Mini Reviews: Something like Gravity by Amber Smith, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Mini Reviews: Something like Gravity by Amber Smith, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Hi everyone! Today, I thought to do a Mini-Review post of two diverse books which are completely different to each other in so many ways. I’ve participated in two readathons back-to-back and because of that, my TBR is 15/16 books lighter and my review pile that much heavier. With that said, let’s begin my mini-review of Something like Gravity by Amber Smith and Patrons Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. Both are gifted by the author and the publisher(UK) respectively.

Something like Gravity by Amber Smith

For fans of Love, Simon and Eleanor and Park, a romantic and sweet novel about a transgender boy who falls in love for the first time—and how first love changes us all—from New York Times bestselling author Amber Smith.
Goodreads | Book Depository | Wordery

Chris and Maia aren’t off to a great start.
A near-fatal car accident first brings them together, and their next encounters don’t fare much better. Chris’s good intentions backfire. Maia’s temper gets the best of her.

But they’re neighbors, at least for the summer, and despite their best efforts, they just can’t seem to stay away from each other.

The path forward isn’t easy. Chris has come out as transgender, but he’s still processing a frightening assault he survived the year before. Maia is grieving the loss of her older sister and trying to find her place in the world without her. Falling in love was the last thing on either of their minds.
But would it be so bad if it happened anyway?

My Thoughts

Something like Gravity can be described as a beautifully written YA contemporary. It’s about a transgender boy Chris who’s spending his summer months at his aunt’s place where he meets a girl named Maia. Both of them are haunted by their pasts and these summer months will change them forever. Chris’ backstory is one I found to be too traumatic and there’s no real closure to be soon which I really wanted to see. Maia’s character, however, had major development from living in her dead sister’s shadow with her divorced parents ignoring her to gaining closure and perhaps a semblance of her own identity. The author has such a way with words that I never felt bored throughout the book. The characters go from friends to lovers but their ending is left open-ended. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a light read but as I mentioned before, Chris’ backstory is triggering and I would advise that you proceed with caution.

Publication date: June 18, 2019
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Wordery

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.

My Thoughts

Patron of Saints is an own voices novel that I was very excited about and it delivered on its promise. Jay, a Filipino American high school senior, on hearing the news of his cousin’s death travels to Philippines alone. The author masterfully displays the contrast between a High School senior’s life in America and Philippines; for example, in one page we see Jay’s friend smoking weed without any fear but on the other hand, Jay finds that the situation is reversed in the Phillippines..he sees that if he’s seen smoking weed, he could be killed on site. After arriving in the Phillippines, he finds that almost no one in his family is willing to talk about his cousin, it’s as if he never existed. At every moment, he views himself as an outsider despite being born in the Phillippines; at every turn, as he uncovers more secret, Jay realizes how naive and sheltered he has been all these years.

This is not a “happy” book, but rather an important one which I’ll highly recommend. Most of the news about this drug war is written by journalists who probably are not native and thus, we do not get a “clear” view of the situation. Randy Ribay, the author, through Jay’s perspective gives us a view of the situation as a foreigner and through him, we also learn of others’ thoughts who have been affected directly or indirectly.

In his author’s note, Ribay mentions a rough estimate of people who have killed because of the President declaring war on drugs. Imagine 20,000 people (could be more) who were someone’s son, or father or brother, who could have been rehabilitated, were not given a chance to exercise their choice between life and death. Although Jay got more than what he bargained for, he grew as a character and closer to his family which was beautiful to watch.

Publication date: June 27, 2019

Have you read either of these two books? If not, then will you be adding any of them to your TBR? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

Bookstagram & Creative Blog Tour: Spin the Dawn, written by Elizabeth Lim

Bookstagram & Creative Blog Tour: Spin the Dawn, written by Elizabeth Lim

Hi everyone! Today I’m excited to participate in the bookstagram & creative blog tour for SPIN THE DAWN by Elizabeth Lim hosted by MTMC Tours & PRH International!

Project Runway meets Mulan, this Silk Road-inspired fantasy is about a tailor who must sew 3 dresses of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars to save her kingdom! This is the first installment in The Blood of Stars duology released on July 9th, 2019 from Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Check below my tour stop and make sure to visit all the bookstagram & creative stops for a chance to win an international edition of this book + swag!

About the book:

  • Title: Spin the Dawn
  • Series: The Blood of Stars #1
  • Author: Elizabeth Lim
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • Publishing Date: July 9th, 2019
  • ISBN: 9780593118443
  • Genres: YA Fantasy

Buy: PRH International | Amazon | Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

Should You read Spin the Dawn?

Spin the Dawn is about a girl Maia who dreams of becoming an Imperial tailor but cannot because of her gender. Eventually, she has no choice but to take her father’s place when a royal messenger summons her father for the position of the imperial tailor. Maia hatches a plan to go in the disguise of her brother. Reaching the palace, Maia finds out that she wasn’t told the entire story, that she had to complete with other tailors for the coveted position and that the emperor’s bride-to-be will choose the winner. Day after day, Maia has to maintain her disguise; evade backstabbing tailors, dangerous court games and the attention of the Lord Enchanter Edan.

As the competition reaches its end, Maia wins but it comes at too much of a high price. As the Imperial Tailor, Maia’s first task is to make three gowns for emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be and they must be made from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. Will Maia succeed in this impossible task or will she die like all others before her?

This was really a mashup of Project Runway and Mulan; well, if Project Runway included contestants physically harming each other and Mulan was a tailor and…nope, not saying anything else. A very familiar fantasy trope was at play in this book : If you’re female, you’re doomed and you’ve got to “prove” yourself. Maia grew up with a thread in one hand and a needle in other; it would be sacrilege if she couldn’t become a master tailor. However, circumstances were pointing towards Maia to either marry or spend her life alone. The rules in A’landi are particularly harsh if someone finds out a woman is masquerading as a man.

“My whole life, I’d been told what I couldn’t do because I was a girl. Well, this was my chance to find out. The only thing I could do was take it.”

There is also a mention of a war at the beginning between the Emperor of A’landi and his Shansen(warlord) but not much is clear as to why it happened but magic was involved, that much is clear. Magic plays an important role throughout the story and although I can’t tell you why but it is pretty cool. The world-building is beautiful but not complete( I guess it’s because this is book one) and the journey to gather the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon and the blood of the stars was the most enjoyable portion of the story for me!

I also want to talk about Edan who I immediately likened with the Darkling in the beginning but he was anything but. Edan or the Lord Enchanter(as everyone calls him) was the living-breathing example of everything Maia shouldn’t trust but boy, she was so wrong. Edan is smart, funny and loyal. He doesn’t everything in his power to help Maia even though it comes at a price.

Overall, I recommend it to you if you love fantasy, retellings with a twist, adventure, a fierce and loyal heroine who’d do anything to protect her loved ones, unlikely romance, and magic.

Thanks to the MTMC Tours and PRH for including me on the blog tour!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


International Tour-wide Giveaway:



Head over to my Instagram account for a chance to win an international edition of Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim + swag! And don’t forget to check all the accounts/blogs participating for extra entries!!!

Tour Schedule:

July 15
@thereaderandthechef – Bookstagram + Blog

July 16
@Bookslovereaders – Bookstagram

July 17
@paperfury – Bookstagram + Blog

July 18
@erhibiscus – Bookstagram

July 19
@book_rambler – Bookstagram + Blog

July 20
@annreads – Bookstagram

July 21
@linathebookaddict – Bookstagram + Blog

July 22
@womanon – Bookstagram

July 23
@paperbacksandpen – Bookstagram + Blog

July 24
@giota_the_reader – Bookstagram

July 25
@Shaked_reads – Bookstagram + Blog

Hosted by:

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Soul of the Sword by Julie Kagawa

  • Publication Date: 25th June, 2019
  • Paperback: 464 pages     
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Buy: Book Depository | Wordery

THE TIME OF THE WISH APPROACHES… 

Yumeko the shapeshifter had one task: take her piece of the ancient and powerful scroll to the Steel Feather temple and prevent the summoning of the great Kami Dragon. But she has a new enemy now. The demon Hakaimono, has escaped and possessed the samurai she thought would protect her, Kage Tatsumi of the Shadow Clan.

Hakaimono has done the unthinkable and joined forces with Genno, the Master of Demons, to break his curse and set himself free. But Genno wishes to overthrow the empire and cover the land in darkness. To do that he needs only one thing, the scroll Yumeko is hiding. As the paths of Yumeko and the possessed Tatsumi cross again the entire empire will be thrown into chaos.

AND CHAOS WILL DARKEN AN EMPIRE.”

Should You read Soul of the Sword?

“This is why I don’t trust magic,” he muttered, leaning back against the tree. “Inanimate objects like swords and scrolls should not WANT to be found. They should not want anything.”

Did. You. See. the COVER?!?! Ohmygosh. I love the US one more than this cover I’ve featured(UK one), but you can’t deny that this one is pretty too! Anyway, I should warn you that there will be spoilers ahead if you’ve not read Shadow of the Fox and of course, there’s some physical violence in this book..so, proceed with caution.

Shadow of the Fox was all about traveling and it ended when Yumeko and Tatsumi reach their destination. Soul of the Sword is all about action and I’m here for it! There are multiple perspectives here too but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow this time. We see Yumeko and gang deciding about how to free Tatsumi from Hakaimono without destroying themselves in return. They’re also -still- trying to secure the piece of an ancient scroll, Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, away from the demons and people with nefarious intentions reach.  Hakaimono, in Tatsumi’s body, joins up with the Master of Demons to retrieve the scroll piece so he can use the wish to free himself from the cursed sword. Will Yumeko be able to save Tatsumi? or, will the entire empire be destroyed at the hands of Hakaimono?

The world-building was incredibly done and there are more monsters and mythical creatures in this book. Surprisingly, I grew to like the characters more and Yumeko is not a naive little half-kitsune anymore. Yumeko is still not adept at recognizing sarcasm so that makes for some pretty interesting conversations.

Reika: “It wouldn’t surprise me if one of us accidentally ‘tripped’ and stumbled off the path while following him.”

Yumeko: “Does that mean the Path will be very bumpy, or that Naganori-san will not help us if we do?”

I definitely expected a POV of Hakaimono and it was interesting, I dare say, being in his head. He’s described as the most powerful demons of all and while, it’s not comforting to read when he’s torturing Tatsumi, I must say I enjoyed reading his views and his struggles with Tatsumi. The pace was faster this time and the stakes were higher. There’s also the development of yet another romance and you won’t hear me complaining.

The twist ,in the end, was completely mind-boggling! I wasn’t expecting it to head in THAT direction, to say the least.

“I didn’t think Naganori’s Shadow magic would produce flowers and butterflies, unless they were black butterflies that ate your soul, which didn’t seem healthy at all.”

Overall, I recommend this book to you if you loved book one. This is much darker than the first book with action-packed scenes, characters you’ll love and an ending that will make you scream- in vain- for the third book.

Thanks to the publisher for including me on the blog tour and for gifting me a physical copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

About the Author:

Julie Kagawa

You can find more about Julie here

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa

Have you read Soul of the Sword? Did you like Shadow of the fox? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Blog Tour Schedule:

Blog Tour | Review: Soul of the Sword( Shadow of the Fox #2) by Julie Kagawa


Are you willing to loan your womb for a few months? | Review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

Blog Tour | Shadow & Flame(Rime Chronicles #2) by Mindee Arnett

About the Book: Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing   Publication Date: 7th May, 2019   Paperback: 326 Pages    Genre: Science fiction, Dystopia 
Goodreads   Buy:Book Depository | Wordery 

SYNOPSIS

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages–and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money–more than you’ve ever dreamed of–to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery–or worse.

Should You read The Farm by Joanne Ramos?

“You should not raise them to be too tender, like little lambs. Small lambs, soft lambs—they make the best meat; they are always devoured.”

In Joanne Ramos’ The Farm, we see women give up everything in their lives including their children, a relationship or a relative, to become surrogates for wealthy clients. They spend nine months in a gorgeous locale, The Farm, cared and pampered throughout their stay. They are paid monthly and receive a hefty bonus after successful delivery. Sounds like a place where dreams come true, for evryone? Well, you’re wrong. 

The story begins with Jane who’s looking for her cousin Ate in a hospital. Ate is a nurse- a baby nurse- to be specific and her age prevents her from earning a living as a baby nurse. Ate suggests Jane replace her because she needs the money as she’s a single mother who’s struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, she’s forced to leave because of an unfortunate incident at her job as a baby nurse. Soon, Jane finds hope in the promise of The Farm and leaves her baby in the care of her cousin, Ate. Again, what could go wrong? As it’ll turn out, a lot.

Next, we are introduced to Mae and then Reagan. Mae is the woman who designed the surrogacy program. Through Mae’s introduction, we get to know a bit about how the idea for the Farm came about and Mae’s latest client acquisition, a Chinese millionaire called Madame Deng, whose investment will bring millions to The Farm. Then, we meet Reagan, another potential host who unlike most other hosts is rich with an ivy league college degree.

Reagan laughs, surprising herself. It isn’t funny, but it is. It’s all completely ridiculous: three pregnant women carrying other people’s babies talking about second-trimester sex pangs and trying to guess which one of them harbours a billionaire’s fetus.

Let’s come back to Jane again. As Jane is selected as a host in the Farm, Jane becomes pregnant through artificial insemination. Jane follows the rules but soon trouble ensues when she is befriended by another host Lisa. After yet another unfortunate incident, Lisa is spared because of her clients but Jane is punished as Mae informs her that her daughter’s upcoming visit will be canceled. As Jane meets more Filipina hosts, she encounters someone who knows her cousin Ate and that shouldn’t have been a big deal ..but Jane discovers other things that lead to other troubles at The Farm. Now, why is Jane such a big deal in The Farm? What’s going on with Ate? Why has she and Reagan been allowed to meet their “real” clients yet?

Because in America you only have to know how to make money. Money buys everything else.” 

As you can probably guess from my explanation, Jane maybe presents the most throughout the entire story but there are multiple POVs. We hear from Ate, Mae, and Reagan. It’s not at all confusing but manages to give us a clear picture of The Farm, its purpose, and its implications. It did remind me a bit of The Handmaid’s Tale but it was unique on its own. Surrogacy isn’t new but in this story, it is like a currency..the hosts’ bodies(the surrogates) are commodities and they’re in a place where their every move is watched. There are lots of places where you’ll say “What the F*ck” without any hesitation. For example, Mae states that some clients look specifically for black or Asian hosts(even better if they’ve high IQ or are highly educated) while others will look for white and of course, an ivy league educated as if their wombs will magically transfer those qualities to the clients’ baby. There are also ethical issues at play here; for example, when a clients baby is genetically tested and found to have Trisomy-21(the gene for Down’s Syndrome), Mae and the head doctor discusses abortion and ways to protect the company…when the company’s policy to use their best efforts to ensure the wellbeing of the unborn child.

I read the second half of the book in one sitting and I was hooked into the plot which was getting terrifying with every chapter but the ending was a bit unexpected. I hoped to be shocked, gasp in horror..but no, I didn’t.

Overall, I highly recommend The Farm because it tackles important themes like racial inequality, immigration, motherhood, and freedom among other things. It is sharp, witty(at times) and controversial; all of which made this a wonderful debut and I can’t wait to read more of Joanne Ramos’ works.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

About the Author: You can find Joanne Ramos here
A journey into the wonderful yet terrifying world of the unknown | ARC Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

What do you think? Will you ever be able to do what Jane, Reagan and other hosts did? Would you like to work in someplace similar to The Farm? If you plan to read The Farm by Joanne Ramos, then let me know in the comments below! As usual, if you have read it already, then let me know your thoughts below. 

Going back in time to save a life | Book Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

A journey into the wonderful yet terrifying world of the unknown | ARC Review: Dark Shores by Danielle Jensen

ARC Review: Dark Shores by Danielle Jensen

About the Book: Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books  Publication Date: 4th April, 2019  Paperback: 457 Pages  Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads  Buy:Book Depository | Wordery

 

 

SYNOPSIS

Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . . 

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.

 

 

Should You read Opposite of Always?

“Don’t be afraid. Take chances. And when those don’t work out, take more.”

Opposite of Always was the last book I read last month and it was quite an interesting read especially as a YA contemporary. Let me tell you why..

The book’s about Jack who meets a girl called Kate at a party. Sparks fly and no sooner than their relationship takes its course, than it ends as Kate dies. Jack, on hearing this news, rushes to the hospital only to slip on the stairs and fall towards his death. However, Jack really isn’t “dead”. Jack, instead finds himself back at the party where he met Kate. Jack is also surprised that he remembers his life predating his “death” but Kate doesn’t. See, this is where he assumes that he’s alive because he has been given a second chance with Kate..perhaps, even to save her life this time. This second chance turns to a third, fourth and a fifth one.

Now, wait a minute.. how does Kate die? 

Kate has sickle cell anaemia which is a genetically inherited disease and there’s no cure for it. Sure, there are treatments like bone marrow transplants but they’re expensive and Kate’s parents couldn’t afford it. Jack, learning of her disease tries to save money for her treatment and this leads to dire consequences every time. Does Kate and Jack live happily ever after? Well, you’ve to read it for yourself..

I loved the premise of time travel and this is the first time I’ve read it in YA contemporary. Time travel is an extremely tricky topic because if you’re not too careful, you’ll open up multiple alternative timelines. It is difficult to explain but if you’ve watched Avengers Endgame, then you might know what I’m talking about. However, it worked here because of the charcters and the dialogue. The repetitive time loops were a bit annoying but don’t let that stop you from picking up this book. Jack is a funny, cheesy and a very relatable character. His character development is marvellous to watch. You could see him battling with his decisions to save Kate as that meant damning his relationship with his friends or family.

“You don’t strike me as a person who’d let anything dictate her plans, the world included.”

Overall, I highly recommend this book because of it’s unique premise, interesting characters, amazing banter that’ll make you laugh and cry. Personally, I think this will make a great movie rather than a great book but..I will reiterate that you should definitely pick up this book.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT: 

Author: Connect with Author Justin A. Reynolds here.

A journey into the wonderful yet terrifying world of the unknown | ARC Review: Dark Shores by Danielle L. Jensen

What do you think? Will you read Opposite of Always? If you have read it already, then let me know if you liked it or not.