Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor | Blog Tour

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#AswanginPortlandTour
ARC Provided by the Author & Caffeine Book Tours 

Publication: September 29th, 2020 by Parliament House Press

Vampires of Portlandia is an ownvoices Filipino story about a young adult named Percival who is soon going to be in charge of taking care of his family, while also becoming the leader of what is left of the Filipino vampires! Right now, it is only him, his lola, his younger brother Roger, and their even younger twin siblings and they all fled the Philippines to hopefully have a safer life where they can live in hiding without anyone knowing what they are. But that becomes harder and harder when murders are happening more and more frequently, and it becomes easier and easier to tell that these acts are not being committed by mere humans.

We also get to see the Philippines in the past too, where in this story people are scared of children carrying a chromosome that spreads this disease. This very much impacted the poor during this time of panic and because of this, and the dire and sad means to control it, there are not many aswang vampires. This story also talks about Filipino politics from the past that mirror a world we live in today, where men of god wouldn’t mislead their country and their people, right? (And I’m always here for a story with a Manny Pacquiao manananggal joke, because valid.) But this past story laced throughout is how we get to learn about how Percival’s lola, Leones, is forced to leave the Philippines and becomes the leader of the vampires. And seeing her life and history is so important to understand what Percival is going to face while carrying this legacy. Especially when a civil war starts breaking out between the aswangs in Portland because of these murders.

Aswang generally means “Filipino monsters” and there are a vast different array of creatures that can fall under that word! But in this book we get to see five different types of aswang all coexisting in the same city, but trying to remain hidden. Vampires, werebeasts, ghouls, witches, and viscera. But we also get to see another kind of creature and let me just say there are few things scarier than the manananggal. This take for sure depicts them spooky, but I grew up hearing much darker tales that still give me goosebumps until this day. Hands down one of the scariest parts of Filipino mythos, and for sure one of my favorites ever. And with my full chest I am here to say that western vampires could never.

My favorite aspects of the story were the Filipino values and culture always at the heart of the story. Family means so much to Filipinos and the story always shines a bright light on that and what it means to respect your family members and being willing to do whatever it takes to help them and care for them and love them. Responsibility is also a big part of this story and something that very much also resonated with me because I am the oldest sibling (and cousin) of my Filipino family! I also really liked the depiction of grief in this story and how it can take so many forms. And how the weight of grief can feel so very heavy to carry, especially when you’re trying to carry it alone.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story and it made my heart very warm to read it and give it a 3.5 star rating! Also, it made my tummy hungry for chicken adobo, pancit (my personal #1 comfort food), lumpias, and just miss home a lot. Oh, and I also really enjoyed the queer brewing side relationship in this book too! My only real complaint is that I felt like the pacing was a bit wild at times (like for the main romantic relationship and ending) and it made the events feel like whiplash at times! Also, there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of talk about the homeless and drug users in this story because they are the victims in this book and it just felt very repetitive and very bad, even when it was the villains doing it. But I still enjoyed this one and I feel very honored to have read and reviewed it!

Trigger and Content Warnings: murder, death, loss of a loved one, grief, blood depictions, and some very sus sentences about homeless people (even in a negative light).

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September 20
 celuna maria
 The Filipina Bookish
 Sinking With Books
September 21
 Book Geek Musings
 mel to the any (hi)
 The Youngvamp’s Haven
September 22
 Grim Reader
 Read With Katrin
 The Queen Reads
September 23
 Carpe Diem Chronicles
 dmcireads
 Reads in Heels
September 24
 Quilling Time
 She Reads Again
 The Little Miss Bookworm
September 25
 Enemies to Lovers Reviews
 Tami’s Bookish Corner
 Tomes and Thoughts
Check out all of the amazing ownvoices blog stops! ☕

About the Author

Jason Tanamor is the critically acclaimed author of the novels “Anonymous” and “Drama Dolls.” His new novel “Vampires of Portlandia” is a NA urban fantasy about Filipino folklore – aswang. His writings have appeared in more than 250 publications. He’s interviewed personalities such as Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Pete Rose, and Dane Cook, and has covered U.S. President Barack Obama. Tanamor currently lives and works in the Portland, Oregon area.


Author links
Author website Facebook | Goodreads Instagram | Twitter

Blog Tour | The Never Tilting World (#1) by Rin Chupeco

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ARC gifted to me by Olivia! Thank you!

“When the dead find words, the goddess and the Devoted son will meet atop a fish not a fish, on a sea not a sea. It is she who travels to the endless Abyss, and it is he who guides her.”

It’s no secret that Rin Chuepco is one of my favorite authors of all time. I have supported and loved every book I’ve picked up by them, but I was still apprehensive how they were going to top The Bone Witch Trilogy, which is one of my favorite series of all time, but friends, The Never Tilting World might be my new favorite Rin Chupeco book. And this was such a perfect start to this duology.

This book was originally pitched to me as Mad Max meets Frozen, and even though that sounds like the wildest of comparisons, it totally is true. The world of Aeon is separated into two cities after “the breaking”. Two goddesses have raised these two girls, while keeping secrets and never allowing them to know that they are twins and that their sibling is alive. Yet, monsters are breaching both shores

Two Dying Cities:
Aranth – Never ending night, cold, and frozen everything.
The Golden City Never ending day, heat, and chaos.

Two Powerful Girls:
Haidee – Has a love for mechanical engineering and is expected to marry soon.
Odessa – Lesbian, chronically ill, and I will protect at all costs.

Two Traveling Companions:
Arjun – Disabled (missing a hand), a rogue rebel, and likes Haidee.
Lan – Bi, has PTSD, healer and bodyguard for Odessa. (Also, best library meet-cute ever!)

Honestly, Lan is probably my favorite character and seeing their journey to love and heal was really so beautiful that it makes me cry just thinking about it. Truly one of the best fictional characters I’ve had the pleasure to read about in a really long while. Rin also always gives their readers the best romances, and this book was no different. I was in love with both romantic subplots in this book, but Lan and Odessa’s f/f relationship meant everything to me (who is surprised?). Also, Rin confirmed they are Gryffindor and Slytherin and *chef kiss* you all know that’s the best pairing. But Haidee and Arjun are the best Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw m/f to probably ever exist, too.

But both of these two pairings go off on separate journeys, trying to uncover secrets that have been hidden from them their whole lives, while also willing to do anything to save their people.

This book is for sure a metaphor for how the time is truly ticking until our own world becomes uninhabitable, while we all live in opposite ends of the spectrum of constant day and night. There are monsters in this book, but the most terrifying aspect is the waters rising too fast and the ice coming in too quickly, which threaten to erase an entire city. While another city cannot provide for their people because nothing will grow, therefore they have to be sealed away hoping to gain more time before everything dies. Rin also always celebrates the Filipino culture in all of their books with all their themes. Also, I always view all of Rin’s characters as Asian, unless stated otherwise.

“We’re chasing a dying sea under an endless sun that kills us with a thousand little cuts every day. There’ll be nothing left soon. Nothing but sand and bone.”

This story also is truly a love letter to womanhood, motherhood, and sisterhood, and how those powerful bonds can scare men. The feminist undertone is constant in this story, and the parallels to our world is also impossible to not see. Again, the world doesn’t deserve Rin Chupeco and their stories, and please protect them at all costs.

“A demoness is what they call a goddess that men cannot control.”

I will say that I know this magic system, world, and world building isn’t going to be for everyone. Just like Rin’s other works, people are going to say that it is too complex and the learning curve is too steep, and that’s valid. I will be the first to say that I always just feel instantly connected to Rin’s work and their stories, but I know that is not the case for everyone, so here is your warning.

But overall, this was really just the perfect book from me. From the goddesses, to the deities, to the themes, to the Filipino culture blended in beautifully and seamlessly it was all just perfect for me and everything I look for in literature.

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

Content and Trigger Warnings: PTSD depiction, violence, gore, mention of sexual assault, talk of death, and war themes.

Buddy read with Alexa! ❤ (This buddy read meant so very much to me and I just really love Alexa so much and I’m so thankful for her friendship and her voice!)

And thank you so much Shealea for putting this amazing blog tour together! (You’re the best, bb!) ❤


Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and the Bone Witch trilogy.

Despite an unsettling resemblance to Japanese revenants, Rin always maintains her sense of hummus. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. Dances like the neighbors are watching.

Find out more about Rin over on: websiteGoodreadsInstagramPintrest and Twitter!


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

 

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

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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

Blog Tour | The Black Veins (Dead Magic #1) by Ashia Monet

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ARC provided by the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

“The magic wakes at midnight. It arrives in the form of a song.”

The Black Veins is a YA debut that you are not going to want to miss. This story is set in an alternate version of our world, where a young girl and her family have planted secure roots to protect themselves, their home, and their magic. They run a magical coffee shop that only other magic wielders can see, because if you speak about magic to Common people, the Erasers will come and… erase you. You will never be heard from again, and they are always watching. But the world seems relatively safe.

That is, until one night when Blythe, our main character, is dreaming about a voice in her head, one that is also trying to get her to do something that she does not want to do. Blythe has always known that she was destined to do great things with her magic, even if she doesn’t harness that magic yet. But after her family is attacked and kidnapped, she is forced to get any and all help that she can.

And in this world, there are two magical governments, and a war is beginning:

Black Veins – Old government, who rules the majority, and they have a city called Frost Glade which is supposed to be the safest city of them all, where the Sages’ castle sits.

Trident Republic – New government, the rebels, and they only have one city: Electric City.

And there are seven types of magic that magicians can harness. Yet, when Blythe and six others were little, their families ensured that they would do great things with their magic, but setting them on the path to one day be the Seven Guardians:

Blythe – Ether Guardian. Black, bisexual, and willing to do anything to get her family back.

Cordelia – Mind Guardian. Chinese, great at hacking and coding, and has always worked extremely too hard at being perfect.

Daniel – Nature Guardian. Very sheltered, because his parents have kept him exclusively on their property for most of his life. Oh, and something may be following him.

Antonio – Animal Guardian. Puerto Rican, queer, and the sweetest cinnamon roll and bright light. Oh, and he has wings!

Storm – Time Guardian. Black, and has a secret mission of her own and she is always on rollerblades. And she was probably my favorite character besides Blythe.

Caspian – Death Guardian. Trans, asexual, and who has many secrets and much more story to be told.

Jay – Body Guardian. Black, bisexual, and very charming. Also, he comes from a very famous and prestigious family.

And…

Katia – Lead Imperial Advisor for the Sages, and she is supposed to locate and transport all seven kids to Frost Glade safely, even if they would rather go to Electric City.

And Blythe feels like if she can get this group together, she just might stand a chance at being able to rescue her family from this rebelling government. And we are whisked away on the adventure alongside her, where she will travel all over the country via the Tempore, which is a magical forest that folds time and space and can teleport you quickly around the world, but it is temporarily shut down and a huge risk to use.

I promise you that you will fall in love with ALL of these characters. And I truly think that it’s a testament to Ashia Monet’s talent and craft that they were able to evoke so much emotion and empathy from me over every single one of their characters.

This is obviously a very inclusive story, and it is ownvoices for the Black, queer, and nonbinary rep. There is a side character who you meet (and will also fall in love with) named Jamie, who is Black, nonbinary, and adopted. This book truly just has so much good in it, I wish I could put it into so many hands, and it was nothing short of a joy to read.

I really do think that the heart of this first installment is family, both blood and found, and the things one is willing to do to protect that family. There is no stronger force in this universe than unconditional love, and Blythe proves that from the first to the last page. Throughout the entire novel Blythe proves that her family is her world, but we also get to see this ragtag group somehow also find room inside her heart.

Yet, I also think this is a story about being brave, and how bravery can take so many shapes and forms. Sometimes the only way to feel like you’re brave is to try your best, sometimes it’s to feel safe, sometimes its to not let anyone in, and sometimes it’s to magically travel across the country to recuse your family. There is no right way to be brave and I really loved seeing all these teens truly be some of the bravest characters I’ve ever read.

“Once upon a time, a young girl lost her family and discovered a new one.”

Overall, I just loved this. I loved the story, being on a magical road-trip adventure was everything, I loved the characters, and was rooting so hard for Blythe and her hockey stick, I loved the twists and turns that occurred throughout, I loved the magic system and how it was complex but familiar at the same time, and I obviously loved how inclusionary this book was, too. Oh, and I’m biased, and I loved spending a little time in Vegas as well. But I just recommend this story with my whole heart and soul, and I really hope you all will give it a try, because it truly is such a magical debut and a bright shining star in 2019 releases.

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

Content and Trigger Warnings:
(This is all from the author at the start of the book and… what a blessing!)

Discussion of deceased parents, siblings, and potential parental and familial death Description of mild bloodshed in violent scenes
Mention of drugs and drug use, primarily marijuana
Gun use Supernatural horror in the form of monsters, primarily found in Chapters 6, 12, and 25
Car accident in Chapter 19
Discussion of anxiety disorders and panic disorders primarily found in Chapters 22, 23, and 25
Racial n-word slur, ending in-a, found in Chapter 21 (before you drag me, yes, I am Black)
Mild anxiety attack in Chapter 25.

✨ Thank you so much CW @ The Quiet Pond for putting together this blog tour. I was so very honored to be a part of it and to help celebrate this beautiful story.

✨ BONUS: Ashia is doing a really cool thread on Twitter, where they are breaking down the characters way better than I did, letting you know their astrological signs, and they are also showing off some breathtaking art, too! I really recommend checking it out!

✨ Buddy read with Fadwa ~ فدوى from Word Wonders! ❤

Blog Tour: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Goodreads | Amazon US | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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

“Knowledge always has the potential to be dangerous. It is a more powerful weapon than any sword or spell.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been looking for a story all about someone living in a library, surrounded by magical books, while also going on adventure after adventure, for my entire life. And I truly believe that not only did Margaret Rogerson give me that, she is giving the YA literature community a gift from above. I feel like when An Enchantment of Ravens came out most people loved it, but it did seem a little bit polarizing, while I liked it but I never was in love with it. But Sorcery of Thorns captivated me from page one, and I adored it so very much that there was never a moment that I wanted to shut this very magical book and stop reading.

And like I said above, this is a story all about a girl named Elisabeth who has grown up in a library all of her life. She wants to eventually be a Warden, who is a person who protects the library, the people, and the books, because some books in this world are very much alive and are capable of doing some very bad things. But one night, when there is an attack at the library and the surrounding town, she takes it upon herself to defend the only home she has ever known. Yet, this act ends up making her the only suspect in the crime.

“Dreadful things roam the shadows while the human world sleeps.”

So, Elisabeth gets sent away and is forced to travel alongside a nobleman and sorcerer named Nathaniel Thorn, who also has a companion named Silas who happens to be a demon. In this world, the old royal families have all made pacts with demons to give them magical powers, and these pacts are passed down from generation to generation, but at a cost. Also, Silas is easily my favorite character in this book and I would die for him this very instant.

But Elisabeth, Nathaniel, and Silas’s paths all continue to cross while Elisabeth is trying to prove her innocence, while also stumbling upon a conspiracy theory to end all other conspiracy theories about what is really happening to the libraries in this world. And the adventures they go on, the secrets they unfold, and the discoveries they make together, was nothing short of a treat to read.

The thing that I didn’t love about this book, and the reason I am giving it four stars, is because I didn’t love the very vague representation. Obviously, I want authors to write what they want to write and what they feel comfortable with, but this was a little too subtly done for me. Yes, we have a main character that does express attraction to more than one gender, which I am always going to be living for, but we get a very brushed off moment with a very minor character being on the ace spectrum. Also, I think another leading character could possibly also be on the ace spectrum, but the representation in this book is so quiet that you are constantly left second guessing yourself while reading, and it feels bad, even with the excuse that this story is set in a fantasy world because the mentions are so very brief, too.

Overall, I did love this story. It was so unique and so whimsical; I couldn’t resist getting completely swept off my feet. I loved all three characters and their dark backgrounds, while gaining so much hope for their futures. I loved the writing and all the twists and turns that this adventure packed story delivered. I loved the historical setting, which is very reminiscent of The Infernal Devices! I loved the romance even though it was such a slow-burn that I wanted to scream in the best way possible! I just loved it all, and I can’t wait to see what Margaret Rogerson does next! Especially because this is a standalone, but I could totally see more in this world after that last page.

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

Content and Trigger Warnings: anxiety depiction, anxiety attacks, talk of loss of a loved one, captivity, talk of forced institutionalization, and violence.

Buddy read with Sol, Alexa, Kristin, & Alana! ❤

Blog Tour | Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy, #1) by Emily A. Duncan

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ARC given to me by my kind friend – Lilly at Lair of Books!

“If you fall to him the war will be lost. You have to live, Nadya.”

I’m going to be really honest with you all; I feel like Wicked Saints is the book of my heart. From the lyrical writing, to the cold atmosphere, to the beautiful themes, to the characters that I’d already be willing to give my life for; this book just felt like it was written for me. This debut fantasy, all about blood magic and a cleric who can speak to all the gods (be still, my wishful D&D heart), blew me and my expectations out of the water.

The author very much pulls from Russian and Polish inspiration and we get to see two countries, the Russian inspired Kalyazin, and the Polish inspired Tranavia. There is also the desert lands of Akola, which we meet a few characters from, but I think the land will be explored much more in later books! But we quickly see how differently the first two places view religion, and how both nations are willing to do whatever it takes in the name of their beliefs. These two countries are warring, and the author never shies away from that, but they are also beautifully woven together to create such an immersive and captivating world and setting.

“Cannons only meant one thing: blood magic. And blood magic meant Tranavians.”

But this tale starts out with a girl who has lived and hidden within the protection of a monastery’s walls her entire life. She has a power unlike any other, and it is her people’s hope to not only restore the faith of the gods, but bring them back into power. Yet, there are people who are willing to do anything to make sure the gods and their religion(s) stay silenced forever. And one night, the girl’s monastery is brutally attacked, and she and her friend barely escape with their lives, while everyone else stayed back to ensure they could run away. Yet, the war commander prince notices that this girl is not among the dead. The girl, desperate to live and to not have the gods be silenced, is willing to do anything it takes to live. Even if that means getting help from a powerful rebel mage, who is harboring many secrets of his own.

“The girl, the monster, and the prince…”

Nadya – The cleric who can speak to all of the gods.
Malachiasz – A blood mage, who believes he is a monster.
SerefinBisexual icon. Also, a blood mage prince of one of the most powerful realms in this world, but the king is trying to ensure that no one can contest his power, while also wanting to use his son as a martial pawn. He also has a visual impairment and is unable to see out of one of his eyes.

(Breathtaking art by Therese at warickaart!)

And all three of these characters? As morally grey as they come. And they all equally stole my heart. Okay, maybe I have a little bit of a soft spot for Serefin, but I can’t help it, okay? But there is more disability and sexual representation with some of the side characters, and many characters of color. I am truly in love with all the side characters, and I can’t wait to see them develop even more, but Ostyia was easily my favorite and the author confirmed she is a tiny murder lesbian, and I’ve never read anything so perfect in all my life.

Okay, I’m going to spend a little more time talking about Nadya because I truly was obsessed with how the author crafted religion and the saints in this book. First off, I’m Catholic, so you know that I fuck hard with saints, anyways. But, on the opposite end of the spectrum, I have played probably over a hundred D&D campaigns in my life, and I swear to all the gods that I have probably rolled a cleric at least 50 of those campaigns. Seriously, teenage Melanie (and her Pathfinder loving friends) was obsessed with Sarenrae. But reading a book about a cleric who could speak to ALL the gods, and harness their powers if they allowed it? I am quaking. Also, the banter between Nadya and all the different gods, all of whom have very different personalities, was probably my favorite element of the entire book.

Again, this is a very dark book and I implore you to read my trigger and content warnings listed down below if you are on the fence if you are in the right headspace or not. But one of the major magic systems in this book is blood magic, where people will use their own blood (most of the time, freshly cut) and merge it with pages of a spell book to be able to wield their prepared spells and harness their magic. I loved this. I loved this so much. It is something that I feel you see so much in D&D and videogames, but never in literature and I really think it was expertly done and completely made the book for me.

I feel like I should talk about the romance, since I see many early reviewers not loving it as much as I seemed to. I always thought Nadya was the star of this book, regardless of who she was developing feelings for. I mean, you all know I always fall in love with the one the main character doesn’t pick, so there is that, but I still loved the romance in this book. Also, I kind of hinted a bit about this in the character breakdowns, but when Serefin was following the king’s wishes to find a marriage? I was invested, friends. Too invested, probably. But during all the situations, the angst almost killed me, in the best way possible, and I can’t wait to see where the author takes everything in book two. It was the perfect slow burn feeling, while giving us so many breadcrumbs that all tasted delicious.

Overall, this book just had too many things in my personal wheelhouse for me not to completely fall in love with it. I mean, I originally heard this pitched as “a gothic Joan of Arc” and I knew from that moment my life was going to be changed. I think Emily A. Duncan has really crafted such a unique story, and such a beautiful debut and start of a series. I can’t wait to see what comes next, especially because the end of this book truly slayed me and every emotion I have ever had.

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

Content and Trigger Warnings for self-harm (both as a magic system, and talk of self-harm in the past), torture, parental abuse, abandonment, abduction, a lot of alcohol consumption (maybe addiction), gore, violence, and war themes.

Buddy read with Jocelyn at Yogi with a Book! ❤