Popping in for a Quick Update!

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Hey Everyone!

First off, I want to thank all of my newest followers for joining our little family! We just passed 850 book nerds and I couldn’t be happier! And thank you to all my long-time readers for always coming back. Your support and your lovely comments never fail to make my day. I feel so lucky to not only be able to write this blog but also to have such a wonderful and supportive community. I love and appreciate every single one of you more than I could ever express and your support is so incredibly meaningful to me. So thank you all so much for sticking with me! ❤

Now, on to a few quick updates about what’s to come the rest of this month as well as in November!

I have been in a bit of a writing slump, mainly due to health/sleep issues. I have also been very focused on starting off my current weight loss journey and this new diet I’m on is working…and completely kicking my butt! 😛 However, as I am improving my body and health, I am also aiming to improve my blogging (particularly my reviewing!) and reading as well. It’s been a bit since my last review, but I have many in the works that will be coming very soon for you guys!

Here’s just some of what you can expect to see during the coming weeks:

 

 

 

The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Also, since I did not find out about the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon until it had passed, I was only able to do the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon. So I am planning to have my own little O.W.L.s Readathon during November so I can officially complete my studies at Hogwarts for the year! I’ll have my TBR for it posted at the beginning of the month. And if any of you feel up for a readathon, feel free to join me! 😀

Thank you all again for being so amazing ❤

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Review: Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

ziggystardustandmeZiggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA. 

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

This is an incredibly beautiful and powerful novel. It is quite a heavy and emotional story and an absolutely stellar debut. I learned so much more about the 1970s and the LGBT community at the time. We get insight into society’s atrocious treatment of same-sex couples and the brave individuals who stood up for themselves and championed the freedom to love. This is such an important novel, particularly for young adult readers that did not grow up in this time period. It is a raw and moving snapshot of a time of great injustice but also of strength and the courage of standing up for what you believe in.

In this novel, we follow a teenage boy named Jonathan who is going through the process of discovering his true self and sexuality. He is facing the intolerance and attempted suppression of homosexuality that plagued society in the 1970s. These feelings are treated as a mental illness and Jonathan has come to believe that he is sick and needs to be cured. He copes with life by entering the safety of his imagination, getting advice and guidance from his hero, David Bowe’s Ziggy Stardust, as well as his mother who passed away after his birth.

Due to pressures from a variety of sources—his very close-minded father included—Jonathan has been undergoing painful and, quite frankly, inhumane treatments that he hopes will “cure” him. However, before he finishes he meets a new classmate named Web—someone who is fearless, strong-willed and, most importantly, not ashamed to be gay.  Before he knows it, Web is completely changing his world and taking him on an adventure through love that he never dared to consider.

Jonathan’s story had my heart from the very beginning. Hearing his thoughts through all the events of this novel is equal parts hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Watching him grow so much and gradually accept himself over the course of the narrative is wonderful and I found myself feeling extremely proud of him. Every up and every down touches your core and makes you become increasingly invested in his story. This gripped me and held me until the final page and even well after finishing.

Every single character, both good and bad, in this novel is crafted incredibly well. Jonathan and Web are definitely two of my new favorite literary characters. They are two truly beautiful human beings—inside and out—and their relationship is done to absolute perfection. I adored every moment they spent together and there was one scene in particular toward the end of the novel that has genuinely become one of my favorite scenes from any novel I’ve ever read. I have been constantly replaying so many of their interactions in my mind since I finished reading this book and I love that.

Brandon does an amazing job of capturing the mind of a teenage boy going through this rough and confusing time in his life. It is so easy to connect with and feel for Jonathan, as he is so clearly and vividly portrayed. Each scene in the story is packed with so much detail and sentiment they are almost tangible. It is as if you are right there beside Jonathan, watching him grow and transform and always cheering him on. Brandon’s writing transports the reader back in time and right into the middle of things, making for a wholly unique and sweeping narrative.

The only minor issue that I faced was my personal connection to the writing style. Since we are in first person following Jonathan’s point of view, we get to hear all his thoughts as they happen. For me, it felt like it had a sort of stream of consciousness quality to it. I didn’t entirely click with it and it took some getting used to each time I picked the book up. But this was completely a personal thing, not a problem with the actual writing itself. As I’ve said, it is very beautifully written and that stream of thoughts that bounces quickly from one thing to another fits Jonathan perfectly.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me is an absolutely essential read in my opinion. It is a raw and unflinching look at the horrors of intolerance and the length people believed one should go to in order to rid themselves of these feelings they could not—or would not try to—understand. It is a book that will have a great impact on all of its’ readers and on the young adult literary world in general. We get a picture of what it was like for gay people living in this time and the painful and damaging emotional turmoil inflicted on them just for being themselves.

The importance of looking back on our history and learning from the mistakes in order to improve society is particularly important for this generation of readers. Love is love and that will always be true. Here we can find a message of the significance of being open-minded and helping continue the fight for equality. This is a story that will stick with me for a very long time. I look forward to reading future novels by James Brandon.

4.5 TARDISes

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An Interview with Author Shannon Schuren

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Huge thanks to Shannon Schuren for putting together this post for us today! Her novel, The Virtue of Sin (June 25th, 2019), is a fascinating story about two teenagers who have spent their entire lives in a cult and how they deal with their newfound clarity about their situation as they are thrown into adulthood in the community. It is a novel that portrays the importance of not always taking what people in power say at face value, fighting for equality, and learning to accept others—and oneself—for who they are. 
I read The Virtue of Sin a few months ago and it is one of my favorite books of 2019! Shannon has graciously agreed to join me for a Q&A about the novel and her career as a writer. Please make sure to check Shannon out on her websiteTwitter, and Goodreads. If you are interested in reading my full, spoiler-free review of The Virtue of Sin, you can find it here!

What inspired you to write The Virtue of Sin?

I’ve always been fascinated by cults and fringe groups, by this idea that someone might give up their freedom and autonomy in their search for meaning and belonging. But the initial spark for this story, specifically, came from a visit to Koreshan State Park in Estero, FL, which was the site of a ‘utopian community’ back in the late 1800’s. So, basically a cult. It was so interesting to wander around their old buildings and read about their belief system. It didn’t seem wise or safe to try and infiltrate a cult for research purposes, so this was the next best thing. I recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area!

You portrayed the psychological aspects of the cult mindset incredibly well and your characters were very realistic and well-crafted. How did you approach the task of creating their personalities and bringing them to life within the setting and narrative?

Thank you! Honestly, this was mostly trial and error. The very first version of the story began with a four-person narrative, but I realized very quickly that wasn’t going to work. For one thing, Aaron knows things about New Jerusalem that I didn’t necessarily want the reading learning right out of the gate. After I pared the POV down to just Miriam and Caleb, it took some work to develop their distinct voices and personalities. They both have very different experiences in the novel, much of that based on gender and their roles within the community. As for the secondary characters, a lot of their personalities developed organically as I was drafting. Especially in early drafts, I like to put different characters together and write random scenes to see what they say and how they interact.

What did you find to be the most challenging part of the writing process?

The ending! I rewrote it so many times, I’ve lost count. Without giving away any spoilers, I had a really difficult time figuring out whether or not Miriam and Caleb’s paths were going to meet up or diverge. And I really had to push myself to find the right ending for both of them—one that felt realistic, yet earned. Hopefully, I managed it. 

How does it feel to know your book is published and out in the world for people to read, and what has been your favorite part of the experience so far?

It is definitely a surreal experience to know that it’s out in the world! I am so grateful for everyone who has picked it up, and everyone who has reached out to tell me about it. I absolutely love hearing from readers. That is my favorite part, by far.

What books and/or authors have inspired you the most?

This is a tough question, because I have been touched by so many books and inspired by so many authors. I really love stories about strong, fierce young women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves and others. Or maybe they are afraid, but they do it anyway. Some of my favorites include “The Female of the Species” by Mindy McGinnis, “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, “Sadie” by Courtney Summers, and “Blood Water Paint” by Joy McCullough.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

  1. Read—anything and everything. Genres you love and genres outside your comfort zone. For fun and for research and with avid curiosity.
  2. Write the book you want to read.
  3. Don’t give up. I was very close to throwing in the towel on THE VIRTUE OF SIN. I cringe whenever I think about how close I came. You’re going to hear a lot of ‘no’s’ but it only takes one yes, and it could be on that next manuscript you write, or the next query you send out. So keep going!

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Book Info:

thevirtueofsinThe Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren

Date Published: June 25th, 2019

Publisher: Philomel Books

Pages: 432 pages

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

A compelling novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Tara Westover’s Educated.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together. 

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs.

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.

A compelling debut novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

Author Bio:

5190994Shannon Schuren (shannon.schuren.org) works as a children’s librarian at a public library and writes from a cozy she-shed in her backyard. Her short stories have appeared in various journals such as Toasted Cheese Literary JournalBig Pulp, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Shannon lives in Sheboygan Falls, WI, with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @shannonschuren.

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Review: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

ihateeveryonebutyouI Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: September 5th, 2017

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Pages: 352 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Dear Best Friend,

I can already tell that I will hate everyone but you.

Sincerely,

Ava Helmer

(that brunette who won’t leave you alone)

We’re still in the same room, you weirdo.

Stop crying.

G

So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

I Hate Everyone But You, the debut novel by two emerging major talents in YA, Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn, is a story about new beginnings, love and heartbreak, and ultimately about the power of friendship.

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*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

This is a spoiler-free review.

I have put off writing my review of this novel for quite a while now for a few reasons. First of all, it has been a long time since I disliked a book as much as I disliked this one, therefore, I have a lot to say. So many aspects annoyed, frustrated, and completely enraged me due to how close to home they hit. However, I absolutely despise writing rant-filled reviews—I like to be as fair as possible—and immediately after I finished reading, I didn’t think I was capable of being calm.

Another aspect that is still causing me to be hesitant is my lack of real-life, firsthand knowledge of the situation that one of the girls was experiencing. Even though I was not able to fully connect to what she was dealing with, I still found that I had a lot of opinions on the way it was handled and presented from a bit of an “outsider’s” point-of-view. It’s about time that I gave this a try though, so I will do my best to explain my feelings as well as I can. Please remember, this is all just my personal opinion and interpretation of the novel.

In this novel, we follow two best friends—Ava and Gen—as they navigate their first year of college on opposite sides of the country. This is the first time they have had to deal with a separation this huge, and understandably, the new experiences ahead feel incredibly daunting without the other by their side. In lieu of seeing each other in person, they keep up a correspondence every day, discussing all the aspects of their new lives and trying to maintain their strong friendship.

Admittedly, this is not something that I would have normally been interested in reading. However, the format that the story is told in is originally what caught my eye, and my attention. The entire novel is told through texts and emails sent between Ava and Gen as they support each other while trying to bridge the distance between them. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved stories told through messages—I’m not sure why, but they have always been so much fun for me. Unfortunately, that was not the case this time around.

Let me begin by talking about Ava, as the themes used in her storyline are ones that I have the most personal experience with. These main themes are anxiety/social anxiety and OCD, and the obstacles mental illness can throw in your way—or at least that is what it is trying to portray. Instead, it ends up coming across as a very stereotypical and downright inaccurate caricature of serious mental illnesses, used many times for comedic purposes.

So, I may be overreacting to this as I do on occasion when it comes to the depiction of mental illness. And I completely understand that all mental illnesses manifest in unique ways for every single person dealing with them. But, as someone who has dealt with severe anxiety/social anxiety and OCD all their life, I am incredibly upset by the way it is shown here. Believe me, I am someone who truly values the medicinal effects of humor, and I do enjoy poking fun at the strangeness of my anxiety plenty of the time. However, here, every aspect is treated as a complete joke.

The absolute biggest problem I have with it is that a huge part of the time, her actions show the exact opposite of the severe social anxiety she claims to have—no, joining a sorority and throwing yourself at men is not a good example. As I said before, her anxiety only pops up when it can make a situation into a joke, and it is written in that clichéd “oh, I’m so ‘hashtag relatable’” kind of way. I apologize for the way I’m coming across here. I’m just absolutely fed up with the way people belittle the incredible amount of pain that this type of mental illness inflicts on those of us who have to deal with it on a daily basis.

Then we have our other main character, Gen. The main themes in her storyline are exploring one’s sexuality, experimenting and discovering what is right for you, and how one’s sexuality does not need to conform to a strict label. However, this is not the message that I feel her actions conveyed. It comes across more like she is very sure of herself and is just using people, manipulating their emotions, and putting herself at risk.

Granted, maybe this is my interpretation because of my own personal experiences, or lack of experience. I connect with her on what it’s like to learn about one’s sexuality and that desire to break away from society’s habit of labeling it. I am unable to connect with her actions though, as my journey, purely due to my personality, has been much less active. All in all, I am fairly irritated because I do not feel like her plotline positively or realistically portrays the queer community, particularly what it is like for those of us who find that we attracted to both genders.

Now, on to Ava and Gen’s friendship in general. Things started out well at the beginning of the novel—they are shown to have a rather sweet relationship and are incredibly close to each other. It’s very easy to relate to the sadness of having to be separated from your best friend whom you’ve always had by your side to face the challenges of life—I have been going through the exact same thing in the last few years. They are faithfully there to support each other through the changes that come with college living. However, somewhat quickly, things begin to take a turn for the worse, and by the halfway point of the novel, their friendship has proven itself to be horrendously toxic.

First of all, Ava is constantly acting relatively homophobic in many of her conversations with Gen when Gen shares things about her sexuality. And again, this is used as another tactic to create humor in the plot, which I think is atrocious. But the most major issue with their friendship is how they support and strongly encourage each other to make terrible, dangerous, and damaging decisions. It is so over-the-top, it’s extremely hard to believe that either of these girls actually cares about the other. Their relationship feels manipulative and destructive more than anything.

Suffice it to say, I think we can conclude that I Hate Everyone But You was clearly not for me. I of course applaud any authors committing themselves to helping diversify literature. Diversity is something we need so much more of, and sexuality, gender labels, and mental illness are all wonderful topics to choose. And I did love the format of the book—it made for a very fast read, and was the only really enjoyable part. The overall story itself just did not come across in the right way at all. Personally, I cannot, in good conscious, recommend giving this a read.

1.0 TARDIS

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June 2017 TBR

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Happy June, everyone!

I’m so excited because, once again, I had another amazing reading month! I managed to get through eleven books! As usual, I didn’t quite stick to my TBR entirely…but I tried! So this month, I am also going to create a rather ambitious TBR. I should have a lot of time to read this month and during my travels toward the end of the month, so I’m really hoping to get a lot of reading done. Here are some of the books I would really like to get to during the month of June! 🙂

June TBR

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

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Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This is the story of what happened first…
Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline. 
Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.
They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.
They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Paper Wishes by Spencer Hoshino

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There is a belief that with each origami star folded, a falling star is saved. After folding 365 stars while mourning the loss of her mother, Vilvian makes a wish that will change her life forever.
Enter Nox Bright, the handsome and mysterious guy who has been haunting Vilvian’s dreams. She can barely believe it when he walks into her homeroom near the end of the school year. Has she gone crazy or is it possible that wishes really do come true?

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

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Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi’s dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth’s corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth’s Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi’s the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she’s convinced he’s been taken to the ice-planet.
Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.
For Miguel, Earth’s charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight’s bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he’s a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

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A heartfelt comedy of manners, Diksha Basu’s debut novel unfolds the story of a family discovering what it means to “make it” in modern India.
For the past thirty years, Mr. and Mrs. Jha’s lives have been defined by cramped spaces, cut corners, gossipy neighbors, and the small dramas of stolen yoga pants and stale marriages. They thought they’d settled comfortably into their golden years, pleased with their son’s acceptance into an American business school. But then Mr. Jha comes into an enormous and unexpected sum of money, and moves his wife from their housing complex in East Delhi to the super-rich side of town, where he becomes eager to fit in as a man of status: skinny ties, hired guards, shoe-polishing machines, and all.
The move sets off a chain of events that rock their neighbors, their marriage, and their son, who is struggling to keep a lid on his romantic dilemmas and slipping grades, and brings unintended consequences, ultimately forcing the Jha family to reckon with what really matters. Hilarious and wise, The Windfall illuminates with warmth and charm the precariousness of social status, the fragility of pride, and, above all, the human drive to build and share a home. Even the rich, it turns out, need to belong somewhere.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

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**Minor spoilers for A Darker Shade of Magic**

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London. 
Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.
And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:
Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)
Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)
Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)
Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

The Guns Above by Robyn Bennis

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The nation of Garnia has been at war for as long as Auxiliary Lieutenant Josette Dupre can remember – this time against neighboring Vinzhalia. Garnia’s Air Signal Corp stands out as the favored martial child of the King. But though it’s co-ed, women on-board are only allowed “auxiliary” crew positions and are banned from combat. In extenuating circumstances, Josette saves her airship in the heat of battle. She is rewarded with the Mistral, becoming Garnia’s first female captain.
She wants the job – just not the political flak attached. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that is an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat – a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. He’s also been assigned to her ship to catalog her every moment of weakness and indecision. When the Vins make an unprecedented military move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself to the top brass?

Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal

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To escape the burden of his family’s past, Whym accepts an apprenticeship with a master his parents fear and revile. He soon finds himself entangled in a web of treachery and on a perilous journey to locate a creature of myth and magic-a journey that will transform Whym and shape the future of the realm.
Meanwhile, Quint, the son of a powerful religious leader, abandons his faith to join the fight against a corrupt council. As the adviser to a remote tribe, he must find in himself the wisdom and fortitude to save the people from the invading army-and their own leaders.
Civil war looms, defeated foes plot revenge, and an ancient deity schemes to destroy them all. While navigating the shifting sands of truth, the two young men must distill what they believe, and decide on whose side they will stand in the coming conflict.

Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman

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Mystery turns to mortal danger as one young man s quest to clear his father’s name ensnares him in a net of deceit, conspiracy, and intrigue in 1750s England.
Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life . . . until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: it can only be Caleb s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows. From award-winning British author Tanya Landman comes a heart-stopping story of race, class, family, and corruption so deep it can kill.”

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by S.J. Sindu

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Lucky and her husband, Krishna, are gay. They present an illusion of marital bliss to their conservative Sri Lankan–American families, while each dates on the side. It’s not ideal, but for Lucky, it seems to be working. She goes out dancing, she drinks a bit, she makes ends meet by doing digital art on commission. But when Lucky’s grandmother has a nasty fall, Lucky returns to her childhood home and unexpectedly reconnects with her former best friend and first lover, Nisha, who is preparing for her own arranged wedding with a man she’s never met.
As the connection between the two women is rekindled, Lucky tries to save Nisha from entering a marriage based on a lie. But does Nisha really want to be saved? And after a decade’s worth of lying, can Lucky break free of her own circumstances and build a new life? Is she willing to walk away from all that she values about her parents and community to live in a new truth? As Lucky—an outsider no matter what choices she makes—is pushed to the breaking point, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a vivid exploration of a life lived at a complex intersection of race, sexuality, and nationality. The result is a profoundly American debut novel shot through with humor and loss, a story of love, family, and the truths that define us all.

May Wrap-Up

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – 5/5 stars (Full Review)

Thin Places by Lesley Choyce – 2/5 stars (Full Review)

Alice by J.M. Sullivan – 4.5/5 stars (Full Review)

Quinsey Wolfe’s Glass Vault by Candace Robinson – 3.5/5 stars (Full Review)

Send by Domenico Capilongo – 2.5/5 stars (Full Review)

Leave This Song Behind by Teen Ink – 4/5 stars (Full Review)

The Magnificent Flying Baron Estate by Eric Bower – 4/5 stars (Full review)

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid – 4/5 stars (Full review)

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan – 4/5 stars

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis – 5/5 stars

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis – 4/5 stars

What are your reading plans for the month? What were some of your favorite May reads? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 5 Wednesday – May 17th, 2017

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Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey at Gingerreadslainey and is now hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every week, book reviewers all over the world are given a bookish topic and respond with their top 5 books (or elements of books) that relate to that topic. Click here for the Goodreads group if you would like to learn more about Top 5 Wednesday and join in!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is books that remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads. I’ve decided to go back a few years and pick out my top five favorite reads that I randomly picked up from the library during the summer and fell in love with. The library always reminds me of summertime, and it is the perfect time to not only do a ton of reading, but also to go out of your comfort zone and choose some books you might not normally have picked up. So here are my reads that I loved and thought were perfect for reading in the summer! 🙂

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

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Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.
The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.
By the time he learns she’s ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

Precious by Sandra Novack

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The summer of 1978, ten-year-old Vicki Anderson rides her bike to the local park and goes missing. Her tight-knit blue-collar Pennsylvania neighborhood, where children roam the streets at night playing lightning tag, aboveground pools sparkle in backyards, and flowers scent the air, will never be the same.
Down the street from Vicki’s house, another family is in crisis. Troubled by her past, headstrong Natalia Kisch has abandoned her husband and two daughters for another man. Frank Kisch, grappling with his anger, is left to raise their girls alone, oblivious to his daughters’ struggles with both disappearances: Eva, seventeen, plunges into an affair with her married high school teacher, and nine-year-old Sissy escapes to a world of imagination and storytelling that becomes so magical it pierces the reality of the everyday.
When Natalia unexpectedly returns, the struggles and tensions that have built over the summer erupt into a series of events that change the Kisches irrevocably—forcing them to piece together their complicated pasts and commitments to each other.
In this haunting, atmospheric debut, Sandra Novack examines loss, loyalty, and a family in crisis. Lyrical and elegiac, Precious illuminates our attempts to make sense of the volatility that surrounds and consumes us, and explores our ability, even during the most trying times, to remember and hold on to those we love most.

Wherever Grace is Needed by Elizabeth Bass

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In this thoroughly heartwarming novel, Elizabeth Bass-author of Miss You Most of All-creates an unforgettable story of friendship, compassion, and the extraordinary love that lies at the heart of every ordinary family.
When Grace Oliver leaves Portland for Austin, Texas, to help her father, Lou, recuperate from a car accident, she expects to stay just a few weeks. Since her mother’s divorce thirty years ago, Grace has hovered on the periphery of the Oliver family. But now she sees a chance to get closer to her half-brothers and the home she’s never forgotten.
But the Olivers are facing a crisis. Tests reveal that Lou, a retired college professor whose sharp tongue and tenderness Grace adores, is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Grace delays her departure to care for him, and is soon entwined in the complicated lives of her siblings-all squabbling over Lou’s future-and of the family next door.
Ray West and his three children are reeling from a recent tragedy, particularly sixteen-year-old Jordan, whose grief is heightened by guilt and anger. Amid the turmoil, Grace not only gives solace and support, but learns to receive it. And though she came to Austin to reconnect with her past, she is drawn by degrees into surprising new connections.
With wit, wisdom, and unfailing insight, Elizabeth Bass tells a story of loving and letting go, of heartache and hope, and of the joy that comes in finding a place we can truly call home.

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

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One moment can change everything.
Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him.  And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Honorable Mention:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

What books remind you of summer or have been your favorite summertime reads? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 Tuesday – May 16th, 2017

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is a Mother’s Day related freebie. So my choice for a topic is the top ten books I think that my mother should read! She is always asking me for reading recommendations, so I figured this would be an interesting topic to do. I would also love to see her get back into reading more. So hopefully, my mom will see this! 😀

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

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Aimless Love by Billy Collins

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Jackaby by William Ritter

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The Martian by Andy Weir

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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Me: Stories of my Life by Katharine Hepburn

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