Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis

Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis
Disney Hyperion
October 14, 014
Hardback 336 pages
YA Sci-Fi/Fairytale Retelling
Personal Copy
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound

Goodreads -Princess Snow is missing.

Her home planet is filled with violence and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. The king will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back-but that's assuming she wants to return at all.

Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.

When a mysterious young man named Dane crash-lands near her home, Essie agrees to help the pilot repair his ship. But soon she realizes that Dane's arrival was far from accidental, and she's pulled into the heart of a war she's risked everything to avoid.

In her enthralling debut, R.C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets . . . and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy's future-and her own-in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.



Confession
First, I am not completely giving up on blogging. I've just got a lot of new things going on and this has always been a hobby so it's the first thing to take a back seat. I do miss you all. Secondly, I have not read The Lunar Chronicles. I have them, of course, but I haven't read them. I think most of my bookshelves are lined with books I haven't read yet. But after a particularly hard day I hit the bookstore and found this one that I couldn't pass up. Have you read it?

Review
I didn't know this was a fairytale retelling or even science fiction until I was hooked. But that didn't take too long. This book immediately sweeps you away from this world into the world of Thanda and the tough living Essie makes of fighting and repairing robots for the miners. It was cold and dreary while I was reading this book so I could immediately feel the world of Thanda. No hope is the best way to describe it. It's the last stop to nowhere. Though I figured out who Essie was pretty quickly I had no idea how she had gotten where she was and why (except for the original story line).

Then Dane crashes into her world, literally, and everything changes. Dane seems innocent enough and likable. But Essie is cautious of anyone, especially strangers. She's always waited for the day when someone came looking for her. But Dane appears to be on the up and up. He just wants to free his people and beat the cruel rulers of Windsong, which happens to be Essie's home planet. He tries to enlist her help, but she wants nothing to do with it. Hoping her secret is safe, she helps to patch his shuttle and hopes to send him on his way. That's what she wants. Dane has another agenda.

The romance in the novel is what we all hope for, but seldom get. Essie is suspicious of Dane. Dane treats her as a hostage. But they slowly become friends and then into more. But it is slow. I wouldn't even call it a burn. There is a huge obstacle standing between their intimacy, one I never guessed at and had to think about before I came to terms with it being in the story. I couldn't decide why it felt like it was just thrown in there at the last minute. But then I went back to examine Essie's behavior and realized there were clues to this all along. In fact, I couldn't understand the hatred she had for this person, why she didn't trust him when it seemed he may have been a victim as well. But then this thing that happened, it explained her feelings and in the end made sense to me. I'm just surprised I didn't see the signs before the ending.

There are a lot of twists and turns in the novel. A lot of, "it's a small world after all," moments. And interesting world building. Dane and the inhabitants of his planet have an unusual ability, Essie has it as well though it doesn't come as easy for her. I like how it was introduced slowly, then explained and put into action. And the "stitching" has nothing to do with a needle and thread. I loved how R.C. Lewis used that word to describe what Essie did, bridging the original story of Snow White to this updated, unique spin on the story.

Though the ending was satisfying, it felt just a tad bit rushed. Some of the drama could have been drawn out. And I was left with a few questions. But I was so glad it was not a series. It was the perfect read overall. I highly recommend it for lovers of YA fiction with a bent towards Science Fiction, Paranormal Abilities and Fairytale Retellings. There is a romance in it as well for those of us that need a love story to make us happy! There is violence and some suggestion of attempted rape. 



Find R.C. Lewis on line- Books - Blog -Facebook-Twitter-Tumblr

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Induction Day (Butterman Time Travel Inc. 2) by P K Hrezo Blog Tour and Giveaway



IDT7

I can't tell you how excited I am to review this second book in the Butterman Time Travel Inc. Series. I loved the first novel as you can tell by my review HERE. There is a great giveaway associated with this tour (don't forget to hashtag) and no Rafflecopter forms to fill out! I hope you check out some of the other stops on this tour with excerpts of the book. It's really a can't miss for Time Travel lovers!


Induction Day

Induction Day (Butterman {Time} Travel, Inc #2) 
Ages: 16+
Pages: 247
The year 2069 is coming to a close, and eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman's time-craft license is finally official. She's ready for the Induction Day she’s waited for since she was a kid—the one that will secure her name on the Butterman family tree of time travelers. But ever since the media discovered Bianca is pop superstar Tristan Helms’ latest new honey, everything Bianca does or says becomes a target of criticism. Having her professional credibility topping the gossip sites across social media is an open invitation for the government to step in and regulate Bianca’s Induction. Now she will have to ask herself if saving 1500 people from drowning is worth losing everything she’s ever worked for, including the Butterman family biz.

Welcome to Butterman Travel, Incorporated; a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. We’re a family owned and operated business with one hundred years of experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.

Anxious to attend some special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?

You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do apply

Use our Web conferencing to contact our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, who will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.

We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.

Goodreads | YouTube

 Review

This novel starts out just a few weeks after the last novel ended. It took me just a little bit of time to remember what had happened at the end of the last book and to get me going in this book. I couldn't remember if there had been a cliffhanger or what. But apparently not as there is no big save in the beginning. A sweet romance is brewing between Tristan and Brianna, continued from the last novel but it has it troubles. And it is NOT a love triangle.

Butterman Travel, in fact all time travel agencies, are being hounded by D
OT. They pay enormous amounts of taxes and other fees that make time travel accessible only to the very rich. Butterman Travel wants all the people to have access to time travel but can't seem to get out from under the DOT's thumb. Particularly a woman named Graves who pretends, in this novel, to only want what's best for Butterman. So when some bad publicity hits Butterman Travel due to Bianca and Tristan's relationship and certain allusions to some past infractions that may or may not have happened in Bianca's and Tristan's last time trip (Butterman (Time) Travel Inc. Book 1, DOT, via Graves, believes that Bianca's Induction Day should be broadcast for the world to see.

I have to say that Bianca, who has been in the business, learning it since the age of ten is a lot more comfortable with that idea than I would be. I don't want anyone watching me even make a post, but driving what sounds like a miniature space shuttle into a time chute with precision and accuracy onto the Titanic just hours before it sinks sounds like a great way to die. Or a horrific way to die. I know a lot of people are Titanic fans, wanting to know more and more about it, but I tend the other way. I know what happens and I don't want to read about it. I'll let you find out if you get to experience anything from the Titanic.

The best thing about Bianca's Induction Day was going to be that she saved the Titanic. She was going to create a parallel universe so that all of the people survived and she would erase her trail so the DOT would never know. But with the whole world watching and DOT scrutinizing her every move, she can't do it. So all her years of planning and scientific equations and memorizing dates and times, it's all for nothing. Or at least that's what she believes as she starts out on her Induction Day journey. Oh, and one more little monkey wrench, the DOT thinks it would be a good idea if Tristan went with Bianca. Just to show how safe of a pilot Bianca is at 18.

The ending is frustrating, not as in cliffie or anything like that, but you feel the characters' feeling of damned if you do and damned if you don't. Their hands were tied at the outset of Bianca's Induction Day, she couldn't refuse them and what DOT does at the end is so unfair, yet not unexpected. But the revelations that come from Ms. Graves, those shake the foundations of Butterman Travel and I have to wonder if and what will happen to Butterman travel now.

This is an incredibly fast book to read. But this is the second book in the series, so do make sure to read the first book in the series. These need to be read in order. The time travel will not have you confused as an actual time travel vehicle is used to travel through time and space. It's an easy concept to grasp. There is a little bit of sex in it but it's almost off the page. There is also talk of drug use and a little bit of swearing. I believe 13-14 and up should be able to handle it.

Thanks to the author for a review copy of this novel for the purposes of the tour. I was in no way influenced in my review.

  Information on Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc 




Description:
Welcome to Butterman Travel, IncorporatedWe are a full service agency designed to meet all your exclusive time travel needs. Family-owned and operated, we offer clients one hundred years of time travel experience. A place where you can rest assured, safety and reliability always come first.Anxious to attend a special event from the past? Or for a glimpse of what the future holds?You’ve come to the right place. We’re a fully accredited operation, offering an array of services; including, but not limited to: customized travel plans, professionally piloted operations, and personal trip guides. *Terms and conditions do applyConference us directly from our Website. Our frontline reservation specialist, Bianca Butterman, will handle all your inquiries in a professional and efficient manner, offering a tentative itinerary and free fare quote, so you can make the most of your time trip.We look forward to serving you at Butterman Travel, Inc., where time is always in your hands.


Goodreads |Amazon Kindle  |B&N  







About the author:
PK Hrezo
PK Hrezo is a native Floridian rarely found without her flip flops on. She shares her home with her firefighter husband, their two children, and big dog named Ripley. When not creating characters and their worlds, PK can be found at her other job of rearranging passenger’s itineraries for a major international airline. The only hobbies she loves more than traveling are reading, writing, and music, and when the four are combined she exists in total bliss.

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Blog





Giveaway:


To be entered into a special giveaway, copy one of these ready-made posts and share it. Make sure PK’s name is tagged so she can see it and enter your name into a giveaway. The more you share, the more entries you receive. Five winners will receive a time traveler’s book thong:



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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Available Now
Harlequin Teen 
YA Historical Fiction/LGBT
Hardback 384 pages
To Buy Links- Amazon/Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

REVIEW


This may be a fiction book, but it feels like anything but that.  Robin Talley did her homework and in a book that is so charged with not only race issues but also sexuality issues, it really paid off. Reading this novel, I found out how truly ignorant I am of what it's like to be any color other than white in America. I thought I was reading diverse books and trying to be enlightened, but this book will cut you down to your knees and make you ashamed that you didn't know how integration really was before now. I mean, I was born after the first integration started, when this book was set, but I remember when a couple of busloads of African American students had to get up early and ride a bus to "my side" of town when I was elementary school to desegregate the schools. I don't remember picket lines or riots. But when I moved to NC  fourteen years ago, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System was still talking about desegregation. This book was based on first person accounts taken from the late 1950's. I went to school in the 1970's. And in 2000, it is still a word that is being discussed. Really?

So, the book. It will make you see, really see how ugly integration was. How brave the students were that had to integrate. And how hateful the schools were that they integrated into, the teachers, the students, the parents, the administration. But this is a very intimate look at the lives of ten students that integrated into a small town all white high school in Virginia in 1959. It is very raw and realistic. No sugar coated words and the small minded thinking of the white people, especially Linda, will make you yell at the book more times than you can count. I'd have to put the book down for a few hours and take a walk  because I had so much pent up anger and no way to release it.  The main narrator, Sarah, is so stalwart as she gets spit on and called names I still won't even write out. The fact that she also believes there is something wrong with her because she has feelings for girls instead of boys adds one more layer to the story. Sarah's life is hard enough with the day to day struggle of going to Jefferson, but then with her feelings that she believes are unnatural her life is just miserable. She prays for strength and protection and a cure and the safety of the other African American students, including her little sister. She's actually very selfless but she's believable. She argues with Linda very happily and eloquently in the back room of a diner when she, Linda and another girl, Judy, have to work on a project together. She starts out as this scared girl walking through the crowd of shouting white people afraid of every shout and word and touch but she ends up much stronger and braver for having endured the months that she attended school there.

Still, reading all the things she and the other nine students went through, I often got mad at their parents. I know why they wanted their kids to go to Jefferson. They had every right to go there. They should go there. They were making a point. But the parents weren't there, day after day to know what the kids went through. And this is the ultimate in bullying. No one is trying to hide it at all. No one needs Facebook or a cell phone, they just shout right into their faces. Spit on their clothes. Trip them in the halls. Spit spitballs into their hair.

It's a shocking story, the hatred and the violence. It's very addictive. Despite my fits of anger, I found myself grabbing it again and again wanting to know if Sarah and her sister and the other students made it through the school year alive. I wanted to know if Linda's father ever talked to her or looked at her. Did she really get married or did she go on to college? Did she ever think before she spoke to Sarah? Did she really believe the words she was saying?  The narration style is great because it goes back and forth between Sarah, the 12th grade African American at Jefferson and Linda, a popular 12th grade white girl at Jefferson. They were such a contrast in thought and content. Sarah is worried about living and surviving, while Linda is worried about how the "integrationist" are ruining her year. At least that's how it starts.

I very much recommend this novel. I would say this isn't my normal fare at all. I wouldn't have picked it up on my own at all. What made me grab it was that the author is from my husband's home town. I am so glad I read it though. It's an issue I tend to avoid, but now, I want to know more. I'm planning to look up some of the first person accounts the author cites and finding my own to read. It is fascinating and horrifying. I can and yet can't believe that we can treat each other so horribly.

There is a lot of violence and language in this novel. It reflects the times that this book was written in, 1959 and the words and attitudes of whites about African Americans. I do not condone that language but it could hardly be realistic without using the vernacular of the times. 

And since I loved it so much and I was given a copy from Casey at MM Publicity for my review and I also get to give a copy away. US Only!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

ROBIN TALLEY
 WEBSITE


 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Centennary Edition- Simple History- A Simple Guide to World War I by Daniel Turner

Simple History- A Simple Guide to World War I
The Centenary Edition 1914-2014
by Daniel Turner

Available Now
Paperback 54 pages
MG History

To buy links- Amazon/ Kindle/BN/Indiebound/

Goodreads- Jump into the muddy trenches of the World War I and discover the story of one of the bloodiest wars in history! 


On the way meet the soldiers and leaders of the conflict and explore the exciting weapons, tanks, planes & 
technology of battle. 

Illustrated in the popular minimalist style of today, young reader's imaginations will come to life. 

Simple history gives you the facts in a simple uncomplicated and eye catching way. 

Simple history is part of an ongoing series, what will be the next episode?

REVIEW

This isn't a book I typically read, but it's Middle Grade and the pictures were so tempting I just couldn't resist. As an American, my knowledge of the war- WWI- is limited to a chapter in a book in high school starting with when the USA entered the war. I never really knew why the other countries were fighting or what was going on, I just knew why we entered the war. But this short book gives a brief history of the complete war, starting with alliances and going  all through to the trenches and rats the size of cats to the bloodiest battles and the disgruntled winners. (If there really are winners in a war.) I learned a lot in this short book. It wasn't like reading- more like bullet points with information and pictures to illustrate.

I really recommend this to reluctant readers, to kids as an introduction to history, and to brush up on your history. I enjoyed it so much I think I might check out some of the other ones.

Find out more about Daniel Turner's other books at  www.simplehistory.co.uk 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing
Available Now
Harper Teen
Hardback 358 pages
YA Dystopian
To Buy- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audio CD/ Audible/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads-  The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

REVIEW

So as I read The Jewel a while back, I couldn't help but think about all the other dystopians I've read with girls in pretty dresses in hopeless situations trying to escape the powers that be. I wasn't wowed by this one like I thought I would be. Okay, yes, I was drawn to the cover. I still am. But Violet, she just wasn't the kind of girl I'd choose as the leader of a rebellion. She does take risks, a good trait to have for a leader, but they are selfish and she doesn't think about the consequences to anyone else. Every time she did something risky, I didn't worry about her, as a surrogate, she seemed protected. But I worried about the person she was with and if they would get caught. Anyone that she communicated with in any way was at risk. I just never warmed up to her. She seemed to be a nice girl, but she really wasn't nice so much as indifferent. If she had really cared about her friends, others, she would have acted instead of settling into the idyllic and pampered life she had going on. She wouldn't have kept so many secrets. And it cost her. But it cost others more.

I don't like the world. Women seem to have the power, but not really. It's pettiness and jealousy and all about who has more and the best. It makes women appear to be exactly what we have always been portrayed to be concerned more about how we look, what we have in terms of jewels, gardens, potential children, clothing, mansions all those things mean power. But. at the end of the day, it's the men that have the power to make the rules. At least, the women have to have the man's name behind them in order to make the rules. So it's nothing really new. Female slavery, female treachery and conniving, it all leads to a very unflattering picture of women in general with men stepping back to allow the women like cats to fight it out for themselves. I don't know what the outcome will be, but with the events at the end of the book I was shaking my head, disappointed, but not surprised by the turn of events given Violet's selfishness.

The idea is certainly new to me and horrific, girls are taken at a young age and sequestered from their family to be raised so that they can hone their "gifts" and talents and then go to be auctioned off in a room full of women, known from then on as a number only. Everything is done to make them lose their identity so that they become property, lose their sense of self. What happens to them after they give birth to the precious children is unknown. Each girl is treated differently by the woman that purchases her. Some are pampered, some are treated little better than slaves and none of them are allowed to talk to each other despite having grown up together. The cruelty is endless. Death is not uncommon as the women are cutthroat about having the child that will marry the next ruler. The sooner the child is born, the better. Science and deviousness mix into horrifying experiments until Violet and probably many of the girls fight for their lives.

While this wasn't the story for me, I am sure many readers will be intrigued by the story line. Surrogacy and slavery, power and loss of identity and a rebellion in the making. The writing is good and the topic is interesting, give it a try if you find that it is something you want to tackle. Don't be fooled by the cover, though. Much like the dresses, the homes, the makeup and jewels that the women that purchase girls like Violet have, the book cover is just window dressing. It's not telling you what's inside. Read it for yourself.

AMY EWING ONLINE
BLOG~FACEBOOK~TWITTER-@amyewingbooks

Monday, October 13, 2014

Book Binge- Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas

All of these are out now and can be found at your local indie bookstore. They can also be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and all the other on line retailers. I'm not going to post the links. You can probably type "T" in the search and it will bring THRONE OF GLASS up right away. Sarah J. Maas should be a household name, in my humble opinion. Like her addiction, Walt Disney.

I have to be honest, its been hard coming back from the world of Adarlan and Wendallyn. Of The Captain of the Guard, Chaol, who is so opposite of Celaena in his goodness, blind faith and loyalty and belief in his king that he can't see the truth staring him in the face. Of the world of Dorian, once chaser of women and carefree, but now with the weight of a dark secret and an even heavier burden, knowing he must live up to being a leader, but not quite there. Of magic, sweet, sweet, terrible, painful, glorious, powerful earth magic like nothing I've ever read before. And oh the painful, deep loss and grieving and loneliness of losing everyone and yourself and giving up all hope. Of letting that spark die.

I don't know that a fantasy book has ever made me cry like I did with this series, but not only can Sarah J. Maas elicit feelings of "well he got what was coming to him" and "God, she's a cold hearted bitch" or "what a spoiled child." She can also make you feel the heavy, heavy weight of grief without even writing the words. I didn't even realize that was what I was experiencing until the character finally voiced it. But Lordy did I feel it. A sense of gloom, darkness, no spark of life, no color as I read. I am so hooked!

I read THRONE OF GLASS when it came out. I might have even gotten it through NetGalley. But I have my own copy, actually signed and a signed copy of CROWN OF MIDNIGHT. I have met the awesome Sarah J. Maas in the beautiful town of Asheville at the coolest Indie bookstore called Malaprops. (Several awesome authors call that bookstore home away from home.) But, as the rest of the books were released, although I bought them, I didn't make time to read them. So with only THRONE OF GLASS and THE ASSASSIN AND THE EMPIRE under my belt, I spent my birthday weekend in Celaena's world. I was in heaven!! It's so great to give yourself permission to read anything you want and then read with abandon.

My life has been in chaos for the past few months but sinking into fantasy, what a huge relief. It was like a vacation, so wonderful, and to share it with these characters, yes!! So ummm, what can I say that hasn't already been said?? If I wasn't a fan of fantasy, this would make me one. If I didn't have a favorite female character, Celaena would be her. It's not just that she is bad ass, God to have an ounce of her bad assery!!! But she is more than that. A refugee without a country. A woman without her true love. A tragic fate without the will to fight it. A girl wounded, almost broken looking for vengeance for her love. A child without parents. It makes for a mass of emotions swirling in a dangerous woman who, though she controls them well, is always on the verge of slipping. And is more scared of losing control than dying even. All of that and she serves the king that brought all of this down on her.

When I met Sarah J. Maas in Asheville, she said that THRONE OF GLASS was inspired by the music from Cinderella and she thought, what if Cinderella didn't lose her shoe but saved herself and became an assassin. I'd say she took that thought to a whole new level!!! Thank you, to writers like Mrs. Maas. I needed this book binge. I'm thinking about catching up on some other series I have but haven't even started. But this one, this one goes on the special shelf. Like Walt Disney's Cinderella, it is a masterpiece. If you follow Sarah's Tumblr blog she posts sporadically about music that inspires certain scenes and I love to read them and imagine the music as I re-read the chapters. Music is such an inspiration to me whether it's just getting through the next hour or getting me through the day. I love to read what music does for other people, how it speaks to them. I write to music. Maybe I'll find the score to Cinderella and it will inspire me. Whether it does or doesn't, I will think of Celaena who rose from the ashes of the castle. She didn't need a prince, she cast him aside. Cast the knight in shining armor aside. She saved herself. As the saying goes, "No one is coming." Except Celaena, and I'd say that the King and his knights should start running. Because Celaena may be pretty and like pretty things. She may fall in love and may cry at beautiful music and love to read, but she's a warrior and Celaena is coming. I can't wait!

YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY FIND SARAH MAAS ANYWHERE ON LINE BUT HERE ARE SOME PLACES YOU CAN FIND HER AND EVEN SOME OF HER OTHER COLLABORATIVE WRITING
THE STARKILLERS CYCLE SPACE OPERA (this is a collaborative effort with Susan Dennard (SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY SERIES) and is free on line for anyone to read. It is updated when the authors have a chance meaning, in between books tours and a life. It's an awesome opportunity to see more of their imaginations!)

SARAH CAN ALSO BE FOUND HERE-
PINTEREST~TWITTER@SJMaas~FACEBOOK~TUMBLR~BLOG

Friday, October 3, 2014

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Hardcover 416 pages
YA Historical/Paranormal
Free Preview- Here
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Indiebound/ Book Depository

Goodreads-  A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

REVIEW

I love witches. The Witch of Blackbird Pond remains one of my favorite childhood books. However, as an adult, I haven't found a lot of witch books that have lived up to my childhood favorite. Avery Roe and her tale is one of those stories. Avery is a strong minded girl, fighting her mother tooth and nail to return to her grandmother, the last Roe witch, so that she can learn how to use her magic. Avery's mother refuses to let her become the witch, declaring that she has ended the line. She has seen the life her mother lived and she doesn't want it for her daughter. But it's what Avery wants, she feels the magic crawling inside her, desperate to get out. And her mother is just as desperate to keep Avery with her, going so far as to marry a preacher, a wealthy one, and giving Avery a lady's education so that she can make a good match.

Then, Avery has her dream of being murdered and knows she only has a little time to become the Roe witch and change her fate, if that's even possible. She's a dream teller and she's never known anyone to change their fate, even when they tried. The islanders rely on the Roe witch for protection and safety. Love, happiness, wealth, fidelity, they believe that the Roe witches are responsible for it all. So, if a charm fails.....you know how it goes. The thought that there will be no Roe witch after Avery's grandmother dies is something no one wants to entertain. Avery feels a deep need to take on the role of the Roe witch, fighting against her mother, hating her for keeping her from her rightful place and her grandmother. She feels her roots in the island and an obligation, a sense of duty to the island. That she can't fulfill the duty makes her feel like she's betraying her island. She is both taunted and revered. 

Tane is such a breath of fresh air on this island of sailors, whalers and widows. He comes from an island so far away it's taken years for him to sail to Prince Island. He and Avery make a striking pair, his magic is from a strange land and she cannot access hers. He seeks her out for her dream telling powers, but they both have something to learn from each other. Tane's patience with Avery is almost poetic, his willingness to help her more than brave. And Avery, in return was brave for Tane.

Yes, being the Roe witch takes sacrifice. Something no one ever told Avery. The lessons she learns one after another in quick succession barely allow her to catch her breath before she has to handle another seemingly insurmountable situation. Her life hangs in the balance many times. And Tane is there beside her. 

I highly recommend this novel! If you love historical novels this is a great one. But if you love witch stories, I think you'll really love this one. For me to place it next to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, it is an incredible story. I loved it! 

Thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for an e-ARC through NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Find Kendall Kulper

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin
Available Sept 23rd
Egmont USA
Hardcover 352 pages
YA Sci-Fi Adventure
To Buy Links- Amazon/ Kindle/ Audible/ MP3 CD/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads- The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end. 

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

REVIEW
This reminds me more of the Alex Rider series, a middle grade series I loved to read with my son and still love. The difference is the characters are older and there is a touch of romance. It was really well written and I was "on the edge of my seat" while reading it most of the time. I read it in one night. 

Sarah is the main character who is getting part of her memory removed for a reason she doesn't remember when something happens. Sarah is already strong when we first meet her. You know she doesn't have a mental illness just by the way she thinks and takes in her surroundings. You can tell she's almost spy like. I wasn't right in guessing what she was, but maybe you'll be better at guessing. A few pages in and all heck breaks loose. The world is not what it seems and then Sarah's world becomes a battle ground with casualties and memories. 

The situations that Sarah finds herself in are not that unbelievable. Well, I can't imagine this scenario happening, but my world is fairly small. The things that happen in the book aren't of the kind that Sarah gets last minute unbelievable saves and things just happen to fall into place. No, Sarah has to fight for every scrap of help she gets. Her hacker friend does come in handy, in many, many ways, but you'll see why he is limited in helping her.

This is a very fast paced thriller with just a little bit of sci-fi in it. So little that I don't think it was even necessary, but it did help me buy the last bit of action. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it to lovers of YA thrillers! There is violence and maybe some language, but I don't recall anything else that would make this objectionable. I'd recommend it for 12 and up.

Thanks to Egmont for a copy of the novel for review!! This did not affect my review in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Kristen Lippert-Martin

Monday, September 8, 2014

Nest by Esther Ehrlich Review

Nest by Esther Ehrlich
Available September 9th, 2014
Wendy Lamb Books
Middle Grade Fiction
Hardcover 336 pages
To Buy - Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Book Depository/ Indiebound/ Kobo

Goodreads-  For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
   Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
   Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you. 

REVIEW

This novel isn't at all what I was expecting. It had a hint of sadness throughout the novel, sometimes more than sadness and more than a hint. From an 11 yr old's perspective, her mother's diagnosis of a serious illness and her worsening depression about it seems like something she can cure with a dance, making her mother laugh, reminding her of the good times they had in the past. But Chirp doesn't know what depression is and her psychiatrist father doesn't explain it to her or her older sister Rachel. So when Mom's condition worsens and Chirp's attempts haven't helped, she turns to birdwatching and her friendship with the boy next door, Joey with troubles of his own.

If you're looking for a light read, this isn't it. It's about a family falling apart and putting themselves back together. It's so interesting that the mother has both a "serious disease" and depression. The "serious disease" the mother has, Multiple Sclerosis,  is diagnosed by physical symptoms and then confirmed by a neurologist. Yet, depression is also a "serious disease" and in the story there are clues that the mom had a hard childhood (sometimes a contributing factor) and this is not her first time experiencing depression. The mother also gives clues that she is not doing well that she is "much worse, much worse, much worse," than her psychiatrist husband sees. Chirp overhears all this and doesn't want to see any of this herself. 

And then there's Joey's story. The boy next door who is a bit OCD about hygiene and placing things just so, yet he seems to be sensitive to Chirp's story. He has troubles of his own, big brothers that bully him and bruises and marks on his body that don't go unnoticed by Chirp. The beginning of the story has him throwing rocks outside his house because he is locked out of his house on purpose during dinner. Yet he shows a maturity and understanding of what Chirp needs.

My overall impression is that it was just a little off the mark for me. The writing didn't quite hit the spot, I wasn't quite in love with the characters and I didn't understand Chirp and where her story led her. I was also not a fan of the ending. The dad promises something to Joey, as if he knows something we don't, and then doesn't deliver. 

This is a middle grade book and though it wasn't for me I have read other reviews that thought the writing and story were stunning. This should be for a more mature middle grade reader as this novel has themes of child abuse, depression and suicide.  I hope as you read it, you'll remember that Depression is as serious a disease as the "serious disease" the mother is diagnosed with and just like a laugh or a beautiful child can't cure Multiple Sclerosis, neither can it cure Depression.

Thanks to Random House for the E-ARC for review through NetGalley. My review was in no way influenced by this. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

ESTHER EHRLICH

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fragile Destiny by Suzanne Lazear

Fragile Destiny The Aether Chronicles Book 3
by Suzanne Lazear
Available Now
Flux Paperback 432 pages
To Buy- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN/ Indiebound/ BookDepository/ Kobo

GoodreadsNoli and her true love V fear the worst if the Staff of Eris—a potent Otherworld relic—falls into the wrong hands. Broken into pieces and hidden in the mortal realm long ago, the staff bestows vast powers on whoever possesses it. Ciarán, the dark king, is trying to rebuild the staff, intending to use it to install a new queen.

In a desperate effort to keep the Otherworld from falling into darkness, Noli and V plot the daring theft of a jewel Ciarán needs to complete the staff. But Ciarán is not so easily defeated. Through his devious machinations, he has set a plan in motion for a final showdown that will decide who rules the Otherworld once and for all.




REVIEW

So here we are again, back with Noli and V and James. And all the other characters that we have come to know over the last few books in the series. I will admit, I was a little lost at first, trying to remember who was who, but things fell into place pretty quickly. Tiana is still herself. Noli still has the sprite inside of her and she is still hiding from her mother that she has any connection to the Otherworld.

Fragile Destiny doesn't read like the final novel in a series. There are a lot of new characters with stories that seem to have the potential to carry the story on. Noli and V. are a little more resolved both in the human world and the Otherworld, and they are definitely PG in this novel. James is amusing and actually more useful than in the last novel. But I don't really know what to tell you. I enjoyed the story very much. The way Suzanne Lazear manipulates the Fae world into Light and Dark courts Earth, Fire, Water and Air courts is unique. I didn't see enough of any of the courts other than the Earth Court, V's and James' court, to get to know them well. I am very interested to know more about the others.

There isn't a lot of clarity in this book. What I mean is that we don't find out who the voice is that Noli heard while she was in the tree healing. We don't know what the artifact will do once it is put together and who should wield it. Who is against Tiana? Well we know the Earth Court is but who else? There are more questions raised in this book which leads me to believe I am wrong in thinking this was the last book in the series and that there will be at least one more if not several more books in the series. I'd like that. The characters are bright and funny. Noli is unpredictable, smart and very much her own person. She doesn't do the right thing or the thing you think she should. Guessing what she will do is fun. Tiana is just as unpredictable as a villain. She is the mother of Elise and yet, would she kill her to keep her place? She gave up her children to be Queen of all of the Otherworld. V. is "a stuffy old bodger" at the ripe age of 17 or so but he knows how to be a politician in the Otherworld.
And there are all sorts of other characters, airship pirates, huntsman, fae children with powers they shouldn't have and could be killed for and wood faeries and tree houses. The fantasy part is very creative and I love the characters and I will continue to look forward to this series.

It's a light series, but you do have to keep up with the characters as the further the books go the more interconnected their storylines become. This book is very PG with a little bit of violence and some hints at sex (married) but nothing explicit. (The first book in this series was much darker in tone and for a more mature audience due to the sex). I recommend the novel to lovers of all things Fae, light steampunk (Noli is a huge machine junkie), fantasy and alternate history and of course, YA.

Thanks to the Publisher Flux and NetGalley for an E-ARC to review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and were not influenced in any way.

SUZANNE LAZEAR

Thursday, September 4, 2014

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen
Available Now
Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Paperback 384 pages
To Buy- Amazon/ Kindle/ BN

Goodreads-As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face? 

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

REVIEW

This novel has been calling to me for a while, so I finally picked it up. It is a beautiful book told through the eyes and emotions of Terra Cooper a girl emotionally abused by her father, not just because of the large port wine birthmark on her face, but also because that's him. He terrorizes the entire family, holding them hostage to his perfect ideals and demands. In turns, her older brothers and then her stand as a buffer between her father and mother, always waiting for the physical abuse. They all cower under the weight of his abuse.

But then, purely by chance, Terra meets Jacob who has an imperfection of his own and is incredibly unselfconscious about it. He slowly changes Terra's way of seeing herself over Christmas break. To see someone that doesn't balk at her birthmark, that actually prefers her without her pancake makeup on, it's so unbelievable to Terra. Meeting Jacob and his mother sets off a chain of events that changes the lives of everyone in Terra's household including her father's. Terra defines beauty in a different way now. And her opinion about herself comes less from what others think about her and more from what she thinks of herself.

It's a great lesson. Believing that you are beautiful despite the flaws you see in yourself when you look in the mirror. Seeing the good things about yourself instead of the bad things when you look. It's easier if you don't have the huge birthmark that Terra has, and yet, I think we still see our flaws first when we look in the mirror. That tape plays telling us we're ugly, remembering a boy, a girl, a parent, a relative that told you how ugly you were. Ideally, we could learn our lesson from Terra and develop a thick skin. Forget the past hurts and move on. Ideally. But take it one step at a time and keep her in your mind. There is some truth in fiction, however small. I plan to be looking for the positives rather than the negative thanks to Terra and Jacob.

This novel is beautifully written, the emotions raw and painful. You can feel the hurt with each insult and  unspoken word. I know emotional abuse and it is like walking on eggshells, trying to be on that fine line between pleasing and perfect. One wrong wobble and the insults and barrage of anger begins. All the negative seeps into your soul and getting rid of it is next to impossible.

I hope that North Of Beautiful sheds some light on this problem. It's the kind of abuse one can't see and yet it's as damaging as physically hitting someone. And Justina Chen does a beautiful job of laying the story out to u slowly until we are sure of what is going on.

I highly recommend this novel for lovers of comtemporary literature.


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