Opening Chapter 7: July 2019 TBR & To Do

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! Are you ready for July? Yeah, me either but it’s been here for like a week so let’s dive into this post and kick it off somewhat right.

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Books I Hope To Read

So, I’m still doing the grad school thing, which means not much time for pleasure reading. Especially with finals coming up soon and needing to study for them. I’ll definitely continue my audiobook listening though and I have a week or two at the end of the month to read so here’s my slightly ambitious TBR for the month.

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Things I Hope To Do

Well… I have a lot of programs this month at work. Not as many as last month, thank goodness, but still a lot more than anyone should ever consider doing in a single month, let alone a month during the summer learning program.

I’m hoping to finish plotting my current writing project during my off weeks between semesters. I’m not ready to share much yet because a lot of it is still up in the air but… I’m really excited for it! 😁

I get to continue planning my trip for this winter. I am definitely a planner, though often my plans get tossed out and I wing things anyway. Because impulsivity. It’s a thing.

I will (hopefully) actually stock up on some bookstagram pictures because it’s a bit too hot to take them frequently.


What are some July releases you’re excited for? Happy reading!

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Closing Chapter 6: June 2019 Wrap Up

Hello there, bookworms and dragons! June. I blinked and it was gone and now here we are.

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Books I Read

Here’s all the stuff I (somehow?) managed to read, regardless of my modest TBR + required reading for school. Audiobooks and I have become besties.

  • Narwhal’s Otter Friend by Ben Clanton πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›
  • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›
  • Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›
  • Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuistonΒ πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›
  • Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community by Robin Stevenson πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›
  • King of Fools by Amanda Foody
  • The Disasters by M. K. England πŸ›πŸ›πŸ› Β½
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’LearyΒ πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ› Β½
  • Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself by Matthew Gray GublerΒ πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›πŸ›

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Other Things I Did In June

I participated in the blog tour for The Chosen by Taran Matharu! It’s basically Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games so needless to say I’m very into it.

I went to the ALA Annual in Washington DC and learned SO MANY THINGS and was surrounded nearly at all times by queer excellence and it was amazing. I got to meet SO MANY INCREDIBLE PEOPLE, including librarians, publishers, and authors. I got to meet Claribel Ortega, who is sweet and incredible and didn’t seem to mind my flailing and fangirling so much. And M. K. England, who is nice but honest and has excellent taste in food and human companions. And Kwame Mbalia, who complimented my hair and whose debut middle grade is among my most anticipated releases for the second half of this year. And Leigh Bardugo, who is amazing and sweet and I feel guilty for making her cry a bit but also it was so amazing to be able to thank her for giving me a character who has helped me pull myself through some really tough times. It was a great trip for me because, while it was extremely overwhelming and I had a few moments where it was too much, I left the conference feeling validated and inspired on so many levels.

I continued working on my homework because I’ll be darned if I shelled out that much money for tuition and books just to fail. So far, I’m still afloat, but there are some big projects due over the next couple of weeks and I’m not going to lie friends… I’m really nervous about it. I’ve kept up with doing the best I’m able to though, which is also why my blog has just about flatlined. Sorry!

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That’s pretty much all I’ve done this month (that I can remember at 11PM while typing up this post two days after it was supposed to be published). What’s something you’ve done or seen this month that left you feeling inspired?

Blog Tour: The Chosen by Taran Matharu

Hello there, bookworms and dragons! I’m so super excited to be posting today as part of the blog tour for The Chosen by Taran Matharu. I loved what I read of his Summoner series, so when I got the chance to read an early copy of the first book in his all new Contender series, I jumped at the chance. Keep reading for my full review! But first, what’s this book about? Well, I’m so happy you asked! Let’s have a look at the synopsis.

Introducing an epic new trilogy from Taran Matharu, author of the New York Times–bestselling Summoner series.

Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover why.

Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still β€” people. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by mysterious overlords.

But who are these beings and why did they choose these teens? Cade must prepare for battle . . . because hiding is not an option.

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My Review

As I said above, I was already really excited for The Chosen based on my enjoyment of Taran Matharu’s previous writing. But then I saw the cover and there are actual dinosaurs on it? Like, how many YA novels have dinosaurs? I can’t think of any. So I was doubly excited to dive into reading it, which I did in two sittings that would have been one if not for my own monsters. TW/CWs will be the the end of the post, so let’s dive right into my review!

The diverse cast characters are all fairly well developed. I especially loved getting to see an ownvoices Indian/mixed race rep that’s a bit different than what I’ve seen in other novels. It focuses less on the culture Cade’s family came from and more on his experience of the culture surrounding him outside of his parents’ influence. I really liked that, regardless of all of the things that happen to him, Cade still believes that people are innately good. We also get Yoshi, a Japanese American boy who does not appreciate your Mario Kart references, and Spex, a Brazilian American who could probably win Jeopardy. Sadly, there is also Finch. I have never so strongly wanted to slap someone in my entire life. To all the Finches out there: stop talking and keep your hands to yourself.

The world building is so incredibly lush and immersive. The story starts off at a “therapeutic” school (AKA military school), where Cade and the others have been sent for various reasons right up to and including murder. I could easily drop myself into the unknown location and walk around there. Though, honestly, I’d have to run because the world is hazardous to say the least. The rules of the world were intentionally held back through the story, little bits being shared as Cade stumbled upon them. I do love that mysteriously missing bits of history from Earth cropped up all over the world of the story, giving us fun little tidbits of information about them as Cade learned about them.

The Chosen is probably a good example of a plot-driven novel, I think. The story moves so fluidly that it’s hard to put down. As I said earlier, I would have finished it in a single sitting if left to my own devices. There’s so much action and that builds up to the epic action scene near the end… and, unfortunately, the huge cliffhanger. The story moves so well that I have to consider the novel unputdownable.

I enjoyed The Chosen so very much from beginning to (cliffhanger) end. The best way I can think of to describe it to those considering reading it is to say The Chosen is Jurassic Park meets The Hunger Games. I’m already hyped up for the next book of the Contender series, but I’ll have to read more of Taran Matharu’s other writing to tide me over for it.

Overall, I rate The Chosen 3.5 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can order your copy from are:

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About the Author

Taran Matharu is the New York Times bestselling author of the Summoner series, which has been translated into 15 languages and has sold over a million copies. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for writing during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013.

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write β€˜Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in β€˜Nanowrimo 2013’ and sharing his work on Wattpad.com. The shared sample of the story went viral, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months. Taran went on to launch his professional writing career, and has never looked back.

His SUMMONER series is published by Hodder Children’s (Hachette) in the UK, Australia and Commonwealth, Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan) in the US and Canada, Hachette Jeunesse in France, Heyne in Germany, Planeta in Spain, Crown in Taiwan, Record in Brazil, EKSMO in Russia, Jaguar in Poland, Ecliptic in Bulgaria, Alpress in the Czech Republic, Ithaki in Turkey, Forlaget Forar in Denmark and Unieboek in the Netherlands.

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Want to see more awesome The Chosen content? Of course you do! How, you ask? Simply follow the tour via the schedule in this link.


Thank you to Taran Matharu for writing this incredible novel! Without you, we definitely wouldn’t be here.

Another thank you to Feiwel and Friends for allowing me the privilege of reading an early copy of The Chosen.

And, last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for organizing this blog tour and allowing me to be part of it! If you’re interested in how to become a tour host with the FFBC (and why wouldn’t you be??), click on their logo below!

TW/CWs:

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Grief
  • Blood
  • Mentions of slavery

As always, if you read The Contender and noticed TW/CWs that are not listed here, please let me know in the comments or anonymously via this form.

Opening Chapter 6: June 2019 TBR & To Do

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! Are you ready for June? I’m totally ready for June. Well, at least 50% ready. Well, maybe 20%. Okay I’m at least a little bit ready and that’s what I’m holding on to. I’m 110% ready for Pride Month so I’m pretty sure it evens out. πŸ˜‚ Let’s kick this month off right, shall we?

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Books I Hope To Read

So, I’m still tophat deep in grad school and I don’t think I’ll get much reading in aside from the bit of audiobook listening I might be able to squeeze in when motion sickness doesn’t allow me to read my textbooks on the bus? So my TBR list reflects that.

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Things I Hope To Do

Well… I have a lot of programs this month at work. Like… a LOT. I’m presenting between five and eight programs a week all month long. I’m excited for the most part about this because one of the programs is chemistry based and one is a book club based around diverse mythology and I’M SO EXCITED FOR THEM BOTH but also I’m tired just thinking about it? It’s a strange feeling but there it is.

I have a million and a half assignments due in June and I’m just hoping not to fail. Failing is always a huge fear of mine so I know it’ll always be there, pushing me to work harder than I thought would be possible. I’ve just kind of learned to live with it a bit, I guess? But I don’t know that I’ll ever feel used to the nearly crippling fear of screwing it all up. So, hopefully, June will be full of successfully completing assignments and low on failure or the fear of it.

I’m going to the ALA Annual in Washington DC? That’s… not actually a question, but I’m having trouble processing this as a reality so the question mark is necessary. I’m really excited because there are so many amazing programs I’ll get to sit in, though honestly I want to go to ALL OF THEM. I’m really looking forward to learning a lot. And also, BOOKS. And I’m fairly certain I’ve managed to work it out to where I’ll be able to see Tomi Adeyemi and Leigh Bardugo

speak and just *flails in librarian*.

I’ve been doing alright about posting on bookstagram later. Maybe (fingers crossed) I’ll get better about doing that regularly. Who knows?

I’m signed up for a blog tour for later this month. I signed up before realizing that it was right in the middle of my semester. Luckily, the publisher was really quick about getting the eARC out and I was able to finish reading the book and writing at least most of the post before the semester started. I’m really looking forward to this one! πŸ˜€

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June Book Releases I’m Excited For

Here’s at least most of the book releases I’m excited for this month in order of release date (and author’s last name when necessary).

4 – Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare

4 – Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

4 – The Chosen by Taran Matharu

4 – The Beyond by Chloe Neill

4 – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

4 – This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sagiura

11 – Recursion by Blake Crouch

11 – Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

18 – Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

25 – Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

25 – The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter


What are some June releases you’re excited for? Happy Pride and happy reading!

Closing Chapter 5: May 2019 Wrap Up

Happy Friday, bookworms and dragons! Wow, May has been A Month. I’m super excited for the summer this year! Let’s dive in and wrap this baby up right.

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Books I Read

May was SUPER BUSY, but it also managed to be a pretty decent reading month. Here’s all the stuff I managed to read, regardless of my horribly modest TBR.

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Other Things I Did In May

I started my courses to work toward my Masters degree. I’m not gonna lie, y’all. It’s rough. I knew there would be a lot of reading and writing and somehow still managed to underestimate it. I spent the first three days contemplating giving up. Thankfully, I have some amazing and supportive friends who told me I was being ridiculous and I’ve got this. I think it’s going to be okay.

I got to participate in the blog tour for Nexus by Sasha Alsburg and Lindsay Cummings! My fave space pirate girl gang got their glorious conclusion and I’m going to miss them horribly.

I’ve continued planning for upcoming trips that’ll possibly be happening later on this year. I’m a planner. What can I say?

I created a new banner for the top of my blog posts. The one I used before I no longer have access to so I’ve had to change it up a bit. But… I kinda love the new one? So it worked out. πŸ™‚

I participated in part of May, Myself, and I–a challenge put out by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Here’s the links to the posts I’ve somehow managed to put together for it. πŸ™‚

I was able to participate in the blog tour forΒ Nexus by Sasha Alsburg and Lindsay Cummings! If space pirates and girl gangs are your thing, definitely head on over and check out my review post for this beautifully done second book in the Androma Saga.Β πŸ’–

I was also able to participate in the release week blitz forΒ Ask Me Anything by Molly E. Lee, which I’m super excited to read when I’ve got more free time!

I’ve come up with so many ideas for writing that I’ve had to start keeping a digital notebook. I’m sure most of them are crap, but I just don’t have the time or energy to do anything with them right now so they’ll have to wait until I can look at them. I think it’s an unfortunate sign that I’m not utilizing creative outlets enough but I’m limited on what I can do for that at the moment so… 🀷

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What are some fun things you got to do during the month of May?

Audiobook Review: The Storm Runner by J. C. Cervantes

Hello there, bookworms and dragons! I actually hadn’t planned to write a review for this one simply because I have so much writing to do for my classes, but it keeps nagging me so here we are. I picked up The Storm Runner because I’m using it for a Middle Grade book club at work and I can’t expect 8-12 year olds to read the book if I haven’t. There are a few TW/CWs, which I will add at the end of the post. Let’s dive into the review!

The characters were all fairly well developed in the way that I felt like I could have spoken with most of them, though I definitely couldn’t get into anyone’s head other than Zane’s. I think it’s because of this that I really questioned a huge choice Zane made regarding another character. It’s a pretty big plot point so in the spirit of #NoSpoilers, I’ll leave it off but I’m still scratching my head over it. Long story short, Zane was well developed but from where I was standing everyone else could have used more.

I have to recognize that I’m not the target audience of this novel though so for a 12 year old it might be just the right amount of character development. Idk but I’ll ask the kids in my club this summer and maybe I’ll remember to get back to you on it.

One thing I specifically did not like at all about the novel was one of the characters so I’m going to add it in right here. I forgot to bookmark the quote I was going to use, so I’ll just sum it up a bit. Mr. Ortiz, an adult character, constantly badgers Ms. Cab to date him despite her continued insistence that she does not want to date him. It’s made clear that she is not playing hard to get and yet he continues. What’s worse is that our main character Zane admires that persistence. While this could be taken as a kid recognizing that sometimes you have to persist to get what you want, this should not be one of those situations. Ms. Cab was not interested. Ms. Cab said she’s not interested. No means no. It bothers me especially because of the target audience being so young and the message this will be sending them.

The world has a very Mayan Percy Jackson feel in that it’s Mayan mythology laid over a contemporary setting. I think J. C. Cervantes did a really good job pulling this off. Some of the world building felt a little bit forced, but for the most part it was seamless and easy to immerse myself in. There was no info-dump but we didn’t learn the rules of the world and how it worked before Zane did so in the times when he is confused, I was as well. It added a good bit to the story and his character development as well. It was quite impressive.

The story itself flowed relatively well, though there were a few parts that were a bit slower than I was expecting, almost like we were just watching Zane go through the motions. There were a few scenes that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and some that I actively question based on previous scenes in the story. I really enjoyed the way Zane is forced to think outside the box to move the story forward though. The Storm Runner would definitely not be the same without it. I also wish I had found a list of TW/CWs before reading the story because it would have kept me from having to pause so often to discuss with my monsters (who listened with me) why certain things are or are not okay.

Ozzie Rodriguez did an amazing job narrating! He has this way of clearly conveying so many different emotions with just his voice that I really enjoyed. I’ll definitely be looking forward to listening to more of his work.

I did enjoy listening to The Storm Runner, but I do wish I had known what I was getting into before reading it. I don’t regret picking it for my book club at work because there’s a lot to unpack and I look forward to discussing it with the kids after they’ve read it. I’ll definitely also be checking out the next book in the series.

Overall, (my monsters and) I rate The Storm Runner 4 out of 5 bookworms. Don’t just take our word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself!

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Do you read any Middle Grade books? What are some of your favourites?


TW/CWs:

  • death of a pet
  • psychological abuse
  • ableist language
  • internalized ableism
  • misogynism (persistent ignoring of refusal of consent)

As always, please let me know in the comments if you’ve read the book and noticed a TW/CW I should add. Or, you can tell me anonymously via this form.

Audiobook Review: I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

Hey there, bookworms and dragons! I’m still recovering from this book but as my school courses began yesterday, I wanted to go ahead and write this review while I have a little time.

I happened to see in Mason Deaver’s Instagram story that hoopla had the audiobook for I Wish You All The Best a bit more than a week early. I was SO EXCITED because I have a hoopla account via my local public library. Since this doesn’t affect first week sales and this is one of my most anticipated books of 2019, I decided to dive in head first. I’ll put the TW/CWs at the end of this post. Let’s jump right into the review!

The characters in I Wish You All The Best were so amazing. Ben De Backer is now my child and I will defend them with my life. Seriously. They’re all so well written that from the very beginning I was fully invested in everyone on the page. It is obvious that Mason Deaver put their heart and soul into these characters. The representation offered is beautiful and each character could easily walk right off the page. I especially loved seeing the slow burn between Ben and Nathan. Slow burns are my new fave.

There is one thing that I knew going into this review I would need to talk about so here we go. I went into the novel knowing that there would be amazing non-binary representation. It was just as amazing and more as what I was expecting. However, there was something else that I wasn’t expecting and it took me completely off guard. I don’t know how to share this other than to quote so….

“Touch aversion can be common in people who deal with panic attacks or people dealing with anxiety. In fact, there are some people who are just born or developed that way, like asexual or aromantic people.”

I… was not expecting this? When I got to this part of the story, I was so surprised and overwhelmed that I wept. Like full-on-ugly-cry-don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-not-fine wept. I had to pause the story and walk away for a few minutes. This book is the first time I’ve seen any rep for being touch averse, which I am. I never thought I would see that represented at all and even now I’m tearing up about it a bit.

I Wish You All The Best is a contemporary novel, which means it’s a realistic fiction set in modern times. The majority of the story takes place in Raleigh, North Carolina. I haven’t been to Raleigh, but I do live in another large city in the southern United States, so it wasn’t hard for me to get a feel for the environment. Also because of that though, I’m not the best judge of the large-scale world building. Honestly, I’m the worst at that with contemporaries anyway. But each of the locations was given enough of a description that it was immersive so do what you will with that knowledge.

The story itself is perfectly paced from beginning to end, with twists and turns at just the right moments. I would even go so far as to say that I Wish You All The Best is a work of art. I can’t say I loved every moment of it because there were parts that were meant to make the reader uncomfortable (and I was) but this is a book I’ll definitely be rereading in the future.

I Wish You All The Best was right up at the top of my most anticipated 2019 releases list. There is so much hype surrounding it. And it still manages to exceed all of the high expectations placed upon it. I can not wait to read more from Mason Deaver in the future.

Overall, I rate I Wish You All The Best 5 out of 5 bookworms. Please don’t just take my word for it. Add it on Goodreads and enjoy it for yourself.

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I Wish You All The Best is the first book I’ve seen my touch aversion represented in. What is representation you’ve recently seen for the first time or that you’re still waiting to see?


TW/CW:

  • Queerphobia
  • Misgendering
  • Psychological abuse (parent-to-child)
  • Mention of physical abuse (parent-to-child)
  • Anxiety attack
  • Rejection from parents

As always, please let me know in the comments if you’ve read the book and noticed a TW/CW I should add. Or, you can do so anonymously via this form.