August YA Releases

Hey all! So this is my first post that isn’t a review and it’s a little nerve-wracking: but I thought about what I would like to see on a book blog if I was reading and I thought this was a great idea. In this post, I’ll list 5 of my most anticipated releases in YA for the month of August!

Continue reading August YA Releases

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Review: ‘The Girl With the Red Balloon’

Hi! I was lucky enough to jump in line at BookCon in time to grab this read. I had previously spoken to the author on Twitter and she is such a sweet person: she even remembered talking to me, which was pretty cool.
Title: The Girl With the Red Balloon

Author: Katherine Locke

Series: The Balloonmakers

Rating: 4/5 stars

Pub date: September 1, 2017

I received this book as an ARC from BookCon. This is an honest review.

Summary

This book rocked. I have to say that the time period it is written in is very interesting and has been to me, as well as the setting in Germany. The story follows a girl named Ellie, who is on a trip to Germany in the present day. She sees a red balloon, grabs onto it, and is transported back in time to East Germany in 1988. The rest of the story chronicles her meeting of a group that uses magical red balloons to transport people over the wall to West Berlin to keep them safe & give them freedom.

Likes

I have to say that the history was my favorite part of this book. It was written so well and had so many details, including accurate depictions of what life was like in East Berlin. I knew from history class that East Berlin was not the best place while the Wall was up and West Berlin was the better place to be. This illustrated that and even reminisced on the Nazi occupation during WWII, with residents needing to carry around papers and possibly being arrested for being a certain religion/race. It was a very powerful read and include different POVs, mainly Ellie, Kai (a person working with the the Balloonmakers) and Benno (whose story was set in Nazi Germany, not in 1988). I felt emotionally attached to these characters, but especially to Benno’s character. While his involvement in the story is revealed later on in the book, his entire story broke my heart and reminded me of the horrors that occurred during the Holocaust. The author is Jewish so I can see her strong personal connection to this subject matter, and the writing was very beautiful. Ellie’s character also hit home for me. She wanted to return home so badly, to the place she knew so well, because this new place was so scary and foreign. She needed to really brush up on her German and realize that she needed to be much more careful in the past, as not to get caught by the police, who were still prejudiced against Jewish people. She also made a strong bond with Kai, who swore to protect her since the moment he found her clutching the red balloon.

(Dis)likes

There isn’t much I didn’t like about this book. I thought it was a little short, at 277 pages (ARC count), and I wanted there to be more to the story because it was so rich and addictive. I felt that the story was wonderfully different and the magic element was incorporated well into the storyline. I also felt a deep connection to Kai and how he felt about both Ellie and his sister. And I forgot to mention! We also have an LGBT character in this book and she has blue hair: you all know how I love when characters depict different representations AND have fantasy hair colors!! I thought this book was very thorough in its use of history and I will definitely be picking up the sequel!

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of historical fiction or likes a story that is different from the norm. This was so imaginative and I thought the integration of a different religious culture as well as German culture, and American culture, was a wonderful addition to an already moving story.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Weekly TBR: July 31-August 6

Wow! I just want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for following us and reading our reviews. We reached 50 follows this weekend and that’s a huge milestone for us that we are so happy about!

To celebrate, I’m writing my first ‘non-review’ post for you. I read quite quickly and I have a regimented reading schedule that I like to stick to. I schedule at least 1 book a day to read but that really helps me wind down after I get home from work so it isn’t bad! Posting 3 reviews per week is something that keeps me reading and helps me get through my schedule.

I figured I would try something new and make a weekly post of books that I am going to read! Reviews will be coming and we already have a TON queued up for you each week. (I’d also like to add that I won the books below through a giveaway on Twitter from Angie (disquietus))

 

Continue reading Weekly TBR: July 31-August 6

Review: ‘An Enchantment of Ravens’

This book has had so much hype on Twitter. I actually hadn’t heard of it, but my co-blogger Missy had been searching for it for ages! We randomly walked by the Simon and Shuster booth at BookCon and I saw it on a table as a giveaway. Needlesstosay, we ran to that table really quick!
Title: An Enchantment of Ravens

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5 stars

Pub date: September 26, 2017

I received this as an ARC from BookCon. This is an honest review.

Summary

I have mentioned before that I don’t tend to like books about the fae and faerie realm. Because of the buzz, I figured that I would try it out! I was pleasantly surprised. This story follows Isobel, who is a Craft worker. She does paintings and many fae come to have their portrait done by her. Fae are somewhat bloodthirsty for Craft pieces and Isobel’s are no exception. One day, a faerie Prince comes to have his portrait done and, unhappy with the results, kidnaps Isobel.

Likes

I felt that the story was pretty unique in itself. Humans doing Craft work for fae is something I hadn’t read about before and the relations between humans/fae aren’t always the best in books I have read previously. Fae give humans enchantments in exchange for their Craft work and Isobel is famous for hers, so she is visited by many fae. I liked Isobel as a character, but I think I liked Rook (the prince) a little bit more. I thought he was… Well, enchanting, for lack of a better word and his power was pretty cool. He was able to shape shift into a raven, hence the title of the book. The story brings the two to a faerie court and I thought the tale they had of the Green Well was interesting and magical on its own. It fit into the story and did not feel rushed at all.

(Dis)likes

There are a few things I didn’t like about the story. There was a romance and I just… Didn’t feel connected to it. It felt out of place and I didn’t really see the development as much as I would have hoped. There was a lot of banter, etc. but it wasn’t like banter that I would normally associate with a budding relationship. I also found that the names of the courts were pretty similar to Sarah J Maas’ ACOTAR. There was a summer, winter, spring, and autumn. I don’t know if that is something that is typical in books about the fae, but I have only read a couple so I can’t comment on that. I just found it a little odd. Finally, I didn’t feel a true connection to the characters very much. I enjoyed the book and the story, but I didn’t have many emotional reactions when there could have been one.

Recommendation

I would compare this book to a mixture of the courts of ACOTAR and the Seelie Court from TMI. The story itself is entirely different, but the backstory seems familiar to these two books. I would suggest this book to anyone who is a fan of magical fae books, possibly ones by Holly Black. I would also recommend to anyone looking for a unique story.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Warcross’

The story of how I got this book is insane. I was at BookCon with my co-blogger Missy and there was a huge commotion about getting this book. Seriously. We literally had to fight for a copy (okay, not really, but there was a lot of people trying to get a ticket) and I am so glad we did.

 
Title: Warcross

Author: Marie Lu

Series: Warcross

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pub date: September 12, 2017

I received this book as an ARC from BookCon. This is an honest review.

Summary

This book surprised me. I had a vague idea of what it was about but the cover is absolutely gorgeous so I was intrigued already. They had a Warcross game at BookCon that we played a little bit–Missy won a t-shirt and a sampler!–and it is a book on many people’s highly coveted TBR. Warcross follows the story of Emika Chen, a bounty hunter in a (presumably) futuristic Manhattan. There is a game called Warcross that many people access through a pair of ultra high-tech glasses and Emika hacks the game, much to the surprise of the creator. Emika is summoned to Tokyo, where a majority of the book takes place, for a job that Hideo (the creator) asks her to do.

Likes

I have to say I was shocked at how much I loved this book. Okay, I know what you’re thinking: it’s Marie Lu! How couldn’t it be good!? That’s very true. But what Lu does with this story is extraordinary and I loved the complexity of the world she created. I am usually not a fan of sci-fi books but this one had so many different elements to it: technology, competition, a romance, and a sort of mystery case. Emika is truly such a strong main character to this story: she is cunning and intelligent and also very good at hacking. I mean, she’s super good, like on the level of Wade from Kim Possible. I love when books include characters that have talents which are not “typical” of their gender (screw gender roles!) and this book is no exception. I admired her willpower and determination to solve the case that she was assigned, all while working with a team of people she has never met in the Warcross game. I would also like to point out that while there is a romance in this book, it does not overwhelm the story too much in that it makes it all about the romance. I was actually a little surprised by the romance in all honesty but it did fit in with the story.

(Dis)likes

I can’t really discount this book for much. I didn’t give it 5 stars because it didn’t blow me away but I did enjoy every aspect of the book. I think it explored the Warcross game well and went into enough detail that I wasn’t left wondering about loose ends or things that weren’t explained fully. I don’t personally like when a ton of unnecessary details are thrown in but there were a few Japanese culture traditions in here which I found very cool!

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of sci-if or of Marie Lu. The writing is very similar to Legend/The Young Elites. I think this book is a cross between an episode of Black Mirror (I won’t spoil which) and Sucker Punch. There is a game and an alternate reality brought on by the use of highly advanced technology and everyone loves it. But is it really the best choice? Read to find out!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor

Review: ‘Hunting Prince Dracula’

OH. MY GOD. I have been looking forward to this book since I finished Stalking Jack the Ripper. I was so obsessed with Jack the Ripper after I read that book, and I told Kerri the same when I met her at BookCon and received this sequel!

 
Title: Hunting Prince Dracula

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Rating: 5/5 stars

Pub date: September 19, 2017

I received this book as an ARC from BookCon. This is an honest review.

Summary

Holy wow. This book KNOCKED MY DARN SOCKS OFF. Seriously, it was so good, I just ate it up. Not literally, but figuratively, I was having a five course meal. This book follows Audrey and Thomas (fondly Wadsworth and Creswell) to a forensic school in Romania, where Audrey’s uncle has arranged for them to attend classes and learn more about the subject. Of course, this book wouldn’t be complete without a murder mystery, and the plot thickens as Audrey and Thomas conduct their own investigation.

Likes

Let me first say that Audrey and Thomas’ banter is the best thing I have ever read. I would 10/10 recommend them for a darn comedy show. Thomas knows just how to antagonize Audrey and I literally love them together so much as partners. Audrey is calulating and intelligent, while Thomas is witty and deductive. Yes, I said deductive, just like Sherlock Holmes. He very much reminds me of that character, with a little bit of Moriarty thrown in. Audrey is plagued by men still thinking less of her because of the time (the year is 1888) and that she isn’t capable of doing forensic work. She surprises everyone once again in this book by figuring out clues that nobody even thought of looking at or considering. I love Audrey’s strong willed nature and her thirst for adventure and sleuthing. She is someone that I wouldn’t mind being best friends with! Thomas compliments her perfectly and provides comic relief as well as honest-to-goodness panty-dropping lines.  He also appreciates Audrey’s knowledge,unlike  some other characters in the book who don’t believe in her. I would very much like my own Thomas Creswell, but alas, he does not exist. Audrey especially struggles during this book to decide if her feelings for Thomas are simply platonic or something ‘more’. I think the best part of this series is that a relationship isn’t forced and it very much focuses on the development of a friendship/partnership rather than an instant love story. I also find the writing in this book to be very fluid and it grips you at every turn. I was completely enveloped the entire time and I read this entire book in one night because I couldn’t pull myself away. I also like the fact that Kerri focuses on a different famous murderer and formulates an entire fictional story around the history that already exists. I love learning about the history as well and I am so anxious to see the title of Book 3!

(Dis)likes

There isn’t much I don’t like about this book, other than that I wish it never ended. I would also like to point out that we are introduced to an LGBT character in this book and I am LIVING for it. It wasn’t a main plot point but it was bold and made me squeal a bit. This book weaves in Romanian culture as well as many different personalities and that’s something that I think the author does very well. I did not know much about Romania before reading this book and the only other book that had that culture in it was And I Darken (which I did not like). I liked reading about urban legends that are told in the country and how it related to the fictional story she was telling. I have also been intrigued by the real Vlad Dracul and have watched many documentaries on who he really was, which is fascinating, and makes me want to watch more after reading this book. It also makes me want to make a quick trip to Romania because it sounds gorgeous and I really need to visit a castle like the one Audrey & Thomas studied in ASAP.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those who have read Stalking Jack the Ripper (obviously), but so those who love a good murder mystery. That is the main premise of this book and it is so enthralling. You won’t be disappointed if you give this book/series a try!

Happy reading! ~ Taylor


Review: ‘Legacy of Kings’

This was a very different read for me! I had it on my TBR for a loooooong time and while at the library, it was in the same area as other historical fiction so I decided to pick it up and finally get to reading.

 
Title: Legacy of Kings

Author: Eleanor Herman

Series: Blood of Gods and Royals

Rating: 3/5 stars

Summary

If you’ve read my blogs in the past, you know how much I enjoy historical fiction. I love the mixture of actual history and then the altering that the author does to make the story their own. I feel that it’s super unique based on the author and this story was no different. This book is about a young Alexander the Great and chronicles about 4 different characters’ experiences throughout the book.

Likes

This book automatically made me think of Game of Thrones. The cover gave me that vibe and then I felt like the writing was quite similar too. Now, the book wasn’t quite as long and detailed as those books but I did get a similar feeling while I was reading it. I confess I do not know much about Alexander the Great but this book focuses on his teenage years just before he is about to take the throne. Fictional characters such as Kat and Jacob are woven into the story to give it more depth and expand upon history. I found myself really liking the main female character, Kat, and how her story was woven into the bigger picture. Her friend from home, Jacob, competes in a tournament called the Blood Tournament. Kat follows and is quickly wrapped up in court life due to an interesting occurrence during the competition. It is soon revealed that while the occurrence might have been chance, she has a far more sinister plot for being at the palace. I have to say that I definitely didn’t see the end of the book coming. I was shocked when I read the last page and it definitely made me want to read the second book.

Dislikes

But, I don’t know if that plot twist will convince me to read the second book. While I didn’t hate this book, the writing was a little dated for me and there wasn’t enough action in it. I expected much more action in the story but it didn’t deliver very well. One thing I have to note is that there is a romance aspect in this book but it didn’t seem to play a large part. And I really liked that. I am kind of tired of YA books always having a romance and I thought this book did a great job of not primarily focusing on that and actually advancing the plot without the need of romance. Nevertheless, there were parts of the book that droned on for me and I didn’t feel as enveloped in the story as I was expecting. I also expected a little more in relation to the ‘gods’ aspect and some mythology, because of the series’ title. That was barely in the book.

Recommendation

I would recommend this book to those who are fans of Game of Thrones, or other historical fantasies. I wouldn’t discount the uniqueness of writing about Alexander the Great, as I haven’t seen it done before. I also feel like this book will prompt me to do a bit of research into that time period.

Happy reading! ~ Taylor