Top Ten Tuesday: First Ten Books I Reviewed on My Blog

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “(First Ten) Books I Reviewed.” Eek. I have a personal policy that I don’t read reviews I wrote at the beginning of my book blogging journey. There is so much cringe. That being said, it was interesting to look back at what my first reviews on the blog were and try to remember how I felt about them. These are all books I read about 5 years ago, so the mind forgets…a lot. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund – This one remains one of my favorite Jane Austen retellings. If you are looking for a Persuasion retelling with a science-fiction flare, you need to check this one out. I still own this one and will likely keep it until the bitter end. Rating: 5/5

2. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter – I have yet to come across an Alice in Wonderland retelling that I like. I remember wanting to like this one because hello, zombies, but I hated this one so much. Rating: 1/5

3. The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – I’ve always been impressed with Stiefvater’s characters in her Raven Cycle series. I have fond memories of reading this one and one that I know if I ever reread, I’d be lost to a state of nostalgia. Rating: 5/5

4. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – This was one of the first YA fantasy series I really got into. I still think Graceling is the best, but this is my second favorite despite the fact that it is rather slow. I will also probably get rid of these books at some point though. Rating: 4/5

5. Gravity by Melissa West – I remember loving this first book in the series, but being completely let down by the second. I donate this book and its sequel to my library years ago. Rating 4/5

6. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund – This is the companion novel to For Darkness Shows the Stars. It’s a retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel and I really enjoyed it. This along with Sharon Cameron’s Rook are my favorite The Scarlet Pimpernel retellings. Rating: 4/5

7. All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrell – This one used to be one of my favorites and I’m so sad it never got a sequel. I still have my copy of this one, but so many years have past, I will probably give it away. Rating 5/5

8. More Than This by Patrick Ness – I still love Ness’s Chaos Walking Trilogy, but I just could not connect with this one. I also vaguely remember this one feeling way too long. Rating: 2/5

9. In the After by Demitria Lunetta – I don’t remember much beyond really enjoying this one and feeling meh about its sequel. Rating: 4/5

10. Inhuman by Kat Falls – I don’t remember a thing about this one, but apparently I hated it. Rating: 1/5

Have you read any of these? Do you give away books even if you enjoyed them? How do you decide when it’s time? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.

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Kernels of Nonsense: 2019 Preorders So Far (Part II)


Kernels of Nonsense is a feature on my blog where I discuss random bookish and blogging topics. You may recall Part I of this topic (Kernels of Nonsense: 2019 Preorders So Far). I should have called it Part I from the get-go because I knew there was no way it would encompass all my 2019 preorders. And look, here we are again, because like I said, I love to preorder books. I’m also low-key into preorder incentives, especially character cards. You’ll likely see Part III of this post late summer/early fall because there are so many books coming out that I’m going to be so stoked for and that preorder button is just so hard to resist. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

1. The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (Preordered February 21, 2018/Release Date: February 26, 2019) I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of this one and it is now one of my favorite MG books. I loved how open and accepting this one was and Aida Salazar is the sweetest, so after I gave my ARC away, I preordered a hardback. I am so glad I did because the finished copy is so beautiful. The illustration on the cover is one of my favorites.

2. The True Queen by Zen Cho  (Preordered March 8, 2019/Release Date: March 21, 2019) One of my favorite books I own is my hardback copy of Sorcerer to the Crown. It took me a long time to hunt down a copy that wasn’t going to cost me my first born. With this sequel, I preordered the paperback, but the release date kept creeping closer and I kept coveting the hardback. Decided to cancel my original preorder and splurge a little on the hardcover edition of The True Queen because I didn’t want to regret not getting it when it was so readily available (like I did with the first).

3. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo (Preordered March 9, 2019/Release Date: May 7, 2019) I have a mighty need for all the cute contemporaries starring PoC and Maurene Goo has become one of my go-to authors. I don’t think the synopsis tells us enough but I am getting a Roman Holiday kind of vibe where the reporter knows the heroine’s true identity, but she doesn’t know he knows and she gets a day to be herself until she finds out the truth. Such a bittersweet ending. Hopefully this one is more sweet than bitter.

4. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (Preordered March 9, 2018/Release Date: May 7, 2019) – My most anticipated 2019 sophomore novel is Elizabeth Acevedo’s With the Fire on High. The Poet X felt like a breath of fresh air and I am ready for more if her storytelling. It features a young mom, which I can’t recall every reading in a YA, trying to achieve her goal of becoming a chef. Is it weird that I’m super excited for the food descriptions? I’m excited for the food descriptions.

5. Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali (Preordered March 19, 2019/Release Date: April 30, 2019) – I feel like I need to scream more about how much I loved Saints and Misfits. You ever read a book and wish the character was real so you could be best friends with them? That’s how I feel about Janna. I am so excited that we are going to get a sequel, but before we do, Love from A to Z is coming out. It has charm written all over it and didn’t I say I wanted all the charming contemporaries starring PoC? I actually got offered an ARC of this and am currently reading and loving this one.

6. Nocturna by Maya Motayne (Preordered March 19, 2019/Release Date: May 7, 2019) Latinx-based fantasies are scarce, so when I learned about this one, I quickly added it to the TBR and have been dreaming about it ever since. This is Maya Motayne’s debut novel, Nocturna, and this year, I want to make sure that I am consistently supporting new Latinx writers (and also veterans) and buying their books is one of important way to do so. Also the cover is gorgeous and I want to desperately take pictures of it.

7. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (Preordered: March 19, 2019/Release Date: May 14, 2019) – Also high on my contemporary go-to list is Sandhya Menon. When Dimple Met Rishi is one of my very favorite contemporary novels. Menon has a way of making my laugh and smile and every time (every two times) I’ve picked up a novel from her, I’ve had a blast. I can’t wait to meet Sweetie and perhaps catch up a little on what Dimple and Rishi have been up to.

8. Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno (Preordered: March 19, 2019/Release Date: May 14, 2019) – A contemporary that features a Latinx MC, involves curses, first love, and an emphasis on family? Yes, please. I got a hold of an ARC of this one and it was absolutely perfect. Contemporaries that manages to balance romance and family drama are always high on my favorites list. I can’t wait to share my review. Also, the preorder campaign for this one is so cute:

9. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (Preordered: April 19, 2019/Release Date: June 4, 2019) – I have been waiting for this P&P retelling for more than a year now. It was released in Canada first and I’ve been hearing nothing but amazing things. Having read two other P&P retellings in the last few months has made me even more excited for this one and numerous conversations with Kaeley @ Spoilers May Apply finally convinced me to just give in. So I gave in.

Also note: I mentioned preordering We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal in my previous post. I ended up cancelling my original preorder and preordering the B&N exclusive copy instead. I’ve never done this, so this should summarize how excited I am for this one.

What’s the last book you preordered? How many books do you preorder in a year? Are you a fan of preorder campaigns? Let’s talk in the comments!

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Series: We Set the Dark on Fire, #1
Pages: 384
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: February 26th 2019

      “At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children. Both paths promise a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class.
      Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.
      And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio.
      Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?”

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“You’re a hundred shades of a girl. You hold those shadows and bring them to life when you need them, and they’re flawless. Look how far you’ve risen, how many people you’ve fooled.”

Tehlor Kay Mejia’s debut, We Set the Dark on Fire, is an empowering dystopian fantasy with real-world correlations about classism and immigration. Daniela Vargas has done everything in her power to hide that she was born on the wrong side of the island of Medio. She’s risen above her station and is on the verge of fulfilling all the dreams her parents have had for her. As a graduate from the Medio School for Girls, Dani will become one of two wives to a son of one of Medio’s most powerful political families. Just when it becomes certain that her secret will unravel all her well-laid plans, she’s thrown a lifeline by an operative of the notorious revolutionary group La Voz. In exchange for their aid, Dani will have to become a spy in her new husband’s household, but Mateo Garcia isn’t just the son of a powerful father, he has direct influence over the policies that have kept people like Dani in poverty. Further complicating matters are Dani’s growing feelings for her husband’s other wife Carmen. When Dani sees first hand how ruthless the government can be, she must decide if she’s willing to fight for a safer future for everyone by standing in direct opposition to her husband. But if he discovers her deception, she won’t live long enough to see such a future.

There are so many intricate details to the world-building in this one, every element felt so deliberate and added something unique to the narrative. We Set the Dark on Fire opens with Medio mythology, weaving a story of two brother Gods and the jealousy that tore them apart. It’s a story that ends with the island of Medio being separated by a wall, where one class of people is allowed to flourish, while the other is condemned to a life of poverty. It’s the origin of Medio’s matrimonial tradition of raising a select group of girls to be married off to the most eligible and rich bachelors. Dani has been groomed to be a Primera, the wife meant to be her husband’s equal in intelligence and power. Carmen is a Segunda, the more nurturing of the pair, meant to provide her husband with a warm home and children. This mythology becomes a justification for people like Mateo Garcia to see people seeking a better life as law-breakers, groups like La Voz calling for equality as dangerous, and anyone sympathetic to these people as traitors. In this world, morality is not black and white. Those in opposition to rebel groups like La Voz believe they have more of a claim to liberty and prosperity, and they will do everything in their power to keep the population fearful. Those on the resistance side have tried to keep their protests peaceful, but their people are starving, are being thrown in prison, and when change refuses to happen, you’re left with little choice but extremes.

I loved how different Dani and Carmen were as characters as they were raised to take on certain roles. As a Primera, Dani has been taught to value her stoicism, to not give anything away, to observe before acting. Carmen on the other hand has been raised a Segunda, known for their passion and enthusiasm. Watching their relationship develop was such a treat. At first, every interaction and every word is fraught with animosity, but slowly their exchanges become charged with tension and an undeniable attraction. I loved Dani’s personal story arc as a young woman hoping to make the best of her circumstances. Her parents’ dream has become her own goal, even though she might have been happier living a simpler life. She carries their dreams on her shoulders and when she is given an opportunity to do more with her life, to fight for those not as fortunate as herself, she has to decide not only to give up the comforts of her new life, but also risk the dreams her parents had for her. I really wish we got a couple of chapters from Carmen’s perspective. With the way this one ends, it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface of who this young woman is.

We Set the Dark on Fire is like no other dystopian fantasy that I’ve read. I loved that it centers Latinx culture, features two complex Latina characters, and that their romance is given center-stage despite the patriarchal setting.

★★★★

(4/5)

The Friday 56: The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Friday 56The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

      “As Calo vanished into the crow, Galdo appeared just as suddenly, dressed in the bright silks and cottons of a prosperous Camorri merchant; his slashed and ruffled coat alone was probably worth as much as the barge the Gentlemen Bastards had poled up the river that morning. There was nothing now about him to remind the Don or his man of the alley cut-throats…”

This week I am featuring Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, which I am finally reading as a buddy read for the month of April. I’m really enjoying all the scheming and am at a point in the book where the author has punched me in the gut. I hope I can survive the rest of the novel. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “They say that the Thorn of Camorr can beat anyone in a fight. They say he steals from the rich and gives to the poor. They say he’s part man, part myth, and mostly street-corner rumor. And they are wrong on every count.
      Only averagely tall, slender, and god-awful with a sword, Locke Lamora is the fabled Thorn, and the greatest weapons at his disposal are his wit and cunning. He steals from the rich – they’re the only ones worth stealing from – but the poor can go steal for themselves. What Locke cons, wheedles and tricks into his possession is strictly for him and his band of fellow con-artists and thieves: the Gentleman Bastards.
      Together their domain is the city of Camorr. Built of Elderglass by a race no-one remembers, it’s a city of shifting revels, filthy canals, baroque palaces and crowded cemeteries. Home to Dons, merchants, soldiers, beggars, cripples, and feral children. And to Capa Barsavi, the criminal mastermind who runs the city.
      But there are whispers of a challenge to the Capa’s power. A challenge from a man no one has ever seen, a man no blade can touch. The Grey King is coming.
      A man would be well advised not to be caught between Capa Barsavi and The Grey King. Even such a master of the sword as the Thorn of Camorr. As for Locke Lamora…”

Latinx Book Club: May’s Book Club Pick

The Latinx Book Club is an online Twitter-based book club, dedicated to reading and boosting Latinx voices. Each month, with the help of readers, we choose a book by a Latinx author to read together. If you haven’t followed us on Twitter yet, you can do so here: @Latinxbookclub. The Latinx Book Club team members are:

Cande @ Latinx Magic

Carolina @ Santana Reads

Dani @ Metamorphoreader

Jocelyn @ Yogi with a Book

Sofia @ Bookish Wanderess

And me!

We’ve had such a fun time reading The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes. There is still time to join if you haven’t done so! All info related to this month’s book club pick and discussions can be found on our Twitter, but if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. Today we are please to announce May’s book club pick…

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera! I had the pleasure of reading this one earlier this year, but it’s one of those novels that I wish I had someone to talk about with. There is so much I need to discuss! Book info is listed below. We will be starting our readalong May 1st, but feel free to read at your own pace. We will be using the hashtag #Latinxbookclub all month long and encourage you to do so as well. We hope you can join us for our May book club pick. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me here or on our Twitter account. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

Title: Dealing in Dreams
Author: Lilliam Rivera
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 5th 2019

      “At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.
    Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.
      Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?”

Will you be joining the Latinx Book Club in May? Have you read this book yet? Let’s talk in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Contemporary Reads to Get You Through a Rainy Day

Top Ten Tuesday is an original blog meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. and is currently being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is “Rainy Day Reads.Where I live, we don’t get a ton of rainy days, so I don’t necessarily associate certain books with rainy days. If I’m stuck in the house and the world outside looks a little gloomy, my first instinct would probably be to reach for a contemporary. But because contemporaries come in all shapes and sizes, I’ve compiled a list of what I hope is a wide-range of books you could reach for next time it rains. Covers are linked to Goodreads.

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1. Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson – When you want to be immersed in a mystery and not look up until you’ve discovered the answer to all your questions. Warning: You will be thinking about this one long after you finish.

2. The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson – When you are looking for a contemporary with great banter and smart characters. Warning: No other contemporary characters will every be as smart and witty as Lily Anderson’s.

3. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle – When you want something a little dark and gloomy, pick up this one about a family curse. Warning: Will make you crave all the atmospheric novels.

4. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera– When you want something to make you cry a little, but also make you feel hopeful. Warning: I lied. You will cry a lot. 

5. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo – When you want something sunny and light that will make you laugh. Warning: Extreme sunshine ahead, will make you sad it is so gloomy outside.

6. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – When you want something to listen to while you clean the house because there’s nothing better to do than stay indoors, reach for the audio of this debut. Warning: All the feels ahead, you might cry into a sink full of dirty dishes.

7. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – When you want to warm your cynical heart, reach for this one and be amazed how Yoon is able to pull off the love-at-first-sight trope flawlessly. Warning: You will never find a more satisfactory love-at-first-sight story ever.

8. Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly – When you want to read about characters getting into all kinds of mischief. Warning: Like Zoe, you will wonder how the heck a trouble-maker like Digby wormed his way into your heart.

9. Pride by Ibi Zoboi – When you are craving a classic, but don’t want to read a classic, read this retelling instead. Warning: You will want all of Austen’s works adapted by Zoboi, you will take every opportunity on your blog to mention it, like I am doing…right now.

10. Listen to our Heart by Kasie West – When you want something short and sweet and not too complicated, reach for Kasie West. Warning: You will enjoy every book and puzzle over how she writes them so fast.

Are you a fan of any of these contemporaries? Which contemporaries would you recommend on a rainy day? Let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me a link to your own TTT post, so I can visit.