Roomies by Christina Lauren

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ARC provided by Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review.

This was maybe the sweetest book I’ve read all year. It was heartwarming, adorable, and just a joy to read. I loved this and I hope if you guys are looking for a romantic contemporary this holiday season, you’ll pick up Roomies upon release on December 5th!

This is a story that surrounds a girl named Holland, who has been around music all her life. Her uncle and his husband practically have raised her, and one of them is a big name in Broadway! They obviously live in New York, and her uncle is under a great deal of pressure trying to find a musical performer who will help his latest hit production be even better.

Holland’s first love is writing, and she is actually an aspiring author, but she still has an amazing ear for musical talent because of her upbringing. She can’t stay away from a subway musician who she has developed a bit of a crush on. One day, Holland works up the courage to actually speak to the mystery man, and they exchange names.

Calvin McLoughlin is an immigrant from Ireland. He went to school at Juilliard and has been waiting for his big musical break ever since. Holland quickly puts two and two together and decides to introduce Calvin to her uncle, believing he will be the perfect fit for his show. And low and behold, Calvin truly amazes them all. Unfortunately, Calvin’s lack of authentic visa makes him unable to join the cast.

Obviously, the only rational choice is for Holland and Calvin to get married so that Holland’s uncle has the perfect addition to his show, and so that Calvin gets to live his dream of performing. And they don’t only fool the US government into believing their married, but they start to fool everyone around them, including themselves.

I love the “marriage of convenience” story trope and this one was so perfect. There are a few sort of steamy scenes, but nothing too explicit. But this book is oh so romantic and it was honestly un-put-downable for me, too. I became so addicted and so immersed that I let all the other books I was reading fall to the wayside. I loved this, and I completely recommend it with my whole heart. I can’t wait to read more by Christina Lauren (AKA: the amazing writing duo Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings) in the future.

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My Votes for the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards

The title says it all; these are my personal choices for the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards. You can vote until November 27th! So, make sure your voice gets heard, even if your voice is different than mine. And the winners will be announced on December 5th! I’m only going to be talking about the five categories that I feel strongly and passionately about. And let’s be real *looks the Romance category* some of the categories are just plain bad and not worth my time or words. Okay, onto the books and my choices:

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin is so important to me, and is probably the best book I’ve read in the entirety of 2017. This category means the most to me, personally, because I read mostly adult fantasy, and there is nothing that will probably ever beat The Broken Earth trilogy. It’s perfect, it’s moving, and it’s so damn powerful. This fantasy trilogy has the power to change the world, and I hope it wins and more people pick it up. But let’s be real, a freakin’ screen play that isn’t nearly as good is going to beat this and break my heart in the process.

My vote is for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor! This book is still haunting me to this day. I read this immediately after release, and it is easily one of the best thing I’ve read all year. The prose, the characters, the messages, this book has everything. I love this book with my entire soul, and even though it has some super stiff competition, I hope it wins. This book is nothing short of magic.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a modern-day masterpiece and we are so blessed to have this work of art available in bookstores. And the queen, Angie Thomas, deserves every single award this book has netted, and she deserves this one as well.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas deserves this award, too. This book is powerful, emotional, and life changing. This book is going to make people uncomfortable, but they need that uncomfortability, and they need to open their eyes and change. This book is everything, and I not only expect it to sweep both of these categories, I expect it on almost everyone’s best of 2017 lists.

Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu & Sana Takeda is my favorite graphic novel series of all time. This story is brilliant and impactful and features such a strong female main character, who also showcases some great physical disability representation. The art is beyond words magnificent. The story is something I will never forget. I love this with my whole heart, and I hope this nomination at least makes more people pick this series up.

Okay! That’s everything that I feel passionate about! I hope you guys liked this, and are enjoying the short list! And this isn’t me telling you what to vote for. Whatever you vote for is completely valid! I’m just personally letting you guys know my picks. I also feel like 2018 will have a much more inclusionary list, but I do think 2017 is a step in the right direction. Happy voting and happy reading, lovelies!

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The Five Books I Have to Read Before 2017 Ends

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had an amazing day! Okay, so on top of my November TBR and all of the things I’m planning to read in December, I wanted to make a list of the top five books I want to read and review before the year is over. I picked these five, because I truly believe with my whole heart that they have the potential to make my “best of 2017” list at the end of the year.

You guys for sure should let me know if you’ve read any of these, or if you just feel like I should read one of these before the others! Seriously, feedback on reading order would be much appreciated! And without further ado, here are the five books I have to read before the end of 2017:

The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere, #2) by Meg Elison:
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife was my absolute favorite book of 2016. This is just such a hard-hitting mirror of our society, but I haven’t felt like I’m in the right headspace thanks to the garbage fire that is 2017.

Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #1) by R.J. Barker:
I’m 99% sure that I’m going to bloody love this! I just received my ARC kind of on the late side, and since I wasn’t able to review it upon release I just let it fall to the wayside. But this is a high fantasy debut that features a disabled MC and I know I’m going to love it.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado:
I totally know how privileged and blessed I am with all of the ARCs I receive, but the reason I didn’t immediately buy and read this one was because the publicist said I was going to be receiving a finished copy in the mail upon publication to review. Well, it’s been well over a month now, so I just decided to purchase it myself because I knew I couldn’t not read this after being completely mesmerized by The Husband Stitch, my favorite short story of all time which is also featured in this collection.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng:
This I just know is going to be perfection. Celeste Ng’s sophomore novel and I know it’s just going to end up changing my life. So many people that I love and trust have hailed this book as their favorite book of 2017, and I feel like I won’t feel too differently. Also, I subscribed to Book of the Month just for this book!

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2) by Jay Kristoff:
I recently read and completely loved Nevernight, and it felt like an adult, dark version of Harry Potter to me. Plus, all I truly want in this life is to read all the fantasy stories about queer assassins! I truly believe this sequel could make my best of 2017 list.

What do you guys think I should read first? I mean, I only have a month and a half left, while also trying to balance all my January ARCs! Thank you in advance for your input, I honestly love you all, and happy reading, lovelies!

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Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

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

“It’s a cruel, cruel world. And the people are the worst part”

Mark my words, this is going to be one of the biggest books that 2018 will offer, and it will be completely deserving of every award it will win. Dread Nation is the perfect mix of action and suspense, while always having oppression be at the forefront of the story. This book was thought-provoking, moving, intense, so very well written, and completely and absolutely enthralling. This book was nothing short of amazing and it’s one of the best things I’ve read this entire year.

Jane McKeene is a sixteen-year-old girl, who has never known a world where the dead don’t walk among humans. And I use the word “walk” to really mean that they are zombies that will bite you and make you into one of them to continue on their never-ending killing spree. They can be fast, they can be smart, but they will always be very deadly.

Jane grew up on a plantation in Kentucky, where her mother actually runs the plantation. Jane is biracial (black and white), but her mother tries to keep it a secret that Jane is her daughter. There are other women who help raise and take care of Jane, but once she turns fourteen she is taken to Massachusetts to attend Miss Preston’s School of Combat. And that’s where the story truly takes off.

“Keeping the peace in this country isn’t that hard, as long as nobody important dies.”

Just like actual history, even though slavery is abolished, white people come up with different ways to keep people of color as slaves, but just without the title. The blacks and Native children in this world have to go to combat schools to eventually protect the whites from zombies. Miss Preston’s School of Combat is actually one of the better schools, and Jane is learning to become an attendant, which means she will watch over a rich white woman and protect her at all costs upon graduating and/or purchase.

Jane isn’t sure if this is the life she wants, even though she doesn’t have many options. All she knows that she wants to get back to Kentucky and see her mother and the people she loves again. But Jane soon enters a world of conspiracy and sabotage, filled with people who warp religion to do their racist bidding. Jane then quickly realizes that humans are far more dangerous than the zombies that she’s been training to kill.

“The problem in this world ain’t sinners, or even the dead. It is men who will step on anyone who stands in the way of their pursuit of power.”

This story is told in two parts, and in a very unique way. Between each chapter there is a letter either from Jane or from her mother. This helps weave the story together, and lets you know more about Jane’s past and what will become of her future. My heart broke more and more as the correspondence went on, but I also found myself more and more desperate for more letters. I not only loved this story, but I love the way the story was told. I want to read everything by Justina Ireland.

This book mirrors the society we live in today and makes you think about all those uncomfortable topics that people would rather ignore and pretend do not exist. From prison systems, to black lives matter, to systemic racism, this book is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable, specifically white people. But it’s the kind of uncomfortability people need in this day and age when we are normalizing hate speech and passing it off as free speech. Where we are living in a world where white supremacists can rally and spread their hatred at no cost, but black people fear for their life when being pulled over by the cops. Our country cares more about trying to stop football players kneeling for that injustice than doing anything to actually fix it, while also trying to misconstrue their protests as something that it isn’t. We need this uncomfortability and, more importantly, things need to change.

The racial diversity in this is so important, too, because not only is this book unapologetically black, it also heavily talks about what it is like to be a black person that is light enough to pass as white. What it feels like to feel like you don’t belong in either community, because you’ll be reminded that you’re not “black enough” and because people will constantly remind you that you’ll never be white. I have a very close friend who talks to me about this, and it’s just something that is near and dear to my heart and I love that Justina incorporated this element on top of an amazingly diverse cast of characters and while also having important discussions that reflects the world we live in today.

“Most important, it was my fault that my skin was brown and Momma’s wasn’t and that she had the terrible misfortune to love me anyway.”

Also, Jane is so not straight! I don’t feel comfortable giving her a label, but I do personally feel like she identifies under the bisexual umbrella. But it is important to note that there is not a relationship between Jane and another girl on page.

And there is a major character that is part of the ace community! I can’t personally speak about this representation, but I thought it was very thoughtfully done. Plus, we need so many more stories that just normalizes sexuality. And even though I think authors are being better about LGBTQIA+ representation, I still find it harder to find asexual characters. Even though this mention is brief, I loved this inclusion.

If you want to read a book about black girls killing zombies and putting a stop to white power-hungry men (because who honestly wouldn’t?) please give Dread Nation a try. And I hope if you do give it a try, that you will take something from it and help to raise and support marginalized voices.

This all being said; this review is coming to you from a very white and privileged reviewer. Closer upon release, when this book hopefully gets into more PoC’s hands, I would love to post some own voices reviews here and celebrate 1.) how truly amazing this book is and 2.) how PoC’s voices are the ones that matter and, more importantly, are the voices that need to be heard. Because you all might think a lot has changed in 2017 from 1865, but it really hasn’t.

Please preorder this alternative history masterpiece. The release date is set for April 3rd, 2018 and I honestly can’t sing this book’s praises enough. And please, Justina, give us more of Jane and this world! I loved this story with my whole heart. And I completely agree with Kelly that HBO should scrap their gross version of the American Civil War with Confederate and just buy the rights to this book immediately. This book is powerful, this book is beautiful, this book is life changing.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Elise & Destiny! ❤

Fallen Heir (The Royals, #4) by Erin Watt

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1.) Paper Princess ★★★
2.) Broken Prince ★★
3.) Twisted Palace ★★

At this point, you guys know I’m trash for this series. It’s honestly just like a high school soap opera, but it’s so addicting and completely impossible to put down. And even though I haven’t enjoyed any of the installments as much as Paper Princess, I knew I couldn’t pass this by because this story is about my favorite Royal boy, Easton.

Reed’s off to college and Ella and Easton are finishing their senior year of school. And Easton is still being Easton; abusing drugs, fighting, having sex with anyone without thinking of consequences. And after one day at school where he chooses to be particularly bad, he is confronted by a girl who is immune to his charm. Hartley Wright is dealing with her own dark secrets, and she doesn’t have time to deal with Easton or his bullshit.

“You’re not the white knight in this picture. You’re the villain!”

But, like, Easton’s story starts out feeling really… gross? And it honestly just set a really bad tone for the book for me. Reed and Ella’s story was a slow, agonizing burn that started out as a hate to love, but it was still an always mutual attraction. Easton refuses to take no for an answer from his love interest and it made me really uncomfortable to read about.

Hartley never shows interest in Easton, which makes Easton want her because she’s so openly unattainable. And instead of respecting her and her wishes and trying to slowly win her over or something, he honestly stalks her. He changes his school schedule to have the same classes as her, he goes to her parents’ house unannounced, he honestly won’t leave her alone no matter how much she protests. And this goes on for like half of the book, until Hartley finally breaks down and starts liking him. But, like, she’s going through so many sad things in her life, it feels worse that she’s using her stalker as comfort because she honestly doesn’t have anyone else.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just being really sensitive because I know how it feels to tell a guy no and for them to turn around and refuse to listen. Plus, it feels so bad being romanticized, especially because Easton was my favorite out of his brothers! He always seems to sweet, caring, and kind, but was abusing substances because he couldn’t deal with the death of his mother. His character had so much potential to find someone and have a better start of a relationship than him being a creepy stalker.

Also, trigger warnings: losing a parent, underage sexual content (17), teacher and student relationship, physical abuse, underage drinking, drug use, addiction, and a lot of toxic male masculinity. So please use caution before going into this book.

All of these books end in a cliffhanger, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised that this one did, too, even though I was secretly hoping for Easton to have a standalone HEA book. Yet, this cliffhanger is the mother of all cliffhangers. Like, let me be the first to say that I’m sure Cracked Kingdom is going to start out with the ending of this book not being as bad as they are making it seem though.

And I know you guys are probably like, “Melanie, why do you keep reading this series if you continue to give it two stars over and over?” And that is such a valid question, and I know I should just cut my losses, but this series truly is addicting and so very fast paced. Like, all the problematic content shines so brightly through the story, but it is still somehow impossible to not turn the page, and that makes for a good reading experience even if I have to write reviews like this afterwards.

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The Armored Saint (The Sacred Throne #1) by Myke Cole

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ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

“Love is worth it. It is worth any hardship, it is worth illness. It is worth injury. It is worth isolation. It is even worth death. For life without love is only a shadow of life.”

Well, I think it’s safe for me to yell from the rooftops: pre-order The Armored Saint now, guys! What an amazing ride, even though I wasn’t ready for it to be over. This is easily one of the best things I’ve read in 2017, and this is truly epic fantasy at its finest. I’m so damn impressed.

The Armored Saint centers on a village of people who live subservient lives to the Order. The Order is a group of religious tyrants that do horrible things to the wizards in this world, or to the people that are protecting and/or harboring the wizards in this world. The Order follows the word of the Writ, which has lead them to believe that wizards have a portal in their eye, that can open the very gates of hell itself and summon devils.

Our main protagonist, Heloise, is a sixteen-year-old girl who isn’t sure if she even believes the Order, but she knows that they are heartless, terrible people after her and her father have a run in with them at the very start of this story. The Order appears to just be cruel for the sake of being cruel, but many of the villagers Heloise’s community believe in the words that Order preaches, including her very own father.

“Because the Writ tells us, girl. Because the Order reminds us. The devils are real, and they are terrible, and we must be ever vigilant for their return.”

Heloise and her village are put in a situation where they have to make a sacrifice, after they’ve already been forced to make so many, or to risk everything to protect their community. The story really takes off from there, and we also get to see a mysterious ranger, an inactive war-machine, and even a magical mouse!

But this is also a story about discovering and embracing your sexuality. Heloise is constantly questioning her feelings for her best friend, and it made me cry so many happy yet sad tears. This is a beautiful tale about a girl coming to terms with her queerness in a world that thinks it is unnatural, and it is so very important. This story truly means more to me than I can express in words. Heloise is easily one of my favorite female protagonists of all time, and I will continue to say what I say in every queer SFF review I write: we need more stories like this! This story is so utterly heart-wrenching, but it’s so important.

“That’s what love should be, sure as stone, as running water. Sure as the bite of winter and spring blossoms. Sure even when it was impossible. Even when they were both girls.”

And love is such a driving force in this very character focused story. The love between families. The love between friends. And the love between two young girls who are just trying to learn who they are.

“No. It is a person you love. Not a name. Not a she or a he. A person in all their shining glory. There is a thing in us, Heloise. A seed. It makes us who we are. It is our core. That is the thing we love. It alone exists. It alone is holy. It has no home, no name. It is neither male nor female. It is greater than that.”

Now, excuse me while I go cry for the rest of this night, because I’m not sure if I’ve read anything as beautiful as that quote. This book has such a lyrical prose. The writing is so fantastic and adds even more to an already perfect story. And Myke Cole does this in only 200 pages. This is the first thing I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be my last. This book is little, but it is oh so mighty. And it has completely captured my heart. Please give this book a try when it releases on February 20th, 2018!

“Never be sorry for loving, Heloise. No matter who it is, no matter how it is done, no matter how the person you love receives it. Love is the greatest thing a person can do. Most go their entire lives knowing only ritual and obligation, mistaking it for love.”

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

November 2017 TBR

Happy November 1st, lovelies! I hope you all had an amazing Halloween last night! I can’t believe we are already into the eleventh month of the year, but here we are! And here are six of the books that I plan on reading in the month of November!

Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3) by Brandon Sanderson:
This is the third book in this epic fantasy series! I’m sure every fantasy blog you all follow with have this on their TBR! And you all should keep an eye out on The BiblioSanctum, because Mogsy received an ARC because she’s the reviewing queen of all things fantasy and I’m stalking here every day to see if she loved this one!

The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden:
I already told you guys that I was given this, signed, by the entire Goodreads team in San Francisco! This book means so much to me, and I’ll cherish it forever, so I figured I better at least read it, too! Also, Russian folklore and fairytales with a wintery scenery? Like, that’s my brand.

The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden:
And since I have no control whatsoever, I also immediately requested an ARC for book two, without even having read the first book, because… reasons. If I love this one, I’m totally going to buy the European edition on Book Depository, though, because it’s honestly my favorite book cover of all time. Also, this releases on December 5th, 2017.

Zenith (The Androma Saga #1) by Sasha Alsberg &, Lindsay Cummings:
This is a brand new Sci-Fi series that is cowritten by a very famous BookTuber. I’ll be completely honest, I love Sasha and I think she’s a sweetheart, and I requested this ARC just because I wanted to give her book a chance and to support her. I’m not sure if I will love it, but I’m going into this optimistically. Also, this is a buddy read with Jules! ❤ And Zenith is set to release on January 16th, 2018!

Ever the Brave (A Clash of Kingdoms #2) by Erin Summerill:
This is another ARC that I was sent that I felt lukewarm about. I gave an ARC of Ever the Hunted two stars last year, but I thought the story has a lot of potential, which I’m hoping to see executed in this book. I’ll report back soon! Also, this comes out December 5th, 2017, too!

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon:
And last, but not least, my bookish best friend, Paloma, has finally persuaded me to give Outlander a try. The biggest problem I have as a book reviewer is that I find it very difficult to separate the art from the artist, which holds true for separating the book from the author. I won’t lie, Diana Gabaldon has said some downright offensive and nasty things on Twitter, and it’s made me never want to touch this beloved series. But Paloma is my book twin and reading sister, so I have a good feeling that I’m going to love this. Also, she’s going to buddy read it with me and it’s going to make the experience even better, because I live for buddy reads with her! Wish me luck, guys!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get to a couple other things this month as well, but my life always gets so hectic the closer and closer we creep into the holiday season! I wish you all the best books this November! Happy reading, everyone!

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