Review: “The Storm Crow” by Kalyn Josephson

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Title: The Storm Crow
Series: The Storm Crow #1
Author: Kalyn Josephson
Publication Date: July 9, 2019
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating:
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo

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.

Magic flies high in this first half of a planned duology by debut author Kalyn Josephson.

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.

That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.

But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

I will be honest here. I deliberately kept on pushing back writing this review. I can’t tell you how many Word documents I’ve opened and closed, how many false starts and scrapped drafts I went through before finally bringing myself to write this.

And, yet, I still feel guilty.

On the surface, The Storm Crow had everything I like in a Fantasy – an interesting premise, an intriguing world with diverse peoples and culture, heaps of adventure. The promise of a heroine battling depression (because it is an everyday battle) was another draw. Never mind that the plot has been done countless of times, I wanted to see a character who openly admits to having depression lead a story. But, somehow, even with all these, this book fell flat.

breaker

A lot of telling, not much showing

This was the first problem I had with this book. Being the first of a planned two-book series, there was a substantial amount of worldbuilding to be done. I get that, anticipated it. What I didn’t expect was being told stuff – about the characters, the world they move around in, the lives they and their people live.

There’s a reason why when you look up writing advice show, don’t tell is one of the first tips you get. Being told of what’s happening, how everything works and looks made for bland storytelling and, I hate to say this, it bored me, led me to put down the book several times.

The Storm Crow quote #1

Background image by Tran Nguyen

A story lost in its own world

Not to take anything away from worldbuilding – it is an important component of any story, especially if you’re writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi – but when you put too much focus on it, the story you are trying to tell gets lost in the middle of all the bricks of your world. This is exactly the case with The Storm Crow.

Perhaps Josephson bit more than she can chew, but I don’t think it’s because TSC’s worldbuilding was particularly ambitious. In my opinion, the issue here was control. The author put in too much, and while I appreciate the diversity worked into the characters and their world, I think it would have been better if she trimmed down on the details. The book was bloated with chunk after chunk of worldbuilding elements and it eclipsed the story.

Pacing (or the lack of it)

This issue sort springs from the first two I’ve already mentioned. The author’s focus on worldbuilding, which was unremarkable in the first place, screwed up the whole story’s pacing. It was so slow that it took my focus out of what’s happening with Thia and the other characters. It was, in short, boring.

The Storm Crow quote #2

Nothing happens

With the exception of a few surprises, you literally only have to read the book’s summary to know what happens in this half of the duology. That’s it, end of story.

Wooden characters

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the representation and diversity worked into TSC. If anything, it was the promise of a protagonist battling depression that hooked me in the first place, and yes, her having depression is an integral part of Thia’s character but it felt so clinical, like rattling off a list of signs and symptoms from a textbook.  She felt like a talking head, her character so dull that by the end of the book I didn’t really care what happens to her.

The Storm Crow quote #3

As for the rest of the characters, I couldn’t say much about them because I didn’t get to know them at all. They were barely fleshed out, their characterizations felt superficial. I think the only character who managed to somehow retain my attention was Kiva, but even her character needs more work.

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To sum up, The Storm Crow could have been a good book. Kalyn Josephson shows promise and she does, I feel, have a story to tell with Thia, the magical crows and this curious world she created. This book just needed more work. As to whether or not I will read the last half of this two-book series? Maybe, if only to feed my desire to know what happens next, but it wouldn’t be high on my list.

about the author

Kalyn Josephson

KALYN JOSEPHSON currently works as a Technical Writer in the tech industry, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. Though she grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Biology and a degree in English (Creative Writing). Currently, she lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay Area and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an ever tinier owl). THE STORM CROW is her debut novel.

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First Line Fridays: “The Storm Crow” by Kalyn Josephson

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hoarding Books.


Happy Friday!

I’ve been a fantasy binge lately. I recently finished Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also started listening to the audiobook of Julie Kagawa’s Shadow of the Fox and, tell you what, the narration and production are just amazing. I’m truly having the best time with my books right now.

I’m going to be sharing the first few lines from my other current read. In keeping with my recent reading craving, it’s also a fantasy and features magic, crows and warring kingdoms.

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I was a storm. Adrenaline ripped through my veins like lightning as I leaned close to the body of my crow, preparing to execute a dive. Iyla’s warm, steady heat kept me grounded, even hundreds of feet in the air. Cold wind whipped tendrils of hair free from my braid, nipping at the skin around my goggle and stealing my breath.

 

 

 

I’m only 57% through this book so I can’t give you much about it yet, but the worldbuilding is luscious. And the villain? I just want to clock her, so that says something.

The Storm Crow releases July 9. Meanwhile, my review of Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon is scheduled to be published tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.

Alright, that’s it for me today. Hope you all have a great weekend! Happy reading!

💗💗💗

Rachel

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Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers have to share.

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!

🍂🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

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.

Good luck!

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follow the tour 1

FEBRUARY 11th

FEBRUARY 12th

The Book Raven – Review + Playlist

FEBRUARY 13th

Young Adult Media Consumer – Review + Favourite Quotes
Milky Way of Books – Review
The Bibliophagist – Review

FEBRUARY 14th

Vicarious Bookworm – Review + Playlist
Novel Ink – Review

FEBRUARY 15th

Literary Meanderings – Interview
Metamorphoreader – Review + Playlist
The Hermit Librarian – Review + Favourite Quotes
Reading With Wrin – Review

FEBRUARY 16th

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

FEBRUARY 17th

Vicky Who Reads – Review
A Bookish Dream  – Review

 

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “You Asked for Perfect” by Laura Silverman

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.


Hey there! Happy midweek and welcome to another edition of Can’t-Wait Wednesday! Today I’m going to be featuring a book that I wished was published when I was still in school.

33299465Title: You Asked for Perfect
Author: Laura Silverman
Publisher: Sourcebooks/Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon

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

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.

I’m pretty excited to have this book to read ahead of its release. You Asked for Perfect discusses the pressures of academic life – keeping your grades up, gaining the approval and acceptance of your peers – all things most students (former students) struggled with at one point or another. I did, several times, and to see a book tackle this issue means a lot. I wished this book existed when I was a student.

I’m again taking part in a blog tour for this wonderful book courtesy of the lovely gals at The Fantastic Flying Book Club . My stop is on the 16th, but please do check out the blog schedule below and check out the rest of the participating book bloggers.

tour banner (1).png

FEBRUARY 11th

FEBRUARY 12th

The Book Raven – Review + Playlist

FEBRUARY 13th

Young Adult Media Consumer – Review + Favourite Quotes
Milky Way of Books – Review
The Bibliophagist – Review

FEBRUARY 14th

Vicarious Bookworm – Review + Playlist
Novel Ink – Review

FEBRUARY 15th

Literary Meanderings – Interview
Metamorphoreader – Review + Playlist
The Hermit Librarian – Review + Favourite Quotes
Reading With Wrin – Review

FEBRUARY 16th

The YA Obsessed – Review
The Layaway Dragon – Review + Favourite Quotes
Akithroughbooks – Review + Favourite Quotes
In Between Book Pages – Review + Playlist (It’s me! It’s me!)

FEBRUARY 17th

Vicky Who Reads – Review
A Bookish Dream  – Review
Oh Hey! Books. – Promotional Post

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?

Review: “The Similars” by Rebecca Hanover

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Title: The Similars
Series: The Similars #1
Author: Rebecca Hanover
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire/Sourcebooks
Publication Date: January 1, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

ARC provided by publisher through Edelweiss.

 

 

Boarding school mystery with a sci-fi twist. Rebecca Hanover’s debut and series opener delves into a future world, one where clones and cloning exist.

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

I don’t remember exactly when I requested for this book, but I do remember reading the summary and being instantly hooked. Clones? You got me! Ethically, the issue of cloning is a dubious one, but it was fascinating, the thought of a world where clones existed.

Sadly, an interesting premise doesn’t always mean a good story.

With the hook of its contemporaries and none of the bite, The Similars fails to make good on what could have been a complex and intriguing plot. It wasn’t really the writing that threw me off because that aspect of this book was okay. The execution, however, was a different story.

There were just too many things happening all at the same time: there’s Emmaline, the main character, still reeling from grief after her best friend Oliver died from an apparent suicide, then the arrival of the six clones, The Similars as they were collective called, at Emma’s school Darkwood Academy, then there’s also The Ten, the anti-clone movement, dubious school administrators with hidden agendas, a mysterious benefactor, a message from beyond the grave. It was just one subplot after another subplot after another subplot. Of course, it’s possible to tackle all of these in a single book, but it just wasn’t handled well in this one. The storytelling felt disjointed and repetitive, and suspending my disbelief felt harder the deeper I delve into this book.

The big cast of characters also didn’t help The Similars‘ case. An over-the-top, one-track villain, an underdeveloped love pairing, the characters were shallowly drawn and poorly utilized. The characters themselves were, for lack of a better word, forgettable. I didn’t get to know much of the many characters who ran around the pages of this book and because of that, without forming any attachment to anyone, I just didn’t care about what happened to any of them.

Overall, though The Similars did have some parts that I enjoyed, this one just didn’t work for me. The fast-paced narrative may draw in readers into this book, and I definitely could see some even sticking through with this series because of that  cliffhanger of an ending, which is great, but, just being honest, this is it for me for this series. There are other books, other trilogies and series that worthy of my time.

About the Author:

050318_0047_edited-1-223x300REBECCA HANOVER is a young adult author and television writer. She earned a bachelor of arts from Stanford University in English and drama and won an Emmy in 2008 as a staff writer on the CBS daytime drama Guiding Light. Her debut novel The Similars is a BookExpo 2018 Editor’s Buzz Pick.

Rebecca lives in San Francisco with her husband and two son, where she enjoys matcha lattes, hoodies, and complete lack of seasons. She aspires to attend an actual hot Pilates class one day.

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