Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

Book Review: Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

gatheringdarkness

Prince Magnus has just witnessed torture, death, and miracles during the bloody confrontation that decimated the rebel forces. Now he must choose between family and justice as his father, the cruel King Gaius, sets out to conquer all of Mytica. All Gaius needs now are the Kindred—the four elemental crystals that give godlike powers to their owner. But the King of Blood is not the only one hunting for this ancient, storied magic. . . .

THE KRAESHIANS join the hunt. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the wealthy kingdom across the Silver Sea, charm and manipulate their way to the Kindred, proving to be more ruthless than perhaps even the King of Blood himself.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo and vengeful Jonas lead them, slaying with sweetness, skill, and a secret that can control Lucia’s overpowering magic—all so they can use the Kindred to win back their fallen kingdoms.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally in the flesh with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

The only certainty in these dark times is that whoever finds the magic first will control the fate of Mytica. . . . but the four element gods of the Kindred have other plans.

As much as I loved Falling Kingdoms and Rebel Spring, I think that Rhodes has finally hit her stride with Gathering Darkness.  Not only are the character voices completely distinct and on point, but there are so many more details that gave me chills throughout.

Something interesting and different that I noticed in this novel is that we actually start getting a little bit of King Gaius’ point of view, something that readers haven’t had before.  This gives us a little bit of insight into his ridiculous desire for power, but really all we discover is that he really is the vicious asshole we all know him to be.  Unlike Magnus, who’s point of view shows us the intricacies of his character and how his struggle for his father’s approval has driven him to become more headstrong and defiant than ever before.  Cleo is still a bit naive that no one would figure her out, especially since literally almost everyone figures her out and her goals about halfway through this novel.  I still adore her, because while not as powerful as Lucia in a literal sense and not as determined and manipulative as Amara, she still is fighting the only way she knows how.

Speaking of Lucia, as powerful as she is, she sometimes gets on my nerves as a character…same with Lysandra.  I’m not sure why, but they both do.  However, towards the end of Gathering Darkness Lucia finally was turning into the character I wanted her to be from the beginning after her powers were revealed.  Kudos to her for accepting it.  Lysandra I’m still on the fence about, but we will see what happens in the upcoming novels.  Jonas is still the angry, messed up brother and rebel that he has been since the first novel, although he is seriously misguided and really screwed up a friendship that could have been valuable.  Best thing about these books is how realistically characterized they all are.  Every single character has their good aspects and their flaws, and it makes me love them more for how fully realized they are.  (Except for Lysandra. Why does she bother me so much?!)

I’m trying really hard to not fan girl over Magnus and Cleo in this installment, because they are so adorable while they bicker and yet they both have such intense feelings that they’ve led to possible true romantic feelings.  Could the Prince of Blood and the Golden Princess be the key to restoring Mytica? Um, yes please!

The plot moves so swiftly in Gathering Darkness that you will be unable to put it down until you’ve finished.  Okay, well, figuratively speaking.  You’ll definitely be wanting to pick it back up as soon as you can while reading it.  There is so much going on, but everything is so intertwined that you definitely need to make sure to pay attention to little details and off hand comments by characters!

4.5 Bards for Gathering Darkness.  I’m off to read A Book of Spirits and Thieves to try and hold me over until Frozen Tides!

 

four.fivebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 13, 2015

An intricately crafted mystery set in the contemporary Middle East. 

Zan is a politician’s daughter and an adrenaline junkie. Whether she’s rock climbing or shoplifting, she loves to live on the edge. But she gets more of a rush than she bargained for on a forced mother–daughter bonding trip to Turkey, where she finds herself in the crosshairs of an antiquities smuggling ring. These criminals believe that Zan can lead them to an ancient treasure that’s both priceless and cursed. Until she does so, she and her family are in grave danger. Zan’s quest to save the treasure—and the lives of people she cares about—leads her from the sparkling Mediterranean, to the bustle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, to the eerie and crumbling caves of Cappadocia. But it seems that nowhere is safe, and there’s only so high she can climb before everything comes tumbling down.

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: October 6, 2015

Violet is on the run. After the Duchess of the Lake catches Violet with Ash, the hired companion at the Palace of the Lake, Violet has no choice but to escape the Jewel or face certain death. So along with Ash and her best friend, Raven, Violet runs away from her unbearable life of servitude.

But no one said leaving the Jewel would be easy. As they make their way through the circles of the Lone City, Regimentals track their every move, and the trio barely manages to make it out unscathed and into the safe haven they were promised—a mysterious house in the Farm.

But there’s a rebellion brewing, and Violet has found herself in the middle of it. Alongside a new ally, Violet discovers her Auguries are much more powerful than she ever imagined. But is she strong enough to rise up against the Jewel and everything she has ever known?

Book Review & Giveaway: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Every October Cara and her family become inexplicably and unavoidably accident-prone. Some years it’s bad, like the season when her father died, and some years it’s just a lot of cuts and scrapes. This accident season—when Cara, her ex-stepbrother, Sam, and her best friend, Bea, are 17—is going to be a bad one. But not for the reasons they think.

Cara is about to learn that not all the scars left by the accident season are physical: There’s a long-hidden family secret underneath the bumps and bruises. This is the year Cara will finally fall desperately in love, when she’ll start discovering the painful truth about the adults in her life, and when she’ll uncover the dark origins of the accident season—whether she’s ready or not.

Release Date: August 18, 2015

When Penguin said that this book would be good for fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars, they weren’t kidding.  Both books have this ethereal quality to them while they are set in reality…the literary community deems these as Magical Realism: “painting in a meticulously realistic style of imaginary or fantastic scenes or images.”  A classic example of Magical Realism would be Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, 100 Years of Solitude.  But anyway, while We Were Liars focuses a little on a possible mental and physical trauma that could have caused these imaginary consequences or scenarios, The Accident Season has a whole separate set of rules.

The whole idea behind this novel is that for one month out of the year, their family is cursed with accidents.  Immediately Fowley-Doyle leaves the narrative for a ton of questions.  Is this caused by some sort of curse on their family?  Is it all just a coincidence?  Is it just because they all dabble in believing in the impossible?  Are they all delusional? SO MANY QUESTIONS.  I firmly believe that books like this have to be done in a very specific way in order to excel, and I really think that The Accident Season does.

The narrative is a quick one that takes place over the course of thirty-one days and while the writing styleaccident is a bit discombobulated at times, as it should be for a story like this one, it flies by.  I read this novel in a matter of hours and still really wished I could have had more.  All of the characters are lovably flawed in their own ways: Bea functions outside of reality and is a story-teller, Sam is haunted by the actions of his father, Alice is unhappy in her relationship, and Cara lives in her imagination for much of the story.  Yet somehow all of these characters fit together so easily, and they were so close.  There is the mystery of Elsie, the enigmatic abandoned house, the forest full of strange objects, and the disappearing costume shop that just adds to the magical aspect of this narrative, and I could not praise that more.

While I absolutely adored the disjointed narration and the magical realism of The Accident Season, I can definitely see where it might not appeal to all young adult readers.  However, I encourage you to give it a try.  You can also enter to win a copy of this book below!

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

 

 

 
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Book Review: ‘Crystal Kingdom’ by Amanda Hocking

Crystal Kingdom

Cast out by her kingdom and far from home, she’s the Kanin people’s only hope.

Bryn Aven-unjustly charged with murder and treason-is on the run. The one person who can help is her greatest enemy, the gorgeous and enigmatic Konstantin Black. Konstantin is her only ally against those who have taken over her kingdom and threaten to destroy everything she holds dear. But can she trust him?

As Bryn fights to clear her name, the Kanin rulers’ darkest secrets are coming to light… and now the entire troll world is on the brink of war. Will it tear Bryn from Ridley Dresden, the only guy she’s ever loved? And can she join forces with Finn Holms and the Trylle kingdom? Nothing is as it seems, but one thing is certain: an epic battle is underway-and when it’s complete, nothing will ever be the same…

Wow.

While I had some qualms with the characterization and relationship development at the start of this series by Amanda Hocking, my appreciation for this story strengthened as I read further into the madness Bryn found herself in. I mentioned the basic structure of both the societies within the troll populations and where Bryn Aven stood in the mix in my post about the first book of The Kanin Chronicles series. The modern and familiar influences of “human” life bothered me at the start, but it grounded me with a realization I came to appreciate in series like Harry Potter. What’s to say this magical existence could not possibly coexist with modern society, minus the obvious aspect of it being YA paranormal literature. Perhaps the new definition of what trolls were, on top of the fact that they were present in life as I knew it, were a bit jarring at the start.

Whatever it was that bothered me, it all fell away in the last two books, particularly in the final book of the trilogy, Crystal Kingdom. All that mattered was the fact that innocent people were dying and passionate warriors were willing to stand for justice.

Learning The Truth

The beautiful landscapes were brief distractions from the bitter and detrimental truths that Bryn had been fighting to find throughout the series. Finally, the pieces of the puzzle come together and what they illustrate is a story of revenge and a fight for survival. We also now have reason to understand why Bryn has been expected to trust Konstantin. While that does nothing to wash away her doubt, as a reader I found myself relieved that his character was not just some mysterious hero the whole time. He was flawed and tragically wrong at times. If you were not hooked by the story alone, stick with it so you can at least understand why his character is such an allusive one to Bryn. He is more complicated than can be predicated, but luckily it is in a simple way and not as dark and ominous as we had been led to believe. It is incredibly, for lack of a better term, human.

Who Is Bryn Aven Now?

Bryn’s strength and resolve has changed. Her willingness to embrace life as more than just a constant duty is encouraging to read for anyone that has ever struggled with balancing a profession and a life. Her new outlook and adjusting priorities is refreshing, but not preachy either. She’s growing up and learning moderation and what commitment can look like. Unfortunately for her, she does not always have a choice in how much of herself she devotes to her new cause when her entire livelihood and home are on the line. This new mission was not appointed to her, but thrust upon her as she unintentionally stumbles upon an elaborate attempt at political retribution. Her loyalty remains as fierce as ever, but suddenly shifts from the leaders of the government she trusted to those she loves.

The Fight For Justice

In a high-stakes finale, Crystal Kingdom challenges every cliffhanger it ever presented with the answers we all –especially Bryn –deserve. Hocking’s readers will fall in love with how she captures the strength of Bryn and her comrades in the battles they fight and the care they openly share with each other. Beyond that, there’s a greater sense of home and heritage that has been building over the series and it pays off as tribes unite to take their final stand in this defining battle.

You won’t want to miss it.

four.fivebards

 

 

For more about the author… 
AMANDA HOCKING is The New York Times bestselling author of the Trylle trilogy and a lifelong Minnesotan. After selling over a million copies of her books, primarily in eBook format, she became the exemplar of self-publishing success in the digital age. Visit her at http://www.worldofamandahocking.com

Book Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch

damagedone22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. She’s even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . .

This novel is one that snuck up on me.  I really liked the synopsis and knew that I had to read it.  However, I didn’t expect all of the twists that came with this story.  Damage Done will definitely make you squirm a little in your seat as it brings some very uncomfortable topics to light, i.e.  a school shooting.  At first I thought that Panitch was doing something so great by dealing with the aftermath of school shootings by focusing on the family of the shooter and how everything clearly changed for them after such a tragedy.  What really happened in those 22 minutes, however, is something much more sinister and stained by another secret that is just as jaw-dropping.

Julia/Lucy is the narrator of Damage Done and from the beginning she seems like such a sympathetic narrator.  She’s the only survivor of what happened during the school shooting, save her brother who is in a coma after shooting himself.  Her family had to move after they became town pariahs and were pestered by journalists constantly at their home.  So the family moves a few hours away and assumes aliases so they will no longer be associated with the tragedy.  I think that is a really realistic possibility that could happen to families of school shooters.  But anyway, we take everything that Julia/Lucy says as truth because she gives us no reason not to.  The only possible way you could infer that she MIGHT be an unreliable narrator is all of the lies she tells concerning her past, but it is seemingly justified in order to protect her new life.

Many of the secondary characters are a bit weak based on their descriptions and their lack of fleshing out, but again with an unreliable narrator like Julia/Lucy then it is completely understandable that they might not be considerably developed.  Michael is practically a typical version of a “good boyfriend” and Alana is the basic archetype of a best friend who will do anything for her friend.  But really, it just seems that Julia/Lucy has manipulated them like she manipulates the reader.

Kudos to Panitch for surprising me with the awkward and uncomfortable reveal toward the end of the novel, and for providing such an unreliable narrator that was so subtle until the last few chapters that I wasn’t sure what to believe.

4 Bards for Damage Done

fourbards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: November 10, 2015

For as long as Fei can remember, there has been no sound in her village, where rocky terrain and frequent avalanches prevent residents from self-sustaining. Fei and her people are at the mercy of a zipline that carries food up the treacherous cliffs from Beiguo, a mysterious faraway kingdom.

When villagers begin to lose their sight, deliveries from the zipline shrink and many go hungry. Fei’s home, the people she loves, and her entire existence is plunged into crisis, under threat of darkness and starvation.

But soon Fei is awoken in the night by a searing noise, and sound becomes her weapon.

Richelle Mead takes readers on a triumphant journey from the peak of Fei’s jagged mountain village to the valley of Beiugo, where a startling truth and an unlikely romance will change her life forever…

Book Review: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten

They say Delia burned herself to death in her stepfather’s shed. They say it was suicide.

But June doesn’t believe it.

June and Delia used to be closer than anything. Best friends in that way that comes before everyone else-before guys, before family. It was like being in love, but more. They had a billion secrets, tying them together like thin silk cords.

But one night a year ago, everything changed. June, Delia, and June’s boyfriend Ryan were just having a little fun. Their good time got out of hand. And in the cold blue light of morning, June knew only this-things would never be the same again.

And now, a year later, Delia is dead. June is certain she was murdered. And she owes it to her to find out the truth…which is far more complicated than she ever could have imagined.

This novel started off really awesome.  I will argue that the first half of this book was really spot on.  I will admit that I finished this book in around 3 hours, so it wasn’t that it became hard to read or that it was difficult in anyway.  In fact, I’ll tell you that it is easy and enjoyable.  Then why am I saying just the first half was good?  Well…let me just start with the good.

June is basically your typical high school teenager.  She underestimates her beauty, her intelligence, and her ability to stand up to anyone other than her equally typical boyfriend, Ryan.  She has a really interesting family consisting of a single, drunken mother, but we really don’t see a whole lot about that and we don’t hear about how it affected her growing up or anything.  The entirety of June throughout this novel revolves around Delia.  She is practically a non-entity until Delia is mentioned or brought up.  Delia is the sun and June is the scorched planet Mercury that rotates super close.  But then Delia kills herself, supposedly.  This is where the first half gets interesting.

June begins to suspect foul play in Delia’s death and basically goes off the deep end and reads absolutely anything possible, no matter how far fetched, as being related to Delia’s supposed suicide and everything that happened in their friendship.  The fact of the matter is that their friendship is so complicated and a bit obsessive.  I say “a bit,” but it begins to seem unhealthy around the halfway mark in the book when a pretty big “twist” occurs.  Why is twist in quotations?  Well, because it wasn’t much of a twist to me when I saw it coming.

The latter half of the book does have it’s highlights.  The synopsis refers to Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls as being for fans of E.Lockhart’s We Were Liars.  I’d say it’s a fairly weak comparison, but it does have the disjointed narration aspect down pat in the second half.  You will start to question every perception June has ever made and a lot of what she tells you as a narrator.  But, the novel then randomly splits into dual narration between June and Delia, after not doing this at all in the first half.  Delia’s narration, other than being peppered with heavy references to fire and burning, is even more full of confused statements and weird obssessive thoughts about June.

June really just wants to be loved and accepted.

The ending was nice in that it provides the reader with the option to decide the characters’ fate.  There are pretty much two ways that a reader could decide on, but I’m fairly certain a lot of readers will choose a specific one based on other reviews I’ve seen and reactions I’ve noticed.

Either way, I’m giving Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls an average rating because it really wasn’t unenjoyable.  I just wish it had been stronger as a story.

3 Bards

threebards

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: September 15, 2015

Seventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she’s tired of being loyal to people who don’t appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.

Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called “Tonight the Streets Are Ours,” the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.

During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn’t exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn’t exactly who she thought she was, either.

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