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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa

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Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! The Iron Sword is OUT NOW!

The Iron Sword by Julie Kagawa cover
Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Iron Fey: Evenfall #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: As Evenfall nears, the stakes grow ever higher for those in Faery…

Banished from the Winter Court for daring to fall in love, Prince Ash achieved the impossible and journeyed to the End of the World to earn a soul and keep his vow to always stand beside Queen Meghan of the Iron Fey.

Now he faces even more incomprehensible odds. Their son, King Keirran of the Forgotten, is missing. Something more ancient than the courts of Faery and more evil than anything Ash has faced in a millennium is rising as Evenfall approaches. And if Ash and his allies cannot stop it, the chaos that has begun to divide the world will shatter it for eternity.

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Things get complicated in The Iron Sword. How do you combat the very manifestation of anger, hate, and fear that has been brewing for countless centuries?

Ash is the narrator of this sequel to The Iron Fey: Evenfall series. He’s not happy, super stressed, and fears for the safety of his family and friends (rightfully so). You can tell early on that he is heading towards a breaking point with his Unseelie side.

Parts one and two were slower paced with not much seriously happening. Ash, Meghan, Puck, Nyx, and Grimalkin search for Kierran who has disappeared along with an entire city. Along the way, the group meets with characters I’m assuming are from previous books/series to find answers and Keirran. More questions than answers are raised about the new threat emerging.

Part three was my favorite because things really picked up, tensions rose to new heights, and lots of action happened. I love the backstory we get about Faery’s past and what the new threat is and where it came from. It was a really great twist to the story and posed questions for what all of these revelations could mean for the future of Faery and the main characters.

This may have been Ash’s story – always nice when other characters get a chance to shine – but Grimalkin was my favorite character. The cait sith’s indifferent nature, directness, and sass was enjoyable. I also liked the Wolf because I am always partial to characters that are wolves. Grimalkin and the Wolf bring much needed perspective on things.

The climax of the story was unputdownable! Just when you think things are about to go one way – WHAM! – something else happens. Those were very entertaining scenes.

Book 3 cannot get here fast enough! The story is heading into a whole new territory that could make or break things. I have no idea how the main characters will accomplish their goal after learning what they have, but I admire their determination and strength to save the world. I think book 3 will be told in Meghan’s pov, but given how book 2 ended I’m kind of leaning more towards it being Nyx’s pov.

The Iron Sword was a good sequel!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Kagawa

Born in Sacramento, CA, Julie Kagawa moved to Hawaii at the age of nine. There she learned many things; how to bodyboard, that teachers scream when you put centipedes in their desks, and that writing stories in math class is a great way to kill time. Her teachers were glad to see her graduate.

Julie now lives is Louisville, KY with her husband and furkids. She is the international and NYT bestselling author of The Iron Fey series. Visit her at juliekagawa.com.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author website: http://juliekagawa.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jkagawa
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliekagawaauthor/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100045094913658
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2995873.Julie_Kagawa

The Iron Sword – https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/52735443-the-iron-raven

Read Chapter 1 Excerpt

On sale: February 1, 2022
ISBN: 978-1335418647
Inkyard Press
Teen & Young Adult; Epic Fantasy
$19.99 / $24.99 CAN
304 Pages

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | IndieBound | BookShop.org | AppleBooks | Google Play


More by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Raven (#1)


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
CONNECT WITH ME | Goodreads | Instagram

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

Fall 2021 Inkyard Press YA Blog Tours banner

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! You Can Go Your Own Way is out now.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: No one ever said love would be easy…but did they mention it would be freezing?

Adam Stillwater is in over his head. At least, that’s what his best friend would say. And his mom. And the guy who runs the hardware store down the street. But this pinball arcade is the only piece of his dad that Adam has left, and he’s determined to protect it from Philadelphia’s newest tech mogul, who wants to turn it into another one of his cold, lifeless gaming cafés.

Whitney Mitchell doesn’t know how she got here. Her parents split up. Her boyfriend dumped her. Her friends seem to have changed overnight. And now she’s spending her senior year running social media for her dad’s chain of super successful gaming cafés—which mostly consists of trading insults with that decrepit old pinball arcade across town.

But when a huge snowstorm hits, Adam and Whitney suddenly find themselves trapped inside the arcade. Cut off from their families, their worlds, and their responsibilities, the tension between them seems to melt away, leaving something else in its place. But what happens when the storm stops?

 

Light blue text that says "Book Review" over a stem of while orchids.

You Can Go Your Own Way is a heartwarming story about growing up, moving on, community, and family.

Adam and Whitney used to be close friends until Adam’s father passed away, causing a rift forming in their relationship. Now, Adam struggles to hold on to his father’s memory by keeping Old City Pinball financially afloat and out of the hands of big tech business. Whitney is busy running the social media for her father’s chain of eSports cafes in the hopes of getting her father’s attention (to no avail). Now they’re sworn enemies.

I liked that the story alternates between Adam and Whitney’s pov, though this seemed more like Whitney’s story than Adam’s. Her journey seemed fuller and hectic, more in depth. Adam’s journey was good, kind of deep but in a smaller, quieter way. You really feel for both characters because it seems like they’re fighting a losing battle.

Their constant bickering over social media doesn’t help either of them. I didn’t like those exchanges because they were using business accounts to argue or talk about personal stuff. Their petty, immature, and unprofessional behavior was (for me) hard to get past. It wasn’t all bickering. There were some funny exchanges with other accounts.

I liked that the story takes place in Philadelphia and the strong sense of community between all the small businesses. It gave the story a homey, cozy atmosphere.

I also liked the excerpts from The Art and Zen of Pinball Repair by James Watts (fictional book) that Adam studies because of how it juxtaposes pinball machines and real life situations. Those quotes enhanced the community and family values depicted within the story.

You Can Go Your Own Way was so wholesome and I enjoyed how much Adam and Whitney grew together and along their personal journeys.


Photo of Eric Smith taken by Hannah Siddiqui
© Hannah Siddiqui

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ERIC SMTIH is an author and literary agent from Elizabeth, New Jersey. When he isn’t working on other people’s books, sometimes he tries to write his own. He enjoys pop punk, video games, and crying during every movie. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and best friend, Nena, and their son, Langston.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks

YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/55920774-you-can-go-your-own-way

ISBN: 978-1335405685
Inkyard Press
Teen & Young Adult; Romance
$18.99 / $23.99 CAN
336 Pages

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | IndieBound | BookShop.org | AppleBooks | Google Play


More by Eric Smith

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: Trashlands by Alison Stine

Trashlands by Alison Stine MIRA blog tour banner.

Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Trashlands is out now!

The cover of Trashlands in blue and purple showing a school bus on a road.

Genre: Speculative Cli-fi
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: A resonant, visionary novel about the power of art and the sacrifices we are willing to make for the ones we love.

A few generations from now, the coastlines of the continent have been redrawn by floods and tides. Global powers have agreed to not produce any new plastics, and what is left has become valuable: garbage is currency.

In the region-wide junkyard that Appalachia has become, Coral is a “plucker,” pulling plastic from the rivers and woods. She’s stuck in Trashlands, a dump named for the strip club at its edge, where the local women dance for an endless loop of strangers and the club’s violent owner rules as unofficial mayor.

Amid the polluted landscape, Coral works desperately to save up enough to rescue her child from the recycling factories, where he is forced to work. In her stolen free hours, she does something that seems impossible in this place: Coral makes art.

When a reporter from a struggling city on the coast arrives in Trashlands, Coral is presented with an opportunity to change her life. But is it possible to choose a future for herself?

Told in shifting perspectives, Trashlands is a beautifully drawn and wildly imaginative tale of a parent’s journey, a story of community and humanity in a changed world.

 

Light blue text that says "Book Review" over a stem of while orchids.
Trashlands is an engaging novel reflecting a likely future of our world through haunting and lush details.

Through multiple POVs comes a story of love and sacrifice, estrangement and community, living and surviving, art and purpose. And plastic has become the currency that rules all.

I read this book in quiet fascination, riveted. Existing alongside the complex, deeply scarred residents of Trashlands as they worked and scavenged day in and day out in order to survive.

The setting has its own dismal magnetism. Trashlands is the name of the strip club and the surrounding area. It’s located in Scrappalachia (the Appalachians in North America), specifically the Ohio region for most of the story. Some cities (The Els) survived the floods, fire, storms and pollution. City life is a tenuous illusion of normalcy, vastly different from that of Trashlands where homes are made with garbage, bugs are a cuisine, and women and children are the most vulnerable. The proverb, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” rings true in this forever-changed world. People have had to get creative in how to use and reuse plastic, clothing, medicine, and more.

As I got to know the characters, I grew to care deeply about them. For Coral, doing all she can (giving all she can) to one day buy back the son she lost. For Foxglove, a dance at the club, trying to exist (to cope) in a body not fully her own. For Trillium, distancing himself from the pain of the past through his work as a tattoo artist. To name a few. The author has constructed a cast of dynamic and likable characters with heartrending stories. I liked that we got a range of memories/perspectives of those who remember life before the floods and those born into this new life.

I have never read speculative fiction or climate fiction before, so I wasn’t sure if I would like the story. But I was pleasantly surprised by how invested I was with what was going on. Trashlands was a really good read. There’s a lot to say and think about. The falling action was particularly touching after going through so much with the characters, experiencing the struggles of their world, and reliving their darkest memories. I highly recommend this story!


Alison Stine's author photo.ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ALISON STINE is an award-winning poet and author. Recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and an Ohio Arts Council grant, she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow and received the Studs Terkel Award for Media and Journalism. She works as a freelance reporter with The New York Times, writes for The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, 100 Days in Appalachia, ELLE, The Kenyon Review, and others, and has been a storyteller on The Moth. After living in Appalachian Ohio for many years, she now lives and writes in Colorado with her partner, her son, and a small orange cat.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Author Website: https://www.alisonstine.com/
Twitter: @AlisonStine
Instagram: @alistinewrites
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/683318.Alison_Stine?from_search=true&from_srp=true

TRASHLANDS – https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/56383016-trashlands

ISBN: 9780778311270
Publication Date: October 26, 2021
Publisher: MIRA Books

BUY LINKS: BookShop.orgHarlequin | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Books-A-Million | Powell’s


A picture of the cover of Trashlands with a quote from Good Housekeeping.

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! The Right Side of Reckless is available now.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, #OwnVoices
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

The Right Side of Reckless is one of those stories I wish I’d had growing up. This novel is a must-read!

Regan and Guillermo are fantastic main characters. They’re two very different but equally dynamic people to read about. Throughout the story, they prove how they are more than what others perceived or have categorized them to be.

Regan is treated more like a “trophy wife” to her football-star boyfriend, Troy. Her life has also been already planned by her father to eventually marry Troy and be an accountant. These things have made life stressful and unfulfilling to her, especially because she doesn’t know what she wants nor how to stand up for herself. Sometimes it’s hard and draining for her to keep up this picture perfect appearance.

Guillermo is seen as the violent screw-up and bad influence. A monster. It’s his last chance to prove others wrong and redeem himself in the eyes of his family and the law.

Any kind of relationship between Regan and Guillermo is strictly forbidden. This makes the title of the book so perfectly accurate as the two discover more about themselves and what they want in life. Their heartfelt attraction to each other was undeniable and irresistible.

As part of his probation, Guillermo has community service with a program for juvenile offenders. I appreciate that such a program exists. Even if it’s not a 100% success rate, it’s real and does make a positive impact on some. I like how the adults Guillermo must answer to (his father, his supervisor who is Regan’s mother, his parole officer) hold him accountable to the choices he’s made in the past so that he learns from them and makes smarter choices. Guillermo seems to genuinely regret those decisions and is trying to change in order to have a better future.

He’s also a chill and open person who accepts others, flaws and all. I like how Guillermo befriends Jenaya and Regan’s little brother, Avery. He doesn’t judge them the way others have judged them and himself.

I really like Regan. She’s a kind person who always puts others first. She seems to give so much without getting much (if at all) anything back, especially from those who mean most to her. She also feels overshadowed by Troy’s fame and god-like status (but not in a jealous way). In the story, she’s expected to be a certain way, that is until she meets Guillermo.

Avery is another character I liked and whose sub storyline was an interesting but sad parallel to the main storyline. Like his sister, Avery is being pressured by their dad to be something he’s obviously not interested in being: more outgoing and into sports instead of introverted and into manga and watching anime. It was hard to watch their father pretty much treat Troy like the son he’s always wanted and be disappointed in Avery for liking things not “traditional masculine.”

Troy at times is misogynistic in the way he treats Regan (ex: pressuring her to have sex when she’s clearly not ready) or refers to women (especially strong women) as female in a derogatory way. It doesn’t help that he also has an inflated ego. However, I do think deep down he’s an okay person and that he really does care about Regan.

The Right Side of Reckless was a fantastic read, so real, honest, and deep. I loved the way the story developed through various trials and tribulations. I like how everything is connected and that so many characters grow in big or small ways. Though I wish certain storylines ended differently, the story left me feeling hopeful.


Photo by Jennifer M. Photography

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Whitney D. Grandison is dedicated to telling stories about teens of color and teens in difficult but relatable situations. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers. Outside of writing, she is a lover of Korean dramas, all things John Hughes, and horror films. Whitney currently lives in Akron, Ohio. She is the author of A Love Hate Thing and The Right Side of Reckless. Visit Whitney’s website http://www.whitneydgrandison.com and follow her on Twitter @whitney_dg and Instagram @wheadee.

SOCIAL LINKS: Author website: www.whitneydgrandison.com 
Twitter: @whitney_dg
Instagram: @wheadee

THE RIGHT SIDE OF RECKLESS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54823480-the-right-side-of-reckless

BUY LINKS: Bookshop.org | Indiebound | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Apple Books

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: Float Plan by Trish Dollers

Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Float Plan is on sale now!

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Mental Health
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Heartbroken by the loss of her fiancé, adventurous Anna finds a second chance at love with an Irish sailor in this riveting, emotional romance.

After a reminder goes off for the Caribbean sailing trip Anna was supposed to take with her fiancé, she impulsively goes to sea in the sailboat he left her, intending to complete the voyage alone.

But after a treacherous night’s sail, she realizes she can’t do it by herself and hires Keane, a professional sailor, to help. Much like Anna, Keane is struggling with a very different future than the one he had planned. As romance rises with the tide, they discover that it’s never too late to chart a new course.

In Trish Doller’s unforgettable Float Plan, starting over doesn’t mean letting go of your past, it means making room for your future.

 

Content Warning: Death by suicide, depression.

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or harm to others, please seek help.  24/7 support and resources are listed at the end of this post.

 

My Review: Float Plan beautifully weaves together a story or grief and loss as Anna (the MC) – rather than continue on isolated and depressed – searches for closure on the high seas after the loss of her fiance by suicide.

It was a great idea to explore such heavy/important topics through sailing trip because it gave Anna the freedom to really examine her feelings, her relationship with Ben, why he might have committed suicide, and figure out how to continue on with her life without him. As she gets to know Keane – who she hires to help guide the sail – she sees her inner turmoil reflected in a whole new light.

Keane is a charming and optimistic man who lives freely as a passionate, professional sailor. But the loss of his leg made it hard to find opportunities, causing cracks to form in his up-beat persona. His character is the perfect counterpart to what Anna is going through.

Anna and Keane’s personal stories really put a spotlight on how trauma affects one’s mental health: the hardships of living day to day within a new normal that has a dark gaping hole in it and learning to love life again. Anna’s life used to be all “Anna and Ben” but now she’s unsure how to be just “Anna” without Ben. For Keane, it’s proving he is more than his disability. It’s a painful story and I want to wrap Anna and Keane in a big hug and help them.

Float Plan is also an exciting adventure as you travel with the characters to places you may or may not have heard of or been to, learning little known histories of people, places and events along the way. Trish Doller paints a colorful, scenic view and cultural experience of Anna and Keane’s travels. The details and what the characters encounter made me want to travel to some of these places someday.

Tragically beautiful yet fun and humorous, Float Plan was an enjoyable contemporary, second-chance romance. I was transfixed by the emotional depth of the story and its characters. The ending left me wanting more. I highly recommend Float Plan by Trish Doller if you enjoy books set at sea, second chance romances and plots that take you on a transformative voyage.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TRISH DOLLER is the author of novels for teens and adults about love, life, and finding your place in the world. A former journalist and radio personality, Trish has written several YA novels, including the critically acclaimed Something Like Normal, as well as Float Plan, her adult women’s fiction debut. When she’s not writing, Trish loves sailing, traveling, and avoiding housework. She lives in southwest Florida with an opinionated herding dog and an ex-pirate.

Buy link: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/float-plan/

Social Links: @TrishDoller on Instagram and Twitter


24/7 Support That’s Here For You

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Trevor Project
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
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TrevorChat available
Text START to 678678

Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org
US and Canada – Text HOME to 741741
United Kingdom – Text HOME to 85258
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National Alliance On Mental Illness
https://nami.org/Home
NAMI Helpline – Call 800-950-NAMI
Or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

To Write Love On Her Arms
https://twloha.com/

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: “The Iron Raven” by Julie Kagawa

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! The Iron Raven goes on sale February 9, 2021.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: The Iron Fey: Evenfall #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Wicked faeries and fantastic danger… Welcome to book one of the new trilogy in New York Times bestselling author Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey fantasy series, as infamous prankster Puck finally has a chance to tell his story and stand with allies new and old to save Faery and the world.

“YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF ME…”

Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Prankster, joker, raven, fool… King Oberon’s right-hand jester from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The legends are many, but the truth will now be known as never before, as Puck finally tells his own story and faces a threat to the lands of Faery and the human world unlike any before.

With the Iron Queen Meghan Chase and her prince consort, Puck’s longtime rival Ash, and allies old and new by his side, Puck begins a fantastical and dangerous adventure not to be missed or forgotten. Filled with myths and faery lore, romance and unfathomable dangers, The Iron Raven is book one of a new epic fantasy trilogy set in the world of The Iron Fey.

 

The infamous Puck regales readers with an epic adventure full of heart, Puck’s trademark merry humor, and unknown dangers.

I like that The Iron Raven is told through Pucks pov because you really got to know him and his struggles, the man beneath the jokester Robin Goodfellow. When a dark force begins running rampant within Faery, Puck begins to struggle internally with the person he wants to become, reverting back to the cruel prankster he used to be, and moving on from past heartache.

I think many can relate to Puck’s struggle to not be consumed by anger, hatred or resentment so that it turns you into something you’re not (a “monster”). Puck desires to be a better, happier version of himself.

I was also pulled into the story by the external conflict with the dark, seemingly unstoppable creature. My mind constantly whirled with questions about what this new threat was and how Puck and company would defeat it.

One other character I liked was Nyx, an infinitely old Forgotten fey who had awoken to a completely different realm. Who doesn’t love a bad-ass assassin? I like her sense of duty and her interactions with Puck.

I enjoyed The Iron Raven but at times the pacing felt drawn out. I hadn’t read the series that preceded this one but had not trouble understanding things. The story had an interesting plot and characters as well as plenty of suspense and funny moments. I really want to know what happens next because the final fight scene was extraordinary! This was a good start to a series.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JULIE KAGAWA is the New York Times, USA TODAY and internationally bestselling author of The Iron Fey, Blood of Eden, The Talon Saga and the Shadow of the Fox series. Born in Sacramento, she has been a bookseller and an animal trainer and enjoys reading, painting, playing in her garden and training in martial arts. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and a plethora of pets. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

SOCIAL LINKS: Author Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

THE IRON RAVEN:  https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/52735443-the-iron-raven

BUY LINKS: Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | AppleBooks | Google Play

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[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford #PubDayTuesday

[September 28, 2020 – October 13, 2020]

Thanks again to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review! Kingdom of Sea and Stone is on sale NOW!

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUTEver since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

 

My Review: Kingdom of Sea and Stone is a wonderful duology and well-written retelling of “The Little Mermaid” and “Mulan.” If you loved either of those stories, then you are going to love this one as well. Book 2 was an enjoyable read but could have used more action considering war is on the horizon.

Nor never ceases to amaze me. Her character development made this novel shine. She wants something more in life though doesn’t know what because she still feels beholden to the community that shunned her. Nor is a fighter despite the uncertainty for herself, her people, and her relationship with Talin plague that her every move. I was surprised by how her particular story ended but I think it ended in the best of ways. She truly is a “wandering crab.”

The idea of blood coral and blood bonds and their uses were interesting. It brought a lot of tension and a sense of impending doom to spice up the story. Yet considering how cruel Ceren can be and how much of a threat he’d be to many as king, I expected more….something in response. The mood would stagnate here and there, leaving the reader hanging. Ceren is such an excellent antagonist with a great backstory. A worthy evil to fight against the good (Nor and friends).

I liked all the new characters that were introduced. Roan is snarky, confident, and laid back. I’m still unsure if his character was meant to be another love interest or just there to disrupt/challenge Nor and Talin’s relationship. Adriel I liked because she gave Nor a particular support (an outsider looking in) only she could provide. I also loved the Galethian horses. They’re highly trained horses and companions.

The ending of Kingdom of Sea and Stone was good. For the most part, things tied up nicely but I wanted to see some kind of justice/reconciliation of some sort from the Varenians for the poor treatment of Nor, her family, and Sami.

I’m sad this story is over. I would have loved to see where life takes Nor. But for now it’s a bittersweet goodbye to a wonderful heroine and series.


Photo by Holly Ttaris

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world with her marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Mara is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor.

Social Links >>> Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


READ MY REVIEW OF
CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL


READ AN EXCERPT OF
KINGDOM OF SEA AND STONE HERE


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Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1335146512/ref=x_gr_e_friend_sout?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_e_friend_sout-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1335146512&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kingdom-of-sea-and-stone-mara-rutherford/1134580655

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335146519

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Kingdom-Sea-Stone/Mara-Rutherford/9781335146519?id=7941582454467

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/kingdom-of-sea-and-stone/id1485871288

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mara_Rutherford_Kingdom_of_Sea_and_Stone?id=WEi7DwAAQBAJ

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ARCs Blog Tours Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

CONTENT WARNING: This story does bring up self-harm, substance abuse, addiction, and suicide. Links to 24/7 crisis help will be listed at the end of this post.

[May 12, 2020 – May 26, 2020]

Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review! Breath Like Water goes on sale May 19, 2020.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance, Mental Health
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

 

My Review:
Breath Like Water is a must read page-turner that will take your breath away!

Mental health awareness and sports are a big part this incredibly deep story. In this case, we have a teenage elite swimmer who’s prime goal is to make it to the Olympics. You see how this demanding being an elite athlete affects Susannah in all its good, bad, and ugly glory. It serves as a reminder how important it is we take care of our mental health and be kind to one another.

I really like this book. It’s been fascinating having such an i depth look at the psychological affects of highly competitive sports on young kids who are constantly changing mentally, emotional, physically, and biologically. This book has been really eye-opening.

Susannah and Harry’s relationship is so lovely at its core. They really do bring out the best in each other, which is why it was so hard to watch them struggle internally and externally with themselves.

They’re so used to this one way of thinking that’s dominated how they live their lives that it causes an identity crisis. It’s rough going for these dynamic characters.

I’m not expert but I think the bipolar rep was done well and I loved how the author used it within the story. It really brought home how a mental illness affects a person’s day to day and how that person’s disorder affects familial relationships. It gives you the raw ugliness of it but how hope and change is more than possible.

This story does bring up self-harm, substance abuse, addiction, and suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of harming themselves or suicide, please seek help. YOU ARE LOVED. There is always someone to reach out to. I’ll leave some links down below.

The ending was bittersweet but I’m happy for where all of the characters end up. Breath Like Water is a great story overall. I think it will help a lot of people who are struggling right now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Jarzab is a Midwesterner turned New Yorker. She lives and works in New York City and is the author of such books as Red Dirt, All Unquiet Things, The Opposite of Hallelujah, and the Many-Worlds series. Visit her online at annajarzab.com and on Twitter, @ajarzab.

SOCIAL LINKS:
Instagram: @ajarzab
Twitter: @ajarzab
Author website: https://www.annajarzab.com/


READ EXCERPT HERE >>> Breath Like Water | Prologue


24/7 Support That’s Here For You

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Trevor Project
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
1-866-488-7386
TrevorChat available
Text START to 678678

Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org
Text HOME to 741741

National Alliance On Mental Illness
https://nami.org/Home

To Write Love On Her Arms
https://twloha.com/

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ARCs Blog Tours Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet

[February 4, 2020 – February 18, 2020]

Thank you to Mira Books and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. The Unwilling by Kelly Braffet is on sale February 11, 2020.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 1 out of 5 [DNF @ 30%]

Recommend to Others?: No

 

ABOUT: The Unwilling is the story of a young woman, born an orphan with a secret gift, who grows up trapped, thinking of herself as an afterthought, but who discovers that she does not have to be given power: she can take it. An epic tale of greed and ambition, cruelty and love, the novel is about bowing to traditions and burning them down.

For reasons that nobody knows or seems willing to discuss, Judah the Foundling was raised as siblings along with Gavin, the heir of Highfall, in the great house beyond the wall, the seat of power at the center of Lord Elban’s great empire. There is a mysterious–one might say unnatural connection–between the two, and it is both the key to Judah’s survival until this point, and now her possible undoing.

As Gavin prepares for his long-arranged marriage to Eleanor of Tiernan, and his brilliant but sickly younger brother Theron tries to avoid becoming commander of the army, Judah is left to realize that she has no actual power or position within the castle, in fact, no hope at all of ever traveling beyond the wall. Lord Elban–a man as powerful as he is cruel- has other plans for her, for all of them. She is a pawn to him and he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Meanwhile, outside the wall, in the starving, desperate city, a Magus, a healer with a secret power unlike anything Highfall has seen in years is newly arrived from the provinces. He, too, has plans for the empire, and at the heart of those plans lies Judah. The girl who started off with no name and no history will be forced to discover there’s more to her story than she ever imagined.

 

 

My Review:
Warning: book contains graphic mental, emotional, and physical abuse.

This book was just too sad and underwhelming for me to continue. It started off great – Gavin and Judah’s strange connection was an interesting part of the story. But after maybe the first chapter or so my enjoyment plummeted into boredom.

Nothing was happening. Huge info dumps. Little to no action. All of this for long stretches of pages. I kept hoping the story would change and pick up but it never did. Because there was nothing to hold me to the story I grew more and more detached from the characters and plot. There was nothing to care about with exception to the awful life Judah, Gavin, Elly, and Thorn have lived.

This story just wasn’t for me. And I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I should never read books with such political and familial sadism. Especially, when it seems like there is no hope or positivist involved. I unfortunately could not finish the story. Too dark for me.


Photo Credit Missy McLamb

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Braffet is the author of the novels Save Yourself, Last Seen Leaving and Josie & Jack. Her writing has been published in The Fairy Tale Review, Post Road, and several anthologies. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University. She currently lives in upstate New York with her husband, the author Owen King. A lifelong reader of speculative fiction, the idea for The Unwilling originally came to her in college; twenty years later, it’s her first fantasy novel. Visit her at kellybraffet.com.

 

Social Links:
Author website: https://www.kellybraffet.com/
Facebook: @kellybraffetfiction
Twitter: @KellyBraffet


READ EXCERPT HERE >>> The Unwilling Prologue Excerpt.docx

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ARCs Blog Tours Book Reviews

[BLOG TOUR] ARC Review: Cast In Wisdom by Michelle Sagara

[January 21, 2020 – February 4, 2020]

Thank you to Mira Books/Harlequin Trade Publishing and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. Cast In Wisdom by Michelle Sagara is now available for purchase.

Genre: Fantasy
Series: Chronicles of Elantra #15
Rating: DNF @ 31%
Recommend to Others?: No
Favorite Quote: “Sometimes what we want isn’t what we need.”

 

ABOUT: SOMETHING IS WAKING

The fiefs that exist at the heart of the city of Elantra are home to sentient Towers that guard the world against the incursion of Shadow. But between the fiefs exists the gray world of the border zone. In it, geography changes between one passage across a border and the next. The rules of magic are different there—and yet somehow familiar to Kaylin Neya.

When a Shadow escapes, Kaylin must find out how…and why. If Shadows can breach the barrier erected by the Towers, the whole of Elantra will be devoured. It’s happened on other worlds. Bellusdeo, Kaylin’s Dragon companion, absolutely believes it can happen on theirs.

The border zone holds secrets and ancient histories, and people are gathering there in search of its power. Without even understanding what that power is, or why it exists, Kaylin is in a desperate race against time to find those secrets first. She doesn’t know who her enemies are. She doesn’t know how many she’ll face. But she won’t face them alone.

 

My Review:
[DNF @ 31%] Disclaimer: I did not know Cast In Wisdom was the 15th book of a series when I requested this title. But I was still interested in reading it because of the synopsis and cover art.

Cast In Wisdom was hard to get into. Usually, I’m able to orient myself if I start a series out of order. Eventually come to understand this new world and the most prevailing plot points thus far. But I felt disconnected from what was happening. Again, my mistake.

I liked Bellusdeo the most. One, she’s a dragon and, two, she carries herself almost royally but cool, calm and collected.

I also liked the idea of buildings having sentience that sometimes is or isn’t consciously independent. Helen was my favorite embodiment of sentience. I just like her sweet, motherly nature and how homey she was.

The story felt 95% discussion, rehashing, or theorizing – a huge info dump with very little action taking place or any forward momentum. The pace slowed, if not dragged. And so blocked me from building a connection with the story or characters that I grew bored.

I can see aspects of this book’s potential and appeal but I don’t think it was the right book was for me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Sagara is an author, bookseller, and lover of literature based in Toronto. She writes fantasy novels and lives with her husband and her two children, and to her regret has no dogs. Reading is one of her life-long passions, and she is sometimes paid for her opinions about what she’s read by the venerable Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. No matter how many bookshelves she buys, there is Never Enough Shelf space. Ever.

Social Links:
Author Websitehttps://michellesagara.com/
Twitter: @msagara
Facebook: @MMSagara
Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7031278.Michelle_Sagara


READ EXCERPT HERE >>> Michelle Sagara Excerpt.docx