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Monday, October 20, 2014

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
"Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. The Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been searching for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again. So when scouts discover the location of half of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics, and to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own."- summary from Amazon

If you enjoy fantasy, go get this book right now and don't bother with the rest of the review. It is that good! I absolutely loved Raasch's debut, from her world-building to her amazing characters to her compelling writing. I flew through this book when I read it the other month and always had such trouble putting it down. I did see a certain reveal coming early on, but that didn't necessarily dampen my reading experience.

Meira is a fantastic heroine- strong and flawed, and her rapport with Mather (as well as the other guy in the love triangle, Theron) is a joy to read. And yes, there is a love triangle but this is a triangle done right- both of the guys are extremely likable and awesome, and there's definitely a tough choice to be made here. There isn't a clear one good, one bad sort of thing, or another guy thrown in for the hell of it but you know it's not going to last thing. These two gentlemen are clear winners.

But the book is not all about romance (a lot of it is secondary). There's the complex relationship between Sir and Meira, which does get explained toward the end of the book (and is very emotional). There's also a lot of action and fight scenes going on in this novel as well- it is a fantasy book, after all- which Raasch handles very well and creates some edge-of-your-seat compelling scenes.

Overall, a terrific high fantasy debut that I'd recommend for fans of Tamora Pierce and Sarah J. Maas. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, October 17, 2014

On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor

On the Road to Find Out by Rachel Toor
"On New Year’s Day, Alice Davis goes for a run. Her first ever. It’s painful and embarrassing, but so was getting denied by the only college she cares about. Alice knows she has to stop sitting around and complaining to her best friend, Jenni, and her pet rat, Walter, about what a loser she is. But what she doesn’t know is that by taking those first steps out the door, she is setting off down a road filled with new challenges—including vicious side stitches, chafing in unmentionable places, and race-paced first love—and strengthening herself to endure when the going suddenly gets tougher than she ever imagined."- summary from Amazon

This book was really good. Toor does a wonderful job with Alice's emotional journey throughout the story, as she deals with multiple changes in her life. I also think that Toor wrote the developing relationship between Alice and Miles very well and I enjoyed reading scenes between them. There's a lot of different changes going on in the book for Alice between family, her friends, her pet rat Walter, the looming future of college, a new hobby and job, and of course, Miles. Toor handles them all very well; I do think that the book may not be for everyone as Alice is very self-absorbed and a bit callous at times but at the end of the book, she is consciously working on changing that. But for readers who may not enjoy spending a lot of time with that kind of character, you may want to steer clear of this book.

Overall, a very interesting book and I'm eager to read more from Toor!

FTC: Borrowed book from library. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore
"Pretty, popular Marijke Monti and over-achieving nerd-girl Lily Spencer have little in common—except that neither feels successful when it comes to love. Marijke can’t get her boyfriend to say “I love you” and Lily can’t get a boyfriend at all. When the girls end up at a late night showing of Titanic, sniffling along with the sinking ship, they realize that their love lives could—and should—be better. Which sparks an idea: Why can’t life be like a movie? Why can’t they create perfect romantic situations? Now they have a budding friendship and a plan—to act out grand gestures and get the guys of their dreams. It seems like fun at first, but reality turns out to be much more complicated, and they didn’t take into account that finding true love usually requires finding yourself first."- summary from Amazon

I loved Fiore's debut and this follow-up is just as awesome, romantic, and hilarious. I particularly enjoyed the dual perspective between Marijke and Lily, firmly planting the reader right into each of their lives and witnessing the emotional journey each goes on throughout the course of their pact and the novel. Readers will definitely be able to relate to one or both of the girls. The concept too of the book is really interesting as well, and I liked reading the different ways they went about putting that plan into effect.

Overall, another great book from Fiore and I'm excited to see what she writes next!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bleed Like Me by C. Desir

Bleed Like Me by C. Desir
"Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just “Gannon” to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers—even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she’s standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She’s given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks—until he poses the ultimate test."- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed this book from Desir; she did a fantastic job portraying Gannon and Michael's toxic relationship and all of their flaws so well. And being in Gannon's mind, you can kind of see how she would fall for a guy like Michael, but you can also see all of the warning signs from him too. It was different reading a love interest that way, and made for an intriguing story. There's a lot going on in this book, but Desir handles it all extremely well and provides enough backdrop for why Gannon is the way she is.

Overall, an amazing new book from an up-and-coming author. Check it out!

FTC: Received e-galley from Edelweiss. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen

A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen
"Shana has always had a blind spot for boys. Can she trust the one who's right in front of her?

Sixteen-year-old Shana Wilde is officially on a Boy Moratorium. After a devastating breakup, she decides it's time to end the plague of Mr. Wrong, Wrong, and More Wrong.

Enter Quattro, the undeniably cute lacrosse player who slams into Shana one morning in Seattle. Sparks don't just fly; they ignite. And so does Shana's interest. Right as she's about to rethink her ban on boys, she receives crushing news: Her dad is going blind. Quattro is quickly forgotten, and Shana and her parents vow to make the most of the time her father has left to see. So they travel to Machu Picchu, and as they begin their trek, they run into none other than Quattro himself. But even as the trip unites them, Quattro pulls away mysteriously..."- summary from Amazon

Chen's latest novel is, of course, simply amazing. I am a huge fan of hers so I can be biased, but her books are really fantastic and I always enjoy reading a new one. The emotional and sexual tension between Shana and Quattro was written so well, and really dives into creating a real foundation for their relationship rather than just a physical attraction (though there is that too, of course).

I've also always liked Chen's focus on family dynamics too in each of her novels, which is not always seen in YA novels of late. In this, Shana's dad is told he is going blind and, as the reader, we get to see how this news affects everyone in the family personally and in their interactions with each other. And through this, Chen creates some incredible, relatable characters both in the family as well as the other travelers on the tour (I especially liked Grace), and Shana's best friend back home too.

Chen does a wonderful job too of letting the reader experience Machu Picchu through Shana's eyes as she goes through this transformative journey. There's a real sense of place with the hike and everything that happens with it.

Overall, another hit for Chen and I really urge you all to check her out. She's not an author that you hear a lot about, which really sucks because she is extremely talented and amazing. Buy all her books now! I command it!

FTC: Received signed ARC from author (thanks Justina!). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.