Blog Tour: The Storyteller’s Daughter by Victoria McCombs ARC Review!

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The Storyteller’s Daughter

AuthorVictoria McCombs
Publisher: Parliament House Press
Release Date: July 14th 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings

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His shadowed face lit by flam es,

Rumpelstiltskin is my name…

For as long as anyone can remember, every child in Westfallen has been born with a Gift, and these Gifts defined them.

Then Cosette is born, Giftless.

An attempt to hide her misfortune brings her before the King, who entraps her to use her Gift as a pawn in his war.

Caught in a lie, Cosette desperately searches for a power strong enough to free her. Intrigued by whispers of an old king and a dark curse, she calls upon Rumpelstiltskin and finds him trapped in a magic deeper than she bargained for. Now, Cosette must fight to reclaim her freedom from the King and break Rumpel’s curse. When time runs out, she’ll lose more than her heart. She’ll lose her life.

my review

** Spoiler alert ahead! You have been warned**

I received a free copy of an honest review.

YES. I FINALLY READ A GOOD ONE.

Okay, sorry for screaming. But as book bloggers, I think ya’ll can understand my pure joy of reading an ARC that is actually a good read, right?

Let me get on with it.

This book is an adaptation of the famous Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. For a quick refresher, it’s about how a village girl’s miller dad so helpfully spread a false rumor that she can turn straw into gold to the king. In desperation, the girl to live made a deal with Rumpelstiltskin that in exchange for him to helping her, she would give Rumpelstiltskin her future first child. The thing is this child would be the girl’s child that the had with the king (because the king would wed her as a reward, which is…so not creepy but that’s off-topic). Either way, she didn’t want to later on, and Rumpelstiltskin said that if she can tell him his name he’ll let her off the deal. And she did (yay!), and everyone lived happily ever after.

Obviously, the biggest difference we can see right from the beginning was how this book had a lot more references to magic. Everyone in this kingdom has gifts except for Cosette. This flaw would become the core of her “tragic background story” element that makes her worthy of a protagonist. Either way, I personally think this book did a great job as a retelling book, because although you can see the clear inspiration behind the original fairytale, it also had its own creative elements and basis in the story enough to make it not feel like too similar or too different from the original story.

Regarding the “villain” in this book, I really appreciated how there wasn’t a “one explicit villain”. Even up till the end of the book, I wasn’t sure of who the true antagonist was. The king was too stereotypical to be the true villain (it’s kind of those decoy villain vibes I was getting from him). Conrad was in this awkward situation where everyone is warning Cosette of how “possibility dangerous he is”. But heisa really nice guy, and the fact that we know what “made him dangerous” from Rampel so early on made me doubt whether he was the “true antagonist” (although I never trusted him completely). And then we got Aiden.

I liked Aiden in the beginning – he cared for our protagonist and was a perfectly nice guy, there was no reason to dislike him. But any sort of positive feelings I’ve had for him had diminished into nothing as his behavior started to mutate into something almost disgustingly toxic. I originally felt really bad for him because even if we know that Cosette wasn’t interested in the Conrad (and hence wasn’t rejecting Aiden for the prince’s wealth and status), we can still perfectly understand why Aiden would see otherwise. But where any guilt I had for him left when he started to try and talk down to Cosette, to make her feel miserable and worthless, in a desperate attempt to get her to choose him.

“‘I know I can’t Compete with a rich prince.’

Suddenly my heart hurt from a new angle, and I took a step back. ‘A simple village girl? There’s nothing I’d have to offer a prince?’

Aiden raised his eyebrows at me. ‘Really, Cosette? What could you offer to the heir to Westfallen?'”

Okay, okay, let me get this straight. As someone who had been reading this entire book from Cosette’s perspective, I can tell you that from my observation, Cosette is a character who has a great balance between self-awareness and dignity. She is perfectly aware of her position as a magic-less, average village girl, but it also doesn’t stop her from standing up for her own rights and dignity as a girl and as a human being. This is why for Aiden, her childhood friend, the person who should’veknown her better than anyoneto say something like this to her is just so…ridiculously, almost disgustingly, offensive.

And this is also my personal preference, but I loved it when Aiden tried to sabotage her by “exposing her truth for her own good” to the prince, it ended up completely backfiring thanks to Rampel’s help. It’s just a beautiful slap across his face (I absolutely loved it ahahaha).

But I’m not going to lie, I hated Aiden now but he made this book more interesting for me to read. Firstly because hew as a character who transformed throughout the story and secondly, the “slap across his face” I just mentioned…ah. That satisfied me to the bone.

I also really enjoyed how the romance between Rampel and Cosette was written. I loved how the “true love’s kiss” was written into the story and the way it was foreshadowed. The fact that they actually kissed (worth a shot haha) before their relationship truly solidified was a really refreshing way to tell the story, especially when we kind of know that they are the official pairing. A even more interesting dynamic is created when it’s heavily foreshadowed that a true love’s kiss may be the solution to his curse, and yet both of them are holding back because he was dying and they were afraid of hurting each other by losing one another. They were literally afraid of falling in love while their love may best resolution to their problems…it’s almost a bit of a paradox at this point.

This book is not perfect though, and I feel like it’s one of those books with a weak ending that may have ruined the book for me a little bit. The ending felt quite rushed and there were several logical flaws in the decisions made (and the direction the story went) that I…don’t really understand or agree with. In fact, the ending of this book was what dropped my original score from 4.5/5 to 3.8/5.

Either way, although I would recommend this to all YA readers because it’s a good book in general, I would highly, highly recommend this book to retelling fans specifically. Youmayneed to throw your brain out the window and forgot what the word “logic” means toward the end…but overall I really you should be able to enjoy it for the most part.

Rating: 3.8/5

about the author

I write YA Fantasy. I love being transported to worlds that take my breath away. Worlds so complex and vivid, and yet I get to hold them in my hands. My writing inspirations are John Flanagan, P.W. Catanese and C.S. Lewis.

In June 2018 I signed a publishing contract with Parliament House Press for my debut novel, The Storyteller’s Daughter. In October 2018 I signed my second contract. I now have a contract for the first four books in that series, which will be my only fairytale retellings. Beyond that, I have a Pirate Adventure in the making, and series with a vivid world with rich kingdoms and other races, already one book done.

ARC Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Truly Devious

Author: Maureen Johnson

Series: Truly Devious #1

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Mystery, YA, Contemporary, Thriller, Fiction

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Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

New York Timesbestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

*Sigh*

Where do I start?

I don’t get it. I don’t get it. What went wrong? This book’s synopsis seemed so good. There were no clear things to “hate” about this book, but it just…failed to keep my attention. Reading this book, I failed to experience the Adrenaline rush, the “not being able to put the book down” feeling that I get when I read a book that I truly enjoy. Was it the romance’s fault? Or were my standards for murder mystery too high? A book that I don’t even hesitate to think, “Wow, I goddam love this book”. My experience with this book is more so like I keep putting it down and I keep forgetting about it. And when I try to pick it back up I literally cannot remember anything about what I just read even when I swore I did actually read it. When I finished the book, I sit on it for a while before I wrote my review because I wanted to talk about it with a clear mind. But before I knew it, days passed, weeks passed. Whenever I tried to review it I realized I am forgetting more and more about it…

This is so sad. But here we go (I had to rescan this book multiple times for this review).

Truly Devious follows the protagonist Stevie. Stevie was a huge murder mystery fan, and this her passion. It’s also the thing that got her into Ellingham Academy, the mysterious gifted academy that everyone wants to get into. Looking back, I did not realize the giant logic plot hole behind this school’s entire existence. I saw the words “academy” and I lost all sense of logic. It was only reading this book that really got me to realize how this school’s existence kind of…made absolutely no sense.

First off, Ellingham Academy is completely free. Only the most intelligent, capable students are admitted. Sounds reasonable right? But is it just me or is it…completely unrealistic? A school like this would never exist in real life. I have never heard or don’t think there would ever be a prestigious school that is completely free purely for the sake ofeducation.

Sorry, no offense, but in the world of American capitalism that is never going to happen. And since this book is a contemporary YA novel, I’m going to judge this from the basis of a real-world perspective, because that’s what contemporary is.

Okay, but because this is anoveland interesting plot-line-worldbuildings arenecessary, I am more than willing to temporary forget I have a brain and throw it out of the window for the sake of just enjoying the book, which I’ve done countless time before.

But something else caught me off-guard. The writing style. This book’s unique writing style reminded me heavily of Furyborn. If you remember, Furyborn is a story about two queens who were thousands of years apart, but both their stories had a direct impact on each other. This book is written alternatively between the actual events in the past that Stevie is investigating in the present.

This should be a good thing, because non-linear writing styles can be really cool and eye-catching, right?

But here’s the thing: I never really…liked the Furyborn books as much as other readers.

If I didn’t lose my memory, I gave Furyborn a decent review because just like Truly Devious, I want to give both books credit for the obvious hard work the authors put in the writing, story, and characters. But both failed to capture enough of my attention for me to love it.

However, I would finish it. This series was not horribly enough for me to be like “I would rather remove my eyeballs than to read it again”. So because I have all three copies, me being (such) a frugal person, I don’t want to waste the three books. So look forward to those. So this series definitely still have a chance of transforming my opinion immensely. Let’s see how it goes.

(please be good please be good I actually want to give you a chance)

Rating: 3/5

about the author

Maureen knew from an early age she wanted to be a writer. She went to high school at an all-girls’ Catholic school and graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in writing. She now lives and writes in New York City.

Many of the adventures Maureen’s characters face in her books are based on real-life stories. Maureen has traveled all over Europe, and is a Secret Sister to vlog brothers Hank and John Green.

ARC Review: Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

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Incendiary

Author: Zoraida Córdova Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Series: Hollow Crown #1 Release Date: April 28th 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

View on Goodreads ——————-

I am Renata Convida.

I have lived a hundred stolen lives.

Now I live my own.

Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.

Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.

When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.

But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

This is a character-driven novel.

This is good and bad news for me. This meant that the characters are very well developed and written out, but that also kind of reduced my enjoyment for the book. The biggest difference between a character-driven and plot-driven novel is while one is how characters affect the plot, the other is the characters’ reaction to the plot.

Also, some warnings for impatient people (like me). This book is almost filled to the brim with italicized flashbacks thanks to our protagonist’s magical ability, but patience is key. Those are very necessary for the development of the story and should not be scanned. I know that there are other readers like me who always kind of lose focus whenever I see “italicization”(it’s like the moment my brain sees them they kind fo turn off), but it’s really important (I promise). So be prepared for these.

It’s also been a while since I read a book with a romance subplot where the two are already a pair, and that was quite refreshing for me. Dez and Renata are both extremely respectable, lovable, and capable loves that are well created. They feel genuinely real due to their solid backstory and creation.

Sadly, this is one of the books where I can recognize its quality and effort, I can’t fill a huge amount of enthusiasm for. Sure, I enjoyed and finished it, but I don’t’ think it was good enough to be one of those books where I would go back and re-read again. It was okay, that’s the best I can say for it.

Rating: 3.5/5

about the author

Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels for kids and teens, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, and Star Wars: A Crash of Fate. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, Come on In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, and Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old: Eleven Tales with Fresh Bite. Her debut middle grade novel is The Way to Rio Luna. She is the co-host of the podcast Deadline City with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she isn’t working on her next novel, she’s planning a new adventure.

NOTE: Direct messages on this account may not be seen. Send her an email at zoraidabooks@gmail.com

Blog Tour: Havenfall by Sara Holland ARC Review

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Havenfall

Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Series: Havenfall #1
Release Date: March 3rd 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost. New York Times bestselling author Sara Holland crafts a breathtaking new contemporary fantasy perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.

Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.

But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe . . .

Sara Holland takes the lush fantasy that captured readers in Everless and Evermore and weaves it into the real world to create a wholly captivating new series where power and peril lurk behind every door.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

A summary of my experience: Well, that was a lot better than expected.

Maybe it as because I have been having the worst reading luck and had been reading THE WORST BOOKS recently, but I am so happy that streak had finally stopped with this book. This book was good. It was actually good.

Let’s start off with the characters. Havenfall had an excellent portrayal of trauma with our protagonist Maddie Marrow, and the characters all had extremely consistent and behavior that correlates with what we have interest from them as characters. Even better, the book was able to have so many layers of different twists within the plot-lines without ever throwing the foundation of each character out the window. these “twists” not only made sense within the story, it was still realistic because we can still “see” the characters doing the actions implied.

Speaking of the story, how the hell can we not mention just how many goddamn twists there are in this book. This book is literally twists within twists within twists.

(I’m so sorry that it was so unnecessary. I would leave now).

But what surprised me even more was not just the fact that there were so many twists, but that it all works. It had a consistent pace throughout the entire book (I didn’t get any whiplash, yay). And it was slowly revealing a twist that makes me original think this must be it, before it totally took that though of mine and cremated it. That’s how I’m going to describe it.

For those who are thinking about reading the book, obviously I can’t elaborate upon the twists any longer. But if you are looking for a book that doesn’t give you whiplash in its pacing, it has consistency in its story-line and character behaviors, as well as twists that actually make sense (and not just there to shock you), this book is for you.

about the author

Sara Holland grew up in small-town Minnesota among hundreds of books. She graduated from Wesleyan University and worked in a tea shop, a dentist’s office, and a state capitol building before heading to New York to work in publishing. These days, she can be found exploring the city’s bookstores or finding new ways to put caffeine in her bloodstream. EVERLESS is her debut novel .

Blog Tour: Dangerous Alliance by Jennieke Cohen ARC Review

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Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance

Author: Jennieke Cohen

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: December 3rd 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Historical, Romance, Fiction

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Jane Austen in this witty, winking historical romance with a dash of mystery!

Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home.

But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.

Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility.

Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

I don’t read historical novels often, so this was a refreshing and fun read for me. And after reading this book, I realized I should read historical novels more often. Because I have been learning history throughout the years, my knowledge in this area had grown. Hence, I was able to relate to many of the historical references this book made and improved my reading experience. You know how sometimes you crave specific genres or types of books because you read one you like? I like to describe those books as “catalysts” for these phases, and this is what this book had done for me.

I personally really enjoy the alternating perspectives between Vicky and Tom. Although technically both are from high society, the differences in their financial situation and their gender gave me different perspectives on how their lives are like. Both were really strong, independent, and capable characters that have solid goals in their lives, making them very pleasant to read.

The book’s story has great entertainment value while still touching on serious topics. Although some of those topics are “outdated” because of the time it took place, many could also be cross covered to present-day since a lot of the problems are just reduced, not completely gone.

One last thing: I love how the book carried out the relationship between Vicky and Tom. The interconnected threads that bring them together were complicated but still organized (logically making sense), and I appreciated how the book had a solid story-line that didn’t completely depend on their romance. I love books where there’s a good romance on the side but still exists a solid story for the book to revolve around.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable read… and I’m craving historical fiction. I guess I’m going to spend the next hour scrolling through Goodreads’ recommendation lists again (haha).

Rating: 4/5

about the author

Jennieke Cohen (JEN-ih-kah CO-en) is used to people mispronouncing her name and tries to spare her fictional characters the same problem. Jennieke writes historical fiction for young adults inspired by real people and events because life is often stranger than fiction. She studied English history at Cambridge University and has a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Jennieke loves exploring new locales but always returns home to Northern California where the summers are hot, the winters are mild, and life is casual.

ARC Reviews: Announcing Trouble by Amy Fellner Dominy

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Announcing Trouble

Author: Amy Fellner Dominy

Genre: YA, contemporary, romance, sports

Page number: 306 pages

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

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_______________________________________________________________________________________

I may know everything there is to know about baseball, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. Or like him. Garrett Reeves: sidelined player and the embodiment of everything I’ve learned to hate about baseball. He’s gorgeous, he’s cocky, he’s laser-focused on getting back in the game, no matter the cost.

When he convinces me to call games alongside him, our chemistry heats up the booth. We’re good together, whether I want to admit it or not. I’m finding that I like baseball again, but even worse, I’m liking Garrett. A lot.

But when he has to decide between our future and a new shot at his dreams, I know baseball will win out every time.

My Review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

I liked this book! When I first requested and received this book (thanks Entangle teen), I was really just looking for a standard YA contemporary book where I can “read and chill” and gush over overly cliché YA contemporary story-lines. Hence why I enjoyed it.

The romance is cute, which largely is thanks to the realistic portrayal of the cast that makes it so no character is annoying enough to make me want to kill my Kindle. The contemporary story managed to have a fair amount of conflict to keep the story going without being too over-dramatic to the point of being unbearable.

To sum up, what this book it’s like, it’s really just the typical YA Entangle Teen perfect for relaxing. But beware: your enjoyment of this book can drastically change depending on what you are craving now. Because I was just craving a fun contemporary book to read with an enjoyable romance, I liked this book. But if I’m wasn’t…then this would’ve been a horrible reading experience and I would have shredded this book in this review due to its unoriginal and “boring” story-line.

So as long as you know what you want (especially if you are just craving an easy fiction book), I would (or would not) recommend this book.

Rating: 3.5/4

about the author

Hi! I’m the author of novels for teens and tweens as well as picture books for toddlers. I love writing stories that will make you laugh, sigh, swoon…and if I break your heart I promise to patch it up by the end. 🙂 New in YA romance: ANNOUNCING TROUBLE: There’s no crying in baseball. But no one said anything about kissing.

I live and sweat in Phoenix, Arizona with my hubby and a puppy who is training us.

Learn more about all my titles at http://www.amydominy.com. You’ll also find a link there to sign up for my newsletter with exclusive news, excerpts, and giveaways.

Follow me on Instagram: @amydominy

Blog Tour: Every Stolen Breath by Kimberly Gabriel ARC Review + Favorite Quotes + Exclusive Giveaway

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Every Stolen Breath

Author: Kimberly Gabriel

Publisher: BLINK

Release date: November 5, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller

View on Goodreads

__________________________________________________________________________

The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the master puppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review:

Three topics I want to talk about:

– The dangers of mental disorder associated labels

– The protagonist’s sarcasm is beautiful

– Not too cliche

– Really original idea actually

– Wasn’t stretched for the sake of being longer

– The pleasant blend of different genres that make up the unique vibe of the book

As you can see from the (extraordinarily sophisticated) list I made above that I’m totally going to discuss in order, I…actually really like this book. It was a book that I not only enjoyed for the sake of entertainment but also because of the deeper messages I can associate with.

Lia’s treatment from the people around her – including even her closest friend and mother – really reminded me of the unfortunate topic of labels. I have heard this from countless people who have voiced this (which I cannot agree more): the labels that associate with mental disorders is completely unjust. When you have a cold, people would not look at you differently or treat you with prejudice especially after it’s gone – there’s no label in society for “people with cold”. However, if people catch wind (even if it’s a rumor) of you having any sort of mental disorder, you get labeled – and this label is embedded to you no matter how long as passed and whether you still have it or not. This is a truly tragic phenomenon that ruins people’s lives and greatly hinders the progression of mental health improvement among people.

But even within just a grim topic, Lia makes everything better even for me as a reader. Her pure sarcasm toward the ignorance of people around is truly the most beautiful thing I have seen I’ve seen in a long time:

“Both library assistants are absorbed with their computers. Before a social worker or principle comes to whisk me away to a private room where I can discuss my feelings on the tragedies of my life, I need to at least figure out who the rest of these men are”.

(That was beautiful *dramatically wipes away tear*)

Lia’s brilliant narration also boosts the entertainment value of the book despite its grim themes around 50 – 70%, which makes it one of the biggest reasons why this book was a hit for me personally.

Another praiseworthy aspect of the book is in its originality, which is a byproduct between the incorporation of the futuristic-like story-line to young adult mystery and romance. The whole concept of “swarm” was really interesting – and frankly quite realistic for a story that took place in another replicate of our world that is not our own. This threat doesn’t feel over-the-top and definitely has a symbolic undertone open to the reader’s interpretation.

Ultimately, I would recommend this book for people who are purely looking for entertainment and readers who are craving books with a deeper connotation.

Rating: 4/5

favorite quotes

“My Cell buzzes like it’s having a seizure, pulling me from a deep sleep…”like a puppy who wants to be fed, my phone won’t shut up.

This is exactly why I don’t have a dog”.

“I library assistant with heavily dyed dark hair and red lipstick peers down at us. I scan the library for the other library assistant, the one I first talked to when we came in. I want her to wave her friend off, but he’s nowhere to be sen. I can’t remember her name to even reference her. Just like this library assistant, they tend to blend in with every other nameless adult wandering the hallways of our schools. It would be so helpful if they worse name-tags like waitresses at dinner”.

“‘I give us five minutes, tops’. Adam directs my attention to the library assistant returning to the circulation desk. She whispers to her anonymous colleague, something about us that causes Library Assistant Number Two to glance my way with a look of horror and pity. One of them picks up the phone.

‘Five minutes is generous,’ I say.”

“Mr. Mater starts talking to both library assistants, who once again flash me a look of pity.”

exclusive giveaway

about the author

Kimberly Gabriel started writing in fourth grade when she wrote, bound, and gave away books of terrible poetry to family and teachers as holiday gifts. Today she is an English teacher, who still squanders all free minutes to write and uses it as the best scapegoat for her laundry avoidance issues. When she is not teaching or writing, Kimberly is enjoying life with her husband, her three beautiful children, and a seriously beautiful boxer in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Every Stolen Breath is her debut novel and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.

ARC Review: The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

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The Shadows Between Us

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre: Fantasy, YA,

Publication date: February 25th 2020

Publisher: MacMillain

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Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.

2) Marry him.

3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

A lot of times (especially recently), more unique or “less-common” works are appreciated. If a work – especially if it’s more high profile – gives off even a little bit of cliche or cheesy vibe, that often would become a huge source of controversy among the readers. People these days seem to associate cliche and cheesiness immediately and indefinitely to be flawed.

This book reminded me how books – and works in general – could have some cliche (arguably cheesy) moments while being INCREDIBLY enjoyable (and a good book too). I have read so many different books that have the more unique story-lines but still….bored me to death, to the say the least. But although this book could be a little bit stereotypical with the behaviors between the characters (and their lines) in the end, it’s not…bad. It did not negatively affect my reading experience (if any at all).

If this is causing you to be wary to read this book – please don’t. It’s really not that bad, and it’s not that common. Also, if it makes things better, there’s a decent plot-twist at the end that improved the general quality of the plot as well (it was very well-thought-out and not random).

Among all these good things, some things stood out not just good but quite exceptional. One thing is the character’s nature and personality.

Are you sick of reading stereotypical kind-hearted protagonist that always spare the villain because “he’s not worth it” or any other things like that? Especially the villain almost always come back to do the same thing?

This book would be the anecdote to the absolute frustration from those characters.

The logic nature of Alessandria and the Shadow King paved way for the one particular scene near the end which demonstrates how different these two are from stereotypical characters. I can’t say much because of spoilers, but do you remember how a lot of times, powerful people in stories would not use their full abilities to solve problems (so the story can be longer and create more “drama”)?

Yeah, that’s all I’m going to say.

Rating: 4.5/5

about the author

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing OVERWATCH, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Blog Tour: The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring Promotional Post + Exclusive Giveaway

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The Tenth Girl

Author: Sara Faring

Publisher: Imprint

Release Date: September 24th 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Horror, Mystery, Historical Fiction

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———————

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi’s existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Exclusive giveaway

Prize: Win a copy of THE TENTH GIRL by Sara Faring (US Only)

Starts: 18th September 2019

Ends: 2nd October 2019

about the author

Born in Los Angeles, Sara Faring is a multi-lingual Argentine-American fascinated by literary puzzles. After working in investment banking at J.P. Morgan, she worked at Penguin Random House. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in International Studies and from the Wharton School in Business. She currently resides in New York City. Her first novel, The Tenth Girl, will be released by Macmillan/Imprint on September 24, 2019. Sara is represented by Sarah Bedingfield at Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency.

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron ARC Review

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Kingdom of Souls

Author: Rena Barron
Publicist: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

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THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend, where one girl must sacrifice her life, year by year, to gain the power necessary to fight the mother she has never been good enough for.

Perfect for fans of Sarah J Maas, Tomi Adeyemi and Black Panther

THERE’S MAGIC IN HER BLOOD.

Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse.

Shame and disappointment dog her.

When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

An explosive fantasy set in a world of magic and legend with a twist you will never see coming.

my review

I received a free copy for an honest review.

This book was a slow burn. No, I’m not talking about hate-love relationships.

It was a slow burn for me because I slowly came to fall in love with this book. From not liking this book too much to becoming more and more interested, finally truly in love.

This book had an interesting beginning, but it didn’t have a strong pull on my interest. However, I was patient and kept reading, and even know it didn’t start exactly with an “exciting” start for me, the plot like was genuinely interesting enough for me to find myself continuing to read it because I just want to know what is going t happen next.

This leads me to the next point. This book is not really…the typically “flashy” YA fantasy books you see. The author took her time to develop the storyline and a constant pace (so that the timing is not all over the place), and I appreciated that. The story was also complicated and simple at the same time – it’s complex enough to be interesting to read, but it also made enough logical sense so that it’s “understandable”.

Arrah grew on me as well as the book progressed. She was normal enough to be realistic but still possess the ‘Heroine qualities” without being so overboard that it as cheesy and “cliché”. Her thought process is also so logical and I completely agreed with every single decision she made in the book. I.e. she did not make any stupid decisions. That is so unbelievably satisfying.

The romance was also realistic and very fun to read. Phenomenal chemistry and most importantly – it was not shoved into our faces. It’s a side plot (still important though because it’s related to the main character), so we can still enjoy it while savoring the “true” plot of the book.

Speaking of “cliche” and topics like that, there’s one thing I noticed that’s quite special with this book. I don’t know if it’s just me, but does anyone else noticed how the story managed to “defy” tropes but still comply to it at the same time? The author found the perfect balance (apparently) to making it seem a bit more different than “typical” books but didn’t go so overboard to the point of …just being illogical. For example, there were some plot twists in this book that twisted but wasn’t taken so much to the extreme that it’s just stupid (it complement with the story phenomenally). That’s just one thing I noticed.

Rating: 4.5/5

about the author

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school. Rena loves all things science fiction, ghosts, and superheroes. She’s a self-proclaimed space nerd. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French. Follow her at @renathedreamer and renabarron.com.

Rena prefers not to be tagged in reviews to save her sanity.

She is represented by Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

Rating: 4.5/5

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