Beacon Book Box: June Unboxing

Once again, I’m a little late on my unboxing post, but in my defense I was on vacation all last week. This month was my first month as OFFICIAL rep for Beacon Book Box and I loved every second of it! If you guys follow my blog or instagram at all you know how much I love this company. June’s theme was CORRUPTION IN THE COURT and the box came with TWO books!! I was definitely not disappointed with this box. Let’s see what was inside!

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Like I said above, the theme for June was CORRUPTION IN THE COURT. The two books it contained were promoted as books perfect for fans of Throne of Glass, A Darker Shade of Magic, and The Selection. I usually try to guess the books that are contained in these boxes, but this month I had no clue! These were the items it contained:

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Scythe themed print by Stella Bookish Art. I was really excited about this print, as Scythe and Thunderhead were some of my favorite books so far this year. If you haven’t read theme I really recommend it! You can check out my reviews here and here.

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Cinder themed candle by Here Forevermore. I’ve said this before, but candles are one of my FAVORITE items to receive in book boxes, and this one is apple scented – my favorite! Plus, who doesn’t love sparkles??

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Reaper at the Gates matches also designed by Here Forevermore. I’ve never seen matches designed like this, and they are so cute! I checked out their instagram page and they have a TON – what a good idea! Now if I could just learn how to light them…

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Six of Crows bookmark designed by Creative Chaotics. #1, I love bookmarks. #2, I just started reading the Grishaverse trilogy, and I am LOVING it – which means I’ll probably dive into Six of Crows soon too.

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Six of Crows sticker by Novel Grounds. I’m not really sure to do with bookish stickers, so if any of you guys have ideas tell me! This one is GORGEOUS, and see above for my Grishaverse love.

And finally: the big ticket items! The books included this month were Dividing Eden and Conquering Eden by Joelle Charbonneau. They came with a letter from the author and a signed bookplate! I cannot wait to dive into these gorgeous books, and sending the first book in the series was such a great touch!

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July’s theme is BEHIND THE MASK and if you haven’t given this a try yet, a so recommend it! You can use JEN10 for 10% off. I know you’ll love this box and the team at Beacon Book Box as much as I do.

xoxo

Jen

 

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books To Read at the Beach

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. Check out her blog for more info!

I know, I know, this was the topic LAST week. But honestly I didn’t love this week’s topic, and since I’m so far behind anyway… I’m doing it. Because I want to break ALL THE RULES.

So here we go: my top 10 beach reads, in no particular order:

ONE: Anything Sarah Dessen

That’s right, on the very first one I’m breaking the rules and listing an entire author instead of just one book. But honestly, this is a no-brainer, and really pretty nostalgic to me. Sarah Dessen books were kind of how I first dipped my toes into the deep pool that is YA contemporary. They’re all set in the summer, in beachy towns, and most feature summer romances. What more could you want?

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TWO: My Plain Jane

What’s better for the beach than a bunch of laughs? This book is one of my favorite books so far this year, and if reading a Jane Eyre retelling with a ghostbuster twist on the beach is your idea of a bad time, I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life. You can check out my review here.

THREE: Panic by Lauren Oliver

A book about a death-defying game all the seniors play the summer they graduate? What could go wrong?

FOUR: Do a Harry Potter re-read

Harry’s birthday is in July, and all the books were always released on his birthday. This made my summers as a kid a time when I would frantically re-read all of the previous books before the new one would be released. Sometimes, I still get that nostalgic urge to do a re-read in July… and I’m not mad about it.

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FIVE: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Because summers should involve a lot of sirens and pirates. Check out my review here.

SIX: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

I am not a HUGE Nicholas Sparks fan but Safe Haven has always been a favorite; maybe because it’s got a little thriller twist. Pick this book up, you won’t regret it.

SEVEN: The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

Ok, I’m breaking allllllll the rules. And I swear this is my last Sparks book I’m listing, because despite what it looks like most of his books read the same to me. But The Last Song reads a LITTLE more like a YA contemporary than his usual stuff, so I’m including it.

EIGHT: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Life in the circus. Sounds summery. Feels summery. What do you mean I’m stretching it?

NINE: The Girls by Emma Cline

A disturbing, unique perspective based on the Manson murders. It’s creepy, it’s dark, and honestly if you don’t like to read creepy books by the beach we probably aren’t friends. This is pretty much the ONLY place I can read creepy books. And I love EVERY second of it.

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TEN: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I don’t actually have a good reason for including this one, I just think everyone should read it ASAP. Here’s a link to my review if you still aren’t convinced.

 

Are you reading any of these books this summer? What do you think is a perfect summer read? Let me know!

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: The Brink of Darkness

The Brink of Darkness

Title: The Brink of Darkness (The Edge of Everything #2)

Author: Jeff Giles

Pages: 400

Release Date: July 10

My Rating: ★★★.5

Goodreads Synopsis:

Things have changed for seventeen-year-old Zoe ever since the otherworldly events that brought her together with the mysterious bounty hunter she calls X. In order to save Zoe and her family, X has done the unthinkable – he’s given up his freedom and returned to captivity in the Lowlands.

X is determined to break the lords’ hold on him once and for all, but being stripped of his power pushes him toward a darkness he’s never experienced and a past he’s never known. The secrets that surface could be the key to reuniting X and Zoe… or they could mean the destruction of everything they have been fighting for.

Gripping and full of heart, this epic continuation of Jeff Giles’ series – which already has rave reviews from New York Times bestselling authors Kami Garcia, Melissa de la Cruz, and Cassandra Clare, among others – will bring readers right to the edge of everything.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher, Bloomsbury, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A solid 3.5/5 stars for The Brink of Darkness. I genuinely liked this book, and had a fantastic time reading it. It was a quick read and the storyline was great! I did have a few minor issues with it, but for me it didn’t take away from the story that much. The Brink of Darkness picks up pretty much right where The Edge of Everything leaves off, so we aren’t left wondering too long about our main characters. I do recommend reading The Edge of Everything prior to The Brink of Darkness, or you will be majorly lost. Let’s get down to it:

First, here are some mild trigger warnings: descriptions of animal cruelty, torture, violence/vivid descriptions of violence, bad receptions to coming out as gay. This is a book about Hell, and so some of the descriptions of what damned the souls could potentially be triggers. As far as triggers go, I do think they are pretty mild.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • More development for some side characters. I absolutely LOVED Ripper and Val, so I was super happy we got to spend more time with them. Did I mention this book has a TON of girl power?? Not just Zoe, but ALL the side characters, especially Zoe’s mom. I also loved Dallas and Jonah, as well as a few of the new characters that were introduced.
  • The banter and dialogue in this book is on POINT. I was laughing out loud for large portions of it, which I did not expect- it is a book about hell, after all. But I LOVE a book with witty or sarcastic dialogue, and The Brink of Darkness had it in spades. Well done, Mr. Giles.
  • X. As far as the main character goes, he was for sure my favorite. He seemed to really grow as a character, and was actually able to make decisions without thinking JUST about Zoe, which I appreciated.
  • The storyline. This was such a unique storyline, and told in such a great way. Giles really pulled me into his world, and I loved how unique and descriptive his depiction of Hell was. I have never read a story/series like this before, and I applaud the creativity. It is definitely a page-turner, and the pacing was much better in Book 2. I loved loved loved this story.
  • Lesbian rep! Yay! Also minor touches on anxiety, depression, difficulties with coming out. I wish this had been fleshed out more instead of just a minor mention, because I love that some of these important issues are being brought to light.

WHAT I DIDN’T:

  • Ok, I’m going to start with my major issue: Zoe. This girl annoyed the crap out of me for 50% of the book, which is an increase from 25% of the first book (The Edge of Everything). I was hoping her character would mature a little bit and show some growth from the first book, but unfortunately she just got MORE annoying. She makes really irrational, dumb, selfish, and dangerous decisions – MORE dangerous and stupid than book 1. There are some parts about Zoe that I really like – her banter with her friends, her sarcasm, the way she interacts with her little brother. There are parts of her that are really relatable. And THEN there are the parts where she (IF YOU HAVE NOT READ EDGE OF EVERYTHING, SPOILER ALERT) falls in love at first sight with a bounty hunter from hell and cannot stop thinking/talking/obsessing about him, and he factors into EVERY decision she makes – WHEN SHE IS 17.
  • The insta-love in this series was especially hard for me to take. I actually liked Zoe and X a TON better in both books when they were focused on other tasks (such as finding their respective parents) and not on each other.
  • Zoe’s mom is literally the best parent in this entire series. Why does she get so little facetime? Give me more! I also wanted more time with Ripper, Val, and Sylvie. And also the dogs. I love dogs.

All in all, I really loved this series, and I hope Giles does a third installment, maybe after Zoe graduates high school and has matured a bit? The only reason this didn’t get a 4 for me is because I have a tough time with books where I don’t like the main character all that much. I recommend this series with all my heart, it is definitely not boring and the storyline is so unique! Go pick this series up – you won’t regret it.

The Brink of Darkness is released on July 10.

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: My Plain Jane

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Title: My Plain Jane

Authors: Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

Pages: 464

My Rating: ★★★★.5

Goodreads Summary:

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher, HarperTeen, via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

4.5 stars for My Plain Jane! Thank you so much to HarperTeen for this eARC, because I absolutely adored this book.

Before I start my review, I want to lead off with two points: I have not read My Lady Jane – although when I finished this book I ordered it immediately and will be picking it up next week. They are companion novels, so it is not necessary to read them in order. However, I’ve heard the first one is just as good, if not better! These books are retellings of famous Janes throughout history – with a LOT of humor, and My Plain Jane had a paranormal twist. That leads us to my second point: I have NOT read Jane Eyre (I know, let the shaming begin). I still loved this book. A friend told me that it hit all the major plot points of Jane Eyre, so it probably even made it less predictable that I hadn’t read it. To summarize: If you have not read My Lady Jane or Jane Eyre, still go buy this book immediately.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The humor. Like I mentioned above, this book is full of satirical humor, and I laughed out loud at least once a chapter. Nothing escapes unscathed – English literature, dress, old protocol and how everything had to be so proper. After finishing such a dark read last week in The Poppy War, this book was exactly what I needed. It was light, witty, and kept me laughing the entire time. The best part is the humor is SMART, and I love that. Bravo to the authors – they make such an unbeatable team.
  • The characters. I really loved ALL the characters, and I only wanted to punch Jane once or twice. Helen was a particular favorite of mine. She loved pointing out things that everyone else was dancing around, and was not afraid to speak her mind in the slightest. The dialogue was witty, fast-paced, and held little baby Easter eggs hidden from more modern books, which I loved. Again, like I said above, this book isn’t just good – it’s so intelligently done.
  • GHOSTS. Do I really need to follow that up with anything?

Pretty much I just loved everything about this book: the writing, the characters, the paranormal aspect, the plot, the satirical humor. I have ONE MINOR COMPLAINT: and this is SLIGHTLY SPOILERY but I’ll do my best to avoid it. I won’t be offended if you skip this paragraph!

SERIOUSLY SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON’T WANT A MILD SPOILER. Something happens to Charlotte towards the very end of the book. And then she just sits up and moves on like nothing happens. It annoys me when this happens in books or movies in general. At least send the girl to the hospital or something.

Ok no more I promise! Even with my mild complaint, I LOVED this book. Like I said, I already ordered My Lady Jane and will be starting it next week. It kind of even made me want to read Jane Eyre, so we’ll have to see when I can get to that one.

My Plain Jane

 

My Plain Jane releases on June 26th. I strongly urge you to go buy this book!

xoxo

Jen

MY JUNE BOOK BAN: why I did it and how I’m doing

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Here we go, bookworms: my first ever official book ban.

This has actually been going on since June started, but I’ve been keeping it quiet because – surprise – I’ve failed at book bans before. I wanted to make sure this one was going to stick before I made it public.

I didn’t make this decision lightly, and I did give myself a little bit of wiggle room (more on that later), but the start of summer seemed like a great time to challenge myself to actually stay true to the ban.

WHY I DID IT:

Do you ever feel like your TBR pile is about to completely devour you? Me, too. Add in the ARC approvals that kept pouring in over the past few months and I’ve been feeling SO overwhelmed. Too many books, not enough time! I haven’t picked up a mood read (which was ALL I used to do) in over 3 months. I needed some time to get to the perfectly good books that were still sitting on my shelves!

Now the obvious reason: $$$. Summer is a time where my husband and I tend to spend more money. Weekend trips, impromptu dinners/drinks with friends, rounds of golf, etc. You name it, we do it. I realized last month when I bought 23 BOOKS (HOLY CRAP) that if each of those books was only 10 dollars (they weren’t) I spent $230 on books (it was more than that) – AND I ONLY READ 3 OF THEM. Not to mention I got a ton of ARCs for FREE. WHAT WAS I DOING??

THE TIMES I ALMOST BROKE THE BAN

Ok, obviously I have wavered. BUT. I have NOT broken my ban yet and we are just about halfway through June. One of my biggest temptations is MY EMPTY BOOKSHELF. My husband bought me brand new shelves for my birthday, which is awesome, but there’s so much free space! I’m feeling a compulsive need to fill it all up immediately, instead of gradually (I would regret this as soon as it happened, because then where would the books go?)

Book Outlet’s huge summer sale was another temptation. According to my stipulations (I’m getting to them, I promise), I COULD have bought some, but none of the books were ones I was dying to have – I took a pass. I was so proud of this!

I ALSO have been wavering on the UK limited edition of Legendary from book depository. I’m DYING for these editions. However. I have a perfectly good copy of Legendary and Caraval sitting on my shelf (both of which I have not read yet). The fact that this edition is limited and will not be restocked is gnawing at me – this might be what breaks me.

THE RULES

Ok, here they are: the guidelines I gave myself so I can buy SOME books. I couldn’t go cold turkey, after all.

I AM ALLOWED TO BUY A BOOK IF:

  1. It’s a preorder. It technically won’t be charged yet so it doesn’t count.
  2. It’s a book box subscription THAT I AM ALREADY SUBSCRIBED TO.
  3. It’s an ebook that is <$2 or a physical copy that is <$6. Even a book ban appreciates a great deal.
  4. If I will pick it up and read it within a week of it arriving at my house.

And that’s it. I’m SO TEMPTED to add limited edition to this list. If this book ban actually goes well, I may consider extended it into July or even until Labor Day, but for now the plan is just to stick to it through the month of June.

Have you done a book ban? Were you successful? Should I add limited editions??? Help me, book worms!

xoxo

Jen

June Pick: Book of the Month

Once again this month, I went with just one pick. I was torn between two of the choices, but in the end decided to go with:

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The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

Goodreads Synopsis:

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Why I Picked It:

I very nearly went with When Katie Met Cassidy because PRIDE MONTH but at the very last second switched to The Kiss Quotient – obviously I’m all about the light summer romance reads. But I picked this book mainly because I’ve had to deal very closely with Asperger’s, both in my professional and personal life. Some of these people are the best people I’ve ever met, and I’m very interested in seeing how Hoang portrays Asperberg’s in her novel. As a side note, I love supporting debut novels through BOTM whenever I can, so that was a nice bonus. I may just have to add When Katie Met Cassidy to my next box though, because I am still DYING to read that one.

What Book of the Month book did you pick??

If you’re on the fence about trying Book of the Month, use my referral link listed below. If you use the link to join, you get a free book in the process. 🙂

https://www.mybotm.com/mahhtnum098gp66r

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: The Boyfriend Bracket

The Boyfriend Bracket

Title: The Boyfriend Bracket

Author: Kate Evangelista

Publication Date: June 19, 2018

Pages: 240

My Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Stella has had a hopeless crush on Will, her older brother’s best friend FOREVER, but now that Cam and Will have graduated and are going off to college, this year is her chance to really strike out on her own. Without her overprotective brother and his sidekick around to distract her, she can focus on having all the typical high school experiences that she’s always dreamed of—starting with finding a boyfriend! With the help of her best friend Franklin, she comes up with the perfect plan to have a boyfriend by Christmas: The Boyfriend Bracket.

Or it seems like the perfect plan…right up until Will starts showing up again. How is she supposed to find the perfect boyfriend when none of her dates measure up to the one boy she can never have?

Review:

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you so much to the publisher for giving me a chance to review this book! The Boyfriend Bracket gets 3/5 stars from me. It was definitely a good page turner; I devoured this book in less than 24 hours. However, I did have a couple of issues with it.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The readability. Like I said above, I read this book in less than 24 hours. It was easy to read, and I genuinely wanted to know what happened to each of the characters.
  • Three cheers for gay rep! I wish Franklin was my best friend.
  • I loved how much art this book contained in the storyline. The fashion aspect was awesome on it’s own, and something a little different from most of the books I pick up, but the comic book portion was a nice touch as well. It’s always nice to portray art as a viable career choice for kids after high school, and I liked seeing these kid’s dreams come true.
  • I am a big fan of the “brother’s friend to boyfriend” trope, and this book didn’t let go of the trope the entire story. While that may have made it pretty predictable, it’s still a trope I hold near and dear to my heart, and I would have been unable to root for any of the other boys in the boyfriend bracket after the possibility of Will was presented.

WHAT I DIDN’T:

  • This is possibly the single most bothersome thing I have ever noticed in a book before, and also has some slight spoilers: Chapter 7 is taken straight out of a country song. I don’t mean it slightly resembles a country song, I mean the lyrics are pulled straight out of the song and are found on the page. I dare you to listen to “Kissed you (Goodnight)” by Gloriana, and then read Chapter 7, and not notice it. This is pure laziness on the author’s part, and while I’m sure it was unintentional, I still found it pretty annoying.
  • This book is set in high school, and is told by high schoolers. It reads JUST like that. The maturity level is right about high school age, if not lower. The book is still very readable, but definitely better for a younger audience.
  • Stella. While I loved Will and Franklin, I wanted to punch Stella in the face a few times. She’s pretty self-involved, selfish, and immature. While she does fess up and apologize towards the end, she’s a pretty crummy friend to Franklin (who is AWESOME). I also found her brother’s single-mindedness towards scaring her boyfriends away pretty unrealistic and a little one dimensional.
  • While I normally love books that switch POV, especially when I am not super in love with the MC, this book often had the POV switch mid-chapter, which kind of ruined the flow of the book for me and made it seem a little disjointed.
  • Like I mentioned above, this book is pretty predictable and does not stray once from its final goal. There isn’t really ever any question on who Stella will end up with, and I wish the author had done a little more with the whole ‘bracket’ aspect. If you’re fine with that, then proceed. If you like a little bit more mystery and maturity to your story, then take a pass on this one.

While I obviously had a lot of issues with The Boyfriend Bracket, it was still an enjoyable, quick, well-paced read for me. This would be a great book to pack up and take for a day at the beach, and you could probably finish it in one sitting. I do think it is best suited for younger readers, probably right in the high school age.

The Boyfriend Bracket releases on June 19.

Review: The Poppy War

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Title: The Poppy War

Author: R.F. Kuang

Pages: 544

My Rating: ★★★★.5

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Rin aced the Keju, the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies, it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard, the most elite military school in Nikan, was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.

Review:

4.5 stars for The Poppy War!

I buddy read this book with some fantastic ladies, and boy it was a good one. I literally went into this blind and had no idea what to expect. I am now really struggling to write this review because when I truly loved and am moved by a book, WORD VOMIT happens. I’m going to do my darnedest and hope it comes out semi-readable.

WHAT I LOVED:

  • The character development. ALL of the character development. There are a lot of characters, but they were all so well fleshed out that I had no difficulty keeping them all straight. I instantly loved them all. When they made decisions that I hated (looking at you, Rin) I begged them to reconsider. When they fought, I sat on the edge of my seat hoping they’d survive. When there was death, I felt true grief. But most of all, I felt anger right alongside Rin and Altan.
  • Rin’s character arc. After reading this book, I looked back at what happened (holy crap, so much happened). I looked at who Rin was at the beginning of the book, and who she was at the end. They are completely different people. And what’s more, this character arc happened so seamlessly that I hardly even noticed it happening. The best part about this: I changed right alongside Rin.
  • The culture. This is a war story that is based on and pulls from the Second Sino-Japanese war, and while bloody and graphic, it is also full of rich modern chinese culture. The world-building around this premise is incredible, plus it has gods and shamans. What more could you want?
  • The humor. In a book that turned so dark and graphic, especially towards the last third, I was surprised at how often this cast of characters made me laugh. Their dialogue is witty, refreshing, and a bright light in this dark tale.

WHAT I DIDN’T:

  • This isn’t actually something that I felt was done poorly – in fact I think it was done very very well. It’s just something that I don’t follow super easily, and found myself skimming through. A lot of the inner workings of war strategy, politics, etc were very very detailed. Unfortunately I was just so hungry for the story that I found myself skimming through these portions.
  • Again, something I didn’t have a problem with but feel I should point out in case other readers might: there is no romance in this book. If you hate reading books without a speck of romance, take a pass on this one.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Readers, please proceed with caution. This book is wonderfully written but it is truly a book about war. It does not pull any punches. It is graphic. Triggers include: rape, torture, extreme violence, genocide, drug use/abuse and addiction and more. This book is dark. Do not pick it up unprepared.

To sum it all up: this review took me days to write. I honestly couldn’t sum up my feelings about this book well enough to put them to paper. I’m still not sure that what came out was anything rational. But this book, and this story, and these characters, have stayed with me from the moment I turned the last page. And I don’t doubt that they will haunt me for a long while.

xoxo

Jen

ARC Review: Bruja Born

Bruja Born

Title: Bruja Born

Author: Zoraida Córdova

Release Date: June 5, 2018

Pages: 352

My Rating: ★★★★★

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…

Review:

See my review for Labyrinth Lost here (4/5 stars).

I said when I reviewed Labyrinth Lost that the book tore out my heart, threw it on the ground, stomped all over it, and then continued on it’s merry way. Bruja Born did the exact. same. thing. Don’t get me wrong – the second book in the Brooklyn Bruja series is completely different from the first, and I’d even go so far as to consider it more of a companion novel. Reading the first book helps, but you could get by without it (although I’d recommend reading it, as it’s fantastic).

In Labyrinth Lost, we follow Alex and her journey through Los Lagos (aka hell) to save her family after she made a huge magical error. In Bruja Born, our narrator is Lula, and the story remains in Brooklyn as she tries to save the world after she – you guessed it – made a huge magical error. I liked Bruja Born better than Labyrinth Lost for a few reasons. First, there was a whole lot more action. In the first book, the entire story was a journey, until the very last couple of chapters, where I felt the action scenes and climax of the story was a bit rushed and jammed in. In Bruja Born, there was so much action I felt like I could barely catch my breath. Second, I liked our narrator better the second time around. Lula is AWESOME and I would definitely want to be friends with her in real life.

As per usual, I’ll break it down:

WHAT I LOVED:

  • Everything. I’m not kidding. I loved this book from cover to cover. I couldn’t put it down. When I’m reading a book, especially an ARC, I try to think of things that I didn’t love, in order to help determine my rating. I came up blank here.
  • The writing style. This has not changed from Labyrinth Lost. Córdova manages to write in a way that is so colorful and descriptive that you can really SEE what’s being described. You feel like you’re really there. Normally I struggle with super descriptive writing – it doesn’t hold my attention well and I end up skimming. But I was hanging on the edge of my seat for this book.
  • Pretty much everything I loved from Labyrinth Lost: the representation of POC, the rich culture, the family love, and the girl power. It’s all still there, and it’s all still awesome.
  • The pacing. I touched on this above, but this book was paced so much better than the first book. It was action-packed all the way through, and I had NO idea what was going to happen next.
  • Lula. I identified with Lula so much more than with Alex, and I never wanted to punch her in the face – this is such a win for a main character! (How often I want to punch a MC is honestly how I judge how much I liked them). She is badass by nature, but a little lost due to circumstances in the first book. Even though she’s off her game, you can still see the spark underneath. In my opinion, she had WAY more reasons and got more understanding from me as a reader for her magical mistake than Alex did. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Alex, but I connected much more with Lula. I really could feel her desperation, her love, her fear – and through it all, her determination to protect everyone she loves. Any character that I want as a friend IRL is a win in my book.

WHAT I DIDNT: Just kidding. Nothing. I gave this book 5 stars for a reason. I LOVED IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH. I have no complaints.

To sum it all up: same message, much different story. If you need a story that literally screams BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR, this is the series for you. I’m hoping there will be a third installment from the third sister’s perspective – I’m so anxious to learn more about Rose! Guys, I loved these books. Pick them up. You won’t regret it. Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this incredible story.

Bruja Born releases June 5th.

xoxo

Jen

 

June TBR

Hey gang! It’s June already!

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Hopefully June is a slower month than May was for reading, but it’s not looking that way. I currently have 6 books on the docket, with a few more I’d like to get to if I have time. Not to mention I still have to finish Bruja Born! Here are the books I’m planning to read, in order:

  • The Poppy War (buddy read)
  • The Boyfriend Bracket (ARC, release date June 19th)
  • My Plain Jane (ARC, release date June 26th)
  • The Edge of Everything
  • The Brink of Darkness (ARC, release date July 10th)
  • Shadow and Bone (buddy read)

The other books I’d like to get to, if I have time, are Ghosted, which is an ARC that releases late July, War Storm, and I think I would actually punch someone in order to get to be able to do a MOOD READ. I’m flying to Arizona mid-June, so hopefully I’ll be able to read a lot more on the flights as well as at the pool in the afternoon.

What books are on your TBR for June? Do you have any buddy reads planned?

xoxo

Jen