Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert | One of my new faves of this year!

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Pages: 336 pages
Release Date: August 8th, 2017
Source: ARC from The Novl
Genre: LGBT, Mental Health, Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating: 5/5 stars
A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

Preorder now!
**I received an advanced galley from the publishers. This has not affected my thoughts in any way**

Still figuring it out... Well, wait Alex still figuring what out? Everything. 

Let me preface this review by saying I don't think what I'm about to write will do this book any justice. Sorry to be such a pessimist, but I want to be honest with you. First I must say happy publication week to Little & Lion. I don't remember the last time I was this excited about a book's release, but I'm truly happy to see this book make it onto shelves everywhere. And if you haven't already figured out from the star rating and my endless rambling in an attempt to describe my feelings after finishing this one, I loved this book.

Our narrator is Suzette and the story begins with her return to sunny California after being sent away to a boarding school in Massachusetts by her parents. She returns to her supportive family, the friends that she left behind, her crush on one of her closest friends, and her brother, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As the story unravels, it jumps from the past to the present, revealing the reason why she was sent away while also resurfacing tragic memories. Throughout the course of her return, Suzette struggles with her identity as well as the unfinished business she left behind in New England. If Suzette is still figuring it all out herself, how can she be the emotional support that her brother Lionel needs?

I don't think this book had any set plot, more like it just went with the flow. And that wasn't a problem because the characters and writing really stole the show for me. It took attention away from the non-linear story line and directed it to some of the real social issues surrounding the book's characters.

This book brings many social stigmas about sexuality and mental illness to light. The book specifically discusses the fluidity of sexuality and how labels aren't everything. I really liked the parts in which bisexuality was discussed. A social stigma that is specifically discussed about bisexuals is their tendency to cheat as well as that being a bisexual is all about switching between men and women when you tire of one or the other. Our main character, Suzette, refutes this stigma by saying, "It's about being open to whatever happens with either one."

"Why? Bi, queer... it doesn't really matter, as long as you're happy. Just make sure you don't let anyone tell you what you are. People can be real assholes about labels." 
This book is incredibly diverse. Our main character is a black Jewish girl who is questioning her sexuality. Her brother, Lionel, struggles with bipolar disorder. There is also a pansexual character in this book, which was my first time reading about one!

I must say, though, the most precious part of my reading experience was the emotional tie that I had to all the characters. I loved all of them (well maybe not all. Looking at you Caite and Grace). I was having a blast following along as they were just figuring things out for themselves and learning more about each other along the way. I especially loved how accepting Emil was of Suzette when she came out as a bisexual. This book also has one of the best family dynamics I've ever seen with everyone being so supportive and two parents who loved their children as much as their children loved them back.

So what book should be your next buy? Little & Lion! If not for the incredibly important topics that are discussed, then you should read it for the well-fleshed out and three-dimensional characters. This is definitely one that's going to be on my end-of-the-year favorites list!

I Am Participating in #ARCAugust | My TBR

Hey guys! This is my last minute decision to participate in #ARCAugust, an event hosted by the wonderful ladies at Read.Sleep.Repeat. Check out their informational post and sign ups here! In any given month, I will read a good number of ARC, which is why I have decided to join. I'm also currently reading an ARC so I thought that that might be a good sign as to where I will be going with this challenge. If you're participating, don't forget to share your TBR's in the comments down below. And without further ado, here are all the ARCs I plan on reading in the month of August! 

ARCs on priority

These books will be composed of titles that are coming out in early September. I usually like to read ARCs a month or two in advanced. You can bet I'm going to be getting to some of my fall ARCs in this reading challenge. 

Low Priority

Just because these are low priority doesn't mean I'm not excited about them. In fact, one of the books on this list is one of my most anticipated of the year! These ARCs don't come out for a while so they aren't too high on my list. 

My TBR isn't that impressive, but with the amount that I have to do this summer I doubt I'll even have time to read more than three books on this list. I do plan on writing reviews for all of these ARCs so stayed tuned for either early reviews or reviews on the day of the book's release. This is my first year participating, and I am so excited to be apart of an event with other bloggers who also need to cut down their TBR! Thanks for reading! 

ARC Review | Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Wonder Woman: Warbringer
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Pages: 384 pages
Release Date: August 29th, 2017
Source: ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Superhero
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Preorder it! 

By now, we all know that Leigh Bardugo is a master at writing stories from multiple points of view as well as being able to write characters like it’s nobody’s business. Wonder Woman: Warbringer is yet another example of her incredible talents as an author. The multiple POVs will keep you on your toes and constantly second guessing until the very last page. And in true Leigh Bardugo fashion, there is never a dull moment in the story, where we (as the readers) can relax, take a breath, and feel that our beloved characters are safe. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

While we all know Wonder Woman from her role in the comics, in the DC movies, and in the media, we do not know Diana Prince- Princess of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, underestimated by her fellow Amazonian sisters, and (soon-to-be) hero of mankind. In Leigh Bardugo’s version of Wonder Woman’s backstory, Diana discovers Alia—the young Warbringer—trapped in a shipwreck explosion. Though both are still oblivious to Alia’s fate when they first meet, they quickly discover why everyone is after Alia, and what Alia’s survival could mean for the future of mankind.

“You do not enter a race to lose.”

As I mentioned before, this book hooked me in pretty quickly. From that very first sentence to the very last word, I held my breath, never knowing what to expect next. Surely, by now, I shouldn’t be surprised by how much I cry, laugh, and yell, at any Leigh Bardugo book I read, right?

It was also a pleasantly nice surprise to find how different this version of Diana’s story is from the Wonder Woman movie that was released a few weeks ago. Without getting into spoilers, Warbringer and Wonder Woman (2017) share very few similarities, besides both being epic portrayals of Wonder Woman’s backstory as an Amazonian warrior. While the movie took place in Europe in the 1940s, Warbringer takes place in modern day New York City. One of the key similarities in both the movie and Warbringer is that Diana leaves Themyscira to prove herself as an Amazon. If you enjoyed watching the movie (like 99% of us) then I highly recommend picking up Warbringer as well (if it’s not already on your TBR)!

Like Leigh Bardugo’s past works, Warbringer is told with rich imagery, description, and flawed characters. I loved the diverse portrayal of a majority colored cast of main characters. I loved the female friendships and the sisterhood bond that exists between Diana, Alia, and Nim. I loved that though there was slight romance, the romance didn’t take away from the plot, but rather, added to the story, and made the story all the more enjoyable. I loved that Leigh Bardugo noted and brought awareness to the racism that still exists today, regardless of a person’s social status. And perhaps my favorite part, is Leigh Bardugo’s fierce portrayal of women in Warbringer. This is a story that inspires the males to look up to the females.

In short, Wonder Woman: Warbringer has already scored a spot in my favorite books of 2017. It is an action-packed, page-turning, chills-inducing, fierce read of how the beloved Wonder Woman came to be the protector of mankind. Warbringer has all the classic elements of a Leigh Bardugo story mixed with pieces of classic Greek mythologies, for the perfect blend of a story you don’t want to miss out on.

“I am shield and blade to you. As I breathe, your enemies will know no sanctuary. While I live, your cause is mine.” – The Oath of an Amazon

BLOG TOUR: Zodiac by Romina Russell | Galaxy Nail Art + GIVEAWAY!

Hey guys! I'm super stoked to be participating in the Penguin Teen readathon blog tour for the Zodiac series by Romina Russell! This tour is gearing up for the release of the final installment, Thirteen Rising, which comes out on August 29th. I've been meaning to get to start this series so I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be apart of this readathon, where everyone else is also rereading while I'm reading for the first time.

Title: Zodiac
Author: Romina Russell
Pages: 325 pages
Release Date: December 9th, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy
At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….

Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in a galaxy inspired by the astrological signs.

Buy it now! 
Today's nail inspired art look will be based by the vibes that I'm getting off of these beautiful covers. I've never really done nail art for a book post before, but I would really love to go back to my roots of nail art. I used to love doing different designs and changing it up every week but unfortunately my workplace doesn't allow nail polish at the moment, so I've had to close that hobby. But... since it is the weekend, I figured this galaxy-inspired nail look couldn't wait!

  1. Formula X Nail Polish in color Dark Matter 
  2. Base & Top Coat (my favorite is the Sally Hansen Ultimate Shield Top and Base coat)
  3. Any brand of white acrylic paint 
  4. A point ball pin tool/bobby pin/toothpick (anything sharp you can find in your home)

My inspiration!

My nail art skills are mediocre at best but it was still fun to whip out the tools and the nail polish and get to work again! I forgot how fun it was just to do your nails while the music is on in the background. If I were to redo this look, I'd probably have to be more careful when drawing these precise lines and corners. I think precision and accuracy is the most important thing when it comes to drawing on your nails with a sharp tool. 

Enter for a chance to win either one (1) grand prize set of Romina Russell’s Zodiac Series in paperback, including Zodiac, Wandering Star, and Black Moon (32.97) or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive a copy of Zodiac by Romina Russell (ARV: $10.99 each). 

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on June 26th, 2017 and 12:00 AM on July 17, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about July 21, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Author Bio

Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.


Don't forget to join the exciting twitter chat on the 16th! 

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