Jill’s Weekly Wrap-Up – June 13

Here are my reviews for the week with my ratings:

I did 7 weekly blogging memes:

How was your week? What did you guys read?

Sundays in Bed With… Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1)

The meme that dares to ask what book has been in your bed this morning? Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed, or which book you wish you had time to read today! This meme is hosted by Midnight Book Girl.

This Sunday I’m reading Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1) by Liselle Sambury.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

What book are you in bed with today?

Six for Sunday – LGBTQIA+ Recommendations

This meme is hosted by Steph at A little but a lot. The weekly prompts for 2019 can be found here.

This week’s prompt is LGBTQIA+ Recommendations. Here’s my list:

1. In the Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby

2. The Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

3. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

4. These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

5. This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria

6. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

(All book covers from Goodreads)

Did you make a Six for Sunday list?

Review: Misfit in Love

Title: Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits #2)
Author: S.K. Ali
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook, Paperback arc
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this fun and fresh sequel to Saints and Misfits, Janna hopes her brother’s wedding will be the perfect start to her own summer of love, but attractive new arrivals have her more confused than ever.

Janna Yusuf is so excited for the weekend: her brother Muhammad’s getting married, and she’s reuniting with her mom, whom she’s missed the whole summer.

And Nuah’s arriving for the weekend too.

Sweet, constant Nuah.

The last time she saw him, Janna wasn’t ready to reciprocate his feelings for her. But things are different now. She’s finished high school, ready for college…and ready for Nuah.

It’s time for Janna’s (carefully planned) summer of love to begin—starting right at the wedding.

But it wouldn’t be a wedding if everything went according to plan. Muhammad’s party choices aren’t in line with his fiancée’s taste at all, Janna’s dad is acting strange, and her mom is spending more time with an old friend (and maybe love interest?) than Janna.

And Nuah’s treating her differently.

Just when things couldn’t get more complicated, two newcomers—the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth—have Janna more confused than ever about what her misfit heart really wants.

Janna’s summer of love is turning out to be super crowded and painfully unpredictable.

Review:

Janna Yusuf is busy preparing for her brother, Muhammad’s wedding to Sarah. She’s been staying at her father’s lake house, where they are holding the wedding, so she’s excited to be reunited with her mother for the wedding. Janna is also excited to be reunited with her childhood friend, and crush, Nuah, who she is finally willing to tell that she likes him. However, Nuah treats her differently when she arrives. To add to the wedding drama, Muhammad has made choices for the wedding that his fiancée doesn’t like, Janna’s dad is acting strangely, and her mom has a new male friend who she has brought to the wedding. Add in charming Haytham, Sarah’s cousin, and mysterious Layth, the nephew of her mom’s friend, and Janna has a drama filled wedding weekend!

I was so glad to return to the world of Saints and Misfits! I loved that book when I read it years ago. This story was more light hearted but still dealt with some important issues. Janna discovered that someone close to her was racist and prejudiced. It was disturbing to her to realize this, which others had noticed before. There were a couple of instances of prejudice against someone’s culture. Most of the characters were Muslim, but from different countries and cultures that some others found hard to accept. This wedding was the joining of two people, from different cultures, but that was all that mattered in the end.

Love was a major theme in this wedding story. Love is universal, and doesn’t discriminate against race, nationality, or culture. It was nice to read a story where love was the centre, after a senseless hate-motivated attack on a Muslim family in an Ontario city. I don’t understand how things like that can happen in this world. This story proves that despite our differences, deep down we are all the same. We can all join together in celebrating love, like the wedding of Muhammad and Sarah in this book.

Misfit in Love is the perfect sequel! I hope there will be another book in this series!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Other books in the series:

Have you read Misfit in Love? What did you think of it?

Review: Gamayun Tales II

Title: Gamayun Tales II
Author: Alexander Utkin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Nobrow
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter a world of magic and adventure in this stunning series based on traditional Russian folklore.

Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Slavic folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books! Utkin’s striking art style takes inspiration from classic mid-century Disney animation, drawing readers in for a colorful journey even if they have no familiarty with Russian mythology.

Review:

This graphic novel collection tells stories inspired by Russian folklore. Baba Yaga was featured in some of these stories, making deals with the characters traveling through the woods. This collection is a continuation of Gamayun Tales I.

The longest tale in this book was about a dying King who sent his sons to find a cure for him. The King promised to renounce the crown and pass it on to the son who brought him the cure. Each of the sons had a turn to search for the cure, and they encountered many adventures along the way.

I love how interconnected the tales are in these two collections, Gamayun Tales I and II. The stories aren’t told chronologically but they follow certain themes and characters in a way that makes sense. Some tales from the first collection were explained in this one, so it was nice to see the continuation from the first book.

Gamayun Tales II is a fun and beautiful graphic novel!

Thank you Nobrow for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

Other books in the series:

Have you read Gamayun Tales II? What did you think of it?

Review: Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta’s Academy #2)

Title: Of Princes and Promises (St. Rosetta’s Academy #2)
Author: Sandhya Menon
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi comes the second installment in a brand-new series set an elite boarding school that’s a contemporary spin on fairy tales, this one a delightful, romantic twist on The Frog Prince.

Caterina LaValle is determined to show she’s still the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Sure, her crown may be slightly askew after her ex-boyfriend, Alaric, cheated on her, but she’s a LaValle. She’ll find a way to march right back in there, her hands clutching the strings to the whole puppet show. This time, she’s going to be untouchable.

Rahul Chopra knows that moment he shared with Caterina LaValle at the winter formal meant something. Surely she feels it, too. He’s a little uncertain how someone like him (socially inept to a point way past “adorkable”) could fit into her world, but he’s loved Caterina for years. He knows they’ll find a way.

When Caterina finds out Alaric is taking a supermodel to the upcoming gala, she knows she cannot arrive without the perfect date. But the thought of taking another superficial St. R’s boy exhausts her. The solution? Sweet-but-clueless Rahul Chopra and a mysterious pot of hair gel with the power to alter the wearer into whatever his heart desires.

When Rahul tries it, he transforms instantly into RC—debonair, handsome, and charming. But transformation comes with a price: As Rahul enjoys his new social standing, the line between his two personas begins to blur. Will he give up everything, including Caterina, to remain RC? Or will this unlikely pair find their way back to each other?

Review:

Caterina LaValle is the queen of St. Rosetta’s Academy. Everyone wants to be her friend and will do anything to be close to her. When Rahul Chopra comforted Caterina at a winter dance following her breakup with her boyfriend, Rahul fell in love with her. Now, they’ve returned to school after their winter break, and Rahul is hoping his relationship with Caterina can begin. When Caterina finds out that her ex-boyfriend is bringing a supermodel to a gala, she has to find a date quickly. She decides to transform Rahul into the perfect date. With some magical hair gel, Rahul becomes the confident and charming RC, who dazzles everyone at the party. Rahul loves this new persona and thinks he has to keep it up to be with Caterina. When his two identities begin to merge into one, he has to decide who he really is to win Caterina’s heart.

I wasn’t very familiar with the story of the Princess and the Frog before reading this story. I knew that a Princess kissed a frog, turning him into a Prince, but I haven’t read or watched any adaptations of that tale so I didn’t know what to expect from this story. I love how this series has a touch of magic in these fairytale retellings. Most of it could take place in the real world, except for the magical hair gel that literally transforms Rahul into RC. That brings a fairytale element into a contemporary story.

I was surprised at the twist at the end of the story. I knew one character was acting a little strangely, but I didn’t know why. I couldn’t have predicted the twist, so it made the ending tense and exciting. There was a bit of a teaser for the next book in the epilogue. I hope there will be another St. Rosetta’s Academy book because I love this setting and the characters.

Of Princes and Promises is another fun Sandhya Menon book!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Other books in the series:

Have you read Of Princes and Promises? What did you think of it?

TBR Thursday – June 10

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is Hello Girls by Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Review: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn

Title: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
Author: Robin Maxwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Arcade
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021 (originally April 24, 1997)
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

One was queen for a thousand days; one for over forty years.  Both were passionate, headstrong women, loved and hated by Henry VIII.  Yet until the discovery of the secret diary, Anne Boleyn and her daughter, Elizabeth I, had never really met.  

Anne was the second of Henry’s six wives, doomed to be beloved, betrayed, and beheaded. When Henry fell madly in love with her upon her return from an education at the lascivious French court, he was already a married man. While his passion for Anne was great enough to rock the foundation of England and of all Christendom, in the end he forsook her for another love, schemed against her, and ultimately had her sentenced to death.  But unbeknownst to the king, Anne had kept a diary.

At the beginning of Elizabeth ‘s reign, it is pressed into her hands.  In reading it, the young queen discovers a great deal about her much-maligned mother:  Anne’s fierce determination, her hard-won knowledge about being a woman in a world ruled by despotic men, and her deep-seated love for the infant daughter taken from her shortly after her birth.

In journal’s pages, Elizabeth finds an echo of her own dramatic life as a passionate young woman at the center of England ‘s powerful male establishment, and with the knowledge gained from them, makes a resolution that will change the course of history.

Review:

When Queen Elizabeth I is given her mother Anne Boleyn’s secret diary, she learns the truth about her parents’ relationship. Anne was Henri VIII’s second wife, but they had a very unstable relationship, ending in Anne’s death. Elizabeth sees a new perspective of her mother’s life, which determines the choices she makes in her new reign.

I love reading about Anne Boleyn, so I was excited to read this novel. There were dual narratives of Elizabeth, just beginning her long reign as Queen, and Anne, who was the second wife of Henry VIII. Elizabeth didn’t know this side of the story, since her mother died when she was a toddler. She had to learn her true history without the veil of her father’s narrative.

The ending of this story was very clever. There was a decision that Elizabeth made after learning about her mother’s life. She wanted to live her life differently and independently, and I believe she did that. I enjoyed reading about Elizabeth’s and Anne’s stories side by side.

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn is a must read for fans of Tudor historical fiction!

Thank you Arcade for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Have you read The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – June 9

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison. The expected publication date is July 13, 2021.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

He’s never met a rule he didn’t break… She’s followed the rules her whole life… When they meet, one golden rule is established: stay away. Sparks fly in this edgy own voices novel, perfect for fans of Sandhya Menon, S. K. Ali, and Kristina Forest.

They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

What books are you waiting on this week?

Review: Pantomime

Title: Pantomime
Author: Christopher Sebela
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 20, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Haley and her brother, Max, are alone after their mother’s death and are sent to Wayfair Academy, a special needs boarding school. Eventually, they find family amongst other deaf children. One night the group decides to dip their toes into crime… the thrill is too much to leave behind. They soon find out that stealing from the wrong person, has its consequences. With no one to turn to but each other, they must make a choice, one where no one comes out the same.

Review:

After Haley and Max’s mother died, they were sent to Wayfair Academy, a boarding school for deaf students. One night, after Max’s devices are taken by a teacher, they decide to steal everything the teacher has taken from students. Since that crime was a success, they decide to do some more thefts with their friends. However, they soon rob the wrong man, and end up spending years paying back for those crimes.

I love boarding school stories. This was a special boarding school for deaf children. It was the perfect setting for these kids to plan their crimes, since they all lived together without parental supervision.

This is the first book I’ve read where all of the characters are deaf. It worked well in graphic novel format because the movement of their hands was illustrated. Their speech bubbles led away from their hands, instead of their mouths. The children were underestimated because of their deafness. They were able to use the perception that others had of them being weak to their advantage.

Pantomime is a great crime graphic novel!

Thank you Mad Cave Studios for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Crowded by Christopher Sebela

Stargazer by Anthony Cleveland

Have you read Pantomime? What did you think of it?