Review: INTO THE DIM by Janet B. Taylor

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Series: Into the Dim, #1
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads:

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.

my rambles

Special thanks to HMH BYR for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review! All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change with the final printing.

Into the Dim had been so hyped up for me, I was a bit nervous that it wasn’t going to live up to that hype, and in turn my high expectations. But man was everyone singing it praises spot on! It had everything I could ever want in a book, and was written beautifully.

The very first line hooked me:

Everyone in town knew the coffin was empty.
-ARC, page 1

That’s a pretty amazing first line! The beginning did start off a bit slow, but once it picked up, it didn’t stop.

I’ve read very few books centered around the idea of time travel, so this was a refreshing and different storyline for me. There’s lots of interesting theories about ley lines, ancient historical places with strong currents, and other scienc-y stuff that has to do with time travel in the book. Also talk of famous inventors and scientists that all make the possibility of time travel seem convincing and real when you read it. I also loved the way that Janet B. Taylor weaved all the history into the story. The scenes set in the past were my favorites by far. The descriptions were vivid and rich, bringing you right into the past with the characters. Some of the characters in the book were real historical figures, too. I always find them super interesting, and end up researching tons about them after the fact. That happened with me and Eleanor of Aquitaine in this book. I hadn’t learned much about 12th century England prior to this, and I always love it when I can widen my knowledge of history! I also really liked seeing Hope’s reaction to actually meeting the people she’d been studying for so many years. It’s kind of twisty thinking about all of the rules of time, time travel and paradoxes. Hope actually poses the question: Did history play out the way that it did because I went back in time? Or would it have been the same anyway? It’s quite an interesting theory to ponder…

The characters were also a bunch of fun! Hope was a relatable character, although I haven’t been through many of the same things. There was just something about her that made you like her, feel for her, and root for her to succeed. Her actions, and reactions, to the crazy situations she was thrown into made the story seem that much more real. Phoebe and Collum were two others that I absolutely loved! Phoebe was so bubbly and fun, the polar opposite of her brother Collum who was strict, serious, and loyal. The friendship that formed between Phoebe and Hope was sweet, and even Hope’s relationship with Collum was a banter-y, but adorable one. I also loved the historical characters: sweet little Rachel, wise Sister Hectane, and strong Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. There’s also Bran, who I quite liked. He’s cocky and confident, but with a brooding, dark side. What’s not to love?! The one character that I didn’t like was, unfortunately, Sarah, Hope’s mother. Her actions and conversations with Hope didn’t seem natural. I mean, come on Sarah, your daughter just travelled through time to save you and you don’t really help her out that much… But we don’t get to see too much of her in this book, so maybe we’ll get some more mother/daughter love in the next book.

And yes of course, there’s romance. I hate to say it, but I wasn’t a huge fan. The introduction is hinted at very early on, and it’s a common thought in Hope’s head ever after that. I really, really loved how Hope actually rationalizes with herself when she catches herself thinking about a boy instead of her mom after learning about the whole time travel thing. It’s not often you see that in YA. The romance did grow on me throughout the book, though. The more information you learn about Hope’s past, the more it makes sense. I just felt like it developed a bit too fast to seem realistic. She was also a little naive at points, when concerning said love interest. This was the only thing that kept me from giving Into the Dim a full five star rating! But here’s the real reason I couldn’t completely jump on board with the whole romance: I ship Hope with someone else! There will be minor spoilers ahead, highlight to read! I shipped Hope with Collum so hard!! And I thought that maybe there would be a love triangle because I caught some subtle hints that Collum was developing feelings for Hope. But, alas, not in the first book at least. Maybe it was more a brotherly protection vibe I was getting? But the way he is so loyal in protecting her, and warning her about falling for Bran… I don’t know, maybe it was just me. Spoilers are over now!

Romance aside, Into the Dim is a fantastic read. It’s filled with excitement, tons of detail, and a story like none other! Wonderfully written, no small detail is left out. It’s clear tons of research went into crafting this incredible and magical story.

I cannot wait to read the second book! The ending provided some closure, but there is a lot more I want to learn about in this world!

8

xo

Novellas: An Added Bonus or Unneeded Addition?

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I have really mixed feelings when it comes to novellas. A part of me is like, “YES! More words from this awesome author, and this awesome series!” but another part of me is like, “Ugh, now I have to read this before I can just get the next book. And it costs $2.99.” I don’t read a lot of short stories, so novellas can be tedious for me to pick up. But my biggest pet peeve is when they are needed in order to understand the next full book *cough* Cassandra Clare’s many series *cough*. I touched on that a little bit in that ranty post a while ago. On the other hand, if I’m completely invested in a series and I adore the author will all my heart, I consider reading the novellas. For example, I’ve purchase Sarah J. Maas’ The Assassin’s Blade, a bind-up of prequel novellas to the Throne of Glass series, for those that aren’t farmiliar.

Since I have both positive and negative feelings, I’m going to argue for both sides here. This should be fun!

Novellas ROCK! Totally an Added Bonus!

As I mentioned above, there are some series that I’m so invested in, I will purchase and read the novellas. If the author does it right*, reading the novellas will be a wonderful experience that will ultimately enhance my reading and love of said author and series. *When I say right, I mean in my opinion. And that opinion is writing short stories that fit well with the main storyline, and aren’t a total waste to read. They aren’t necessary to continue reading the following books. My personal favorites are novellas that provide insight to time periods that aren’t covered in the main books (ex. prequel, epilogue, and “x” number of years in the future–where are they now novellas). I also quite like alternate perspective novellas, where we see the same thing that happened in the original book, but from a different character’s perspective.

All of those kinds of novellas feel like extras, which is what I want a novella to be. If they weren’t meant to be extras, why not publish them together in a full book?

Eh, I Don’t Like Novellas. They’re Kind of a Waste.

Before I started blogging, was just getting into reading YA like it was my job, and was more focused on reading certain series completely through before starting another, novellas were great. They extended the amount of time I got to love my current series obsession! How could I not love them? But when I started blogging, I became not only a more frequent reader, but a reader who has trouble binge-reading series. Now I read lots of first books in series, and with review copies, and release dates, I don’t always finish series. The time between when I read a first book and a sequel is often a year. I don’t remember the storylines as well as I’d like to. And here’s the kicker: I get impatient. I don’t want to wait to read the final book in the series until after I read a novella. I just want the story. And even for series that don’t require a novella to be read prior to another book, I often feel the premise for the novella is unneeded. Unless you’re a mega fan, of course. If there were Harry Potter novellas, you bet I’d be on those yesterday. But there are so many series that I read and have read, I don’t care about them all as much as I do, let’s say again, the Throne of Glass series. I don’t want extra storyline all the time. Sometimes the just the main plotline is enough.

So, how do you feel about novellas? Do you enjoy them, or think they’re not worth it. What series do you read ALL the novellas for? Let me know!

xo

Review: TITANS by Victoria Scott

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Adventure, Sci-Fi
Synopsis from Goodreads:

From Victoria Scott, author of FIRE & FLOOD, comes a thrilling story of impossible odds.

Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.

But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.

my ramblesSpecial thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

When I first heard about Titans soon after its announcement, I knew I had to read it. I say that a lot, but I loved every aspect of what I heard about it. It seemed like it would be unique in ways that other YA books aren’t. Mechanical horses, a protagonist who is financially unstable, and a story centered around friend and family relationships instead of a romance. Add in the adventure of the Titan Derby, and you’ve got one heck of an awesome book!

The book is really fast-paced. The chapters are quite short, which I like when reading adventure stories. It makes me feel like I’m flying through the story, and that kind of writing style is definitely fitting for a book like this. The race scenes are intense. I was on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth, rooting for Astrid to go for the win!

Speaking of Astrid, the characters are an aspect of this book that make the story what it is. Astrid was an incredible main character. She’s strong and fierce, and will do anything to save her family. She’s also incredibly stubborn, but you can’t help but root for her. The relationship between her and her entire family, particularly her and her father, was touching. Magnolia, Astrid’s best friend, was another part of the book that I loved. The female friendship was refreshing to see. Both girls are in similar situations, and it’s clear the love they have for each other. Then there’s Rags, first introduced as a grumpy old man, but you’ll come to love him. He becomes the much-needed father figure for Astrid. The dynamic of the whole group is one that is both comical and heartwarming, seeing the relationships build.

But possibly my favorite part of the whole book was the star of the show: Padlock, Astrid’s Titan. Unlike the other Titans, Padlock is given the ability to have emotion. It was sometimes hard to envision a metal horse having feelings and showing affection, but Victoria Scott wrote it pretty darn convincingly! I loved Padlock just as much as her Pandoras. The relationship that formed between him and Astrid was definitely different, but a memorable one. The Titans in general were really cool. I would have loved to have learned more about their build and operation, other than the quick remarks Astrid mentioned for racing. Like, how did Padlock get programed to have emotion? It seems we’ll never know.

Titans is action-packed and intense, but also filled with heart. The characters, relationships, and story is not one that I’ll be forgetting anytime soon. Another win for Victoria Scott!

7

xo

Review + Favorite Quotes: BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour!

Blackhearts.png

I was thrilled when I got the email that I would be a part of the Blackhearts blog tour! Everything about this book sounded right up my alley. Spoiler, IT SO WAS! If you’re into a beautiful story and romance, this book is for you too! And, can we take a quick minute to appreciate that cover?


Review

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 9th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

my rambles

Special thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for hosting the blog tour and to Simon Pulse and Edelweiss for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. SO. MUCH. It has taken me a couple of days to compose my feelings in order to right a proper review. My mind seriously couldn’t put this book into words, and I’m still having some troubles, so bear with me here. Blackhearts is an absolutely beautiful story. Everything about it was just that: beautiful. The writing, the story, the characters, the romance, everything.

I’ll start with the writing. It was descriptive, but not too much so. The writing didn’t take away from the story, but enhanced it. A lot of historical fiction books tend to be long and drawn out, but that’s not the case with Blackhearts. It was an addicting read, but not in the “normal” page-turning sense of the word. I felt like I was taking my time experiencing the story while I was reading, when in reality I was flying through it. I think that speaks to the rich immersive quality of Nicole Castroman’s ability to write a story.

Continue reading “Review + Favorite Quotes: BLACKHEARTS by Nicole Castroman Blog Tour!”

7 SITES THAT PROVE YA PUBLISHERS KNOW WHERE IT’S AT

publishers

If you’re at all active in the YA book community, you’ve probably interacted with a publisher or two. Publishers are some of the coolest and most fun bookish people you’ll ever meet, and for that reason, the sites they create to market their YA books are just as awesome as they are. SO, here are 7 sites created and run by YA publishers that will fill your life with more happiness than before.

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1. Epic Reads (HarperCollins)

Possibly the most well-known of the YA publishers, Epic Reads and HarperCollins were one of the first publishers (that I know of) to form a relationship with their readers in a digital platform. You may recognize them from their ringleader Margot Wood, the greatness that was Tea Time, the *book shimmy*, or their Book Nerd Problems videos on YouTube.

So, why should I join?  Their blog is fabulous! There are tons of posts regarding the YA books they publish, but they often include titles from other houses too. They host cool giveaways for ARC copies of their books, and they create fun bookish quizzes. Plus, their videos are top notch.

riveted-logo

2. Riveted (Simon & Schuster)

Formerly PulseIt, Riveted just launched on February 1st. It’s taking all the great things from the previous site, and making it better. Plus, they said that they want this new site to be more interactive, and that readers will be able to pitch them post ideas for their blog and become contributors!

So, why should I join? Although it’s new, I can see the amazing potential that’s in Riveted. One of the features transferring from the old site to the new is the ability to read FREE books for a limited time. Actual popular, published books (by S&S only, though) are available free to read during certain time periods. For example right now, Since You’ve Been Gone, The Summer I Turned Pretty and Maid of Secrets are all available.  Sidenote: I highly recommend SYBG [review], and you all know how I endlessly rave about Jenny Han [exhibit A], so definitely take advantage of those while you can! Maid of Secrets is on my TBR, so who knows, maybe I’ll get to it before it expires! The one drawback is the book can only be read online from your computer or other mobile devices, not just a simple eReader.
3440_d108424299aeff5f6150d0a768c401753. Novl (Little, Brown)

Created as/by Little, Brown’s YA imprint, Novl’s site is tons of fun. They feature only their titles, but I mean, they’ve got lots of good ones! They have a reader’s manifesto that is amazing, and I’m a huge fan of their blog, myself!

So, why should I join? Well, you don’t really join their site, unless you sign up for the newsletter (which you definitely should), but they have promotions that you don’t want to miss! Mainly: the NovlBox. Each month you can enter to win a box of books and other goodies curated by either Little, Brown’s authors or publishers! I have never won, but from what I’ve seen, those boxes are so epic. They also of course have just regular giveaways too!

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4. Swoon Reads (Imprint of Macmillan)

All about the YA romance, Swoon Reads is the epitome of interactive. As a member, you can read and submit manuscripts of YA stories with a romance element. Their site also has amazing writing tips, author interviews, insight on the world of publishing, and more!

So, why should I join? Similarly to Riveted, Swoon Reads gives you access to free content, but the kicker is they’re not yet published, so you don’t know what you could get quality wise. But what’s REALLY awesome is, you can submit your manuscript to their site, and after consideration, it could be chosen to be PUBLISHED! I’ve read some of the chosen titles, and I’ve really enjoyed them [ex: A Little Something Different, Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, and These Vicious Masks]. I thought this was an awesome concept!

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5. Penguin Teen Tumblr (Penguin Random House)

Yes, this is their Tumblr, but it isn’t just all reblogging. Their Tumblr is the site they use to promote a lot of their upcoming YA titles, so you’ll see lots of exclusive content, author interviews, and chances for giveaways!

So, why should I join? Again, not a site where you can sign up, but visit for the original blog posts! For example, I was just scrolling through, and on Valentine’s Day they created OK Cupid Profiles for some of their swoony heartthrobs! Where else could you find that? They’re lists are on point!

BONUS FOR PENGUIN: You may already know about the First to Read site. You sign up, and each month or so they offer a bunch of upcoming titles for grabs (digitally). Often times there’s YA ones thrown in the mix. You earn credits for each visit to the site, and each social media you connect. When they open up the “requesting period” you can cash in credits, or simply try for a chance to win an early e-galley!

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6. First In Line (Random House)

Random House’s newest YA site since the closing and merge of Random Buzzers into FigmentI was so sad to see Random Buzzers go, because honestly, Figment is nothing like what RB was at all, but that’s a discussion rant for another day… Once joined, you are able to access exclusive member content about the book of the month. You’ll get an email letting you know what next month’s title will be, and are offered a chance to snag an ARC on a first come first serve basis.

So, why should I join? The member exclusives! January was all about Brandon Sanderson, and while I’ve yet to read any of his books, I know he has a huge following. There was a Q&A, exclusive annotations of a chapter of one of his books, behind the scenes extra content, and the ability to start reading the book before its release date! That’s just an example of what is often featured on the site each month. There’s also author events listed, and suggestions for readalikes.

fierce-reads-logo

7. Fierce Reads (Macmillan)

Macmillan’s main YA site, Fierce Reads is the hub for all the news surrounding their upcoming titles. Discover their new books, find great deals on Books, read early excerpts of books you’re eagerly anticipating *cough* The Winner’s Kiss *cough*, and enter all the giveaways!

So, why should I join? No joining needed, but definitely visit often to keep up to date with what’s going to be hitting shelves soon! They’ve even posted some short synopses for Fall 2016 titles that look AMAZING. Fierce Reads is the home to some of our fav authors like Marissa Meyer, Marie Rutkoski, and Mary E. Pearson so of course you HAVE to visit!


Do you frequent any of these sites? Which is your favorite to visit?

xo