Book Review

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 469 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

I SHOULD’VE READ THIS YEARS AGO.

This book floated on and off my TBR for years (no really, it was at least 2 years). WHY did I wait this long? I have no idea. Honestly, I think it was the whole troll concept. I wasn’t super into that. Wow though, I was wrong and am so glad I gave this a chance.

I was immediately drawn in. This is the type of book I read most often and the ones I enjoy easily. Having Cécile thrown into an enemies to lovers situation with Tristan was EVERYTHING. Y’all, I never get tired of this scenario.

I was impressed with Cécile for the most part. I feel there was some communication issues between her and others that frustrated me, but I appreciated she didn’t take her situation lying down. I loved watching her have a change of heart and growing and listening to those around her. I hope she is the liberator these people need by the end.

I could have used a bit more action overall. While things did keep happening, I was missing that extra uhmph from some of the scenes. The flow of the story was smooth though. The romance moved at a pace that made sense (which is always appreciative).

There were a handful of heart in my throat moments where I didn’t know what would happen next. I was impressed at the emotion I felt for these characters. I really had a connection with them and learning about the Troll society was heart breaking and interesting. The magical components made sense in the world and never felt out of place.

A lot was unveiled towards the end that I’m excited to get my hands on book two!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy with a love story
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses and a lightly intense make-outs
  • Violence: physical, poison, spears, magic
  • Trigger warning: mention of a past miscarriage

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review/Blog Tour: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

Howdy! Today I have a special review post because I’m on the blog tour for In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton.

I really enjoyed this book and it was just released. Scroll down for my review and don’t forget to add it to your TBR.

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA Historical Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Expected Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

Thank you to the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers for the eARC (through Netgalley) and opportunity to read In the Neighborhood of True. All opinions are my own.

FINDING YOUR VOICE.

I loved the perspective this book gave. We often see Jewish related books based around World War II. This instead, brings it past that time into an era where anti-Semitism is still heavily prevalent (especially in the South US). The historical aspects (the hate crime from this novel) really struck a chord.

This book, personally, felt like the first time we all realize that racism is truly around us and how difficult it can be to accept that some people are filled with unfounded hate.

Our main character, Ruth, had to learn a lot in this book. Initially all of our focus was on her fitting in. Wearing the perfect outfit, going to the right school, being in the best circle of friends, dating the cute boy, etc. She was vain and a bit shallow. While tedious at first, you can see how Ruth’s perspective and mindset change over the novel. She felt compelled to hide who she truly was for fear of being ostracized. It wasn’t until there was a glaringly obvious reason that Ruth decided to tell others that she was Jewish. Sometimes, it takes a big push to understand the gravity of the situation.

There was so much research for this book! Carlton seriously did an amazing job of putting me in the 1950s-60s without it being too heavy-handed. What’s funny is I would cringe at certain things characters would say/do because it’s not the way we handle things now. Which I credit as a positive. I loved feeling truly present in the story.

One of the reasons I gave four stars was that it took way too long to get back to the trial. The first chapter is set up with Ruth being a witness to something, then it skips back 6 months. I clocked it at 94% when the trial actually came back into play. I would have loved a bigger expansion on that piece and less on Ruth being in high school and running around with Davis.

The ending made me pause as the title clicked into place. Ruth had made some choices and had continually only told portions of the truth. She at last realized she was tired being in the neighborhood of true, and wanted to live and experience life without having to hide behind her own omissions.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a kiss, make-outs, a glossed over love scene
  • Violence: hate-crime
  • Trigger warnings: underage drinking/smoking, description of a lynching, hate-crime, racism, anti-Semitism

SUSAN KAPLAN CARLTON currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland. Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary (+romance)
Length: 384 pages
Author: Christine Riccio
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? 

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! 

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. 

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Note: Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and Netgalley for the e-ARC and opportunity to read Again, but Better. All opinions are my own.

I HAVE A LOT OF THOUGHTS.

I was really nervous going into this book. I had heard time and again that Shane is essentially a fictionalized version of Christine. I have only seen a few videos of hers and honestly, you can’t miss the similarities. I tried my best to keep my bias about this at bay (which is why I have maintained a 4* rating), but it did sway me on the character originality. I luckily don’t know her channel that well which helped me to overall enjoy this book.

This is what I consider a book version of a TV Hallmark movie. We have the girl trying to find herself, a cute boy, some traveling and a hint of magic. I thought this worked well for this debut rom-com. I loved the wanderlust aspect and about packed my bags while reading because it gave me the travel bug (and we’ve established, I hate flying).

Shane is definitely…quirky. She struggles with social anxiety (my life). I was able to connect with most of her inner dialogue about deciding what to do in a given situation. Putting yourself out there is hard. I liked that this was in a college-aged setting because a lot of self-discovery happens in this part of our lives.

Now, while I understood her inner dialogue most of the time, it got annoying at other times. It was extremely repetitive and a little sporadic. It was too much inside her mind. I like when a book generally cuts some of that rambling down so we get what we need for being in their thoughts. This felt as if every single thought was put to the page.

I adored Pilot (hate his name though *shrugs*). He was cute and sensitive. I loved most of the banter between he and Shane. They were simple and sweet and reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss. The one real iffy thing I didn’t appreciate was this gray area cheating. He’s definitely in a relationship when things fire up with Shane (that even lead to a kiss at one point).

This book had its struggles. It’s a booktuber turned debut author. Again, but Better reads that way. At times it was naive and I think over time her future books will have a more mature sound. There were absolutely way too many pop culture references. I got so tired of reading about HP, Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball, Angry Birds, etc. We don’t need all of that to understand the change in time periods.

I wasn’t expecting the magic element. It was peculiar, but once I’ve considered the entire novel, makes sense. The novel needed this change of pace, and I enjoyed seeing the characters in a new light. I thought they had grown a bit and were more understanding of the situation. I can’t imagine we all, at one time or another, haven’t considered starting something over.

Is it funny that I liked that the parents were alive and present? I feel in a lot of YA they aren’t often represented (or they are already killed off). While this can add some character complexity, I think there was plenty present by having Shane’s parents alive and in her life. I really found this a quick and easy read. I flipped the pages continually and realized I liked the story at its core. I really appreciated watching Shane find what her passion is and seeking out how to have that continually in her life.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fiction with romance
  • Language: some, not heavily present
  • Romance: some kisses and make-outs, an almost love scene, a skipped over night spent together
  • Violence: a slap
  • Trigger warnings: gray area cheating (which does lead to a kiss), assault (forced and unwanted kiss)

Instagram || Goodreads

Award

Blog Award: Sunshine Blogger

I was nominated by Becky’s Book Blog! She is so sweet and I have loved following her posts. Make sure you’re following her too!

I am so happy to receive this nomination. And I know it’s been awhile since I was tagged, but I got to it! It was fun to answer all of these questions. Hope you enjoy.

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How Does It Work?

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

One. If you could have a mythical creature as a pet, which would it be?

DRAGON. Oh my goodness. I LOVE dragons.

Two. What is your favorite book relationship?

Feysand.

Three. What is your favorite bookish trope, and why?

Enemies to lovers! This never gets old to me. I could read about it all the time.

Four. Who is your favorite minor/side character in a book?

I’d say probably Cassian from ACOTAR. Though this changes on a regular basis. I also love Kenji from the Shatter Me series. I clearly have an affinity for sass.

Five. Whats a song that you listen to all the time?

This changes every few days, but at the moment of writing this: Hunger by Florence + The Machine. It is MY JAM.

Six. Whats your most anticipated read of 2019?

Probably Finale (Caraval #3), or Vow of Thieves. Crescent City (SJM) was mine, but as most of us found out recently, we have to wait til 2020. WHY.

Seven. If you could live in the setting of any book, which would you pick?

Velaris. I want to live in the City of Starlight. I sleep so little anyways, lets make the most of it!

Eight. If you could have any magical ability which would you pick?

Oh my goodness. I have no idea. I think invisibility would be cool! Or just innate powers in general. Maybe some mind stuff. Flying. Any would be really awesome.

Nine. Who is your all time favorite author?

Sarah J. Maas, Brandon Sanderson, Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Meyer, Mary E. Pearson, Cinda Williams Chima. Goodness gracious I could go on and on.

Ten. Whats your go to TV series?

FRIENDS. The Office. Parks & Rec. New Girl. How I Met Your Mother.

I’m a big fan of funny short episodes of things. I seriously rotate through these yearly. Currently I’m watching Friends again.

Eleven. What initially drew you to blogging?

I wanted an outlet for creativity. I was really suffering from postpartum depression (and living in New Mexico – which I absolutely hated). I was miserable and decided to give this a chance. I’ll forever be grateful it helped!

The Reading Chemist || Tonkin About Books || The Caffeinated Reader || Aurora Librialis || Bookishly Rebecca || A Book. A Thought. || The Writerly Way

Okay, so I only tagged 7 and I’m only doing 7 questions. Feeling rebellious today, so feel rebellious to not do this tag if you don’t want too!

Here are my questions:

  • What was the last book you raved about?
  • What is your least favorite trope?
  • What do you like to do for fun (besides reading)?
  • What kind of books are you drawn to during summer?
  • Who is a bookish couple that you just don’t like?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What is one of your blogging goals for 2019?

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

Book Review: Deathcaster (Shattered Realms #4) by Cinda Williams Chima

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 656 pages
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

SPLINTERED ALLEGIANCE.

Warrior Alyssa ana’Raisa would do anything to protect her home, the Fells, and her legacy, the Gray Wolf Line. But as a prisoner of Empress Celestine, Lyss is forced to turn her fearsome talents as an army commander against her beloved homeland. Refusal would swiftly lead to her death, and her death would end the Gray Wolf Line.

ANCIENT DANGER.

In Lyss’s absence, Fellsmarch Castle swarms with intrigue, deception, and a primordial threat. Destin Karn, a Southern spymaster with a hidden agenda of his own, might be the queendom’s only hope of defeating the forces aligned against the Seven Realms… as well as the enemies within the castle.

THE DEADLY COST OF PEACE.

Master storyteller Cinda Williams Chima delivers spellbinding action, bittersweet reunions, and dazzling revelations in this indispensable conclusion to the Shattered Realms series. 

FANTASTIC FINALE.

Oohhh this book was so good. I am distraught that this world is at last at an end. I enjoyed the Seven Realms series more, but I definitely had a good time reading through Shattered Realms.

I love that I couldn’t figure out who the traitor was. Every time it would lean one way and I was convinced they were the culprit more facts would be laid out and I couldn’t believe it! Well, I believe the character who committed the fraud is capable of such a thing, I was hopeful that they were better than that, but GUESS NOT.

The ever changing POV was on point. I was left feeling suspense on a feeling of suspense but also that the scene had finished. It was smooth and easy transitions as things were utterly ruled by chaos before the last moments of battle.

“He cocked his head, grinning charmingly, exposing teeth the size of rock slabs. Flame female?

Y’all, dragons. Dragons. And, oh, did I mention dragons? There was a whole cadre vibe with the family of dragons and there interaction and dialogue was seriously the best. I’m so happy they played a much bigger role and dealt out vengeance to all.

The plot was heavy story driven vs. character driven. I wished there was a bit more relationship building among the couples, friends and the like. It would have really put the whole book over the top.

The characters all stepped up their game too. Each reunion scene has me holding my breath. Shouting, AT LAST!! I needed those scenes, and I got those scenes. Destin was one of my favorites. He was sassy and conniving, but also could shed some tears, and when he saw Evan again? I couldn’t even handle it.

Getting Lyss and Hal back together was also momentous. Their final scene was the nice little cherry on top. I love happy endings. I like knowing where things are going. All the questions I had were answered and I fully understood the angle of the antagonists and well as our heroes.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: a handful of mild words
  • Romance: two glossed over love scenes, some kisses
  • Violence: knives, poison, fire, physical
Book Review

Book Review: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Release Date: February 26th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

How do you kill a god?

As her father’s chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying. 

RESONATING.

“Each scar marks me as a survivor. A warrior of the wild.”

This was a book that really caught my attention. A lot of powerful phrasing that really hit home for me. I love this authors writing and the way she builds her characters and the story as a whole.

I absolutely love the dialogue throughout WotW. It was impressive. It felt real and had me flying through the book. I didn’t want to put it down! I vaguely figured out where the book was going, but loved the progression all the same.

I appreciate that the romance was believable. That can be a hard task in a standalone. I adored Soren and his practical, loving nature was precious. Things moved at a steady pace and never went too far, which made absolute sense for the time frame/plot. The banter between Sorren and Rasmira had me chuckling and begging for more.

Each of the main characters (Rasmira, Sorren & Iric) all went through these characters arcs that dove into deeper waters. Conquering fears, realizing one’s true nature and abilities, and learning to communicate were just a few of the aspects broached. I feel like I really got this book. Which is probably why I’m gushing over it now.

The only “eh” thing was the god Peruxolo. There wasn’t much to him so he wasn’t a completely believable antagonist. The scope of the story was so much broader than him that his background took a backseat. I was at least satisfied in the fact that the truth was fully explained at the end.

“My soul has worth, and I won’t let it depart this world just yet.”

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (vikings)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: light kisses to barely intense make-outs
  • Violence: ax, knives, physical

Instagram || Goodreads

Book Review

ARC Book Review: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary
Length: 304 pages
Author: A.K. Small
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Expected Release Date: May 21st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

Thank you to Netgalley, and the publisher, Algonquin Young Readers, for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

SURPRISINGLY DARK.

I went into this book blindly reading because the synopsis was intriguing and I haven’t read any dance books before. I was really happy with how much I enjoyed it! I devoured it in hours.

This is one of those very rare instances where insta-love works. Dear independent Kate, really struggled in the boy department. And I was so angry and upset at her and for her. Her mental health is so poor and turning to boys only made things worse and this broke my heart.

Marine is the softer of the two and is completely wrapped up in her own grief. I liked how she overcame her personal struggles and allowed love into her life. Luc was way too precious and I LOVE him. He was the real hero of this story if you ask me.

On the other hand I’m going to personally destroy the snake, Cyrille. While I think the nickname “The Demigod” is a bit lame it made sense from a teen perspective. He was seriously the worst though y’all. Don’t even get me started.

The real danger is when passions rule your life. This ballet school is a deadly mash-up that kept me on my toes. I legitimately was concerned that this book wouldn’t have a happy ending. I’m grateful that the story was wrapped up and everyone went the direction they needed to.

One of the few issues I had with it was the amount of unexplained dance phrases. Anyone without a full knowledge (like myself) would be a tad confused with the dance scenes. I gathered enough, but I did get confused on occasion. The transitions to flashbacks was also a touch perplexing. I often didn’t realize we had gone to the past when the book had already come back to the present.

Overall audience notes:

Second Note: The Trigger Warning section will contain mild spoilers. I generally try to keep it free of those, but I feel it’s important to know what you might stumble across because this book has some difficult themes that shocked me and I would want others to know before reading.

  • YA Contemporary: difficult themes, please see Trigger Warning section
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: lots of kisses/make-outs, a few very little detailed love scenes
  • Violence: personal (detailed in trigger section)
  • Trigger warnings: anorexia, general obsession with weight, smoking, drug-use, underage drinking, self-harm, abortion, sexual exploitation, and suicide

Instagram || Goodreads