Tag: Young Adult (page 1 of 114)

BOOK REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E Smith

BOOK REVIEW: Windfall by Jennifer E SmithWindfall Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

Part of this is a ‘it’s you, not me’ thing, because the writing was lovely. The author clearly put her heart and soul into this book. Some of the conversations and inner monologue is breathtakingly heart-achingly beautiful.

A certain type of reader will probably hug this book to pieces and cry over it. For me, I’m not exactly a contemporary reader, and this book kinda reminded me why. I have a really hard time dealing with modern day issues because my own life has so many right now – so it’s just one of those things. For some reason, I was thinking this was more of a light hearted book, but it really wasn’t. It deals with loss, death, some aspects of poverty, and the romance part of it was just really sad IMO. I mean, the ending was cute and all, but I just feel kinda sad and depressed?

I’m not going to retype the synopsis or even summarize it aside from saying it’s about a girl who is a ‘do-gooder’ and her best friend Teddy (whom she’s in love with) wins the lottery and basically changes into a total jerk face (even if he realizes it eventually).

65% of the plot is basically us seeing the MC get her hopes up only to be shoved off and brushed over time and time again by Teddy. We watch him make a million dumb asshole mistakes before he finally comes around. SO much of me was raging at how selfish someone could be with the money aspect and the relationship aspects. It literally hurt to read.

There were definitely some pacing issues too. I read the book really fast because I did feel emotionally invested at some points, but over all, not a ton happened to be honest. It’s very much about the inner struggle vs. big events happening.

Trigger warning for anyone who has a hard time diving into the aftermath of painful deaths/etc.

It did have a great ending, but all in all, I just feel kinda empty after having read it. I’m glad the characters make some amazing discoveries and decisions, but blah. It just isn’t the type of story that works well for me.

I still recommend it to those who love contemporaries who make you think about life/etc.

Thank you to the publisher & blogging for books for giving me a copy of this book to review!

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

BOOK REVIEW: Strange the Dreamer by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer by Laini Tayor
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I honestly still don’t know what to rate this, so I’m going with 3.5 stars.

Wow, so it took me nearly two months to finish this book. Here’s the thing. The writing quite literally slays, and so does the characterization. My struggle was this: Half the time, I was sitting there in awe, thinking ‘This is the best book EVER WRITTEN’ ahhh. The other half? It felt like wading through mud. Sparkly, very very pretty mud, but mud nonetheless. There would be pages and pages of descriptions – and while they were mind blowing, I was dyyinggg for the story to start.

So just a heads up – it takes about half way or maybe even more for anything to even start happening. The pace didn’t pick up until like 80%.

My recommendation? If you’re a writer (or aspiring writer) – this is a must read. For sure. But be prepared going into it. I think I’ve highlighted half the book because of how pretty and raw the sentences were. It was poetic at times and short and raw at others. Such an interesting combination I feel like I’ve learned a ton and I owe Laini a great deal for that.

Lazlo Strange is easily one of the most tender and relatable characters in YA lit. He was precious down to the bone, and I swear I don’t think anyone could read about him and not fall in love. From the very first page, too. He sucks you in quick. His fascination of ‘Weep’ becomes the reader’s fascination of weep. It’s impossible not to feel Lazlo’s emotions.

As far as the other characters – same deal. They all felt real. I loved Sarai even though she didn’t have a huge personality. Her abilities are super dark but super cool and I was totally rooting for her. I also liked to see the interaction with the other… ‘gods’ or whatever they were. I love how they each had distinguishable personalities. What I didn’t love? Their POV talking about next to nothing.

Anyway, like I said, the pacing is extremely slow and I think the characters are the entire reason I stuck around. If it hadn’t been for them, I would have just picked it up occasionally to get some writing inspiration.

The world building was also phenomenally done, (albeit weird at times with the metal thing). But cool. Okay, does anyone remember watching ‘The Little Princess’ as a kid? That movie was what spurred my obsession with Indian Folklore. I would chain watch that movie over and over again because of the blue goddess love story and ahhhh this book brought back memories of that and of other stories I used to love. Ugh see? This is my issue. I would have loved this book so much more -perhaps even cried over it- if the pacing had been better.

So here I sit with mixed feelings. So much greatness. So much brilliance. And yet it took me months to get through it.

Take what you will from that!

GIVEAWAY-Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

I am so honored to be hosting a giveaway for one of the most highly anticipated reads of 2017! Check out below to see exclusive content, videos introducing the characters and the world, and an awesome giveaway! I hope you guys enjoy the post-make sure to follow the link to enter our two week giveaway ending on 5/10. Good luck! 🙂 <3

GIVEAWAY-Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini TaylorStrange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
by Laini Taylor
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis:

A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around--and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries--including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Dreams are crazy things; Most tend to be obscure, unearthly images that leave you baffled upon waking. Or, you know, you simply forget the moment you wake. The star(s) of my dreams tend to be random instances from years ago, drawing upon old relationships that have long since been terminated and I have no desire to rekindle-old friendships where it ended badly, yet you have no clue what you did wrong. I dream about old best friends so much it’s unsettling. I tend to let dead horses lie, so why do these old friends pop in my head so  much? Is that a saying? I probably phrased it wrong. My point is-dreams are odd and they come from your subconscious out of absolutely nowhere…and leave you a bit disturbed after, no matter how realistic they may seem. And then there are those dreams where you are in a totally normal-ish situation, yet in a totally unexpected, ODD, creepy place. Those are my most common dreams-these dreams? I’m more than happy to leave behind.  

But I think dreams more often refer to what you want out of your life, what you wish and pine for-what you work so hard for. And I’ll admit, I’ve had plenty of dreams-Too many to count. But, until recently, they haven’t come to fruition. 

Just last month my biggest dream (after being married to my high school sweetheart) came true-I had a little baby girl and she is literally the light of my life. My husband and I are over the moon. And it’s crazy…because this was my dream-not his. He always agreed to my dream, but he dragged his feet-but come last July, he finally agreed and we were so happy to begin trying…except, you know…we got pregnant literally the first try. 

I was shocked, elated. There are no words for the amount of happiness I felt. But I was equally terrified to tell my husband-after all, it was literally the first attempt and I couldn’t be sure how he’d take the news. Turns out? He was beyond words ecstatic-we stayed up all night talking about it. He guessed it was a girl, I guessed a boy. Wouldn’t you know it, he was right. 

So here we are, 10 months later-and it’s not nearly as terrifying as I had imagined it would be (9 months is a looooong time to fret about being a bad mother). She sleeps through the night, eats great, and is one of the strongest babies ever-she lifted her head right after being born! And she has a beautiful, full head of brown hair. Did I mention that literally all I do is brag about her? Yeah. Well, I imagine that won’t end any time soon! 

My dream came true….but there are so many more now. I think that’s how dreams work. My dreams kept being fulfilled (husband, house…now baby), yet I always want more. Now I dream of our next baby (a sister or brother) and  everything I plan to do for our current baby girl. Nothing will ever be good enough for our girl-and God help the boy(s) that tries to win her heart-Dad will have NO part of that. 

My dreams may not be in line with everyone else’s, nor would I say they are conventional for this day and age where career comes before self…but that’s me and it has always been me-I refuse to change. I have everything I’ve ever dreamed for-and more.

What are your dreams? What do you dream about? Are they odd, crazy, weird….do they make you wonder where in the world they came from? Or, have any of your real life dreams come true? Sound off below in the comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

 

ONCE UPON A DREAM: Keep the nightmares at bay with this dreamy prize pack! (Re-tweet and follow to enter giveaway! here )

One (1) winner receives:

  • copy of Strange the Dreamer
  • sleep-mask and aromatherapy pillow sleep mist
  • and a luna moth enamel pin to watch over your dreams!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.

 

Visit the Official Site

Follow @TheNovl on Twitter and Instagram

Follow @LainiTaylor on Twitter

Hashtag #StrangetheDreamer

 

Check out a sneak peek here:

Read the Prologue on EW

Read Chapter 1 on Mashable

Read an Excerpt on TheNovl

Bonus Content!

Which Godspawn are you? Take the quiz!

Download a variety of quote-art here.

 

About the Author

Laini Taylor is a New York Times bestselling author and a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, andDreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.

 

 

So….is Strange the Dreamer on your MUST READ list for 2017?? Or perhaps you’ve already read it (and hopefully loved it). Share below! I know I cannot WAIT to try this one out-I’d love to hear your thoughts on Strange!

 

“I partnered with Little, Brown to share this giveaway.”

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BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh

BOOK REVIEW: Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist #1) by Renee Ahdieh(Flame in the Mist, #1)
by Renee Ahdieh
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

“The only power any man has over you is the power you give him.” 

Holy guacamole. This was wonderful.

HOW COME NO ONE TOLD ME THIS IS A SERIES AHHHHHH. I WAS NOT PREPARED….

Alright. I wasn’t that into the first 30-40%. It wasn’t bad at all, but I just wasn’t really connecting. Mariko is on the way to her betrothed (the prince) when she gets attacked by who she believes is the Black Clan. She manages to escape (as told by the synopsis), but she refuses to return home and tell of her survival until she can figure out who paid the Black Clan to kill her. So, she infiltrates their camp and attempts to gain their trust. 

Mariko has quite the aversion to men, being that men predominately rule in their society and women are left to please men. I totally get that, and Mariko was justified in feeling that way, but she does bring it up quite a lot. Almost too much, but whatever.

Anyway, about half way through, once we’re into the Black Clan hideout, things start to get interesting. And they just keep getting better and better. I literally could not put it down past the 70% mark. Like holy wowza… SO GOOD. It was non stop, action packed, with so many fun turns. AND THE END AHHHHH WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!

I TOTALLY GUESSED THE TWIST TOO. And I don’t even care that I guessed it because it was so great. I was actually hoping I was right because just.. yes. So good. 

Some of the highlights for me were:

1. Japanese inspired culture. Lush and gorgeous.
2. Okami. And he the fact that he has long hair.
3. Topknots.
4. The scene where Mariko falls from the… cliff thing.
5. Gorgeous quotes, like the following…

“A blossom can split through a rock, given enough time.”

I did have a few small complaints – one being the magic system. It was really confusing and not really explained at all – no rules were mentioned and it seemed very random. I’m assuming this will be explained much more in the next book, but it was odd to me that it was so sporadic. 

The only other thing was the writing- not that it was bad. It just felt a bit dry and hard to follow at times. I felt the same way about Ahdieh’s other series too – ‘The Wrath and the Dawn’. Whatever, the story here is amazing.

All in all, I totally recommend this. I’d read it again in a heartbeat.

BOOK REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani Chokshi

BOOK REVIEW: A Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2) by Roshani ChokshiA Crown of Wishes (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
by Roshani Chokshi
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

An ancient mystery. An unlikely union. For one young princess in a state of peril, a dangerous wish could be the only answer…

She is the princess of Bharata—captured by her kingdom’s enemies, a prisoner of war. Now that she faces a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. But should she trust Vikram, the notoriously cunning prince of a neighboring land? He promises her freedom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together they can team up and win the Tournament of Wishes, a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. It seems like a foolproof plan—until Gauri and Vikram arrive at the tournament and find that danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans, mischievous story birds, a feast of fears, and twisted fairy revels. New trials will test their devotion, strength, and wits. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

*ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review*

 
“Vicious and sweet,” said Vikram, shaking his head. “Beastly girl.”
“You like me, don’t lie,” I teased.
“I couldn’t lie if I tried,” he said quietly.

 

It just so happens that I was given this ARC by the publisher back in December….I just was way too tired and ‘out of it’ to truly enjoy the lush story-telling of this novel. So every time I would pick up this beauty to read it, I’d get distracted or start to fall asleep…on the prologue. It was clear to me I wasn’t going to be able to read this book while in the height of my pregnancy. I did, however, get to finish it two days before I went into labor! So here I am, finally writing a review for this crazy, intricate book.

 

The problem with guilt was not how it attacks the present, but how it stained the past.

 

I can’t say there weren’t moments where I was scratching my head-because I did that a lot. But it was never in a bad way. This author, from what I’ve always heard, writes in a deeply poetic way that you just need to be in the mindset for-I definitely gathered this from the moment I started. This isn’t your average YA fantasy-I feel it’s a bit deeper than that. Keep that in mind when choosing to start this novel-it completely changes the tone of both the book and how you feel whilst enjoying this story.

 

“You’re a monster,” she said.
I secured the necklace. “We all have to be something.”

 

When I think back on why I enjoyed this book so much (I read it almost a month ago) it always goes back to the characters. I had heard so many good things from my close friends that loved this book about the witty Vikram and I took that with a grain of salt-I mean, no book boy is ever really as good as people say (Okay, whatever…I lie, but still-everyone’s perception is different) and I almost always feel a tad different. Now, whether that means I loved them more or less is dependent upon the book-obviously.

 

Vikram had tried bribing them. At one point, he offered Gauri’s hand in marriage, which earned him two sharp jabs in the ribs. For equality’s sake, he offered his own hand in marriage, but that ended all bargaining negotiations on the spot.

 

So, when thinking of this story, did I love Vikram as much as others? Absolutely. Did I obsess over him as much as my friends? Perhaps not-but he became an instant BBF all the same. Ha, just goes to show I’ll never change. I had thought he was supposed to be tortured and somewhat sullen, almost an enemies to lovers type deal, but turns out that wasn’t the case. She hated him, but he was just cautious of her-you know, because she is from a different kingdom and all. No, he was a sarcastic prince that made me smile from ear to ear, laugh at the most random moments….did I mention I have a prince fetish? Oops.

 

“I prefer the poisoned food.”
“You may be rewarded yet,” he said. He popped a handful of pomegranate seeds in his mouth. He froze, some of the juice spilling from his lips. “Oh no,” he breathed, clutching his chest.
“Vikram!” I screamed.
He held up his hand. “I meant to start with mangos.”

 

So it’s extremely obvious that this book wasn’t so much about the plot, for me, but the characters. It was a bit obscure, in my opinion, so I took solace in the characters’ hilarious banter and romantic interactions. Vikram and Gauri had the best banter I’ve read in a while, holding up to some of my favorite bantering couples-it made this long book seem like it was over in a minute.

 

“My apologies. Is it your bellicose-let-me-drain-your-blood face? Could you not master an expression that looked less like an outraged cat? ”
“Better than steepling my hands and looking like an overgrown spider.”
“An overgrown spider who is rarely wrong.”
“My bellicose-let-me-drain-your-blood face has saved your life.”
“And this overgrown-spider pose is about to save yours.”

 

But Gauri is probably the base of why this book was so alluring-Vikram opposed her and was sly as can be…but I think he was much more tolerable in the beginning of their uneasy alliance (and nicer sooner) whereas Gauri made it harder. She was constantly on alert, always threatening him and, in her mind, thinking of ways to be rid of him (ohhh but he was too cunning). This added an extra layer of animosity between the two, adding tension and a romantic build up that pays off greatly in the end.

 

“I thought you were going to stay away from me,” she said.
He looked at her, this princess who seemed so dangerously sharp that he might cut himself just brushing against her shadow. “I don’t know how.”

 

And while the characters were the main draw to the story, for me, the story wasn’t without its addictive elements, as well-obviously. My biggest problem stems from the games. I do agree with my friend, Brittney, that this almost has a Caraval type feel. And while that’s fine, I don’t know that I was in the mood for games that aren’t in fact…games.

 

She laughed. And Vikram, who had never wanted for his life to slow down but only to move faster and faster to the next thing, found himself craving to live in this second.

 

Whatever. Call me a square, but I love structured, clear cut games and tournaments in books. I don’t like when the games aren’t clear and when they don’t have clear cut rules, winners, prizes etc. etc. Or, I don’t know, I love the life and death games (Sorry. I’ll just always be a HG type girl…). In this story, I felt the games, and the plot, for that matter, were a bit obscure. And, frankly, I don’t always love obscure.

As was the case with Caraval, though, I did enjoy it here-I just don’t know that I expected it-Which, hey, isn’t this book’s fault, now is it??

One final thing-I’m not a fan of one person being a certain pov and the other being in a totally different pov. I don’t know why it bothers me, but every time it switched I thought about it, and I just don’t like this minuscule distraction-I’m not sure what the point is, but for some reason it happens a lot in stories. I’m one of the few who can’t see past it. I still loved the story, it just served as a distraction I didn’t love.

 

“Surviving isn’t just about cutting out your heart and burning every feeling into ash,” he said. “Sometimes it means taking whatever is thrown at you, beautiful or grotesque, poisonous or blissful, and carving out your life with the pieces you’re given.”

 

A wonderful story full of twists and turns, games that leave your mind reeling, banter and a slow burn romance that is totally worth the wait, and writing that immediately enthralls you, this story is a winner. It’s hard to say whether this book will be for everyone, but its promising enough I would suggest everyone give it a try. The characters are worth every page you choose to read, and, frankly, Vikram is worth more than that. I hate that it took me so long to read this ARC, but I’m just glad I’m fulfilling my duty. This book was worth the wait, and I’m glad I can voice just how fun it was-this is not one I’ll soon forget.

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