, Captain Zharo tells her that her mom is dead as well as adds on work time. Amaya is devastated and she turns to Boon, the man she rescued. He offers her a new identity, riches, and the chance to destroy the Mercado family, the ones who were truly responsible for ruining her life.

Already in Moray, we have Cayo, a young man who is trying to recover from a gambling addiction that cost his family most of their fortune. He's trying to make it up to his family and earn his father's trust back by working on the harbor and taking care of logistics, and helping his sister secure a match. However, when his sister collapses during a dinner with a potential husband and his family, they discover that she has a disease, and they can't afford to treat her. Cayo feels extremely guilty and he agrees to his father's demands for him to find a rich wife. When the alluring Countess Yamaa (Amaya) arrives in Moray with more riches than anyone he knows, he agrees to get close to her but things go awry when his dealing with the most notorious underworld crime king goes wrong and he realizes it might be too late to save his family and himself. Overall, the plot was magnificent. It kept me intrigued the entire time and I had no clue what to expect as the twists and turns had me shocked at every turn and I couldn't wait to find out what happened next.

ROMANCE

The romance that developed between Cayo and Amaya was super slow-burn, took a backseat to the plot and had me super invested. I loved the contrast between Cayo who was super soft and gentle and Amaya who was brash and furious. Their relationship is sure to be explored more in the second book as we didn't get much of it in this one and I for one, am excited to see what is coming

WRITING

I loved the writing in this book. Everything was so vividly described and Tara Sim managed to capture the two character's emotions and lives wonderfully. I also loved how the alternating POVs worked so well that you really got a full feel for both of the characters.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Even though I've never read The Count of Monte Christo and was not overly familiar with the storyline before I picked up this book, I loved the revenge trope and redemption mission in this book. Overall, Scavenge the Stars was a marvelous well-balanced fantasy filled with complex characters, diverse representation and a thrilling storyline.

Quotes from the Book:

"But she wasn’t some romantic heroine—she had more important things to do."

"Desperation is deadlier than a bullet."






My Rating: 5 out of 5 Crowns

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Spring 2020 Releases I'm Excited For

There are so many good books coming out in 2020 so I've decided to break my list down by season. In this list, I have my Spring 2020 anticipated books (which includes the months of March, April and May). I originally planned to have this post come out at the end of February but the last month has just been chaotic with the coronavirus and work and everything. I hope you enjoy anyways!


MARCH






Wicked as You Wish is about a Filipina warrior family who must protect the prince who has been assumed long dead by the racist authoritarian government in order to restore the frozen kingdom. It sounds really unique and cool and people are already reading it and enjoying it so I am excited. 


Marie Rutkoski wrote The Winner's Curse trilogy which I really enjoyed so this book was an automatic add to my TBR. This is also set in the world of The Winner's Curse which makes me so excited! This is about Nirrim who lives in a place where crime and poverty are abound and there are severe penalties for stepping out of line. She has a very low status which means a lot of her life is regulated and she is prohibited from doing things such as wearing colors or eating certain foods. Then, when a mysterious stranger named Sid shows up and tempts her into wanting some magic from the people in control. 


The Winter Duke is said to be Sleeping Beauty meets Anastasia and has a ton of political intrigue and mystery and all of that is right up my ally. 



I am very behind on Sarah J. Maas' books but this has gotten such good reviews and I am very excited to see what I think. This is an Adult Fantasy book and it just sounds really interesting. 


This is a sort of historical fiction/fantasy book about Mozart's sister. Mozart's sister: Nannerl was a musical genius in her own right but was forbidden from composing by their father and her brother soon outshines her. However, a mysterious stranger arrives with an irresistible offer and she has to decide whether to take it. I am very excited to get my hands on this book!


This is a retelling of Tristan and Isolde which I'm not too familiar with but The Raven and the Dove promises an action-packed adventure with fierce heroines and a forbidden romance which sounds so good!


This is the third book in The Crown of Shards series and I have listened to the audiobook for the first book and most of the second book by now. I am excited to see where the rest of the series goes!

8. Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi ~ March 31, 2020

Imagine Me is the last book in the Shatter Me series and though I am not caught up with the series yet, I still am excited for this one! 


APRIL 





This book is set in the world of Rae Carson's series: The Girl of Fire and Thorns which I read a long time ago. I should refresh my memory on the first series before I start this companion series. I had no idea that Rae Carson was planning to write more books set in this world but now that I know, I couldn't be more excited. 


Ruthless Gods is the sequel to Wicked Saints which I loved and wrote a full review about. I am very excited to see Nadya's story continue especially after the cliffhanger that the first book ended on.  


The Glass Magician is a historical fiction/fantasy set in New York City during the Gilded Age and involves animalistic magic and a girl who doesn't have any. 

4. In Her Shadow by Kristin Miller ~ April 21, 2020

This is a modern day retelling of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca and that is basically all I know about it.  


This is about Lia, a newly crowned queen and Xania, her spymaster who takes the job to uncover her fathers murderer. I am very excited for this new fantasy book and I've heard that it also has positive family relationships which is something that is rare to see in books. 

6. Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova ~ April 28, 2020

Zoraida Cordova is a very popular author in the book blogger world but I have never read any books by her. I am excited for this one though as it is set in a 15th century Spanish-inspired world and it is said to be perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas. 

MAY 





This is the second book in The Aurora Cycle series, the first book is called Aurora Rising. I didn't expect myself to love the first book so much, but since I did, I am excited to get this one!

2. The Betrothed by Keira Cass ~ May 5, 2020-

The last books that I read by Keira Cass were The Selection series which I really enjoyed and this book sounds like it is in the same genre as those, however this one is a lot more fantasy based. 


Jenn Bennett writes some of my favorite contemporary books and I am curious about this new one. This is set in a small town in Rhode Island and is about seventeen year old Josie who is returning to town after leaving dramatically five years ago. She has plans to go move in with her father on the west coast in order to start her career as a photographer but what she doesn't plan for, is to fall for Lucy (her former best-friend and now the town's bad boy). It sounds a little bit cliche but still intriguing. 


Pirate books are some of my favorite books! This is about a orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter who meet on the high seas. It's set in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic. 


This was pitched as Stranger Things in the French Revolution, with queer characters, swashbuckling action, strange science and magic! This sounds so good and I believe it is this author's debut YA novel. 


This is the sequel to Dark Shores which I loved so much and it is about a side character from the first book. Also, the cover is gorgeous so that's a plus!


This is a Fantasy novel about a girl who is cursed to be poisonous to the touch and learns what power might lie in such a curse. This is based on Persian mythology and takes some inspiration from Sleeping Beauty


This is a new book set in the world of The Hunger Games and I am so excited to get back into that world. This is set during the 10th annual Hunger Games and I hope we get more information about how the Hunger Games started and things like that!


Are any of these books on your anticipated lists for Spring 2020?