Archives

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) – Evelyn SkyeTitle: The Crown's Fate (The Crown's Game #2) by Evelyn Skye
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 23, 2017
Related Posts: The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1)

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

bookreview1

** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

THE CROWN’S GAME was one of my favorite reads of 2016 and I absolutely loved how much it reminded me of THE NIGHT CIRCUS in so many ways (which I actually just finished re-reading and it cemented this feeling even more)! Naturally, I was very excited to read THE CROWN’S FATE and it was one of my most anticipated reads of 2017! It’s always so hard when I have an most-anticipate read coming up because I tend to hype the book up for myself so it was an interesting experience reading THE CROWN’S FATE!

There’s no way I can talk about this book without specific spoilers, so first I’ll talk about some non-spoilery things! I loved that this world felt the same! There are some times with sequels that it feels like a totally different book but I was able to fall back into this world right where I left off.
The world where we left it after THE CROWN’S GAME was much more political and while I don’t mind that, I did miss some of that fun and a “challenge” aspect of THE CROWN’S GAME itself (the game, not the book) because it was a fun structure and involved some creativity on the characters’ parts to explore their abilities.
And I still love Pasha. He was very different in this book because of all the political ramifications and situations that he had to deal with so he just wasn’t as much fun but I still loved his spirit.

Okay, so here are the spoilers. While the world felt the same, why why whyyyyy did we have to have Nikolai turn bad?! Nikolai was too pure and sweet and precious and he was my favorite part of the whole darn book, so I was SO SAD to see that his character was essentially removed from the story line since his whole personality changed. I know it was because of REASONS, yes, but still. My favorite part of this story was changed and to boot, that affected the romance too which I wanted to see developed even MORE but that got put on hold because “bad” Nikolai, of course, wasn’t pursuing romance. SIGH. The book was still enjoyable but this changed so many things and took away those little nuances that really had me enjoying the series so much!

I also just wanted more magic…? The magic involved in this book was kind of dark, which is cool, I can appreciate dark magic… But I missed that sparring between Vika and Nikolai so much. I guess I’m just tired of everything ending in war or battles (which is silly considering that this series is also kiiiiind of historical fiction, with magic) so I didn’t really want to see things come to that. I just really loved the structure of the Game itself, which encouraged the enchanters to grow and explore their powers and THE CROWN’S FATE was more of a desperate battle for power or to stop that power, so it lost that magic and that spark that I loved so much. I didn’t feel as enchanted, no pun intended.

I DID appreciate that things didn’t turn out too sunshine-y though. I actually liked what happened to Vika in the end, actually. There has to be something in the events of war because no one comes out wholly unscathed and it’s a great shock to readers when something happens to a main character, even if it’s not a death. I applaud Evelyn Skye for taking it there like so many other authors have avoided. I know it’s hard to have something difficult happen to your characters without a way to “save” them but these things need to be done to keep things realistic or at least not a cheesy happy ending.

When it comes down to it, this was not the ending I was expecting or hoping for the series but I also appreciated how it wrapped up. I think I just wanted more romance and more Nikolai. Always more Nikolai.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Historical fiction meets magic. I never used to enjoy history or historical fiction so I’ve really been appreciating books that combine it with magical elements! It’s kind of a way for me to catch up on some historical events or at least feelings, even if they are fictionalized and combined with other things.
Left Me Wanting More: Romance. I don’t always need romance in a book but I was so delighted by the relationship between Vika and Nikolai in the first book and things were heading in a great direction… until the end. But then they didn’t really continue in this book!! I almost feel like THE CROWN’S GAME should have been a stand alone in many ways, but maybe that’s just because I didn’t totally love the finale here.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you loved THE CROWN’S GAME, it’s definitely still worth the read! It was different than what I was expecting and I would have loved just a bit more but I also did appreciate so many things still!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE CROWN’S GAME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    GRAVE MERCY

A Million Junes – Emily Henry

A Million Junes – Emily HenryTitle: A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Publishing Info: May 16, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 17, 2017
Related Posts: The Love That Split the World

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

bookreview1

** Warning: This review DOES contain spoilers for the book! I will be talking about specifics! ** 

A MILLION JUNES was a very solid sophomore novel from Emily Henry with her debut, THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD, being one of my favorite reads of 2016. I’ve been having a hard time with sequels/sophomore novels lately so it was so refreshing to enjoy this book and get lost in the same sort of writing style that I experienced with THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD.

Emily Henry has a unique story-telling experience and her books are ones in which you totally lose yourself. While THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD was magical realism, it was a also a little bit science-fiction so it was really great to see the same sort of feel and concept with the magical realism aspects but ones that took the stage even more so in A MILLION JUNES. Depending on your view of the book, it’s magical realism meets paranormal and it’s truly a magical experience to read.

Possible spoilers in the rest of the review! No giveaways about specific plot points but things that may be a general spoiler if you want to go in blind to certain aspects of the shape of the book. The thing that I really took from this book the most is the family aspect. It’s not the usual family dynamic or lesson that you see in a lot of books because it approached the topic from a totally different angle. The O’Donnells and the Angerts have been in a feud for at least four generations and after the passing of her father, Jack IV (aka Junior aka June) is left to decide whether she wants to hold that grudge or let it go with her generation. Her mother still holds those feuding values although not as tightly as her father and and June loved her father so much that she had every intention of following in his footsteps until she falls unexpectedly head over heels for youngest Angert, Saul. Without rehashing the whole plot, throughout the book, June is able to experience the memories of her father through the “whites”, which are a sort of wraith or spirit (glowing white, hence the name) and through these memories, she learns a lot about her dad… and not all of it is good. The stories of the past lose shape and take on new ones the more they get told so June learns a lot about her family’s past, spanning back to the first Jack O’Donnell all the way down to her father and his relationship with his family, including June. She realizes that the truth about him and how their family history played out is very different than what she thought it was. It’s especially hard since he passed away when she was eight. She still idealized him and didn’t know some of the darker truths or grittier details and it was shocking to realize that her dad wasn’t as perfect as she thought it was, and I thought this was a really, really great concept to include in the book. It’s so interesting to think of your parents’ history. There are so many things I know about my parents through the stories they tell me of their pasts and childhoods and yet I know that there’s so much more that I don’t know or from which I’ve been shielded. It was really interesting to watch June go through this experience and wonder what exactly I’ve been missing from my own family’s history because it’s not a pretty story to tell. My parents have told me a lot of things throughout the years and I’ve gained a lot of family knowledge as we’ve grown up but it’s so interesting to think of really how much history there would be to learn when experiencing memories first-hand. There are only so many stories that get told and no one wants to constantly tell the negative ones so it was just a really curious thing to think about!

I really loved the connection between June and Saul. I loved the bond that brought them together so fiercely and how it was the requirement that they stay apart that patched their worlds. Their chemistry was excellent and I loved how real their characters felt. Both characters were simply them, not trying to be someone else and not wanting to be, and I could just feel their personalities really come through.

The ending was a little different than I thought it was and sometimes I have trouble when magical realism takes a little turn into a little bit more magical than I expected. There were a few things in the end that crossed over from magical realism into more of a fantasy-type concept so that changed the tone of the book for me a bit and I wasn’t a huge fan but it was still a solid ending to the book.

THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD holds a special place in my heart for the way it made me feel and the books that it reminded me of but A MILLION JUNES is a wonderfully solid novel and great sophomore book from Emily Henry. I’m a big fan of her writing and the atmosphere that she creates in her books and I really am able to feel myself in the story. I’m up for her next adventure and I can’t wait to see what it holds!

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: The blur between reality and magic. While THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD was magical in a sci-fi way, this was definitely more magic and hedging on the paranormal. There’s still a possible bit of a sci-fi angle but I love the uniqueness of how reality blends with the impossible.
Left Me Wanting More: Structure. I guess structure isn’t the right word, but the ending felt a little too… untethered. I think I just wanted something a bit more concrete and it kind of ventured more into the magic.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I love Emily Henry’s story-telling and this book continued on the great path of bending reality and expanding beliefs.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A MILLION JUNES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    BONE GAP

Fireworks – Katie Cotugno

Fireworks – Katie CotugnoTitle: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno
Publishing Info: April 11, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 1, 2017

From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

bookreview1

Heads up, talking about specifics so there will be SPOILERS.

This book wasn’t quiiiite what I thought it would be and that was okay but there were things that just didn’t quite fit. I liked Dana a lot but it never really felt right for her to be a part of this pop star world. I feel like it would have been a little different if there had been an expressed interest in singing before she took Olivia to her audition. It just felt so off of Dana to even enter the world of singing and show business without even wanting any part of it before she got there. Maybe that’s just me as a big choir nerd not understanding how you can jump into this without a passion for music or performing… I have no idea. Not staying that you HAVE to have experience in order to get into the music industry but trying to think about it as someone who was only a part of choir was overwhelming, not to mention voice lessons, dance lessons, and all of the show biz type stuff that you have to do. I don’t know… I just felt like Dana didn’t belong there, which I guess was the point, but it felt wrong to take that opportunity away from someone else just because she wanted to get out of her town. There are so many people who have that DREAM and while she may have been a natural performer, I don’t know… It just didn’t click for me and I actually was not rooting for her to make it in the industry. It really bothered me throughout the whole book and despite the fact that she was actually putting a great effort forth to grow and listen and perform… I still didn’t think that was the right place for her and I knew it the whole time.
Aside from that, let’s not even tap into the fact that four girls are chosen for this girl group and out of four in the whole country, Dana is selected ALONG WITH her best friend, even when she sings Happy Birthday and… that’s it. No other auditioning process? No other callback? No tests to see if she even knows how to read music or if she’s a good dancer or if she doesn’t have an attitude, etc etc etc?? I 100% understand selecting someone for their star quality but people aren’t selected because of that alone. There has to be something else going there to make someone think they can turn that person into a star and that the work is going to be worth it. They flat-out didn’t see enough of Dana to even know that.

The friend thing bothered me too. One of the reasons I loved Open Road Summer so much was the fact that the best friends were supportive and things didn’t get catty. One was the star, one was not, and it wasn’t a competition. I didn’t like that Olivia sort of abandoned her best friend for the other girls because they had more experience and were, for lack of a better word, cooler than Dana was. I didn’t like that this book pitted the two best friends against each other and then Olivia stabbed Dana in the back!!! Ugh UGH UGH. I couldn’t stand that.

I also just had more hope that this was going to have some more 90s/early 2000s type feelings with all of those shows like Making the Band and Popstars. That was what I immediately went to when I heard the girls were going to audition for a girl group and there were some feelings of it there but I would have loved to get a little more of that feel. There wasn’t much of a time era feel aside from music references, which I would have loved to see more of because HELLO 90s, like the best time ever (ha)! There wasn’t that nostalgia that I had hoped for at all.

There were other feelings I got from this book though, in so many ways. I actually felt a lot of Center Stage because of all of the industry moments and things we got to see that happen in closed-door meetings. People get cut from groups, deals are made, people get stabbed in the back, images are created. I also felt some That Thing You Do! and Selena with some of those musical moments about trying to get your music out there and be heard, so that was a fun feeling.

The book was entertaining but I feel like I had a totally different image going in. FIREWORKS is a cute title for it but the cover is pretty misleading for what the book is about (despite the fact that I love it). Things were not really fun and friendly… they were kind of catty. And the fireworks were a small part of the book although related to kind of a big concept. I feel like it made the book seem so much lighter and easy-going and it was intense show business work!

When it comes down to it, I enjoyed the read and it was quick but I can’t quite give it four stars because I didn’t feel like Dana ever fit into this world and it stuck out to me the whole time. I just felt like everyone was forcing her into that role even though SHE knew it wasn’t the right place for her either, even if she did have that star-quality. It made it hard for me to root for her to succeed because I didn’t feel like even she wanted it.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Not-quite-historical-fiction. I love books set in specific eras that aren’t quite historical fiction since they’re still somewhat current (even though the 80s are now 30 years ago and the 90s are 20 years ago!). It’s fun to have that nostalgia while still peeking into a time frame that I was actually alive and enjoying!
Left Me Wanting More: Fun. This book just wasn’t… fun. The girls were mean to each other, there wasn’t a lot of 90s nostalgia, and it all felt a bit dramatic. I just really was hoping for more a light summer read.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Some people LOVED this book. It just didn’t work for me. I think I went into it thinking it was something else so I guess it depends on what you’re looking for!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE FIREWORKS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE REECE MALCOLM LIST

DNF Digest [5] – The Lonely Hearts Hotel

dnfdigest

I didn’t intended on making “DNF Digest” a regular thing because honestly? I always hope to finish a book! Lately, though, I’ve been more inclined to mark a book as DNF because there are just soooo many books I need to read (you’ve seen my shelves) so I just can’t afford to be pushing through books that I’m really not enjoying. If I’ve read a lot of the book I finish, it’s sort of a policy of mine to try to write a small “review” saying why it didn’t work for me, but today’s collection of DNF round-ups didn’t quite warrant reviews because I didn’t make it as far as I’d hoped.

I’ve been doing kind of well at not DNFing books lately but I have put a few on hold. Today, I’m just talking about one relatively recent DNF due to the content as well as extremely different expectations.



Title:
 The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Author: Heather O’Neill
Format I was reading: audiobook received from the publisher for review
Started reading: 2/9/17
Date marked as DNF: 2/9/17
Marked DNF at: a few chapters in (don’t know the exact due to formatting)
Reason for marking DNF: (My mini-review from Goodreads) I started listening to this audio and only made it two chapters before I turned it off. I had high hopes with nods to The Night Circus as far as timing, magic, and two orphans (and the fact that it was marketed as a NIGHT CIRCUS comparision)… But I couldn’t even make it past the beginning of the book. Only two or three chapters that only span into the first five years of the two main characters’ lives and the book was already too much for me. Trigger warnings for rape, incest, child abuse, child neglect and more within the first couple chapters. And again, this didn’t even span past the first five years of their lives. It seemed like there was way too much included for shock value and not that I made it far enough to really solidly say, but chances are that all of those horrors were not necessary for the overall plot of the book. I know this book is adult and not YA but I still don’t think that’s an excuse or allowance to include so much so fast. No matter what the target audience or age range, it just felt like overkill.

The writing and possible potential of where the story might go just weren’t enough to keep me reading and being bombarded with so many abhorrent events really didn’t make me want to keep reading. If this was the way the book started, what the heck do I have to look forward to here? It really got me down before the story even started and turned me way the heck off to the book instead of pulling me towards a emotional connection and sympathetic nature towards the two main characters.

As I do with any DNF, I checked out other reviews and they really didn’t seem too positive either. Another reviewer had finished the book and still gave it one star, citing that things really didn’t get better for our protagonists so I surely wasn’t going to stick around for that. If I couldn’t handle the beginning, I couldn’t bear to read a whole book like that.

Maybe check out reviews before picking this one up, but seriously beware of all of those trigger warnings if you’re sensitive to any of them. I’m usually able to stomach quite a bit but they all immediately turned me off and had quite a depressing start to a book that I was expecting to be magical.


This book just really didn’t work for me on many levels and even if the triggers weren’t overwhelming for me, I just am not in the mood for such a painfully dark and serious read at the moment. Thank you the publisher for the review copy of this one and sorry it didn’t work out!

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) – Rae Carson

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) – Rae CarsonTitle: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson
Publishing Info: September 20, 2011 by Penguin
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 7, 2017
Related Posts: Walk on Earth a Stranger (The Gold Seer Trilogy #1)

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.
But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.
Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
Most of the chosen do.

bookreview1

Well hello again from the black sheep side of the world! Sadly, it has not been long since I’ve been over here.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS has been on my TBR for so many years and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it… But this first book, man. I had a very hard time with it.

The beginning was not a struggle. I enjoyed that Elisa was not perfect, not slender, not the favorite. She does bear the Godstone which brings about her important marriage to a king in another land. I appreciated so many things about Elisa but her character felt very young compared to other YA characters that have been thrown into the same situations and her naiveté just really bothered me at times. I appreciated that the romance was not a main focus BUT I was annoyed that there were three different non-romances that Elisa was involved in and it was bothersome for her to have at least some form of feelings for so many different people. I also had a hard time with knowing that Hector becomes such a big character in future books (because of everyone’s flailing) so the romances (or lack thereof) with other guys was just frustrating because I wanted it all to be Hector.

Can we just pause here for a second, though? Why. Is the stone. In her belly button. I don’t know why but that bothered me so, so, SO much. It was weird and annoying and she was getting some… intense sensations from it. (Okay, it was nothing sexual but the descriptions were weird sometimes.) I just really hated it.

I didn’t really ever get into the story either. I enjoyed the first part of the book and I was interested to see it go somewhere… and then in my least favorite plot turn ever in any book, everything is upended and the characters get taken somewhere brand new and are around 100% different people, totally changing everything that you spent time getting to know in the first third of the book. I also didn’t like the people that Elisa ended up with in the next part of the book when everything changed so it was really just all downhill from there for me. I also really didn’t like the ending of the book and I was hoping for something in a different direction.

Things just fell apart after the first third of the book for me and it was annoying enough that I don’t know if I even want to continue the series. I’ve heard such good things about the series but if I didn’t enjoy the plot and tone and where this one went… I don’t know if it’s worth continuing for me.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Unique heroines. I really liked the fact that Elisa wasn’t an easy heroine. We watched her learn and grow and struggle through some common things instead of being a perfect little snowflake.
Left Me Wanting More: Consistency. The story felt like it flipped halfway through the book and it just felt like a totally different story. I wished it had been structured much differently.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

So many people love this series but it just wasn’t a hit with me. I’m not sure if I’ll continue so I’d recommend checking out other reviews and not just mine!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

It Started With Goodbye – Christina June

It Started With Goodbye – Christina JuneTitle: It Started With Goodbye by Christina June
Publishing Info: May 9, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 7, 2017

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

bookreview1

I was so excited to read IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, Christina June’s debut novel! I’ve known Christina since we were first both bloggers way back in the day and it was such an honor to be able to read her debut novel and hold a physical copy of her ARC in my hands! I received a copy of IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE from the publisher and it was so neat to read a book written by someone I had met and talked and to watch their journey to become a published author! The fact that I know Christina June does not affect my review in anyway aside from the fact that this was a big reason of why I wanted to read this book!

This book was very quick and easy read and a lovely modern take on Cinderella! Contemporary adaptations of fairy tales are always so interesting because I love seeing how magical things get adapted to a real world. I really loved the nod to the original fairy tale and how Christina June fit the story to a modern-day teenager. There were even some direct references to Cinderella which were so fun to note, along with the general story line that paralleled it.

IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE was a great book about finding yourself and being comfortable in your own skin. It’s hard as a teenager (okay, it’s hard as an adult sometimes too) and it made things even worse for Tatum with a stepmother who always seems to have it out for her and a stepsister who can do no wrong, following in her stepmother’s footsteps. Much like another recent Cinderella contemporary adaptation, GEEKERELLA, the modern take here also focuses on the redemption of the family members and the main character realizing that sometimes there is more behind that “evil” facade than meets the eye.

I actually wish there was more focus on the relationships in the beginning of the book because it was a little slow to start for me despite the fact that this was a very quick read. I wanted to just race through it and I found myself hitting rough patches with the direction of the plot and was hoping for more of a focus on the core relationships instead of branching out to include other acquaintances first. Especially with how short the book was (which I appreciated, actually!), I would have loved a stronger focus on the best friend and romance specifically, along with the family, instead of adding in more minor friends. I wasn’t as interested in the secondary characters and some of their stories seemed to take focus where I would have rather read about Tate, although I know a lot of my friends enjoyed those other friendships.
Also with the split of Tatum from her best friend, she felt sort of solitary throughout the first half of the book and I felt like she didn’t really have anyone to share the story with so secondary characters were forced into the mix. I would have loved to see some more heart-felt dialogue with someone she could share more secrets with and I was really missing that best friend vibe, or even just someone close that she could have talked to in the beginning. The cute little romance didn’t catch me right away, I think because the initial meet-up was crowded with other characters, so the warm-fuzzies got a little bogged down in the character relationships all around.

The family dynamic was the hit of this book for me and I really enjoyed how things progressed with each family member. Tatum establishes new relationships with her stepmom, stepsister, and even her dad, who had really always been in her corner but reached a point in this book where their relationship hit a turning point. With the kids growing up and stepmother Belen often in charge while he is out of town, Tatum’s relationship with her father really began to change and then mature throughout this book. I also really liked that the father-figure was just traveling for work and that was was created his frequent and long absences instead of death. We did have the absence of Tate’s mother but I liked that she wasn’t orphaned for this book!

IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE was an easy and quick read with some really well-founded family concepts. I didn’t quite connect with it like I had hoped but I feel like it’ll do great with the teen crowd (who is really its intended audience) who are going through the same situations with best friend fights, family relationships, and first-time big crushes. The Cinderella adaptation adds a really nice touch to this book and it’s a great pull into the story and motivation to pick it up!

 

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Modern adaptations of fairy tales. I was so giddy when I found direct references to the original Cinderella fairy tale! I think this adaptation and concept were spot on and I loved the modern take.
Left Me Wanting More: Relationship focus. I felt like there was a strong focus on the family throughout the whole book but I was missing the best friend and/or crush vibe in the beginning. I think I’m just so used to reading young adult books that are constantly surrounding those two relationships that are so prominent in teenage lives that I come to expect that to the be the focus of every book. They were definitely still featured here but it didn’t feel like the strongest relationship of the book for me, which was okay but a little bit of a surprise for me.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE was a fun and quick read! I loved how the concept fit together and

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS

Blog Tour: The Traitor’s Kiss | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Blog Tour: The Traitor’s Kiss | Book Scents + Giveaway!

Welcome to the blog tour for
The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beaty

I’m so excited to share today’s blog post which is my blog tour stop for THE TRAITOR’S KISS by Erin Beaty! Thanks to the amazing team at Macmillan for having me be a part of the tour and share some of my favorite parts of any book… the scents! Being a candle-maker, I’m obsessed with the different scents described in books and there were a few lovely aromas in THE TRAITOR’S KISS that caught my eye. On today’s stop, I’m sharing some of those and have a special candle giveaway too!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: The Traitor’s Kiss | Book Scents + Giveaway!Title: The Traitor's Kiss (Traitor's Trilogy #1) by Erin Beaty
Publishing Info: May 9, 2017 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 18, 2017

An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.
With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.
As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.


BOOK SCENTS: THE TRAITOR’S KISS

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from THE TRAITOR’S KISS! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

It still smelled like him. Like the pine pitch and tallow salve Father made for cuts and scrapes.

Inspiration: Sage’s father’s salve
Fragrances: Pine, outdoors, oakmoss

There were honey-colored freckles he’d noticed last night scattered across her nose and cheeks. This close, he could also smell the lavender and sage scents in her dress, which he much preferred to the floral perfumes the other women were drenched in.

Inspiration: The scents of Sage
Fragrances: Lavender, sage, honey

He smelled indefinitely better — like soap with essence of evergreen… clean linen… leather… and something indefinable that left her only wanting to breathe more deeply. 


The scent of his leather jacket mingled with the evergreen shaving lather he used.


This close, she couldn’t help breathing in the scents of leather, evergreen soap, and linen — a mix that was distinctly his.

Inspiration: The scents of Ash
Fragrances: Clean soap, pine, clean cotton, leather, musk

The scent of spearmint with a hint of orange drew Sage to her side.

Inspiration: Sage’s roommate Clare and her tea
Fragrances: spearmint, orange, earl grey tea

The Great Hall was decorated with garlands of spring flowers imported from somewhere much warmer than Tegann, and rushes on the floor released sweet scents as they were trod upon by the multitude of guests.

Inspiration: The Great Hall
Fragrances: Tulips, jasmine, tropical flowers

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


SECRET MESSAGE & BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

“Well-schooled, high and mighty about it”

Each blog on the blog tour also has a SECRET MESSAGE! Check out each stop on the blog tour to collect all of the messages for one final passage!!

BLOGGER BLOG DATE CONTENT
Brittany Smith http://www.bookaddictsguide.com 20-Apr Scented Candle
Flo Kizza http://www.booknerdsacrossamerica.com/ 22-Apr List of Favorite Literary Female Spies
Becky Vosburg http://www.storiesandsweeties.com/ 23-Apr Guest Post: Intro to main characters with pics
Katie Bartow http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/ 24-Apr Guest Post: Top 10 Things All Spies Need
Crystal Leach http://bookiemoji.com/ 25-Apr Top 5 Reasons to read The Traitor’s Kiss
Rachel Clarke http://www.fiktshun.com/fiktshun/ 26-Apr Guest Post: Favorite & Most Challenging Scene to Write (and Why)
Mandy Curtis http://foreveryoungadult.com/ 27-Apr Guest Post: YA “matchmaker”
Beth Edwards http://www.yabookscentral.com/ 28-Apr Guest Post: What gave you the inspiration for this book?
Michelle Adams bookbriefs.net 29-Apr Guest Post: Top 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Sage & Quinn
Amy Thau http://www.trippingoverbooks.com/ 30-Apr Mood Board
Michelle Bucud http://darkfaerietales.com/ 1-May Guest Post: What’s the most daring thing you would do for a mission?
Sarah https://whatsarahread.com/ 2-May Mood Board
Jennie Cresswell https://booklovingnut.com/ 3-May Playlist
Liza Rodriguez http://quitethenovelidea.com/ 5-May Alternate Cover
Kelly Gunderman http://www.herestohappyendings.com/ 6-May Q&A
Brooke Goldetsky http://brooke-reports.blogspot.com/ 7-May Sage Character Interview
Michelle Santiago http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com/ 9-May Fancast

GIVEAWAY

Because of the scent inspiration of today’s post, I’ve actually taken one of these concepts and turned it into a candle! The candle giveaway is for one 8oz tin called “Forest of Ash”, inspired by male lead in THE TRAITOR’S KISS with a play on the evergreen scents that are constant throughout his scent. This candle smells like clean pine, cotton, and leather with hints of masculine musk. Open to US entries only. Must be 13 years of age or older to win. Candle giveaway open from 4/20/17 – 4/27/17. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) – Alwyn Hamilton

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) – Alwyn HamiltonTitle: Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2) by Alwyn Hamilton
Publishing Info: March 7, 2017 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: March 17, 2017
Related Posts: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)

Rebel by chance. Traitor by choice.
Gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.
When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about Djinn and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

bookreview1

TRAITOR TO THE THRONE was one of my most-anticipated reads of 2017. I absolutely loved REBEL OF THE SANDS when I read it last year and it wasn’t just an enjoyable book for me — it was one of my favorites from the entire year. I was so incredibly excited to read and ended up being quite intimidated by its size. Before I get into the actual review, let’s talk about some THINGS. The book is over 500 pages long and REBEL was only about 300 (320? Something like that) so 200 extra pages right off the bat was a LOT. Don’t get me wrong — I love long books. They’re amazing when you get lost in them and there’s so much an author can do with so many pages… but I didn’t think TRAITOR needed that many pages. There was a lot of pressure to read this for many reasons (anticipated read, long book, reading for a blog tour, reading on a time crunch, not having finished a lot of books recently and then starting a long book) and that did affect my read a little bit BUT I know that if I’m really enjoying a book, I’ll save something that is lengthy and not dread how much more I have to finish.

TRAITOR ended up being more intimidating than enjoyable and I reached a point where I didn’t feel like things were moving forward. The book is over 500 pages and it spent a lot of time in the same places with not a whole lot of plot moving forward. Some of it I really felt like could have been handled in a few chapters and then we could move forward with really anything. As I’ve said in many reviews before, I don’t “need” action to enjoy a book but this felt like the plot was stagnant. I didn’t feel like the story was moving forward and I really think it could have progressed in far fewer pages. I enjoyed REBEL in part because it was concise and didn’t add extra pages for the sake of drawing out a fantasy novel. Sadly, TRAITOR fell victim to the extra pages and I wonder if that’s because of the success of REBEL. If it was moving, I don’t doubt that I’d want to read all 500+ of those pages but it just didn’t seem to go anywhere.

This is where it will get minorly spoilery. Still just plot points, nothing like reveals or deaths or anything, but WARNING WARNING if you want to avoid any potential spoilers, skip to the next paragraph! 
Soooo I did not like where this book went. At all. Amani ends up being captured and taken prisoner in a harem which felt like such an easy direction to take this book and something I’ve already read so many times. I’m tired of girls being trapped by men, especially when sexually persecuted (although not particularly Amani, but that’s the general idea of being trapped in a harem) and just no, no, no. Amani was FIERCE. She was one of the guys! She was strong! She was independent! She was getting stuff done and JUST discovering her abilities in the first book! All of that got taken away for at least 50% of TRAITOR and I was just so disappointed. Why build up a power to have it taken away in the next book? Why create an awesome, strong female to have her become helpless and trapped? Literally, could not help herself. I guess in the end, she makes some stuff work, but that took for-ev-er to happen. The harem was literally half of the book so I definitely struggled for a long time.

Really when it comes down to it, I just didn’t feel like this was the same tone as the first book at all. The squad is all over the place so there’s a serious lack of squad goals. The author chose to do that book two thing where the couple is split up for half the book, even though the swoons and banter were such a big reason why I loved the first book. There are so many characters on top of the ones that were in the last book so I started to get lost with everyone. As with any series, I kind of got lost with some of the secondary characters since it had been a year since I read the first book and the addition of even more characters started to really lose me. The book also started six months after REBEL so those six months were just kind of summed up and I didn’t get to experience them. Things happened and I had to hear it secondhand… and a lot of stuff had happened. I can deal with time after the first book but it really felt like it was picking up in a whole different place and didn’t quite continue the first adventure.

I’m not sure if I’ll read the third book in this series which is such a shame. Once I hit this point, it’s kind of hard to go back to the point where I had loved this experience. So much of the middle could have been cut out or condensed and TRAITOR could have stayed as action-packed as the first, minimized time apart from Jin, and kept me way more interested. I just don’t even know what to feel about this series now so I guess I’ll wait until the third book comes around and reassess then. As of right now, I just don’t see it happening though.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Not much. You know, it’s sad when I don’t even know what the highlights of this book were for me. I just keep remembering my disappointment and struggle.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. This just need to be far fewer pages and keep the characters more together.

Addiction Rating
Try it

I can’t tell if I’m the black sheep on this one or it really did suffer from second in a series syndrome.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE TRAITOR TO THE THRONE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

A Good Idea – Cristina Moracho

A Good Idea – Cristina MorachoTitle: A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho
Publishing Info: February 28, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 14, 2017
Related Posts: Althea and Oliver

Can the right kind of boy get away with killing the wrong kind of girl?
Fin and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates.
Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk.
But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. How much is she willing to damage to get her revenge and learn the truth about Betty’s disappearance, which is more complicated than she ever imagined—and infinitely more devastating?

bookreview1

A GOOD IDEA was interesting from start to finish but my passion for it sort of went in waves. The beginning was interesting but I wasn’t sure where it was going yet. The middle was thrilling and I tore through the book (well, I would have it I wasn’t listening to an audiobook and was forced to read at a level pace). The ending culminated well but got a little out there in regards to how things tied up. I liked the way that the book ended and yet the circumstances as to how the characters resolved the “case” was a little bizarre.

I was excited to pick up A GOOD IDEA because I had loved Cristina Moracho’s debut, ALTHEA & OLIVER. This book was quite different — a mystery/thriller versus realistic fiction — but I do love that both books took place in the 90s. It wasn’t really a “period piece” but I’m guessing that was Moracho’s time as a teen since it’s been revisited twice and I do like that “write what you know” concept in this case. I also enjoy things NOT set in present day because the slight throwback allows for less technology to get in the way. The concept of no cell phones (or at least no smart phones) really breaks that form of constant communication and allows plot to wander instead of technology making things unrealistic. Everyone is not a quick phone call or text away and people don’t have cameras attached to their hips. I appreciate the break from technology and allowing the book to run away with an idea!

This is another book that may aim towards a more mature young adult audience with consistent drug usage, language, and sexual activity. I read a few reviews that felt like these things were overboard but for small town Maine (or small town anywhere) and a lack of technology (not like I know what the 90s were like as a teen), I didn’t think anything was really out of bounds. It wasn’t my personal experience as a teenager but that doesn’t mean it’s unrealistic.

It was interesting to see Finley dig into the past by stirring up questions about her best friend Betty’s murder. Betty “disappeared” and everyone knew she had probably died but without actual evidence, no one really wanted to actually admit it. With a confession in the air (not a spoiler — we know this from the beginning) that didn’t stick, Finley needs to prove that the confessor is actually guilty and that they’re punished for taking her best friend’s life but loyalty gets in the way and made things even more dangerous for Finley. It was really interesting to have an answer from the start and have the characters race through a series of theories and scenarios. Was this confession really what happened? How much more is there to the story? Is it a lie? Is it a cover up for something else? Is Betty even really dead? These are all questions that the characters ask themselves and as the reader, I really started to question everything as well. The obvious answer is presented to the reader at the very beginning, but is it the CORRECT answer?

The ending got a little strange and maybe a bit too dramatic for my tastes. The beginning was pretty realistic, focusing more on the internal struggles of each character that added to the drama and confusion of the overall mystery. The ending got a little too villain-y for me (also not a spoiler because that’s not even in relation to the final answer of the mystery) and it just really sadly turned me off for just a bit. BUT I did like how the very, very end wrapped up and the solid conclusion left me satisfied with the book overall.

Oh, and we also really did find a bathtub in the woods on a hike.

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Books set in the 90s. This book wasn’t really about the 90s but I love the concept of being slightly removed from present day. I wouldn’t call the 1990s historical fiction but I enjoy that there’s a little bit of nostalgia and lack of technology. I’d love to see more books set in the 80s and 90s!
Left Me Wanting More: Realistic endings. Things were so gritty and real and then then ending got a little bizarre for me. I mean, it’s a book so I’m not saying it never could have happened but it just didn’t seem like it would happen.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This was a really interesting book and I really enjoyed the way it was put together! I liked that it was a mystery and yet the answers were there the whole time, and I thought the character development was really great too.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE A GOOD IDEA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THIS IS OUR STORY

Geekerella – Ashley Poston

Geekerella – Ashley PostonTitle: Geekerella by Ashley Poston
Publishing Info: April 4, 2017 by Quirk Books
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 16, 2017

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

bookreview1

GEEKERELLA, as its name implies, is a play on the classic Cinderella story and that’s one of the things that first attracted me to the book! I’m actually not a big Cinderella fan (I like it just fine but it’s not my favorite fairy tale or Disney movie), but throw “geek” in the title of anything and I am there! I also loved the concept of a contemporary adaptation of a fairy tale because I’ve read so few modern, non-fantasy/sci-fi retellings and Ashley Poston really did a great job of pulling this one off!

Firstly, I loved the characters. They were true to the Cinderella archetypes in many ways but also so uniquely themselves. I loved Elle and her geeky past (and present) growing up watching Starfield reruns with her dad. Her dad loved the show so much that he and her mom would cosplay and they started a whole conference for it, which ends up being a big part of the book. I adored THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVED, half because it had a con in it and it was amazing. Having attended Book Expo (and other book cons) the last handful of years, the concept has grown close to my heart and I loved seeing book characters enjoy the same things! Connected through the con (amongst other things), is Darien, heartthrob actor and… totally normal dude. I LOVED that Darien was this really big teen actor and just wanted to be a normal, geeky guy. He ends up being cast in the Starfield movie and everyone things he’ll screw it up because he’s known for being a totally different character and no one knows his nerdy side. (Which publicists and media people, whoever you are, let us see the geeky side!!! Don’t suppress it!) Anyway… these two are just adorable on their own and I had a hell of a time shipping them throughout this book!

Elle’s family was truly horrible but I did like that there were some gray areas. She does have an evil step-mom and some awful step-sisters but then there are times where readers realize things aren’t just in black and white. Some villains are still villains but others have a story behind their actions or are just along for the ride. GEEKERELLA was a book about everyone getting a chance to be them — whether each character seized that opportunity was up to them but I really appreciated that they all had the chance to stand up for what they believed in and what the loved.

GEEKERELLA is described as “part romance, part love letter to geek culture” and this is 100% true. Every nerd is geeky in their own way and I love that TV fanatics, comic book nerds, book-lovers, and more can appreciate the general nerdiness of this book and see themselves reflected in the characters. It was a positively delightful reading experience and I find myself gushing about it even more as I’m writing the review. It’s a book that sticks with your feels long after the end!

A post shared by Brittany S. (@bookaddictsguide) on

addiction_factor1

Kept Me Hooked On: Geek Chic. I created a bookshelf on my Goodreads account called Geek Chic simply for those adorably nerdy books. This is definitely on there.
Left Me Wanting More: On-screen swooning time. Elle and Darien take a while to actually get together and it was kiiiiilling me. I wished we had seen just a bit more of them together before the book ended.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you love cute romances and/or geeky books, GEEKERELLA is totally for you! It also was not like A Cinderella Story and yet it was (a contemporary take on Cinderella and the texting, I guess) so I had happy teen memories while reading it too!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE GEEKERELLA

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD