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


A sweet and sexy romance you need to read this Summer | Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

A sweet and sexy romance you need to read this Summer | Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

LINKS

A sweet and sexy romance you need to read this Summer | Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
cover(Goodreads)

 BOOK DEPOSITORY ADD ON GOODREADS WORDERY

SYNOPSIS

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

Should You read The Bride Test by Helen Hoang?

He was ignoring everyone, including her, at this expensive wedding. So he could read a novel about alien demon things.

A sweet and sexy romance you need to read this Summer | Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test is Helen Hoang’s second novel after her very popular and successful debut The Kiss Quotient. The Bride Test is, in a nutshell, a heartwarming and sexy romance novel with a neurodiverse rep and an outlook into immigration in the US. Let me tell you a bit about the story.

The protagonists are Khai Diep and Esme Tran who meet under the most unusual of circumstances but ultimately fall in love. Khai is vietnamese, autistic and if you’ve read The Kiss Quotient, is unlike Stella. Khai is also Michael’s(from the Kiss Quotient) cousin and works as a tax consultant. We learn of Khai’s autism from the prologue when he tries to bring himself to cry at his friend’s funeral but he can’t. One of his relatives even accuses him of not crying. This is also where Khai mentions that nobody in his family understands what “autism” really is and this is so true.

Then, we meet Esme Tran who’s a single mother and working as a hotel maid. It is in this hotel she’s made a proposition that could change her family’s life. The proposition is made by none other than Khai’s mother who worries for her son and is trying to look for a Vietnamese daughter-in-law. After many failures, it seems that she has finally found her ideal daughter-in-law in Esme. Khai’s mother promises her a summer in California, where Esme can see if she can make Khai fall in love with her and marry her, but if not, she will return back to her family.

Sounds Crazy? Mail order bride anyone? I thought that too but read on...

Esme thought it was crazy too! Who’s this crazy woman who’s offering her to seduce and marry her son and in exchange she will get financial security for her family? Will Khai even go through with it even after he finds out Esme is a mother? However, all of her doubts go away when she stares at her daughter’s face and she agrees to seduce and if possible, marry Khai.

I loved how diverse the book was. You can see how different Khai’s character is from Stella. Helen shows us how wide the autism spectrum can be. Not everyone with autism behaves the same way. Then, there’s the Viet rep and it’s also mentioned in the author’s note that Esme’s character is loosely based on Helen’s mother..Through Esme, we not only get a glimpse at how difficult immigration can be. Esme’s a single mother and I think the reason she didn’t tell Khai about her daughter because she was afraid of the consequences. She left her job back in Vietnam for the promise of a more fulfilling life for her family in the United States. Sure, the US is not a dreamboat of a place to live now but to Esme it was a place she could start anew..learn English properly, finish her high school education and perhaps even go to college.

A sweet and sexy romance you need to read this Summer | Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Instagram: @book_rambler

Please, don’t let me make you cry,” he whispered in her ear. “If something is wrong, tell me so I can fix it. Please.

Also, consent plays such a major role in Hoang’s novels along with all the other representation. This is why the sex scenes are so steamy that you’ll feel like you’re reading/ watching soft porn..which is totally okay(more than okay :-D). There’s a scene when Khai is unsure of what he did after having sex and his brother and cousin(Michael) explain aftercare to him..and I just loved it so much. I don’t know if guys/girls actually explain foreplay and after care to anyone in need but it is so very important!

My heart works in a different way, but it’s yours.

excuse my rambling

Speaking of brother, *holy wow* I need Quan’s book like right now!!!!!!

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you loved The Kiss Quotient, love reading diverse books, love reading stories about loving ourselves and taking the time to do it..gah..It was such a beautiful novel and I am utterly in love with it.. if it wasn’t already clear.

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

VERDICT: 


Author: Connect with Author Helen Hoang here.

  • Publisher: Corvus
  • Publication Date(UK): 6th June , 2019
  • Paperback: 296 Pages
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

What do you think? Will you read the Bride Test? If you have read it already, then let me know if you liked it or not. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

An epic fantasy that you will want to read over and over again | ARC Review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

LINKS

We Hunt the Flame Goodreads image

                  BOOK DEPOSITORY ADD ON GOODREADS


SYNOPSIS

WHY SHOULD YOU ABSOLUTELY ADDWE HUNT THE FLAME TO YOUR TBR?

People lived because she killed.

People died because he lived.

-Hafsah faizal, We Hunt the Flame

I wondered, “How do I even write a review of this book?” I thought that because it’s difficult to articulate my thoughts on such a wonderful and unique book.

I read We Hunt the Flame after reading The Priory and I desperately needed to read another epic fantasy book. So, I picked up my copy of We Hunt the Flame,which is also in my list of the most anticipated debut releases of 2019 and it BLEW ME AWAY with its awesomeness. 

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is the story of a girl who killed to keep the people of her village alive and that of a boy who killed people for a living.

This epic story is about a place called Arawiya where there is no more magic. Our protagonists are Zafira and Nasir, both of them live in separate countries and survive in their own ways. Zafira is a huntress – known as THE HUNTER – in a place where women are not allowed to do any work whatsoever. Zafira has no choice but to disguise herself as a man and hunt to feed the people of her village. Nasir is the complete opposite of Zafira. People die because he lives. He is an assassin who kills people without question on the orders of his father, the Sultan. 

Maybe the tiny lions were merely ornaments, a display of pride for the victory over a man who defied men, only to be slain by women.

– HAFSAH FAIZAL, WE HUNT THE FLAME

Now, Arawiya is in danger for the cursed forest called the Arz is threatening to swallow the land in whole. Soon, Zafira and Nasir have to unite and embark on a journey for a mysterious object that might bring a stop to the Arz and bring magic back to their world. Can they find the object before Arz lays destruction to their world? or, will they perish along with their people?

What’s awesome about it is, of course, the story( did I convince you?), the flawed-but-I still-want-to-cuddle-them characters, the utterly marvelous worldbuilding, enemies-to-lovers romance and the fantabulous(I don’t know if it’s a real word) writing! 

We hunt the flame, the light in the darkness, the good this world deserves.

– HAFSAH FAIZAL, WE HUNT THE FLAME

Phew! This book made me drool and scream in delight. Not everything is doom and gloom because Altair is there and yes, he might seem like a comedic side kick at first but he has some stories to tell as well. Also, this book is frickin’ QUOTE WORTHY! Let me tell you, if I highlighted books then the entire book would be a frickin’ rainbow vomit.

I'm going to stop my rambling here because We Hunt the Flame has apparently made me insane. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book if you read fantasy(YA) or want to read fantasy, want to read a diverse book, want a book about a super eccentric/murderous/totally cool group of misfits, and want a slow burn romance that will make YOU SWEAT and SCREAM . Pre-order the book or add it to your TBR(whatever suits you) now!!

(Huge) Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

VERDICT:

Author: Connect with Author Hafsah Faizal here .

  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication Date(US): 14th May 2019
  • ARC: 480 Pages

Will you pick up We Hunt the Flame after reading this review? If you’ve already read the ARC, let me know your thoughts down below!

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