Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers Blog Tour: Top 5 Quotes!

Sarah Ahiers is working towards an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and lives in Minnesota with three dogs and a house full of critters. She has a collection of steampunk hats and when she’s not writing she fills her time with good games, good food, good friends and good family.

Sarah writes Young Adult and Middle Grade novels and occasionally dabbles in Picture Books. Fantasy is her favorite genre, though she sometimes can be found playing around with Horror and other things that go bump in the night.

Sarah’s debut novel, ASSASSIN’S HEART (HarperTeen, February 2nd, 2016) is a Young Adult Fantasy. In the Kingdom of Lovero, where families of assassins lawfully kill people for the right price, seventeen-year-old Oleander “Lea” Saldana sets out on a path of vengeance against the most powerful assassin family of all.

She is represented by Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary & Media.
Connect with Sarah: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Blog

Author: Sarah Ahiers
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 400
Publisher: HarperTeen
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.

Hi guys! Today, I'm going to share with you my Top 5 Quotes from Sarah Ahiers' Assassin's Blade!

Week One:

1/25/2016- Adventures of a Book JunkieInterview

1/26/2016- Brittany's Book RamblesTop 5 Quotes

1/27/2016- Tween 2 Teen Book ReviewsGuest Post

1/29/2016- The Young FolksInterview

Week Two:

2/1/2016- Cover2CoverReview

2/2/2016- YaReadsGuest Post

2/3/2016- Dark Faerie TalesReview

2/4/2016- Storybook SlayersInterview

2/5/2016- Fiction FareReview

Monday, January 25, 2016

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi ARC Review + Giveaway!

Futhermore by Tahereh Mafi
Paperback ARC, 403 pages
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 30th, 2016
Pre-Order it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
The bestselling author of the Shatter Me series takes readers beyond the limits of their imagination in this captivating new middle grade adventure where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit—and with a liar by her side in land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice's wits (and every limb she's got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

Furthermore kept me on the edge of my seat and unable to stop reading! It's a book I immensely enjoyed, even with it's minor flaws. Every part of it was engaging and well-written, and I fell in love with the characters in a heartbeat. Alice is a truly unique character, and her perspective on the world is refreshing and immersive. Oliver also grew on me quickly, and I rooted for the two of them as they made their way through the dangerous villages of Furthermore, hoping they would succeed in finding Alice's father.

Alice and Oliver's daunting task seemed impossible, and watching them overcome their struggles felt like I was there right beside them! There were villages that turned them to paper, places where movement wasn't allowed, and many other astonishingly unique settings where it seemed like the characters had truly hit their limit. And yet, it was these obstacles that added to the mysticism of the worldI had no guess as to what was coming next!

My main issue with this book was how everything within it jumbled together and was confusing to sort through at times. The narrator frequently inserted comments from an outside perspective, and while at certain moments this was hilarious, it also confused which parts of the book were truly happening and lessened my connection with the characters for those moments. Of course, this incredibly distinctive, peculiar, and lawless world didn't help the situation, and villages seemed to blend together without any apparent connection. Overall, even with these problems, I still couldn't be happier that I picked this baby up! 

1) Both of the main charactersOliver and Alicehad such well-developed and unique personalities, and yet they somehow managed to be the perfect pair. They each went through a lot of realistic and well-executed character development, all the while remaining the characters I fell in-love with at the start of the novel.

2) The story was whimsical and truly drew me in, keeping me turning the pages faster and faster as I wished to know what would happen next! Tahereh Mafi wrote Furthermore beautifully, and her writing style is unlike anything I've ever read before.

3) The magical world of Furthermore was one without rules, and every ‘town’ the characters entered was completely different and insanely unique. I was pleasantly surprised and enamored by Mafi's originality and creativity.

4) The character’s emotions and responses were so well-written that I felt like I was inside the book myself! I was instantly rooting for Alice and Oliver, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them grow, struggle, and overcome obstacles together.

1) Although it was engaging for a middle-grade book, some parts of the book were made confusing by the narrator speaking and inserting personal opinions. For example, in the middle of certain moments, the author would insert a comment as an onlooker from the outside, which jumbled a lot of the plot together and often left me feeling like I wasn’t sure which parts of the book were truly happening, and at what time.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker ARC Review, Interview, + Giveaway!

The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker
Paperback ARC, 356 pages
Publication Date: March 1st, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Kobo |
His obsession.

Her fall.

High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.

The most crucial thing that I need to talk about when it comes to The Girl Who Fell is the astonishing writing. Shannon M. Parker's writing style instantly grabs the reader and throws them onto the emotional roller-coaster that is this book, which I read in one sitting and only put down momentarily to literally catch my breath. Right off the bat, the prologue warns the reader to beware of Alec, but amazingly, as you watch his relationship with Zephyr develop and grow, your emotions fight against your instincts until you're as tangled up and confused as Zephyr is. This book is so incredibly important for everyone to read because it's truly eye-opening. It forces you to feel what it's like to be in an abusive relationship, and it realistically depicts how this changes your life (and even your sense of self) entirely.

1) The writing is entrancing and clever. It was the writing that instantly pulled me in and made it impossible to put the book down. I was instantaneously wrapped up in the story!  Shannon's ability to engage the reader with her character's voice and prose is incredible. This book definitely emotionally compromised me, and it was awesome!

2) Shannon accurately (and respectfully!) captures exactly what it's like to be in an abusive relationship. She does this without any unnecessary drama, but with pure and raw emotion. The Girl Who Fell illustrates how this type of manipulative and unhealthy relationship affects not only the people involved in the relationship, but also the people around them. I truly felt what it's like to be in Zephyr's position, and I also saw Zephyr and Alec's relationship through the eyes of the side characters. I'm so impressed with how well this was executed.

3) The characters are very well-developed and they all have distinctive voices. You never question who is talking and you're given just the right amount of information about each individual. Also, each character has flaws! There is not a single character who is simply perfect and can do no wrong—which added to the genuineness of this book.

4) I enjoyed the pacing of this story. It's fast and thrilling, and gets your heart pounding. I swear that my hands were shaking as I kept turning and turning the pages. As the book went on, I felt desperate to read faster, to devour the book, and to find out how it all turns out.

5) Despite the dark plot-line, there is still an element of hope for the future. This is so important considering the story's subject matter because it gives the message that it's never too late to turn your life around.

1) I don't want to spoil anything, but there was one (ice hockey related) plot-device that bothered me. As a long-time ice hockey fan and avid ice skater, it was something I couldn't overlook. However, for a person who isn't a hockey fan and/or doesn't know much about hockey equipment, it's probably not something that would even be noticeable.

All of my favorite quotes are in the lovely graphics throughout this post. Thank you, Stefani from Caught Read Handed for making these beautiful graphics for this tour <3

Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast with a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel. Find her at www.shannonmparker.com
Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

Brittany: Hi Shannon! I'm so glad to have you on our blog today!

Shannon: Hi Brittany! Thank you so much for organizing this phenomenal blog tour!! You are an absolutely amazing force and I couldn’t be happier (or more grateful) to know you!

Brittany: *blushes* You are too kind! I'll just jump right into the questions because I want all the spotlight to be on you and your amazing book! Now then, what is your favorite YA novel, and why?

Shannon: Right out of the gate with a softball-easy question, huh? Ha!

Okay, I don’t have favorites, but I do have my list of go-to YA books. Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere is one. The First Time She Drowned by fellow debut author Kerry Kletter is another. And Underwater by Marisa Reichardt. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. These authors all use language in surprising ways. Their writing is lyrical and poetic and immersive and they have developed some of the strongest characters in the genre.

Brittany: Do you have any pet peeves, and if so, what are they?

Shannon: Ha! I hate condiments. Does that count? And cruelty. I hate that too.

Brittany: Do you have any particular habits or rituals when you’re writing? (Ex: always having chocolate on hand)

Shannon: Yep, always chocolate. And my Ugg slippers. If my feet aren’t comfy cozy, my fingertips refuse to type. :)

Brittany: What is one thing that would make you stop reading a book?

Shannon: Sensitive subjects that aren’t handled with sensitivity.

Brittany: What was the most difficult thing about writing a book for you?

Shannon: Well, self-doubt is pretty crippling. There’s a lot of that. When I do manage to push that aside, the writing comes fairly easily. Still, I think it will always be hard for me to set my work free in the wild. It is all at once a beautiful and frightening endeavor.

Thank you, Brittany. For everything you do for The Girl Who Fell. For everything you do for authors. And readers. You are one of a kind, girl!

Brittany: I'm so flattered by your lovely words! Thank you for stopping by! It's been such a pleasure <3

Tuesday, Jan 12: Blessie @ Mischievous Reads Dreamcast

Wednesday, Jan 13: Emily @  Emily Reads Everything Review

Friday, Jan 15: Tika @ Fangirl Confessions Movie Playlist 

Saturday, Jan 16: Kristen @ My Friends Are Fiction Review

Sunday, Jan 17: Melanie @ One Less Lonely Blog Review + Interview

Tuesday, Jan 19: Jocelyn @ Novels and Necklaces Interview

Wednesday, Jan 20: Cat @ Let the Pages Reign Review

Friday, Jan 22: Brittany @ Brittany's Book Rambles Review + Interview

Saturday, Jan 23: Joey @ Another Afterthought Review

Sunday, Jan 24: Stefani @ Caught Read Handed Review + Interview

Monday, Jan 25: Hanna @ Two Sister's Blogging Review + Promo

Tuesday, Jan 26: Michella @ YA Books Girl Review + Playlist

Wednesday, Jan 27: Michelle @ Dreaming of Alba Review

Thursday, Jan 28: Jamie @ Books and Ladders Review + Interview

Friday, Jan 29: Eileen @ BookCatPin Review

Saturday, Jan 30: Brian @ Brian's Book Thoughts Review

Sunday, Jan 31: Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler Review + Interview 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mystic (Mystic #1) by Jason Denzel Review

Mystic by Jason Denzel 
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published by Tor Books
Publication Date: November 3, 2015
Buy it: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository |
The start of an enchanting new epic fantasy series from the founder of Dragonmount

I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.

For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst

Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society.

Such has always been the tradition--until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.

Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.

Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.

Mystic is a great book, and there were so many elements of it that I enjoyed. First off, the world of Moth was captivating, and filled to the brim with whimsical creatures, incredible places, and relatable characters. I already can't wait for the sequel, because there is so much more I want to know. From Fayun—the land of the Fae—to the bonds magical creatures form with humans, Jason Denzel left so much room for imagination and wonder.

While I can't say that this book was the most original one I've read, the stupendous writing made up for this, and I'm thrilled I got to read it. There were a lot of plot twists in the story, and I wish I could say that I found all of them to be shocking, but I did see some of them coming. However, the need to know what would happen kept me turning the pages like a madwoman until the very end.

My main issue with the entire story was how underdeveloped the Black Claws (a.k.a. the main group of villains) were, even though I truly wanted to know more about them! Their descriptions, motives, and backstories felt glossed over, which made the rest of the book confusing at times—especially since they were so important to the plot line. Overall, I loved Mystic. The writing was fantastical, the descriptions were whimsical, and I can confidently say that it would be a fun read for any fantasy lover.

1) I am fascinated by the land of Moth, and am excited to learn more about it in the sequel! It is filled with silver animals, beautiful flowers, and magic galore—which sounds like the perfect world to me.

2) Mystic had an immaculate balance of information about its magic to leave me satisfied, yet curious to find out more without feeling overwhelmed. There is a lot of room for expansion, like explanations about the land of the Fae creatures, and their bonds with humans—but I definitely feel that this book managed to avoid info dumping.

3) This book was so fast-paced, and something was always happening to keep me turning the pages. I read this book almost without stopping, and it was a quick and exciting read.

4) The songs in this book were spectacular, and I loved imagining the different tunes and melodies they would go along to.

1) The group of people fighting against Pomella and the High Mystic were glossed over, although they were a major part of the plot. Every part of their characters seemed skimmed through, and this underdevelopment made me enjoy the book less.

2) Mystic was predictable for me, sometimes even during plot twists that should have been shocking. I could mostly see them coming from a while away, which lessened my enjoyment of the story.

3)  Certain aspects were kind of cliché. For example—three trials, a magic competition, and a common girl who suddenly discovers she's special.

"Your dress! Look at it! Those ocean waves are so beautiful."

"They're ivy," Pomella said, frowning.
She ran to Vlenar and would have hugged him, except he gave her a hard look that reminded her they were still in danger.

That, and Vlenar didn't seem like the hugging type.