Josie Pie’s life peaked when she was in high school. Popular because of her gift for musical theater she dreamed of going on to become a big Broadway star. A dream that seemed all to real when her theater teacher got her an audition for a production in New York. Dropping out of high school to take that chance, Josie discovers that she may not be that big a deal as she thought. So, she escapes into books to live her life vicariously through the characters she reads and to forget about her own life’s problems.
When I read the synopsis about a girl who lives through the character’s she’s reading in books, I thought aha! Josie Pie may actually be a little like all of us voracious readers who try to escape their own realities by reading way too many books. However, Kind of a Big Deal took a twist in a direction I wasn’t expecting. This novel veers from ya contemporary into a ya fantasy, where as she lives each life, it becomes harder for her to leave the novel. Of course there are reasons for this that I can’t go into in this review, but it’s an interesting twist that may have saved this novel from being a little too safe.
Like a lot of teenage girls, Josie is a very self-centered character. To be fair, she’s self-centered because she has so many insecurities and a rather unhappy home life, but she has a LOT of things to work through in this novel. What I like the best is how each character she becomes gives her strength and allows her to see how she’s taken for granted all the people who supported her in the past, but she’s figuring out that part of becoming an adult is facing your past mistakes, owning up to them, and making the decision to improve yourself moving forward. It’s a hard lesson to learn, but this author does so in an original way that’s very entertaining.
Shannon Hale has produced a novel that skirts two genre’s but stays true to the lesson she’s trying to teach the reader. Growing up is hard! Being an adult does not mean that you know what the heck you’re doing and that you never make a mistake. We learn lessons throughout our lives and unfortunately have to keep owning up to our mistakes. It’s easy to escape into a book and living out happily ever after over and over again, but real life is about owning up to your decisions, making the best of them, and hopefully being happy while you’re doing that. Josie Pie may have been Kind of a Big Deal, but there’s more to life than high school, and you just have to keep on living it to see what’s next to come. If you like a mix of fantasy and reality in your young adult reading, I think you’ll like how Shannon Hale chose to deliver this lesson in Kind of a Big Deal. ❤️❤️❤️❣️
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
A fantasy set in a world of rebellion and distrust, Amani is isolated as punishment for her rebel activity. Torn from the boy she loves, having angered her princess, Amani is unsure if she’ll survive another day. She’s surprised when the princess Maram asks her to stand in as proctor during her wedding ceremony to Amani’s love, Idris. This sets in motion a chain of events that gives Amani hope that she may have a future, her rebels could take back their planet, and she could be joined with the boy she loves. Court of Lions is the sequel to Mirage an epic fantasy that has hints of Middle Eastern flavor that colors this world in a vibrant brocade of texture and life.
After Amani’s political schemes almost cause her end in Mirage, we see a more subtle Amani in Court of Lions. When standing in as Maram, Amani developed relationships for her princess that Maram did not have the skills to do herself. At the same time she skillfully gave Maram courage to lead with strength and empathy, something her people hadn’t seen since being almost demolished by the conquering Vath. I liked the strength of these two characters. These were women who held power with empathy, not with threat. It was an interesting dichotomy as they were also preparing to go to war.
Once again, I felt the love story between Amani and Idris was underwhelming. She was such an interesting character and Idris? He was just a nice guy. More interestingly, In Court of Lions, Maram is given her own love interest in the mysterious Aghraas ( I hope I spelled that correctly!). Aghraas, another strong woman, this time in warrior form, brought out a softer side of the kind of haughty princess. I thought their relationship more interesting than Amani and Idris’ and looked forward to their scenes because they gave Maram the depth her character needed to finally shine.
Even though Court of Lions had some great characters, this world they lived in was even more fascinating. You can tell by the cover of this novel, but the author definitely gave this story an Arabian Nights flare with bejeweled clothing, bright colors, and the transport on horseback. I loved it. The contrast between a conquering people who were technologically advanced in spaceships and a people who got around via horseback was kind of cool. I tried not to get caught up in a thought of ‘could this really happen’ because that would’ve spoiled the mood. Instead I let the tea steep, laid back on my silken pillows and read this fun novel and, well, enjoyed the ride. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
A Beauty and the Beast re-telling, A Curse so Dark and Lonely is the story of Rhen, Prince and heir of Emberfall who was cursed to re-live each season as first a Prince trying to get a young woman to fall in love with him and then as a beast who has killed his family and destroyed his kingdom. With the help of his Man at Arms, Grey, a girl is stolen from Earth and taken through dimensions to his world so that Rhen can try to break this curse. When Grey kidnaps Harper he has changed the game. Harper is not one of the spoiled girls he’s used to she’s had a tough life watching her brother get involved with a gang to pay off their mothers hospital bills and is also fighting her own weakness Cerebral Palsy. Harper is a fighter who will never give up on the chance to get back home even if her feelings for her captor start to change.
I hesitated to pick up this book because I’m really getting tired of re-tellings but I was surprised how easy it was to fall into this story. Harper was a unique character in that she had cerebral palsy but it only made her more fierce. She had such a strength of character that was wonderful to read and that fierceness and what she did with it moved the plot forward. Rhen was a little bit harder to like. He was jaded from years of turning into a beast and had almost given up. When he finds out this is his last chance at finding love you’d think it would make him more desperate, but he seemed to relax into what was happening. He was more curious about what made Harper tick and took the time to get to know her which is ultimately what made him fall in love.
Grey was the biggest surprise. As Rhen’s only surviving warrior and now his right hand man, he’s had to do some pretty despicable things all in the name of duty. He and Harper actually spend a good bit of time together themselves and when he relaxes his guard we see his strength of character. I’ll be interested in reading the second novel A Heart so Fierce and Broken. I’ve heard mixed things, but I liked this book enough that I’m willing to give it a try.
If you’re not yet tired of Beauty and the Beast re-tellings this is a really good one! This is one book where the words within the book are just as beautiful as the design on the cover. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“This book was rapidly addictive! I was quickly sucked in, and I want more NOW! Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2020. I am soooo glad I don’t have to wait long for the next book!” Our Book Boyfriends
“I like fantasies where there’s one character who goes to another world, and they know it. It adds such an exciting element to the story, and I like to see how a character acts when they’re out of their element. It feels so fantastical, and I love it. ” Books & Beauty are my Bag
When one of the most dangerous grimoire’s in Austermeer seeks to escape the Great Library, foundling apprentice, Elisabeth, finds herself blocking it’s path. She must keep it from reaching the village where it could wreak havoc and kill many. Despite her humanity, Elisabeth manages the impossible, yet what should have been a victory turns her into a suspect and she’s sent off in the hands of sorcerer Nathanial Thorn and his demon servant, Silas. They soon discover that that’s not the only grimoire to be set free and they must find out who is behind these treacherous acts, or die trying.
I loved Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson’s previous novel. It was as gorgeous on the inside as it was on the outside. I did like Sorcery of Thorns but it felt like it was trying to hard to be as good as the first. Elisabeth was a fun character. She was smart, energetic, and fearless. Growing up as a foundling of a Great Library she has a love for books and specifically the grimoire’s rustling voices. Hearing those voices is as supernatural as Elisabeth gets, she’s more smart than magical. She is wary of Nathanial at first because of all of the horror stories she was told as a child about all of the sorcerer families, but as she enlists his help to find who is releasing the grimoire’s there’s an undeniable attraction. I’m not really sure why because he seems pretty arrogant, but growing up an orphan in a library she doesn’t have a lot to compare him to and is dazzled.
I like their interaction with each other and as Nathanial’s back story is introduced it helps him become a little more sympathetic, but for me the more interesting relationship is Nathanial with his demon servant Silas. Nathanial’s parents die when he’s just entering his teen’s and it’s Silas who essentially raises him. A demon is not supposed to have feelings for a human and that relationship has more depth and emotion than the one between Nathanial and Elisabeth.
Sorcery of Thorns is a fun action adventure novel with just a hint of romance. A complete fantasy, it was easy to get lost in the characters and see where the story was leading. I enjoyed myself reading this novel, but didn’t quite enjoy it as much as Enchantment of Ravens. Sorry, I couldn’t help but compare the two! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Brought up by a treasure hunting father Theodora is used to researching historical artifacts and adventuring through foreign countries. When her father goes missing while searching for an artifact of Vlad the Impaler, she joins forces with her childhood friend and teenage love, Huck. Together they retrace her fathers path and dodge the enemies who are closely following them. As each clue is uncovered and the danger gets greater Theodora and Huck rediscover their feelings for each other.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. When I read the synopsis about searching for a relic of Vlad the Impaler’s I’d expected a darker mood to be set, almost gothic. Even with danger following their every footstep the mood seemed a little lighter than I expected. That was a little disappointing. Despite that disappointment, I did really like Theodora and Huck. She was the perfect heroine, intelligent, sassy, and brave. Actually, I thought she outshone Huck in the bravery department! To give him credit though, Huck was the more emotional of the two and wore his feelings on his sleeve. It was a nice change in a YA novel.
I love historical fantasy novels and the Lady Rogue had all of the elements that I look for in that genre. There was action, danger, and romance as well as historical tidbits that kept the story flowing. The mystery involving Vlad’s ring let me down just a smidge, but the romantic elements made up for that lack. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“Folklore, hidden family secrets, romance, adventure, mystery, castles, cursed artifacts – this book is a wild romp. It’s a little lighter on fantasy than I expected; instead, it ventures into historical fiction, and the setting descriptions are vivid and rich. I’m not sure if the author plans a series, but if she does, I’ll be adding the next book to my list.” Books and Such
“Overall I am a little disappointed because after I loved Starry Eyes so much I thought that I would love Jenn Bennett writing fantasy even more. If you are looking for a fantasy adventure novel I might look elsewhere, but if you enjoy romance or are a big fan of Jenn Bennett I would totally give this one a shot.” Devouring Books
Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, and hopefully hearing about what you’ve picked up off your shelf. So here goes!
First Sentence Read: “By the time Alex managed to get the blood out of her good wool coat, it was too warm to wear it.”
First Sentence Read: “Night fell as death rode into the Great Library of Summershall.”
A word of advice regarding Ninth House. Read the first 25% when you have the time to take it all in and really immerse yourself in the book. I read it in pieces and started wondering what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t until I took an afternoon of reading the book that I was able to get into the story and appreciate the mystery. It was fabulous. It just took me a little while to get to that point.
Emmaline Watkins has always dreamed of leaving the small town of Shy where she grew up and pursuing her dream of being a dress designer in the city. When the head of the most famous design firm opens up her designer competition to small town applicants Emmy dares to believe that dream may come true. Picked as the only “country” applicant, Emmy leaves for the city but soon comes to realize that pursuing her dream may be more political than realistic.
As I first started reading A Dress for the Wicked I was easily caught up in the search and early competition between all of the girls picked. The story was engaging and ruthless, reminding me of a mix of The Hunger Games and The Selection, but with a fashion twist. I liked the mix of personalities and getting to know our heroine Emmy. As the story moved forward and the more political aspects of the novel were revealed I felt the story become more technical than emotional and the glitz of creating fashion felt more dreary. My feelings did parallel Emmy’s and what was happening to her character at the time, but the reasons why I liked it so much previously just disappeared. The Hunger Games was a very political novel yet it held my interest through competitions. A Dress for the Wicked didn’t figure out how to keep it’s tension taut. Instead it ebbed, which disappointed me because of how strong the story started.
There was a light romance included in this story, but I felt it drew attention away from the more interesting aspects of the novel. I did like Tristan, an aspiring journalist looking for a big story, but felt the romance detracted from the main storyline and the exciting fashion that gave life to the first half of the novel.
I hate when a novel doesn’t live up to it’s great start. There was so much potential with A Dress for the Wicked, but the last third of the novel felt forced and lacked the conviction in the beginning of the novel. At least it did for me. ❤️❤️❤️
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“while I loved the fashion aspects (the book really shines when Emmy designs something or creates), I was less than enthused by the main character, the shoehorned love interest, the underdeveloped secondary characters and the haphazard worldbuilding (seriously, the worldbuilding deserved to be fleshed out so much more).” The Suspected Bibliophile
“A Dress for the Wicked has an interesting premise, but the execution is subpar. I loved the competition aspects, but everything else including the main character and the overall plot are not memorable or all that original. I’m not sure if I would recommend this one as I wasn’t wowed by much.” The Candid Cover
Trinity Marrow is the only human living in a community of Wardens, guardian Gargoyle shifters whose main purpose is to protect humans against a Demon invasion. Trinity’s ability to see ghosts has her stumbling upon a conspiracy that could be tied to her mothers death a year earlier and may be led from inside her own community. But seeing ghosts is not the only secret she’s hiding! Her secret gets revealed when Wardens from the DC community come to visit and she’s forced to use her powers to save her own life.
Storm and Fury was so easy to fall into. Somehow the situations and characters felt familiar and about 1/3 of the way through I had an aha! moment and realized this is a spinoff to a The Dark Elements series I’d read several years ago in which Zayne was featured prominently. In this novel, Zayne’s past experiences with Demons comes in handy as they travel to DC where he and Trinity meet up with some familiar past characters (a few of whom are demons) to investigate the disappearance of her friend.
I liked Trinity’s character a lot. She was an interesting mix of innocence, strength, and stubbornness. As the plot moves forward and her secrets are revealed she becomes even more interesting. Her failing eyesight, a very human frailty, is an interesting contrast to a girl who refuses to admit weakness. In fact, it takes a little while for me to figure out she’s actually almost blind. Read the Afterword about her ailment, Retinitis Pigmentosa, and how that disease has a personal tie to the author.
Zayne was a mystery even though he’d been part of a previous series. I couldn’t figure out his motives right away and I liked him as the love interest, but at the same time I felt he was a little more mature than Trinity. As his life was revealed and I realized all that he’d been through I realized what a great fit he actually was for her, as they had similar tragedies in their background. After I figured out what series and where I read his story before I liked him even more, but if you hadn’t read The Dark Elements Series, I think you can jump right in and not miss a beat in this story. It stands on it’s own.
Jennifer Armentrout does such a great job of writing in this YA fantasy genre. I love her world building and she has a deft hand with giving characters interesting backgrounds and emotional ups and downs. All things that keep me reading and move the plot forward. It’s rare that I get bored and I certainly didn’t with this novel. I relished reading it. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“I absolutely love the way the author writes relationships because they are always the slow burn romances that begins with flirtatious banter and escalates to sexual tension that literally everyone can feel. I loved watching Trinity and Zayne come together and the steaminess of their relationship. I thought that they definitely complimented one another.” The Reading Chemist
“Overall, this book was everything I wanted. If you want action, romance, kick-ass gargoyles, and a girl with an eye condition representing how strong she is this is the book for you.” Classy x Book Reviews
It’s summer! With the change in season summer vacations are being planned all around the world. Along with those vacations we book lovers are planning how to bring all of the books we want to read. Pack an extra bag chickadee’s, these are my most anticipated books being released in June ’19. I know you’ll want to add a couple of these to your own reading plans.
MY MOST ANTICIPATED JUNE 2019 RELEASES
5) Waiting for Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey
Release date: 6/11/19
A rom-com-obsessed romantic waiting for her perfect leading man learns that life doesn’t always go according to a script in this delightfully charming and funny novel.
Annie Cassidy dreams of being the next Nora Ephron. She spends her days writing screenplays, rewatching Sleepless in Seattle, and waiting for her movie-perfect meet-cute. If she could just find her own Tom Hanks—a man who’s sweet, sensitive, and possibly owns a houseboat—her problems would disappear and her life would be perfect. But Tom Hanks is nowhere in sight.
When a movie starts filming in her neighborhood and Annie gets a job on set, it seems like a sign. Then Annie meets the lead actor, Drew Danforth, a cocky prankster who couldn’t be less like Tom Hanks if he tried. Their meet-cute is more of a meet-fail, but soon Annie finds herself sharing some classic rom-com moments with Drew. Her Tom Hanks can’t be an actor who’s leaving town in a matter of days…can he?
Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when Emma was twelve. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.
Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family that she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.
When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is also divided into two people. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.
Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.
For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her—Emma or Saylor—will win out?
A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.
When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
2) Storm and Fury (Harbinger #1) by Jennifer Armentrout
Release Date: 6/11/19
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Enter a world of gargoyle protectors, rising demons and one girl with an explosive secret.
Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.
When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…
From the New York Times bestselling author of An Enchantment of Ravens comes an imaginative fantasy about an apprentice at a magical library who must battle a powerful sorcerer to save her kingdom.
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
It looks like my most anticipated releases are heavy on the Young Adult genre. Unfortunately 6/4 is this week! Yikes! I better get reading!
What is your most anticipated June release? I’d love to add to my TBR!
SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD: When your introduction to the fair folk is the gruesome death of your parents by a fearsome fae General named Madoc, your life is going to be turned upside down. Jude, Taryn and their half sister Vivienne were abducted by the above General and raised by him in the High Court of Fairie. Jude and Taryn were full human and each handled their humanity in this magical world differently. Taryn by lying low, dreaming of some day belonging, and Jude by fighting for the right to rise in their ranks as a warrior. All while her nemesis, Prince Cardan, is constantly trying to demean her and beat her down. This is a fantasy filled with intrigue, romance, and betrayal.
Written from Jude’s perspective, the fae court seems filled with beauty and danger. However, Jude’s view is slightly tainted because of her humanity. In this fantasy novel there doesn’t seem to be much good in these fae folk their faces filled with snears, boredom, and yes beauty. Until the tides change and her nemesis Cardan becomes her partner against a palace coup. It’s only after this partnership formed (or so I thought!) that both of their characters showed depth. Jude, finally caring what happens beyond her own needs, and Cardan develops a small hint of humanity in his cold fae heart. Even though late in the book, that depth gave this novel a lift out of the darkness of both of their despair and gave me hope that their characters could be redeemed and I would come to care for one of them, even if only slightly.
The Cruel Prince is certainly aptly named as Cardan is the villain to Jude’s rather grim heroine. The title could just as aptly been named the Cruel Human as both characters showed more dark than light in their characterizations. Even when Jude is given a love interest, there seemed to be something lacking in the telling of that love. The outcome of that romance ending in a pivotal scene that should’ve delivered more impact but because of Jude’s romantic ambivalence towards Locke that scene fell short. The same ambivalence could be said of her relationship with her sister Taryn. I just never felt like Jude cared for anything or anyone beyond how life and those people impacted herself. If she had cared more about her actions impacting her sister’s happiness, then maybe the failure of that relationship would also have delivered a knockout punch. For me, it really didn’t.
SO, I started the book with high hopes, knowing that so many loved this story and fantasy is my favorite genre, after all. The outcome for me? Ho-hum. I wish I had connected with Jude more. There was something lacking in her character that kept me from going all in. What the novel did do right was portray my vision of Fairie really well, where beauty and cruelty hold hands. The vivid scene where Cardan rips a wing off one of the minor fae is cruel in his disinterest. I wasn’t quite THAT disinterested as I read the novel all the way through, but I was a little ambivalent.
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“the writing was very well done. The main character’s voice is engaging and full of personality. I adored the descriptions, the humour and its quotability…. The only real downside for me was that I wasn’t head over heels for the romance (even if I liked both parties). I mean, it made sense and was logical- I didn’t quite feel the fireworks. Other than that, I thought it was an excellent read.” The Orang-utan Librarian