Hiatus Announcement!

Hello, dear friends. In the past, I’ve taken periodical breaks from blogging when I was feeling really overwhelmed by it. If you’re not careful, blogging can go from a hobby that you enjoy to a chore on your to-do list. It’s usually around July that I feel this need to step away from the blog before diving back in for what’s usually a busy second half of the year when it comes to blogging. This year is a little different as I haven’t been as consistent with blogging as I would like to be and I have some definitive plans not to stress myself out over posts in the latter part of the year (I will share more on this when I come back). Still, I need a break. Maybe not necessarily from the stress of blogging, but more from the stress and guilt I’ve been feeling because I haven’t been blogging very much. I plan to be back mid-August, but if I’m still not feeling it, I may drop in with an ARC review I have planned and then bail out until September. I can’t promise that I will be on Twitter or Instagram in the meantime. I haven’t spent a lot of time on either of those apps in the last month and that’s something I don’t necessarily want to change right now. I will be checking DMs periodically, so if you need me, you can reach me there. See you soon, friends ❤

Blog Tour – Muse Squad: The Mystery of the Tenth by Chantel Acevedo

Thank you to Paola @ Love, Paola for organizing this tour for Chantel Acevedo’s Muse Squad: The Mystery of the Tenth. Check out the tour schedule for more Muse Squad content from fellow readers here. You can also check out my review of the first book in this duology, Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse, here.

Title: Muse Squad: The Mystery of the Tenth
Author: Chantel Acevedo
Series: Muse Squad, #2
Pages: 352
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: July 6th 2021

**Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this tour which does not influence my review**

      “The finale of an action-packed middle grade fantasy duology about a young Cuban American girl who discovers that she’s one of the nine muses of Greek mythology. Perfect for fans of The Serpent’s Secret, the Aru Shah series, and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.
      Callie Martinez-Silva is finally getting the hang of this whole goddess within thing. Six months after learning she was one of the nine muses of ancient myth, she and the other junior muses are ready for new adventures. Except first Callie has to go to New York City for the summer to visit her dad, stepmom, and new baby brother.
      Then the muses get startling news: an unprecedented tenth muse has been awakened somewhere in Queens, putting Callie in the perfect position to help find her. And she’ll have help—thanks to a runaway mold problem in London, Muse Headquarters is moving to the New York Hall of Science.
      But balancing missions and family-mandated arts camp proves difficult for Callie, especially once mysterious messages from spiders (yikes!) begin to weave a tale of ancient injustice involving Callie’s campmate Ari.
      Now Callie and her friends have to make a choice: follow orders and find the tenth muse or trust that sometimes fate has other plans.”

Chantel Acevedo delivers a heartfelt sequel with Muse Squad: The Mystery of the Tenth, the final book in her middle grade duology inspired by Greek mythology. Callie Martinez-Silva’s life changed when she discovered she is one of the nine muses, tasked with inspiring humankind. While visiting her father over the summer in NYC, Callie finds herself caught between her responsibilities as a muse and helping a new friend. Like its characters, this sequel feels a little more grown up. Callie struggles with being a good leader and whether it’s ethical to use her gift on people without their consent. Callie and her friends face even more difficult challenges in this sequel as their journey pits them against dangerous mythical creatures and cunning gods. If that wasn’t enough, Callie must adjust to being a big sister for the first time and finding where she belongs in her father’s new family. Being a muse has never been more complicated, especially when it starts affecting her relationships. Callie has to figure out how to balance and navigate two very different parts of her life. Callie also finds herself clashing with her dad more and more. Growing up to her means being given more freedom, but to her father it also means being true to your word and understanding how your actions impact those around you, lessons Callie still needs to learn. Muse Squad: The Mystery of the Tenth captures the perils of growing up, including making difficult decisions, but also the undeniable joys of finding friends who truly understand you and discovering who you want to be.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

Muse Squad: The Mystery of the Tenth is available for purchase now:

Amazon

IndieBound

Barnes & Noble

Apple Books

About the Author:
Called “a master storyteller” by Kirkus Reviews, Chantel Acevedo is the author of the novels Love and Ghost Letters, A Falling Star, The Distant Marvels, which was a finalist for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and The Living Infinite hailed by Booklist as a “vivid and enthralling tale of love and redemption.” Muse Squad: The Cassandra Curse, Acevedo’s new middle grade duology (called “Riveting and suspenseful” by School Library Journal) was published by Balzer + Bray in 2020. The sequel, MUSE SQUAD: THE MYSTERY OF THE TENTH, will be published in July of 2021. She is Professor of English at the University of Miami, where she directs the MFA program.

Follow Chantel Acevedo: Website, Twitter, Instagram

Snapshot Review: Oculta by Maya Motayne

Title: Oculta
Author: Maya Motayne
Series: A Forgery of Magic, #2
Pages: 544
Publisher: Blazer + Bray
Release Date: April 6th 2021

TW: abuse, racism, suicide

      “After joining forces to save Castallan from an ancient magical evil, Alfie and Finn haven’t seen each other in months. Alfie is finally stepping up to his role as heir and preparing for an International Peace Summit, while Finn is traveling and reveling in her newfound freedom from Ignacio.
      That is, until she’s unexpectedly installed as the new leader of one of Castallan’s powerful crime syndicates.
      Just when Finn finds herself back in San Cristobal, Alfie’s plans are also derailed. The mysterious organization responsible for his brother’s murder has resurfaced—and their newest target is the summit. And when these events converge, Finn and Alfie are once again forced to work together to follow the assassins’ trail and preserve Castallan’s hopes for peace with Englass.
      But will they be able to stop these sinister foes before a new war threatens their kingdom?”

      “He could feel goose bumps rising on the wall, pressing against the back of his neck. It was excited to have him so close, eager for another addition to this repulsive room.”

  • Alfie – One of my favorite things about this series is the lead characters. Alfie remains one of my favorite male characters in a fantasy series. He’s softhearted, idealistic, willing to do anything for his kingdom and the people he loves. Despite the loss of his brother and his struggle to take on the responsibilities of leading a kingdom, Alfie doesn’t lose his desire to do better for his people. He sometimes falters, but he still presses on.
  • Finn – Finn thought she was free from Ignacio, the man who raised and molder her, but in Oculta she must come to terms with her inner demons that take on a familiar form. Finn is also thrust into an unfamiliar position, becoming a thief lord and in charge of one of the underground gangs. Finn is used to working by herself; her motto has always been to look after herself first. Her relationship with Alfie continues to challenge her preconceived ideas about herself and her tendency to go it alone.
  • Luka – Every scene with Luka is pure gold. Luka once again adds a bit of humor to the story. He is less diplomatic and more cheeky in how he deals with others compared to his cousin. But I love that Luka got to be more than the comedic relief in this one. He is dealing with survivor’s guilt and his new found abilities. How he deals with this adds tension between Alfie and him and it was really interesting to see their roles kind of reversed in this one.
  • ColonizationOculta brings Castallan face-to-face with its former colonizers, the Englassens. A peace summit between the two countries is meant to broker a truce, but instead has caused strife within Castallan. The people have not forgotten how Englass enslaved their ancestors, stole their language, and cut them off from magic. Alfie and his parents have sought out a dialogue in hopes of eradicating Englass’s magical caste system which currently prevents the lower class from practicing magic. Not an easy feat when Englassen royals worldview is so rooted in privileged and power.
  • Rushed ending – So much happens in the last couple of chapters of the book that at times it felt a little rushed. As a reader, I wanted a little more time to process certain revelations.
  • More Finn and la Familia – I really enjoyed Finn’s storyline with la Familia, but thought the novel could have delved deeper into this organization. Aside from one person, we don’t get to know la Familia and I think it would have served Finn’s character to see her interact with the children that Kol once employed in particular.

With Oculta, Maya Motyane explores colonization, politics, and civil unrest in a sequel that is sure to make readers scream for more with its unpredictable ending.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

2021 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I have not had the best reading year so far, but that has less to do with what I’ve been picking up and this general feeling of slumpiness. I am about to take a hiatus from the blog and hopefully recover some of my energy. I want to try and focus on reading more, but not necessarily reviewing every title. As a blogger I feel obligated to review all the books I read, but I’ve learned that this does not always translate to an overall enjoyable reading experience. Sometimes I need a break from writing reviews. Anyone else feel like this sometimes? But enough of that, let’s take a look at some of the books that standout to me so far this year. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

1. Best Book You’ve Read in 2021?

My favorite book so far this year has to be Hafsah Faizal’s We Free the Stars. I’ve had a good amount of five-star reads this year, but this one was just everything I hoped for in a sequel to We Hunt the Flame. It made me crave more stories in this world (I’m hoping) and guaranteed that I will preorder anything Hafsah Faizal writes.

2. Best Sequel You’ve Read in 2021?

I won’t go with We Free the Stars for this one, but I am tempted. I have not read a ton of sequels this year, but one that stands out is Maya Motayne’s Oculta. It had me screaming!!!!!!!!!

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To?

Sooooo many! Number one on my list is Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne and it’s actually not my fault that I haven’t read this one yet. If you can believe it, I am still waiting for my preorder of this one. The delivery date has been pushed back twice and if it is again, I’m going to cancel and order somewhere else because I need this one already.

4. Most Anticipated Release For the Second Half of 2021?

If you are interested in my top ten most anticipated releases, you can check out my post on that here. If I had to choose only one, I think I have to go with Tiffany D. Jackson’s White Smoke. I am ready for TDJ to pull the rug right from under me again.

5. Biggest Disappointment?

There isn’t one book for me that stands out as a major disappointment. There were a few reads that I liked less than I thought I would, but none so much so that I feel like I should name them here.

6. Biggest Surprise?

I am going to go with C.L. Polk’s Witchmark. I’ve been hearing how good this one was for a couple of years now, but I did not anticipate loving it as much as I did. It’s my most recent five-star read that was a novel.

7. New Favorite Author?

I’ve picked up a few debuts this year, but one author I now have my eye on is Daka Hermon. Her middle grade horror, Hide and Seeker, was just so good and I cannot wait to read more from her.

8. Newest Fictional Crush? Favorite Ship?

So I don’t have any new fictional crushes, so I am changing this question to favorite ship. I loved loved loved Julián and Mat from Jonny Garza Villa’s Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun. They had me grinning throughout the novel.

9. Newest Favorite Character?

This is a harder question than I thought it would be. I am going to name a character who I’ve already met, but who I am getting reacquainted with with rereads. Kippa from the Monstress series by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda. I am very stressed anytime she is in danger.

10. Book That Made You Cry?

This is a tie between three different books. Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown, Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite’s One of the Good Ones, and Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Mirror Season all made me ugly cry.

11. Book That Made You Happy?

I should have picked up Leah Johnson’s You Should See Me in a Crown sooner, but it put a big smile on my face.

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaption You Saw This Year?

The only book to movie adaptation that I’ve watched this year that I know of is Always and Forever, Lara Jean. I definitely prefer the book over the movie though.

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year?

I don’t think there is any one review that stands out to me, but I liked my review of We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizal, which you can read here.

14. Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year?

So I haven’t read this one yet, but Namina Forna’s The Gilded Ones has one of the most gorgeous covers I have ever laid eyes on.

15. What Books Do You Need to Read By the End of the Year?

I don’t want to think too hard about how many books I need to get to by the end of the year, but I will highlight these three sequels that I want to read hopefully by the end of summer: Fonda Lee’s Jade War, S.K. Ali’s Misfit in Love, and Susan Dennard’s Witchshadow.

What’s your favorite book of 2021? Which book are you hoping to get to by the end of the year? Leave me a link in the comments to your own Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag post, so I can visit.