Review: “The Never Tilting World” by Rin Chupeco

The Never Tilting World
Title: The Never Tilting World
Series: Never Tilting World #1
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39863498-the-gilded-wolves
ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Two young goddesses try to right a world gone wrong in Rin Chupeco’s newest fantasy duology The Never Tilting World.

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth – a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wrecked sea – her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses – along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and mouthy desert scavenger – set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

“A demoness is what men call a goddess they cannot control.”

A strong opening for a strong story, The Never Tilting World blew me away. From the amazing world-building down to all the carefully laid out plot twists, this book had everything I wanted and more. It entertained and made me think: about sisters and that invisible thread connecting them, about power and sacrifice, and of the broken world handed down to us and what we could do to heal it.

Rin Chupeco’s writing really shone through in this book.

With details so vividly described they’re almost tangible, this story’s world-building is just something else. The idea of a world that has stopped spinning, split in two by a great unknowable abyss was a fresh one to me. The two halves – one veiled in the darkness of a never-ending night frozen and battered by tempestuous storms, the other languishing under the heat of a set that never sets – and the element-based magic system reminded me a bit of The Avatar: The Last Airbender and Mad Max.

Having multiple point-of-view characters can be a tough thing to work with. Sometimes it works, others it doesn’t. For TNTW though, it’s the latter. In fact, I think, it’s the best way to tell this particular story.

The two halves of the split world setting of this world is a huge ground to cover. Each side’s widely (and wildly) differing natures create an equally diverse set of challenges for everyone in this book. Chupeco, however, used her characters effectively and maximized the use of the first-person narrative. The four POV characters – Odessa and Lan, Haidee and Arjun – give readers a complete and comprehensive view of the story’s world all while moving the plot.

I must admit, for the first 20% of the book I felt kind of overwhelmed. There were a lot of foundational parts of the world-building thrown in with the narrative in the opening part and it was a sensory overload. Processing and separating the plot while trying to get a feel of what the world looked like and how it functioned became a task. Once things start gelling together though, everything just flowed and those bits laid out at the beginning of the book made a whole lot of sense. Plot twists (especially that ONE involving a supporting character) were deftly foreshadowed without sinking down the surprise factor. This is actually one of the first books I’ve read in a while that I wasn’t able to predict how things will go, and I was all the better for it.

The main characters were a treat to read about. They all have distinct voices and unique personalities, making them easy to tell apart. I enjoyed reading about them – Arjun more than most because he’s just hilarious even when he’s not trying. But, as fun as following their journeys through their world and, in turn, watching them grow as characters, I wasn’t able to really personally connect with any of them. This is not something necessarily bad, it’s just a matter of different experiences. Nevertheless, this difference did not stop me from rooting for all four MCs to succeed (or stay alive and unharmed.)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It’s an epic adventure featuring young characters who are willing to take on the challenge of righting the wrongs of those who came before them – to break the cycle. It tackles climate change in all its harshness and destruction, but it still carries with it a hopeful note.

The Never Tilting World is a great start to a new series. It tied off a handful of the plot threads it pulled in but left enough to give the sequel a comfortable starting point. I definitely have a number of questions I want to be answered (What exactly did Asteria and Latona do?) and you can be sure that the moment the next installment hits the shelves, I will be making a grab for it. This is a must-read!

about the author

Rin Chupeco

Raised in Manila, Philippines, RIN CHUPECO writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds. She is the author of The Bone Witch series, The Suffering, and The Girl from the Well.

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Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “A Constellation of Roses” by Miranda Asebedo

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Last year I read Miranda Asebedo’s debut The Deepest Roots. I’m not usually into magical realism, but that book was just so beautifully written and its characters were all just so good.

And now she has a new book coming out that’s somehow set in the same universe as TDR.

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Title: A Constellation of Roses
Author: Miranda Asebedo
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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

Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it out on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with ehr long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life…or keep running from the one she’s always known.

I am super excited for A Constellation of Roses and have it to read next after I finish Shannon Price’s A Thousand Fires. I’m already wondering if there’ll be cameo appearances by any of the TDR cast, but if there aren’t any, going back to the same world will be just as good for me.

A Constellation of Roses comes out November 5 (just a day after my birthday!!!) The author, Miranda Asebedo, is still running a pre-order campaign that’s open to those who live outside the US. If you want to get an exclusive art print featuring the characters of ACoR, check out this link.

about the authorMiranda Asebedo

MIRANDA ASEBEDO was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal.

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up the family muscle car and hit the road.

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Review: “The Athena Protocol” by Shamim Sarif

The Athena ProtocolTitle: The Athena Protocol
Author: Shamim Sarif
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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

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

Shamim Sarif serves up fast-paced, action-packed spy thriller in her YA debut The Athena Protocol.

Jessie Archer is a member of the Athena Protocol, an elite organization of female spies who enact vigilante justice around the world.

Athena operatives are never supposed to shoot to kill – so when Jessie can’t stop herself from pulling the trigger, she gets kicked out of the organization, right before a huge mission to take down a human trafficker in Belgrade.

Jessie needs to right her wrong and prove herself, so she starts her own investigation into the trafficking. But going rogue means she has no one to watch her back as she delves into the horrors she uncovers. Meanwhile, her former teammates have been ordered to bring her down. Jessie must face danger from all ides if she’s to complete her mission – and survive.

This was one of my most anticipated books this year. A spy thriller featuring female spies? You got my attention. Someone from the team turns rogue and the other members are ordered to bring her down? SIGN ME UP!

The Athena Protocol was an enjoyable read. Thrilling, fast-paced, so full of heart-pumping action and delicious plot twists. I gobbled up all the spy part – the cool gadgets, Jessie’s amazing ways with a computer and the net, all the spying and sneaking around and bringing down the bad guys.

But more than all the kickass stuff, this book is about female bonds: the strength of it, the depth of it.

The Athena Protocol #3

The bond between the three female spies – Hala, Caitlin, and Jessie – was easily my most favorite part of this book. They weren’t perfect: they fight and argue and have differing opinions and ways of doing things. Coming from different backgrounds and factoring in their unique personalities, it’s something that couldn’t be helped. Caitlin acted as the lever, balancing and tempering her teammates, oftentimes running as a mediator and acting as team leader when they are out in the field.  Hala was closed-off and guarded, controlled and distrustful, cold even. She’s had it toughest among the three and her beginnings are a big part of who she is and how she processes things.

Then there’s Jessie.

Jessie is a compelling protagonist. Fiery, headstrong, and soldier-like in efficiency, she is a competent agent with a deep sense of justice. Her impulsiveness, however, led her to break rules and cross lines, her decisions blowing right back in her face and putting her at odds with her teammates and superiors.

I admit I didn’t like Jessie – her impulsivity and her immaturity both are strikes against her in my book – but it does not take away what a good character she is. She’s an effective story mover. She advanced scene after scene and, with her unpredictability, kept everything exciting while doing so. However, for all her talk of wanting to do better, Jessie’s character growth was minimal at best. She kept on committing the same mistakes throughout the book, never learning from them, and it stagnated her progress.

The Athena Protocol quote #2

This book took a while before it hooked its claws on me. Especially considering that this was told from a first-person POV, an almost infallible way to draw my full attention in, it moved like molasses. The narration felt more like a rundown of what a character, blurring the details – the feel and movement of the scene playing in the MC’s background – that add texture to the story. This lasts until the halfway mark where things, thankfully, start to finally pick up.

The F/F relationship between Jessie and Paulina, the daughter of the story’s villain, added an extra kick to this story. The pair’s dynamics kind of reminded me of Killing Eve’s Eve Polastri and Villanelle, only they’re a lighter version. The twist involving these two right about the last 50 or so pages of the book was something I did not see coming and truly surprises me in a very good way.

The Athena Protocol quote #1

Overall, The Athena Protocol stayed true to what it advertised itself to be – a compulsive YA thriller that’ll have its readers biting their nails. The bond its characters had is this book’s greatest strength. However, the slow start and the lack of character growth took its toll on me and impacted my reading enjoyment. Still, even if I didn’t love this book as much as I thought I would, I think it will find its audience in YA thriller fans especially those who crave spy stories.

about the author

Shamim SarifSHAMIM SARIF is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and director born in the UK.

Her debut novel, The World Unseen was inspired by her family’s South African Indian heritage. The book won a Betty Trask award and the Pendleton May First Novel award.

Shamim has adapted and directed the films of all three of her novels including, most recently, Despite the Falling Snow. The book was published by Headline in the UK and St. Martin’s Press in the US. The movie stars Rebecca Ferguson and Charles Dance in a story of love and betrayal in cold war Russia. Her films have won 47 awards internationally.

An accomplished speaker, Shamim has spoken at TED events worldwide, at the INK Conference in India and DLD in Munich. Corporate speaking events have included Deloitte, Goldman Sacs, Citibank, and Disney.

Shamim lives in London with her wife, Hanan, and their two sons.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

Giveaway

Win a copy of “The Athena Protocol” by Shamim Sarif (US only)

Giveaway ends October 16th.

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October 2nd

October 3rd

Kait Plus Books – Guest Post
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October 4th

Phannie the ginger bookworm – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Confessions of a YA Reader – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Cafeyre – Review + Favourite Quotes
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In Between Book Pages – Review + Favourite Quotes
The YA Obsessed – Review

 

Review: “A Treason of Thorns” by Laura E. Weymouth

A Treason of Thorns (Laura E. Weymouth)Title: A Treason of Thorns
Author: Laura E. Weymouth
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1/2
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

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.

A young girl must decide between duty and heart in this enchanting and haunting YA fantasy.

Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest of nights to keep her warm.

Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.

When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.

Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house – before her house destroy’s everything she’s ever known.

With the hectic thing that was 2018, I missed Laura E. Weymouth’s debut A Light Between Worlds so I’m coming into this new book of hers as a total newbie to her words and worlds. If A Treason of Thorns is anything to go by, however, I think I might just have found a new auto-buy author.

Ultimately a novel about family – of inherited responsibilities and the ghosts of the ones before us – and the bonds that bind us, A Treason of Thorns was a thing of beauty. It was poetic and haunting, lush and dark, atmospheric and almost Gothic. I quickly fell in love with this imagined version of an older England fueled by the magic of six great houses.

A Treason of Thorns 3

Solid world-building and Weymouth’s almost lyrical writing are two of this book’s many aces. The magic system was a fresh one for me. The thought of old, sentient houses running on ancient magic was such an intriguing idea and I gobbled it up. I had so much fun visualizing what was being described: fireplaces lighting up on their own when you enter a room, moments from the past featuring your forebears playing like scenes from a movie right in front of you. The story’s world is fully alive ready to pop up from the pages.

But, as strong as the world-building and as beautiful as the writing, these elements weren’t what kept me reading.

A Treason of Thorns 1

A Treason of Thornscharacters remains its strongest suit. I found a compelling protagonist in Violet Sterling. Caught up between duty and the desires of her heart, her dilemma was entirely relatable and very human. She started out the story certain of her purpose and goal – to be Burleigh House’s caretaker, to restore the only home she’d ever known and in turn heal the West Country – her duty having been ingrained in her by her father since her childhood. Uncovering hidden truths, though, Violet quickly realizes that things are not as cut-and-dry. Her situation is made even more complicated when she starts to want things for herself, things that aren’t to Burleigh’s benefit.

I loved Violet. Even from the first few chapters, she made a connection to my heart. She’s stubborn, strong-willed, naive and fallible. Her struggle between what she needed and wanted – family and love, home and heart – was something familiar. I think it’s a bridge we all must cross as we come of age, having the power to choose your own way if only you’d be brave enough to claim it.

A Treason of Thorns 2

Wyn took his time with me, but eventually, I grew fond of him. He was sort of gray at first, gaining depth as the story progressed. He, like the rest of the secondary characters, added more texture to Violet’s story because, in the end, this is still about her.

In all honesty, I am just floored by how the women in this story were written. They embody strength in different ways, one not less than the others. Mira, the Sterling’s longtime housekeeper who stood as Violet’s mother-figure, showed her strength in the form of loyal and her steadfastness. Frey, the owner of Red Shilling where Violet worked and her father’s lover after her mother left them, showed it in her quiet defiance. Esperanza, the Princess of Wales and King Edgar’s heir, navigated the royal court armed with her cunning, wit and resourcefulness. She was one of the nicest surprises in this book for me as I thought she was going to be an antagonist. It was great being proved wrong.

This review will never do justice to just how good A Treason of Thorns was. It was spellbinding, enchanting. It’s one of the best books I read this year and will surely stay in my head for a long, long time. Teen readers and adults alike will all find something they can relate to in this book. YA fantasy readers will surely eat this story up just like I did. This comes with my wholehearted recommendations. (Also, I’m going to finally pick up A Light Between Worlds after this.)

about the author

Laura E. Weymouth

LAURA E. WEYMOUTH is a Canadian living in exile in America, and the sixth consecutive generation in her family to immigrate from one country to another Born and raised in the Niagara region of Ontario, she now lives at the edge of the woods in western New York, along with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, a spoiled cat, an old soul of a dog, and an indeterminate number of chickens. She is represented by the inimitable Lauren Spieller of TriadaUS.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

 

Giveaway

Win signed copies of Laura E. Weymouth’s book: The Light Between Worlds and A Treason of Thorns (US/CAN only)

Giveaway ends 24th September.

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SEPTEMBER 10TH

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Utopia State of Mind – Review  + Favourite Quotes
The Book Bratz – Review + Favourite Quotes
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Rockin’ Book Reviews – Guest Post
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Synopses by Sarge – Review

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Kait Plus Books – Interview
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Morgan Vega – Review + Playlist + Favourite Quotes
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Wishful Endings – Interview
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Review: “This is What it Feels Like” by Rebecca Barrow

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Title: This is What it Feels Like
Author: Rebecca Barrow
Publisher: HarperTeen/HarperCollins
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

ARC provided by the publisher through Edelweiss.

 

Three young women – former friends and bandmates – must put aside their differences to join a band showdown. Author Rebecca Barrow tells a story about forgiveness, rekindled friendships and of young women coming into their own in her sophomore offering, This is What it Feels Like.

It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.

Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?

Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.

It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?

But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.

This is What it Feels Like was one of the first books I got approved for on Edelweiss when I started requesting for review copies earlier this year. But since it was releasing in the last quarter of the year, I had to push it back my schedule to make way for the books that I got approved for that have earlier release dates.

And, well, it was so, so, so worth the long wait.

I cannot tell you enough how much I loved this book! I wanted to stretch time for it just so I could stay a while longer with the characters and their world. At the same time, I just couldn’t help myself from reading page after page because I want to know what happens next. It sounds illogical, I know, but this is exactly how I felt reading this book.

From the characters down to that more than satisfying resolution, This is What it Feels Like hits all the right notes. You have solid leads in Hanna, Dia and Jules. They are headstrong and determined young women, and all three bring something unique, influenced by their own struggles and personalities, to color the whole story. Secondary characters – Ciara, Hanna’s younger sister Molly, Dia’s whole family, Autumn and Jesse – also help the story move along. I especially love how the love interests, both Autumn (for Jules) and Jesse (for Dia) were written. They’re not just stand-ins, waiting for things to happen to them. They also have their own thing separate from their SOs and a reader could easily imagine what they’re doing even if they aren’t in the scene. It’s a testament to Barrow’s strong writing. She was able to create these compelling, complex and nuanced characters, develop them, make them connect with one another. I would give special mention to one relationship in particular that really stood out for me, Autumn’s and Jules’s. It was everything I could ever ask for an F/F romance. It was sweet and oh so good.

At its bare bones, however, This is What it Feels Like is a story about friendship and discovery. This is, and I’m quite aware I’ve been gushing from the opening line of this review, my most favorite part of the story. I love stories of friendship, especially healthy, supportive ones and this is what you’ll get in this book. This is another thing Rebecca Barrow got right – portraying young women coming into, being their own persons. I love the way she wrote Hanna, Dia and Jules’s friendship. It was beautiful reading how the three girls dealt with and made peace with the girls they were, and how they gave each other a chance to get to know the young women each of them has become.

As if there is any question, I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone, especially if you love YA contemporaries. This is What it Feels Like is a diverse, captivating read realistic and relatable at the same time. Trust me, this is one book you won’t want to miss this year! Now, let me go back to the bookstore and pick up Rebecca’s first book.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

About the Author:

rebecca-barrow-author-photo_origREBECCA BARROW writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read.

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