The ABC Book Challenge | “H”

Book Blitz_I absolutely love everything about this challenge/tag! I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to try it. It’s been a while since I posted but don’t worry…I haven’t forgotten about it! So, without further delay, let’s look at memorable titles and books on my TBR that begin with the letter “h”.


Memorable Titles That Start With “H”

I discovered The Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer through a book tour. Some how I had’t heard of it before even though fantasy is my go-to genre. It’s seriously one of the best written fantasy books that I’ve read! GO GET A COPY FOR YOURSELF!!! Michelle Moran is my absolute favourite historical fiction author. The Heretic Queen is from her ancient Egypt series and is full of romance and political intrigue. Finally, Home is the second novella in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series. I’ve never read anything like this book before. I’m constantly blown away by how much detail and character development Okorafor can squeeze into less than 200 pages. She’s a fabulous writer and I’ve recently added her full-length novels to my TBR to read in the near future.

Books Starting With “H” On My TBR

I loved Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and when I finished reading it I automatically added Hunting Prince Dracula to my TBR. Now that the third book in the series is coming out soon I think I should really pick this book up! I’m always falling behind in book series. I’ve heard so many amazing things about How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake on Twitter and that’s the reason why it’s on my TBR. I don’t own a copy of it yet but really hope to in the near future. Highland Raven by Melanie Karsak is a recent addition to my TBR. It’s a historical fantasy based in Scotland which is why I’m so excited to read it. Plus, I got it on sale which is always a bonus! 🙂


Which memorable books that start with an “H” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤

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Blog Tour: Mirage by Somaiya Daud (Review)

MirageI 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.

32768520Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Release date: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young adult, science fiction

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In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

This. Book. Completely. Utterly. Totally. Destroyed me and I loved every single second of it. Mirage is a MUST read and my favourite book so far this year! I first became interested in reading it after it appeared everywhere on Twitter. So many bloggers were raving about it. I loved the cover and synopsis, but to be completely honest was a bit skeptical. I’ve been burnt multiple times by books that have been overly hyped on Twitter. However, this wasn’t the case with Mirage. This book is the real deal and I can’t stop recommending it to people. YOU REALLY NEED TO READ IT!

The story focuses on a teenaged girl named Amani. She begins the story living on a small forgotten about moon with her family. On her eigthteeth birthday she is kidnapped by imperial droids and taken to the residence of the Vathek royal family. Why? Because Amani looks very similar to the heartless and cruel Princess Maram. The royal family are constantly under threat from rebel groups who want to stop the Vathek’s galactic expansion and the obliteration of cultures, religions and unique ways of life that accompanies a take over. So, since Princess Maram fears for her life, she forces Amani to become her body double or face execution.

The main themes of the novel were cultural identity, family and suppression. From the moment Amani was taken by the Vathek she was constantly challenged. They wanted to strip her of her cultural identity, which is what shaped her into the person that was she. They forced her to leave behind everything she knew and become someone else. She had to learn their mannerisms, etiquette and traditions in order to pretend to be Princess Maram. Failure to do so would result in physical and verbal abuse.

The world building in Mirage was very well done. The blending of science fiction (droids, space travel and advanced technology) with Moroccan culture and traditions made it very unique. I appreciated how the author didn’t dump information on the reader. Aspects of the world, its complex cultures, traditions, peoples, etc. was revealed as time went on. It actually made me feel like Amani…I was trying to learn and navigate a world I knew nothing about. The slow reveal of information made me want to read on and on. For some people this may be a turn-off, but I love it when books do this. Also, the way the author writes was so magical. I could perfectly imagine what was described, how a character was feeling, etc.

The romance was a a tiny bit rushed at the beginning. Amani and Princess Maram’s fiancé, Idris, kind of fell for each other to quickly and easily. However, I can completely forgive it because their relationship was so fascinating and dangerous. Let me just say that I totally adored Idris. Besides being a character that you can’t help but fall in love with, my heart hurt for him and his backstory. It was like he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders and the pain of thousands of people. Him and Amani had so much in common and I couldn’t help but route for them as I read through the story. They are now one of my favourite book couples!

This is seriously one of the best releases of 2018! I’m so happy that I received an early copy, but also so sad because now I’ll have to wait even longer for the sequel. I WANT MORE! Anyway, I can’t recommend this wonderful book enough. GO GET YOUR COPY RIGHT NOW!! I can guarantee you’ll be just as addicted as I was. ❤


About the Author

15179415Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment. Mirage is her debut.

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Giveaway

Click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a finished copy of Mirage. This giveaway is only open to US residents. Good luck!


The Tour

Check out the other posts from today by clicking on the blog links below. Also, thank you to Aimee, Always for organizing the tour!

Mystery Blogger Award

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Thank you to Sara at the Bibliophagist for nominating me! Please take some time to visit her lovely blog and give it a follow. ❤

This award was created by Okoto Enigma and “it’s for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.”


The Rules:

  • List the rules.
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • You have to nominate 10 – 20 people.
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify).
  • Share a link to your best post(s).

Three Facts About Me:

1. I’m exactly five feet tall and often confused with being a teenager. Normally that wouldn’t bother me, but as a middle school teacher it’s often an issue. Most of my students are taller than me. Guests come into my classroom and say I don’t “stand out” because I just blend in with everyone else. Parents are also always commenting on how young I look and if I’m qualified to teach their children. Ugh! I’m thirty years old and have been teaching for over five years!

2. I’m so proud of the progress I’ve made in learning to speak Spanish. I am now able to have more complex conversations with my husband’s family and it’s been wonderful to get to know them better. When I first started learning I was so scared to speak with others in Spanish because I was afraid of looking bad or making a mistake. I have flashbacks to learning French in school and being told by the teacher to sit-down whenever I made a grammar or pronunciation mistake.

3. My favourite flower is the lamprocapnos spectabilis, otherwise known as the bleeding heart. My mom has always had them in her garden. They fascinate me because they are so rare…well at least in gardens in Southern Ontario. I don’t know of anyone else who had them. Plus, I love the name…it sounds so tragic!


My Best Posts:


Questions from Sara:

1. What’s your favorite mythical creature?
The manticore…a mythical Persian creature that’s similar to a sphinx. This creature has the head of a human, the body of a lion and a tail of a scorpion.

2. What’s your go-to order at a coffee shop?
It’s either a caramel macchiato or a flat white coffee.

3. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
I would live in Edinburgh, Scotland. I went to school and taught there for a while and fell madly in love with the city. There’s something magical about its cobbled streets and old historical buildings. Plus, the used bookstores were AMAZING! ❤

4. Sweet, salty, or sour snacks?
I have such a sweet tooth and will always go for that option. I had gestational diabetes during the later part of my pregnancy and really struggled with not being able to have sweet and sugary snacks. It seemed like everywhere I went people were offering me cupcakes, brownies, etc.

5. Would you rather say everything on your mind or never speak again?
Ooh, the first could be very dangerous. Life without a filter would be terrible. However, not being able to speak again. I guess I could write everything in order to communicate or learn sign language. So, I would definitely go with that option.


My Questions:

1. Which book(s) got you hooked on reading?

2. Which novella(s) would you like to see expanded into a full-length book or series?

3. You have to delete a social media account. Which one do you delete and why?

4. What does your name mean? Does it match your personality?

5. What’s the last thing that you do before going to bed?


My Nominees:

Book Blogger Memory Challenge

Book Blitz_I saw this tag on Thrice Read and thought it looked like a fun challenge. And a challenge it was! It’s really hard to remember both the title and author of books. I thought I had a good bookish memory but this tag has proven me wrong! The fact that I couldn’t look up answers made it even more difficult. But rules are rules and I’m happy that I didn’t cheat. I just hope that I spelt the names of author correctly 😛


The Rules:

You must answer these questions without looking anything up on the internet and without looking at your bookshelves!!


The Questions:

1. Name a book written by an author called Michael.

The name that automatically came to mind was Michael Ondaatje. We read The English Patient when I was in grade 11 and it was a complete disaster! Most of my fellow students were not mature enough to handle a lot of its content and the teacher didn’t do much to stop their snickering and inappropriate comments. Let’s just say that I didn’t enjoy the book, but have always wanted to give it another read through because it’s been so heavily awarded and praised.

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini! When I was teaching in South Korea a bunch of my younger students were obsessed with it and I was just so happy to see them excited about reading. 🙂

3. Name a book about a character called George.

The super cute Curious George series. Sadly, I don’t remember who wrote the books. I’ll have to look it up later. Argh, these rules!

4. Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.

Oh, this one was really difficult! It took a while but I believe Lindsay Smith was one of the authors of the The Witch Who Came in From the Cold novella series. Fingers crossed that I’m right.

5. Name a book set in Australia.

I recently read Honeybee, a poetry collection by Trista Mateer. The author has several poems based on her trip to Australia in the book. So…that counts right?

6. Name a book with the name of a month in the title.

Again, I don’t remember who the author is but I can’t help but think of October Sky. I had a student who was obsessed with this book. Throughout 7th grade, it was all he read. Over and over again. He wasn’t really a reader, so I was just glad to see him reading and enjoying himself. I always tried to recommend books that were similar but wasn’t successful. I’m now proud to say that he’s expanded into reading other books about space exploration.

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover.

Does a dagger count? Daggers are basically decorative knives right? All I can think of is Defy by Sara B. Larson.

8. Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.

My brain automatically just went to Starflight by Melissa Landers. It makes sense because I was just writing about it on another tag that I was working on. That reminds me, I really need to read the sequel Starfall. It’s been sitting on my shelf for over a year!

9. Name a book with a eponymous title.

The beyond amazing (and I’ll continue to push this book on everyone and anyone…SO READ IT!) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.

10. Name a book turned into a movie.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I don’t remember much from the books, but the movies totally standout in my mind.


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Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

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.

33155334You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Release date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, historical fiction
Format: eBook

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Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

I can’t believe that I downloaded this book from NetGalley and then completely forgot about it. It was one of those books that I heard so many positive things about and couldn’t wait to read. What happened…I have no idea! I’m just so happy that I rediscovered it on my iPad because this book was absolutely beautiful!

The story focuses on the lives of five women from the Das family. It begins in the 1960s and works its way to the modern day. The book is very character driven and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each of the characters. They were all so different from each other with their own unique voices, perspectives, dreams and ways of approaching the world around them. They all felt so real and I could help but be drawn into their lives. None of the characters were perfect, instead they were flawed, made mistakes and dealt with the consequences. It truly felt like I knew them and that takes some masterful writing!

Talking about the writing, it was vivid and emotional. I particularly enjoyed how Bengali culture was woven into the story. I am not very familiar with the culture, but that didn’t matter to my understanding or enjoyment. Instead, the author explains key words or concepts without slowing down or taking away from the story. Culture is one of the central themes of the story and I liked how each character approached it in a different way. Basically, there is no right or wrong way to live and embrace your culture. It’s unique to each person and changes based on their beliefs and life experiences.

The only issue I had with the book was its pacing. It took me quite sometime to read through it. This is mostly because there isn’t a whole lot of action. It is very much a book that looks into the inner thoughts of a character. I often read a section, put it down and then came back to it. It’s definitely not a page turner or a book that will keep you up all night, but that by no means took away from how much I liked it. It’s not advertised or meant to be an action adventure novel.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to people looking for an own voices diverse read. I haven’t read any of the author’s other novels, but will for sure check them out in the near future. Her way of writing is magical and if they are anything like this gem I’m in for a real treat!


About the Author

21129Mitali Perkins has written several novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She currently writes and resides in San Francisco.

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Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

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.

33509076Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Release date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance

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A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel is a perfect example of why I should never judge a book by its synopsis. When this book was first released I was offered a chance to read it and I passed. It really didn’t sound like something that I would want to read. However, when I received a chance to join the blog tour for its companion novel, Keeper of the Bees, I decided to give this novel a chance and I’m so happy that I did! I ended up becoming completely addicted to it…I just couldn’t stop reading! So, if you haven’t given Black Bird of the Gallows a read, I highly recommend that you do as soon as possible!

The story focuses on Angie Dovage, a teenage girl who has had a pretty rough life. Her mother is a drug addict and dragged poor Angie from one drug den or random house to another. Now, she’s living with her father and completely fascinated with the new next door neighbours. She becomes close friends with their son Reece, however, things aren’t as they initially seem. Reece has many secrets which could completely destroy everything Angie loves.

I really enjoyed how the book had a very dark and eerie feel to it. The world created by Kassel was interesting and the mystery established at the beginning of the story continues throughout. You just never really know what will happen next. The mythology was one of those mysterious areas that I though was really well written. It was unique and revealed in a manner that didn’t feel like info dumping. Plus, I finished the book with a sense of really knowing and understanding the world the characters resided in. Sometimes that’s a major issue with fantasy worlds…things are too complicated or rushed and a proper explanation is sacrificed for pushing the plot forward. I’m so glad that that wasn’t the case with this book!

I really appreciated how the book avoided an insta-romance between Angie and Reece. Everything started out slow with the two characters building a believable friendship. I did take issue with how the progression of the relationship was a bit rushed in the middle, but overall I really liked these two characters together. There was a lot of tension between them and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it!

I highly recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance, dark stories and mysteries. I’m very much looking forward to picking up the book’s companion novel very soon!

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About the Author

8353652Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before embracing her true passion, writing. She now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her family, and is busy at work on her next novel. A fan of ’80s cartoons, original Netflix series, daydreaming, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her husband and daughter, hiding her peanut butter cups, or walking her rescue mutt, Luna. She is a two-time finalist and the 2016 YA winner of the RWA Golden Heart© contest. Her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows, was released in 2017.

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The ABC Book Challenge | “G”

Book Blitz_I absolutely love everything about this challenge/tag! I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to start it right away. Each week I’ll be posting another letter of the alphabet. So, be prepared for lots of posts in this series! 🙂


Memorable Titles That Start With “G”

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi was so much fun to read! It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. It had tons of action, friendships, ghosts, talking lizards…like what more could you want? The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is one of my all time favourite books. Everything about it intrigued me and totally influenced my love of all things fantasy. My other love is historical fiction and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a perfect example of the genre done right. I can’t wait to watch the film version of it really soon!

Books Starting With “G” On My TBR

I have loved everything Roshani Chokshi has released so far, so I have extremely high expectations for The Gilded Wolves when its released in January 2019. My fingers are still crossed in hopes of receiving an eARC on NetGalley. I keep on saying that I’m going to start Graceling by Kristin Cashore, but just haven’t actually done so. Why? I have no idea. It has everything I adore in a book: magic, adventure, romance and political intrigue. Finally, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers has been on TBR since 2015. Yes, I know that’s a long time. It’s one of those books I really want to read but there’s always something else that steals my time away. Soon…hopefully soon!


Which memorable books that start with an “G” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤