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Aloha Friday | 11/27/20

I hope if you celebrate Thanksgiving that you had a lovely one! Are you do shopping this weekend? I have a 30% shop sale going on HERE if you need stocking stuffers. 🎁

Newly Acquired Books:

Amazon ~ (ebooks)

Amazon ~ Kindle Unlimited

Blog Stuff ~ Shout Out!!

Check out these awesome bloggers! I keep meaning to post links so you can enjoy these awesome blogs that I follow:

TV, Movies, Etc…:

  • Julie and the Phantoms – YES…I watched again…and again LOL. I can’t help myself, Julie and Luke are the cutest thing with all their chemistry. Also their voices duet together SO good. UGH. Plus I love Alex too, he’s the sweetest. 🤷🏻‍♀️ And Julie’s bestie Flynn cracks me up – whatever, it’s nostalgia since I grew up in the 90’s lol, I love the 90’s band thing, the music makes me happy.
  • Over the Moon – YES…AGAIN for like the 10th time maybe, my daughter is obsessed! We break out into a whole dance when Ultrailluminary starts playing. And Gobi seriously is the cutest thing. 💕
  • Vampire Diaries – look…I read the books when they came out in 1991 or whatever. I read them religiously…like, my original copies FELL APART. That’s how much I was obsessed with this series. But when they show came out with the show on CW I was too scared to watch it because what if they ruined it? My sister was obsessed with the show (she had read the books too but not as often as I read them). Needlessly to say…I’m trying to give it a chance…now. HAHA…I got through episode one! 😅 And yes I was all like, but in the book…🤦🏻‍♀️.

I need some Netflix recs! Drop some in the comments please!

Adulting:

  • Tuesday was my late hubby’s 13 year death anniversary. I cannot believe I was 29 when I became a widow and he was only 26. He died in a motorcycle accident back in 2007 after Thanksgiving. For years November was traumatic ~ but this November has been sooo chaotic that it really made me really appreciate the small things. He will always be missed, and he never wanted me to stop living, even when he was alive it was all about let’s go out, let’s LIVE. Anyway this year just put things in perspective…AGAIN. I think this year is the most peaceful I’ve felt about his passing? If that makes sense.
  • Etsy WORK – work, work, work! And shipping stuff.
  • Christmas gifts, some of my resin pieces are gifts for fam and friends. Also used my Cricut finally to make iron decals for canvas make-up bags or masks bags. So I finished those bags up this weekend! 😅

Can you believe this is the last weekend of November? Have a good one!

😘 ~ Yolanda

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Aloha Saturday | 11/7/20

What a week everyone! I am mentally exhausted my body so tight from anxiety. It was election day on Tuesday, I barely slept that night refreshing my twitter account to see election numbers. Then my birthday was on Wednesday which I spent tired and glued to the television to see if we had a winner. We didn’t. I spent Thursday having had more sleep at least and watching more results come in and wow….at one point I didn’t know it was Friday, hence why I had no Aloha Friday post! 🤦🏻‍♀️ This election was traumatizing!

I did not read ANYTHING this week – I was doing math in my head all week and dreaming numbers because of the election. I have never watched so much news and done so much math in my life!

Then I woke up today, Saturday morning with the election finally called. And today my family was coming over to have a belated birthday lunch for me so it was the PERFECT time to call the election!! I cheered and danced, we had cookies, cake, I had my favorite coffee drink and here I am just waiting to watch Biden and Harris speak. 💙 It is historic, I feel relief, I feel like I need a massage…and yes – we shall see what happens this week. But at least I won’t be glued to the tv for 72 hours. 😩 Please no more tv and news after this. My brain is fried. Haha…

Hopefully I can get back to reading, but I seriously feel like I need another week to decompress. But whew…how was your week? lol…

Love to you all, stay safe!

💕 ~ Yolanda

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Aloha Friday | 10/30/20

Halloween is tomorrow and a full moon 🌕. The election is on Tuesday and my birthday is on Wednesday. It’s going to be a wild few days right?

New Books Acquired:

NetGalley ~

Overdrive Online Library ~

Netflix:

  • Over the Moon – I love the music, the animation, the super cute rabbit, and the story. I’ll be rewatching this one a few times and my daughter loved it because of the bunny but I love that she gets to watch a girl character building a rocket. Anyway, I cried! 😭Triggers: grief. Philippa Soo who is Eliza from Hamilton is the moon goddess in this movie and I love her voice so much so yes, this soundtrack is going to be on repeat on my apple music app. Also, the voice of Fei Fei, Cathy Ang has an amazing voice too. I had to look her up and so proud to know she’s Chinese-Filipina! Yay, my kids are half Filipino so I love learning about more Filipino talent out there. I’ll be watching it again soon because my son didn’t watch it (he was in his online class haha) – so he says I have to watch it with him.

Other TV:

  • Masked Singer – it was my first time watching this show, though I’ve seen it trend a lot on twitter. I really loved the Mushroom’s voice!
  • I Can See Your Voice – my son watched this with me and he got so nervous for the contestant it was funny and sweet. We had fun trying to make our guesses!

** Weird side note, all the things I watched this week had a common theme. The actor/comedian Ken Jeong was in all of them! 😅 He’s on the Masked Singer panel, he’s the host of I Can See Your Voice and in Over the Moon he is Gobi, that strange alien dog/seal/hedgehog creature and he can SING! So unexpected but he’s so talented right?**

Adulting:

  • I already voted by mail two weeks ago.
  • My mom, sister and her son will be sleeping over at our house on Halloween. The mall near us is having a drive thru trick-or-treat so maybe we’ll do that. I was thinking of doing a scavenger hunt around the house too? But…we’ll see…🤷🏻‍♀️ need to look for some ideas.

What are your plans for this weekend? Stay safe everyone!

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BLOG TOUR | A Golden Fury by. Samantha Cohoe

Welcome to the blog tour for A Golden Fury by. Samantha Cohoe!

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: A Golden Fury

Author: Samantha Cohoe

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 10/13/20

Publisher: Wednesday Books | Twitter | Instagram

Buy Here: Macmillan

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Alchemy, Young Adult, Madness

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists. 

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die. 

Thank you to Wednesday Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Attention: Took me 3 days to read.

World Building: this is historical fiction, it starts in France, 1792 on the verge of revolution – then we travel to Oxford, England, but the fascinating bit is that we are following a character who is an alchemist.

Writing Style: flowed beautifully, engaging

Crazy in Love: not crazy, but it gets complicated

Creativity: to make the Philosopher’s Stone, you have to be prepared to go mad…

Triggers: violence, torture, harassment, descent into madness, self-harm, cheating/affair

My Takeaway: My sane mind vs. the power of the Philosopher’s Stone? I’ll chose my sanity! Haha

  • Thea is not the typical “likable” character. She grew up with no father and a mother who was more into alchemy than being a mother. Thea grew up alone except for Will who was her mother’s apprentice. Thea is smart, she’s talented at alchemy, can speak several languages but really has grown up differently compared to other girls her age.
  • The Philosopher’s Stone – this book really delved into it and what happens when someone is close to making the legendary and somewhat mythical Philosopher’s Stone. It’s supposed to grant the owner immense power – but first, Thea sees there is a pattern, people that attempt to make the stone, succumb to utter madness. They hear voices, they get violent, they see things. It’s terrifying and asks the question if the stone is worth making.
  • Thea gets threatened to make the Philosopher’s Stone, and she has to make some hard choices. Ultimately she wants to save a few people like her mom, her friend Dominic and her old friend/love, Will. This girl just needed some love.
  • Thea’s actions and choices when it came to Dominic was kind of suspect. She didn’t know him well, but he was her first friend outside of Will, who was an old friend she hadn’t seen in awhile. But poor Dominic – he got a raw deal!
  • Thea’s dad – glad he tried at the end, but their beginning was so pathetic on his part. Poor Thea, she basically had no one!
  • Would have like more world-building, especially because it takes place during the French Revolution! But I get that Thea was basically trapped in a house, in England, trying to make the Philosopher’s stone. But it wouldn’t been nice to get a feel for the time and place.

The descent into madness trying to make the Philosopher’s Stone makes you question if having the stone is worth it. For Thea, a smart but very lonely girl, she realizes the stone is worth it to save the people she loves – but she loses her mind to it, literally. Overall, I enjoyed this entertaining, quick, dark story about alchemy.

🖤 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs.

She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and
deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

Twitter | Instagram

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Daring and the Duke | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Daring and the Duke (The Bareknuckle Bastards, #3)

Author: Sarah MacLean

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 384

Categories/Themes: Historical Romance, Women Empowerment, Fighters

Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best…until the man she once loved returns. 

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back…and make her his duchess. 

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again.

My Reactions:

My Attention: caught

World Building: London life

Writing Style: flowed beautifully

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥🔥🔥 – as was expected between these two!

Crazy in Love: so so so crazy!! Lots of angst.

Creativity: we get to learn a little about life in London before Queen Victoria reigns

Mood: happy 

Triggers: violence

My Takeaway: To move forward, you have to forgive the person that hurt you.

  • It’s a book by Sarah MacLean and she’s an auto-buy author for me. I love her writing and her characters.
  • It’s finally Grace and Ewan’s story and I’m not gonna lie, I was hesitant to read it because Ewan has come across so shady. He’s a tortured soul, absolutely in love and obsessed with Grace. But he did some things in the past that made him out to be the enemy. We learn what happens on the fateful night that broke this foursome apart from Ewan.
  • Honestly, I’m glad Grace was conflicted and yet…sought out her pleasure that she only knew Ewan could give. 😉 I mean yes, it gets complicated when their past is involved but their present? That can’t get enough of each other! I love that Grace is a powerful woman on her own, without Ewan. She’s a Queen – not a Duchess!
  • This book ties up the series nicely, everyone gets a happily ever after!
  • I knew there would be angst, especially on Ewan’s part because he is obsessed with her. Did I forgive the things he did?! I don’t know…haha, I feel like I’m still mad at him! HAHA…but he did his best to change and show Grace she wears the pants in the relationship. And I loved that but I haven’t forgiven him yet.
  • It’s a bittersweet story because Ewan and Grace went through so much trauma together and had a growing love for each other. The trauma they both experienced was so sad, but like I said, Grace owns her power. Ewan…he just wants Grace in his life.

While this isn’t my favorite book in the series because of Ewan’s actions in the previous books, I think it tied up up all the loose ends. It was all about Grace and Ewan from the start. They are clearly fated mates and no matter what happens between these two (and a LOT happened), they were always going to end up together again. There is no one else for either of them. I look forward to reading the next series from Sarah MacLean. Keep them coming!

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Mini Reviews | Shadow Fall Series by. Audrey Grey

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Shadow Fall (Shadow Fall, #1)

The asteroid hurtling toward the earth will kill billions.

The Emperor and his Gold Court will be safe in their space station, watching from the stars. The Silvers will be protected underground. But the Bronzes must fight it out at the Shadow Trials for the few remaining spots left on the space station.

When an enigmatic benefactor hands Maia Graystone a spot in the Trials, she won’t just get a chance at salvation for her and her baby brother, Max: She gets to confront the mother who abandoned her in prison, the mad Emperor who murdered her father, and the Gold prince who once loved her. But it’s the dark bastard prince she’s partnered with that will make her question everything, including her own heart. With the asteroid racing closer every day, Maia must trust someone to survive. 

The question is who?

Author: Audrey Grey

Format: Kindle Unlimited

Pages: 368

Categories: Dystopia, Sci-Fi, Romance

  • Love the world building in this series – sci-fi is hard for me to get into but I found this world fascinating. Pandora is an asteroid that is coming close to Earth and will wipe out almost all of the Earth. There must be a way to stop it. There is, and the key is hiding in Maia, where her father put it. But what is the key? How can it stop Pandora? Along with the mission to stop Pandora is the political conflict happening with the Emperor who has safe haven along with other wealthy people in the empire, the Golds. The empire is categorized into Golds, Silvers and Bronze.
  • This book one is gritty and I like it that way because it has really shaped Maia’s personality and her tenacity to survive. Maia is living in the Pit and it’s a scary place! She’s alone, she’s dirty and hungry, she at the lowest point of her life. There is another boy here she meets that will be tied into her future, Riser, a Pit boy with a secretive past. They both get reconstructed into different looking people to go on a mission to enter the Shadow Trials.
  • I like her growing relationship with Riser. They both saw each other at their absolutely low point in their lives and together they change, grow, and feelings are growing..but are they real or manufactured?
  • And then again…the love triangle or tease of one. Just…sigh, it’s gonna be Riser. Caspian is nice and all and so their DNA matches or something, it will be Riser. But I think this author’s likes the love triangle thing in her series.
  • Now I’ve read this author’s Kingdom of Runes series and it has so much ACOTAR vibes…well this series started giving me Maze Runner, Secondborn and Hunger Games vibes! So…I can definitely see her influences in her stories.
  • Triggers: violence, torture, phobias

My Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Shadow Rise (Shadow Fall, #2)

Terrorist. Rebel. Traitor. 

One rash decision during the Shadow Trials led to unspeakable horrors that left innocents dead, friends injured and hunted by the Empire, and Maia Graystone imprisoned in the Tower at the Archduchess’s mercy. 

Unsure if Riser Thornbrook survived, Maia must find a way to battle the Empire from within its own walls and escape so she can fulfill the promise to her father and stop the asteroid. But when she breaks free and joins Nicolai’s Rebel army, she discovers she’s been branded a traitor. With war between the Rebels and the Empire looming, old alliances shifting, and suspicion hanging over her head, she must fight in the Rebel Blood Courts—and win command—to regain their trust. 

Only problem is, first she has to defeat the reigning champion, someone she knows all too well. Will Maia’s emotions lead to her defeat, or will she rise up and claim her victory? 

Author: Audrey Grey

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 312

Categories: Sci-Fi, Romance, Dystopia

  • Maia…at times I wanted to shake her. The author I think likes making her female leads headstrong to the point of making so many mistakes because she doesn’t think she needs help. She feels betrayed by Riser because he cut his memory of her out of his mind (I mean the guy was killed how many times because of her 🤦🏻‍♀️). But Maia is a survivor, I’ll give her that.
  • Riser – he doesn’t remember her but she still gets under his skin. And I love him for that. He’s a good one who’s had a really bad past. His story and Maia’s brings so much emotion to this series, they have to overcome so much. And they are good for one another, once they start trusting each other.
  • Maia is reunited with her brother in this one but it’s a struggle for them to open up and bond. There has been so much hurt in their lives with their father dying, them struggling being apart or thinking each other was dead and then their mother and her role with the Emperor.
  • In this book Maia is in the rebel camp so we meet more characters, I love Lash and Teagan. We learn more about Nicolai the leader of the rebels. There is still a lot of action in this one which moves the story quickly.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Shadow Rise (Shadow Fall, #3)

My name is Maia Graystone: soldier, commander of the rebel army . . . and the Emperor’s worst nightmare. 

After going from scorned traitor to leader of the rebel army overnight, I’m now the most powerful girl in the empire.

But power always comes with a price.

My mother questions my position at every turn, my enemies wait for the right moment to strike, and the burden of leadership threatens my relationship with Riser.

When the Empire kidnaps someone I love, I’m faced with the impossible—sneak onto Hyperion, the Emperor’s highly-guarded palace in the sky.

I’ve survived the Shadow Trials. I’ve survived the violent Blood Courts. But surviving this final mission means deciding once and for all who to trust—the golden prince from my past or the dark soldier from my future.

With Pandora’s wrath only days away, I’ll enter one final twisted game of treachery, secrets, and deceit.

Winner takes all . . . let the games begin.

Author: Audrey Grey

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 316

Categories: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Romance

  • This was the first Audrey Grey series I started and in between finishing the first two books and this last installment, I read two of her other series. Kingdom of Runes was entertaining even if it was too similar to ACOTAR and her Evermore Academy fell flat for me but this Shadow Fall series is my favorite out of all of them maybe because I already read so much fantasy that this sci-fi story stood out more. And this story has so much more emotion because it starts off so dark, which is fantastic. It could only go up from there and it did.
  • Maia Graystone has gone through hell and back. She’s leading a rebellion with her best friends at her side. But now that her mother is fighting along side her, Maia can’t help feel inadequate. So Maia questions herself a lot. She has to learn to be a leader and at least we get to see her try her best at it. I like that she’s a heroine in which nothing has comes easy. She’s gone through it all.
  • Riser – I love him and his loyalty. So yeah the whole love triangle thing that Maia finds herself annoyed me. It’s all about Riser! But haha, she had to find it out all in her own confusing way. Yeah it’s not fair that she and Caspian were genetically constructed to be each other’s “match” for life. But…it was always going to be Riser.
  • I LOVE Lash and Teagan so much. They brought the humor and friendship to Maia’s life. Maia had been alone since separated from her mother and brother, so having made friends with Lash and Teagan ugh…that was the best. I was worried for them until the end.
  • I think the loose ends in this series was tied up nicely and sadly 🥺. The ending is bittersweet and it made me emotional. I really enjoyed this gritty dystopian world with a heroine who has to stop an asteroid nearing Earth plus help take down a madman Emperor who keeps the people divided by class and color. The twists were good, although sometimes with sci-fi concepts I can’t visualize them fully like I do works of fantasy. I love Riser and his loyalty to Maia. They are all so complicated – down to Maia’s mother, who comes off so so evil…but in the end she does what she has to.

TRIGGERS: torture, death, violence

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ARC Review | What Kind of Girl

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: What Kind of Girl

Author: Alyssa Sheinmel

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: February 1, 2020

Categories: Drugs, Dating Abuse, Self Harm, Mental Illness, Young Adult

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

The girls at North Bay Academy are taking sides. It all started when Mike Parker’s girlfriend showed up with a bruise on her face. Or, more specifically, when she walked into the principal’s office and said Mike hit her. But the students have questions. Why did she go to the principal and not the polcie? Why did she stay so long if he was hurting her? Obviously, if it’s true, Mike should be expelled. But is it true? 

Some girls want to rally for his expulsion—and some want to rally around Mike. The only thing that the entire student body can agree on? Someone is lying. And the truth has to come out.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

First and foremost, this book has triggers all throughout the story. It delves into the thoughts and actions of two teenagers, one who is a girl who reports that her boyfriend abused her. The other girl is her friend, who is a cutter, dealing with life’s pressures in unhealthy ways.

But the way it’s written in the beginning can get a little confusing. There is more than one perspective being told but no name, just a label: The Girlfriend, The Popular Girl, The Bulimic, The Burn Out. The more you read on you understand this is the girlfriend, Mike Parker’s accuser. We get into her thoughts a lot about what happens when she tells her secret. People question her, blame her and in turn she also questions herself and blames herself. It’s no wonder why people who are abused don’t report it when it occurs. We also see her thoughts about how she felt about Mike, how he made her feel, how she had to question if what they had was love? Can it be love still, if he hit her? We are there in her thought process and it’s frustrating but eye-opening, and we eventually learn her name is Maya.

Then in part two we get a different perspective from Maya’s best friend, Juniper, but she too has issues. She’s a cutter. She’s dealing with anxiety, OCD and panic attacks. We get into her head as well and it’s stressful in there.

I really like how the story evolved. I’ve often wondered why people stay with abusers, even though I’ve seen it happen to my own friends and family members. And Maya’s character gives us a chance to see how someone can waver, blame herself, see people question her and then she in turns question herself. I mean Mike is the star athlete at school with everything going for him. People wanted to take his side and given the chance they totally did. But we see Maya is also dealing with other things like her parents’ divorce and bulimia.

Then we see questions come from Juniper as well. They are best friends but even Juniper judged Maya on the situation. Juniper has issues of her own trying to balance her parents expectations, trying to figure out if she’s good enough for her girlfriend Tess, and cutting helps release the pressure from her daily life. She plans a protest to get Mike expelled but things don’t go as planned and it pushes her over the edge.

There was a little relief for me when the best friends finally told each other their secrets. They needed each other and didn’t know what they were going through individually. In the end these two girls choose another label for themselves, the kind of girl who stands up for their truth. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

It is a story that brings up relevant issues about dating abuse, self harm and mental illness. Overall it’s an engaging and emotional read about some hard subjects.

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Book Review | We Hunt the Flame

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: We Hunt the Flame

Author: Hafsah Faizal

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Page: 469

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya―but neither wants to be.
War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds―and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

That first line of the blurb pretty much says it all about the two main characters that we follow in We Hunt the Flame.

Zafira is the Hunter, or Huntress, but almost everyone thinks she is a man. She is the only one who can brave the Arz, a cursed forest that devours the land and the people that venture inside it. Because Zafira is the only known person to survive the Arz, she is the one that hunts and provides meat for her village.

Nasir is a hashashin (assassin) but also, the crown prince who cannot seem to fight the will of his father, the sultan. The sultan is cruel and possessed by some dark magic that has Nasir wishing for the life he had before his father turned evil.

There is a quest for Zafira to find a book called the Jawarat. She hopes when she finds it, it will restore the lost magic to the people of Arawiya. Nasir’s part in this quest is somewhat different than hers. In this quest we also meet other players and learn what is really at stake if they fail to retrieve the book.

Is the story predictable? Sure it is and I have definitely read many fantasies about a girl on a quest and an evil prince out to stop her, and needing magic to be restored to the land and people. But this book is so beautifully written. I was seriously involved in googling words I didn’t know (I love learning something new), and looking at the map in the book, studying the layout of the land because I was absolutely intrigued about this world! I love learning about the supernatural beings in Arabic culture that was featured in this book.

It’s not a book that starts right off with action. Act 1 is definitely building the world and introducing us to Zafira, her friends, her family, her life and some of the history of Arawiya. Some might find it too slow, but I’ve learned with books like these, I just have to put it down and pick it up later with no pressure and go with the flow. But I did read this in a day and a half, so that’s pretty good!

We also meet Nasir, oh Nasir…his life is so different from Zafira, but his upbringing is just so sad. The quest brings them together and breaks them and mends them in ways they didn’t expect.

There is a slow burn romance, it is definitely an enemies to lovers situation, but I don’t think it took over the story. I thought for a moment there would be a love triangle but there wasn’t, though it was interesting how Zafira dealt with the loss of her best-friend, who was a potential suitor. The other characters in the story from Yasmine, Zafira’s bold best-friend to Altair who is that annoying yet very charming guy with a secret brought so much to the story. I enjoyed the interaction between all of them whether it was funny or tense, it made me care for these characters. There is love there, especially with Zafira and her family and friends. ❤️

The story navigates many emotions like grief, guilt, love and fear. But I really resonated with the message of teamwork in this book. Everyone had a role, everyone plays a part, even if Zafira and Nasir are usually lone hunters, they had to learn and lean on one another. The book starts off on the assumption that Zafira is the chosen one, but she’s not, she wouldn’t have had success in this quest without the others.

I don’t usually talk about titles to books but this one, We Hunt the Flame, is so meaningful. In the book the phrase means to be always looking for hope, hope being the flame. But I realized after reading it, the characters were all hunting for something. Nasir wondering if anyone will ever love him 😔, Zafira hunting for forgiveness and bravery to be the woman she is, the Silver Witch righting a wrong, and so forth. We all hunt the flame…whatever the flame is to us.

Over, We Hunt the Flame is a lush Arabic inspired fantasy novel that is beautifully told and that gave me characters I cared about and leaves me looking forward to the next book.

book review, coming of age, contemporary, E-book, netgalley, romance, Uncategorized, Young Adult

ARC Review | The World On Either Side

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The World On Either Side

Author: Diane Terrana

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 288

Publication: September 10, 2019

Categories: Grief, Self-Harm, Young Adult, World Issues, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

After the death of her boyfriend, sixteen-year old Valentine stops going to school, quits seeing her friends, and, finally, won’t leave her bed. Desperate for her daughter to recover, Valentine’s mother takes her on a trek in Thailand. In the mountains north of Chiang Mai, Valentine finds a world she didn’t know existed, where houses are on stilts and elephants still roam wild. She learns about the Burmese civil war and the relentless violence against the Karen and Rohingya peoples.

Then she meets Lin, a mysterious young elephant keeper tormented by his hidden past, and an orphaned elephant calf, pursued by violent poachers. Together, the three flee deep into the jungle, looking for refuge and redemption. 

Thank you to Orca Book Publishers and NetGalley for giving me the chance to read this eArc.

I used to be Valentine. I had that hard knot of pain in my heart that is described so well in this book after dealing with grief for a few years. That’s why I love The World On Either Side so much. I didn’t have that pain in my heart as a teenager though, I had it at twenty-nine and it just goes to show how this book could speak to young adults and adults as well.

I went into this book knowing it would deal with grief but I was afraid it would gloss over the issues happening in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) – issues I don’t really know well enough of myself. But this story took Valentine’s grief, and the issues going on in these countries and gave me a book that spoke to my heart. It also gave me an understanding of the disturbing things going in these countries.

Valentine is going through so much after her boyfriend Amir dies. She is depressed and in a tunnel of grief. Her parents are afraid to lose her but she can’t seem to come out of the dark cave she’s in. So her mom decides that they leave Canada and take a trip to Thailand together. And not just to the city of Bangkok, they are signed up to trek through the hills of Northern Thailand to visit the hill tribes. It’s her mom’s desperate attempt to make her leave the room she hasn’t left since Amir has died.

They meet up with a small group of other tourists as they journey through the hills of Thailand, close to the Myanmar border. They ride elephants, sleep in sleeping bags and barely get to bathe. We get a small glimpse of the political strife happening between the indigenous tribes and government of Myanmar. We also get some lessons on Buddhism.

The book also touched on the subject of elephants and poachers. I think that’s when my heart started to really break, the moment the elephants arrive. It explored the bond between mother and child, not only in the human world, but the animal world as well – in particular with elephants who feel strongly about their young and vice versa. Elephants who grieve. Then there is Lin, who’s backstory is unimaginable and scary for anyone who lives a safe life outside of these countries. I hurt for Lin and what he has been through. He is one of the guides for the group and he has a past that comes back to haunt him and Valentine.

By the end of this book, Valentine sees how much forgiveness plays a big part in healing her broken spirit and how some things in life are not so black and white, especially when it comes to Lin and his life choices. My heart was so sore for Valentine, her mom, for the elephants, Lin, the Karen tribe, the Rohingya and everyone caught up in personal grief and turmoil and the violence that the government has brought upon the people.

I love how courage is what gets our characters through this trek. Valentine goes through some difficult situations on this trip but she has to dig down deep to be braver than she’s ever had to be. We see that she does have fight in her still. Lin’s story also shows us what kind of courage it took for him to survive the life he’s led, and the kind of future that will be best for his situation. We even see how all of this affects Valentine’s mom and how she is fighting for her daughter and the toll it takes.

This book is wonderfully written with the lush descriptions of the trek in the mountains of Thailand through a tourists’ point of view and someone like Lin who belongs there and nowhere at the same time. I felt like I was there with the characters. It made me want to learn more about the Karen and Rohingya tribes and hope one day the conflict will stop. This story explored mental health, love, loss and world issues. And though at times there are dark scenes in this book, the story touched my heart so deeply, the heart that was once a painful ball of hurt and at times still is.

I absolutely loved this book and finished it in one day. I definitely will need a copy of it on my shelf when it releases in September and I look forward to reading more books from this author!

Get it here: Amazon

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Uncategorized

Book Review: Testimony From Your Perfect Girl

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Author: Kaui Hart Hemmings

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 272

Categories: Coming Of Age, Young Adult, Sexual Themes, Family Issues

Annie Tripp has everything she needs–Italian sweaters, vintage chandelier earrings, and elite ice skating lessons–but all that changes when her father is accused of scamming hundreds of people out of their investments. Even though Annie knows her dad wasn’t at fault, she and her brother are still exiled to their estranged aunt and uncle’s house in a run-down part of Breckenridge–at least until the trial blows over.

Life with her new family isn’t quite up to Annie’s usual standard of living, yet Annie soon gets used to pretending to be someone else. She makes friends, gets a crush (or two), and realizes that she has more in common with her aunt and uncle than she ever wanted to know. As the family’s lies begin to crumble and truths demand consequences, Annie must decide which secrets need to see the light of day . . . and which are worth keeping. 

My TBR list is getting away from me ladies and gents! I didn’t even know I had borrowed this from my online library at Overdrive. When I saw it was about to expire in two days, I read it right away and finished it in a few hours.

I have never read anything from Kaui Hart Hemmings but I was a fan of the movie The Descendants mostly because I am from Hawaii, born and raised. I loved seeing Hawaii on the big screen and the story was so touching as it dealt with family issues and grief. I was going through some hard core grief at the time too.

So I borrowed this book not knowing much about it except the author’s name. I absolutely love how smooth the writing is in this book, it seems effortless and kind of just digs into somewhere nice in my head.

Annie Tripp, is a trip. She is spoiled, somewhat socially awkward and lives a very comfortable life that her wealthy parents provides for her and her older brother. She seems in control, a trait instilled by her mother. She is the perfect girl, the perfect daughter.

But a scandal rocks their lives when her father is on trial for scamming people out of their money in a real estate venture. Annie and her brother leave their wealthy town to hideout at their aunt and uncle’s house in Breckenridge, Colorado. Their perfect lives are ruined.

Annie and her brother Jay have a typical sibling relationship egging each other on. But they are close in the unique way siblings are close. Moving to their aunt’s house isn’t an experience I would say brings them closer but they learn to lean on each other in the only way they know how.

Annie learns a lot of things about herself: how fake she is, how she tries to fit in by trying to be someone she’s not, how rude and entitled she can be – and how a lot of her life is based on lies. And learning the truth about her dad, was a reality check – but if her dad loses his court case, they lose their lifestyle. Is it so wrong to want him to win?

I like how blunt she is though about her thoughts and feelings as she learns about her parents. I like that she experienced sexual situations that were awkward and not perfect. She’s a teenager making mistakes, wanting to escape her real life, thinking she knows what she is doing – I’ve definitely been there before! 😅 We watch Annie go from spoiled, blasé, rich girl to someone who has to strip away who she thinks she is and find out what kind of substance she’s really made of.

Seeing how the family navigates and deals with the “family secret” that gets exposed later in the book me made question what I would do in Annie’s place. I mean, it was a pretty heavy secret – I’m pretty impressed Annie didn’t go off the deep end. She dipped her toes in it for sure, but I liked how she faced things.

“The moment is caught. The people are revealed. They weren’t thinking of an audience. They were just being themselves.”

Testimony From Your Perfect Girl by. Kaui Hart Hemmings

Nothing is black and white in this story, just like in reality and that made me feel comfortable reading this. I like books that remind me that even if life gets hard, it will be okay. And that the answers we are searching for aren’t always so simple, and it’s okay to feel conflicted about a lot of things in life. This book reminded me that no one has a perfect family or life 🙋🏻‍♀️, no matter how much money they have and seem perfect on the outside – especially in this day and age of social media.

I really enjoyed this book and it was a quick read. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Get it here: Amazon

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