Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: What You Always Wanted (Kristin Rae)

What You Always Wanted (If Only . . ., #8)
Title: What You Always Wanted
Series: If Only, Book 8
Author: Kristin Rae
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Told: First Person (Maddie), Present Tense
Content Rating: Teen (kissing/making out)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

If Only . . . he was the boy she's been dreaming of. The If Only line continues in this fun high school theater-themed romance!

Drama girl Maddie Brooks has always had high standards for guys. But she has yet to find one who can live up to the romantic, classic Hollywood heartthrobs, especially the dreamy song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. When Maddie begins to carpool with Jesse Morales, her new neighbor and star pitcher of the baseball team, she's struck by his wit, good looks, and love for his family--but a guy so into sports is definitely not her style. Then Maddie discovers that Jesse was raised as a dancer and still practices in the community theater dance studio to keep in shape. Perhaps her perfect dream guy exists after all! But when it becomes clear that baseball--not dance--is Jessie's passion, can Maddie find a way to let her dream guy go and appreciate the charms of the amazing guy in front of her?


*          *          *

Review copy provided by publisher for an honest review. Thank you, Bloomsbury!


In a Sentence: An easy read with a sweet romance and relatable characters.

I quite enjoyed Kristin's debut, Wish You Were Italian (review here), and due to a repressed dream of acting and an affection for old movies I couldn't pass up this theatrical love story!

"Effortless" was the word that continually sprang to mind as I read this book, which here means it was so easy to read I found myself unable to stop. I would determine to put the book down at the end of a chapter and some minutes later discover myself halfway through the next chapter, and before I knew it I'd breezed through the entire book in two days. Also effortless was the playful and witty dialogue, and the minimalist description was just enough, like a good stage setting.

If I'd attended public school instead of being homeschooled, I think I would've turned out a lot like Maddie. I really related with her, from her love of old movies to her dislike of sports, and understood her high romantic expectations. She deals with an abundance of "new" in this book - state, lifestyle, school, friends, romance, family situation - and while both a lot of good and not so good come from all of them, she finds revelation and clarity about her life ahead and discovers some real love for and from those around her. Jesse was sweet and attentive and despite his love of sports came seriously close to my own dream guy, and his romance with Maddie was one of the sweetest I've ever read while still being very realistic.

Conclusion: An easy read that made me smile and sniffle with its sweet story and swoony romance. With this second home run, even better than her first, I have put Kristin Rae on auto-read!

If Only Series: While technically the 8th book in the If Only series, each book in the series is written about completely different characters and stands alone.



Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles


Monday, May 1, 2017

Where the Reviews At?


Image result for clean all the things

So you may have noticed that my reviews have been somewhat sporadic of late. This is because I've been on a rather manic spring cleaning kick the past month or so which has kept me offline quite a bit. When I do manage a spare online blogging block though I am trying to spring clean my drafts as well, so bear with me and my random reviews for a while. (All the cleaning has also left me with little time to sit down let alone read so apologies for the sporadic #FridayReads Reviews as well, there's simply not much to report.)

I am collecting together books and bookish swag for giveaways, so look for some in the near future on here, Twitter, and the Gail Carriger Fan Group. In the meantime, thank you for your patience! <3

Friday, April 28, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (4/28/17)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Roar (Stormheart, #1)
Roar by Cora Carmack (ARC)
While the instalove triangle is a bit painful to swallow, otherwise this has been an intense and interesting story with great writing and enchanting magic. Definitely invested and in for the full read! (Want to win a poster of the gorgeous cover? Check out my pre-order promotion giveaway here!)


>> ON HOLD <<
Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1)
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (ARC)
The writing is decent and the magic somewhat interesting, but I've read this plot so many times and it's on the quieter side so I just can't get into it. Put it on hold for now but not sure if I'll ever get back to it.


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Anonymous Noise, Vol. 1The Marked Girl (Marked Girl, #1)

Anonymous Noise vol. 1 by Ryoko Fukuyama (PBK)
4 StarsAs anticipated this is a very emotionally charged story about unrequited love and abandonment issues, but as one can expect from Ryoko it had fun and unique characters, a strong and different plot, and really (and literally) rocked. I will definitely be continuing this series through the library.

The Marked Girl by Lindsey Klingele (ARC)
2 Stars. Finally finished this after almost two months. I rather enjoyed the first half or so, but eventually the main character and especially the romance really came to irk me and when I became too busy to read much for a while I lost almost all interest in what happened and had no trouble setting the book aside. By that time I was over three-fourths of the way through though and determined to finish it, so I picked my way through when I had spare moments. Now that it's over, even with its cliffhanger ending, I'm completely uninterested in any aspect of the story or any of the characters and will sadly not be picking up the sequel.


>> PASSED <<
Violet GrenadeRiders (Riders, #1)

Violet Grenade by Victoria Scott (ARC)
Tried the first few chapters, but while it has some interesting and original concepts (and short chapters which I always enjoy) it's just a touch too gritty for my tastes and I'm really not fond of the voice.

Riders by Veronica Rossi (ARC)
Tried the first few chapters, but while the voice was engaging and I always enjoy short chapters, stories told almost entirely in flashback hold no tension for me.


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Here Lies Daniel Tate
Here Lies Daniel Tate by Cristin Terrill (ARC)
Haven't tried Cristin yet but I've heard amazing things so since I won an ARC I'll give it a try.


So what are you reading this week?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Roar (Cora Carmack) Pre-Order Promotion Giveaway!


Are you a fan of fantasy romance? Does a story about storm magic and those who wield it excite you? Do Cora Carmack romances make you swoon? Then you do not want to miss Cora's foray into fantasy, Roar, coming June 13th from Tor Teen!

And as if you needed any more motivation to order your copy as soon as possible, Tor Teen has announced a pre-order swag bag incentive! Want to receive one? Here's how:

1. Pre-order your copy of Roar by Cora Carmack, on sale June 13, 2017 (links below)
2. Submit your receipt HERE
3. Receive your special swag bag!

Can't get much simpler than that! But the awesome doesn't end there - to celebrate this announcement, Tor Teen is offering one of my lucky readers a double-sided poster of the cover and map coloring sheet! I just know this cover is going to be hailed as one of the top of 2017 (it already is by me), so you definitely want a poster of this pretty for your wall - and a map of the fantastical world to color! So get your swag on by pre-ordering your copy of Roar and then enter to win the poster below!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Roar (Stormheart, #1)
Title: Roar (Stormheart #1)
Author: Cora Carmack
Pub. Date: June 13, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Summary:

In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them.

Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes. As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings. They’re storm hunters.

Legend says that her ancestors first gained their magic by facing a storm and stealing part of its essence. And when a handsome young storm hunter reveals he was born without magic, but possesses it now, Aurora realizes there’s a third option for her future besides ruin or marriage. 

She might not have magic now, but she can steal it if she’s brave enough. 

Challenge a tempest. Survive it. And you become its master.

THE AUTHOR

Cora Carmack is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult Romance and YA fantasy.  Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages around the world. Cora splits her time between Austin, TX and New York City, and on any given day you might find her typing away at her computer, flying to various cities around the world, or just watching Netflix with her kitty Katniss.



GIVEAWAY

One winner will receive this double-sided poster/map coloring sheet! US only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 17, 2017

Duo Review: The Crown of Embers & The Bitter Kingdom (Rae Carson)

The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2)The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3)

Titles: The Crown of Embers | The Bitter Kingdom
Series: Fire & Thorns Trilogy, Books 2 & 3
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
Release Date: September 18, 2012 | August 27, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Action-Adventure Fantasy
Told: First Person (Elisa), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence, minor gore, sensuality)
Format Read: Paperbacks (purchase)
Find & Purchase Book 2 OnGoodreadsAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Find & Purchase Book 3 On: Goodreads Amazon | B&NBook Depository
Book 2 Summary:

She does not know what awaits her at the enemy's gate.

Elisa is a hero.

She led her people to victory over a terrifying, sorcerous army. Her place as the country's ruler should be secure. But it isn't.

Her enemies come at her like ghosts in a dream, from foreign realms and even from within her own court. And her destiny as the chosen one has not yet been fulfilled.

To conquer the power she bears, once and for all, Elisa must follow a trial of long-forgotten—and forbidden—clues, from the deep, hidden catacombs of her own city to the treacherous seas. With her go a one-eyed spy, a traitor, and the man whom—despite everything—she is falling in love with.

If she's lucky, she will return from this journey. But there will be a cost.


*          *          *

In a Sentence: A thrilling two-part travel adventure that expands the world of the first book and concludes a stellar fantasy trilogy.

After really enjoying Book 1, The Girl of Fire and Thorns (see my review here), I was excited to continue what I thought of as "the further adventures of Elisa" with the rest of the Fire & Thorns trilogy. As Books 2 & 3 turned out to be rather Parts 1 & 2 of the same story - with a cliffhanger at the end of Book 2 that slid almost immediately into Book 3 - I decided to review them together.

Where Book 1 was about Elisa finding the strength in herself to rule, Books 2 & 3 are the story of a girl who would be queen, struggling to rule and protect her people as best she can while dealing with court politics and trying to solve the mystery of her power. Set mainly on an epic road trip that expands the fantasy world into unknown reaches above and below by visiting lost islands and abandoned tunnels and venturing deep into enemy territory, these books are definitely travel adventures at their heart as Elisa and friends are almost constantly on the move rescuing people and places and saving the day even as they dig themselves deeper into danger and intrigue.

STRENGTHS
  • While Book 2 most certainly connects and continues the first book, due to the "further adventures of Elisa" aspect there was absolutely no Middle Book Syndrome!
  • The immersive writing style I loved in Book 1 continued in these and brought the world and movement to life with vivid description that didn't shy away from the grit and sweat of real living.
  • Main character Elisa remained the amazing and highly relatable young woman I came to know and root for in Girl of Fire and Thorns. Also highly relatable and interesting were the secondary characters, and I grew to love every one of them (especially Red, but who couldn't love Red I mean c'mon).
  • The romance was a strong thread woven through the two books but it didn't dominate in any way, instead acting as a kind of breather here and there amidst all the action and an emotional undercurrent for Elisa and Hector. When it finally came to its climax it was (to my happiness) rather mild and faded to black at the proper moments.
  • The end was strong and sweet and fitting. Even with a lot of tragedy weighing them down most got a happy ending, and their lives continued right past the last page into greater adventures.

WEAKNESSES
  • The story was 90% action, 7% romance, and 3% emotional depth, which left little time to ponder the emotions and intelligence that drove the action. While so much action made for a fast-paced and thrilling read, I really would've liked a bit more depth to the otherwise straight adventure story.
  • While I knew Elisa was smart and resourceful based on the first book, in these I was told instead of shown the thought process behind her brilliant plans. It made me feel left out, and left the story with very little depth to hold the string of miniature adventures together.
  • Several times in passing there was mention of Elisa's people coming to planet Inverno after theirs was destroyed, hinting that there is a sci-fi origin story to the fantasy setting. I was thrilled with the hope that it would be expanded, and highly disappointed when it wasn't. Sequel series?

Conclusion: While I would've liked more depth, The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom were adventurous reads with lots of exciting action and magic and a sweet romance. If you enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns and wanted more, these are most definitely worth picking up.

Series Conclusion: As a whole, the trilogy is a solid fantasy adventure read with highly relatable characters, vivid description, and a thrilling story. If you enjoy fantasy, you cannot miss this series.

Scribble Rating
4 of 5 Scribbles


Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: The Girl of Fire & Thorns (Rae Carson)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)
Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Series: Fire & Thorns, Book 1
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins)
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Told: First Person (Elisa), Present Tense
Content Rating: Older Teen (violence)
Format Read: ARC (EpicLibrarian)
Find OnGoodreads
Purchase OnAmazon | B&N | Book Depository
Summary:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one. 

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will. 

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.


*          *          *

In a SentenceAn engrossing read with a relatable main character, vivid description, diverse world, and intense religion, even if the magic was rather weird. 

With the entire Fire & Thorns trilogy sitting on my shelf, I randomly grabbed this last year without really recalling what it was about and dove right in. Happily I was rewarded with a dazzling adventure!

STRENGTHS:
  • Elisa. Elisa was one of the best main characters I've ever read. While she could be material and self-deprecating, she had a strong and caring heart and a sharp mind. Her flaws made her highly relatable and real, one of the most real characters I've read, and her strengths made her admirable and worth rooting for.
  • The diversity. Although a fantasy, it seemed to be based around a kind of Hispanic culture, especially in language and religion. So refreshing!
  • The religion. The heavy religious aspect was also a pleasant surprise, and I loved how it was front and center through it all without being heavy-handed.
  • The setting and description. The story took place in desert and jungle regions which made for raw description that wasn't afraid to get real with sweat and grit and the discomfort of it all. It pulled me into the story so deep I felt like I was there, and I had a hard time pulling out when I had to put the book down. 

WEAKNESSES:
  • The romantic emotion. Elisa struggled with her feelings for two men in this book, but I never really felt her affection for either of them. While her feelings for her friends and family came through, there was an emotional disconnect with romantic matters for me. I personally didn't consider this a bad thing, but my indifference did considerably lessen the thrill and tension of several romantic and tragic moments in the story.
  • The magic. I love all kinds of magic and revel in new forms of it, but this... it was just weird. I mean, a power stone in her bellybutton? I eventually came to terms with it, and loved how it reacted to her prayers, but the more she learned about the Godstones the weirder things got until the end saw me reading with one eyebrow raised through the entire climax. I think it was a matter of elegance: the world, the writing, even the raw but carefully crafted description had a sense of elegance to them. The magic did not, climaxing in the category of ridiculous for me that did not balance with the most definitely elegant religion it was paired to. The idea of the stone was elegant - how it was used was not.

Series Note: This book encompasses a full story arc with resolution, and could be read alone without needing to continue the series. The prospect of more adventures with Elisa definitely interested me though, and I immediately reached for the next book: The Crown of Embers.

Conclusion: An engrossing fantasy of diversity and religion that I highly recommend for fantasy fans!

Scribble Rating
4.5 of 5 Scribbles


Friday, April 7, 2017

The #FridayReads Review (4/7/17)



Welcome to The #FridayReads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week, and what I'm planning to read next! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own #FridayReads Review and leave the link in the Comments below, or just Comment with what you've been reading!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Blood Rose Rebellion (Blood Rose Rebellion, #1)
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves (ARC)
The author's coming to my local indie next week so I started this beauty this morning - so far so good!


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Geekerella: A Fangirl Fairy TaleThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Geekerella by Ashley Poston (HBK)
4 StarsA fun and fannish Cinderella retelling with great characters and a sweet romance that no geek should miss! Review to come.

The Live-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (HBK)
4 Stars. As I am currently in the process of seriously tidying, this was a highly inspiring read! Although I'm not following The KonMari Method to the letter, I am taking a lot of her tips to heart. Excited to read the sequel next.


>> [POSSIBLY] READING NEXT <<
(subject to change with my ever-shifting reading whims)
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying UpAnonymous Noise, Vol. 1

Anonymous Noise vol. 1 by Ryoko Fukuyama (PBK)
Just picked this up from the library this morning - I loved Ryoko's Nosatsu Junkie (or at least the volumes that were released in America), so I'm looking forward to this new series.

Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (HBK)
Just finished the first book and excited to start the second today!


So what are you reading this week?