Books I've Read

REVIEW: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the AshesTitle: An Ember in the Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Pages: 464

Series: An Ember in the Ashes #1

Edition: Ebook

Blurb:

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Review: Short version: this book was amazing!!!!

This book has been on my radar for a while, but I had never gotten around to reading it. Boy, was I missing out! I absolutely loved it. It was so well written and well paced. The last several chapters especially were very hard to put down.

First, let’s talk about our main characters. The book switches back and forth between Laia’s and Elias’s points of view, each of them telling their own first-person narratives. What was great about this was that each had their own distinct voice. That’s not always easy to do, but Tahir did it brilliantly here. Laia is such a sweet character and I absolutely loved her. She is terrified in her situation, but determined to do what she can to save her brother. Elias is a much more complicated character, born into a privileged role, but also able to see the inherent evil in their society. His compassion is what is able to set him apart from the others around him.

This complexity is what really made this novel great. There is a resistance movement working against the corrupt and power-hungry government, but they are not necessarily good people. The groups that are in power are doing what they can to stay in power, but there are those who recognize that their system is flawed at best, dangerous at worst. There is no black and white, just lots of gray, which always makes a story more real to me. That’s how real life is. Nothing is strictly an absolute.

There were also plenty of twists and turns, particularly with Hellene, Elias’s friend at Blackcliff. She was probably my favorite character and I would love to see inside her mind, just once. There’s something going on there.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. Read this. Read it now.

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: Perfect Pitch

PerfectPitchTourBanner

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Perfect Pitch by Alex Hayes, the second book in the Chameleon Effect series. Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the opportunity to read this new exciting book!

First, let’s take a look at book #1 of this new series: Silken Scales

Book #1

Silken ScalesTitle: Silken Scales

Author: Alex Hayes

Series: Chameleon Effect #1

Publication Date: March 4, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon

Blurb: Idris Williams’ life may seem perfect…

Sure, Idris has confidence and great looks, a famous father and a beautiful girlfriend. Life would be perfect if he could dodge the bullet his father has aimed at his head — following dear old Dad into motivational-speaking stardom. But there doesn’t seem to be a way out…

— Until Idris morphs into something green and scaly.

Cadi has finally found a safe and loving home. Then a malicious boy turns her whole world upside down. The next thing she knows, she’s wandering the streets on New Year’s Eve, alone.

— Until a crystal leads her to this lizard boy with a smart mouth and massive ego.

To change Idris back into his sexy human self, Cadi must reveal a secret she’s been holding close to her heart for as long as she can remember. A secret that will send them racing to close a wormhole ahead of a deadly army.

A secret that could change their worlds forever…

Review: I really enjoyed this book. It was fun, fast paced, and had characters that you could really relate to . . . even if they are secretly aliens from another planet.

Idris is a young man who is being pushed by his highly successful father into a future career that he doesn’t want (despite being really good at it). His father wants perfection, which is not a good thing once your skin starts turning into green scales.

Cadi is a foster kid who finally hit the jackpot with some wonderful foster parents. Too bad she feels like she has to hide the fact that she’s telekinetic.

This story is told from both of these characters in first person perspectives, alternating chapters. You know at some point they will have to come together and that somehow Idris’s green scales and Cadi’s crystal necklace that sank into her chest are connected, but it was done in a way that didn’t feel to predictable. It was a fun journey, putting the puzzle pieces together, and learning the bigger picture. And that bigger picture? Pretty darn epic. It was exciting from start to finish.

Book #2

Perfect PitchTitle: Perfect Pitch

Author: Alex Hayes

Series: Chameleon Effect #2

Publication Date: August 6, 2019

Genre: Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon

Blurb: All Dean wants is to escape…

But he can’t leave his younger brother, Ty, in the care of their alcoholic mother. And when their abusive father shows up, Dean has to get Ty out. Which means joining Shri — his best and only friend — in taking a job out of state and breaking the law by stealing his brother away.

Cadi’s life is almost back together after Dean blew it into a million pieces. She’s come to terms with her life as a shape-shifter — well, almost. She’s still trying to wrap her head around the fact that a vicious enemy is out to destroy the remnants of her people.

As if Cadi doesn’t have enough to deal with, Dean’s about to land on her front doorstep, forcing her to decide whether to let him into her secret world or  slam the door in his face.

The Chameleon Effect series, starring shape-shifter teens with extraordinary superpowers, is sure to appeal to Young Adult and New Adult readers who enjoy romance with a paranormal twist.

Review: I think what I liked best about this is that it really teaches you not to make assumptions about people. In the first book, Dean accidentally reveals Cadi’s secret about being telekinetic and it’s easy to think that he’s a jerk for doing so, especially when it brings complete upheaval to her life. But in this book, we see what Dean is really going through. The chapters alternate between his story and Cadi’s (although Idris isn’t too far behind), and it is a nice blend of the extraordinary (the battle between the Livrans and the Everetons) and the mundane (Dean’s fight to protect his little brother from their neglectful/abusive parents).

We also get to know Cadi’s friend Shri a lot more in this book. Shri is awesome. Full stop.

Cadi and Idris are taking their relationship and bond to the next level and it is beautiful to see. They have a mission now, and Cadi’s foster parents are helping them. Idris does have some issues with Dean, now that he is back in Cadi’s life, but they are understandable given Cadi’s mixed feelings towards him, especially with how they ended things.

I really liked this continuation of the story. This is probably a middle book of a trilogy (or at least I think it is), and sometimes middle books can get bogged down. This one didn’t. It continued to be fast paced and interesting throughout, bringing in enough new characters to keep things exciting, while still focusing on the original characters we’ve grown to love.

GoodReads rating: I gave both books 5 stars. They were both highly enjoyable.

Meet the Author

AlexAlex Hayes wrote her first fiction story when she was twelve. Inspired by her mother’s storytelling, she began work on her first novel, Ice Cracks, at eighteen.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. In her twenties, she moved from Marin County, California to Boston, Massachusetts, where she built a career as an IT professional in database engineering. In 2004, she self-published Ice Cracks, which became a semi-finalist in the 2005 IPPY Awards.

Alex splits her time between Grand Junction, Colorado and Guanajuato, Mexico. When she isn’t writing, she’s helping her partner, Lee, renovate a 450 year old hacienda. She is mother to one beautiful daughter and many wonderful cats.

Giveaway Time!

This tour features a giveaway. You can enter to win Ebook copies of both Silken Scales and Perfect Pitch, plus a $25 Amazon gift card. You can enter via this Rafflecopter giveaway.

Follow the Tour!

This is the last day of the tour, but do check out the other hosts to learn more about these wonderful books!

August 5th
The Avid Reader >> Interview
BookishRealmReviews >> Review
tfaulcbookreviews >>  Excerpt
Character Madness and Musings >> Interview
Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author >> Excerpt
Treestand Book Reviews >> Review

August 6th
Lisa Loves Literature >> Excerpt
The Eclectic Review >> Review
Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books! >> Review
Jazzy Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Viviana MacKade >> Guest post
diary of a wannabe writer >> Review
Books 4 Book Nerds >> Excerpt

August 7th
Brooke Blogs >> Excerpt
Reviews By Jaye >> Guest post
Bookworm for Kids >> Interview
cupcakesandbookshelves >> Excerpt
Urban Fantasy Investigations >> Guest post
Jessica Belmont >> Review
Ilovebooksandstuffblog >> Excerpt

August 8th
Living in a Bookworld >> Excerpt
So Few Books  >> Interview
Adventures in Writing >> Excerpt
Sarah Says >> Review
A Dream Within A Dream >> Excerpt
Kelsey Covers Book >> Review

August 9th
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Sincerely Karen Jo >> Review
Two Ends of the Pen >> Interview
Literary Flits >> Excerpt
Life With No Plot >> Review

Books I've Read

REVIEW: Kingdom of Ash

** SPOILERS ** SPOILERS ** SPOILERS ** SPOILERS **

Because I can’t keep this spoiler free, I just can’t. I tried.

Kingdom of AshTitleKingdom of Ash

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 984

Genre: YA Fantasy

SeriesThrone of Glass #7

Edition: Ebook

Blurb: Aelin Galathynius has vowed to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. The knowledge that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, but her resolve is unraveling with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, friends and allies are scattered to different fates. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever. As destinies weave together at last, all must fight if Erilea is to have any hope of salvation.

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an explosive conclusion as Aelin fights to save herself―and the promise of a better world.

Review: What do you say at the end of a seven book epic? It’s actually really hard to put into words. This is a sprawling, monstrously vast world with a cast of hundreds. Pulling all these strings together without leaving anything hanging unresolved is a difficult challenge, one that I wasn’t sure exactly how it could be accomplished.

Sarah J. Maas. That’s how. I am pretty blown away right now.

This book is a lot. It’s massive. And most of it is a battle fought on many, many fronts. All of these characters that we have gotten to know and love are scattered and it makes you, the reader, want nothing more than for all of them to be together again. This is an exhausting book to read, but that only speaks to Maas’s skill as a writer. You FEEL what these characters are going through. Their struggles against nearly insurmountable odds.

Victory does not come without a price though. Aelin pays a hefty price to protect her people. Aedion loses his father after finally coming to terms with their relationship. Manon watches her beloved Thirteen sacrifice themselves for the greater good. It’s brutal, visceral. A fantasy story with lots of magic, but also lots of blood and dirt, mundane and banal. High emotion and the numbness of war. Maas hits all of it with exquisite balance and skill.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars all the way.

Oh, and also, this! One more down!

Reading colors your life

 

Blog Tours · Books I've Read

BLOG TOUR: How the Light Gets In

HowTheLightGetsInTourBanner

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours! This book pulls all the heart strings and was so absolutely lovely. Let’s get into it, shall we?

About the Book

LightTitle: How the Light Gets In

Author: Katy Upperman

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Publication Date: August 6, 2019 – TODAY!! Happy book birthday!!

Find It: GoodReads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play

Blurb: Katy Upperman’s How the Light Gets In is a haunting YA novel about a teen coping with the loss of her sibling.

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents once were.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Review: This book was so hauntingly tragic and beautiful. It fully encapsulates the feelings of loss and pain that come from losing a loved one, coupled with the guilt of wishing that last day had been different. Callie is a character that is hard to love, both within the book and as a reader. She’s sullen, withdrawn, and mean at times, although you know that it’s because she is hurting so much. Everything about the emotions felt so raw and real. I think that’s what drew me into this story, even though it’s not the usual type of thing that I read. You want to see if Callie can find healing. Katy Upperman makes you see past Callie’s behavior and want to see her come back to herself.

Now let’s talk about Tucker. Everyone should have someone like Tucker in their lives. He is battling his own demons, but he is also genuine and sincere. And really cute. I loved how he was always there for Callie, even at the beginning of their relationship when she was pushing him away. He gave her her space, let her set the tone, and was always there when she needed him. And he bought her a kitten! How can you not love a guy who buys you a kitten! Their relationship felt very natural and organic. I was so glad that they were able to find happiness with each other.

Also, everyone needs an eccentric Aunt Lucy who is fixing up a B&B. She was awesome and I adored her.

There is a paranormal element to this story, that of Callie’s sister, Chloe, appearing as a ghost. Chloe needs closure and Callie has to help her find it, even if it means losing her sister all over again. It was heartbreaking, but at the same time, helped both sisters heal and move on.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. A beautiful read.

About the Author

KatyKaty Upperman is a wife, mama, author, reader, baker, and wanderer. She writes novels for teens and teens at heart. She’s a Washington State University alum (go Cougs!), a country music fanatic, and a makeup stockpiler. She loves the ocean, pedicures, sunshine, Instagram, Dirty Dancing and The Princess Bride, Jelly Bellies, true crime documentaries, and Friday Night Lights.

 

GoodReads|Facebook|Twitter|Website|Instagram|Pinterest

Giveaway Time!

This tour features a giveaway. Enter to win a print copy of How the Light Gets In via this Rafflecopter giveaway. Open only to the U.S. and you must enter by August 15th. Good luck!

Follow the Tour!

Check out these other stops on the tour:

August 5th
Across the Bookiverse >> Interview
The Genre Minx Book Reviews >> Excerpt
Kelsey Covers Books >> Review
Smokin’ Hot Reads Book Blog >> Review
Gwendalyn_books_ >> Review

August 6th
Bookworm for Kids >> Review
So Few Books >> Interview
The Avid Reader >> Excerpt
Smada’s Book Smack >> Review
Shalini’s Books & Reviews >> Review
Life With No Plot >> Review

August 7th
Abooktropolis >> Review
GRACED WITH BOOKS >> Excerpt
diary of a wannabe writer >> Review
Moonlight Rendezvous >> Review

August 8th
Book Slaying >> Review
Life of a Simple Reader >> Review
Young Adult Media Consumer >> Review
Twirling Book Princess >> Excerpt

August 9th
Firstbooklove >> Review
The Eclectic Review >> Review
Treestand Book Reviews >> Review
Movies, Shows, & Books >> Review
The Moon Who Listens >> Guest post

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Books I've Read

REVIEW: Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

Ever AliceTitle: Ever Alice

Author: H.J. Ramsay

Pages: 347

Series: none

Edition: Ebook ARC from NetGalley

Blurb: Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows—it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

Review: I have to start by saying that the reason I got this book was because I am a huge fan of anything Alice in Wonderland. I eat it up. Because of that, anything fiddling around with my beloved story will be under intense scrutiny. Not that you can’t change things and have fun. Wonderland is almost always changing in the most absurd ways possible. That’s what’s awesome about it. But you have to do it right.

This book did it right. Yay!

This book picks up Alice’s story as a teenager, still working on wrapping her head around what happened in Wonderland. Her family doesn’t believe her and has been sending her to an asylum, which gets worse when she is going to have surgery in order to try and fix whatever is “wrong” with her. I hated that part, but it was in line with what people would have thought in that time period. It was definitely realistic.

A direct contrast with the chapters in Wonderland, which was great. I thought H.J. Ramsay had a perfect voice, coming very close to mimicking the absurdity of the original novel. Up is down, left is right, and no one questions the Queen of Hearts. The chapters alternate between Alice, who gets rescued from the asylum and brought back to Wonderland by the White Rabbit, and Rosemund, the Queen of Hearts who is trying to stop a plot to take her throne.

The story really plays up the question of whether this is real or whether it’s in Alice’s head until the very end, when you find out the truth. Many of the original characters are there, like the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and Bill the Lizard. There are also some new characters we get to meet, like Thomas (the Prince of Hearts) and Constance (the Queen of Spades). It makes the story familiar while still being very new and exciting. For me, it was a really good blend.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars. If you like Wonderland, you should really enjoy this.

Books I've Read

REVIEW: You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

You Were HereTitle: You Were Here

Author: Cori McCarthy

Pages: 400

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: none

Edition: Library eBook

Blurb: Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother’s death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake’s favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother’s exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn’t bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Review: I wasn’t planning on posting a review today, but then, I wasn’t planning on reading this book in 24 hours either. Let’s start with how I found it. I was on NetGalley checking to see what pending book requests I was waiting to hear back from when I noticed that I had a title listed under “Will Not Give Feedback.” How it got there, I’m not sure, not when I requested it back in 2016. It has long since been archived, but I found an eBook copy of it through my library, so I figured why not?

Have you ever read a book that blew you away so completely, you had to talk about it right away, just to get the feelings out? That’s how I felt about this one.

I’m not sure why it hit me so hard. It’s a tough subject, sure, but I could not stop reading. This is a well-written character study in grief and what it does to people. Jake died doing something stupid (he did a back flip off the top of some playground equipment and broke his neck), but everyone in this book has processed it differently. Jaycee has distanced herself from everyone and has started doing the same reckless behaviors as her brother so that she can feel close to him. Her former best friend, Natalie, has never told Jaycee that she witnessed the accident, as she was hiding from the older boys, who were all drunk, waiting for the chance to tell on them all. Mik, one of Jake’s best friends, has pretty much stopped talking to people, but silently has joined Jaycee in her trips to the abandoned mental hospital every year on the anniversary of Jake’s death.

Rounding out our group is Zach, Natalie’s boyfriend, who takes nothing seriously as a way to distance himself from his abusive home life. And Bishop, Zach’s friend, who is recovering from the breakup of his emotionally abusive girlfriend. All of these characters are incredibly flawed and struggling with different issues in their lives. It all came across as very real. Real people are flawed. Real people are confused and don’t know what to do with their lives. Real people don’t know how to move past something terrible that has happened to them.

This is a sad story, but there was also quite a bit of dark humor. That helps a lot, because despite the sadness, I didn’t actually get misty-eyed until the very end. I’m not going to spoil it, but I will just say this: the paper airplane. You’ll know it when you see it.

GoodReads rating: 5 stars. This book will stick with me for a long time. Why didn’t I read this back in 2016?

Books I've Read

REVIEW: Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of DawnTitleTower of Dawn

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 664

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

SeriesThrone of Glass #6

Edition: Ebook

Blurb: Chaol Westfall and Nesryn Faliq have arrived in the shining city of Antica to forge an alliance with the Khagan of the Southern Continent, whose vast armies are Erilea’s last hope. But they have also come to Antica for another purpose: to seek healing at the famed Torre Cesme for the wounds Chaol received in Rifthold.

After enduring unspeakable horrors as a child, Yrene Towers has no desire to help the young lord from Adarlan, let alone heal him. Yet she has sworn an oath to assist those in need—and will honor it. But Lord Westfall carries shadows from his own past, and Yrene soon comes to realize they could engulf them both.

In this sweeping parallel novel to the New York Times bestselling Empire of Storms, Chaol, Nesryn, and Yrene will have to draw on every scrap of their resilience if they wish to save their friends. But while they become entangled in the political webs of the khaganate, deep in the shadows of mighty mountains where warriors soar on legendary ruks, long-awaited answers slumber. Answers that might offer their world a chance at survival—or doom them all . . .

Review: I’ll be honest — it took me a while to get into this one. After the major, MAJOR cliffhanger ending to Empire of Storms, to not be back with Aelin, Rowan, and Dorian was disappointing at first. I needed to know what was happening!!!!

Although now . . . I think Yrene may be my new favorite character of the whole series? Maybe? I still love Manon and Elide, but Yrene . . . she’s just awesome.

Where the previous book was about this large, sweeping campaign to raise allies to help fight Erawan and the enemies of Morath, this book was much more intimate than that. Sure, the war is still out there, and the enemies were getting closer and closer to Antica, but this book was primarily about the relationship between Chaol and Yrene. It was also about finding forgiveness: Yrene needed to forgive the people of Adarlan for what happened to her family, and Chaol needed to forgive himself for what happened to, well, everyone around him.

Their relationship is not an easy one. These are two strong-willed and highly opinionated people here, so there were lots of times when they butted heads, but when they did move through the traumas of their pasts, it was really beautiful to read.

Also, Antica is a really cool place, especially the Tower. And I want to ride a ruk! For anyone who hasn’t read it, a ruk is basically a giant bird big enough to ride (like a huge eagle or falcon) and the khaganate has an army of ruk riders. One of the princes is a captain of these ruk riders and I loved seeing Nesryn falling for him, and him for her. Nesryn is such a cool character, so when Chaol got closer to Yrene, I wanted Nesryn to find happiness for herself. Not that she needed a man to do it — I think becoming a ruk rider and reconnecting with her family and her home country went a long way to making her feel more settled and content — but having a beautiful prince who shares her adventurous spirit certainly doesn’t hurt things.

We also get a pretty big reveal about some of our favorite baddies. Not going to spoil that here — you need to experience that one for yourself.

I gave this 4 stars on GoodReads. It’s a solid chapter in the overall story, but it did drag in places and, as I said, took me a while to get into. But otherwise, if you are a fan of this series, it shouldn’t disappoint.