Review: The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: September 15th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Palomas and the Corbeaus have long been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for more than a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught since birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.

Beautifully written, and richly imaginative, The Weight of Feathers is an utterly captivating young adult novel by a talented new voice.

my rambles

Special thanks to Thomas Dunne Books for providing me with a copy of the book for review!

I’m going to declare right now that The Weight of Feathers is one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year. This book and I go further back then when it landed on my doorstep, though. I can’t even remember when I first heard about the book, but the cover blew me away with its simplistic, magical beauty. And with a closer look, Sabaa Tahir’s (author of An Ember in the Ashes, which I still need to read), blurb made me request it from the publisher.

“A gripping, beautifully rendered story…and a fantastical world as captivating as that of The Night Circus.”

UM, YES PLEASE. For those of you that don’t know, The Night Circus is one of my all-time favorite books. So, as I mentioned, that book name dropped sealed the deal, and I eagerly requested it. It landed on my porch, I did a happy dance, and then life got in the way and kept me from reading it until now. OH MY GOSH, GUYS. THIS BOOK IS ALL THINGS BEAUTIFUL AND SENT ME ON AN EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. My eyes leaked throughout the book not only because of its beauty but also because THE FEELS.

It’s SO MAGICAL. There’s two feuding circus families, and fantastical elements that you can’t really tell if they’re just stories or if things are really happening. The Palomas are Spanish and they perform as mermaids, but they’re not really. The Corbeaus are French and they perform as birds, and they actually have feathers growing out of them underneath their hair. Enter the forbidden romance between Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau, and yup, there go my eyes leaking again at the beauty through which this story is told…

THE ENDING WAS JUST SO PERFECT, I WASN’T EXPECTING THIS PERFECT ENDING BUT I’M SO HAPPY I GOT IT. Everything just fell into the perfect place, and that all just added to the perfection that already was this book BEFORE I got to the ending!

I could go on forever telling you about just how beautiful this book is (let’s not count to see how many times I said beautiful in this review), but really you just have to read it for yourself. PLEASE. If you like fantasy books that are magical and *cough* beautiful *cough* then you MUST read this book. I will now read anything that Anna-Marie McLemore ever writes because MY GOODNESS THIS BOOK. THE FEELS. I JUST. NOPE. My eyes are almost leaking again just thinking about it.

Do yourself a favor and just read this book. You won’t regret reading one perfect page of it.

9

5 hearts isn’t really enough, to be honest. Infinite hearts to this book.

xo

Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 27th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

my rambles

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

YA Historical Fiction is one of my go-to genres. I love how they transport me back in time to to places that I’ll never be able to visit and things I’ll never be able to experience. But one of my favorite things about the genre is the way that historical fiction authors tend to have their female protagonists step outside the lines about what’s considered “right” for women and girls during the period. There hasn’t been a historical fiction book I’ve read where there’s a damsel in distress, and These Shallow Graves is no different.

From the very beginning you can’t help but love Jo Montfort. She’s a fish out of water in her world, only wanting to do what she loves: investigative journalism. She’s fierce and stops at nothing to discover the truth. We really get to see her development throughout the story. Early on she’s careful to hide her true self, but as the story progresses she begins to stand up for herself and what she wants her life to be.

The story itself is very fast paced and exciting. I wasn’t able to put These Shallow Graves down. For such a large book, especially in the historical genre, I was nervous that it would be a slow read, with some portions dragging, but that’s not the case at all. As the story goes on, the mystery deepens, and things get intense enough to keep you turning pages and solving the mystery along with Jo.

As you can imagine, the book surrounds a dark topic: murders. I mean, look at the title… But it is lightened by Jo’s wonderful personality, and a sweet romance between her and Eddie, a lower class reporter who helps her out, and she just can’t resist.

The ending seemed a little rushed, for such a clearly well thought out and long book. It was kind of like a huge information dump right at the end in one confession. But I still think that it was written very well and the ending provided good closure to the story.

These Shallow Graves is a monster of a book, with wonderful characters, an intense and exciting mystery, and surprises that will keep you guessing until the very end. Don’t be intimidated by the size, because once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down until the mystery’s been solved!

9

If you’re looking for other historical books with girls who just can’t help but break the rules, check out The Diviners and Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray! More on the paranormal end of the spectrum, and just as exciting as These Shallow Graves!

xo

Review: Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman

Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals, #1
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre(s): Alternate History, High Fantasy, Historical Fiction/Fantasy
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

my rambles

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

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate that incredible cover and amazing synopsis? Just from looking at the cover and then reading that blurb I had a feeling Legacy of Kings was going to be a new favorite of mine, and I was right! After reading this book I’m not going to lie, I’ve become significantly more interested in Alexander the Great and all of the history surrounding him and the other real historical characters that Eleanor Herman was sure to incorporate in the book.

Like many other historical fiction and fantasy books, Legacy of Kings is filled with clever, sly, intelligent and sometimes evil characters that lead to one of my favorite things lately in books: POLITICAL INTRIGUE! The book switches to the stories of many different characters, allowing the reader to view all sides of the action, and see how characters who haven’t even met will become intertwined. While there are many different characters’ stories happening throughout the course of the book, Eleanor Herman did a wonderful job of keeping them completely distinct and creating personalities for these characters that are entirely their own.

While I would have been totally happy with just the “normal” conflicts and action that ensues in a historical fiction book, Eleanor Herman adds fantasy and superstition which was the icing on the cake for me! Legacy of Kings begins to delve into the different kinds of Blood magic that some characters have been gifted with, but also the effects that the said magic has on everyone in the kingdom, and abroad. The main conflict of the book is a major result of magic, and I am eager to learn more about it and see how the battles will end in future books!

I can’t forget the romance, because there is definitely a complicated and tangled web of relationships. Just when you think you like a couple together — think again! But there are some super steamy scenes that I did enjoy!

When I got to the end of Legacy of Kings, I didn’t even realize it, which is my only complaint! I could have kept reading on and on. There are a bunch of characters who we don’t see as much toward the end of the book, which left me hanging and desperately wanting to know what happened to them!

I could go on gushing about just how detailed and incredible Legacy of Kings was. Fans of high fantasy and historical fiction will be extremely pleased by the action, intrigue, romance, and characters that Legacy of Kings brings to the table. A fantastic and must read!

xo

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: January 6th, 2015
Series: N/A
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

my rambles

Where do I even start with this book? I’ve been putting off writing this review for a while now because I just don’t know how to put all of these emotions I have for All the Bright Places into words.

I’m finding it extremely hard to explain the feelings it gave me except that it filled me up. Every possible emotion, even ones I never knew I could feel. Reading this book was a lot like riding the Blue Flash rollercoaster. There were highs and lows and lots of loops, but I wanted to ride this book again.

All the Bright Places manages to be witty yet tragic, and heartwarming yet utterly heartbreaking.

I loved both Violet and Finch, and their journeys wanderings together. Both were beautiful, complex people, and they definitely relatable and raw characters.

There isn’t much I can say to “review” this book. I can’t critique it because it’s just one of those books that you can’t. All I can say is that All the Bright Places touched me and will stay in my heart and mind forever. It won’t be a book for everyone, but I think whether it’s your kind of book or not, it will leave a mark on you for the better.

I had the amazing privilege to meet Jennifer Niven recently and she shared some amazing tidbits about the book with us. You can read them here.

xo

Review: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Release Date: May 12th, 2015
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, #1
Pages: 388
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via First to Read
Genre(s): Fantasy, Retelling, Romance
Synopsis from Goodreads:

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

my rambles

Special thanks to Penguin Random House First to Read for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review!

From the moment I read that synopsis I knew this was going to be a book that I would love. And I was right. The Wrath and the Dawn was beautiful, consuming, and rich with its story, writing, world, characters, and romance. I think the best way for me to write this review is to break it down into those five categories mentioned above, as to not completely just write and incoherent fangirly review (although that would be quite entertaining and much easier on my part). This is also most likely going to be quite long because I want to highlight everything amazing about this book — and there are a LOT. Short version: I adored this book and you should rush out and read it ASAP, because it will surpass your highest expectations.

The story is a retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights. I hadn’t any previous knowledge of the story before reading this book other than knowing that it’s a middle-eastern tale. Therefore, I can’t really comment on how the author reimagined the original into The Wrath and the Dawn, other than telling you that THIS story is incredible!! There is a very rich feeling to the book, as I mentioned before, but somehow the story remained fast paced and kept me turning pages. I spent one day on my couch, committed to finishing the book because it was THAT good.

Renée Ahdieh’s writing is absolutely beautiful, and I think it really helped to create the vibe for the entire book. The descriptions were amazing, but without being too drawn-out. The word “sumptuous” was used in the description, and I think it fits this book perfectly, along with luxurious and lavish.

With great writing comes great world-building. I found the world in The Wrath and the Dawn to be extremely interesting, and I loved how as the book switched to different characters for some chapters, we got to explore. Throughout the book there are bits of fantasy and magic exposed, and I am really eager to learn more about those powers.

This book is definitely a character-driven one. The relationships between them were very much so that of political intrigue. We get to meet those at the Caliph’s palace, those from other lands, and those from Shazi, the main character’s past. One of my favorite characters was Jalal. He was flirty and fun, and definitely made me smile with his banter between him and pretty much every other character! There was only one character that I found had a presence that was annoying — Tariq. He’s Shazi’s lover from back home, and I just didn’t find his obsession to be appealing. As for Shazi herself, I loved her. She’s such an awesome main character who was fierce, fearless, and oh so smart. Khalid has been added to my ever-growing list of book boyfriends, because, well read the book for yourself and you’ll see the swoony appeal! Okay I’ll tease — he opens up to Shazi and we learn the kind of man he really is and you can’t help but fall in love with him. Plus he is hot.

Speaking of hot, can I talk about the romance between Shazi and Khalid? It is STEAMY. There’s angst. And more angst. And I love angst, so I was totally eating this up. I am a sucker for enemies to lovers storylines, and this is about as good as it gets! I fell in love with Khalid and Shazi’s romance…

Have I rambled on about The Wrath and the Dawn long enough to make you want to read it? Well, you totally should if fantasy, romance, and politics is your thing. While I was reading I kept finding parallels to the writing, characters and style of The Winner’s Curse/The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski (which I ADORE). If you’re a fan of those, definitely give this one a go! I also want to note that I loved the Middle Eastern setting and characters — yay for diversity! I haven’t read many books in that region of the world, but I really want to now.

So overall, I LOVED LOVED LOVED The Wrath and the Dawn, and I can’t wait for the next book. Could it magically appear on my shelf now?

xo