ARC Review + GIVEAWAY: Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small

tour2bbannerAuthor: A.K. Small
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Release Date: May 21st, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Synopsis

Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.

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erick-zajac-1377691-unsplashInside Nanterre School for Dance reside two best friends, Marine and Kate, who–among the other girls in their class–are competing for the one top spot dancing with the top male. Bright Burning Stars did an excellent job of capturing the cattiness and petty atmosphere that can reign in a competitive atmosphere like this. I don’t have experience with dance, but I went to school for opera where people are vying for lead roles in a show and believe me, when you have spent your life training for something and you know that you are prepared and that you have nailed your performance but then the next person goes on stage and has an advantage only because of a ‘favor’ she did or a judge? If it could mean the difference between performing on stage at sold out shows every night versus performing four times per month and teaching voice/dance lessons just to make ends meet….how far would you be willing to go to ensure you hit the top?

So that was all that was on my mind through most of the book. Everything hit close to home for me because I could really draw paralells to where I had been in the fine arts world, but really, it could work for any positions one is competing for. We all need drive (though, maybe not quite this much) to get to top. This book is told in dual perspectives so we do get to see both Marine’s and Kate’s thoughts as they go through all of this craziness. And I do mean crazy, but that’s what makes this book truly a page-turner I thought.  I really feel this book was beautifully written. It has some beautiful descriptions of dancing, it can be brutal at times (trigger warnings: eating disorders, suicidal thoughts, abortion grief, self-harm, intentional drug use, body dysmorphia) but I was here for the big picture.

About the Author

angela2bsmall2bcredit2b_becky2bthurner2bbraddockA.K. Small is thrilled for her debut novel, BRIGHT BURNING STARS, to come out May 21, 2019 through publisher Algonquin Young Readers. Her talent for writing and passion for classical ballet fuse together in this novel and earned A.K. Small the honor of an Entertainment Weekly review.

In addition to BRIGHT BURNING STARS, A.K. Small spends time on short stories. Her short story, Anthrocon, 2017 was just nominated for a Pushcart prize by the Bellevue Literary Review. Other stories such as the Flour Baby and The Interior Designer were also nominated or runner-up to prizes. She also ran a column titled, “A French Girl’s View Du Monde” at Barrelhouse Magazine.

A.K. Small graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2009 with an MFA in fiction. When she’s not reading her favorite authors (Rainbow Rowell, Angie Thomas, Anna Gavalda, Jandy Nelson, Ann Hood, Sue Miller, Anais Nin, Tayari Jones, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wright, and J.R.R. Tolkien, to name a few!), she’s studying her favorite dancers: Sylvie Guillem, Noella Pontois, Marie-Agnes Gillot, and Aurelie Dupont.

A.K. Small grew up near the Sacré Coeur in Paris and married her Tobagonian soul mate. She has three gorgeous daughters and owns a min-chi named Dallas.

Author Links
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

GIVEAWAY!

And last but not least, enter to win 1 of 2 copies of Bright Burning Stars! You can also visit other stops on the tour (see below) and visit there for more chances to win! Giveaway runs 5/13-5/27/2019.

–> To the Rafflecopter! <–

Full Tour Schedule

May 13 – The Unofficial Book Addiction Fan Club … Interview
May 14 – The Reading Corner for All … Playlist
Tara’s Book Addiction … Review
May 15 – Journal of the Lost One …
May 16 – Everywhere and Nowhere … Guest Post
Star is All Booked Up … Promo Post
May 17 – Utopia State of Mind … Guest Post
Writing With Wolves … Review
–> May 18 – Singer of Stories … Review
May 19 – Portrait of a Book … Review
Lisa-Queen of Random … Promo Post

And that’s all I have, folks. Thanks for stopping by today! Until next time!!

Book Soundtrack: Black Swan Soundtrack…Act I:(Scene 2) Danse de petits Cygnes

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ARC REVIEW: Wicked Saints by Emily A Duncan

39950808Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A Duncan
Hardcover Edition 400 pages
Publish Date April 2nd 2019 by Wednesday Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
My rating:

“The girl, the monster, and the prince…”

All the stars!!
My new favorite 2019 release!!
Yes I’m gushing!! But I can’t help it!!

Ok, I need to calm down. This book is far too dark and serious for that much excitement. I feel that it is difficult to know where to even begin with setting this book up for you all without either a) confusing the crows out of you, or b) spoiling everything for you. I will try my best though.

Our three main characters are Nadya (cleric from Kalyazin), Malachaisz (runaway mage from Tranavia), and Serefin (blood mage and Prince of Tranavia). War is raging between the lands, not just involving the countries, but between magics–mages, the gods(clerics), and the Vultures, who are a powerful cult. Nadya is her people’s only hope to restore the power of their gods to the land. Serefin was raised to battle all believers in the gods. And Malachaisz just wants the fighting to stop and the first step, he says, is to kill the king. Told from Nadya and Serefin’s dual points of view, we really see into these characters and feel how real they are. Nadya has had the voices of these gods in her head her entire life, and there are at least a dozen? And then there is Serafin, who has been brought up under a tyrannical king and all he has known is war.

Wicked Saints Church2The passion and the drama in this book is absolutely non-stop from beginning to end. I tell you there is action, there is friendship and travel and romance and magic and betrayal and just…everything! Emily Duncan is an author who does not hold back. Personally, I am no author. But if I were to write a book, Emily has literally taken what I was wanting and thinking and penned it in this book practically word-for-word from my own head and heart. She is not brief with her descriptions of love or fear or doubt or pain. She hits you with it and if you’re like me, you will grip this book until your hands hurt waiting to see what happens next! Even the magic systems are evolving, and to me, that’s impressive. There is no lack of diversity either so truly, I feel that this woman has created something wonderful here.

So, I can’t end this review without mentioning that this book does need a couple trigger and content warnings. We do have ourselves alcohol consumption (maybe addiction to), violence, self-harm (literally blood mages, of their own blood) and talk of self-harm in the past.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for granting me an advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own. Because the quotes from above were taken from the ARC, they are subject to change by the time of publication.

Book Soundtrack: “Inside a Boy (Album Version)” by My Brightest Diamond

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ARC Review: Miraculum by Steph Post

41037463From Goodreads: The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, a man who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake.

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Miraculum was quite the magical ride! Really, it was more than that. There was magic, mythology, mysticism, and so much mystery! The setting of the carnival isn’t quite as central to the book as I expected. Our main character, Ruby, is a snake charmer. Basically a second-rate tattoo’d lady/snake charmer act who is cast aside for the most part. From the time Daniel, a stranger in upscale black suits, joins the cast, strange and terrible things begin happening. There really wasn’t much splendor or marvel to the Star Light Miraculum to begin with, however. I found it to be a little disappointing unfortunately. A little bit more American Horror Story than The Greatest Show. Moving on though….

american-horror-story-freak-show-circoWhat I did like, was the ancient history and mythology woven into the story. Samuel’s books and the hoodoo magic of the bayou held an immense amount of intrigue. I loved those story lines. Plus the interjections from throughout time every few chapters. These I found so fascinating, I looked forward to reading them every time they came around. They fueled the story in a vital way I felt. I wish that the characters were as fiery. I felt no connection to them, unfortunately. Not a one.

My final thoughts on this book: it was certainly a slow burn. The book is only 320 pages long but it felt like 500. I didn’t mind in the beginning because I thought things were interesting and I wanted to know where the story would go. Then the fiery interjections would come in a move things along a bit. I was so determined to do my duties as an ARC reader so I stuck with the slow reading. The ending was very good I thought. It wasn’t quite the battle I expected it to be, but of course, good pretty much won out so I was ultimately satisfied. If you like settings in the 1920’s, carnivals, magic, mythology, mystery, and don’t mind a slow burn read, then this book will be good for you. Miraculum releases on February 1st so keep an eye out!

I was provided with a free copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions are my own.

Book soundtrack: Devil’s Hands by Truth

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Review: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

39863517The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling. [from Goodreads]

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White Stag is a brutally beautiful book about Janneke (we cannot call her ‘young’), whose family was slain and has been imprisoned in the Permafrost by goblins for over one hundred years. When the Goblin King is killed, the hunt for the white stag begins to find a new successor to the throne, and Janneke is forced to consider her place on the border of the worlds. Yes, long sentence, but its a long journey. The night is dark and full of terrors if you know what I mean!

I went into this book blind, without reading the full synopsis and without reading a lot of feedback from other readers. I didn’t want to know anything about the chemistry or the goblins or the worlds. I just wanted to read. I feel that a lot of fantasy is better that way and it works for me. I loved discovering the characters and their quirks. I got to discover the different creatures along their paths–Soren and Janneka run into creatures I’ve never even heard of. *runs to do research* I’ll get back to you on lindworms and svartelves….

Aside from that, I am so amazed that this book is coming from an author so young! Kara Barbieri is 22 years old and I can’t wait to see what else she comes up with! I was on the edge of my seat reading White Stag! There is so much action in this book, with battle scenes between the goblins, with above-mentioned mythical creatures, and in dreams and flashbacks. Also, I honestly didn’t know what path Janneka would take for herself. I couldn’t tell if she would turn back to the human world, or choose the pull of her powers and vengeance in the goblin world. And then the ending! The ending was what sealed the deal for me. This was a completely different spin on an old trope and I am not upset in the least. I loved how it was written, how it was crafted, and how everything fit together. Honestly, I am so excited that there is a second book coming and I can’t wait to see how things play out. I recommend this one. It releases in one week – January 8th, 2019!

Soundtrack: The Devil Within by Digital Daggers

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ARC August Update

Hello, everyone! Its about halfway through August, so I am figuring that now is a good time to officially declare my goals and update my status for the ARC August event. So here is what I am working with:

Physical ARCs:

  • The Best Kind of Magic ✔
  • Little & Lion
  • The Spellbook of Lost and Found
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass
  • First We Were IV ✔

eARCs

  • Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined – in progress
  • Assaulted Caramel
  • Grave Errors
  • Meddling Kids – in progress
  • A Conspiracy in Belgravia

 

The ten on my list are the ten being published the soonest, or whose dates have just passed and I need to get my reviews in to the publishers/Netgalley (oops!). Basically the ones that I need to catch up and keep up on. Finishing all ten would be a dream, but if I finish half of them I’ll be pretty happy. As always, the more the merrier.

Are you participating in ARC August? What are your goals? How is your progress?

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