Mini Review: Sisters’ Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

36374394Sisters’ Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud

Release date: May 29th, 2018
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Poetry
Format: eBook

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2015 World Poetry Slam Champion and Woman of the World co-Champion Emtithal “Emi” Mahmoud presents her hauntingly beautiful debut poetry collection.

Brimming with rage, sorrow, and resilience, this collection traverses an expansive terrain: genocide; diaspora; the guilt of surviving; racism and Islamophobia; the burdens of girlhood; the solace of sisterhood; the innocence of a first kiss.  Heart-wrenching and raw, defiant and empowering, Sisters’ Entranceexplores how to speak the unspeakable.

It’s been a while since I read a poetry book and this one knocked me off of my feet. It truly was that good! Author Emtithal Mahmoud has constructed such a powerful collection of diverse and hard hitting poems…you really need to pick this book up for yourself.

Throughout the collection, Mahmoud never holds back. She’s brutally honest, open and explicit. Her poetry explores topics related to war, genocide, feminism, Islamophobia and discrimination. At times her wording can be quite jarring, a slap in the face, but I appreciate her ability to write as she sees or feels it. Isn’t that what poetry is? An honest outpouring of emotion? Her words are truly powerful as she has this ability to make what she’s writing about come to life. It also provided me with a perspective on life during war. I have taught about the genocide in Darfur, but have always read books or watched videos from a primarily male point of view. It was refreshing to her a woman’s voice. I hope that we will soon have more of these available. Also, since conflict in Sudan is ongoing, I really hope that this helps to highlight how many more people are impacted by war and conflict. 

My only issue with this collection is that at times it sounds repetitive. Perhaps different words could have been used? However, this didn’t take away from its raw emotion and power. I will definitely be looking for more from this author in the future.

** I highly recommend checking out Mahmoud’s TEDMED talk on Darfur and this video from the Individual Poetry Slam Championship.


About the Author

96e487713d87f342620abe6c5b6ae0a5d459573c_254x191Emi Mahmoud is the reigning 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and 2016 Woman of the World Co-Champion. One of BBC’s 100 Most Inspirational Women of 2015, Emi studied Anthropology and Molecular Cellular & Developmental Biology at Yale University and is a Darfur native from the heart of Philadelphia. A UNHCR High Profile Supporter, a Yale Global Health Fellow and Leonore Annenberg Scholar, Emi dedicates her time to spreading understanding through poetry and advocacy, particularly for the cause of refugees and disadvantaged communities the world over.

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Book Blitz: Cinderella’s Inferno by F.M. Boughan

CINDERELLA'S INFERNO RDB

Cinderella'sInferno coverCinderella’s Inferno by F.M. Boughan
Release date: May 28th, 2018
Publisher: Month9Books
Genres: Young adult, fantasy

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It’s been two years since Ellison defeated her stepsisters and sent her evil stepmother back into the Abyss.

Though she’s learning to control her dark magic and has spent time traveling with Prince William and bringing peace to the kingdom, one fact remains. She is a necromancer and he is a paladin of light. And so, the king refuses to give his blessing for them to marry.

To appease his father, William has begun to avoid her. But when even her younger brother Edward grows distant, Ellison learns her mother’s spirit has been visiting Edward in secret, threatening to overwhelm him with her own loneliness and longing. When Ellison accidentally touches her mother’s spirit, her tainted touch condemns her mother’s spirit to eternal damnation.

Ellison resolves to descend into hell to save her mother’s soul and bring her physical body back to the world of the living. William hopes this good deed will bring Ellison into favor and finally allow them to be wed.

But the journey through hell is fraught with peril. Temptations abound and the demons Ellison sent back to the Abyss are thirsty for revenge.

Evil cannot be defeated without sacrifice—but when that sacrifice means choosing between the ones Ellison loves and her very own life, how far is she willing to go to make her family whole again?


Book Excerpt:

William’s panic was plainly engraved across his features. “I won’t let them do this to you. You’re my betrothed. You belong here in the palace, by my side, not shackled in the dungeon.”

He should have known as well as I did that a prison couldn’t hold me, but seeing the disgust on his father’s face … well, there was a greater plot at play than I understood, and I didn’t want William to suffer even more for my sake than I already asked of him.

“It’s all right.” I released my conjured spirit, permitting its return beyond the veil. It slipped through a seam in the air and the soldiers didn’t waste a moment before placing the restraints around my wrists.

“I’ll have you out as fast as I can,” William said, placing a chaste and yet defiant kiss on my forehead. He lingered, and so in my own surge of defiance—oh, my damnable soul, I cannot explain why I do these things—I lifted my head to slide my mouth upon his. His lips were soft and tasted of sweet wine, and I felt him press against me without hesitation.

It had been so long. I wished to sink into the earth with him then and there and remain that way for all time, but gasps arose from the assembled guests and a tug at my sleeve pulled us apart. The soldiers had grasped my shoulders and arms to drag me from William, who watched, still stricken and unable to calm his emotions, as I was pulled from the Great Hall.

As the doors swung closed behind me, my mother’s face came once again to mind. Without William, I wouldn’t be able to help her. I would never see her again, and she might spend all eternity enduring new tortures—horrors unimaginable, paying for sins she did not commit—alongside the most abhorrent dregs of humanity.

I could not allow it. How much was I willing to give?


About the Author:

FaithF.M. Boughan is a bibliophile, a writer, and an unabashed parrot enthusiast. She can often be found writing in local coffee shops, namely because it’s hard to concentrate with a cat lying on the keyboard and a small, colorful parrot screaming into her ear. Her work is somewhat dark, somewhat violent, somewhat hopeful, and always contains a hint of magic.

You can follow Faith on Twitter (@FaithBoughan) for plenty of flailing about food (she likes to cook!), TV shows (she watches too many), and world dance (did you know she’s been performing & instructing in Bollywood-style dance for over 8 years?).

Or catch her on Facebook where she just might post pictures of her adorable cat & bird… among other things.

F.M. Boughan is represented by Bill Contardi of Brandt & Hochman.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads 


Giveaway:

Click here to enter a rafflecopter giveaway. 1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Good luck! 🙂

Blitz: Moonlight And Midtown by Christina Bauer

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PrintMoonlight And Midtown (Fairy Tales of the Magicorum #1.5) by Christina Bauer
Release date: May 27th, 2018
Publisher: Monster House Books
Genres: Young adult, fantasy

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After battling werewolves and evil aunties, Bryar Rose is ready to enjoy her new life. No more crazy aunties. Her curse is toast. And Bry’s new man, Knox, is literally a dream come true. Best of all, Bry will soon attend a regular high school. Forget those sketchy tutors! To get ready, Bry is dedicating the rest of her summer to some serious back-to-school shopping with her best friend, Elle. It’s a blast, except for one thing:

Mysterious strangers are following Bry across Manhattan.

All these stalkers have oddly familiar scents and an uncanny ability to slip into the shadows whenever Bry tries to confront them. Even worse, their presence is making Knox act crazy with a capital C.

But Bry’s having none of it. Enough of her life has already been ruined by secrets. With Elle’s help, Bry plans to confront these strangers, find out what they want, and send them packing. Trouble is, the truth about their identity won’t be so easy to manage, especially when Bry finds out how these stalkers could change her future with Knox…and not for the better.


Book Excerpt:

7 p.m. Time to get dressed. In other words, time to change from “seventeen-year-old slob” into “cool Manhattan socialite.” Crossing my bedroom, I open my closet door and wince. A few holiday-themed sweaters line the top shelf. Clusters of bare wooden hangers knock against one another, wind-chime style. Out of my once-awesome collection of footwear, only two lonely flip-flips now collect dust on the floor. They don’t even match.

No question about it. Being a werewolf is a murder on your wardrobe.

And I have an art opening to attend tonight. Bummer.

On reflex, I turn around, ready to sift through the contents of my dresser. Then I remember I don’t have a dresser anymore. Whenever I shift, I lock myself in my bedroom. My wolf smashed all the furniture in here weeks ago. In fact, she really destroyed my dresser, gnawing the wood into chips. These days, my bedroom’s decorated with a single mattress and tons of claw marks on the walls. I’ve taken to keeping my underthings in a drawer in the bathroom.

A sad weight settles onto my shoulders. My aunties kept me locked in a penthouse so they could hide my true magical nature from me. With the help of my bf Knox and my bff Elle, I broke free from their plans and tricks. There’s no hiding the truth from me any more. I can wield all three types of magic: fairy, shifters, and witch. Even so, I’m still trapped in my apartment because who wants to spontaneously shift into a werewolf on Fifth Avenue and then end up naked on the sidewalk?

Not me.

But tonight’s art opening is with other Magicorum kids like me, so shifting shouldn’t be a big deal. Plus, my boyfriend Knox will be there with me, and he’s a were Alpha, so he can help me control when I change forms.

All of which leads to the fact that I need something to wear tonight.
Back to the closet I go.

For a full minute, I stare at the empty hangers as if my old wardrobe will somehow magically reappear. Not happening.

Every time I shift, I shred another outfit. And lately, I’ve been shifting a ton. Some mornings, my wolf tears out six times before I down my bagel, and it’s all because I first took my werewolf form only a month ago on my seventeenth birthday. Most weres spend a lifetime mastering their wolf. I’ve had four weeks.
At least I have a master plan to fix my wardrobe issue: a shopping spree in Manhattan’s secret network of stores run by the fae. My best friend Elle is taking me because she’s both fae and an awesome shopping partner. With any luck, Elle and I will find me some unshreddable magic outfits. That is, if I survive the trip. Fairies are crazy. Plus, most carry a major grudge against weres. About a million years ago, some weres lost their cool and tried to massacre some fae. They didn’t succeed, but fairies have a long memory, and shifters are definitely on their hate list.


About the Author:

AB-Christina-Bauer-picChristina Bauer knows how to tell stories about kick-ass women. In her best selling Angelbound series, the heroine is a part-demon girl who loves to fight in Purgatory’s Arena and falls in love with a part-angel prince. This young adult best seller has driven more than 500,000 ebook downloads and 9,000 reviews on Goodreads and retailers. The first three books in the series are now available as audiobooks on Audible and iTunes.

Bauer has also told the story of the Women’s March on Washington by leading PR efforts for the Massachusetts Chapter. Her pre-event press release—the only one sent out on a major wire service—resulted in more than 19,000 global impressions and redistribution by over 350 different media entities including the Associated Press.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

Website | Goodreads Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway:

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. It’s international and open to anyone. One winner will receive:

  • a decal sticker for the launch of Moonlight And Midtown
  • a charm bracelet to celebrate the cover reveal of The Sign of the Serpent
  • earrings to celebrate the cover reveal of Zinnia
  • a speaker to celebrate the release of the Thrax audiobook
  • an electronic copy of Moonlight And Midtown

Read More From the Series:

WR Entire Series

Extraordinary Means Book Tag

Book Blitz_I feel like I need more book tags in my life right now. I found this one on Thrice Read and loved how it was short and sweet. So, without further delay, here’s what I would give up for various bookish opportunities…


Questions:

1. I WOULD GIVE UP THE INTERNET FOR A MONTH FOR A SIGNED FIRST EDITION OF THIS BOOK…

Persuasion by Jane Austen….my absolute favourite book of all time! I collect various editions of it and spend a lot of time on my travels in old bookstores looking for copies of it. A signed first edition would be my prized possession for sure. I would just be afraid to touch it. It’s waaaaaaay too precious!

2. I WOULD GIVE UP PIZZA FOR A YEAR IF IT MEANT I COULD SIT NEXT TO THIS AUTHOR ON A LONG PLANE RIDE…

Hmmmm….I don’t even know how to answer this. I would feel bad for the author because the conversation with me would be so awkward or I would just sit there and quietly freakout inside my head. Hahaha! If I did have to pick one author it would be Leigh Bardugo. I love her characters and worlds…she’s one of my favourite authors and I’ve adored everything that she’s released.

3. I WOULD SIT THROUGH A THOUSAND HOURS OF COMMERCIALS IF IT WOULD ENSURE THAT HOLLYWOOD MADE THIS BOOK INTO A MOVIE…

Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom…I want a miniseries featuring all of its precious characters! A movie is too short and wouldn’t do it justice. It would be dark, moody and gritty. AHHHH…a while ago someone posted fake Netflix posters for a series and they just made my heart go crazy. I know I’d watch it over and over again.

4. I WOULD NEVER READ A NEW BOOK AGAIN IF IT MEANT I COULD LIVE INSIDE THIS BOOK…

Ok….so now I feel like I’m just fangirling over Leigh Bardugo’s books, but I would love to live in Rivka as featured in the Grisha Verse series. The setting just captured my imagination and hasn’t let go years after I read Shadow and Bone, the first book in the series. I don’t know what it exactly is…the magic, the political intrigue, the danger, its imperial Russia inspiration…but I just can’t get enough of it!

5. I WOULD LET MY GOOGLE SEARCH HISTORY BE MADE PUBLIC IF IT MEANT I COULD BE BEST FRIENDS WITH THIS AUTHOR…

Hahaha….here we go again! This tag has officially become a Leigh Bardugo fan letter.

6. I WOULD DONATE EVERYTHING I OWN TO GOODWILL IF IT MEANT I COULD DATE THIS BOOK CHARACTER IN REAL LIFE…

I’ve always loved Nikolai Lantsov from the Grisha Verse series. Oh, and then there is the classic heartthrob Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. They both just make my heart beat faster *sigh*


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Review: The White Rose by Amy Ewing

24585267The White Rose by Amy Ewing
Release date: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, dystopian
Format: eBook

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Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

As soon as I finished the first book in The Lone City trilogy I had to start this one right away. The cliffhanger at the end of The Jewel had my heart in my throat. I had to know what would happen next. So, if you haven’t read the first book in the series, this one is most definitely not for you. As hard as it is to write reviews for sequels, I promise not to disclose any spoilers related to the plot or characters.

This book picks up right where its predecessor left off. It starts off all action packed and full of drama, but then unfortunately falls into the second book slump. I totally enjoyed it but not as much as the first. It lacked the urgency and pacing of The Jewel. The first half of the book was the reader being told what the characters were doing. They went here…now they will try to go here… I was bored and kept wondering how this could have been written by the same author? However, things do get better in the second half. A lot of the questions I had about the world were answered and a new magical dimension was added to the story. Also, some scenes from the first book that I didn’t blink an eye at where connected to others and I just love when authors do that. Everything is mentioned for a reason and impacts something later on. This really saved the story for me and setup the action for the finale in book three.

While Violet is still very much the focus of the book, I really enjoyed how in The White Rose many supporting characters had their backgrounds and personalities fleshed out. I honestly didn’t care about Ash in the first book, but here he becomes much more than the love interest. His story broke my heart and I wish I could’ve given him a huge hug. Raven, Violet’s best friend, also features more and I just loved how brutally honest and upfront she was. Several other interesting characters were also introduced in the book. I also enjoyed how they weren’t just there to be there, but added another dimension to the conversation on choices and free will, two of the main themes of the series.

So, while this sequel wasn’t what I expected, it was still an enjoyable read that added some interesting twists to the storyline. Things are now really, really interesting for the finale. I have so many questions and guesses as to what will happen next. Bring on book three!!!!


About the Author

6549285Amy Ewing grew up in a small town outside Boston, where her librarian mother instilled a deep love of reading at a young age. Amy moved to New York City in 2000 to study theater at New York University. Unfortunately, her acting career didn’t quite pan out. She worked in restaurants, as an administrative assistant, a nanny, and a sales representative for a wine distributor before the lack of creativity in her life drove her to begin writing.

Amy received her MFA in Creative Writing for Children from The New School, where she was lucky enough to meet a fabulous community of YA writers who keep her sane on a daily basis. She lives in Harlem, where she spends her days writing, eating cheese, and occasionally binge watching The Vampire Diaries.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

36347830Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
Release date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Format: eBook

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Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

This was a difficult book to review because while I enjoyed parts of it, others left me wanting something more, like it was incomplete and didn’t reach its full potential. It was definitely a book of ups and downs, which makes me rather sad because it could have been amazing.

The book had many beautifully written sections that were lushly described and almost lyrical. These fired up my imagination and completely engrossed me in the story. However, other parts were basically just tell, tell and tell. This character has a wonderful family, two brothers….but we never meet these people. We never actually get to see examples of this wonderful family. So many aspects of the book are written this way and if we were actually shown things rather than told, I truly believe it would have been more believable and I would have felt more of a connection to the characters.

Talking about the characters, they seemed too perfect to me. The female lead, Jasminda, was pleasant to read about. She was strong, brave and empathetic. Her love interest, Jack, was so kind and understanding. Together, their romance was very unbelievable, at least for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the whole destined to be together forever, true love conquers all thing? *shrugs* A lot of their interactions were kind of silly, with cheesy one-liners. The whole thing felt like a bit too much.

The book could have went in a very different direction and as a result missed out on opportunities to discuss racism and xenophobia. Jasminda lives in a world where the people appear to be predominately white, like her love interest Jack. The beginning of the story kind of touched on how she and her people were discriminated against and how hard it was for her and Jack to be together, but the message isn’t clear. It gets lost in the love story, which completely dominates everything else. Yes, it’s fantasy, but I wish more fantasy books would focus on topics that impact the real world.

The last few chapters in the story felt quite rushed and were basically a set-up for the sequel. While it had moments of amazingness I don’t think I’ll be picking up the next book anytime soon.


About the Author

9870934L. Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Bout of Books Wrap-Up

December Wrap Up

The latest round of the read-a-thon Bout of Books has just ended. I’m extremely pleased with myself. I was actually able to read almost all of the books on my TBR and even wrote reviews for them (which will be posted soon)!


What is Bout of Books?

The Bout of Books is read-a-thon organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It began on Monday, May 14th and ended on Sunday, May 20th. Bout of Books is a low-pressure read-a-thon. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional.


What I Read:

  • Sister’s Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud: This poetry collection was an emotional rollercoaster. It tackles some very tough topics such as genocide, war, racism and prejudice in a very honest and brutal manner. While it was difficult to read at times, I’m glad that I did. I look forward to seeing more from this author. screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-2-02-59-pm-copy
  • Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi: This collection of short stories was beyond beautiful. I love everything that Chokshi writes! It was magical, romantic, heartbreaking and exceeded all of my expectations. A must read for fans of the full-length novels The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of WishesScreen Shot 2017-02-19 at 2.02.59 PM
  • Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang: I’ve been meaning to read this short story for a long time. It’s completely unique and unlike anything that I’ve read before. I’m always amazed at how people can fit so many complex ideas into less than 50 or so pages and have it all completely click into place. I’ve added a bunch of the author’s other short stories to my TBR. I’m completely intrigued by their ideas. Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 2.02.59 PM copy 5

I also started Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed but ran out of time to finish it. I’m on page 193 and hope to have time to read the rest of it in the next few days. So far, I am really enjoying it. It completely deserves all of the positive reviews that its been receiving. 🙂

Did you participate in Bout of Books? What did you read?