Saturday, February 27, 2021

These Violent Delights - Chloe Gong

Title: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4 stars


The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.


This retelling of the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet is a book that I'd say everyone should get there hands on - especially if you have a thing for 1920's gangsters, love, and a monster that spreads illness and kills people.

I liked that this book took place in the 1920's - I think that fit so well with the rest of the story, and I couldn't imagine it any other way. Gong did a great job of taking a well known and popular play and putting her own twist on it as well. 

There was a lot of great buildup and tension through out the book - both between the gangs, and between Roma and Juliette because they realized they still have all those feelings for each other (obviously!) There were hidden things that were foreshadowed and revealed throughout the book that added to the tension as well.  As with any good book, all is not as it seems in the beginning.

I feel like this book did a good job of taking characters we already know and putting a different spin on them.  The author takes these characters that people have known for hundreds of years and turns them into unique, individual people who stand out in their own right.  Each character had their own reasons for doing what they did, and they stood out well even from other characters that were in their own gangs.  

I loved the added aspect of this story had with the monster/bugs that spread a plague through the city. It added a layer of depth to a well known story, and helped give the characters a reason to spend time together other than just hating their families. 

There was a lot of great back and forth between Roma and Juliette as well. They loved each other, but they denied it, but then they didn't but then this, and it all seems tedious but it worked and built up tension throughout the book. 

I liked that this book explored Juliette's cousins as well, and explored why they were who they were and why the could never be in power in the Scarlet gang or Cai family.  I loved the way the author developed Paul's character as well.  

Overall, this book was definitely worth reading, and if you haven't gotten to it yet, you really should!

If you have read this book let me know what you thought in the comments.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Cemetery Boys - Aiden Thomas


Title: Cemetery Boys
Author: Aiden Thomas
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 5 Stars 


A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave in Aiden Thomas's paranormal YA debut Cemetery Boys, described by Entertainment Weekly as "groundbreaking."

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can't get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his true gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school's resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He's determined to find out what happened and tie off some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.


This is, hands down, one of the best books I've ever read.  I laughed, I cried, I screamed while I was reading it.  And I loved every single page. I did not want this book to end, even when it ripped out my heart, stomped on it, and left me for dead.

Yadriel, a boy from a traditional Latinx family, is trans and struggling to sow his family that he is, in fact, a brujo.  But, when he summons a ghost that is not his deceased cousin, he has a whole new thing to struggle with.

This book has all the ups and downs of teenage life - the parents and aunts and uncles and cousins who annoy you even though you love them. The friends who get dramatic and testy with you. All the drama, you know.  That's like life for many (not all though, come on) teenagers. It also has the added exploration of what it's like for Yadriel to be a queer, trans boy in a traditional Latinx family.  Even when they try, it's a struggle for them, especially his dad, to accept Yad for who he really is.

I loved the family dynamic in this book. I loved that they were such a close knit family who really looked after each other, even when they had their struggles.  I also think this family dynamic really worked in playing into the characters growth and development throughout this book.  Yad's dad, for example, was not as open about Yad being trans as he claimed to be. He'd dead name Yad, and up until the end, he really seemed to have a hard time seeing Yad as his son. I don't want to get to spoiler-y here in case you haven't read the book yet. So let's just say, Yad's dad comes around and it is WONDERFUL!

The character development in this book was on point. Watching Julian grow from this smart mouthed sarcastic, kind of bitter young man, into someone who was still a smart ass but who realized he needed to depend on other people, like his brother was awesome. Watching the changes in Yad and in Yad's dad was great as well. Yad realized that he can be strong even when it feels like the world is beating him down because of who he is. He explored himself, learned what his pronouns are, learned that he can and should demand respect and to be treated decently - he's amazing. And I think Yad's dad was the biggest thing - the way he changed throughout this book was awesome. He went from being this guy who struggled to accept his son, and didn't believe his son could be a brujo, to being a firm believer that Yad really is a brujo and is son. I just could cry.

The events of this book fit together so well, and weaved into each other from one page to the next. Each thing led into this bigger thing, which led into the massive monumental surprise at the end - and let me tell you, getting to that surprise is so worth is because it led to other surprise events that left me screaming and crying and hating a certain character so so much. The whole story was very well written, complete with foreshadowing and lots of tension and buildup throughout the entire book. The story flowed well, and everything that was in this book really worked well together.  

My favorite things are definitely:

* The relationship between Yad and Maritza
* The fact that Maritza is so determined to stick to her beliefs but was willing to do what she had to do save Yad.
* Watching Yad save his friend and his brother all while facing a hard truth about someone he loved was so hard and so amazing.
* Maritza's dogs!

Reader friends, if you've read this book, let me know what you think in the comments. I'm dying to hear from you.  If you haven't read this book - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.

If you feel so inclined, stop by to visit author Aiden Thomas's website to check out their new book coming out in March. It's a Peter Pan retelling called Lost in the Never Woods, and it sounds wonderful.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Deadly Education - Naomi Novik


Title: A Deadly Education
Author: Naomi Novik
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 4 Stars


A Deadly Education is set at Scholomance, a school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death (for real) — until one girl, El, begins to unlock its many secrets.

There are no teachers, no holidays, and no friendships, save strategic ones. Survival is more important than any letter grade, for the school won’t allow its students to leave until they graduate… or die! The rules are deceptively simple: Don’t walk the halls alone. And beware of the monsters who lurk everywhere.

El is uniquely prepared for the school’s dangers. She may be without allies, but she possesses a dark power strong enough to level mountains and wipe out millions. It would be easy enough for El to defeat the monsters that prowl the school. The problem? Her powerful dark magic might also kill all the other students.


El, short for Galadriel, is a student at Scholomance, a school for students who are magically inclined. When we first meet her she is knee deep in the middle of an attack from a mal, she gets rescued by Orion. However she views it as him letting this thing into her room, and chaos ensues.  

They develop an unlikely friendship, mostly because El is convinced at first that he set the monster loose in her room, but also because he keeps volunteering to help with things like going to the shop to get tools. 

This book has all the drama you'd expect from a book filled with all teenagers and NO ADULTS.  With that being said, I loved every single second of this book.  I loved it all. The blood, the gore, the monster intestines. Give. Me. More.

The Only Thing I Didn't Like:
*I just found it odd that there were no adults at this school.  Like, they weren't even allowed into the school, it would literally spit out adults. With that being said, I do think that adds a layer of intrigue to the school and to the book. The school, because it's not just a school for magic but also a magical school, teaches them what they need to know, and gives them what they need to (hopefully) get out alive.

I Loved:
*The way the characters interacted with each other - especially Orion and El. They had a weird yet great relationship. They just had chemistry with each other, and even if they had decided to remain only friends it still would have worked. The other characters added even more to the story, even when they were being snotty brats (Hey, every school has those, right...)
* I know guts and gore don't work for everyone but I loved it. This book would not have been the same if it weren't for the mal attacking, and the students ripping them open and killing them. 
*This story was well developed and worked so well from beginning to end.  You get thrown into the action right at the beginning, and the whole story just builds from there. The author takes everything and builds on it from beginning to end.
*There was a lot of good character development in this story.  Even though some of the characters have some more work to do on themselves, you could tell there was some sort of effort from them to be or do something with themselves. 
*I Loved all the action in this book. I loved that the students always had to be on their toes because they never really knew what was going to happen. There was just this feeling of action and intensity weaving it's way through this book, and it worked.
*I found it intriguing what this school could do, and loved watching the students have to continue to learn and grow with the school because of how it changed from time to time on them. 


Tell me reader friends, if you've read this book what did you think?  Are you as anxious for a sequel as I am?  Let me know what you thought in the comments! 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo


Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Format: Started in paperback, finished in audiobook
Rating: 4.5 Stars


Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land, all while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. But she can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her—or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.


Siege and Storm is certainly a storm.  It is violent, and heartbreaking, and filled with surprises like you wouldn't believe. 

Alina Starkov, the sun summoner, has the first amplifier.  She has all the power that goes with that.  And she has a desire for the other two amplifiers.  

This book explores loyalty, power, leadership, and friendship in a strong and wonderful way.  It also ripped my heart open and stomped on it.

I feel like this book was so well written and so well developed. The story moves along so well, even during the parts where I was so mad with Alina and the other characters that I wanted to scream. BUT that's a sign this is a good book because I was so drawn in! Every part of this book works so well together - the plot, the characters, the way it all developed. It was absolutely wonderful.

The characters in this book were ah-mazing. They all developed even more in this book than they did in Shadow and Bone, and even though there were things that were frustrating (Alina doesn't really need another fucking amplifier come on!) I loved watching where each character went and I can't want to see what happens in the third book. There were some surprises - the twins claiming allegiance to Alina, but not really; Zoya actually coming around and helping with things, and so much more. And there were some things that we all could have expected - Like Vasily wanting to marry Alina AND Vasily turning out to be a complete and total knob. But even with all that it was wonderful to see what happened with the characters and how they developed as the story went on.

What I really loved: 
* Alina
* The way the Grisha mostly came together to do what they needed to do
* The return to the little palace.

What I absolutely didn't like:
* Mal is a control freak and Alina can do better
* Vasily. Just. I can't stand him.
* What did the Darkling do to his own damn mother?! COME ON! 
* Alina's determination to get the third amplifier.  She's letting the power of being the sun summoner go to her head.

Overall - this is another homerun of a book, and if, for some reason, you have not read it yet, you need to get on that! 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

40 in my 40th year

 Greetings fair reader friends.  I find that my 40th birthday month is upon me. 

*insert gasps of shock and awe here*

This year, I've decided to create a list of 40 things I want to accomplish in my 40th year.  Wish me luck and enjoy hanging out with me virtually during all this!

  1. Actually complete my Goodreads goal of 100 books in 2021

  2. Get a tattoo

  3. Make 300 sales in my Etsy Shop

  4. Take an actual vacation somewhere 

  5. Finish writing a novel

  6. Study Spanish, Italian, and Norwegian for at least 15 minutes each every day.

  7. Start a huge ass community garden

  8. Learn yoga

  9. Harness train my cat so he can come outside with me in the summer while I garden

  10. Learn more about paganism, because I find it fascinating

  11. Study Greek and Roman mythology more, because, again, I find it fascinating

  12. Get at least 100 subscribers on my book blog

  13. Start making more booktube videos

  14. Start an online book club/group 

  15. Learn how to build a stacked container garden

  16. Don’t just say I’m going to post more on my blog - but say it and actually do it. 

  17. Actually complete a 24 hour readathon

  18. Do short meditations at least 3 times a week

  19. Complete Camp Nano and NanoWrimo this year

  20. Learn to play guitar

  21. Buy a violin

  22. Learn to play violin

  23. Teach myself to make those large hanging paper decoration

  24. Visit NYC

  25. Learn to do a crown braid

  26. Save more money

  27. Research and start the basics of a nonprofit

  28. Get more young people involved in the heritage center and Arts community in my town

  29. Learn how to make cashew cheese

  30. Drink less pop

  31. Work on being healthier in body and mind

  32. Drink more water every day - and track it to keep myself on task.

  33. Go sledding down a really really big hill

  34. Learn to make lotion and chapstick

  35. Stand on a mountain again

  36. Become completely self-employed

  37. Teach myself to make crocheted toys

  38. Learn to sew better

  39. Stick up for my boundaries

  40. Donate unused/read books that I don’t want anymore.