The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Ahhhh happy release day to the Gilded Wolves and Roshani Chokshi!!! I’ve been looking forward to the Gilded Wolves since June of 2018, so I was SO EXCITED to have been invited to take part in the blog tour for it! Thank you so much Wednesday Books!

Roshani Chokshi is one of my favorite authors and her books are all so great, so when I say that the Gilded Wolves is my favorite one of her books, know that it’s AMAZING!

The Gilded Wolves 5/5 Stars

Summary: Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts:

An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much. Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

There are so many things that I loved about this book. The mystery, the intrigue, the whole treasure hunting aspect- everything was so great and kept me on my toes throughout the whole story! I also LOVE all of the vivid descriptions and the attention to detail that Roshani has in this book. I felt like I was really there any time she described someone’s outfit or the food people were eating.

Another thing that I absolutely loved was the diverse cast of characters. As someone who is Indian, I always love reading books where I can recognize aspects of my culture (without them being too over the top or like extra, if that makes sense), and this book really embodies the best way to do that. Laila’s backstory was so interesting and tied so closely into some of the mythology I grew up hearing. I was also really excited about the mentions of classical Indian dance within Laila’s performances. As someone who danced Bharatanatyam for 8 years, seeing someone else’s connection to something that was such a huge part of my life. Besides Laila, I loved pretty much all of the other characters too! Zofia’s love of science and social awkwardness warmed my heart. Her connection to her sister and her ability to save everyone at every step along the way made me love her even more. I’ll let you make your own opinions on all of the other characters (but if you don’t like them, you’re wrong and I hate you).

As you can see, I’m pretty much obsessed with this book and could talk about it forever. If you haven’t already bought a copy of it, here are some purchase links for you: Amazon | Barnes and Noble. If you can’t buy this book- DEFINITELY go request it at your library, because you 100% do not want to miss it! Have you already read the Gilded Wolves? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below!

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Favorite reads of 2018

Can y’all believe that we’re about to finish our first week of 2019? How did 2018 go so fast and how is 2019 moving even faster???

I was planning on writing up a post with all of my favorite (5 star) reads from 2018 in late December, but then I ended up getting super sick, so I figured it’s better late then never, so here we go!

In 2018, I read 113 books and 36 of them were 5 star reads, so that’s about 32% which is not bad at all! I have two categories of 5 star reads- 5 star re-reads and 5 star first time reads, so we’ll start with those.

5 Star first time reads

5 Star re-reads

So as you can see, I read A LOT of great books in 2018! Here’s to 2019 being as successful with lots and lots of 5 star reads! What were your favorite reads of 2018?

Light Years by Kass Morgan

Happy day after Christmas y’all! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and got everything they wanted!

So as I wrote in my last post, I was in a major book hangover after Kingdom of Ash. I tried reading 3 different books afterwards, and none of them kept me interested until I got to Light Years. While I haven’t read any of Kass Morgan’s other books, I used to watch the 100 whenever the seasons were loaded onto Netflix (and I mean as soon as I have time to watch TV again, I’m definitely going to go back and catch up on it).

Light Years 5/5 Stars
Summary from Goodreads

Reeling from the latest attack by a mysterious enemy, the Quatra Fleet Academy is finally admitting students from every planet in the solar system after centuries of exclusivity.
Hotshot pilot Vesper, an ambitious Tridian citizen, dreams of becoming a captain – but when she loses her spot to a brilliant, wisecracking boy from the wrong side of the asteroid belt, it makes her question everything she thought she knew. Growing up on the toxic planet Deva, Cormak will take any chance he can get to escape his dead-end life and join the Academy – even if he has to steal someone’s identity to do it. Arran was always considered an outsider on icy Chetire, always dreaming of something more than a life working in the mines. Now an incoming cadet, Arran is looking for a place to belong – he just never thought that place would be in the arms of a Tridian boy. And Orelia is hiding a dark secret – she’s infiltrated the Academy to complete a mission, one that threatens the security of everyone there. But if anyone finds out who she really is, it’ll be her life on the line.
These cadets will have to put their differences aside and become a team to defend their world from a cunning enemy – but the danger might be lurking closer to home than they think…

First thing’s first, I LOVED the whole premise of the book. I’m a huge sucker for boarding school books, and this was pretty much a boarding school book, but it was set in space. I also loved our four main characters! Vesper, Cormak, Arran, and Orelia were so different, but they meshed together so well. I liked Orelia’s storyline the best and I’m so excited to see where things go from here for her! I think Vesper grew the most as a character- so much character development! Overall, this was just a really fun read and I cannot wait for the next book!

Three Reasons Why Kingdom of Ash Leads to the Ultimate Book Hangover

So I’m normally one of those people who can ready anything at anytime. I generally have between 3 and 8 books going at any given time and I can pick them up whenever and be super engrossed in them. If I’m not reading a book or if I don’t have at least one book ready to be picked up, there’s something wrong. This generally means that I don’t really have reading slumps and I don’t normally get book hangovers, but Kingdom of Ash changed that for me.

I’ve read pretty much all of Sarah J. Maas’s books (I’m in the middle of Catwoman: Soulstealer right now), and while her books are always so good and have so many great plot points and so much emotion, I’m normally able to finish the book, spend a few minutes processing it, and then pick up another book and go to town on it, but that was not the case with Kingdom of Ash and here’s three reasons for why I think that is. (MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD) 

The deaths With a book this large and a series this long, there are definitely going to have to be some major deaths, especially since the only major deaths that happened before Kingdom of Ash were ones that I didn’t really care about. The two big deaths that pretty much killed me [AGAIN SPOILER ALERT] were Gavriel and the Thirteen (and I know the Thirteen were more than one death, but I’m categorizing them as one). Both times I had to take a break after the deaths happened to catch my breath, control my emotions, and remind myself that this is just a book. After going through so much with these deaths, I guess this could be the major reason for my book hangover. 

The baby OK please tell me that I wasn’t the only one who was like WTF at Yrene and Chaol getting pregnant in the beginning of the book? I mean, yes they’re married, yes they’re in love, of course they should have a child if they want one, but like, why did they have to get pregnant at the beginning of the climax of such an intense war??? With Yrene being a healer, why couldn’t they have been taking tonics or something? What even was the point of that pregnancy??? This is less of a book hangover reason, and more of a sticking point that I have with the plot. And let’s be real, if SJM can do this here, what’s to say any other author won’t put in a random piece of the plot like this?

The ending So the ending was happy, and every thing seemed resolved and there’s no reason for me to be unhappy about the ending- but I am. 99.9% it’s because this series is over and I’m not going to be able to experience it the same way ever again and that makes me so sad! This is 100% the main reason I was in a book hangover for the week/ week and a half after I read Kingdom of Ash.

Did I get over that book hangover? Yes, for sure- and I did that by reading a book that was super different from Kingdom of Ash (it was Light Years by Kass Morgan, in case you were wondering). Now that I’ve experienced my first ever book hangover, I NEVER want to do that again. Do y’all have any tips/tricks for getting over a book hangover? Let me know in the comments if you do!

5 Lessons learned from Yallfest 2018

Hey friends! Instead of doing an actual recap from each day of Yallfest, I decided to highlight the 5 big lessons B and I learned this year. So sit back, relax, and let me know if y’all have any other lessons learned from Yallfest this year!

Never stay at the Embassy Suites on Meeting Street

B and I stayed at the Homewood Suites last year, and it was such a great hotel with wonderful rooms and good coffee, but since it was about $60 more per night than the Embassy Suites, and since the ES was closer, we decided that it would probably be a better bet. Every other ES I’ve ever stayed in has been amazing (and let’s be real, I’ve stayed in quite a few), but this one was definitely sub-par. The lobby and the courtyard on the ground floor were really pretty, and the building apparently has some really cool history, but the room itself was gross. The living area had a gross green carpet and couches that looked like they were from the 80s.

Neither of us even wanted to take our shoes off or walk barefoot around at all and we never even sat on those couches. The bedroom was small and we could hear all of the noise from outside and there were weird pinkish stains on the walls. Overall, definitely one of the worst rooms either of us had ever stayed in… but the location was good, so maybe next year, we’ll try and stay in one of the other hotels close to the ES.

 

Make sure to sign up for Friday events ASAP

In 2017, we didn’t realize how quickly the Friday events were going to fill up, so we didn’t try to sign up for them until the week of Yallfest, which was a huge mistake, so this year, I was scouring the website every day to see when they were going to put up the Friday events. As soon as they were up, I pretty much signed up for the one I knew we were going to want to go to. Then, closer to the event NOVL sent me an invite for an exclusive event, so we definitely had to sign up and go to that one too!

So on Friday, we went to S’mores and Pours with Novl and Foodie Fun-attics. S’mores and Pours was such a cute, intimate event- there were only about 20 or so of us there and Monica Hesse was there, talking about her book  The War Outside. It was so cool to be able to talk books with a small group of other bookstagrammers and book bloggers, and Natali, Valerie, and Katharine were so much fun! I’m definitely going to keep an eye out for these kind of events again next year! Foodie Fun-attics was definitely fun too, but it was a lot bigger and it was definitely harder to interact with the authors. We walked out with some delicious ice cream though, so that was definitely a win.

Create a plan and send out calendar invites (plus walking time) to everyone in your party

B and I are big planners (for some things anyway). We work events sometimes for our real jobs, and having a set schedule with times, locations, priorities, and transit time are key to not getting lost, overwhelmed, or missing something important. While B was driving on Friday, I consulted the Yallfest site for panel timings and locations and the individual publishing houses on Twitter for their ARC drop schedules to make us a comprehensive you need to be here at this time, lining up in this location schedule. I like using the calendar that’s built into my phone since my phone is always on me and it connects to my watch for easy access, but honestly, even if you create hard copies of your schedule, it’s going to be really helpful.

Here’s what our schedule looked like:

Check #yallfest often on Twitter

One of the biggest (and most exciting) ARCs that we picked up this year was Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard. We didn’t even know that it was going to be at Yallfest this year, but because I was checking the hashtag every 5 or 10 minutes, I saw when someone had gotten one and her followup tweet detailing how she got it, so B and I 100% followed those steps while waiting in line for a different ARC drop.

Know that you’re 90% not going to get the ARC that you’re most excited for

Our most wanted ARC last year was Cruel Prince, and we ended up being 2 people too late to get it. Our most wanted ARC this year was Gilded Wolves, and again, somehow we were just 2 people behind where they ran out. So moral of the story is that while you’re going to get a lot of amazing ARCs, you probably won’t get that one that you’ve been dying for and that’s ok. (This one is definitely more for myself- I still need to remind myself that even though I’ve been trying to get an ARC of Gilded Wolves since Roshani got them in June, it’s ok that I haven’t been able to yet (even though I’ve tried like 8 times) and since I’ve already pre-ordered it, I can just wait until it comes out)

Let me know how Yallfest was for you guys (if you were able to go)!

Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

Oh man, it’s been a while since I wrote a review- something I’ve noticed as I’ve been writing reviews is that if I don’t sit down and force myself to write a review (and withhold other things, like reading time, until I write the blog), it’s not going to happen. So now, I’m going to try and knock out and pre-write at least a few reviews to come out in the next few days/weeks—— BUT before that, y’all are going to be inundated with YALLFest posts! That’s right friends, I’m headed to YALLFest again this year! I’m definitely going to be writing at least one wrap up post, but I might end up doing a Friday wrap up and a Saturday wrap-up and of course, I’m definitely going to have a haul post!

Now, on to what you’re really here for, my review!

The Girl in the Tower 4.5/5 Stars 4.5 stars

Summary from Goodreads: The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

I loved the Girl in the Tower so much! It was an amazing follow up to the Bear and the Nightingale. Like book 1, the story was a little slow, but it never felt as though I wasn’t engaged. So much happened and I learned so much more about Russia in the 14th century and how shitty it was to be a woman at that time. Vasya is an amazing main character and god I cannot wait to read book 3!!!!

 

 

Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

I love weddings (real ones and fictional ones). There’s so much going on and everything is so crazy, but then somehow, by the time the actual wedding comes around, everything has ended up working itself out and you always have such a great time! I’ve been a part of planning and really implementing one wedding (my brother’s) but I helped out at my cousin’s, my sister-in-law’s cousin’s, my other cousin’s, and all four of my neighbor’s daughters’ weddings, so you could say I have a lot of experience with weddings. That’s why I was so excited to read Save the Date! All I knew about it at the beginning was that it was about a girl during her sister’s wedding, and being the kind of person I am, I just had to read it.

Save the Date 4/5 Stars

Summary from GoodreadsCharlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.
The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.
There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.
There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.
Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.
Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.
 

I loved so much about this book! The Grant siblings were so funny and they had such a great dynamic amongst each other. Reading about them almost made it seem as though they were your friends who you had known for years. And the problems that they had within each other and with the wedding were so real and I could see that happening to any family (I mean, not in the exact same way that the problems happened within the book, but like the general premise of the problems). I was a little annoyed with the way that everything seemed to wrap up nicely, but I know that if it didn’t, I would have been pissed off, so you know, kind of an un-winnable situation there.

Did y’all read Save the Date? How did y’all feel about the Grant family and Linnie’s wedding?