book review, E-book, fantasy, magic, romance, urban fantasy, Young Adult

Wings of Ebony | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Wings of Ebony

Author: J. Elle

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 368

Publication Date: 1/26/21

Categories: Racism, Identity, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Family

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

  • Aesthetics ~ Love the cover and the colors are just such a good combination. It perfectly matches the story of Rue and the urban fantasy setting of Wings of Ebony.
  • World Building ~ the story is set in the urban city of Houston but Rue now lives in Ghizon which is this Wakanda-inspired a fantasy hidden island. Ghizon is fascinating because the people there have gray skin and magic. But the mystery is how they were gifted these magic powers. The truth is shocking but the knowledge helps Rue step into her power. As for what happens in Houston, crime is rampant and someone is behind it, when it ties into Ghizon, Rue does everything she can to help stop what is happening. The story is action-packed which moves the story quickly.
  • Family ~ Rue loves her half-sister Tasha, she’s basically all she has left (beside her dad that she hardly knows) . Everything Rue does stems from protecting Tasha. Also, even though Rue’s mom is gone, you can say that how she raised her daughters has made them strong enough to deal with anything that was being thrown at them. I love that they had Ms. Leola though. Also her relationship with her father was strained due to all the secrets,
  • Characters ~ Rue has a strong voice. She is flawed, but brave and unapologetic and wants to do the right thing. I love when she calls out her best friend Bri, when the truth about Ghizon is revealed. Rue is like a superhero queen! I enjoyed the other characters like Bri, Tasha, and Ms. Leola also.
  • There is an insta-love moment in this book, but honestly, I think it’s going to carry on into book two and it works. It comes later in the book and I don’t blame her for the attraction!

This is a fantastic start to an exciting new series. I enjoyed learning about this secret island of Ghizon with it’s magic, technology and gray skinned people. I think Rue is a strong, black female lead who is protective of those she loves, willing to fight hard for what she believes in and is confident in who she is. She is truly a Queen. If you like fast paced urban fantasy that confronts race and social justice themes, then you will definitely like this one!

💜 ~ Yolanda

book review, fantasy, magic, netgalley, romance, Teen Readers, Young Adult

The Stolen Kingdom | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: The Stolen Kingdom

Author: Jillian Boehme

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: Tor Teen

Categories: Young Adult, Teen Readers, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Court Intrigue

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

For a hundred years, the once-prosperous kingdom of Perin Faye has suffered under the rule of the greedy and power-hungry Thungrave kings. Maralyth Graylaern, a vintner’s daughter, has no idea her hidden magical power is proof of a secret bloodline and claim to the throne. Alac Thungrave, the king’s second son, has always been uncomfortable with his position as the spare heir—and the dark, stolen magic that comes with ruling.

When Maralyth becomes embroiled in a plot to murder the royal family and seize the throne, a cat-and-mouse chase ensues in an adventure of dark magic, court intrigue, and forbidden love.

  • World Building ~ Mara lives on a vineyard that produces the best wine in Perin Faye. That all changes when she discovers she is from a royal bloodline, and she is maybe the true heir to the throne. The Thungraves have ruled Perin Faye since they stole the magic and throne from the Dallowyn line. There is dark magic, good magic and politics at play here which makes it an intriguing story.
  • Characters ~ I thought Mara was pretty level headed even if she was thrust into a high pressure situation. She also knew she didn’t want to just be a winemaker all her life and I liked that she accepted her role as Queen. There were two sides to this story, and two perspectives being told which I appreciated. Prince Alac didn’t want to be royal but he is tied to this dark magic his father has entrusted upon him. What will he do when someone comes to take the crown from them? Will he fight or surrender? I think he was the perfect spare, kind of aloof, didn’t care for the royal duties and out of sync with his father and brother.
  • Romance ~ slow burn, enemies to lovers – I think it was perfect. Mara had her goals and really did good sticking to them until she came to care for Alac. Alac had his own dreams too until something major comes between them. I was fascinated to see how it would work out for them after the major scene that took place to throw all Mara’s plans off but in the end it worked out well. And this story is very PG rated, basically only kissing happens and not a lot of it.
  • The story is written well. I read it in one sitting which was unexpected but I was drawn to Mara and Alac’s story.
  • Triggers: death
  • A little bit of insta love? Maybe – Mara and Alac only knew each other for like…2 weeks? I didn’t mind it and this is a standalone so I think it fit because they did fight their feelings for one another and the ending left me satisfied.

I really enjoyed The Stolen Kingdom. I found Mara to be a strong main character and Alac equally intriguing, they made an interesting pair who in the end had a common goal to save their kingdom. I think this is more for teen readers than young adult but can be enjoyed by both.

📚 ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, romance, Young Adult

Five Ways to Fall Out of Love | ARC Review

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Title: Five Ways to Fall Out of Love

Author: Emily Martin

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 3/16/21

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Categories: Romance, Young Adult, New Adult, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…

Aubrey Cash learned the hard way not to rely on love. After all, Webster Casey, the new boy next door she’d been falling for all summer, stood her up at homecoming in front of everyone with no explanation. Proving her theory that love never lasts seems easy when she’s faced with parents whose marriage is falling apart and a best friend who thinks every boy she dates is “the one.” But when sparks fly with a boy who turns out to be Webster’s cousin, and then Webster himself becomes her lab partner for the rest of senior year, Aubrey finds her theory—and her commitment to stay single—put to the test.

As she navigates the breakdown of her family, the consequences her cynicism has on her relationship with her best friend, and her own confusing but undeniable feelings for Webster, Aubrey has to ask herself: What really happened the night Webster stood her up? And if there are five ways to fall out of love…could there perhaps be even more ways to fall back in?

  • Oh the drama of misunderstandings! This whole book is about miscommunication. Webster and Aubrey’s friendship falls apart because of a misunderstanding. It takes them a whole year to even discuss what really happened, but honestly they would’ve stayed enemies if Webster’s cousin Holland didn’t say something about it. I thought the drama was realistic. I can think of a lot of moments in my teen years when misunderstandings and miscommunication or lack of communication turned into some drama.
  • Aubrey’s parents have been fighting for years but it’s coming to the point where it is unbearable and they are separating. It’s no wonder Aubrey is so wary about love and very unsure what it means to be in love. Aubrey is cynical and she uses a scientific theory to gauge love.
  • My favorite thing about this book is Reese, Aubrey’s best friend. Their love for each other is apparent and Reese helps Aubrey loosen up. She made the story fun because the two of them together is comfortable, just like it should be with a bestie.
  • Triggers: divorce
  • I usually don’t mind love triangles but the one in this story made me cringe because Aubrey is basically into Webster and his cousin, Holland who is just a nice guy. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Poor Holland, he totally deserved better. It was just messy and so could’ve been handled better.
  • Webster is bi-sexual but for some reason the way Aubrey discusses this with him left me feeling uncomfortable. Aubrey tries to bring up college and how their relationship could change if he meets a guy. I mean…I guess she wasn’t worried about him meeting another girl…but a guy is problematic? It was awkward.
  • Some mature content: the characters do some sexual exploration like fondling and even masturbation, which is very realistic. I’m glad it didn’t shy away from that.

This book is more like a 2.5 star read for me but I did read this in one night, so it did keep my interest but mostly because I wanted to see if Aubrey’s character would grow. If you are more of a cynic about love or tend to lean that way, you may enjoy this one. I think I’m pretty cynical as an adult haha, but in my romance novels, I want it to be pretty hopeful and optimistic. I appreciate this story being realistic though but in the end it was just an okay story for me.

💙 ~ Yolanda

book review, fantasy, historical fiction, romance, Young Adult

Dark of the West | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Dark of the West

Author: Joanna Hathaway

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 480

Publication Date: 2/5/19

Categories: Young Adult, WWII Inspired World, Historical Fantasy, Romance, Family

He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse in Joanna Hathaway’s Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

  • My favorite part of this book is the intensity in brings. Athan is the youngest son of a General who is ruthless and has a reputation for fighting and winning wars. The General is a hard man who is always scheming. Aurelia is a Princess raised with rules but her mother is a Southern with a past that threatens their monarchy rule. There is a lot of political intrigue in this story and it brings the tension between all sides involved.
  • I was very invested in Athan and his struggles with wanting his dad’s approval, competing with his older brothers and wanting to be with his mother. I felt awful for him and what he had to deal with just to survive his family. His brothers all want to be the apple of their father’s eye and will do anything for his praise. Athan wants to disappear but he can’t because of his loyalty to his family and his mom’s memory. So what will he do?
  • Aurelia’s mother, the Queen of Etania is an intriguing character. She’s from Resyna but we don’t know much about the country because the story doesn’t travel there yet. All we know is what the characters tell us, and Sinora, the Queen has past that is entangled with Athan’s father. What happened exactly? We don’t know, but I hope I find out more about it in the sequel.
  • Having grown up in the 80’s, I was a big fan of the movie Top Gun and watched it a lot. This story is inspired by World War II but the plane fights reminded me of Top Gun and Athan is definitely Maverick. And Cyar is Goose ~ except I hope Cyar has a better storyline than Goose did in the movie! I enjoyed the flying and stunts in this book a lot though.
  • The political intrigue and scheming is very good and just like chess. Everyone is making moves and we aren’t sure who is going to win at this stage of the series. It’s a back and forth match but winner will take all. Unfortunately Athan and Aurelia are caught in the cross-fire.
  • The romance between Athan and Aurelia is sweet and very slow. They are both young, both have secrets but enjoy each other’s company. Will their bond continue to stay strong when the truth lets out?
  • Triggers: murder, violence, war
  • Aurelia at times comes off as naive but there was a moment in the end where she shows that she really isn’t just a useless princess. I’m curious to see what happens to her in the sequel.
  • Athan is said to be brilliant and smart but his character doesn’t seem to show it at all. He’s a good pilot, maybe shows off and disregards the rules too much, but brilliant strategist or something? I don’t see that yet. Maybe in the sequel?

I am glad I finally picked up this book. I was thoroughly entertained and was invested in the story because the tension between the warring countries was really good. The General seems to be a step ahead of everyone, or is he? I’ll need to find out more in the sequel but so far I’m enjoying this WWII inspired fantasy world with intriguing characters and a lot of political intrigue.

✈︎ ~ Yolanda

book review, coming of age, contemporary, netgalley, New adult, Young Adult

Yolk | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Yolk

Author: Mary H.K. Choi

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages:

Publication Date: 3/2/21

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, New Adult, Eating Disorder, Cancer, Family, Healthcare, Contemporary

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.

  • Mary H.K. Choi is a must-read author for me because her stories are complicated and real. Also she just knows how to really get into the scary, vulnerable places of her characters’s mind.
  • World Building: this book is an ode to New York City and a little bit of Texas too. In her last book Permanent Record and now Yolk, New York City is a character. Jayne is enamored of all things New York City, but is struggling to make ends meet there.
  • Characters: Jayne is hurting herself. She is a bulimic. Jayne is trying to run from events in her past and the story shows flashbacks of what happened that could have started her eating disorder. June is her older sister who is smart and successful but now she has cancer. These two sisters have such a tense history. I thought it was funny how they fought, because…siblings fight dirty sometimes! But it was also painful to see because you know they both love each other.
  • This is about Jayne and through her we see New York City, we see how lost she is about school and her goals for the future. Jayne is traumatized by her past: uprooting from South Korea to move to America, her strained relationship with her mother, growing up Korean in America, and trying to figure out how to attain all the riches and dreams of New York City – her ideal American dream. Right now her dream is unattainable.
  • Triggers: cancer, bulimia
  • Obviously, there are hard topics in this story with Jayne having bulimia and June having uterine cancer. So proceed with caution – this is not a happy story. Some parts are funny, but for the most part, it’s heavy reading.
  • There is a little bit of romance but it’s definitely not the main thing about this story. It was realistic too and it didn’t dominate the story.

This story is dark, complicated, emotional, layered and real. I was hooked and yet scared for Jayne as she went through her life lost and in pain but hiding it so well. But one person sees through her mask, her sister June. I loved how these crazy sisters fought, because siblings fight – and I love how New York City comes to life through the author’s words. When everything comes to a clash: Jayne’s past, her present, cancer, family and bulimia – that’s when the hard work starts as these sisters grind through the surface of their tense relationship and find the love that’s been hiding under there all along.

💛 ~ Yolanda

book review, E-book, fantasy, magic, New adult, romance, Young Adult

A Twist of the Blade | Book Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: A Twist of the Blade (Shadows and Crowns, #2)

Author: S.M. Gaither

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages:

Publication Date: 1/28/21

Categories: Young Adult, New Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Friendship

Mercenary. Survivor. Queen. 

Who is Casia Greythorne?


Still reeling from an unimaginable loss and the revelation of an identity she isn’t sure she wants to embrace, Casia has one plan: Try to control something. Something like the strange magic awakening inside of her. Mastering that magic will take her and her friends on a quest through cursed lands, into the dwellings of old gods, and deep into a southern empire filled with deadly foes and unlikely allies.

Meanwhile, the foundations of the Kethran Empire continue to crumble. The king-emperor clings to his crown with increasingly bloodied hands. Monsters and soldiers alike stalk Casia’s every step, determined not to let her return to claim a throne that is rightfully hers. Still, the greatest threat to her possible rule may not lie in the king-emperor, but in a former captain of his army—a man that she came dangerously close to falling in love with.

Elander Revenmar thought he knew who he was. He had a mission, a plan, a god he was content to serve. Then came Casia. A woman as mysterious as she is dangerous. One he should have stayed away from, and whose life he never should have saved.

Because salvation always comes with a cost. 

And some debts can only be paid for in blood. 
  • World Building ~ I really enjoy the story about the Gods and their revenge on humans. Cas was in Oblivion at the ending of book one but she doesn’t stay long. She needs to find her friends and stop her brother Varen from world domination. So Cas picks herself up, her broken-hearted, weakened, lost self and puts one foot in front of the other and keeps moving forward. We get to visit a different kingdom in this book which is great because Cas needs help, so she goes and seeks it out.
  • Characters ~ Cas is resilient, even when she thinks of giving up, she tries again and again and that’s so inspiring. And I love her friends, her support group that sticks by her no matter what. There were many times when the story was emotional because of what was happening to her friends.
  • Romance ~ or what is left of it…it is “complicated” as Elander likes to say. This is a story of past and present, reincarnation, a second chance, but it gets more complicated for Elander and Cas the more the truths are revealed.
  • Storytelling ~ this just flowed so easily, I read it in one night. I like how nothing is easy in this story between Cas and Elander with their romance or with Cas and Varen and their family ties. But for sure I love when Cas has her friends around her.
  • Not gonna lie, I wanted more of Elander and Cas together ~ I love them. But he kept having to disappear, he had his reasons though.

This story had action, good story telling, great world building, an inspiring main character and a complicated romance that just makes me hope so hard that Cas and Elander have a happily ever after. I look forward to reading book three which can’t come soon enough!

⚔️ ~ Yolanda

Blog tour, Book Excerpt, book review, bookish, coming of age, contemporary, Teen Readers, Young Adult

BLOG TOUR } Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices

Welcome to the book blog tour for Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices by. Masuma Ahuja!

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Title: GIRLHOOD: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices

Author: Masuma Ahuja

Format: ebook (NetGalley)

Pages: 256

Publication Date: 2/9/21

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Categories: Non Fiction, Girls

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

What does a teenage girl dream about in Nigeria or New York? How does she spend her days in Mongolia, the Midwest, and the Middle East? 

All around the world, girls are going to school, working, dreaming up big futures—they are soccer players and surfers, ballerinas and chess champions. Yet we know so little about their daily lives. We often hear about challenges and catastrophes in the news, and about exceptional girls who make headlines. But even though the health, education, and success of girls so often determines the future of a community, we don’t know more about what life is like for the ordinary girls, the ones living outside the headlines.

From the Americas to Europe to Africa to Asia to the South Pacific, the thirty teens from twenty-seven countries in Girlhood share their own stories of growing up through diary entries and photographs, and the girls’ stories are put in context with reporting and research that helps us understand the circumstances and communities they live in. This full-color, exuberantly designed volume is a portrait of ordinary girlhood around the world, and of the world, as seen through girls’ eyes.

  • It is wonderfully multi-cultural! So many different girls from around the world are featured in this book. I love the full color pages of the girls, it’s wonderful to see their smiles.
  • I love the diary entry format and scrapbook style of the book. This is the kind of book I would have loved to read when I was a teenager. It’s inspiring and makes me want to travel to experience the different cultures out there.
  • Showcasing different girls around the world and their own thoughts makes one feel not alone. Though the girls come from different places and live unique lives, there is something relatable about each girl whether it’s how they feel about school, friends, their family and the future.

This is a wonderful collection of stories and thoughts from girls all over the world. It is inspiring and relatable and perfect for young girls to add to their book collection!

📚 ~ Yolanda

Author: Masuma Ahuja

Blog tour, book review, bookish, coming of age, contemporary, E-book, romance, Young Adult

BLOG TOUR | How to Build a Heart by. Maria Padian

Welcome to the blog tour for How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian!

My rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 1/28/21

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Categories: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Family, Friendship, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

  • Izzy is going through a lot as a teenager. She lost her dad, her best friend is in a rough situation at home, her mom is working as hard as she can to make ends meet, she meets a boy and her family has a chance to have their own home through Habitat for Humanity. We see Izzy navigate life, making a mess of things by lying and just trying to cope and find her way.
  • I learned a lot about Habitat for Humanity and how someone earns their own home through reading this book. I always thought the organization was amazing, but I didn’t know about earning hours and such, so that was eye opening.
  • Izzy is bi-racial, half white, half Puerto Rican, but takes after her white father the most. In the story she deals with certain situations like racism within her own family, from her Crawford’s side.
  • Izzy isn’t perfect but I give her credit for trying in the end to sort of make it right.
  • My favorite part of this book is when her cousin Mark comes into the picture because Izzy desperately needs that connection to her father’s side. When Roz, her best friend, reaches out to her cousin for her – it helps her deal with some questions she had about her Crawford’s side. Mark helps her open up and calls her out on running away from her problems and lying. I also love Izzy’s mom who is a good person (she helps protect Roz as best she can), and works so hard for her family.
  • Izzy’s relationship with her best friend Roz was just not okay to me. They were tight in the beginning, best friends, and then Izzy goes for the guy Roz likes and doesn’t even bother mentioning any of it to Roz. Izzy comes off opportunistic to me because she doesn’t even mention running into Sam at all…I’d tell my “best friend”. I know she’s a teenager and she’s making mistakes, but I couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t even just mention it…it really felt like Izzy was throwing Roz away for a new set of friends and life. Roz has her issues though and one of them being she almost physically hurts Izzy in anger. Obviously Roz needs a lot of help because of her the scars of her upbringing and it was awesome to see some people in the end help her out. I think what bothered me was that Izzy was about to just end their friendship and here was Mark and Betts willing to help Roz and they barely knew her.

How to Build a Heart is a journey of a teenage girl trying to find her bi-racial identity, deal with the loss of her father, searching for her place in the community, and also finding family and love. If you like stories that have romance, family and coming of age themes, you will definitely enjoy this one. In the end, we are all as imperfect as Izzy but we try to do the best we can.

💕 ~ Yolanda


MOST ANTICIPATED / BEST OF LISTS:

Children’s Book Council: “Hot Off the Press: February 2020”

Latinos in Publishing: “January 2020 Latinx Releases”

Kirkus Reviews: “11 Early Books We Love”

Kirkus Reviews: “16 Books We Can’t Wait For in 2020”

“A Pretty In Pink story about grief, family, class, and first love.”

Bustle

“This is not a polemic about racism but an exploration of what identity means… The force of Padian’s storytelling, the pain of watching Izzy’s worlds collide, moved me to tears more than once.”

Portland Press Herald

“Padian creates a world that the reader can easily dive into. Anyone who’s ever been a self-conscious teen will see themselves in Izzy.”

Book Riot

“A balance of vivid description and witty, discerning storytelling [gives] a refreshing zeal to Izzy’s first-person narrative… Padian’s How to Build a Heart encourages us to embrace our authentic selves by letting go, not only of secrets, but of the desire to hide parts of ourselves in hopes that others will accept us.”

Cleaver Magazine

“A sensitively rendered story, but also a fun read, brisk and engaging… Padian’s book demonstrates the importance of home as a source of support and identity for teens.”

BookPage

“Complex, heartrending, and beautifully explored, How to Build a Heart is a deeply poignant read that is not only deep enough to move you, but wonderfully engaging and quirky.”

The Young Folks

How to Build A Heart is, at its core, a contemporary romance. But it also strives to be more than that. It’s a story of family, friendship, and the bonds that get us through… The novel is simple, sweet, and bursting with hope.”

The Fandom

“A potent coming-of-age story about the courage often required for pulling together multiple threads of a life to create an authentic self.”

BookBrowse

“Padian’s latest book delivers an enjoyable story about how Izzy eventually finds her place in her ever-changing world… This book effectively captured the chaos that can sometimes come with being a young adult.”

The Daily Free Press (Boston University Student Paper)

“Padian shows again and again that a story is always more complicated and more ordinary than it seems.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Padian masterfully portrays the internal struggles Izzy goes through in her Catholic faith… An absolutely enthralling depiction of family and self-discovery.”

Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“Padian creates a compelling world with relatable characters and deals with serious issues without feeling heavy-handed…An excellent classroom or book discussion starter. Hand this to readers who are ready to tackle these issues with a lighter touch.”

School Library Journal

“Padian takes a familiar theme—a girl hiding her background from others—and makes it fresh with her protagonist, Izzy Crawford… The characters around her are well-defined and support Izzy and the plot well. Throughout the novel, Izzy’s strength, candor, and humanity shine through.”

Booklist

Blog tour, book review, bookish, fantasy, Young Adult

BLOG TOUR } This Golden Flame by. Emily Victoria

Welcome to the blog tour for This Golden Flame by. Emily Victoria!

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: This Golden Flame

Author: Emily Victoria

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 2/2/21

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | Kobo |IndieBound | Powell’s | Bookshop.org

Categories: Fantasy, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Pirates

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.

In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.

Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.

  • World Building ~ I thought this world of Scriptorium and scribes was very creative and fascinating. I also enjoyed the history of the automatons. Runes are used as their magic system in this story and I thought it was interesting how it was used to control the deadly automatons in the past.
  • Characters ~ This story is told between Karis and Alix but Alix really stood out for me more than Karis. Karis has walls, understandably so after being orphaned and separated away from her only family. Alix is also in a tough situation but for someone who should be untrusting of everyone around him, he was willing to help strangers. There was growth for Karis though and that was nice to see. The secondary characters are great, I think they were all varied and added something to the story.
  • Representation ~ I knew Karis was asexual but this is the first time I’ve heard of Aro which stands for aromantic. But I’m learning! So aromantic would be people who experience little to no romantic attraction. According to what the author said in reply to a question on Goodreads, Karis is both Ace and Aro. Yay for learning something new and for more of these representations in books so I can learn. Also there is a m/m relationship.
  • Themes ~ story explored what family and friendship is (biological & chosen) and how far you would go to protect the ones you care about. Another subject that is explored is that of being controlled by others, enslaved by others by use of magic runes. Whoever had Alix’s tome could control him and I felt for him even though he was just an automaton.
  • If you love romance in your story – this may not be for you. I usually NEED romance in a story to enjoy it. This one didn’t have any and I still enjoyed it, so you may want to give it a shot.
  • Karis’ goal in life was to find her brother, but I felt when she found him…he wasn’t as focused on finding her. I was a little bummed about that. I was hoping for this amazing reunion but, Matthias had his own life going on – I know he probably did that to cope with being torn away from Karis but I guess I was hoping for more.

This story starts off with Karis, but in the end Alix’s journey won me over. This is a wonderful story about an unconventional friendship set in a fascinating world of magic runes, a history of automatons and the Scriptorium who wields a lot of power. Oh and there are pirates too…did I mention that?

🧡 ~ Yolanda

About the Author:

Emily Victoria lives on the Canadian prairies with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, works at her public library, and has just finished her Masters of Library and Information Studies.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author website: https://www.avictoriantale.com/

Twitter: @avictoriantale

Instagram: @avictoriantale

book review, Dystopian, romance, Young Adult

The Princess Games | Book Review

My Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Title: The Princess Games (The Princess Trials, #1)

Author: Cordelia K Castel

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 516

Categories: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance

The stakes are higher and the competition more brutal in round two of the Princess Trials. Zea’s relationship with Prince Kevon intensifies, and she must choose between the prince and the rebel who holds her heart. 

When her enemies uncover a secret that drives a rift between Zea and Prince Kevon, she’s not only battling for survival but facing execution. 

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and The Selection, this exciting tale of courage, intrigue, and betrayal will have you turning pages. 

  • We get to see a bit more of Zea and Kevon’s feelings growing for one another and we get confirmation that Ryce is a jerk. Honestly, I’m glad there was some drama between Zea and Kevon because we know something between them…their relationship just needs more chemistry.
  • Glad we got to see what the Ambassador Pascale of the Amstraad Republic wanted from Zea because I was starting to not really care. But they just kept showing up in convenient moments so it was good to finally learn something about their schemes. I also liked the few twists that occurred in the story.
  • I liked it when Zea needed to save her family because finally we see her being a badass for something meaningful.
  • I read this book hoping for more romance or see some chemistry between Zea and Kevon and it’s just mild. With what Zea is going through in this princess trials, you’d think there would be something more explosive between them but it’s fairly sweet.
  • Also…what is the point of these princess trials? Kevon barely has dates with any of the girls. They have all these very trials, a lot of them deadly – but Kevon has no personality. He’s nice and a good guy, but what do we really know about him? I think maybe the story just lacks depth because I feel the same about Zea ~ I want more from her and finally got it when her mom was about to die.
  • I skimmed a few parts because we know they are after Zea, but at some point I just didn’t care. Like why does the Queen hate her so much? Just because she isn’t Noble? Queen Damascena is working so hard to keep Zea there yet she wants to kill her also? It didn’t work for me, it was exhausting.
  • I think it was weak for Ryce to be her crush in book one, we barely see or hear from him, then in this book he’s awful and not what she thought he was – but he’s barely in this one too! 🤦🏻‍♀️

I’m going to read the next book because I’m almost done with the series but so far. Usually I wouldn’t bother reading the next book if I found the previous books problematic, but I want to see what happens with Zea and Kevon. I think there are a lot of good ideas in this series – it just needs focus and so much more chemistry between Zea and Kevon. My favorite part was when Zea showed mettle especially when she was trying to save her family, that’s when I felt like she finally had something to fight for. We shall see if the next book can redeem this series in my eyes. Will we get more out of Zea and Kevon? I hope so.

📚 ~ Yolanda