BLOG TOUR: These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

52b-2bcover2bwith2btaglineHappy release day to Sara Raasch and her epic new book, These Rebel Waves!! We also know Sara from the Snow Like Ashes trilogy, so here is the start of a new fantasy series about a soldier, a prince, and a raider.

Now, I want to start off right now and address this pirate debate going on. Devereux (or “Vex” as he is known) is the character in question. The synopsis refers to him as a pirate. Thus far in book one, we really don’t see him pirating. We see him ashore, in more of a “raiding” state. In the very beginning, it says he needs to take time to think and form his plan. A guy is allowed to do that right? Ms. Raash can have a master plan up her sleeve and have some pirating saved for later, right?? (I don’t know this for sure, granted, but I can guess!) The very title has nothing to do with pirates…it does say rebel and the book does have a rebellious/outlaw feel going on. So really, while there aren’t really high seas adventures and swashbuckling battles in this book, there is much plot to be read. No gay pirates and rounds of rum or whatever, but I was fine. I didn’t have all of those expectations, I just read many, many, MANY reviews of bookworms who apparently did. Sorry, friends. You set yourself up.

So what did this book have, if not pirates? Well, a trio of very different characters living in a corrupt society in a Jamaican-esque setting of Game of Thrones with a Herbology class from Harry Potter. Our main characters are Vex (previously mentioned off-duty pirate/raider), Adeluna (this daughter of two former revolutionaries turned politicians, we call her Lu), and Benat (Ben for short, the crown prince). Together these three set out to find magic, a missing diplomat, and peace for their country. Along the way, they discover new love, their sexuality, and much about their past.

I admit that it took me a while to get into this book. I was super confused in the beginning because the nicknames were all unfitting to me and I couldn’t keep track of the POV switches. It really took me a while to figure things character-wise and it got a bit frustrating. That being said, though, once I figured things out, everything really fit like a glove. Also, for a fantasy series, I felt that I did expect a bit more adventure and action. There was just so much political and religious drama it took a lot of patience and thought and determination to get through. But overall I thought it was worth it. There was a plot twist and WHOA. Talk about keeping readers on our toes! Loved it!

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Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.

Book Soundtrack: “I’ll Fly Away” by Flatfoot 56

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Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton + GIVEAWAY

35720690Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns #1)
Publisher: Katherine Teagan Books
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 464

Synopsis: In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch.

But when Mia’s father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

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The first thing I need to say about Heart of Thorns is that this book is 446 pages long (which I was a little intimidated by at first) but it absolutely flew by! The chapters are relatively short and there is so much action and movement happening from the very beginning. I never felt bored by the characters or the plot, and things never felt rushed. I instantly liked Mia…but then again, any characters who are speaking anatomy and are trained huntresses are pretty awesome in my book. I was a bit concerned about cliche plot-to-escape-marraige-to-the-prince trope, but the bigger picture really is vengence for her mother’s death.

My hat is off to the author, Bree Barton, for doing an excellent job diversifying a medieval fantasy world! I am in awe of your skills! I mean, its relatively subtle, but its there. There are references to different skin colors on the people, different abilities, and different sexualities. Read closely, its there. Thank you, Bree!

So how about the reason we’re all here….the magic. So in this trilogy only women can possess magic and every woman is suspected of having it. The men, of course, view them as demons and teach the children to view this ability as such as well. The overall magic system in this book (without delving too much into things and spoiling everything) is actually tied to a deeper mythology, and boy do we get information about it! Mia, you’re in for an education! Ironically, the magic is also how she ends up meeting (and injuring/healing) the love interest, Quin and then its all downhill from there. Their relationship is honestly one of the most dynamic that I have read in a while. I very much enjoyed it.

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY VIA RAFFLECOPTER

  • Hardcover copy of HEART OF THORNS
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  • Please read the rules in the Rafflecopter before entering
  • Go to any stop on the tour to enter!!

14112802Bree Barton is a writer in Los Angeles. When she’s not lost in whimsy, she works as a ghostwriter and dance teacher to teen girls. She is on Instagram and YouTube as Speak Breely, where she posts funny videos of her melancholy dog.

On those parting words, I will leave you to decide whether you think this book is worthy of your time. I know I will be picking up book #2 when it comes out. Happy reading!

Book Soundtrack: “Queendom” by AURORA

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Between Frost and Fury by Chani Lynn Feener

357958931Hello, book lovers! Happy hump day! This post was supposed to be up this morning but apparently I don’t know the difference between AM and PM when posting blogs anymore–my bad!! Anywho, without further ado, I have an amazing review to share with you today….Between Frost and Fury begins right where Amid Stars and Darkness left off (kind of like this review, right? heh heh!). Ruckus is on the phone with Delaney when her tone of voice changes ever so slightly and he’s trying not to panic–what can possibly be wrong? There’s no way anyone suspects….unless they do. And then this whirlwind of a book picks up.

There are so many things that I absolutely love about book number two of this trilogy! First off, we actually get a little bit of Trystan’s perspective in this book. It isn’t completely from his perspective because the book isn’t first person, but it does follow him as a character in a few chapters! I don’t recall ever doing that with Ruckus in book one. So that’s pretty cool. Secondly, the writing is far better in this book! I griped a bit about it being slightly juvenile in book 1. Well, Chani must have found a new editor or something because the difference is night and day! I loved it! And third, the thickening of the plot is so intense that I am so incredibly invested now, I am recommending this book to everyone now!!!

So hopefully, you as a follower of my blog are interested by now as well. If so, you can win a copy of the book sponsored by Xpresso Book Tours! This is a US/CAN giveaway and is open until July 26th.

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If you are independent and you don’t need no giveaways and just want to check the book out for yourself, you can do so on any of these fine platforms:

Amazon  |  B&N  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Goodreads

Also check out the author while you’re at it. Chani is a really neat lady who has also written some other books and likes to do other cool things like go to aquariums, binge TV shows (me too!!), and draw.

All right my friends, that’s all I have for today. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week and get lots of reading done!

Book soundtrack: The Pretender by Foo Fighters

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Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener

30063453Imagine this: you are partying at a club with your best friend just like any other Friday night in a world where humans and aliens (who look just like humans, albeit super-hot humans) co-exist peacefully. You are ready to leave, but your best friend is hitting it off with some otherworldly guy, so you let her know and head for the door. On your way out, you brush against this tall, leggy girl who turns and smiles at you with this strange look in her eye. But whatever, you’re done for the night. Outside of the club on your way home, you are ambushed by an alien guy who insists that your name is Olena and that you must return to your home planet to marry the Zane (Prince) of a different planet. He kidnaps you, knocks you out, and you wake up on his ship three days later soon to arrive on this new planet. Come to find out that girl who bumped into in the bar was the princess and by bumping into you, she used a device to transform you into her. You now have no choice but to impersonate her to avoid war between two alien races and all humankind.

So this is how the book starts off. Delany is a teenager who finds herself in an impossible situation and has to make the best of it. She has the help of her bodyguard, Ruckus, to coach her through. She is to be wed to rival Zane Trystan, but her personality is so different from the real Lissa (Princess) Olena that even Trystan softens to her.

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I felt that the author did a good job of world building. Space worlds and alien kingdoms cannot be easy to build up. The only thing that didn’t sit with me was that there were so many new words developed for royalty (Lissa, Zane, Captain, Scientist, etc.) but yet, there was no word for ‘alien.’ For whatever reason, I hear alien and I think little green men but obviously the author is describing these aliens as tall, ideal, beautiful versions of humans basically. I almost wish they  had their own word for themselves, but no. They’re just aliens. Ok. Whatever.

alienSecondly, the writing was all pretty flat. Fortunately, I felt like most of the characters had some dimension to them. Delaney and Trystan definitely did. Ruckus was a little flat. And the writing overall was pretty simplisitic. There were just times when I thought a seventh grader could have been writing it. The ideas? Good. The format? Eh.

Finally, I loved the plot and the quick pacing. I was very entertained by the whole story and the concept. I thought that Delaney was a strong, witty character. I thought her relationship with Ruck was a little too easy so I’m not convinced it will last. Maybe I’m wrong, we’ll see. And that cliffhanger!! So overall I had to get over the writing and just let myself enjoy the story and once I did that, it was a quick and enjoyable book. I’m looking forward to reading book 2 soon for a book tour. Stay tuned!

Soundtrack: “The Sky is Broken” by Moby

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Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast

Do you ever get hankerings for one particular genre and that’s all you want to read? Yeah, that’s me with sci-fi lately. I have no idea why, but it seems like there have been some great releases this year! Actually, what am I talking about?! 2018 has been an amazing year of new releases of all genres! But back to my point…I’m craving sci-fi and my most recent read hit the sweet spot!

28945665Raven is sent away to summer camp as part of a rehab program. While isolated out in the wilderness with her group, aliens (called the Nahx) invade Earth and decimate most of the population.

Eighth is one of the Nahx. When his partner, Sixth, is killed he is left to his devices and begins to ignore the directives he was given–kill the humans. When he first sees Raven as her group is trying to move toward the coast, his reaction is instantaneous and he knows he needs to know her.

Honestly this book was a bit of a slow burn, but it was written with enough tension and excitement to keep me going. I would go even farther to say that the beginning was actually slower than the second half of the book. Once August and Raven are together, their friendship develops into something so beautiful. I loved their communication and everything that August did for her. I just could not get enough and I HAD to know what happens next.

61uvo1k2ivl-_sy679_I admit that at first, I was just waiting for Eighth to take off the space suit and be a human underneath. When that never happened, I thought that falling for an alien species was just plain creepy. Can we say Stockholm Syndrome?! Well, then I got over it and I couldn’t help but fall for Eighth/August and it really was just all downhill from there. I now am in love with August and I’d follow him across the country and let him keep me warm in a mountain cave! *wink*

And of course, the biggest question in the book still is “Who ARE the Nahx?” “WHAT are they?” Well, here’s the biggest caution I can give you: its a cliffhanger. A damn good one! Man oh man, I am ready for the second book and I didn’t see that ending coming!! I can’t wait, I can’t wait, I can’t wait!

Currently reading: “Human” by Rag’n’Bone Man

S.T.A.G.S. by M.A. Bennett

So I was just going through my list of ‘read’ books for this year on Goodreads and I have read 25 books not including short stories and what-not. That’s pretty much on-track with my reading goals, so YAY for me! Blog-wise I have also made exactly 25 posts, but they aren’t all bookish, some of them are Tag Tuesdays or Readathons or Monthly Wrap-ups or whatever so I have a little catching up to do on my reviews! That’s what my blog is supposed to be doing, afterall! So without further ado, here is one I missed!:

Title: S.T.A.G.S.
Author: 
M.A. Bennett
Pages: 296 pages, Hardcover
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press

35926234STAGS is a boarding school for the wealthy elite. Greer (“Grey-uh” for us Americans who are un-used to seeing this name) is admitted on a scholarship, whereas most other students at the school have had generations of attendees in their families. When Greer and two other new/outcast students are invited for a weekend of “Huntin’. Shootin’. Fishin'” with the Medievals (the elite clique of students at the school), she is warned against going by a former friend, but ultimately decides to go, seeing it as a chance to finally make friends and be accepted. What occurs instead is a weekend of veiled bullying and the thrill of the chase.

I honestly feel that this is one of the better YA thrillers I have read lately. That being said, though, the book certainly has its flaws. However, regarding the genre, I thought M.A. Bennett did a terrific job of setting up a bit of background for the Medievals by showing them flaunting their personal family lineage back to the crusades in class and even around the dinner table. Their shady words alluding to hatred of outsiders was a first clue as to their true motives. However, their talk is so flowery and conversation so natural that who would really think that there was a threat present? Nel just wants to make friends, Greer wants conversation, and Shafeen wants to stand up for himself.

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Borrowed from Alba in Bookland.

The setting in a boarding school and then a large family estate on the moors of Northumberland was also perfect. Beautiful, yet ominous and eerie…much like the Medievals themselves. I could just imagine mists and fog and these elite teenagers showing off their knowledge of “huntin’, shootin’, and fishin'” to the outcasts who had never or who had hardly been exposed to that before. It truly was another world for the three outsiders, or “Savages” as they came to be called. The author’s descriptions were just wonderful and added an extra dimension of creep factor.

Despite the good in the book, I will admit that I never felt fully invested or connected in the main characters. I cared for them, yes, but I was preoccupied with the bigger picture in the book. Greer is a teenage narrator who really reads like a teenager. She is constantly referencing movies–which I didn’t mind much, and it sort of made sense since her father makes films–and jumping around in her telling of the story (“But that was not nearly as bad as what was to happen next,” etc.). I could do without that. I felt that some of the descriptions were too drawn out and the action too underplayed. I wanted a bit more out of those.

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And of course, the ending. I like the concept and how the book wrapped up. Certain aspects I saw coming, while others were a nice touch. If ever there was a book that should be a movie, its this one. I can absolutely see this as a screenplay and I would definitely go see it.

Book Soundtrack: Danse macabre, Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saens

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Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

37834816Just in case you live under a rock, Ruin and Rising is the third and final book in the Grisha Trilogy. The trilogy centers around the conflict between the Grisha (known as the practicers of the small science, they are the magical elite who can do things like heal, summon wind [or light or darkness if you’re really special], etc.) and the otkazat’sya (‘the abandoned’; those who do not practice the small science). Our three ‘heroes’ are Alina, Mal, and Nikolai, and we follow them through a war with the sexiest, broodiest book villain ever: The Darkling.

So Ruin and Rising was quite a turnaround from the previous two books in the Shadow and Bone (Grisha) trilogy. FINALLY I got the feels I was looking for and expected based on the hype around the series. I mean, yes, I liked the first two books, but book 3 finally brought things together and completely sucked me in! There were a few times when I literally had to stop reading because I was overwhelmed by what was going on in the book. FEELS!!!! Thank you, Leigh!! But now its over! 😦

78487280f7266a3a32838801b739e97fAll gushing aside, the book was not perfect. After three full books, I still feel connected to maybe half of the side characters. Zoya’s sarcasm and mood was hilarious; Hershaw and Oncat are great just because I love to picture a big man toting a little cat all across the countryside; Genya is a badass (ruination, baby!) and David…well, he’s good at what he does; and Misha was a great new addition to the little crew. So cute!! As for everyone else in the party, meh. The twins I could never figure out and remember who was the guy and who was the gal. I hardly remember the others’ names and they were with Alina through most of book 2 and all of book 3 for the most part.

And now to discuss the ships. It seemed like all three guys practically got their own book. Was this the intent? Book 1 was pure Darkling. Book 2 was Nikolai’s time to shine. And Book 3 was Mal. Yes, there were smatterings of each character in each book of course, but there was certainly a focus to each installment. As for the ending and who she ultimately ends up with? Alina’s decision reminded me of Katniss in The Hunger Games. I pretty much guessed that this was where she would end up, but I still had my hopes for other suitors.

d1209313b65f0fb322e99cc22530b600I did love the epilogue though. I that was a suitable ending and it was touching. That being said, though, I wouldn’t mind this being a series where we got to see Leigh’s take on all three (or four) possible scenarios. I was expecting something along the lines of the third amplifier to happen so while I was a bit surprised, I wasn’t overwhelmed (see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), and I knew something was coming.

And a final thought, Alina and the Darkling’s ‘connection’ TOTALLY reminds me of Kylo and Rey in The Last Jedi. Just have to throw that out there. That is so stuck in my head now, and its not a bad thing!

Soundtrack: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Lorde

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No Good Deed by Goldy Moldavsky

35217969No Good Deed….is okay. I found it categorized by my library under the subcategory ‘humor.’ But with the black cover with the spray paint plus the synopsis talking about ruin and warfare, I expected mischief and violence and maybe some mystery. Let me just tell you, there is none of the above (humor included). 

So Gregor Maravilla (last name always included) goes away to summer camp with lofty ambitions to save the world by feeding the children. Everyone else at “Camp Save the World” has similar ambitions. Feminism, Men’s Rights, Eat Dirt, Anti-Robotics, etc. As you can sort of see, some of them are a little sideways, some of them are common. The camp turns these campaigns into competitions to gain the campers points to try to win an internship with the head honcho who can’t seem to find time to actually leave his office in the big city and visit camp in person. Of course things get cutthroat and quite crazy.
I hardly found there to be any depth or connection to this book. I really liked the ‘love interest’ Ashley Woodstone, who Gregor swore to hate from the very beginning. She was really the best part, even though when she did finally open up about herself, it was relatively brief and Gregor had a hard time taking it all in. Ashley was the most spirited person at the camp, and everyone else looked at her like she was crazy!

tim-mossholder-302970-unsplashThe biggest thing about the book that I had a problem with, I think, was that the ending felt like a loose end. In the first third of the book, Gregor and Ashley break into Jimmy’s office and Gregor finds something very revealing about the camp and how the campers all came to be there. Basically he finds a boatload of information he could expose that would make a huge impact on future summers. When there is a press conference at parents weekend, Gregor only exposes information about the internship. WHY?! All the way to the end of the book, the info about the campers is never brought to light. Again, WHY!??! You know all of this, why don’t you fix it? Do something?! All this talk about ’causes’ and needing to better public speaking and bla bla bla. Jimmy and his father being exposed and the camp coming to justice just seems like a big loose end to me! Gah!!

So that’s my take. The book has some fun ideas. Its relatively unique. Some of the causes are worthy of a good chuckle. I still wouldn’t eat the dirt even if my favorite celebrity told me to. I have a deep love for summer camps in my heart but my bias for them did not envelop this one. Better luck next time, Goldy.

Book Soundtrack:

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

21645469-_sy540_Well hey, I finally got around to reading Caraval in honor of book #2 releasing soon! I hate to miss out on all of the goodies coming out soon…plus, of course, I’ve been hearing about Caraval non-stop since it was released so I gave in to the pressure! I don’t have regrets!

So there are a couple of expectations that I have to quash right off the bat: first – “caraval” =/= carnival, so don’t expect circus tents and a formal show with clowns and popcorn and elephants, etc. Not quite. Second – Legend (master of “Caraval”) is not an omniscient or stalker-ish presence like the Wizard of Oz. Maybe I’m the only one, but I was expecting something like that. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil anything but….the Legend part of the book was NOTHING like how I expected it to be.

caravalAs for the rest of the book, I really enjoyed it!! The twists and turns of the game keep you very involved and the other players are diverse and fun to meet. Scarlett (the MC) was on the annoying side. She is engaged to be married in 4 days (?), though Caraval ends in 5, so she is obsessed with the idea of finding her sister in time to get back for her wedding. Furthermore, she gets romantic attention from a handsome guy and she’s a blatant jerk about it because she’s engaged to a man back home who she has only met via correspondence. She is obsessively “that’s not ladylike” this and “oh, that’s so improper” that, bla bla bla and it is so obnoxious. Add to that constant whining about her sister being missing and she is a complete broken record for the first two-thirds of the book.

The last third of the book, though, is when the action really picks up and there is just too much happening for there to be any whining or thinking about fiancees or any of that other junk. Its all just go-go-go. I feel that it sounds like I’m listing a lot of negatives but I really did enjoy the magic and the romance in this book. I can’t wait to dive into Legendary !!

Book soundtrack:  “Twisted” by Aaron Taos

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A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

a_semi-definitive_list_of_worst_nightmares_krystal_sutherland_fall_2017_ya_booksWow, you guys. I am amazingly shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. This is an example of don’t-judge-the-book-by-its-cover. Its not really an ugly cover, per se, but it isn’t glittery and mind-blowing for sure. I would never be drawn to it in a million years. However, after reading it, I absolutely recommend it. This book had so much humor and so much heart, I want anyone reading my reviews to go and read this book next.

janko-ferlic-391257-unsplashSo what is it about, you may now be asking? Esther Solar and her “semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.” Esther and her family have been under a curse to suffer from one great fear in their lifetime ever since her grandfather met Death in the war. Now this family is quirky. The father, for instance is agoraphobic and will not leave their basement. Esther’s brother, Eugene, is afraid of the dark and turns on candles and lamps and strings of lights when the sun goes down.

The curse hasn’t hit Esther yet, and when she has a hapless reunion with a former crush, he discovers her list and challenges her to face her fears. Together they tick off the nightmares, and of course, the surprises along the way.

This book definitely has trigger warnings of suicide, depression and anxiety, which I didn’t really know going in. In the afterward of the book, the author does a really nice follow-up about mental health and mentions a piece of Adam Silvera’s that is a “must read” for every person no matter where you are in life. Forgive me, for I don’t have the book in front of me so I can’t pull up the exact title at the moment.

claudia-nuta-362408-unsplashAside from this, as I mentioned before, the book is overall a very sweet, funny, and touching story. I didn’t realize there would be so much depth in a book with such a simple cover. I think it should also be mentioned that this book…while I wouldn’t label it as fantasy, one could view it as magical realism in some ways. That’s what I would call it anyway.

Book Soundtrack: “Wolves Without Teeth” by Of Monsters and Men

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