Review: “Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon” by Mary Fan

Stronger than a Bronze DragonTitle: Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon
Author: Mary Fan
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Imprint: Page Street Kids
Publisher: Macmillan
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC access provided by the publisher through NetGalley as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.

An epic, adventure-filled steampunk fantasy, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is sure to take readers on a hero’s quest full of magic, danger, and action.

When a powerful viceroy arrives with a fleet of mechanical dragons and stops an attack on Anlei’s village, the villagers see him as godssend. They agree to give him their sacred, enchanted River Pearl in exchange for permanent protection – if he’ll marry one of the village girls to solidify the alliance. Anlei is appalled when the viceroy selects her as a bride, but with the fate of her people at stake, she sees no choice but to consent. Anlei’s noble plans are sent into a tailspin, however, when a young thief steals the River Pearl for himself.

Knowing the viceroy won’t protect her village without the jewel, she takes matters into her own hands. But once she catches the thief, she discovers he needs the pearl just as much as she does. The two embark on an epic quest across the land and into the Courts of Hell, taking Anlei on a journey that reveals more is at stake than she could have ever imagined.

I must admit, steampunk is one of the subgenres that I haven’t been exposed to much. So when I saw this book, I took my chance. And boy, it was more than worth it.

From plot to setting to characters, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon was and had everything I wanted in a Fantasy. It threw together a mix of elements I never thought would go so well together – magic, lore, machines – all played in a backdrop inspired by Qing dynasty China. Mary Fan’s careful plotting shone throughout, all the twists and turns making the adventure joyride that was this book even more enjoyable.

But it didn’t start out that way for me.

While they ultimately ended up growing on me, for the first few chapters of the book Anlei and Tai seemed too troupe-y: Anlei playing the strong female character card who can and will kick anyone’s ass and Tai taking on the role of the charming but arrogant love interest. As the story progressed and their backstories were spilled though, I began to understand their motives and their nuances. Yes, Anlei is a tough girl, stubborn and incredibly capable but she’s also a daughter and a member of their small village’s community. She craved glory and adventure the same way her blood called for her to avenge her father’s murder, to protect her family, her village, and her people.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon quote #1

Tai, meanwhile, has a complicated history. Half-yueshen (pure spiritual beings who has free reign over the moon) and half-human, I think he doesn’t really know his place in the world. The yueshen won’t accept him into their realm because he’s half-breed, while his father hid him, foisting his care onto his servants. He likes to think the best of the family left to him and uses laughter and humor as both an armor and mask to hide behind.

It was wonderful watching Anlei and Tai grow close to each other. Even though they started out as begrudging allies (more from Anlei’s side rather than Tai’s,) the two eventually discover that they have more in common than they first thought. Both have noble causes, and the subsequent trials and hardships they faced together only served to peel back more and more layers of their characters. I couldn’t help but like them.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon quote #2

Though this was a mostly solid story, there were still a few details that could have been improved. The villain, Viceroy Kang, comes to mind immediately. As the main antagonist, he was typical – power-hungry and cruel – and unimpressive. It was a shallow rendering of a character that’s supposed to provoke our protagonists into taking action. His motivations were only briefly touched, and it left me with a few unanswered questions: Had he always planned the things he’d done even before he married Tai’s yueshen mother? Is that why he caught her and married her in the first place? I can live with these questions, but they’re just pesky enough to bug me.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon quote #3

The quick pace combined with the number of plot threads Fan tossed into the story could also sometimes be overwhelming. There were just too much happening at one single time, and, admittedly, I had to put the book down a couple of times to catch my breath and gather my thoughts.

Overall, Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon was an exceptional stand-alone that blended together steampunk and fantasy. This was one of the most vividly and creatively imagined stories I’ve read in a while. Though there were a few parts that could have been improved, they were minor and didn’t hinder me from enjoying the book. This one comes with high recommendations from this self-confessed fantasy lover.

about the author

authorMARY FAN is a hopeless dreamer whose mind insists on spinning tales of “what if.” As a music major in college, she told those stories through compositions. Now, she tells them through books – a habit she began as soon as she could pick up a pencil.

Mary lives in New Jersey and has a B.A. from Princeton University. When she’s not scheming to create new worlds, she enjoys kickboxing, opera singing, and blogging about everything having to do with books.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr

Giveaway

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Win a copy of Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan (US only.) Giveaway ends June 25.

Follow the Tour

JUNE 11TH

JUNE 12TH

NovelKnight – Interview
The Reading Corner for All – Review +  Favourite Quotes
Crowing About Books – Review +  Favourite Quotes
Caitlin Althea – Review

JUNE 13TH

Uwadis – Character Interview
Lost in Storyland – Review

JUNE 14TH

The Layaway Dragon – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Inked In Book Blog – Review + Favourite Quotes

JUNE 15TH

The Bibliophile District – Guest Post
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Favourite Quotes

JUNE 16TH

Kait Plus Books – Interview
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Port Jericho – Review

JUNE 17TH

Twilight Reader – Top 10
Utopia State of Mind – Guest Post
Betwixt the Pages – Review

 

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Review: “In the Neighborhood of True” by Susan Kaplan Carlton

In the Neighborhood of TrueTitle: In the Neighborhood of True
Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton
Publisher: Algoquin Young Readers
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion. Thank you goes out to Algonquin Young Readers for inviting me to be part of the In the Neighborhood of True blog tour.

 

Thought-provoking and relevant, Susan Kaplan Carlton tells the story of one girl caught between two worlds in her newest release In the Neighborhood of True.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York to Atlanta – the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple, Ruth meets Max , who is serious and intense about the fight for socia justice, and now he is caught in between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

61 years – that is the amount of time in between 2019 and 1958. But even with six decades separating then and now the events of 1958 still resonate, ripple down our today.

I don’t know what that says about us as human beings, about our ineptitude and willful ignorance, repeating all our past mistakes over and over again.

Loosely inspired by the October 1958 bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation, Atlanta’s oldest synagogue, Susan Kaplan Carlton tackles racism, discrimination and identity in In the Neighborhood of True.

The story follows 16-year old Ruth Robb, who moves to Atlanta from New York after her father’s untimely death. Ruth quickly acculturates to her new home, embracing tea and etiquette lessons, pre-debutante balls and accepting inclusion into the “pastel posse” – a group of popular girls all from well-pedigreed, all-white, all-Christian families. Knowing that she wouldn’t be welcomed otherwise, Ruth hides her religion, her Sundays at the temple with her mother and younger sister in exchange for her new life, and for a while this works for her. But a violent hate crime smash together the two halves of her life and forces Ruth to choose between what she wants and what she believes is right.

In the Neighborhood of True (Susan Kaplan Carlton) Quote

In the Neighborhood of True was such as simple story of a young girl coming of age in a period of great change. This simplicity and uncomplicatedness, however, only made this book standout, giving me a snapshot of history and highlighting the message it wants to impart. Racism and discrimination are still topics very relevant to our lives in this day and age. These are topics, hurtful as they may, that we need to talk about.

Ruth, the focus of much of this story, was a well-developed character. Being once a teen myself, I understood her position and why she chose to hide part of herself to fit in with her new friends. She was a young girl still dealing with the pain and grief of losing her beloved father. I think she found comfort (and maybe some distraction) in being part of something that was so different from her old life in New York – a life where she had a living father and a complete family. Atlanta and its pre-debutante/debutante balls must have felt like a fresh start for her. In Ruth I saw bits of my younger sisters, and I felt for her, wanted her to be happy even as I cringe and roll me eyes at all the frippery she seem to genuinely love.

Ruth was believable – like a real-life teenage girl with flaws, someone who still have a lot of learning and growing up to do, and she lends the story a great amount of realism. The thing I appreciated the most, though, in the way Susan Kaplan Carlton wrote her was how she didn’t make out Ruth as a white savior. Instead, she had her called out several times like in that part when she told the pastel posse about Birdie’s, her grandparents’ black maid, daughters being in college the housekeeper took her aside and told her to not use her children to impress her friends.

In the Neighborhood of True (Susan Kaplan Carlton Quote 2

Susan Kaplan Carlton’s writing was, like the story she wanted to tell, simple, straightforward and on point. No fripperies for her at all, as opposed to her main character, and it made her story flow easily.

Still, there were a couple things that could have been done better. The secondary characters come to mind immediately. With the exception of Alice, Ruth’s mother, and Nattie, her younger sister, Carlton’s supporting cast felt one dimensional. They were there to play parts in relation to Ruth. I couldn’t imagine what their lives are, what they do when they are not with Ruth – and these are all signs that they aren’t as fleshed out as they could have been.

In the Neighborhood of True (Susan Kaplan Carlton) Quote 3

The blurb was also a bit misleading. Going in, I anticipated some sort of love triangle between Davis, Max and Ruth. Sure, there was a Davis and Ruth pairing and something with Max was alluded to, but other than that? Nil.

Overall, In the Neighborhood of True was a thoughtful read. I enjoyed it a whole lot, its flaws aside, and honestly feel like this should be a book that should be read by everyone. YA historical fiction fans, as well as YA contemporary lovers certainly will find something for themselves in this book.

Check out the link below to read the first chapter of In the Neighborhood of True.

In the Neighborhood of True – Chapter 1 | Susan Kaplan Carlton

Author Q&A (2)

Susan Carlton Credit Sharona Jacobs_HR

SUSAN KAPLAN CARLTON currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of the YA novels Love & Haight and Lobsterland Her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer point of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

Review + Author Q&A: “In Another Life” by C.C. Hunter

In Another Life_COVER.jpgTitle: In Another Life
Author: C.C. Hunter
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
TW: Depression, mentions of suicide, child abuse, bullying, cheating, slut shaming
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion. Thank you goes out to Wednesday Books for inviting me to be part of the In Another Life blog tour.

 

What would you do if you found out that your life was based on a lie? This is the question C.C. Hunter asks as she tackles identity and family in in her newest title In Another Life.

Chloe was three years when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life id gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood starts haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out. Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?

It’s been a while since the last time I read a YA suspense so I was pretty excited to start on this book. With an intriguing blurb, In Another Life was a promising read and I jumped in expecting a thriller of a ride.

And I got that, but I could have done with more.

Marketed as a suspense thriller, In Another Life offered an interesting though formulaic puzzle. You’ll easily be able to put two and two together and figure out the mystery early on if you’ve read your own share of the genre before. I think it only took me about 20% of the book to suss out the whole plot of this story.

Predictability aside, I still enjoyed this book. In Another Life compensated in other areas. I like how it showed the mess and hurt a divorce brings a family, and the questions about identity it posed. It also didn’t hurt that both Chloe and Cash were so easy to root for. They are kindred spirits, both with their own baggage and, as Chloe puts it, “holes in their hearts.” Their romance, though it moved fast at whiplash speed at first, eventually grew on me.

Overall, In Another Life was a satisfying fast-paced read. I found the story engaging and enjoyable despite its flaws. However, I think this one would appeal more to YA contemporary readers rather than its intended audience.

Author Q&A (1)

I was lucky to have a chance to ask C.C. Hunter about her new book In Another Life. Read on to find out what inspired the story and how exactly a green-eyed mystery guy fit into Chloe’s search for identity.

What’s the story behind In Another Life? Where did you take inspiration from to write Chloe’s story?

The story of being adopted is one that I was intrigued with when I was young. I am, and have always been, different from my family. Not so much in appearance, but in interests and outlook. My two brothers and parents are people who like to work with their hands, who seldom slow down. They play sports, do crafts, and build houses. Me, I’m a thinker. Being dyslexic, I wasn’t a reader growing up, but I was writing books in my head by the time I was eleven.  Because of those differences in myself and my family, several of my stories included discovering that I was adopted. Every book I write has a little of the theme, Who am I? or Who am I now?  I love identity crisis books.  Also, my parents went through a bitter divorce when I was sixteen.  That pain Chloe felt was part of my teenage years.

How do you think the relationship between Cash and Chloe affect her search for the truth about her origins?

I like this question.  I think the relationship affects the search in many ways.  1.  There are times that falling in love became so consuming that I think the search became less consuming.  I wanted to show how great falling in love feels and how the wonderment of it can help soothe the bad things that come our way.  2. While their relationship brought them close. I wanted to showcase their different past experiences and how it affected how they each thought the search should proceed.  Cash felt more loyalty to the Fullers, and naturally, Chloe felt more toward the mom and dad who raised her.  3. I also wanted show that while the bond Chloe and Cash formed was solid, it was tested because of their different backgrounds.  Cash was willing to steal the information from the adoption agency, Chloe wanted no part of it.

I ask each author I interview to do this (so I hope you don’t find it weird) but can you summarize In Another Life using 3-5 emojis?

I would say the emojis would be, chew on your lip suspenseful, love, and either happiness or family.

Image result for emoji chewing on lip     Image result for valentine's day emojis free    happy

Author Q&A (2)

CC Hunter_Author Photo

C.C. HUNTER is a pseudonym for award-winning romance author Christie Craig. She lives in Tomball, Texas where she’s at work on her next novel.

Christie’s books include The Mortician’s Daughter series, Shadow Fall novels and This Heart of Mine.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Book Spotlight: “Sky Without Stars” by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

Today is my tour stop for the FFBC Sky Without Stars blog tour, and I’m so excited to be featuring some really cool stuff for it.

Sky Without Stars (Jessica Brody  & Joanne Rendell)
Title: Sky Without Stars
Series: System Divine #1
Authors: Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | KoboKobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

A thief. An officer. A guardian.

Three strangers, one shared destiny…

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun – a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer – and the on of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Aloutte.

Aloutte is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Aloutte to the surface for the first time in twelve years and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution – and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.

Sky Without Stars releases tomorrow and, if you love Les Misérables with a bit of a space opera spin to it, then you’ll love this. Today is actually the last day to pre-order your copy and enter to get some awesome book swag – an autographed bookplate, Sky Without Stars bookmark and postcard. Plus if you order from one of the indie bookstores listed here you’ll get a LIMITED EDITION full-color poster map of Laterre that won’t be available anywhere else.

Pre-order Swag | Sky Without Stars

Another plus, all pre-orders are guaranteed to get one of two secret covers that will only be available on the book’s first printing.

pre_order_sky_hidden_covers

And to get you even more excited (and ready) for tomorrow’s release, here’s an excerpt from Sky Without Stars. This one is from Chatine’s POV, our feisty and crafty thief whose destiny will change Laterre.

Excerpt | Sky Without Stars (Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell)

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About the Authors:

Jessica Brody

JESSICA BRODY is the author of more than 15 books for teens, tweens, and adult including Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up, A Week of Mondays, Boys of Summer, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and the three books in the sci-fi Unremembered trilogy. She’s also the author of the Descendants: School of Secrets series, based on the hit Disney Channel original movie, Descendants. Her books have been translated and published in over 23 countries and Unremembered and 52 Reasons to Hate My Father are currently in development as major motion pictures. She lives with her husband and four dogs, and splits her time between California and Colorado.

Website  | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Joanne RendellJOANNE RENDELL is the author of three novels and holds a PhD in English literature. She teaches fiction writing to teens and kids, and is a board member for the youth Shakespeare company, New Genesis Productions. With her husband and son, Joanne divides her time between New York City, and New Paltz, New York.

Website | Twitter | Instagram

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GIVEAWAY!

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Win a copy of Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell. US only. Giveaway ends April 2.

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March 20th

The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club – Interview with Joanne Rendell

 

March 21st

NovelKnight – Guest Post
Andi’s ABCs – Book Spotlight
L.M. Durand – Review
Book Beach Bunny – Review + Dream Cast
That Artsy Reader Girl – Interview with Jessica Brody

March 22nd

BookCrushin – Guest Post
Hauntedbybooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
Dazzled by Books – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Mind of a Book Dragon – Review + Playlist

March 23rd

Wishful Endings – Interview
Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes

March 24th

Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

March 25th

Camillea Reads – Review + Favourite Quotes

March 26th

Book Slaying – Interview
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes

Review: “The Fever King” by Victoria Lee

39897058Title: The Fever King
Series: Feverwake #1
Author: Victoria Lee
Publisher: Skyscape
Publication Date: March 1, 2019
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐⭐
TW: Drug & alcohol abuse, violence, torture, genocide, mental health, parental death, death of child death
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

 

 

Debut author Victoria Lee mixes science fiction and fantasy to create an intriguing new world in her series opener The Fever King.

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

The Fever King is one of my most anticipated releases of this year. I’ve read a lot of good things about it from other bloggers who had the chance to read it in advance, and it made me just want to get my grabby, impatient hands on it. Needless to say, I pre-ordered my copy early (because I am weak!)

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This book deserved all the buzz it got!

I started reading it immediately soon as I got it on my Kindle and finished it almost in one sitting. Fast-paced and gripping, the story pulled me in and plunged me into this intriguing post apocalyptic world where magic runs rampant. I loved everything about this story – characters, plot, the topics it tackled without reservation, the diversity contained within its pages. The Fever King is easily one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

Noam as a main character was so easy to love. He had a rough life, the son of undocumented immigrants fleeing magic-infested Atlantia, Carolinia’s neighboring country. After his mother’s death, Noam had to take care of his father who, in his grief, falls deep into depression.

But even his father is taken from him when viral magic hits his neighborhood killing everyone except Noam.

Noam is a complex character. Fierce and good-intentioned, though a little misguided and naive. His story reflects that of many migrants especially in the US. Being part of both worlds, I think he felt guilty, unnecessary but nevertheless there, and it drove him to strive to change things for the Atlantia refugees crossing lines and doing things he never thought he would do in the process. 

TFK 1.png

It was a ride reading and tracking his journey knowing that some of the people he has surrounded himself with have hidden agendas. You don’t know how many times I wanted to reach out into the book, grab Noam by his shoulders and shake some sense into him. Frustrating as it was for me as reader, I think Noam’s naivety and moral grayness made him more believable and realistic – more human – and it’s what endeared him more to me.

The Fever King tackles some pretty heavy stuff. Immigration and intergenerational trauma are just two of the most prevalent ones. Victoria Lee pulls no punches and weaves these topics into her narrative. But if you’re worried it will be too message-y, then fret not because it isn’t at all. This partly owes it to Lee’s seamless work, but mostly it’s because, I think, she really meant for this book to have half of its foundations built on politics. It’s one of the things I appreciate the most about this story.

TFK 3.png

As if it I need more reasons to love this book, The Fever King also features a diverse cast of characters. Noam is bisexual and Jewish. His father, while not directly stated in the book (I think, so correct me if I’m wrong) is Columbian. He converts into Judaism when he married Noam’s mother.

Dara, beautiful and mysterious Dara who had me trying to puzzle him out until the very end of this installment, is so unashamedly gay. He and Noam have this instant connection, tense at first then developing into something genuine towards the end.

TFK 2.png

Like Noam, Dara has been through some tough times. Some of it were alluded to in the book, but I could do with more. And maybe we’ll get that in the next book, but in this one I feel like I only half know him. The same goes for Calix Lehrer, the antagonist and Noam’s and Dara’s mentor.

Overall, The Fever King is an awesome book and a great series opener. Taking elements from both genres, it creates an intriguing balance between sci-fi and fantasy. I am totally in for this series and excited for the next book already. Let’s just hope my brain stops thinking about what might happen to Dara and how Noam’s going to play Lehrer’s game. I absolutely recommend this if you’re into sci-fi and fantasy with a generous peppering of political intrigue and manipulation.

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About the Author:

Victoria LeeVICTORIA LEE grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey.

Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in PA with her partner.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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GIVEAWAY!

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Win a copy of The Fever King by Victoria Lee. US only. Giveaway ends February 31.

Good luck!

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March 18th

March 19th

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Morgan Vega – Review + Favourite Quotes
Novelishly – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Layaway Dragon – Review

March 20th

Utopia State of Mind – Guest Post
Phannie the ginger bookworm – Review + Favourite Quotes
Pages Below the Vaulted Sky – Review + Favourite Quotes
A Dream Within A Dream – Promotional Post

March 21st

Living a Hundred Lives – Review + Mood Board
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes < === Hey, you’re here!  🙂
The Book Bratz – Review + Favourite Quotes

March 22nd

Magical Reads – Review + Favourite Quotes
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

March 23rd

SepiaReads – Review

March 24th

The Bibliophagist – Interview
Pages and Pugs – Review
Bookish_Kali – Review
Rebecca’s Reviews – Review + Favourite Quotes

 

Review: “You Asked for Perfect”‘ by Laura Silverman

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Title: You Asked for Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
TW: Anxiety, recreational drug use
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion.

 

Utterly realistic and relatable, Laura Silverman tackles the pressures and difficulties teens face in their academic lives in her sophomore title You Asked for Perfect.

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.

It’s been a handful of years now since I finished high school. I wasn’t an exceptional student, but I still remember most of it – the struggle to fit in, competing with your classmates, balancing acads with extra curriculars, the pressure of maintaining high grades and a high weighted average to get into a good university. High school was tough and I was only happy, probably too happy, when I finally walked off with my diploma.

I guess, that’s what I was expecting from You Asked for Perfect when I started reading it:  tackle high school life – the good, the bad and everything in between. And that was exactly what I got! A very likable set of diverse characters, an adorable M/M romance and a whole load of Harry Potter references, there’s just so much to love in this book.

Where was this book when I was in high school myself? 

You Asked for Perfect was a refreshing yet still realistic take on academic anxiety and how the demand and struggle for perfection negatively affects young people. Laura Silverman explored this topic with much care and sensitivity while keeping the story fun and quirky.

Ariel was such a relatable character. Anyone, doesn’t matter how young or not young, will surely see a little of themselves in him (as well as the rest of the characters.) Ariel was smart, talented and funny; self-conscious and highly critical of himself. Reading his story took me back to the past and brought forth into memory a younger version of myself and of coffee-fueled late nights studying for an exam, cramming my head with information.

That I reminisced about high school, a part of my academic life that I’d much rather forget, was a testament to how well and effective Silverman crafted her characters. She brought to life colorful characters, characters that you can imagine living their own stories separate from Ariel’s. Rasha, Malka, Sook, Amir and (my namesake) Rachel – I was invested in what will happen to them and how well they will fare. It was just so much easier to care about a character when you feel like you know them, and that can only happen if they were fully fleshed out.

The romance part of this book was also another thing I loved. Ariel and Amir were ultra cute! These two totally had me shipping them from the very first time they appeared on the same page. And it was so adorable, how they got together! But while Amir plays an important part in Ariel’s life, their relationship played out on the sidelines – a critical subplot there to support the main story – and I appreciate that Silverman remained true to the focus of her story.

There’s much, much more to love about You Asked for Perfect. Diversity and representation, for one, with all the mains and secondary characters coming from different cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations (Ariel, Amir, Rasha, Malka and Isaac are all Jewish, Pari is Muslim, and Sook is Korean. Ariel is bisexual, Amir gay and Sook, a lesbian)  and I’m a 100% down for it. I also love all of the parts involving the parents in this book. Supportive and still very human, very flawed parents – it’s something that I wouldn’t mind reading more in the future.

Overall, You Asked for Perfect is an honest and lighthearted YA contemporary. With a diverse cast of characters, adorable romance and a plot most would be able to relate to, this book is an awesome read. I definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone, but most especially to contemporary lovers. You’ll fall in love with this book!

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Here’s a bonus playlist for y’all, inspired by Ariel and his great musical taste + a few songs that, I think, fits Amir and Ariel!

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About the Author:

Laura SilvermanLAURA SILVERMAN is an author and editor and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, and It’s a Whole Spiel. Girl Out of Water was a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

 

 

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GIVEAWAY!

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Win a copy of You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman. Open INTERNATIONALLY as long as Book Depository ships to your country. Giveaway ends February 24.

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FEBRUARY 11th

FEBRUARY 12th

The Book Raven – Review + Playlist

FEBRUARY 13th

Young Adult Media Consumer – Review + Favourite Quotes
Milky Way of Books – Review
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FEBRUARY 14th

Vicarious Bookworm – Review + Playlist
Novel Ink – Review

FEBRUARY 15th

Literary Meanderings – Interview
Metamorphoreader – Review + Playlist
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Reading With Wrin – Review

FEBRUARY 16th

The YA Obsessed – Review
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Akithroughbooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
In Between Book Pages – Review + Playlist    < == You’re here! 😀 

FEBRUARY 17th

Vicky Who Reads – Review
A Bookish Dream  – Review

 

Review: “The Warrior Maiden” by Melanie Dickerson

The Warrior Maiden - Melanie DickersonTitle: The Warrior Maiden
Series: Hagenheim #9
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves

ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest opinion.

 

Romantic and peppered with meticulous historical period details, Melanie Dickerson re-creates Mulan’s story and gives it her own personal touch in her newest addition to her Hagenheim series The Warrior Maiden.

Mulan is trying to resign herself to marrying the village butcher for the good of her family, but her adventurous spirit just can’t stand the thought. At the last minute, she pretends to be the son her father never had, assumes his duties as a soldier, and rides off to join the fight to protect the castle of her liege lord’s ally from the besieging Teutonic Knights.

Wolfgang and his brother Steffan leave Hagenheim with several other soldiers to help their father’s ally in Poland. When they arrive, Wolfgang is exasperated by the young soldier Mikolai who seems to either always be one step away from disaster . . . or showing Wolfgang up in embarrassing ways.

When Wolfgang discovers his former rival and reluctant friend Mikolai is actually a girl, he is determined to protect her. But battle is a dangerous place where anything can happen—and usually does.

When Mulan receives word that her mother has been accused of practicing witchcraft through her healing herbs and skills, Mulan’s only thought is of defending her. Will she be able to trust Wolfgang to help? Or will sacrificing her own life be the only way to save her mother?

As a kid, I grew up on Disney. I’ve seen them all – Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King – you name it, I probably have watched it (even the older ones like Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White and The Seven Dwarves because my parents were desperate to keep me and my younger sister occupied while they work.)

For some reason though, Mulan have always stood out for me.

Maybe it’s because of the song Reflection, which was sung by Lea Salonga in the movie. Or maybe it was how much Mulan values her family. Or that, among all the Disney movies, it was the only one about an Asian girl, something that even as a 10-year old I was able to identify. So when I saw The Warrior Maiden I happily requested for a review copy, excited for this new Mulan re-telling and how the author will spin it.

And an interesting re-telling it was.

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The Warrior Maiden was a intriguing re-creation of Mulan’s story. With Melanie Dickerson’s attention to detail and unique personal touch, it was joy to read this book. I particular loved how the author was able to line this book’s story for it to be included in her long-running Hagenheim series. It was definitely creative, certainly a surprise for me.

At first, it was hard to get to know both of the main characters. The third person perspective sort of acted like a wall separating me, the reader from the characters. I felt like an outsider looking in and watching these two characters move about in this world the author created. It was like reading with a veil wherein everything was a little gauzy and hazy, and I had to work a bit more to understand the intricacies of the characters, their time and their world.

They eventually grew on me, though.

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Both Mulan and Wolfgang were both determined characters with a clear goal in their heads. I didn’t identify with them much, but I understood where they were coming from. Mulan wants to keep her mother safe, wants to ensure that she keeps her home. She disguises herself as a man and takes her dead father’s place as a soldier of his liege lord to do this. Wolfgang, meanwhile, feels guilty for the death of a young shepherd – a death that occurred when he was a boy himself. All his life he has done everything in his power to atone for this mistake doing his best to be a good son, brother and soldier.

I enjoyed the romance between Mulan and Wolfgang – how it started with begrudging respect and transformed into a sincere one, eventually becoming more until it turned into love. It beautiful watching their relationship change bit by bit.

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While I enjoyed most of The Warrior Maiden, there were still some parts of it that I thought could have been improved. I found Mulan’s placement – that is, with her being in Lithuania – a bit awkward, though it was explained midway through the story how that came about. Something just felt off for me and I couldn’t shake the feeling even after finishing the story. I also found this story’s version of Mulan to be a bit watered down. One moment she would all be independent-like, the next moment she’s again helpless and letting Wolfgang do the rescuing. I don’t think she really grew into her own power in the end, not fully at least.

That said, The Warrior Maiden was a satisfying read. I actually picked this story not knowing that it’s already the 9th book of its series. It stood out well for me, and while I will be now be seeking out the rest of Dickerson’s Hagenheim series after having my interest piqued by this book, The Warrior Maiden could be read on its own. Readers who love re-tellings and fairytales will surely love this one.

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About the Author:

Melanie DickersonMELANIE DICKERSON is a New York Times bestselling author, a two-time Christy Award finalist, two-time Maggie Award winner, Carol Award winner, two-time winner of the Christian Retailing’s Best award, and her book, The Healer’s Apprentice, won the National Readers Choice Award for Best First Book. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Melanie earned a bachelors degree in special education of the hearing impaired from the University of Alabama and has worked as a teacher in Georgia, Tennessee, and Ukraine. She lives with her husband and two children in Huntsville, Alabama.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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January 30th

January 31stL

A Backwards Story – Review
Book Briefs – Review

February 1st

Nay’s Pink Bookshelf – Review + Favourite Quotes
Mythical Books – Review
Susan Heim on Writing – Promotional Post

February 2nd

Curiouser & Curiouser – Interview
Life at 17 – Review + Favourite Quotes
The Reading Corner for All – Review + Dream Cast + Playlist
808bookdr – Review + Favourite Quotes

February 3rd

The Book Raven – Review + Dream Cast + Favourite Quotes
Heidi Reads… – Review
Savings in Seconds – Review + Favourite Quotes
Confessions of a YA Reader – Promotional Post

February 4th

Fyrekatz Blog – Review
Hauntedbybook – Review + Favourite Quotes
100 Pages A Day – Review

February 5th

Oh Hey! Books. – Guest Post
In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
the Bibliophagist – Review + Favourite Quotes
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GIVEAWAY!!!

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Win one (1) physical copy of THE WARRIOR MAIDEN by Melanie Dickerson (US ONLY) or e-copy of the book (open INTERNATIONAL). Just click the Rafflecopter link. Giveaway ends

Pre-order Blitz: “Hotshot Doc” by R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is one of my favorite romantic comedy author. I’ve read most of her books and loved them. They’re all fluffy, light, funny and romantic. What’s not to like?!? But I’m pretty much more hyped up for her next release (being in the medical field and all.)

As expected, Hotshot Doc lives up to R.S. Grey’s brand. I would have finished it in one sitting if it weren’t for work. The whole enemies to lovers troupe won me over (again!) I loved Bailey and Matthew, and I will surely gush about them in my review (to come on release day.

This one is coming out real soon! R.S. Grey’s next romantic comedy, HOTSHOT DOC, releases December 6th – but you can preorder it now for .99c! Check out the cover and find out more about HOTSHOT DOC below!

About HOTSHOT DOC (available December 6th)

Dr. Russell has a bad reputation around our hospital. The scrub techs say he’s cold-blooded, the nurses say he’s too cocky for his own good, and the residents say he’s the best surgeon in the world—really, just a swell guy!—on the off chance he’s within earshot.

I try to avoid him and his temper at all costs. It’s just as easy to admire his sexy, grip-it-while-he’s-ravishing-you hair and chiseled jaw from a healthy distance, preferably from the other end of the hallway…half-hidden behind a plant.

Unfortunately, my plan crumbles when my trusty ol’ boss decides to swap his white coat for a Hawaiian shirt. His retirement leaves me with two terrible options: switch specialties and spend months retraining, or take an open position as Dr. Russell’s surgical assistant.

That means I have to stand near him in the OR for hours on end and anticipate his every need without letting his biting words and bad attitude intimidate me. Oh, and as if that’s not difficult enough, my silly crush on him—the one I’ve tried to stomp on until it disappears—might just be reciprocated.

It’s fine.

I’m fine.

I take my job seriously. There will be no smoldering bedroom eyes across the operating table, no angry almost-kisses in the storage closet. (Well, no more of those.)

What’s the phrase? An apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Maybe I should go for a whole damn bushel.

Add HOTSHOT DOC to your Goodreads list here!

HOTSHOT DOC releases December 6thpreorder your copy now for .99c!

 

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About R.S. Grey

R.S. Grey is the USA Today bestselling author of thirteen novels, including THE FOXE & THE HOUND. She lives in Texas with her husband and two dogs, and can be found reading, binge-watching reality TV, or practicing yoga! Visit her at rsgrey.com

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