Monday, June 19, 2017

Early Review: Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Ash and Quill
by Rachel Caine
Read: March 31- April 4, 2017
Published: July 11, 2017 by Berkley
Source: NetGalley (TY PRH!)
Category: Fantasy, Libraries, Alexandria, YA
Series: The Great Library, Book 3 of 5(?)

Book Description: The unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire unite to save the Great Library of Alexandria from itself in this electrifying adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealousy guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny....

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library....
 
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Oh goodness gracious this series is going to kill me before it's over. If you haven't started these books yet, check out my thoughts on the previous installments, Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire

Here are five things you should know about Ash and Quill. 

First thing to know is that this is not a trilogy. That's good and bad, because it means we get more time with these characters! But it also means they have so much more to face. I believe there will be 2 more books to come. At least one more for sure. 

Second, I am completely invested in the lives of these characters. Jess, Thomas, Morgan, Khalila, Dario, Glain, Wolfe and Santi begin the story captured by the Burners in Philadelphia. But a group filled with this much brain power and scheming always has a plan for escape - usually a dangerous one. As with each installment, this one takes the characters to new locations as they face more and more danger. The opposition is closing in on all sides and the stakes are higher than ever. The road these 8 are traveling was never going to be smooth or straight, and sometimes you have to go through the potholes (or a raging fire) to get through it. I love the dynamic between these characters. They each contribute something different to their group that is vital, but they've also become close friends and companions. I love the camaraderie between them, and the way they uniquely understand each other. 

Third, Brendan, Jess' twin plays a larger role in this installment. Although I've never been quite sure whether to trust him or not, I enjoyed watching these brothers together. I'm always fascinated by twin bonds, and something I was hoping would happen regarding him finally does in this book!  

Fourth, the romance in this story continues to be steady but not the focus. No love triangles anywhere to be found or unnecessary angst either. Wolfe and Santi are as amazing as ever, and Jess and Morgan are still sweet and new, but I loved the growing strength of their bond and the way they work together and communicate with each other. Even Dario and Khalila have their moments. 

Fifth, this story ends on a massive cliffhanger that had me screaming! But also so so excited for the next book. 

Now I'm just going to go and quietly fall apart as I think about how long I have to wait for the next installment in their story. If you're not reading this series, you should be!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: HIGH

Friday, June 16, 2017

Blog Tour: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Excerpt

ABOUT THE BOOK: 

The Idea of You
by Robinne Lee
Released: June 13 2017 
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Category: Adult, contemporary fiction, celebrities, romance

Book Description: When Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of a prestigious art gallery in Los Angeles, takes her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band, she does so reluctantly and at her ex-husband’s request. The last thing she expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.

What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s disparate worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways. And for Solène, it is as much a reclaiming of self, as it is a rediscovery of happiness and love. When their romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her new status has impacted not only her life, but the lives of those closest to her.



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BOOK EXCERPT:




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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robinne Lee was born and raised in Westchester County, New York and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children. She has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds, Don Cheadle in Hotel for Dogs, and Jennifer Garner in 13 Going on 30. Her most recent role was Christian Grey’s trusted COO, Ros Bailey in Fifty Shades Darker and in next year’s Fifty Shades Freed. An inactive member of the New York Bar, Robinne has served as a producer on various independent films and regularly speaks on panels regarding the roles of women and actors of color in the industry.

Find Robinne Lee: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Want by Cindy Pon

Want
by Cindy Pon
Read: May 26 - 31, 2017 
Published: June 13, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Source: ALA MW
Tags: YA, Future Taipei, Taiwan, Pollution, Viruses 

Series: Yes, book 1/2? (book 2 was just announced!)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository Indiebound

Book Description: From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?
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Want is a riot of sensations. This book takes place in a future Taipei that is as bleak as it is richly drawn (that is to say very). Although I wouldn't want to live in this version of the world, I felt like I was experiencing Jason Zhou's home with all of my senses - from the brown smog skies (yuck) to the chaotic city life to the delicious food.

In Zhou's version of Taipei, pollution and industry are choking the environment all over the world, turning the blue skies to brown and leaving disease in its wake. While the poor are made to suffer in the polluted atmosphere, the rich wear special suits that regulate their airflow and protect them from the environment, further separating the haves, or you, from the have nots, or mei. Zhou's mother died as a result of exposure to the polluted air, and he, along with his friends, are determined to change their society, beginning with the disparity between the rich and poor. 

Their goal is to take down Jin Corporation, the maker of the protective suits that the wealthy wear, because it's pretty clear to Zhou and his friends that Jin Corp is also spreading the disease that makes the suits necessary. Their plan involves Zhou getting close to Jin's daughter Daiyu, which gets complicated, because Daiyu isn't exactly what he expected, in fact he might actually like her. 

I loved the characters in this story. Zhou is the narrator and has a close group of friends, all of whom are working together for this mission. I love a good squad story! Zhou also gets to know Daiyu the daughter of Jin Corp and, like him, I ended up liking her better than I thought I would. Of course there's a bit of a romance too. This story begins and ends with action - a kidnapping that sets the course of the book and then an intense rush of an ending where the characters' plans are carried out. But I also enjoyed the middle of the book, where Zhou must infiltrate the you society, and gets a look at his world from another angle.  

Conclusion: Want has an amazingly strong sense of place with its setting in future Taipei, and I had a great time following Zhou and friends as they fought to take down Jin Corp.  This book is also a chilling reminder of what can happen if we're not careful with our environment, and it made me want to get out into nature and breath some clean air. I definitely recommend this book!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. Ends in a solid place, but with more story that could be explored, and a sequel called Ruse has just been announced.

I took Jason Zhou on a bike ride. 
I thought he'd appreciate some blue skies and fresh air. 
Follow my bookish Instagram @loveisnotatriangle

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow by Mary Weber

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow
by Mary Weber
Read: March 16 - 17, 2017
Published: June 6, 2017 by Thomas Nelson
Source: Galley from publisher (TY!!)
Category: YA, SciFi, Gamers, Siblings, Aliens, Second Chance Romance 
Series: Duet 1/2

Book Description: Ever since the Delonese ice-planet arrived eleven years ago, Sofi's dreams have been vivid. Alien. In a system where Earth's corporations rule in place of governments and the humanoid race orbiting the moon are allies, her only constant has been her younger brother, Shilo. As an online gamer, Sofi battles behind the scenes of Earth's Fantasy Fighting arena where Shilo is forced to compete in a mix of real and virtual blood sport. But when a bomb takes out a quarter of the arena, Sofi's the only one who believes Shilo survived. She has dreams of him. And she's convinced he's been taken to the ice-planet.

Except no one but ambassadors are allowed there.

For Miguel, Earth's charming young playboy, the games are of a different sort. As Ambassador to the Delonese, his career has been built on trading secrets and seduction. Until the Fantasy Fight's bomb goes off. Now the tables have turned and he's a target for blackmail. The game is simple: Help the blackmailers, or lose more than anyone can fathom, or Earth can afford.
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The Evaporation of Sofi Snow is a book of layers. On the surface this is a fast book set in a futuristic world ruled by corporations and filled with gamers, gadgets and aliens. The excitement and twists keep coming, and I couldn't stop reading once I started. But under the surface of this high action story are themes of loss and family bonds and identity, as well as what it means to be human, value life and have true relationships, all of which turn up the emotional intensity. I love stories that could be read on many levels and that are not just one thing, and this book features both of those elements. Amidst the rush of following Sofi on her quest to save her brother, each reader will be able to find something deeper for themselves these pages.  

Three things you should know about The Evaporation of Sofi Snow before you start:

1) Eleven years ago another planet appeared in Earth's orbit. It's people are called the Delonese, and though they mostly look human, they are not exactly. 
2) The most important person in Sofi's world is her brother Shilo. She will do anything to protect him. 
3) Eighteen months ago, Sofi met a charming boy who stole her heart and then broke it. She's determined not to lose her heart to anyone again. 

This book begins with Sofi, a brilliant gamer girl competing in the Fanfight Games - a mixted virtual and reality competition that the whole world tunes in to watch every 6 months. Sofi is the girl behind the screens while her brother Shilo is the one in front of the cameras and on the ground of the stadium, fighting to stay ahead of the other players also sponsored by corporations. But Shilo goes missing when the arena is bombed by another competitor, and though he's officially declared dead, Sofi is certain that he is not. Stopping at nothing to find him, Sofi soon realizes her only option is to convince Miguel, the young ambassador who broke her heart eighteen months ago, to take her to the Delonese ice-planet where she's sure Shilo is being held. Although this is not her favorite plan, Sofi will not let past feelings get in the way of her brother. 

My favorite thing about this book is that many things are much more than they appear at first. Nothing is just what it seems on the surface, and that includes the characters. Who is Sofi under that confident armor she projects, and what losses have made her this way? Miguel projects a playboy persona, and it's true that he and Sofi share a complicated and painful past, but who is he really? In this story we get both of their POVs and slowly as the narrative unfolds, their layers are pealed back and exposed. Although the focus of this tale is Sofi's quest to find her brother, and within that herself, a lot of other elements are at play, including a second chance romance. It was hard for me to read about Miguel and Sofi's past, but also rewarding to watch them begin to face that and each other as they worked together. I'm definitely looking forward to more of them in the next installment. 

The Evaporation of Sofi Snow ends in the middle of a high intensity moment, and I'm now dying for the next installment of this duet!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: High

Photo from my instagram. Follow me @loveisnotatriangle

Monday, June 5, 2017

Early Review: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

What to Say Next
by Julie Buxbaum
Read: January 23 - 24, 2017
Published: July 11, 2017 by Delacorte Press
Source: ALA MW 2017 
Category: YA, Contemporary, Grief, Romance, Autism

Book Description: Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
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What to Say Next manages to be both a quick read and sweet romance, while also tackling some heavy themes. 

Setup
Kit is trying to figure out how to piece her life back together after her dad died in a car accident a month ago. Nothing feels the same anymore, and she doesn't know how to fit back into her world of friends and school and extracurriculars. That's when she decides to sit with David Drucker at lunch. David is a boy who sits alone, wears big headphones all the time, and tries to go unnoticed from his classmates. Kit thinks sitting with David will give her a moment of peace and quiet. But then he surprises Kit by talking to her - and in a way that is direct and honest and refreshing to Kit. They begin a friendship that seems unlikely at first, but works in an amazing way. 

Breakdown
Both of the main characters in this story grabbed me right away. Kit is still struggling with grief over her father's recent death and she is putting constant pressure on herself for not feeling back to "normal" already. Then further revelations come in this story, which are even more of a blow for her. As hard as it was to watch Kit face this, I appreciate that the author gave Kit the room to walk through her pain and loss without rushing her out of it. I could also understand Kit's connection to David, and her need to seek out someone outside of her friend circle who sees life differently from her. 

David is brilliant and straightforward, and by high school standards, really weird. Although he knows the label doesn't exist in the DSM5, David would tell you that he falls on the Asperger's spectrum (now I think it's high functioning autism). This boy, I loved everything about him. He struggles to understand social cues and doesn't like loud noise or disorder, but he does the best that he can in a place that is hostile to anything different. David has the most tremendous support from his family, who made me cry at how amazing they are. And maybe surprisingly, or not, he is a really great match for Kit. I love, love the way he sees her, and the fact that she recognizes his beauty too (inside and out) even when no one else does. They work in a way that doesn't make sense to everyone else. But with mean classmates and new revelations and trying to survive life, their road isn't the easiest. GAH! I love these two so much. The only thing I wish is that there'd been an epilogue, or a little bit more at the end. 

Highly Recommended. So far I have loved both of Julie Buxbaum's YA contemporaries. I can't wait to see what she writes next. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

P.S. I've been a little MIA because I was in NYC for BEA last week. It was a great trip, though I missed seeing so many people who weren't there this year! Will share more about my experience in another post. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

BLOG TOUR: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Blog tour organized by Fierce Reads
See the full schedule below 


This book is completely adorable! I laughed so much at how  Desi used the plots of K-dramas in her quest for love. It's impossible not to root for her. But I think my favorite part was Desi's relationship with her father. 

Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to Desi and the rest of the cast of I Believe in a Thing Called Love with a Would You Rather style interview. 


I Believe in a Thing Called Love
by Maurene Goo
Published: May 30, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository Indiebound

Book Description: Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She's for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. 

She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It's a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama. 
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Thanks for visiting Love is not a triangle today guys! I'm excited you're all here to answer some questions for me. Just a few rules to remember: no skipping questions, and free to elaborate on your answers! 

1) Would you rather always have to say everything on your mind OR never speak again?

Desi – Everything on my mind! I think I already do this, essentially, right? To be honest I think that it’s unhealthy for you to keep everything bottled up inside.
Luca – Never speak again. #Goals
Fiona – Desi picked everything on her mind, right? If this happens I’m moving.
Wes – If I never spoke again, could I use BODY LANGUAGE?
Violet – Can Desi never speak again?

2) Would you rather have a rewind button OR a pause button in your life?

Desi – Pause, there’s not enough time in the world for everything I want to do.
Luca – Rewind to when Desi’s pants fell off in front of me.
Fiona – Pause—at the good parts. *waggles eyebrows*
Wes – Rewind to that time I was the #1 ranking online Settlers of Catan champ. Sigh.
Violet – Can I fast forward out of this interview?

3) If everything that came out of your mouth for the rest of your life either had to be sung OR spoken in rhyme, which would you rather?

Desi – I am the WORST singer but speaking in rhyme sounds like another type of torture. Hmm…can we negotiate this one?
Luca – Spoken rhyme if only to see if I could rap, somehow. What?! I think I could.
Fiona – If I have to live in a world where people do this, just kill me.
Wes – A combo of both—and add air guitar.
Violet - I’m a really good singer so I would sing. What? I AM.

2) Would you rather never play OR play but always lose?

Desi – LOSE? What does that even mean.
Luca – Never play. I’m assuming we’re talking sports here.
Fiona – I’m down to lose but only if I’m not playing against Desi who is THE WORST SORE LOSER.
Wes – I always win so this question does not apply to my body.
Violet – Easy: Never play. Trying is so…Desi.

5) Would you rather be on a survival reality show OR dating game show?

Desi – It’s like I’ve been waiting my entire life for this question. Survival, and I would be in charge of my team.
Luca – Is Desi going to see my answers? No? Ok, then dating game show. I don’t want to be in nature.
Fiona – Dating, obviously. That’s my jam.
Wes – I know you’re all expecting dating because I’m so good at it, but I choose survival show because I’m also really good at pitching tents.
Violet – WES! (And put me in that survival show with Desi, I’d love to kick her butt.)

HAHA. You guys continue to crack me up. Wes, I started singing some Little Mermaid after your first answer. Thank you again for stopping by to chat with me! 


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About the Author

Maurene Goo grew up in a Los Angeles suburb surrounded by floral wallpaper and piles of books. She studied communication at UC San Diego and then later received a Masters in publishing, writing, and literature at Emerson College. Before publishing her first book, Since You Asked, she worked in both textbook and art book publishing. She also has very strong feelings about tacos and houseplants and lives in Los Angeles.

Find Maureen Goo: Goodreads | Twitter | Website
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Follow The Tour: 



26-May – Kristina @ https://gonepecanla.wordpress.com/



29-May – Carmen @ https://yawednesdays.com/

30-May – Angel @ avdreader.wordpress.com

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