Book Reviews

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Review

42815556Summary: Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

*I received an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.  Thanks to Randomhouse Children’s for the opportunity!*


Ok. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book, and I was so wrong.  It’s really good.  It is a beautifully written story that has everything you could want out of a YA fantasy novel.  The adventure is epic and fun, the romance is swoony, the system of magic is interesting, and the main characters are wonderfully likable.  I absolutely loved the Chinese culture in this book, especially its influences on the magic system.  It all works so seamlessly and transports us to a really vibrant world that I can’t wait to see more of.  The whole story has a traditional folklore feel to it as well, which adds a level of maturity and simplicity in the storytelling.  Maia is a great heroine and really comes into her own by the end.  I loved her arc, but I do wish we could have seen it progressing a bit stronger throughout.  The chemistry and tension with her love interest are fabulous from the get-go, and the pace of their relationship was perfect.  The journey they take together is fun and fantastical and super fast-paced.  The ending packs a punch and left me wanting more.  I am so pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book and I cannot wait to see where this series goes.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader

41887422Summary: What drove their family apart just might bring them back together…It’s been seventeen years since the tragic summer the McAvoy sisters fell apart. Lindy, the wild one, left home, carved out a new life in the city and never looked back. Delia, the sister who stayed, became a mother herself, raising her daughters and running the family shop in their small Pennsylvania hometown on the shores of Lake Erie. But now, with their mother’s ailing health and a rebellious teenager to rein in, Delia has no choice but to welcome Lindy home. As the two sisters try to put their family back in order, they finally have the chance to reclaim what’s been lost over the years: for Delia, professional dreams and a happy marriage, and for Lindy, a sense of home and an old flame–and best of all, each other. But when one turbulent night leads to a shocking revelation, the women must face the past they’ve avoided for a decade. And there’s nothing like an old secret to bring the McAvoy women back together and stronger than ever. With warm affection and wry wit, Molly Fader’s The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets is about the ties that bind family and the power of secrets to hold us back or set us free.

*I received a copy of this book from Harlequin- Graydon House Books through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Release Date July 16th, 2019


My Thoughts: This book is the epitome of a perfect, well written, summer beach read.  The plot was paced so well and I could not put it down until I figured out all of the secrets.  It was easy to read and had some really poignant metaphors and descriptions, along with some well developed and loveable characters.  We get to read from the four perspectives of the McAvoy women and they all had a distinctive, yet cohesive, voice.  Each woman had their own struggles that were relatable, intriguing, and helped to build a complex and wonderful set of characters.  I loved watching their relationships with each other evolve and discovering what had happened to wreck their former closeness.  The mystery was handled so well, and it ended up being a lot more exciting and dark than I had originally expected.  It dealt with a lot of difficult topics like dementia, abuse, grief, and depression, but was overall a story about family and connection.  I became so emotionally invested in these characters and their experiences that I was moved to tears more than once.  The afterword really wrapped it all up in a great dramatic way that had my jaw on the floor.  Overall, this was a super quick and easily investable story that I highly recommend for anyone looking for a great and fast-paced summer read.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases of the Second Half of 2019

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Happy Top Ten Tuesday everyone! We have a fun and exciting topic today from That Artsy Reader Girl, and that is the Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019! There are so many amazing books coming out this year, and I keep finding more.  Here are the ten books that I am eagerly awaiting the most in order of release date!


House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

August 6th

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Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

September 3rd

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American Royals by Katharine McGee

September 3rd

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The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams

September 17th

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Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

September 24th

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No Judgements by Meg Cabot

September 24th

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The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

October 8th

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The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

November 5th

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The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

November 19th

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Children of Vice and Virtue by Tomi Adeyemi

December 3rd

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Aren’t they beautiful? What books are you guys looking forward to? Let me know in the comments so I can add them to my list and we can freak out together 🙂

 

 

Book Reviews

Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small Review

42288387Summary: Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.

But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.


My Thoughts: As a dancer, the minute I saw this book I wanted to read it.  I was obsessed with the movie Center Stage when I was growing up, and this totally has similar vibes.  The ballet world can be so intense, which makes for great, and typically dark, stories.  Bright Burning Stars follows two students in the Paris Opera Ballet school, Marine and Kate, as they work up to “The Prize”, a coveted spot in the company.  The plot in this book was both fast moving and slow at the same time.  Events happened quickly, but overall I found it to be a bit dull and was looking for more umpfh.  It was definitely more character-based, delving into the psyches of these two pre-professional ballerinas.  Both girls find themselves in pretty dark places throughout the book, each of them dealing with the pressure in different, unhealthy ways.  I found myself liking, empathizing and rooting for Marine, but Kate was hard to like (Which is the opposite of how I expected to feel at the beginning.)  I definitely felt pity for her and just wanted her to get the help she so clearly needed.  Even though the plot was fairly slow, I found myself really invested in the fates of these two women.  The pressure put on these students was almost unbelievable, but I know from friends who are in the ballet world is very real.  The author was clearly a ballerina herself, which really helped in grounding the story in reality and gave it an authenticity that I appreciated.  The dynamics and workings of the ballet school were so fascinating, and I would be really interested to see how true to life it actually is.  This book was an interesting, if a bit depressing, read and would be great for fans of the movie Center Stage or the tv show Flesh and Bone.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: Favorite Releases of the Last 10 Years

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This week’s Top 10 Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, was a tough one for me.  Picking just one release from each of the last ten years was really difficult as so many amazing books came out in the same year.  The ones I picked were the books that I remember being the most excited about, or books that I read recently that have surpassed any of my other options.

2018

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

2017

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The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

2016

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

2015

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The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

2014

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

2013

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You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

2012

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

2011

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The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

2010

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Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

2009

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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

What are your favorite releases from the last 10 years? Let me know in the comments 🙂 Happy Top 10 Tuesday! ❤
Book Reviews

ARC Review: Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

40523458Summary: In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.

*I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*


My Thoughts: I was on the fence about continuing this series after my lukewarm reception of Furyborn, but I’m glad I did.  While I still wasn’t crazy about it, I liked Kingsbane more than I liked the first book.  The characters continued to grow, and I loved finding out more of Rielle’s history and how it contributed to Eliana’s future.  Where Rielle was my favorite character in Furyborn, it actually switched to Eliana for this one, and I found myself looking forward to her sections more.  The switching perspectives continued to move the plot and intrigue along nicely, but for some reason, each switch was more jarring to me and took a second to adjust in each chapter.  I do wish we could have a bit more knowledge about the magic systems and the angels because it still wasn’t 100% clear for me.  If you can get past that though, the plot was exciting in both timelines and I really loved watching them weave together.  The ending was totally unexpected and had my jaw on the floor.  I was riled up after finishing for sure.  I am now too invested in the plot to not be along for the ride, and I anxiously await the conclusion in book three.  I really do think that if the magic and the angels were fleshed out better, this series would knock it out of the park, but until that ferocious ending, it was a fairly average read.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: I Spy the Boy Next Door by Samantha Armstrong

PrintSummary: Four p.m. spy sessions are the highlight of Mallory Taylor’s day. Observing the boy next door—one with a body and an attitude to match—has her perched beside her window so often it can’t be healthy.

When she finally convinces her mom to let her go to public school, Mallory comes face to face with her neighbor, Troy Parker. And he makes it clear he wants nothing to do with her. His rejection awakens a newfound tenacity and maybe even a touch of recklessness. But when Troy starts to show up when she needs him the most, Mallory can’t help but wonder if there’s more to him than he’s let on.

Taking chances, breaking rules, and following her heart is all new to Mallory. And no one warned her just how fickle hearts can be. When she discovers that Troy isn’t at all the guy she imagined him to be, secrets rise to the surface that will change her life forever.

*I received a copy of this book from Koru House Press in return for an honest review! Thanks to them and Samantha Armstrong for the opportunity!*


My Thoughts: This book was really different than what I expected.  I anticipated a light-hearted, opposites attract YA romance and that is not what this was.  Our main character, Mallory, has lived a very sheltered, home-schooled existence for her whole life, all while crushing on Troy, her next door neighbor, from afar.  Once Mallory convinces her overprotective parents to let her go to school, she finally gets the chance to come face to face with him and the story begins… but nothing much happens for a while.  There is a lot of moodiness and unwarranted behavior from him, and confusion from her, but they don’t really have that many interactions.  I was so confused as to how they fell for each other when they had such minimal contact.  In fact, none of the relationships between Mallory and the other characters were really developed enough to be believable.  They would have one interaction, and then they’d be best friends.  There was a bit of very exaggerated sexual tension between Mallory and Troy, but without a strong build-up to their connection, it didn’t fully work for me.  Out of nowhere, the book becomes an episode of criminal minds and while I wanted to find out what was going to happen next, I was thrown by the sudden change in mood and plot.  The twist did help explain more about Mallory’s character, but overall the whole book just felt a bit incohesive and underdeveloped.  I think if Mallory and Troy’s relationship had a stronger foundation and actually built to a smolder instead of going from zero to 100, the whole thing might have worked better.  Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get on board with this one.

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Book Reviews

ARC Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

41147279Summary: From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Release Date: May 7th, 2019
*I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review! Thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Christine Riccio, and Netgalley!*

My Thoughts: WOW.  I am obsessed with this book.  From the first Harry Potter reference, I knew I was going to love it.  Riccio’s writing style and Shane’s voice are absolutely hilarious and there were times when I felt like she was inside my brain.  Shane is a totally lovable and entirely relatable character.  All of her bookish fandom and pop culture references killed me, and I just loved the way her mind worked.  I was rooting for her to come into herself the whole time and I loved watching as she figured out what she truly wanted.  As someone who fell in love with London on my own travels, I was so excited to be transported back and was definitely living through Shane’s study abroad experience.  Her flatmates were such a great grouping of characters who all had their unique, fun quirks.  Babe with her Disney obsession and aspiring actor, Atticus, were my favorites.  Then there was Pilot Penn, Shane’s crush.  Their dynamic and chemistry were fantastic and while there were moments that he made me mad, I totally understood the conflict.  I think my favorite thing about this book was reading their witty, flirtatious banter.  There were several swoon-worthy moments that had my stomach all fluttery.  The big twist in the middle of the book caught me totally off guard and seeing it play out was so exciting.  As you can tell, I just really loved this book and I have very little, if any, negative comments.  From the romance to the friendships, to the wanderlust, and finally discovering who you are meant to be, this book knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what Riccio does next.

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Book Hangover

 

 

Book Reviews

ARC Review: Lovestruck by Kate Watson

40074277Summary: Sixteen-year-old cupid-in-training Kali is in an Olympus-sized mountain of trouble. Rule number one in arrow-toting matchmaking: don’t stick yourself. But accidents happen, and Kali instantly falls hard for her indie rock, bass-playing target, Benicio.

The God of Love is going to kill her. Even if he is her dad.

Being the daughter of Eros isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For one thing, a girl can get jaded when her parents have the most beautiful and fatalistic love story in history. For another, immortality royally sucks when the Oracle condemns you to eternity in the wrong profession. Do the Gods care that Kali wants to ditch the love stuff and be a muse?

Nope.

To reclaim her heart and her destiny, Kali is left with no choice but to defy the Gods, tempt the Fates, date the mortal love-of-her-life, and hope she doesn’t lose her best friend, Hector, in the process.

*Thanks to North Star Editions/Flux for the ARC in return for an honest review*


My Thoughts: This book was so sweet.  The story follows Kali, an Erote-in-training, as she navigates through her teenage years as a Greek Goddess of Love.  This Greek mythology reimagining was so clever and full of funny tidbits that created a great atmosphere and a thoroughly built world.  A lot of the Greek Gods were familiar to me, but Watson did a fantastic job of giving them new life and expanding on tradition in a way that was both funny and real.  I loved Kali’s voice and immediately connected with her.  She’s hilarious, sarcastic, and dramatic, which as the drama-queen of my family I totally related to.  I also felt really connected to her relationships with the supporting characters, especially with her best friend, Hector, and her teacher, Artemis.  The plot was fully engrossing and gave me all the warm fuzzies with the romance.  I love a good love triangle with a twist.  The quest to conquer her fate was so right and so Greek, and it was the perfect vehicle for Kali to discover herself.  I was a little disappointed by the ending “twist”, which felt a little too deus ex machina and unnecessary to me, but overall I had a really great time reading this book and I recommend it to anyone who loves Greek mythology and a heart-warming YA romance.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Tuesday: My Spring TBR

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I love making TBR lists.  There is something so exciting about thinking of the books I’m going to read next.  Do I always stick to them? No, but they do give me a good sense of accomplishment and keep my blogging schedule on track.  This week’s theme from That Artsy Reader Girl is our Spring TBR, which for me is March-May, and I cannot wait to get through all of these beauties!

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

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I Spy the Boy Next Door by Samantha Armstrong

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

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Enchantée by Gita Trelease

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Finale by Stephanie Garber

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Lovestruck by Kate Watson

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Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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The Girl From the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor 

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Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Collide by Nina Walker

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What books are on your TBRs?  Give me some more recommendations cuz my list is forever growing! 🙂