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Friday, July 20, 2018

Spies, Lies & Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts


Spies, Lies & Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts
Contemporary Romance, 300 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Entangled: Teen
Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.


Well. I definitely should have reviewed this well before now, since I read it back in late April or early May (long enough ago that I can’t even quite remember), but frankly, silly blogger that I am, I couldn’t make up my mind on how I wanted to review it: written post or vlog. As if it matters. Finally I was just like, Misty, what are you doing with your life, and sat down to write this, and now here we are. Fascinating, huh?

You’d probably have been able to guess how I was likely to feel about this from my first impressions video, if not, or if you missed that video, lemme be clear: this was super cute and sweet and not at all saccharine, and I deffo recommend.

I really enjoyed the voice in S, L, & A. Laurel is an easy character to like and follow along with, relatable (even if she is rich, and a lot of us are, ahem, not), warm, smart and funny, without being too much of anything, to make her a perfectperfect, bland Mary Sue. There’s a good streak of nerdom niche, making it possibly a good fit for fans of the super popular Geekerella, though I think it maybe even had more going for it than Geekerella. If you watched that first impressions video, you’ll know that the nerd factor was actually the element I was most concerned about. The Star Wars references were… frequent, to say the least; I was worried it was going to be too heavy-handed and almost condescending: this is the reference I’m making, the comparison I’m laying, and just in case you didn’t get it the first eighteen times, I’m going to make it one more time… But actually, this element either leveled out, or I got used to it, because although it was a thread that was carried through the entire story, it didn’t feel like too much. Laurel's Star Wars obsession and general nerdery worked to build the character, and her relationship to her dad, and just felt authentic to who they were.

Which brings me to what is perhaps my favorite – and the most surprising – thing about the book: I like that there's a parent/child relationship at the heart of the story that is equally, if not more, important than the romance. It’s a Known Thing™ that kids in YA and MG stories are almost always orphans, in practice if not in reality. Whether it’s because they’re workaholics, died in fiery crashes, or have been kidnapped by the fairies, parents in books for kids and teens are just non-existent. There are lots of reasons for this, which have certainly been explored and written about before, but the main reason for this is expediency: you want your protagonists to be able to do whatever the story requires of them, without worrying about things like curfew or a parent saying things like, Now, just where do you think you’re going with that knapsack full of M&Ms and spare clothes, little missy? But the parents in Spies, Lies, and Allies aren’t just there, they’re involved, they’re active, they give a shit.  Even more than that, the book is as much an exploration of, and love letter to, a father/daughter relationship as it is a cutesy contemporary romance. Beyond adding another layer to the story, it really set the story apart from other cutesy contemporary romances, and I appreciated this immensely. 

It did have some continuity issues, or just small things that I would question. Nothing major, and quite possibly nothing that will even stand out to some/many readers, but I did notice them, and these small things do add up. Many will find it predictable, which it is, but in a wanted way. I've talked about this a lot lately – sometimes predictable works. And eh, there's nothing new under the sun, right?

All in all, I read through it really quickly – so it’s plenty engaging – and enjoyed it a lot. It has a really good sense of place and of voice; it’s sweet and wholesome, without really being too cheesy too fluffy, or easy to dismiss, and it has that little something extra to set it apart. Recommended!





Thursday, July 19, 2018

FREE Audiobooks: Monstrous Beauty & The Lost World!

Happy Thursday!
Or sad Thursday, as the case may be -- this is the last week of the 2018 AudiobookSync summer program. *sad trombone*
I hope you've all gotten your hands on some amazing reads this year,  and remember, any that you have downloaded are yours to keep forever! This weeks titles are below. Here's to another great year of free books; until next year!


MONSTROUS BEAUTY
by Elizabeth Fama | Read by Katherine Kellgren
Published by Macmillan Audio
from the audiobooksync website: 
Fierce, seductive mermaid Syrenka falls in love with Ezra, a young naturalist. When she abandons her life underwater for a chance at happiness on land, she is unaware that this decision comes with horrific and deadly consequences. Almost one hundred forty years later, seventeen-year-old Hester meets a mysterious stranger named Ezra and feels overwhelmingly, inexplicably drawn to him. For generations, love has resulted in death for the women in her family. Is it an undiagnosed genetic defect . . . or a curse? With Ezra's help, Hester investigates her family's strange, sad history. The answers she seeks are waiting in the graveyard, the crypt, and at the bottom of the ocean—but powerful forces will do anything to keep her from uncovering her connection to Syrenka and to the tragedy of so long ago.




THE LOST WORLD
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Read by Glen McCready
Published by Naxos Audiobooks
from the audiobooksync website: 
The Lost World was written fairly late in Conan Doyle’s career (1912), and stands as a work of early science fiction, fitting comfortably next to the likes of Wells, Haggard, Verne and Burroughs. It is also a book that uses Darwinian evolutionary theory as a thread in the narrative (although there are occasions where the science dips into early 20th-century prejudice). It was the inspiration for many other books and films that took its central premise as their starting point. And it is peopled with characters that are as brimful of energy and determination as Doyle himself – as well as some surprising political references and far more humor than readers of the Sherlock Holmes stories have much right to expect. The basis of the story is the possibility that there might be dinosaurs still living on the earth, unaffected by the usual evolutionary forces at work elsewhere. Dinosaurs have long exercised a peculiar fascination for the public, from those who still hunt Loch Ness monsters to those who finance huge-budget (and huge audience) films, but this was one of the first books to use them as a central part of the story. The other factor gripping the public of the time was the very existence of unknown parts of the globe and what they might contain – travelers were returning from previously unknown places (especially Africa and South America, where The Lost World is set) with astonishing stories. At the same time, paleontology was becoming extremely popular – Doyle himself found some dinosaur footprints in Sussex, something that may well have inspired the book. Uniting these popular themes (and using his own scientific understanding and his many contacts in the world of science and exploration to give them credibility), Doyle then introduced his cast of characters – the love-struck journalist Edward Malone, who does what any self-respecting Edwardian would do to impress his beloved: ask to go on a life-threatening assignment. This is exactly the kind of get-up-and-go that Doyle himself possessed, and he seems to think any lack of it is indicative of a failing of moral fiber. Then there is Professor Summerlee, a rather meticulous scientist; Lord John Roxton, an adventurer; and finally, the simply extraordinary Professor Challenger – vast, booming, powerful, utterly convinced of his own rightness, and prepared to take on the establishment with his fists if need be. All of these characters are drawn with a freshness and brio that suggests Doyle was enjoying himself; but he was also making a few veiled political statements. While Challenger was (loosely) based on William Rutherford, and Summerlee on another professor Doyle had studied with at Edinburgh, the people who inspired Roxton and Malone were based on more contentious figures, two of whom ended up being arrested for treason during WWI, and one of whom went missing searching for a lost city in Brazil. Edmund Morel was one of the bases for Malone. Morel had campaigned against the appalling treatment of the people in the Congo, and Doyle had lectured with him on the slavery that resulted from colonial trading. But he was a pacifist (which Doyle was not), and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment after the publication of some leaflets. One of Roxton’s originals was the British diplomat, Roger Casement. Again, Doyle approved of Casement’s work against the slavery associated with rubber plantations; but Casement was also an Irish nationalist, and his attempts to get the Germans to free any Irish prisoners of war in return for German assistance to fight the British were discovered, and Casement was executed. Colonel Percy Fawcett, a surveyor, archaeologist and explorer, was also an inspiration for Roxton – and he and his son both disappeared in 1925 (The Lost City of Z). But the fact that such people existed and were public figures, the science underlying the Boy’s Own adventure genre, the thrill of the unknown being discovered - all these fueled the public passion for such adventurous imaginings. And if there was ever a man to feed a passion for adventurous imaginings, Arthur Conan Doyle was he. ~ Roy McMillan


Make sure to download your copies while they're still available (ie until next Thursday)!
Happy listening!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

5 Books in (Not) Five Minutes. . . I tried!

Well. I tried.
All book synopses can be found in the comments, because it was too long to fit it all here!






BETWEEN FROST & FURY by Chani Lynn Feener
Delaney might have done her job a little TOO well...and now her life has once again been turned upside down by aliens, this time by a deadly (and devastatingly handsome) alien prince in this explosive second installment of Chani Lynn Feener's The Xenith Trilogy.

Delaney has been kidnapped by aliens. Again. After only a month back on Earth with her hot new alien boyfriend Ruckus, the deadly and devastatingly handsome prince Trystan has dragged her right back to his planet.

While some girls may dream of winning a prince’s heart, Delaney just wishes this one would leave her alone. Instead, she finds herself at the center of both a tense political battle between two alien kingdoms and Trystan’s romantic attentions, both of which are absolutely ruining the life she’s built on Earth. Not to mention the fact that she’s about to be crowned queen of a planet she’s barely even visited. Just another day in the life of an ordinary human girl.

RELATED: Bad Romance Tropes + Amid Stars & Darkness


WOULD-BE WITCH by Kimberley Frost


In the small town of Duvall, Texas, the only thing that causes more trouble than gossip is magic.

The family magic seems to have skipped over Tammy Jo Trask. All she gets in the way of the supernatural are a few untimely visits from the long-dead, smart-mouthed family ghost Edie. But when her locket—an heirloom that happens to hold Edie’s soul—is stolen in the midst of a town-wide crime spree, it’s time for Tammy to find her inner witch.

After a few bad experiences with her magic, Tammy turns to the only one who can help: the very rich and highly magical Bryn Lyons. He might have all the answers, but the locket isn’t the only thing passed down in Tammy’s family. She also inherited a warning…to stay away from anyone named Lyons…


GARDEN SPELLS by Sarah Addison Allen

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own…

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU DEMONS by Jennifer Honeybourn


Some people have school spirit.

Shelby Black has real ones.

Shelby Black has spent the past six months training to be an exorcist. Her great-uncle Roy—a Catholic priest—has put her through exorcist boot camp hell, hoping to develop her talent, but ohmygod, he still doesn’t trust her to do an exorcism on her own.

High school is hard enough without having to explain that you fight demons for a living, so Shelby keeps her extracurricular activity to herself. The last thing she wants is for her crush, Spencer, to find out what she does in her off time.

But Shelby knows how to keep a secret—even a big one. Like the fact that her mom left under mysterious circumstances and it’s all her fault. Shelby is hellbent on finding her mom, no matter what it costs her—even if what it ends up costing her is her soul AND a relationship with Spencer.

TOIL & TROUBLE anthology by many, many authors, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe


Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.

History is filled with stories of women accused of witchcraft, of fearsome girls with arcane knowledge. Toil & Trouble features fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure—and to kill.

A young witch uses social media to connect with her astrology clients—and with a NASA-loving girl as cute as she is skeptical. A priestess of death investigates a ritualized murder. A bruja who cures lovesickness might need the remedy herself when she falls in love with an altar boy. A theater production is turned upside down by a visiting churel. In Reconstruction-era Texas, a water witch uses her magic to survive the soldiers who have invaded her desert oasis. And in the near future, a group of girls accused of witchcraft must find their collective power in order to destroy their captors.

This collection reveals a universal truth: there’s nothing more powerful than a teenage girl who believes in herself.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

FREE AUDIOBOOKS: How To Hang a Witch & The Scarlet Letter!

It's you're weekly AudiobookSync reminder — one more week to go!
This week's titles are v. witchy, which would make me incredibly happy if one of the books wasn't the bane of my existence... Although maybe if I'd had it on audio the THREE FREAKING TIMES I'd been required to read it in school, I would have enjoyed it.

This week's books are:

HOW TO HANG A WITCH
by Adriana Mather | Read by Adriana Mather
Published by Listening Library

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were? If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.



THE SCARLET LETTER
by Nathaniel Hawthorne | Read by Donada Peters
Published by Listening Library

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is “the herald of the modern heroine."



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SPILL ZONE: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld, art by Alex Puvilland

Note: today's review is a sequel, and though I do my best to avoid spoilers for the entire series, if you're afraid of having elements spoiled, you may want to wait to read this review!



Today's review is part of the blog tour for Spill Zone: The Broken Vow, the second in a duology helmed by YA powerhouse Scott Westerfeld! To see what other readers thought, make sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour! Full list at the end of this post! =)


Spill Zone: The Broken Vow by Scott Westerfeld
Art by Alex Puvilland
Graphic novel / science fiction, 240 pages
Published July 10th 2018 by First Second
All hell breaks loose in the second volume of New York Times–bestselling author Scott Westerfeld's visionary graphic novel duology.

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Strange manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. Addison got close enough to the Spill Zone to touch it, literally. She survived the encounter, but came back changed.

It turns out she's not alone. North Korea has its own Spill Zone, and a young man named Don Jae is the only one who made it out alive. Alive, but changed. Now Addison, Don Jae, and, curiously, a rag doll named Vespertine, share an unholy bond and uncanny powers.

From Scott Westerfeld, the inspired imagination behind the New York Times bestsellers Uglies and Leviathan, comes The Broken Vow, the second volume of our highly anticipated new graphic novel series.


The Broken Vow is the follow-up and conclusion to 2017’s Spill Zone [REVIEW], a trippy little sci-fi-ish story of a girl doing what she has to to survive and care for her little sister, Lexa, in the wake of a catastrophe that wiped out her city (sort of) in some rather inexplicable ways. The beauty of Spill Zone was in the discovery — in seeing how Addison’s world has changed; in the little discoveries of this weird remainder of a city, that only she sees; in the general world-building and stakes-setting of Addison’s life and what it means to do what she does. This tends to be true of firsts in a series, and is maybe part of why seconds aren’t normally as successful or satisfying as that initial exposure to the world; the exciting discovery phase is over, and now you have to go about the business of setting things to rights, and that’s just never as fun.

In some ways, I think this is true of The Broken Vow. Most of the world-building is over, and though there are still some discoveries to make, the shine of a new world has begun to wear off. I still tore through this volume, and still enjoyed it, but where I feel like Spill Zone stuck with me for quite some time after reading, and I was eager to get back to the world with book 2, The Broken Vow has faded from memory so fast that I was struggling to remember what had happened when I sat down to write this review, even though I only just read it a short couple of weeks ago.
New cover style for the book 1 rerelease!

This is not to say that it’s a fail. I still enjoyed the story, and getting back to this world. I find Addison an intriguing, strong character, and I enjoy the relationships and dynamics that have been built. But something about The Broken Vow feels a bit off, and a bit rushed – and maybe it was? I was hoping it'd be a longer series, with a slower reveal, and part of me wonders if maybe it was intended to be. There were a lot of things I liked, like the slow reveal of Addy’s little sister's role in everything, and the development of the relationship between her and Verspertine, her creepy af talking doll, or the further reveal of the role the Korean spill survivor, Don Jae, has to play, and how he expands the world for Addison. But in some ways these things only emphasized that there was something missing from this book. Don Jae is a good example of this, actually, as I did feel he fell by the wayside, and didn't play as important a part as I would have expected from book one. Again, this goes back to it feeling like it was being wrapped up too quickly -- I almost had the impression that there was more intended for his character, but the series was curtailed and they had to just tie up strings. That feeling was a bit of a bummer. It also spilled over into the resolution of where the beings came from, how the spill happened, etc -- that could have been delved into SO MUCH, could have been stretched over a longer series in a slower, anticipation and tension -building reveal, and maybe even had some scenes from before, flashback-style, but there just… wasn’t much of anything. It was just a quick reveal, this is what it is, this is what happened and why, and okay, now I guess everything’s fine?  Even though I liked the story and the whys of it all, it feels like a lot of promise unfulfilled.

I said in the review for book one that the art is not for everybody, which is certainly true, but it is exceptionally well-suited to the story. The chaotic nature and hyper-color of it really adds to the story, giving an excellent example of how art and story go hand in hand in a comic -- the story would have worked fine with different art, sure, but this art (which probably wouldn't have worked for just any story) adds another layer of its own, making the world more fully-realized and distinct. The whole thing is a bit more on the older-YA, adult side as well, so bear that in mind when buying or recommending for younger kids. The bright colors may fool you, but the suspended reanimated bodies and abundance of ..."colorful language" mean that it's definitely not ideal for you seven year old, ya know?

So, I know I've given some serious criticisms here, and I stand by them, but I have to be clear: I still really enjoyed The Broken Vow, and the Spill Zone duology as a whole. And who knows, my opinions may get a little rosier in hindsight, after I've had time to sit with the story for a bit; I was less than glowing in my review of book 1, too, even though I later considered it one of the graphic novel highlights of last year. As a whole, the duology has a world that stuck with me, and characters I found interesting, and it's not really like other things out there, especially in the sort of neon acid-trip art. Like a stern parent, the reason I'm hard on it is because I liked it.

Tough love, darlings.



Curious what other readers thought? Check out the rest of the stops on the Spill Zone: The Broken Vow blog tour! Or pick up a copy of The Broken Vow, which landed in stores yesterday!

7/8 Novel Novice http://www.novelnovice.com/
7/8 Undeniably Book Nerdy http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com/
7/9 Bookcrushin http://bookcrush.in/
7/9 Hit or Miss Books https://hitormissbooks.wordpress.com/
7/9 Bookling Critics https://booklingcritics.wordpress.com
7/10 Seeing Double in Neverland http://seeingdoubleinneverland.blogspot.com
7/10 WhoRuBlog http://www.whorublog.com
7/11 Here's to Happy Endings http://www.herestohappyendings.com/
7/11 The Book Rat www.thebookrat.com &mdash YOU ARE HERE!
7/12 Miss Print http://missprint.wordpress.com/
7/12 Bookstore Finds Www.instagram.com/bookstorefinds
7/13 Teen Lit Rocks teenlitrocks.com
7/13 Adventures of a Book Junkie https://www.toofondofbooks.com/
7/14 Novel Reality http://novelreality.blogspot.com
7/14 Flavia the Bibliophile http://flaviathebibliophile.com/
7/15 Haku & Books https://www.hakuandbooks.com/
7/15 Emily Reads Everything    www.emilyreadseverything.com
7/16 YA Book Nerd http://yabooknerd.blogspot.com/
7/17 Take Me Away to a Great Read https://takemeawaytoagreatread.com/
7/18 Bumbles and Fairy-Tales http://bumblesandfairytales.blogspot.com
7/18 Pink Polka Dot Books http://www.pinkpolkadotbooks.com/
7/19 Folded Pages Distillery www.foldedpagesdistillery.com
7/20 Book Nut Booklovingnut.com
7/21 The Life of a Booknerd Addict http://www.booknerdaddict.com/


About the Author:
Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He was born in the Texas and now lives in Sydney and New York City. In 2001, Westerfeld married fellow author Justine Larbalestier.

He is best know for the Uglies and Leviathan series, and his next book, Afterworlds, comes out September 23, 2014.

His book Evolution's Darling was a New York Times Notable Book, and won a Special Citation for the 2000 Philip K. Dick Award. So Yesterday won a Victorian Premier's Award and both Leviathan and Midnighters 1: The Secret Hour won Aurealis Awards. Peeps and Uglies were both named as Best Books for Young Adults 2006 by the American Library Association.

Disclosure: The book was sent to me by the publisher for review consideration purposes; all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.
Affiliate links are used in this post -- thanks for helping supporting this blog!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik | review

It will come as literally no surprise to any of you who saw my Favorite Books of 2018 (so far) video, but this review is about to be a rave. And it hits stores today!
So.



SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik
Hardcover, 480 pages
Expected publication: July 10th 2018 by Del Rey
A fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale from the bestselling author of Uprooted, which was hailed as “a very enjoyable fantasy with the air of a modern classic” by The New York Times Book Review.

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love.

Channeling the vibrant heart of myth and fairy tale, Spinning Silver weaves a multilayered, magical tapestry that readers will want to return to again and again.


Spinning Silver is just… it’s so beautifully complex. It builds on itself in ever-expanding layers in such a strong, smart way. If it had started out with as many pov characters as it has (and it has more than I was expecting), it could have easily been overwhelming or confusing. Instead, each character is added in as needed, at interesting times and in interesting ways, expanding the story and playing their part, without bogging it down. My one note would be that a couple of the characters' voices (the two main, actually) do sound pretty similar, and that's mostly in the fact that they both sound very reserved and cold*. But in some ways, I think they both are very reserved and cold, and each have their reasons for it; the important thing is that, as they grow and change, their voices do a little bit, too.

The story – a retelling of Rumplestiltskin -- works really well as a fairy tale retelling; one of the better, actually, imo, because it feels so rich and fully-realized. But it is so much more than that, and works so well as a story on its own, independent of the fairy tale. It doesn't rest on the laurels of the tale, but it also doesn't dismiss the fairy tale, or use it as a bare framework only in name, as so many “retellings” do. It very much IS Rumplestiltskin, and it very much IS its own thing. Of course, because I loved it, and loved the main characters, people are going to call it slow. I already know. I already know! But I loved these characters and found it really brilliantly paced. There is a sense of time passing, so that it moves quickly when it needs to, but doesn't feel rushed or glossed-over, and I feel like that exact thing — the sense of time being a real thing that people have to live with and go through — is something that's ignored or even intentionally abused in books nowadays. The trend is all for flash-fast and uber "readable," leaving a lot of books feeling rootless and easy to forget, which is patently not true of Spinning Silver.

I don't recall this from Uprooted [review], though maybe it's a known strength of Novik's, but in Spinning Silver, at least, Naomi Novik does gray SO well. There are levels to villainy, to victimhood, to strength, to family. It deals with racism and abuse very well, both in the framework of the story, and as a general, non-didactic approach, again adding more layers to the delicious, elaborate cake that is this book. Everything is so, so complex. I know I've already said that, but it bears repeating -- there's a lot to sink your teeth into here, and I feel like further readings would just uncover more and more. And I do want to reread this. I want to reread it and I will reread it. Absolutely beautiful.



* And yes, of course, this made me love them even more. Reserved, cold characters are Misty catnip!





Disclosure: I received this book for review consideration; Amazon Affiliate links are used in this post. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own, and you guys: I loved this book.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Backlist Love (6)

I LOVE THEM I LOVE THEM SO MUCH YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW

Lemme know some of your unsung faves in the comments!



THE BOOKS:

THE LOST by Sarah Beth Durst
My coverage of The Lost can be found here.

Award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst has been praised for her captivating novels that merge the darkly imagined with very real themes of self-discovery and destiny. In The Lost, we'll discover just what it means to lose one's way….

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassible dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing—and what she's running from—before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found….

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey…and her quest to find her fate.


I STOP SOMEWHERE by T. E. Carter
My coverage of I Stop Somewhere can be found here.

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn't the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it also reminds us what it is to be human.



(On the) JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta
My coverage of Jellicoe Road can be found here.

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award * ALA Best Book for Young Adults * Kirkus Best Book

Jellicoe Road is a dazzling tale that is part love story, part family drama, and part coming-of-age novel. Described by Kirkus Reviews as “a beautifully rendered mystery” and by VOYA as “a great choice for more sophisticated readers and those teens who like multifaceted stories and characters.”

Abandoned by her mother on Jellicoe Road when she was eleven, Taylor Markham, now seventeen, is finally being confronted with her past. But as the reluctant leader of her boarding school dorm, there isn't a lot of time for introspection. And while Hannah, the closest adult Taylor has to family, has disappeared, Jonah Griggs, the boy who might be the key to unlocking the secrets for Taylor’s past, is back in town, moody stares and all.

In this absorbing story by Melina Marchetta, nothing is as it seems and every clue leads to more questions as Taylor tries to work out the connection between her mother dumping her; Hannah finding her; Hannah’s sudden departure; a mysterious stranger who once whispered something in her ear; a boy in her dreams; five kids who lived on Jellicoe Road eighteen years ago; and the maddening and magnetic Jonah Griggs, who knows her better than she thinks he does.

If Taylor can put together the pieces of her past, she just might be able to change her future.





Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though The Lost & I Stop Somewhere were originally sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links are used in this post.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Feed Your Reader: July 7, 2018

Summer reading must be in full swing, because today's post is bananas! This is seriously the best Feed Your Reader lineup even, and I'm v. sorry for your pocketbook.

But straight to the deals! Make sure to click through to see them all, 'cause there are a lot, and I wouldn't want you to miss out.  There are some personal faves in here, guys (in fact, one you'll be seeing again in just a couple of days), so jump on 'em while you can!




*** ALL COVERS ARE CLICKABLE AND LEAD DIRECTLY TO THE DEAL***
and this post does use Amazon Affiliate links. Thanks for helping support my site!


Award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst has been praised for her captivating novels that merge the darkly imagined with very real themes of self-discovery and destiny. In The Lost, we'll discover just what it means to lose one's way….

It was only meant to be a brief detour. But then Lauren finds herself trapped in a town called Lost on the edge of a desert, filled with things abandoned, broken and thrown away. And when she tries to escape, impassible dust storms and something unexplainable lead her back to Lost again and again. The residents she meets there tell her she's going to have to figure out just what she's missing—and what she's running from—before she can leave. So now Lauren's on a new search for a purpose and a destiny. And maybe, just maybe, she'll be found….

Against the backdrop of this desolate and mystical town, Sarah Beth Durst writes an arresting, fantastical novel of one woman's impossible journey…and her quest to find her fate.


#1 New York Times Bestseller * An Amazon Best Book of the Year

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books, This Savage Song is a must-have for fans of Holly Black, Maggie Stiefvater, and Laini Taylor.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.


This vividly rendered novel reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire. Ambitious in scope and intimate in execution, the story’s atmospheric setting is rife with political intrigue, with a deftly plotted narrative driven by fiercely passionate characters and a fearsome heroine. Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s AN EMBER IN THE ASHES won’t want to miss this visceral, immersive, and mesmerizing novel, the first in the And I Darken series.

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.


The highly anticipated, mind-blowing New York Times bestselling sequel to Kiersten White’s New York Times bestseller, AND I DARKEN—the series that reads like HBO’s Game of Thrones . . . if it were set in the Ottoman Empire.

A SISTER FILLED WITH RAGE
Lada Dracul has no allies. No crown. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares cross her. She storms the countryside with her men, but brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed, the defiant Ottoman sultan, brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

HER BROTHER CAUGHT IN THE CROSSHAIRS
Lada needs the support of her diplomatic younger brother, Radu. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. And for the first time in his life, when Lada asks him for help, he refuses . . . leading his sister to make the darkest of choices.

THE ULTIMATE POWER PLAY
Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, Radu knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, would Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Fans of Victoria Aveyard’s THE RED QUEEN and Sabaa Tahir’s A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT won’t want to miss this riveting and gorgeously written novel—the second in the And I Darken series.

I loved The Darkest Corners, you guys.
For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.
Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.
Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn't exactly feel like an accident.
But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.
Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.


The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

Friday, July 6, 2018

FREE AUDIOBOOKS: The Invisible Girls & Girls Like Us!

We're almost to the end of this summer's AudiobookSync program! *ugly cry*
But this week's titles both look excellent, so we'll just have to make do...

They are:

The Invisible Girls
by Sarah Thebarge
Read by Kirsten Potter

A girl scarred by her past. A refugee mother uncertain of her future. Five little girls who brought them together. After nearly dying of breast cancer in her twenties, Sarah Thebarge fled her successful career, her Ivy League education, and a failed relationship on the East Coast and started over in Portland, Oregon. She was hoping to quietly pick up the pieces of her broken life, but instead she met Hadhi and her daughters, and set out on an adventure she’d never anticipated. Hadhi was fighting battles of her own. A Somali refugee abandoned by her husband, she was struggling to raise five young daughters in a culture she didn’t understand. When their worlds collided, Hadhi and the girls were on the brink of starvation in their own home, “invisible” in a neighborhood of strangers. As Sarah helped Hadhi and the girls navigate American life, her outreach to the family became a source of courage and a lifeline for herself. Poignant, and at times shattering, Sarah Thebarge’s riveting memoir invites listeners into her story, finding connection, love, and redemption in the most unexpected places.



Girls Like Us
by Gail Giles
Read by Lauren Ezzo, Brittany Pressley

A 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner! With gentle humor and unflinching realism, Gail Giles tells the gritty, ultimately hopeful story of two special ed teenagers entering the adult world. We understand stuff. We just learn it slow. And most of what we understand is that people what ain’t Speddies think we too stupid to get out our own way. And that makes me mad. Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in their first “real world” apartment, it initially seems to be an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces a harrowing experience that no one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought—and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward.


Don't forget, you can download both of these books FOR FREE, no strings attached, to keep forever (see why I love this program?), until next Thursday morning. So get them while you can!

BOOKISH GRWM: Beast: A Tale of Love & Revenge by Lisa Jensen

I had some thoughts, man...
BEAST hits stores on July 10th, FYI




about BEAST: A TALE OF LOVE AND REVENGE by Lisa Jensen

Filled with magic and fierce emotion, Lisa Jensen's multilayered novel will make you question all you think you know about beauty, beastliness, and happily ever after.

They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier's cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside. But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.


On My Face:
at first:
hyaluronic acid from a Korean brand whose name escapes me at the moment, and I've thrown the package away...
stila illuminating foundation in '20 watts'

and then:
benefit stay flawless primer stick
rimmel match perfection foundation in 'classic ivory'
tarte energy noir palette
maybelline master smoky shadow pencil in 'blue blaze'
physicians's formula shimmer strips kohl kajal (from a trio, it's the blue one)
almay shadow in 'midnight sky' (i think?)
pop beauty sunkissed bronzer
jouer cheek and lip tint in 'honeysuckle'
rimmel brow in 'dark brown,' which is a lie
elizabeth arden grand entrance mascara
clinique mega melon chubby stick
benefit watts up cream highlighter stick


Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though this book was provided by the publisher for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Amazon Affiliate links used where possible (as relates to books. I'm not linking all that makeup, buy from an actual store where you can trust the sellers, guys!)

Monday, July 2, 2018

Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga | review & excerpt

This book! I have thoughts.

Excerpt starts at 1:20
Review starts at 6:26



Excerpt copyright Lindsey Duga & EntangledTeen, 2018

about the book:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/2IIElqC
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32173635-kiss-of-the-royal

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links used in this post.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

NEW PRINTABLES!

The 5th round of the 30 Day Book Binge has begun in earnest, and with it comes a brand new set of FREE printables!
In this round’s offerings, you’ll find old standbys like a daily tracker, a weekly log, and a monthly wrap-up, as well as a brand new hand-sketched July calendar and three new printable bookmarks, all on a succulents & houseplants theme!
These are great for all you bujo-ers out there, but even if you’re not the tracking type, anyone can use a bookmark, right?You can get a preview of the printables below, and when you’re ready, hop over to the 30DBB folder and download or print one or all of the printables for free!

PRINTABLES JULY 2018


Let me know your thoughts on the printables in the comments! And if you find the July calendar too busy for your actual use, let me know, and I’ll upload a clean version, without the doodles in the background of the actual day boxes. Just because I love you like that. 😘

Don’t forget to hop over to the #30DayBookBinge printable folder and download your free printables before they’re gone!

Friday, June 29, 2018

HUGE June Book Haul!

Yes, I know this is a little out of hand.
BOOKS!




Sorry for the link messiness. I don't have time to embed so many links right now!
Forgive me.

THE BOOKSGlory O'Brien's History of the Future: https://amzn.to/2MqkTBg
Imposters: https://amzn.to/2yHKlA9
Spill Zone: https://amzn.to/2tt3MYb
Spill Zone: The Broken Vow: https://amzn.to/2tJTC55
Delilah Dirk & the Pillars of Hercules: https://amzn.to/2MXnzat
Star Talk w/ Neil deGrasse Tyson: https://amzn.to/2KkxoO2
Between Frost & Fury: https://amzn.to/2tzcT8U
When Life Gives You Demons: https://amzn.to/2tuVIGl
Kiss of the Royal: https://amzn.to/2tHGJZg
Dive Smack: https://amzn.to/2Km2BR1
Dear Heartbreak: https://amzn.to/2yRLF3B
Attucks!: https://amzn.to/2IrbDu1
The Boneless Mercies: https://amzn.to/2KkJFVW
Saving Montgomery Sole: https://amzn.to/2N1NY78
Baker's Magic: https://amzn.to/2tvYv2b
Love & First Sight: https://amzn.to/2K7XgR6
Everland: https://amzn.to/2yH6fU1
The Just Men of Cordova: https://amzn.to/2MVaApE
Extraordinary Means: https://amzn.to/2MXo18B
My Name is Not Friday: https://amzn.to/2N0rTpl
Come August, Come Freedom: https://amzn.to/2yHN1xH
Doctor Cerberus: https://amzn.to/2MXnraV
Openly Straight: https://amzn.to/2yJXGrA
When Dimple Met Rishi: https://amzn.to/2tv8Nzx
Dance of Thieves: https://amzn.to/2tCbMpi
Toil & Trouble: https://amzn.to/2MZOVNl
Tell Me No Lies: https://amzn.to/2txAEyi
Supergirl: Being Super: https://amzn.to/2tCnfVO
Smothered: https://amzn.to/2MqyIj5

ALSO MENTIONED:
Spill Zone review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2017/05/recent-comic-reads-review.html
Austen in August: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/austen-in-august-2018-invitation.html
Tony Cliff in AIA: http://www.thebookrat.com/2013/08/coming-to-my-senses-and-sensibilities-tony-cliff.html
Amid Stars & Darkness review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/02/bad-romance-tropes-and-amid-stars-and.html
Kiss of the Royal post (live on 7/3!): http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/07/kiss-of-royal-by-lindsey-duga-excerpt.html
Supergirl review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/giveaway-review-supergirl-being-super.html
Tell Me No Lies impressions: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/tell-me-no-lies-by-adele-griffin.html
Saving Montgomery Sole & Baker's Magic review: http://www.thebookrat.com/2018/06/audiobook-freebies-reviewed-study-in.html



Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored video, though many of these books were sent to me for review consideration purposes. All thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

Affiliate links used where possible.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Austen in August 2018 Group Read: LONGBOURN by Jo Baker!

Alright, it's official: though Sanditon (my beloved Sanditon (but only this version)) gave it a run for its money at the end, the winner of the poll for this year's AIA group read is LONGBOURN by Jo Baker!

If you haven't already read it, grab a copy and get to reading, so you can discuss it with the rest of us devoted Janeites during Austen in August!

Discussion questions will go up during AIA -- hope to chat with you soon!
And if you'd like to see a Twitter chat devoted to this year's read, let me know in the comments!


LONGBOURN by Jo Baker
Longbourn, Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen, austen in august

• Pride and Prejudice was only half the story •

If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she’d most likely be a sight more careful with them.

In this irresistibly imagined belowstairs answer to Pride and Prejudice, the servants take center stage. Sarah, the orphaned housemaid, spends her days scrubbing the laundry, polishing the floors, and emptying the chamber pots for the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at Longbourn as there is upstairs. When a mysterious new footman arrives, the orderly realm of the servants’ hall threatens to be completely, perhaps irrevocably, upended.

Jo Baker dares to take us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic—into the often overlooked domain of the stern housekeeper and the starry-eyed kitchen maid, into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars—and, in doing so, creates a vivid, fascinating, fully realized world that is wholly her own.



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