Blog Tour | Crier’s War (Crier’s War #1) by Nina Varela


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ARC provided by HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review.

“It was never really a choice, was it? Wanting her. Killing her.”

Friends, if you are looking for a book all about revenge, filled with mystery and betrayals, while also showcasing the best enemies to lovers f/f romance I’ve read in a long while, please immediately pick up Crier’s War. I’m telling you right now, this is going to make so many best of 2019 lists come the end of the year, and I don’t even have words for the amount of pure joy I felt while reading this book.

Crier’s War is set in an alternative future where alchemists have crafted mechanical people, called Automaes, who now rule over the humans. The humans originally created them so a powerful queen, who could not bear children, could have an heir, but soon Automaes were forged for other human pleasures. But then they rose up and conquered the humans who originally made them. Now the world is a very unsafe place to live for humans who are still alive after the war, and they are allowed very few liberties.

Crier – Lesbian! A girl artificially crafted to become the daughter her father needs to carry on his powerful legacy, while being betrothed to a man who promises to help her hone that power for both of them.

Ayla – Bi! A human girl who lost her family and everything else after the Automaes raised up and overthrew the humans.

And after Ayla saves Crier’s life, Crier offers her an opportunity to become a servant for her, which is a very high honor for humans. So, Ayla becomes Crier’s handmaiden, while also seeing this as an opportunity to go undercover and maybe seek the vengeance she has been after for so long. That is, until both girls start realizing that maybe they are on the same side, and maybe they could be something more than enemies if they only were able to learn to trust.

“A thought came to her: a story of its own, one that only just began writing itself in her mind: a story of two women, one human, one Made.”

The romance in this book? It honestly gave me at least twenty years on my lifespan! This is the slowest burn, angst filled, most beautiful enemies to lovers between two women of color! It is so expertly crafted and delivered, and it was a tier above the rest. And the alternating points of view, opposing sides, filled with secrets and betrayals; it was just everything, friends. I bet this will be my favorite ship of 2019. True OTP status.

But this story really begs the question of what it means to be human. Is the capability for empathy, love, trust? What does it mean to have be alive? Simply because we are born or because blood flows through our veins? Is it because we have free will and are able to change our outlook on things and people? Or is it because we choose to take on the title human and make it into whatever we believe it to be?

“Like she was more than a human girl. Like she was a summer storm made of flesh.”

Yet, this story also constantly puts the theme of oppression and privilege at the center of it all. How people appropriate and steal from cultures and pretend that it’s okay, or worse, their own. How dangerous it is for the privileged to not acknowledge their privilege(s). And how oppressors will stop at nothing to maintain the power they have gained that privilege from.

This was such a quick read, and I completely inhaled all 400+ pages and couldn’t put it down. I started it right before a readathon, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all week, and when the readathon was over I read it in one sitting. My queer heart couldn’t stop smiling, crying, swooning, and evoking every other emotion.

Overall, this was just a masterpiece and one of the best debuts I’ve read in a long while. If you like books filled with political intrigue, twists and turns, a beautiful and horrific backdrop, lush writing, captivating characters, and girls loving girls, I really recommend this one with my whole heart and soul. Also, just in case you aren’t completely sold yet, so many of my friends have compared this to Jude and Cardan from The Cruel Prince, but for the gays, and that is so 100% accurate.

“For the queer readers. You deserve every adventure.”

(Two extra things I need to add: 1.) this is ownvoices for the queer rep + 2.) the author is ARMY = no choice but for me to stan forever. Okay, goodbye. I’m off to pray to all the higher powers for book two immediately. Also, jokes on all of you, because this is ghost Melanie reviewing this, because I died at the tide pool scene.)

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

Content and Trigger Warnings: war themes, abandonment, loss of loved ones, grief depictions, blood depiction, animal death/gore, and general violence.

Buddy read with Lea! ❤


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays and short fiction. She was born in New Orleans and raised on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood playing in the Eno River, building faerie houses from moss and bark, and running barefoot through the woods. These days, Nina lives in Los Angeles with her writing partner and their tiny, ill-behaved dog. She tends to write stories about hard-won love and young people toppling the monarchy/patriarchy/whatever-archy. On a related note, she’s queer. On a less related note, she has strong feelings about hushpuppies and loves a good jambalaya. CRIER’S WAR is her first novel.

You can find Nina at any given coffee shop in the greater Los Angeles area, or at www.ninavarela.com



Thank you so much to Karina @ Afire Pages

TOUR SCHEDULE

Sept. 23 – Afire Pages | 21 Questions with Nina Varela

Sept. 24 – The Sparrow’s Perch | Fan Art
F A N N A | Reasons for Game of Thrones and Westworld Fans to Read Crier’s War

Sept. 25 – Forever and Everly
Your Tita Kate | Bookstagram Photos

Sept. 26 – Lori’s Bookshelf Reads 
Pages Left Unread | Characters Aesthetics

Sept. 27 – Caitlin Althea 
Pages Below the Vaulted Sky | Fan Art

Sept. 28 – Lauren’s Bookshelf
Reads Rainbow | Playlist

Sept. 30 – Boricua Reads | Sapphic Rebellious Women in YA
Read With Ngoc 

Oct. 1 – Once Upon A Bookcase
Read at Night | Favorite Quotes

Oct. 2 – Mel to the Any
A Cat, A Book, and A Cup of Tea

Oct. 3 – Novel Nerd Faction | Playlist
Shut Up, Shealea

Oct. 4 – Sage Shelves | F/F Fantasy Recommendation
The Book Bratz

 

Top Ten Tuesday | Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hey, loves! You know I never miss a T10T about TBRs! I am writing this post up a little bit in advance, so if you are wondering why I *missed some* it is because I am hoping to get to them before October comes! But here are ten titles that come out this Autumn for us northern hemisphere livers! 💗


I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi
October 22nd 2019 by HarperTeen


The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
November 5th 2019 by Doubleday Books


The Deep by Rivers Solomon
November 5th 2019 by Gallery / Saga Press


The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White
November 5th 2019 by Delacorte Press


Jackpot by Nic Stone
October 15th 2019 by Crown Books for Young Readers


Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland
October 29th 2019 by Imprint


Call Down the Hawk (Dreamer Trilogy #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
November 5th 2019 by Scholastic Press


Where Winter Finds You (Black Dagger Brotherhood #17.5) by J.R. Ward
November 26th 2019 by Simon & Schuster


Shadow Frost by Coco Ma
October 1st 2019 by Blackstone Publishing


The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black
November 19th 2019 by Little, Brown



What is your most anticipated release for the rest of 2019? There are still so many books coming out and I feel so very thankful (and hopeful to love them all)! I hope you’re all having happy reading, sweet friends! 💗

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Dragons and Tea Book Club | October Pick

dragons & tea

Hey, loves! Are you all ready for the October pick for #DragonsAndTeaBookClub? We wanted to get a little spooky with you all, but hopefully not too spooky (because I’m a big baby, even though Amy is the thriller queen)! And we went with one of my favorite authors of all time this month, so we are truly going to be living the Halloween blessings! I believe this story is set in Japan and is very much inspired by Japanese influences and mythos! And it stars a dead girl who hunts down child murderers, but one day she meets a boy who is harboring a secret that can change everything. 💗

And we hope that you all will join us in our Goodreads Group, too! 🐉☕

But we also will be celebrating and talking with you all on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


But without further ado, our October pick is:

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

 The Dates & Breakdown:
October 21st: Chapters 1 – 5
October 22nd: Chapters 6 – 10
October 23rd: Chapters 11 – 15
October 24th: Chapters 16 – 20
October 25th: Chapters 21 – 23

 Content and Trigger Warnings:
I couldn’t find any reviews from friends with trigger warnings, and I’m so sorry for that. But I do believe this book is going to be on the spooky side, and I think it’s going to talk about dead children and ghost children a lot, so please use caution!


And if you’d like to be friends with me and Amy on any other platform:
🐉☕ MelanieBooktube | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ AmyBooktube | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Contemporaryathon TBR | Round Five

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 Dates: September 23rd – September 29th
Liveshow: Saturday 28th 6pm PST / 9pm EST on Chelsea’s channel


➽ 1.) Read a 2019 release

Birthday by Meredith Russo


➽ 2.) Read a contemporary with yellow on the cover

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake


➽ 3.) Read a diverse contemporary

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You by Lily Anderson


➽ 4.) Read a contemporary with an illustrated cover

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert


➽ 5.) Read a dark / hard-hitting contemporary

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi


➽ 6.) Read a contemporary with plants on the cover

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savanna Ganucheau


➽ 7.) A contemporary beloved by a member of the book community
Bloom because of Riley
Emergency Contact because of Monte
Emergency Contact because of Romie
Chloe Brown because of Myonna
The Only Thing Worse than Me is You because of Jane
The Last True Poets of the Sea because of Chelsea
Birthday because of Madalyn


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Top Ten Tuesday | Favorite Things to Drink While Reading

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hey, friends! Okay, I don’t really eat that much while reading! But I do drink a whole lot of different things, so I figured I would do a little post about them all, and I hope you enjoy this random content! Also, the last two do contain alcohol, so obviously do not drink those if you are not of legal drinking age! 💕


GT’s Trilogy Kombucha


Numi Organic Tea Jasmine Green


SToK Cold-Brew Iced Coffee, Unsweetened


Tazo Calm Chamomile Herbal


Trader Joe’s Organic Hot Cocoa Mix


Ocean Spray Cran-Apple Juice


Yogi Tea – Green Tea Kombucha


Coffee Starbucks Pike Place Roast


➽ Coors Light


➽ White Claw Mango Hard Seltzer



Again, those last two have alcohol so make sure you are of legal drinking age! But these really are the ten things I like to drink while reading, even though I drink water more than anything else! What is your favorite drink or snack while reading?   💗

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Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Goodreads | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

“A map of us. It’s years in the making, and it’s messy and convoluted, some of it even tragic. But I wouldn’t change the route, because we walked it together, even when we were apart. And the best part about it is that it’s unfinished. Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can even be filled with extraordinary potential.”

Best YA Contemporary I’ve read all year? Yes. Best YA Contemporary I’ve read ever? Perhaps. From the beautiful romance, to the masterful different family dynamic depictions, to just having a story that made me smile on almost every page. Friends, this made my heart so very happy, and now I just want to read any and everything that Jenn Bennett has written and will write.

Basically, this is a story about two families, who live right next to each other, who also have places of business right next to each other. One family is two sapphic women and their son, who own a sex shop, unapologetically. And the other family owns some sort of health medical practice, where the father is embarrassed to be so close to a sex shop, while the mother and daughter do not care in the slightest. The families used to be close with one another, but a secret falling out has led to them not speaking at all. But, friends, I promise you, this is the best boy next door story I’ve read maybe ever.

Zorie – Obsessed with all things astronomy, and even though she has been isolating herself from her old friends, when she gets the opportunity to go glamping with them, she takes it as an opportunity to shoot the stars and accepts. Zorie is also dealing with a probable secret that her father has been harboring, when she unexpectedly gets some of his mail.

Lennon – Biracial, nerdy, and so very into hiking and camping. And because of a sudden unexpected turn of events, he is also going on the glamping trip, even though him and Zorie haven’t spoken as friends in a long while.

You all probably see where this is going, but what I didn’t see coming is them getting lost in the woods and becoming somewhat dependent on one another to survive. I for sure wouldn’t say this is a survival story, but there are some high risks that really kept me on the edge of my seat.

But obviously romance blooms and I couldn’t get enough of this story. I was honestly swooning, and the chemistry between these two characters was utter perfection while also being so damn believable. Also, this book was so sex positive! And I was completely living for it! Normalize healthy and consensual sex in YA, thank you! And thank you Jen Bennett, because she totally delivered in Starry Eyes.

I also want to touch upon Zorie’s relationship with her stepmother, because it was truly the best adoption relationship I’ve ever read in all my years. Joy was honestly the best side character; she’s Korean, she’s kind, and she’s the mother of my dreams, honestly. No spoilers, but when she told Zorie that she was the reason…. I cried so hard. Blood will only ever just be blood, and blood has nothing to do with who you claim as your parent, and this book honestly is five stars alone because of Joy and Zorie’s relationship. Again, my heart is so very full.

Overall, this book really just brought me so much bliss. It touched upon so many hard-hitting topics, the relationship dynamics were so expertly done, the family (both blood and found) was beyond words perfect, and the romance still has me weak in the knees. Seriously, I know I made this joke 102 times on Booktube, but I want to buy a tent and a rainstorm with Park Jimin. Okay. Pick up this book. Love you all, bye.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), loss of a parents in the past, infidelity of a side character, talk of suicide, homophobia (always in a negative light), and grief depiction.

Blog Tour | Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Goodreads | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

ARC acquired at Book Expo in exchange for an honest review.

“Trying to get better at the thing you want to be the best at is humiliating.”

Hello to my favorite contemporary of 2019. Friends, this book was so quiet, but so loud, and really impacted me more than any other book I’ve read all year. This is the type of story that makes you want to see the world, the type of story that heals wounds you didn’t know you had, the type of story that makes you feel seen and loved and realize you are worthy of unconditional happiness, and the type of story that will make you want to find that happiness and hold on to it with both hands. I know I probably sound so very cheesy, but this really is the type of book that you close and you just want to be a better person, and want to live a happier life, and it’s a reminder why books truly have the power to change lives. I loved this book with the sum of my being, and I’ll carry it with me and pass it along for the rest of my life.

This is a book that borderlines on Young Adult and New Adult, about two characters who find each other while they are at the crossroads of trying to find themselves, too. They have very different backgrounds, and very different current living situations, but they both bond over the unknown and the bursts of happiness that they feel while communicating with each other.

Pablo Neruda Rind – biracial (Korean and Pakistani), 20, working at a bodega in NYC, was an actual meme and now has a little bit of Instagram success because of it, and is thinking about going back to college after dropping out with a large sum of debt following him.

Leanna Smart – biracial (Mexican and white), 22, childhood star now pop singer, and trying to be happy with the content she is putting out in the world.

And one very late night, while Pablo is working in the bodega, Leanna comes in and their lives change. They are both searching for happiness, in very different ways and very different forms of outlets, but they start to think that maybe they can also find happiness together.

And Mary HK Choi delivers a story that is so beautifully written, so heartfelt, so very real, that I won’t forget it, ever. Some of the themes and discussions in this book are so important and I truly think this story is going to change lives. I feel like I normally only read one book a year that changes my life, and I think that this year’s is without a doubt Permanent Record.

Seeing Pablo question what he wants for his life, while also entering into depression because of this overwhelming debt he has accumulated because of doubt and uncertainty is something that I’ve never read about before. Never has a book really forced me to understand that Americans truly expect seventeen-year-olds and eighteen-year-olds to make choices that will impact them financially (and so many other ways) for the rest of their lives. Graduating college with 100k debt is the reality that so many people in their young twenties have, but so many also have that debt without a degree as well. It’s heartbreaking, truly, that we put this pressure on young adults and that we expect them to know how they want to spend their lives at such a young age, while also feeling that weight from society, from schools, and from their families.

“God, this country. It’s so predatory.”

And people have so many options that don’t involve school. Sometimes people find happiness chasing dreams that don’t require degrees. Sometimes people find happiness becoming celebrities in many different forms. Yes, sometimes people do find happiness with a degree that will help them live the life with the job they want. But sometimes people will find happiness simply by being on the journey of searching for happiness in the first place. There is no wrong way to find happiness, and it can be so very hard to find, but it is always so important that you search for it, because you’re so deserving of it.

I think Pablo and his situation is such a reality for so many. Finding happiness, and determination, and inspiration… it can be so very hard. And Pablo, much like many of us, is someone who doesn’t make it easy. This book, in my eyes, is also a love letter to depression awareness and how depression can come in many forms unknowingly. Pablo’s life and struggle, both academically and with his loved ones, was something so very raw, and I was so easily able to connect with, and I think many others will feel like that too. Because sometimes the weight of other peoples’ expectations can be so very heavy.

“Life isn’t a destination. It’s the continual practice of things that make you wiser and happier.”

This is ownvoices for the Korean representation, but I just want to touch on how I really loved seeing Leanna and Pablo talk about them both being biracial. It was so important and meaningful for me to see characters talk about how they are both of their races, instead of half and half. This seems like such a simple concept, something that should be easy for me to say, “hello, my name is Melanie and I’m Filipino” but it is something that I really struggle with, and I always want to break my racial identity of being Filipino and white up in percentages as a kneejerk reaction when talking about myself. And this small conversation between Pablo and Leanna just really meant so very much to me, and really hit me extremely hard. Also, just seeing Pablo having a tough time not feeling as connected to parts of his identity was really important and moving, too.

And, like always, seeing an older sibling help take care of their younger brother is something that will always resonate with me and inside my heart. Pab’s entire family dynamic really was perfection actually, because I feel like in literature, we either get really horrible parents or really perfect parents; we never really get the messy in between, where parents are supportive and loving but have a hard time showing their love and support.

Overall, I just really loved this book and it means so very much to me. The messages in this book really are life changing and I truly wish I could put this book in everyone’s hands. I feel like, much like Emergency Contact, this could be a polarizing book, but I also think it is a book that is going to touch and impact so many. I know a lot of people probably won’t love the ending, but I truly thought it was perfection and really made this book standout as a true masterpiece. And if you read through this whole review, I hope you know that I appreciate you, and that it is never too late to follow your dreams and find the happiness you deserve. Oh, also, be warned that the mention of all the snacks in this will make you extremely hungry.

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

Content and Trigger Warnings: anxiety, debt, the debt crisis, credit debt, bill collectors, talk of sudden death briefly, talk of cancer, minor scene involving childhood cancer and the Make A Wish foundation, depression, codependency, and talk of assault (unwanted touching).


About the Author:

Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York TimesGQWired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. Her debut novel Emergency Contact was a New York Times bestseller. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs and Hey, Cool Life!, a podcast about mental health and creativity. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ChoitotheWorld.

Blog Tour Schedule:

August 26th – Vicky Who Reads

August 27th – Adventures of a Book Junkie

August 28th – Utopia State of Mind

August 29th – Read by Tiffany

August 30th – Rich in Color

August 31st – Your Tita Kate

September 2nd – Books on Pointe

September 3rd – Andi’s ABCs

September 4th – Book Scents

September 5th – Twirling Pages

September 6th – Bookshelves & Paperbacks

September 9th – YA Bibliophile

September 10th – Mary Had A Little Book Blog

September 11th – Chasing Faerytales

September 12th – Nicole’s Novel Reads

September 13th – Mel to the Any