December 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

the-queen-of-blood-review1.The Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst (Queens Of Renthia #1)

The Queen Of Blood Full Review

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 353

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: I loved this book so much, the characters, world, EVERYTHING!! Its a magical story with themes of family and friendship I won’t ever forget! Daleina works very hard to prove herself as potential queen + along the way comes to meet Ven, a disgraced Champion. When things don’t seem right in the world of Araty w/ its magic/spirits, they team up to figure out what’s going on!

goldie-vance-vol-12. Goldie Vance Vol. 1  by Hope Larson + Brittney Williams (Illustrator) (#1-#4)

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 Full Review

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 112

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A retro, 60’s-style comic featuring Goldie Vance, detective! There is so much diversity from characters to family dynamics, etc.! The plot unfolds quickly and I can tell there’s more mystery and adventure to come in Volume 2!

descender-volume-2-machine-moon3.Descender Volume 2: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire + Dustin Nguyen (Artist)

Descender Volume 2 Full Review

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Pages: 116

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Slower paced than the previous volume, but delivers much needed expansion on characters/development! But its filled with twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

the-weight-of-zero4. The Weight Of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The Weight Of Zero Full Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 387

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Fortunati delivers an unforgettable YA Contemporary which introduces the reader to Catherine, who has bipolar disorder and depression and over the course of the novel, as she fears “Zero” is returning she finds hope in the new friendships/relationships she creates along the way. Fortunati’s writing style brings a rawness to Catherine’s story and overall is a wonderfully written YA Contemporary!

monthly-girls-nozaki-kun-volume-15.Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Vol. 1 by Izumi Tsubaki

Full Review To Come

Publisher: Yen Press

Release Date: November 17, 2015

Pages: 114

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: I loved this manga so much! It pokes fun at classic High School/Romance tropes! The plot jumps around rather quickly, so I was watching the anime while reading along and I love the characters! My favorite character is Mikoshiba ❤ ❤ He was so funny!! + He appears to be the typical heart throb that all the girls are after, but over the course of the story you figure out just how shy/anxious he is around them & really struggles to talk to them!  I can’t wait to learn more about him in later volumes!! I adored the characters & the plot was a little slow at times but it was definitely a blast to read and had me laughing! Can’t wait to read the other volumes!

ever-the-hunted-book-review6.Ever The Hunted by Erin Summerill (Clash Of Kingdoms #1)

Ever The Hunted Full ARC Review

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 400

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: An enjoyable first book to a new fantasy series!  Summerill’s plotting and character development keeps the story moving and really brings an element of mystery to the characters! However my biggest issues were the lack of world-building and heavy focus on romance (mainly through Britta’s 1st person POV)! However the ending definitely has me interested to see how it wraps up in book 2!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes I #9

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations Based On YA Books

What Books Did You Read In December? 🙂

 

 

Ever The Hunted by Erin Summerill ARC Review

ever-the-hunted-book-reviewEver The Hunted by Erin Summerill (Clash Of Kingdoms #1)

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 400

Summary: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.

However, it’s not so simple.

The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fun murder-mystery/fantasy mashup! Summerill delivers wonderfully written characters, with the plot setting up for an epic conclusion in the sequel!

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book there were strong elements of this story that made it really good, yet there were some elements (that I didn’t like as much) that have me unsure of how to rate this still! (Though will most likely stay at 3.5!)

Summerill did a fantastic job with plotting and pacing. The plot went in directions I wasn’t expecting which kept me invested and with each chapter I found myself hooked on the murder-mystery of Britta’s father and wanted to figure out what happened!

While the pacing was slow, due to Summerill’s plotting and character development it never felt like it was dragging which is a plus!

Along with plotting and pacing another great element to this novel was the characters. Even the side characters I really enjoyed! Summerill wrote them with enough depth/mystery to have me wanting to know more about them, while also giving them enough depth to get the full picture even if they sporadically appear through out the story.

The writing itself was well done. Reading from Britta’s POV (1st person) really made me attached to the characters and world, even though there were some moments I wasn’t really a fan of Britta as much. And in general, I could picture the world/characters rather well.

However there were 2 issues that prevent this from being a full 5-stars!
1.World-Building
We are thrust into this world quickly and along with Britta we come to understand it, however because she is just learning about certain aspects (like the magic) it makes it very difficult to have a rich view of the kingdoms/politics. Much of it is told from other characters Britta encounters which makes the world itself feel rather underdeveloped and difficult to grasp.

Additionally there were moments where the side characters made things a little too convenient for the plot/world and while it did help it to keep the pace moving, I will admit that it didn’t do much in terms of developing to create a richer/fuller atmosphere.

Also I felt there were times when the descriptions of locations + setting were very surface level and didn’t go into much depth which could have really helped with the world building!

2.Romance
I do enjoy reading romance in books, however I felt it was given too much of a central role. With the novel in Britta’s POV, I felt taken out of the story because instead of developing the rules/magic of this fantasy world, I felt there were way too many passages about her feelings for Cohen.

While near the end I liked the relationship more, I definitely felt if it was focused on less, it could have helped expand the world and make the story run a little smoother.

Regardless of the minor issues, I will definitely be reading the sequel/finale to see how it wraps up!

Overall this was a solid YA Fantasy! If you’re looking for a fun murder-mystery/fantasy mash-up with twists and turns along the way I definitely recommend Ever The Hunted!

*Received ARC from a giveaway*

The Weight Of Zero by Karen Fortunati Review

the-weight-of-zeroThe Weight Of Zero by Karen Fortunati

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 387

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt.

Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.

And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list.

The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it. 

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fortunati delivers a  YA Contemporary with an informative look at bipolar disorder, strong emphasis on the bonds we create with others, and the hope to keep going when all seems lost.

Catherine struggles with her bipolar disorder and depression. Her grandmother passed away right in front of her and her friends have left her, so she knows “Zero” will return. Because of that she’s made a plan to take her own life. After making new friends (Krystal at therapy & Michael her history classmate and soon boyfriend) she begins to feel hopeful again.

However, her fear of admitting to her new friends of her bipolar disorder makes her worry that they won’t understand and abandon her as her ex-best friends did years ago. She then begins to withhold the truth from them and with “Zero” never too far, she’s not sure what to do.

Fortunati doesn’t shy away from the elements of Catherine’s illness and what made the novel so much more richer in terms of plot/characters was the inclusion of how Catherine’s illness affected the people around her like her mother, friends, etc.

The writing itself is very captivating and reading from Catherine’s POV really brings such rawness and honesty to this story.

Reading Catherine’s struggles felt very realistic because it was clear to see after what happened to her in the past she truly feared being judged for her disorder and being abandoned again. It took her quite a while for her to open up to people as she withheld the truth about her illness from her therapy group and lied to Michael about it. Over the course of the story begins to see her lies catching up with her.

Now she must face her truths in order to save these newly forged relationships that mean the world to her

Additionally another great aspect of this novel was the emphasis and positive messages about therapy and treatment. Fortunati delivers these messages all through out the novel through Catherine’s interactions with her therapist, her new friend Krystal, and mother. With Catherine’s therapy and new relationship with Michael, Fortunati shows the mental illnesses/difficulties many families may have when one notices, but that there is always a way to make the best of tough situations.

Out of all the friendships/relationships in this novel, I adored reading the relationships Catherine made with Kristal and Michael and seeing just how happy she became because of them.

Another plot point of this book that I loved was the soldier history project! Michael + Catherine have their plan to report on Jonathan Kasia but after a trip to the local museum with Kristal, she discovers Jane Talmadge (part of the 6888th, the first black female unit to go across Europe during WW2!) Through reading her archived letters, Catherine comes to find her story inspirational and moving! The letters help Catherine through difficult times throughout this story and through her POV you could really see just how inspired she was from learning more about Jane!

There is also a big emphasis on family, especially through the relationship between Catherine and her mother + the strong relationship Catherine sees between Michael and his family. While I do wish Fortunati gave more page time to the side characters, she managed to bring them to life and show just how flawed they were as well through Catherine’s eyes.

I did take away .5 stars because once I neared the end, I did feel it was a bit rushed and just wanted more from Michael & Catherine. Additionally, as mentioned above I also wish there was more interactions/page-time with Catherine and the side characters!

Overall Fortunati’s debut delivers a realistic, raw and engaging story about mental health. Through Catherine’s POV, you’ll join her on her journey to recovery as she finds happiness again during dark times and sees that there is always hope!

 

Literary Listens: Podcast Recommendations Based On YA Books

literary-listens-podcast-recommendations-based-on-ya-booksSo happy to bring you today’s blog post, I had so much fun making it!

Literary Listens is the working title for this new series I’m planning on doing which will feature podcasts + books!

To start off, I’ll mostly be recommending books/podcasts based on different topics, but I’m hoping to expand this series beyond just that and integrate discussions on storytelling between the two and so much more!

I’m excited for where this feature will be going and would love to hear your feedback! 

Now on to today’s post 😄✨🎙📚

I’ve been wanting to talk more about podcasts on the blog and was unsure of what kind of post to make, then I got the idea of recommending/pairing some ~AMAZING~ podcasts with Young Adult Books!

✨🎙 *Podcasts featured are On-Going Audio Dramas*

the diviners1.If you’ve read: The Diviners by Libba Bray

Or are planning to read: Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Coming Jan. 2017)

Listen To: Audio Dime Museum 

Why: History comes alive! Both The Diviners + Audio Dime Museum are magical/captivating and have the perfect amount of mystery and suspense! 

From the excerpt I’ve read, both  Caraval + Audio Dime Museum have gorgeous writing that transports you and makes the magic, mysteries, and oddities of their worlds come alive!

audio-dime-museumSummary: From the Just A Story team, comes a weekly, serialized experimental storytelling podcast which explores historical legends through the artifacts on display in the Audio Dime Museum. Part guided tour, part radio drama; each episode presents the curious story of one object from the collection. Meet your guide on this journey, The Curator, and learn her secrets as you delve into the world of possibility, magic and the unknown. Merging the suspenseful style of mystery with the conventions of ghost stories and the peculiarity that only historical fact can provide, this podcast is not for the faint of heart.

the-raven-boys2. If you’ve read: The Raven Boys (Or The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater

Listen To: Return Home (created by Jeff Heimbuch)

Why: Both have central themes of mystery + the supernatural with peculiar happenings in their respective towns.

return-home-podcastSummary: Return Home is the story of Jonathan Barker, who returns to his home of Melancholy Falls, NJ, after five years away. An unknown entity beckons him back East, in order to unravel the mystery of what his home town has become…or has always been. Reunited with his best friend, Buddy, Jonathan must discover the secrets of Melancholy Falls, and why he was told to return home.

vicious-ve-schwab3.If You’ve Read: Vicious by V.E. Schwab (Categorized as Adult but does have YA/Crossover Appeal)

Listen To: The Bright Sessions (created by Lauren Shippen)

Why: Both not only heavily feature people with superpowers/abilities, but show the shades of gray that come with it + the lines between good and evil!

the-bright-sessionsSummary: Dr. Bright provides therapy for the strange and unusual; their sessions have been recorded for research purposes. The show documents these patients’ struggles and discoveries as well as the motivations of their mysterious therapist, Dr. Bright. 

From characters with anxiety to different sexualities, The Bright Sessions has a lot of great+diverse representation! Highly recommend it!

If you’ve listened to any of the podcasts mentioned or have recommendations definitely leave a comment! 🙂

Descender Vol. 2: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire + Dustin Nguyen Review

descender-volume-2-machine-moonDescender Volume 2: Machine Moon by Jeff Lemire + Dustin Nguyen (Artist)

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: May 10, 2016

Pages: 116

Summary: Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Machine Moon expands the world delivered in Volume 1, while giving a spotlight on characters this time around!

Volume 2 centers on TIM-21, Dr. Quon, and Telsa as they are taken to Machine Moon by Psius, a city based on an asteroid which acts as a safe haven for robots.

There TIM-21 spends time with TIM-22, a clone to -21, and as the story progresses -21 reveals more about his past human companion Andy and through TIM-22 is able to discuss /explain his more human side, considering he learned through Andy.

Telsa is very suspicious of Psius and his intentions and is eager to leave as soon as possible. Yet as she stays, she comes to learn she’s growing more attached to TIM-21 and wants him to be safe.

Additionally Andy himself makes an appearance. Much older, he’s now a hunter who travels to different planets and makes money off the scraps he finds. However, he has one very important mission. Find TIM-21.

He soon finds himself with Bandit and the rest of Telsa’s crew from Volume 1 as he continues his search for TIM.

Andy is definitely my favorite character considering there was so much revealed about his past and himself as a character in quite a short story, compared to Vol. 1.

The plot itself is rather slow paced compared to volume 1, however the main characters go through much development, even the ones just introduced.

And the ending definitely took me by surprise! I cannot wait for Volume 3!

As with volume 1, the art is stunning and definitely some color contrasts between Andy’s + TIM-21/Telsa/Dr.Quon’s POV’s which definitely adds more depth to the story as a whole.

The space adventure continues in Machine Moon with incredible characters and development! A shocking ending will definitely leave the reader eager for Volume 3!

Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson Review

goldie-vance-vol-1Goldie Vance Vol. 1  by Hope Larson + Brittney Williams (Illustrator) (#1-#4)

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 112

Summary: Move over Nancy, Harriet, & Veronica. There’s a new sleuth on the block!

Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place. Her mom, who divorced her dad years ago, works as a live mermaid at a club downtown. Goldie has an insatiable curiosity, which explains her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Charles, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, he agrees to mentor Goldie in exchange for her help solving the mystery.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: A fun and fast-paced intro. to a new comic series!

I loved everything about this comic from the vibrant colors and retro 60’s feel of the art to the fun mysteries and mischief Goldie gets herself into! (Like car races!)

If there’s a mystery, Goldie is eager to solve it! She’s always keeping an observant/attentive eye around her and with the resort atmosphere she’s grown up in, has become friends with many of the employees!

The characters are given such memorable introductions and out of all the characters, I loved Goldie! She’s so spunky & fearless!

I adored the diversity in terms of races, sexualities, body types & family dynamics!

As for the plot itself, it centers around her adventures as a detective, helping the resort resort detective Walt with a case of a missing person + necklace. And there were side characters introduced, who I feel will definitely have more prominent roles in future volumes.

The plot unfolds pretty quickly + there was never a dull moment!

I loved everything about this story and I cannot wait to read Volume 2!

Filled with a diverse cast, fun mysteries, and unforgettable characters, Goldie Vance is perfect to check out if your looking for a new comic series!

Book Bytes I #9

Book Bytes is a monthly feature I created to share news in the world of YA!

Each month posts can contain anything from new cover/title reveals, book-to-movie news, even the latest book deals!!

1.Wayfarer Tour

Alexandra Bracken’s Passenger duology will come to an end with Wayfarer releasing January 3, 2017!

As of November 4, Bracken revealed her tour dates for the upcoming novel and will be joined by Susan Dennard, author of Truthwitch + the upcoming novel Windwitch.

2.Roshani Chokshi Book-Deal

NYT Bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen Roshani Chokshi, had a new trilogy acquired by St. Martins titled The Gilded Wolves.

With plans for a Fall 2018 release, this trilogy is set in a darkly glamorous Paris and “Follows a charismatic but cursed heir of a massive fortune as he plots to steal one of three ancient and powerful artifacts of fate. He and his crew will navigate the elite gatherings of secret occult societies, traveling through Paris’ catacombs where they must confront their worst secrets as well as a destiny they never imagined” (Source: PW)

a-criminal-magic3. A Criminal Magic Bought By CW

Lee Kelly’s YA Historical Fiction/Urban Fantasy is set in 1926 Washington D.C. where magic is illegal!

According to Deadline as of November 11, The CW picked up the novel and is set to be an hour-long drama from the team who brought iZombie.

However according to the article the show will be: “Set in present-day Los Angeles, it revolves around two warring street gangs who fight the cops and each other to corner the market on the most lucrative contraband of all: magic. A young woman hiding spectacular magical powers and an undercover cop must try to survive this glamorous world of speakeasies, crime and danger. “

4.Before I Fall Movie Trailer

Lauren Oliver’s 2010 novel Before I Fall movie trailer debut November 17! The movie is set to be released March 3, 2017 and stars Zoey Deutch as the main character Samantha Kingston!

EpicReads also revealed the Movie-Tie in edition cover + cast list which you can check out on their blog!

 

5.Lin Manuel Miranda set to adapt Patrick Rothfuss’s The Kingkiller Chronicles

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda is set to adapt the trilogy along with Rothfuss for TV w/ Lionsgate!

Miranda is set to compose original music for this project as well!

More info can be found on these articles: Deadline + Variety

6. Everything,Everything 2017 Release Date

The adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s Everything,Everything is set to be released: May 19, 2017!

Amandla Stenberg is set to play Maddie and Nick Robinson is set to play Olly!

What Book News Have You Heard? 📚✨

The Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst Review

the-queen-of-blood-reviewThe Queen Of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst (The Queens Of Renthia #1)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Release Date: September 20, 2016

Pages: 353

Summary: An idealistic young student and a banished warrior become allies in a battle to save their realm in this first book of a mesmerizing epic fantasy series, filled with political intrigue, violent magic, malevolent spirits, and thrilling adventure.

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . .

But the spirits that reside within this land want to rid it of all humans. One woman stands between these malevolent spirits and the end of humankind: the queen. She alone has the magical power to prevent the spirits from destroying every man, woman, and child. But queens are still just human, and no matter how strong or good, the threat of danger always looms.

With the position so precarious, young women are chosen to train as heirs. Daleina, a seemingly quiet academy student, is under no illusions as to her claim to the throne, but simply wants to right the wrongs that have befallen the land. Ven, a disgraced champion, has spent his exile secretly fighting against the growing number of spirit attacks. Joining forces, these daring partners embark on a treacherous quest to find the source of the spirits’ restlessness—a journey that will test their courage and trust, and force them to stand against both enemies and friends to save their land . . . before it’s bathed in blood.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Queen Of Blood is an enchanting fantasy tale that will transport you to a world entwined with nature, wicked spirits, and a daring adventure that will keep you hooked!

This book was absolutely incredible!! ❤️❤️ + Definitely got Final Fantasy vibes from this book! Which I loved!! 💖✨😍

From the chilling opening lines:

Don’t trust the fire, for it will burn you.
Don’t trust the ice, for it will freeze you.
Don’t trust the water, for it will drown you.
Don’t trust the air, for it will choke you.
Don’t trust the earth, for it will bury you.
Don’t trust the trees, for they will rip you,
rend you, tear you, kill you dead.

I was captivated by the unique and magical world that Durst created!

The writing style featured multiple POV’s, which expanded the world and showed how rich and lush it was!

The world of Aratay itself is highly guided by nature and the elements. The spirits of this world live among humans but can be quite vile towards them if they are left uncontrolled. That becomes quite apparent in this novel when spirits begin destroying villages and killing not only citizens, but potential Heirs!

And women are the only ones who can control them and protect the citizens. By becoming queen!

If they choose, women must take part in an exam to see if they are able to enter into an academy where they will spend many years training and if ready, will receive a Champion and train even further to become an Heir. From there they will go against other Heirs for the one and only spot of being Queen.

Enter Daleina. She isn’t the top of her class in terms of her ability to control the spirits. But she gets by with her intellect and her determination and I loved that about her so much! I could definitely see myself in Dalenia! There are certain things I’m not necessarily good at, but I always do my best to keep going no matter what and found that trait in Dalenia not only relatable, but inspiring.

Daleina is training to become a Queen Of Renthia, but knows very early on she isn’t cut out for it. However she keeps at it for many years training at the academy and learns more about who she wants to be and find the strength/confidence in herself.

Along the way she befriends young women just like her who are training to be queen. As the day approaches, she finds herself chosen by a disgraced Champion, Ven, who has a special bond with the queen and sees Dalenia as his only hope to bring control to the restless spirits!

There is so much girl power and female friendships which I absolutely loved! Dalenia befriends other women like her and they support each other along the way, regardless of the obvious competition between them for the spot of Queen. As time passes in the novel, they remain friends and continue to remain at each others sides when times get tough.

I did take away .5 because there is a romance (which doesn’t interfere with overall plot) and I felt was a rather rushed and did take me out of the story at times.

The characters were fantastically written and developed! Even with minor characters who were given few lines or mentioned in the background, they still felt real and vital to the story.

I seriously cannot pick between Ven and Dalenia! Both were wonderfully written characters and I could definitely understand their struggles and obstacles that they faced in this novel!

But there is so much more to this than just wayward spirits and queens. There is blood, betrayal and deep messages about connection with those you love/care about and finding yourself!

The world, characters, and plot in The Queen Of Blood come together to create a magical and unforgettable tale! ✨

I’ll definitely be reading book 2!

November 2016 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.indd1.The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon 

The Sun Is Also A Star ARC Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 384

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: In another incredible contemporary from Nicola Yoon, she explores themes of destiny and love. Main characters Daniel and Natasha are complete opposites, but learn more about themselves, confront tough obstacles and come to bring out the best in each other.

The Midnight Star Cover Reveal2.The Midnight Star by Marie Lu (TYE #3)

The Midnight Star Full Review

Publisher: G.P.  Putnam’s Son’s Books For Young Readers

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 316

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Adelina’s dark story comes to an end in this fast-paced conclusion. The world does continue to expand in some aspects and the plot definitely keeps you surprised.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.24.46 AM3.Blood For Blood (Wolf By Wolf #2)

Blood For Blood Full Review

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 481

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: The stakes are raised in this conclusion to Wolf By Wolf. The world continues to develop and world/character development play a huge part in this novel. Tone and pacing are quite different than book 1, but Graudin delivers a fantastic plot that will keep you turning the page!

the-grift-of-the-magi-by-ally-carter-book-review4.The Grift Of The Magi by Ally Carter (Heist Society #3.5)

The Grift Of The Magi

Publisher: NLA Digital LLC

Release Date: November 1, 2016

Pages: 105

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Readers return to the world of Heist Society in this holiday novella! Kat and her crew come together to save a charity when one of its valuable auction pieces has been stolen! The plot is fast-paced and entertaining! Characters are given great development and the plot, while wrapping up quite quickly in the end, is filled with mystery and surprise!

labyrinth-lost-by-zoraida-cordova-book-review5.Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)

Labyrinth Lost Full Review

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: September 6, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Weaving together Latinx Culture + Urban Fantasy, we follow Alex, a bruja who is unsure if she wants to keep her powers. When a spell makes her family disappear to Los Lagos (a mythical land) she must find a way to bring them back. The world/plot could have used more development, but regardless its a magical story of self-identity and family!

bound-by-blood-and-sand6.Bound By Blood And Sand by Becky Allen (Bound By Blood And Sand #1)

Bound By Blood And Sand Full Review

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 320

My Rating:★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: In a magical desert world water is running out and Jae may be the only one who can bring it back. This novel is filled with remarkably written/developed characters that truly come to life on the page. While the world could use a little more development, both world/plot are fascinating and unique. The little-to-no romance leaves so much room for character/plot development.

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes I #8

What Did You Read This Month? 🙂

Bound By Blood And Sand by Becky Allen Review

bound-by-blood-and-sandBound By Blood And Sand by Becky Allen (Bound By Blood And Sand #1)

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Pages: 320

Summary: Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free. 

Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the realm’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever.

My Rating:★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Allen delivers a character-driven fantasy that shows a dark and oppressive world, but the bravery and lengths characters will go to bring change!

The best part of this novel was definitely the characters. Allen created her characters with such complexity and wasn’t afraid to show their dark and flawed sides. In doing so, Jae,Tal, Shirrad, and Elan go through immense character development and really come to life on the page.

Additionally there was no romance! Which was definitely a plus for me. With that, more development and focus is given to the characters and plot.

Jae is a slave living in a fantasy desert world. She lives in a house with other slaves (Closests) called Aredann where she among others are forced by their Curse to follow orders by the owner of the property Lady Shirrad to care for it and have minimal freedoms.

From page 1 Jae, is out for vengeance to free herself and her twin brother Tal from the awful Curse and escape after years of oppression.

She discovers there is magic on the property and figures that will be the only way she can bring water back to the land and free herself and other Closests just like her.

A prince from a neighboring land comes to inspect and reveals that the minimal water will leave Shirrad no choice but to vacate.

As the novel progresses prince Elan discovers Jae’s magic and wants to use her to find a magical Well which can bring water back. However, Jae who has been seen as less by Elan’s people (the Highest) is skeptical of his motives and doesn’t trust him.

As Jae learns more about her magic, she discovers there is more to her world’s history than she is lead to believe and that she may be the only one who can bring back the water and free herself once and for all.

However there were 2 issues that prevented this from being a full 5!
1.Pacing: A majority of this novel moved extremely slowly for me personally and that really took me out of the story at times.
I will admit, for me it definitely picks up around the ~70-80% mark and I was hooked to the very end.

2.Elements of world-building:
I felt the world-building (in terms of background history + magic) was quite under-developed. Flashbacks were the general bulk of the historical aspect of the world building and b/c of that I felt the world didn’t feel as rich and developed.

However I applaud the author with her writing style because I could really picture the setting and the characters and overall the plot itself is very unique!!

There were definitely many heart-breaking and emotional moments in this book! Allen weaves in and discusses many topics in this novel such as abuse/assault and social class.

I felt so connected to the main characters Jae, Tal and Elan and could definitely understand their differing points of view + individual struggles over the course of this story!

Bound By Blood And Sand is filled with rich and captivating characters that definitely drive this story and an intriguing world/plot that shows promise for the next installment!