Review: TELL THE WIND AND FIRE by Sarah Rees Brennan

Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Retelling, Urban Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads:

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

my rambles

Special thanks to Clarion Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

I put off reading this book for a looooooong time (longer than I really should have) because for some reason, most of my Goodreads friends’ reviews of this book were very low. I’m talking one-two stars. This made me really nervous, because, I would normally trust these people! So I finally worked up the nerve to read this book for three reasons: (1) The synopsis sounded really cool, and Sarah Rees Brennan is awesome, (2) I was going to be meeting Sarah like, the next day, and (3) it was a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, which I haven’t read, and therefore felt that maybe some low rating were due to retelling issues which wouldn’t affect me. Turns out, I completely and wholeheartedly disagree with those reviews. Therefore, the moral of the story is, READ THE DARN BOOK EVEN IF IT’S GETTING BAD REVIEWS. At least try, because hopefully like my case, you’ll end up loving it!

Well, let me just say that I wish I had read this book sooner, people. It turned me into an emotional, sobbing, wreck. SARAH REES BRENNAN YOU ARE VERY CRUEL. But that is all thanks to the ending. I’ll start with the beginning.

I loved how Sarah weaved magic into the storyline. Yes, some parts were a little confusing (about how the Light and Dark magicians need each other, the actual workings of the magic, etc.) but I dealt with that. But my favorite thing was the doppelgangers! The idea that they are created when a magician is trying to save someone on the brink of death was chilling. The fact that they are basically society’s rejects added so much emotion, especially when we get introduced to Carwyn (*HEART EYES ALL OVER*). There is all this stigma in both the Light and Dark cities about being a doppelganger, and them not being considered real people, or believed to not have souls, which was so interesting.

That leads me to talk characters. Lucie and Ethan were pretty “meh” characters to me. Lucie was a typical symbol of rebellion, Ethan was the “golden boy,” but I loved me some Carwyn… While Lucie and Ethan were pretty boring, Carwyn was completely the opposite. He was dark, brooding, definitely the “bad boy,” but he had lots of depth due to the fact that he was a doppelganger. He was also morally ambiguous, which makes for awesome characters. I really came to root for him to have a happy ending, even over the others, because of the things he reveals about himself, and his actions throughout.

There’s a romance between Lucie and Ethan (not a spoiler, don’t worry), which I found to be about as bland as the characters. It got a little better when we learned the history of how the two got together, but it was nothing special to me. I found Lucie and Carwyn’s almost relationship to be much more interesting. If you’ve read the book already, CHAPTER 18 AH!!! It hit me right in the feels. The complexity and the forbidden wrongness of Lucie helping a doppelganger made it much more exciting. And my oh my the sexual tension was coming off of Carwyn in droves!

The ending completely destroyed me, just as I knew it would, but was hoping it wouldn’t. Sarah wasn’t afraid to hit us very very hard in the heart. This will be one that you’ll want to emotionally prepare for.

While I was a big fan of the story, the writing was also wonderful. The dialogue she created for and between the characters *cough* especially Carwyn *cough* was really great, and of course, emotional.

All in all, Tell the Wind and Fire was a great story! But the highlight for me was Carwyn (if you couldn’t tell he’s totally my current book boyfriend), and the complexity his character brought to the story, and the world. If you’re a fan of sexy bad boys and urban fantasy, this is the book for you!

7xo

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Review + Author Q&A: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi

Review

25203675Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 342
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

my rambles

Special thanks to the St. Martin’s Griffin for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour and providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

What a book! I could tell from the moment I heard about The Star-Touched Queen that it was going to be a book that I’d love. And it was. Roshani Chokshi crafts a beautiful love story of epic proportions, set in a unique and magical world like none other.

The story of Maya is one that unravels slowly, much like the threads in tapestry of fate. We meet her as a girl from one life, but as the story continues, we get to delve into her many reincarnations, and discover her deep connection with Amar. The decisions the two make will break your heart and then weave it back together again.

The incredible magic of the Otherworld, Naraka, the Night Bazaar, and all of the beings within make for a world that is fascinating, frightening, and amazing. In great contrast to Maya’s original home, Bharata, with it’s lush middle-eastern and Indian culture, and their superstitious beliefs in horoscopes and legends.

Fast-paced and never not exciting, The Star-Touched Queen will take you on an adventure that you won’t believe. Filled with magic, romance, incredible descriptions, and rich writing, this book will not disappoint. Fans of The Wrath and the Dawn and A Court of Thorns and Roses will love delving into this wonderful story!

7


Q&A with Roshani Chokshi!

What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Which character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why? For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.

Continue reading “Review + Author Q&A: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi”

Mini Review: NO LOVE ALLOWED by Kate Evangelista

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Release Date: April 19th, 2016
Series: Untitled, #1
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

It’s all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.

Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!

my rambles

Special thanks to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Uh, fake relationship that turns into more? Count me in!

I’ve had pretty good luck with Swoon Reads’ titles, and No Love Allowed was no exception. It’s the perfect book to get you in the spirit of summer. Light, fun, and adorable! The whole story starts after a crazy proposition and a spontaneous decision are made: Caleb asks Didi to be his fake girlfriend, and she accepts. While the general storyline was a little predictable and cliche, I liked this book for its characters, particularly Didi. She was a little spunky, and a lot likable! One of my favorite things about her was that she was relatable to me in that she’s an artist, a painter to be exact. I enjoyed that her love of painting actually played a role in the story and in shaping her character, instead of just being a hobby of hers.

I don’t think I’m spoiling you by saying that Didi and Caleb totally fall for each other (*cough* predictability). As I mentioned before, I found their relationship to be the predictable part of the story. They were really cute together, though. Didi and Caleb were masters at flirting and banter! There were aspects of the book that caught me by surprise, such as Didi’s mental illnesses. I enjoyed the incorporation of the more serious storyline into an overall lighthearted book.

Yes, it was cliche (the whole fake relationship, Caleb being mega-rich and Didi being pretty poor), but it’s a fun and super cute story! Perfect for a quick summer read, No Love Allowed is a romance that will make you smile.

7

xo

Review: DREAMOLOGY by Lucy Keating (+Giveaway!)

DREAMOLOGY

A huge thanks to the FFBC for hosting this tour for Lucy Keating’s amazing book, Dreamology! I am thrilled to be participating!


Review

23466626Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: April 12th, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Contemporary, Fantasy, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.

But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.

Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

my rambles

Special thanks to FFBC, HarperTeen and Edelweiss for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review!

Dreamology is unlike any book I’ve ever read. It’s completely unique and out of the box, while remaining entertaining, emotional, and utterly fun!

Told through dreams and reality, we get to see Alice and Max’s crazy relationship unfold in their dreams, and in real life. While I thought reading about the super surrealistic dreams was fun, I enjoyed seeing the couple work out their relationship in real life, together. The events unfolding in their real life pushed them together and forced them to work out their problems, and the fact for Alice that Max wasn’t completely like his dream self. I actually found myself loving real life Alice and Max better than their dream selves for that reason: they had flaws in the real world. It made me root for their relationship to last in real life even more.

The surrealism, magical realism, and fantasy aspects (I really don’t know how to categorize them), were some of my favorite parts. The melding of the magic into their real lives made the moments they shared more important and special. It was also written in a believable way, as Alice and Max aren’t even 100% sure of what they’re seeing.

Another thing I loved about Dreamology were the side characters: Alice’s best friend Sophie, and new friend Oliver. The two were both fun and added to lightness of the book. They were funny and adorable, great sidekicks to Alice and Max.

Different than anything I’ve ever read, Dreamology is refreshing and new, and will take you out of reality, and into the world of dreams. Part contemporary, part fantasy, Dreamology is a must-read romance that will lift you up like you’re in a hot-air balloon!

7


BUY THE BOOK!

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Book Depository | Kobo


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lucy lives in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, attended Williams College in the Berkshires, and still misses the East Coast very much.
When she’s not writing, Lucy can usually be found obsessing over the latest music, inventing new flavors of ice cream, or having what she feels are perfectly acceptable conversations with her dog, Ernie.

You can follow Lucy on Instagram @lucy.keating, and Ernie The Dog @ernsboberns

WebsiteGoodreads | Twitter | Instagram


Enter the Giveaway!
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xo

Review, Playlist, + Excerpt: IN REAL LIFE by Jessica Love Blog Tour!

I’ll admit: I’m becoming a big contemporary reader, and lover. I never thought I’d say that, but it’s true! And when I heard about In Real Life, I knew it would be right up my alley. First of all it’s a friends to something more romance, and who doesn’t love that? Second of all, THEY’VE NEVER MET BEFORE IN REAL LIFE! WHAT?! Craziness. An automatic Emily must-read. And I did. And I really, really liked it. Like a lot.


Review

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: March 1st, 2016
Series: N/A
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Blog Tour)
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

my rambles

Special thanks to Thomas Dunne Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of the book for review, and for the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour!

I flew through In Real Life so fast, I read it in two hours. I stayed up late reading, and if you know me at all, you know that I don’t stay up late. Ever. Jessica Love, you should be very proud that your book made me stay up late, and become an emotional mess. Okay, well maybe the emotional mess part is because I was tired, but either way, it happened. I just couldn’t stop reading this adorable book. I had to know what would happen next! How would it all turn out for Hannah and Nick?

Let me get this out there early on: friends to lovers romances are my all-time favorite romances that could happen, especially for a book that takes place over a short amount of time. We already know that they have a solid, and most likely long, relationship. No insta-love to worry about, just the friend zone. But instead of In Real Life just being the typical friends to more romance, she adds in the idea that they’ve never met in person before. This is so relevant in today’s world, and it definitely added to the drama and tension!

Hannah was an awesome main character. She was so relatable to me in that she was a studious, focused, rule-following girl afraid to take risks. An added bonus was that she’s Korean — yay for diversity! Nick was funny and sweet. Their conversations made it easy to believe that they would be best friends. I also really liked the interactions between Hannah and her older sister, Grace, and her “real life” best friend Lo (another diverse character, Latina). While I will admit, they weren’t the best supporters of Hannah in her situation, they weren’t afraid to tell Hannah how it is, no sugarcoating.

Now of course I have to talk about the romance between Hannah and Nick. There’s lots of drama. Especially with the setting of Vegas, I was reminded at points of The Secret Diamond Sisters series by Michelle Madow, but with less of the cheesiness. We’re almost immediately introduced to a whole cast of characters that are a part of Nick’s life. When Hannah and Nick meet, it’s like two completely different worlds colliding. Lies are uncovered, and lots of craziness goes down. And through it all, Hannah is trying to confess her love to her best friend, who is trying to reign in his feelings for her because of the whole having a girlfriend situation. I really didn’t like his girlfriend, either. She seemed way too fake and ditsy.

Basically all the scenes between Hannah and Nick, you could feel the tension. It was pretty obvious that Nick was in love with Hannah too. But we have to wait until the very end to see how it all turns out. And I was very happy with the ending. I thought it was the most adorable ending. It was the perfect way to finally bring the two best friends together at last. It may seem cliche, but it was perfect happy ending for Hannah and Nick, no worries!

So all in all, In Real Life was a cute and fun new take on the “friends to more” trope in YA. It’s a super quick read, with some unique qualities that definitely make it stand out in a good way! If you’re looking for your next favorite light, contemporary romance, In Real Life just may be the one!

7


Playlist


Excerpt

CREDIT: In Real Life by Jessica Love; Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books

My best friend and I have never met.

We talk every day, on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone. Like, deep into my soul. But we’ve never actually seen each other in real life.

Sometimes, when I’m talking to Nick, I wonder how we man- aged to get ourselves into such a bizarre, complicated friendship. At first glance, our relationship probably doesn’t seem all that odd. Like right now, it’s the Friday afternoon that kicks off the spring break of my senior year. I’m lying out next to my pool with my feet dangling in the chilly water, my back flat on concrete, and I’m talking to him on the phone. This is how I spend pretty much every Friday from 3:30 to 4:25-ish, before he goes off to band practice and I have one of my various school or family obligations. Sounds pretty normal.

But the thing is, Nick lives in a different state, 274 miles away. Yes, I looked it up.

“Ghost,” he says, because he never calls me Hannah, “you know I will do anything for my best friend, and this is no exception. I’ll have this girl killed for you without a second thought. Just give me twenty-four hours.”

I laugh as I swish my feet back and forth in the pool. “There’s no need to resort to murder. It’s just a stupid student government trip. I’ll be over it by the end of the week.”

As tempting as it is to plot Aditi Singh’s violent end, the only reason she applied to go to the national leadership conference when it should have been a given that the senior class president (aka me) was going was because I got into UCLA and she didn’t, so a big ol’ middle finger to her. But she can’t see my middle finger, because she’s in Washington, D.C., for spring break and I’m at home with no plans like a big loser.

“Well, if you change your mind,” Nick says, “just let me know. That’s how much our friendship means to me. The code word is ‘Platypus.’ Just say it, and—poof!—I’ll make her disappear.”

I sit up and pull my feet from the pool, crossing them in front of me. “And how can you do that?”

“Hey, I live in Vegas. I have connections to the mob. Everyone here does.”

“You’re a senior in high school, and you live in a tract home in Henderson. You’re not exactly Al Pacino.”

“You don’t know. Everything I’ve told you for the past four years could be a front. I need to have a cover. No one suspects the quiet, nondescript white boy.”

“You’re right. There is a lot I don’t know about you. I mean, there are any number of huge secrets you could be keeping from me.” I say it just because I’m playing along, but it’s not true at all. I’m pretty sure I know everything there is to know about Nick Cooper.

I know when my sister met his brother at a concert four years ago and they told us we should start talking online, he thought I was one of his brother’s friends playing a joke on him until I e-mailed him a picture. I know in the middle of junior year, he shaved his head when his favorite English teacher started chemo. I know the gravelly scratch of his voice when he wakes up in the middle of the night to answer one of my random “I’m bored, talk to me” phone calls. I know the hole in the sleeve seam of the lucky Rage Against the Machine T-shirt he inherited from his brother, Alex, since I’ve seen so many pictures of it. I know his middle name (Anthony), the date and time he was born (September 24 at 3:58 A.M.), and his favorite color (gray). And he knows more about me than absolutely anyone else, even the über-embarrassing stuff. We’ve IM’d, texted, sent a million pictures, mailed each other packages, video-chatted, and talked on the phone.

We’ve just never been in the same place at the same time.

I don’t think it’s strange to be so close to someone I’ve never met. Yeah, he’s in Nevada and I’m in Southern California, but I talk to him more than to people I’ve been in classes with since kindergarten. I do wish we could go to the movies together or something normal like that, but we watch the same movies at the same time and mock them over video chat, which is pretty much the same thing.

On the other end of the phone, his laugh stops abruptly and his voice changes. “Secrets? What kind of secrets could I have?”

“Who knows!” I try to sound shocked and serious, but I can’t keep a laugh from creeping in. “For all I know, you do have a secret mob life. Do you have some sort of gangster name I’m supposed to call you?”

His voice lightens again when he realizes I’m joking. “Oh yeah. Knuckles Nick. Or, no. Wait. Nick the Click.”

“What does that even mean?”

“I don’t know. It rhymed. Don’t those names always rhyme?”

“I know nothing about mob names, Nick the Click. But rhyming names do make mobsters seem a bit less murder-y.”

There’s a shuffle, a thump, and a squeak on his end of the phone, and I imagine him collapsing backwards onto his twin bed. “I just hate that you’re still bummed over missing out on the trip.”
“It’s not that I’m bummed, it’s just . . . I followed all the rules, Nick. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Serving four years as class president means I go on that trip, not Aditi Singh. Onetime vice-presidents don’t get to go! It’s supposed to be my year. She broke the rules, but she got picked. How do you break all the rules and get what you want like that? It isn’t fair.”

“Well, you know what they say. . . .” “Life’s not fair?”

“Well, that, too. But I was thinking rules are made to be broken.”


I hope you decide to pick up a copy of IN REAL LIFE! If you’re looking for an adorable contemporary, make this your next read!

xo