TTBF Author Repost Book Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors! Today features one of Jessica’s all time favorites: E. Lockhart!

This review was originally posted on August 14, 2014


A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

When I met E. Lockhart at Book Expo America, I was trying so hard not to fangirl because I had been looking forward to this book for months.  Not only did I get a chance to meet her, but she also write an essential message in my copy of the book (which I’m sure she wrote in everyone’s) “Please Lie About This Book.”

Well, it is impossible for me to lie about how much I enjoyed this book.  I want to tell you so much about it in order to convince you to read it, but this is a book that needs to be discovered by each person individually.  The story line is excellent.  There I will tell you that much.

Lockhart’s writing style in this novel really helps add to the characterization of the narrator, Cadence (which is a elockharttweetname I’ve always loved), and it allows the reader to discover things as Cadence does…kind of.  This novel really explores the idea of an unreliable narrator.

I’ve said too much!

I cannot praise this book highly enough, and I won’t tarnish your reading experience with anymore.  Trust me, you will enjoy it immensely.

5 Bards  (I know you asked me to lie, E. Lockhart, but I decided to just withhold information instead!)



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: June 27, 2017

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. 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 to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed 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.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. 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. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will 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.



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: May 30, 2017

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
    Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
    Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
    Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
    Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
    And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Blog Tour: And I Darken by Kiersten White



New from Kiersten White, the author of the Paranormalcy series and the Mind Games duology, comes a novel reimaging the immensely cruel Vlad the Impaler.

Whit_9780553522310_jkt_all_r1.inddNO 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.

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Holy Crap.

This novel has so much going on and so much detail.  Now, unlike some novels that seem bogged down by seemingly useless details and flowery language (looking at you, Charles Dickens), And I Darken seems to be carved from a rich mahogany and it is done purposefully and necessarily.  Side note: it can be a little overwhelming to take in so much so quickly, but push through!

Not only does White immediately establish the tense atmosphere of this ruling family, but she properly exhibits the dichotomy between Lada and Radu.  It is definitely my favorite part of the novel, the sibling love and devotion despite their differences.  As someone who doesn’t always get along with my sibling, I even envied it a bit.  Which is odd considering this is a story about Vlad the Impaler….

Anyway, I find the dual point of view format to be ridiculously helpful in this story, even if Radu’s parts in this are significantly shorter and more to the point.  I sort of wish that there was more of a first person narrative here, but third person limited is always a good alternative to this.

White did such an excellent job portraying the absolute brutal attitude of Lada and the Ottoman empire at this time.  I found it difficult to read at times, but in a challenging way not in a un-entertaining way.  It is something wholly unique to the young adult genre and I have a feeling it is going to inspire many more works not only from White (since this is a series), but from other authors as well.  I sincerely hope it challenges authors to look to new types of storytelling.  Plus, gender-bending classic stories is a huge thing on tumblr, so it isn’t like it would be unaccepted by the readers.

Unlike many heroines in young adult novels, Lada is set up almost immediately as an anti-heroine since we know exactly what the future holds for this brutal teen.  However, it is impossible to not sympathize with this leader born into such a patriarchal and backwards society.  (Does anyone else kind of think Lada would work really well alongside Amarantha and the King of Hybern in the Court of Thorns and Roses Series? )

This book will please you, make you uncomfortable, and make you root for the ultimate bad girl.

4.5 Bards






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 11, 2016

Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

Book Review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

51lGn5Ab+qL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father alaudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds.

The Order—the mysterious group her mother was once part of—is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

Whew. 819 pages is a lot more than the first two of this trilogy. So it was a little harder to get through this one than the others, it felt like it was dragging on in places. But the last 300 pages or so definitely picked up for the conclusion.

The whole series definitely makes my feminist heart happy. I know it’s Victorian London and so it’s a different time, but the message of women gaining their own power and learning to navigate the world on their own is one that can be applied even now. I think Bray does a great job of infusing that through all three books. Bray definitely makes a point of giving these girls power, not just in the magical sense, but in the personal sense as well. One of the things I think she does best is forcing her characters (Gemma, at the very least) to confront the privilege that comes with that power. She is constantly confronted about what to do in the realms, and with her interactions with Kartik. Because though she has feelings for him, she also has more power and privilege and she may mean well, but that doesn’t always mean what she’s saying/doing doesn’t represent that power.

Gemma’s struggle throughout this book of who to trust and what to do is very reminiscent of my own teenage years when trying to navigate the world. Granted, she has a lot more at stake with magic and evil at hand, but it’s still really relate-able and that’s what I love about this series. Unlike the second one where I knew who not to trust, I was on the same page as Gemma throughout this book trying to figure out the best course of action and trying to navigate friendships and romance on top of everything else.

I will say, I wish there was more development of Ann and Felicity. Ann does change her circumstances, but that’s more background information, more of an afterthought than anything else. As much as I love Felicity Worthington, she doesn’t grow as much as I wished she did. Bray does a great job of focusing on the development of Gemma, that the other two girls get left behind in that respect.

Overall, I love this trilogy and I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves female protagonists and magic and friendship. I loved how this book wrapped up, even if it took a while to get there, so I give it 4 bards.


Book Review: Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Rebel_AngelsGemma Doyle is looking forward to a holiday from Spence Academy—spending time with her friends in the city, attending balls in fancy gowns with plunging necklines, and dallying with the handsome Lord Denby. Yet amid these distractions, her visions intensify—visions of three girls dressed in white, to whom something horrific has happened that only the realms can explain.

The lure is strong, and soon Gemma, Felicity, and Ann are turning flowers into butterflies in the enchanted world that Gemma takes them to. To the girls’ great joy, their beloved Pippa is there as well, eager to complete their circle of friendship.

But all is not well in the realms—or out. Kartik is back, desperately insisting to Gemma that she must bind the magic, lest colossal disaster befall her. Gemma is willing to comply, for this would bring her face-to-face with her late mother’s greatest friend, now Gemma’s foe—Circe. Until Circe is destroyed, Gemma cannot live out her destiny. But finding Circe proves a most perilous task. . . .

I loved this second installment so much. Especially the ending, everything was wrapped up so nicely, but still leaving an opening for the next book. I really enjoyed the message that the ending brings. A message of understanding and letting go and ultimately that you people won’t always do what you want them to, and people may disappoint you, but that’s no reason not to keep going and not to have hope. Years later, I’m still really impressed that this is only her second book ever.

It’s refreshing that we get to see London instead of Spence, and also different parts of the Realms. As lovely as the gardens were, it does get old seeing the same thing over and over again. I think Bray does an excellent job of describing the rest of the beauty (and horror) of the Realms. Getting to see the other aspect of the girls’ lives, and all the drama that comes with being a lady in Victorian London, was very exciting.
I love that Gemma starts to realize/understand her privilege, and that’s eye opening for a lot of readers as well. You can say something to someone that you think is a compliment, but is actually incredibly insulting. Props to Libba Bray for letting her character realize this and try to make up for it, rather than just sitting with it and not understanding that as a rich, white girl, you are very privileged, and not every one wants to be like you.

I will say that I KNEW IT (though I won’t say what “it” is to avoid spoilers). But, I’m not sure if I knew because I remembered it, or if it was just that obvious. If it was that obvious, I wonder if it was on purpose. Like we know something that Gemma doesn’t, and we keep thinking throughout the book, “oh no, Gemma don’t do that!” Whether it was or wasn’t intentionally obvious, I still think it was done really well, and it doesn’t take away from the rest of hte story at all, adds suspense, even.

Definitely would recommend and give 5 bards.


Book Review: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

a-great-and-terrible-beautyIt’s 1895, and after the suicide of her mother, 16-year-old Gemma Doyle is shipped off from the life she knows in India to Spence, a proper boarding school in England. Lonely, guilt-ridden, and prone to visions of the future that have an uncomfortable habit of coming true, Gemma’s reception there is a chilly one. To make things worse, she’s been followed by a mysterious young Indian man, a man sent to watch her. But why? What is her destiny? And what will her entanglement with Spence’s most powerful girls—and their foray into the spiritual world—lead to?

I love Libba Bray. She’s one of my favorite YA authors. I read the Gemma Doyle trilogy years ago, and while I remembered the premise, I didn’t really remember everything about it so I was really glad to be able to read it again and write a review this time!

What I love about Gemma is that we can see her internal struggle with wanting to fit in but also trying to still be herself. Especially, with her newfound, and as yet mysterious, power, all she wants is to be normal. But many times wanting to be normal doesn’t stop her from wanting to be different from the other girls at Spence Academy.

I think Bray does a great job of creating these very similar but also very different female characters, and making their friendship the focus of everything. With all that Gemma goes through, in only the first book, she learns more and more to rely on her friends, and for me that’s one of the most important things to read about in literature, especially literature aimed and young girls.

My favorite part of the story is the magic part. I’ve always been a sucker for magic and mystery and this definitely has both. The magic is unique to this story, and I’d never read any type of interpretation like this until this story, which makes Bray’s world-building that much more amazing.It definitely has enough mystery to keep you interested but not too much to leave wondering. I’d give the first in the trilogy 4.5 bards.


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: April 28, 2015

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

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: December 9, 2014

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?


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