Friday, April 28, 2017

Fireblood (Frostblood #2) by Elly Blake ARC Review

Format: Paperback ARC, 408 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pub. Date: September 12th, 2017
In this action-packed sequel to the New York Times bestselling Frostblood, Ruby must choose between her fiery homeland and the icy king who loves her.

Against all odds, Ruby has defeated the villainous Frost King and melted his powerful throne. But the bloodthirsty Minax that was trapped inside is now haunting her kingdom and everyone she loves. The answers to its demise may lie to the south in Sudesia, the land of the Firebloods, and a country that holds the secrets to Ruby's powers and past....

Despite warnings from her beloved Arcus, Ruby accompanies a roguish Fireblood named Kai to Sudesia, where she must master her control of fire in a series of trials to gain the trust of the suspicious Fireblood queen. Only then can she hope to access the knowledge that could defeat the rampaging Minax—which grows closer every moment. But as sparks fly in her moments alone with Kai, how can Ruby decide whom to trust? The fate of both kingdoms is now in her hands.

Reading Fireblood pretty much tested my sanity. My emotions were all over the place, and my heart could barely handle all of the constant twists, challenges, and heartaches in this book. I had so much energy and adrenaline while reading that I couldn't sit still. I had to pace, jump, and yell—all while psychotically flying through the pages of this glorious sequel.

I have to say, I am absolutely thrilled to see how much Elly Blake has grown as a writer. While she gave us an intriguing and icy world in Frostblood, we now have Sudesia—the home of all the Firebloods—and the contrast of settings is fantastic. Also, there are lots of new characters introduced, and I adore them all! So yes, this book was HOT . . . in more ways than one. 

This book was so good, guys. Even now, I'm struggling to write this review because since I love this book so much, it's hard to put my feels into coherent sentences. Also, though I originally had my worries regarding the love-triangle that is mentioned in the synopsis, I was ultimately beyond happy with how the story progressed. In fact, whenever I currently have a spare second, I'm sneakily petting the book and rereading my favorite sections.

Click the button to read some spoilers about the love triangle mentioned in the synopsis. :)

So please, do not feel deterred by the love-triangle mention in the synopsis. This book is absolutely marvelous. All in all, Fireblood is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far, so I hope you will love it as much as I do! :)

1) Fireblood's plot made me freak out multiple times. I couldn't sit still while reading this book because every other page was making me jump around with panic.

I went from this . . .

To this . . .

I was overwhelmed, shaking, and I couldn't tear through the pages fast enough. My heart was pounding, adrenaline was coursing through my veins, and I just couldn't believe how many twists there were to this book. To say that Elly Blake keeps you on your toes is putting it lightly. 

2) I have to give Blake props for how much she's grown as a writer. I love Frostblood, but there is an obvious improvement in the writing and the plotting from that book to this one. There is a whole new depth to the characters in this story, and there is a new, enchanting setting to explore that utterly captivated all of my senses. It was as if the world and characters were coming right off the pages, and the book suddenly flowed like a movie in my mind. There was this wonderful balance of action and repose, and at the same time, there was never a dull moment.

3) It was obvious that everything wasn't going to be all puppies and rainbows for Arcus and Ruby, and I really enjoyed watching their struggle. I know, I'm horrible. I just love to watch my favorite characters suffer haha. It was fascinating to watch them, as well as their relationship, evolve, especially with Arcus now on the throne of Fors, and Ruby not being the only Fireblood around anymore. Watching their struggles just made me ship them even harder than I did before. Like with the first book, these two are on even ground—both leaning on each other for strength and love. I just. I love them so much.

4) There is a lot of new magic introduced in Fireblood! Honestly, some of the fantasy books I've been reading recently have been a bit lackluster in this department (with a couple exceptions, of course) but I loved the new displays of sorcery in this book. Elly Blake explores more of each character's powers and we see them develop in new ways. It's truly exhilarating! 

5) Kai. Oh, he was so delightful. Honestly, I originally didn't want him in the book at all because I was afraid he'd threaten my ship, but he just oozes with charm and makes it impossible to resist him. He also has a wonderfully compelling backstory, and I love his dynamic with Ruby. 

1) The wait for the conclusion to this trilogy might actually kill me . . .

"I told him this helps me think."

"And does it?"

"Yes. It helps me think of you."
"I always fancy I smell singed meat when the Fireblood girl is near," she said in a booming whisper.

The lovely Marella, who sat on the other side of the table, caught my eye and tilted her head to indicate Lady Blanding. "I always fancy I smell mothballs when the old crow dines with us."
"Will you stop talking nonsense and help me back into bed?"

He raised his brows in mock surprise. "I hardly know which statement to address, the accusation that my compliments are nonsense, or the invitation into your bed." 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WoW: The Afterlife of Holly Chase & The Last Namsara

My TBR list is always growing and I thought it would be fun to share my anticipation for those books with all of you. This is not my own original meme; it belongs to Breaking the Spine. It specifically spotlights upcoming releases. As it implies in the title, I'll be posting this meme on Wednesdays. Please feel free to comment and let me know what books you guys are waiting on as well!

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: November 7th 2017
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she'd become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn't.

And then she died.

Now she's stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge--as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly's afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

I've never read a retelling of The Christmas Carol, but it's one of my favorite holidays movies!

Plus, that cover is so lovely! I cannot wait to get my hands on this book :)

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of the Unearthly series with HarperTeen: Unearthly, Hallowed, Radiant (an e-novella) and Boundless, and the NYT bestselling contemporary, The Last Time We Say Goodbye. She lives with her family in Idaho, where she teaches courses in creative writing at Boise State University. Her latest book, My Lady Jane, (cowritten with Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows) was released on June 7, 2016. Her next novel, The Afterlife Of Holly Chase, will hit shelves on November 7, 2017.
Connect with CynthiaWebsite | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: October 3rd 2017
In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer. 

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

DRAGONS. Need I say more? ;)

But honestly, this book sounds absolutely epic! Plus, some of my friends have read it, and they have assured me that I need this book in my life :)

Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She spent her childhood running wild with her cousins, adventuring in the woods, building forts in the barn, and obsessing over books, dragons, and girls wielding really cool weapons. 
Connect with Kristen: WebsiteInstagram | Facebook

Are these books on your TBR? Or is this the first time you're hearing about them? Do you think a retelling of The Christmas Carol sounds awesome? Do you also love dragons? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! :)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cold Summer Blog Tour: Interview with Gwen Cole

Cold Summer by Gwen Cole
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Pub Date:  May 2nd 2017
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.

Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, fighting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers—friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life in the form of PTSD, straining his relationship with his father and the few friends he has left. Every day it becomes harder to hide his battle wounds, both physical and mental, from the past.

When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the PTSD, which helps anchor him to the present. With practice, maybe Kale could remain in the present permanently and never step foot on a battlefield again. Maybe he can have the normal life he craves.

But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Kale knows now that he must learn to control his time-traveling ability to save himself and his chance at a life with Harper. Otherwise, he’ll be killed in a time where he doesn’t belong by a bullet that was never meant for him.
Gwen Cole writes Young Adult books and her debut novel, COLD SUMMER, will be released in the spring of 2017 with Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.

She grew up in upstate New York, moved to Virginia where she did not graduate college, and worked a various number of jobs including pharmacy technician, meat clerk, ranch hand, and a receiving specialist at Target. She may or may not have written a number of books while working at certain jobs.

At the age of eighteen, Gwen played bass in a hardcore band and later married the lead guitarist. She can also play piano, guitar, and wishes she could play the cello. Her favorite place to vacation is Wyoming, where she gets to wear a cowboy hat and pretend she actually is one.

Gwen now lives in Richmond, Virginia with her husband, daughter, and very large dog, where she longs to live in the country again.
Connect with Gwen: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Where did you get the inspiration for COLD SUMMER?
Bing-watching the HBO show Band of Brothers. I think the idea really sparked when I watched the episode called ‘The Breaking Point’, and that’s what most of my WWII scenes were inspired by. I wanted to mix that with something more contemporary, and that’s how Cold Summer was born.

Some aspects of COLD SUMMER remind me of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, which is one of my favorite books! What are some of your favorite time-travel books, movies, or tv shows?
The Time Traveler’s Wife is also one of my favorites! I hate when the time-traveling aspect is more complicated than it has to be, so it’s nice when it’s not. It’s easy to understand and it doesn’t take away from the story. Other favorites include A World Without You by Beth Revis. Movie wise, I really enjoyed Looper and The Butterfly Effect.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go? If it's a dangerous time-period, imagine that you're in an invisibility bubble where you could just witness the events ;)
This might be obscure, so if you’ve never heard of it, definitely google it. But I would want to travel back to the Roanoke Colony. Or it might be known as ‘The Lost Colony’. I’ve always wanted to know what happened to all those people who disappeared.

If you could host a fantasy dinner party with some historical figures, who would you invite?
Harriet Tubman, Jesse James, and Daniel Boone.

Who would you say is your dream historical book boyfriend? (In case you're wondering, mine has been Bill Guarnere since I watched and read Band of Brothers! :D)
I’m going down the same lane and saying Eugene Roe from Band of Brothers. Also, the true inspiration behind Cold Summer.

If you got sent back to the year 1945, what are some modern-day things you'd have the most trouble living without? (Aside from friends and family, of course)
Google. Hands down. I can’t remember what life was like before not having immediate answers from the internet.

If COLD SUMMER was made into a movie or tv show, who ideally would you want to be cast as Harper and Kale?
Kale: Dylan O’Brien. Harper: Skyler Day. If this ever actually happens and I got the chance to meet Dylan O’Brien, my heart would burst. Or maybe I would faint. Either way, something dramatic.

Do you have a favorite scene or quote from your book? Do tell!
All the WWII scenes are my favorites, but there’s one in particular when he’s being a sharpshooter. It’s one of those really short chapters but it’s one of my favorites.

And finally, can you tell us a bit about what you're working on now?

I don’t like to reveal too much about my WIPs but it’s YA sci-fi set in a different galaxy.

Week One:
4/24/2017 - Brittany's Book Rambles - Interview
4/25/2017 - Just Commonly - Review
4/26/2017 - Literary Meanderings - Guest Post
4/27/2017 - Stories & Sweeties - Review
4/28/2017 - Adventures of a Book Junkie - Interview

Week Two:
5/1/2017 - Novel Novice - Review
5/2/2017 - Fiction Fare - Guest Post
5/3/2017 - Pretty Deadly Reviews - Review
5/4/2017 - YA Books Central - Interview
5/5/2017 - Owl Always Be Reading - Review

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner Audiobook Review

Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House
Pub. Date: March 7th, 2017
Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

FTC Disclaimer: I received this audiobook from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

Let me just tell you . . . this book hurt. Goodbye Days tells Carver's story, who lost his three best friends in a car accident, and it totally shattered my heart into little pieces. I literally lost track of how many times I cried while reading. So be prepared with comfort food and tissues, because this poignant story about cherishing your loved ones absolutely ravages your feelings with it's strikingly touching and genuine writing.

Honestly, everything about this book is beautiful. I am utterly astonished by Jeff Zentner—this man has a gift. The story, the writing, the characters, and literally everything about this book was perfection, and I would not change a thing. So guys, if Goodbye Days is not on your TBR, you need to go and amend this grievance immediately. Because I can guarantee that this story will wreck you, but you will be truly thankful for it.

I have to give a lot of credit to Michael Crouch for his narration of this novel. He perfectly depicted the character for me because while narrating, he became Carver. He expertly captured the emotions, the vibe, and the very essence of this book. I've been told by other fans of Michael Crouch's work that he can do literally any voice, and I know he's well-loved in the audiobook community. This makes me even more excited to listen to other books he has narrated! 

1) I have to talk about Jeff Zentner's writing, because it's amazing. The prose, the dialogue, the character voice—it's all unbelievably authentic. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I read anything as pure and heartfelt as his writing. It pulls at your very heart and soul, and you literally wonder how is it possible for someone to write like this. So yes, I'm extremely impressed and I look forward to what else Zentner has in store for us.

2) At first glance, this plot must seem like such a simple idea. Teenagers die due to texting while driving, leaving their friend Carver—who is partially to blame for the accident—alive and grieving. However I must assure you, it is anything but. The story explores the aftermath of this tragic incident. It explores feelings of mourning, grief, depression, anxiety, guilt, and it even delves into the legal ramifications of what happened.

Zentner makes the reader feel every inch of hurt Carver experiences over the loss of his friends. I felt as if I was the one to lose three friends. I also love that we don't just see how Carver deals with the death of his best friends, but see how everyone around him feels towards Carver too. I also have to say that I appreciated the fact that Carver is never fully redeemed, fully forgiven, or really given any type of pass for his part in the accident. And while I was hoping he would (because I cared and felt bad for him) it was more raw and realistic this way.

Also, after reading about what a "Goodbye Day" is (it's a day you spend in remembrance of your lost loved one, doing things you think he or she would have liked to do before dying), it's something I'd want to do in the future if I lose a loved one, though hopefully not any time soon, of course.

3) I cried multiple times while reading Goodbye Days. I know that seems like such an odd positive point, but honestly, I dare you guys to read this book and not weep. This brilliant book made me grieve and sob for all of the characters. It hit me so hard in the feels that it was hard to move on to another book, since all I could think about was this one. So basically if you're ever in need of a good cry, this book will help you out.

4) In Goodbye Days, we get POC and LGBT+ representation, and it feels effortless. The characters are wonderfully fleshed out, with in-depth backstories and character development. This is how we should see diverse characters represented—not as a checkmark, but as a natural and normal part of life and society.

5) First of all, I love that we have a sibling relationship where the sister, Georgia, is older than the main character, Carver. Usually, it's the other way around and it was very refreshing to see. In addition to that awesomeness, these two have a sweet and adorable relationship. Honestly, I just wanted to read about more of their banter and antics towards each other, because it was delightful.

6) I know this point is basically highlighted in the one above, but it needs to be stated separately, I love Georgia. She is awesome and honestly, I wish she was my sister (though to my lovely real-life sisters who might be reading this—I love you, and no, I wouldn't want to replace you with a fictional character). Georgia is so fierce, and I loved her spunk and her attitude in general. Honestly, she just needs her own book.

 1) Since this is a contemporary, there is no way to bring Sauce Crew back to life.

For the most part, you don't hold the people you love in your heart because they rescued you from drowning or pulled you from a burning house. Mostly you hold them in your heart because they save you, in a million quiet and perfect ways, from being alone.
Life is everywhere. Pulsing, humming. A great wheel turning. A light blinks out here, one replaces it there. Always dying. Always living. We survive until we don't.

All of this ending and beginning is the only thing that's infinite.
I guess guilt doesn't sleep. It only eats.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Meg and Linus Blog Tour: Importance of LGBTQIAP+ Rep. for Teens

Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski
Published by: Swoon Reads
Pub. Date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Can friendship, Star Trek, drama club, and a whole lot of coffee get two nerdy best friends through the beginning of their senior year of high school?

Meg and Linus are best friends bound by a shared love of school, a coffee obsession, and being queer. It’s not always easy to be the nerdy lesbian or gay kid in a suburban town. But they have each other. And a few Star Trek boxed sets. They’re pretty happy.

But then Sophia, Meg’s longtime girlfriend, breaks up with Meg. Linus starts tutoring the totally dreamy new kid, Danny—and Meg thinks setting them up is the perfect project to distract herself from her own heartbreak. But Linus isn’t so sure Danny even likes guys, and maybe Sophia isn’t quite as out of the picture as Meg thought she was. . . .

From crowdsourced young adult imprint Swoon Reads comes Meg & Linus by Hanna Nowinski, a fun friendship story about two quirky teens who must learn to get out of their comfort zones and take risks—even if that means joining the drama club, making new friends, and learning how to stand on your own.

Hanna Nowinski is a language enthusiast and trained translator for German and English who lives in the middle of nowhere, Germany. She has wanted to be a writer since she learned that books were made by real people. As a kid, she made up her own bedtime stories, mostly sending her stuffed animals on adventures around the world. She loves books, music, coffee, and getting way too emotionally invested in TV shows. Meg & Linus is her debut novel. 
Connect with Hanna on Twitter!
The Importance of LGBTQIAP+ Representation for Teens
By Hanna Nowinski
Representation is important in so many different ways that sometimes it’s hard to even find a place to start.

Everyone deserves to have fictional characters they can identify with. Finding parts of yourself in a fictional character is a great feeling. It lets you know that you’re not the only one, and it can inspire you, too.

Related to that is the fact that LGBTQIAP+ teens often face challenges that other teens don’t. Very often they have to deal with living in an environment that’s not accepting of them. While that’s not so much the case in Meg & Linus, it is very important that we talk about that and make people aware of it, because you can only start fixing a problem once you acknowledge its existence.

But one thing that’s very important to me is simply making LGBTQIAP+ teens visible and to get to a point where their numbers in books, TV shows, and movies equal their numbers in real life. It’s still incredibly difficult to find representation anywhere. The sad truth is that the vast majority of stories out there doesn’t even feature a single LGBTQIAP+ teen. And that is utterly unrealistic. It doesn’t represent the real world at all. What’s more, it makes LGBTQIAP+ teens who consume those stories feel like aliens, like their existence is unusual and not worth mentioning. That has to change.

If we can get to a place where books with LGBTQIAP+ characters are no longer specifically FOR LGBTQIAP+ people, that would be absolutely awesome, too. If LGBTQIAP+ teens (and adults) can consume stories with straight characters and identify with them, why shouldn’t it work the other way around?

Life, feelings, hopes and dreams work the same way for LGBTQIAP+ teens and adults as they work for everyone else on the planet. And the only way we can make this into a normal thing in people’s heads is by representing them in the same way straight people are represented. That’s what I tried to do with Meg & Linus. The existence of LGBTQIAP+ teens needs to be acknowledged and normalized. Way more than it is today.

We all need to learn that there is no such thing as normal. There are just different ways to be. Teens need to feel like they belong, like they have a place in the world. And seeing people like themselves in books and on TV is a huge step in that direction.

April 17th
Brooke Blogs >> Excerpt
Girl vs Books >> Excerpt
Book Stacks Amber >> Interview
Mama Reads Blog >> Review

April 18th
The Cover Contessa >> Guest post

April 19th
YA Lit Reads >> Review
CaperReads >> Review
books are love >> Review

April 20th
The Avid Reader >> Excerpt
Arctic Books >> Interview
Maya Hearts Books >> Excerpt

April 21st
To Be Read >> Review
Books Direct >> Review

FTC Disclaimer: We at Brittany's Book Rambles have not been compensated for this post.
Giveaway provided by Xpresso Book Tours.