Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

Smoke and Iron is the fourth book in a series. See my thoughts on the previous installments 

Smoke and Iron
by Rachel Caine
Read: May 20 - 26, 2018
Published: July 3, 2018 by Berkley Books
Source: ARC from publisher (TY Penguin/Berkley!)
Category: YA, Fantasy, Sequels, Library, Alexandria, Alchemy

Series: book 4/5?
Find: Goodreads 

Book Description: To save the Great Library, the unforgettable characters from Ink and BonePaper and Fire, and Ash and Quill put themselves in danger in the next thrilling adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

The opening moves of a deadly game have begun. Jess Brightwell has put himself in direct peril, with only his wits and skill to aid him in a game of cat and mouse with the Archivist Magister of the Great Library. With the world catching fire, and words printed on paper the spark that lights rebellion, it falls to smugglers, thieves, and scholars to save a library thousands of years in the making...if they can stay alive long enough to outwit their enemies.

Buy the Book: AmazonKindleBarnes & Noble, NookIndieboundiBooksKoboGoogle PlayBooks a Million,

Smoke and Iron is the fourth book in Rachel Caine's great library series and by this point I am Very Invested in the lives of this ensemble cast and their plight to 1) save the library from the evil Archivist and 2) stay alive. The last installment ended on a huge cliffhanger, with these 8 characters in dire situations, and this book picks the story back up right in the middle of that danger. 

In this story we get four different POVs - Jess, Khalila  Morgan and Wolfe - all separated from each other, and all but  Khalila completely alone in hostile environments (she is in a hostile environment accompanied by Santi, Glain, Thomas and Dario). Jess, Khalila  Morgan and Wolfe each has a different mission, and I was eager to watch everything unfold, and desperate for them to get back to each other. I really enjoyed reading from each of their perspectives, as we haven't gotten so much of that before. Have I said yet that I love all of these characters so much?

I admit that I had a little trouble getting into the momentum of this book, meaning that it wasn't a super fast read for me. But honestly, I think that's mostly because of my own fears of what would happen to all of these dear characters - I was so worried about them that I kept stopping to take a breath and then come back later. And many difficult things did happen in this book - one that I'm still devastated about. But also exciting things happen too. Thankfully Smoke and Iron doesn’t end on a huge cliffhanger, although there is definitely a final book to come, and I cannot wait to read it. 

In sum, this is one of my favorite series, and Smoke and Iron picks up where the last one left off and continues the overall storyline in thrilling - and devastating ways. This ensemble cast of 8 has stolen my heart, and I cannot wait to find out what next is in store for them. If you haven't started these books yet, do it now! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Low/Medium - not as harrowing as the end of the last book, but still a lot more to come.  

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

The War I Finally Won
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Read: May 21 - 24, 2018
Published: October 3, 2017 by Dial Books
Source: Gift from @SandieChen (TY friend!)
Category: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction, WWII, England,

Series: book 2/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. What is she?

World War II continues, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, are living with their loving legal guardian, Susan, in a borrowed cottage on the estate of the formidable Lady Thorton—along with Lady Thorton herself and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded cottage is tense enough, and then, quite suddenly, Ruth, a Jewish girl from Germany, moves in. A German? The occupants of the house are horrified. But other impacts of the war become far more frightening. As death creeps closer to their door, life and morality during wartime grow more complex. Who is Ada now? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

NOTE: This is the second book in a series. See my thoughts on the first The War That Saved My Life

This book is SO GOOD. This series is SO GOOD. I just cannot handle how much I love Ada's journey through this duet. It took me quite a while to start The War I Finally Won, because I didn't believe it could live up to the hype of The War That Saved My Life, but it did. I loved this book just as much, or maybe more - I can't decide! 

Two of my most favorite aspects of this series are a) Ada's voice - it is strong and clear all the way through, and I truly experienced this tale though her eyes. Once again, I became completely wrapped up in her emotions and life. And b) as an adult reader I also understood this story - and Ada - though a larger, more complex "adult" lens, especially through Susan's perspective. The layers in this book just keep going. 

In fact, every character was distinct and felt real, and I was able to connect to this story on many different levels. And wow, was it emotional at times. So many things happen as the war begins to hit home for these characters, and I definitely sobbed more than I expected to. The War I Finally Won is the end of the duet, as far as I can tell. And though, I want to know what happens next to these characters, especially as the story concludes still during the war, I also love where the story leaves Ada and Co. and I don't want to bother them again.

One final comment: I listened to this book on audio, and though I generally struggle through first reads of books that way (I'm so much better visually the first time through a story, and typically get antsy in audio and want to pick up the physical book) - I made it all the way through this one by listening, and truly think I loved it even more because of that. Jayne Entwistle is an incredible narrator, and I would definitely recommend this on audio as a first read or reread. 

Love Triangle Factor: N/A (none)
Cliffhanger Scale: Series End

Friday, June 8, 2018

Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser

Whisper of the Tide
by Sarah Tolcser
Read: May 29 - 31, 2018
Published: June 5, 2018 by Bloomsbury YA
Source: ARC from publisher (TY Bloomsbury!)
Category: YA, Fantasy, Sequels, Pirates, Princes, Treasure, Ships, 

Series: book 2/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: The second in the immersive series set along the waterways of a fantasy world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir.

Caro has settled into a routine: Wake, eat breakfast, try to figure out who is going attempt to assassinate Markos today. The currents aren't exactly calm. Markos is in constant danger, and his claim to the Akhaian throne is largely unsupported. Without military strength he doesn't have a chance. Relief appears on the horizon when a powerful Archon wants to side with Markos in his fight for the throne. But in exchange for an army, Markos must marry the Archon’s daughter. They must decide which is more important: their love for each other or the fate of Akhaia. And Caro will have to decide if her destiny is to sail with the tide, or chart her own course.

With shipwrecks, lost treasure, old and new enemies, dark magic, and devastating romance, Sarah Tolcser weaves another epic story about chasing fate.


NOTE: Whisper of the Tide is the second book in a series, following Song of the Current. 

Piracy, lost treasure, betrayals and magical creatures, Whisper of the Tide was such a fun read! I’m always a little apprehensive to start the second in a series but this was just as exciting, if not more so than Song of the Current. In fact, I'm pretty sure I liked this sequel even more. I especially enjoyed Caro’s growth arc. She gets a little lost and makes some bad choices at some parts, but I was rooting for her still so much. And I cared about her through it all. There is a great theme of redemption in this story, and I came to see a few characters in different lights while reading too. 

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the romance, and while I got a little freaked out at one point while reading - my angst meter went off a bit, the romance ended up being one of the best parts of this story for me. After some noble but ill-advised choices, I loved watching Caro and Markos work together, communicate, and figure out their path forward. 

If I could have wished for anything in Whisper of the Tide it would have been a glossary, since there are a lot of characters and I couldn’t remember all of their significance from the first book at first. 

This is the end of the duet but I have high hopes we will see a story in the future from Markos’ sister’s perspective. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: end of duet. Possible set up for a future companion book.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: Out Today!

The Kiss Quotient
by Helen Hoang
Read: April 11 - 14, 2018
Published: June 5, 2018 by Berkley
Source: NetGalley (TY Penguin!)
Category: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, 

Book Description: A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he's making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

The Kiss Quotient was just as adorable as everyone has been saying! I loved these characters to pieces. Stella and Michael are complex and flawed and compliment each other perfectly. Stella is a very successful econometrician who has no experience with relationships. She also happens to have Aspergers and decides the best way to gain some relationship experience is by hiring a male escort. That's how Michael Phan comes into her life. Neither of them expects how much they're drawn to the other. 

Both Stella and Michael are very confident and very insecure in different ways. And though they don't seem like they'd make sense at all, they are incredibly endearing and a great match. One of my most favorite parts of this story is the way that Stella and Michael see each other, and the way they're always encouraging and supporting each other. This is a contemporary romance that's not to be missed.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 


About the Author

Helen Hoang is that shy person who never talks. Until she does. And the worst things fly out of her mouth. She read her first romance novel in eighth grade and has been addicted ever since. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in line with what was previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome. Her journey inspired THE KISS QUOTIENT. She currently lives in San Diego, California with her husband, two kids, and pet fish.

Find the Author: TwitterInstagramFacebook

Watch the Book Trailer

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes
by Jenn Bennett
Read: April 10 - 15, 2018
Published: April 3, 2018 by Simon Pulse
Source: NetGalley (TY Macmillan!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, Romance, Second-Chances, Hiking, Astronomy
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Depository: Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?


As I've come to expect from Jenn Bennett's YA romances, STARRY EYES features messy, real, relatable characters with interesting interests - and I adored it. Lennon loves reptiles and is all things goth. But also hiking and mapmaking. Zero wants to be an astrophysicist and explore the stars. This is how (after some unexpected drama) the end up together on a backpacking trip to a star party to see a once-a-year meteor shower. 

Jenn Bennett also features ultra swoon romances and I couldn't wait to get to that part of this book. And once we were there, that part did not disappoint at all. However, this story was a little tricky for me at first because it is a second chance romance, and those are always hard for me. Some of the beginning where Zorie thinks she likes Brett drove me a little bananas - right along with Lennon. Also, some of Zorie and Lennon's past was hard to read. And I took a star away mostly because I couldn't buy that exact level of miscommunication and drama. (spoiler) especially how no one figured out that Lennon's dad had died (this was the most unbelievable to me due to social media) + Lennon's complete lack of communication at that time + Zorie's moving on so quickly.(end/spoiler) It was like the perfect storm of trouble and I couldn't buy it 100%. 

Besides those hiccups, I adored watching Zorie and Lennon fall for each other again, and their history makes it completely understandable how it all happens over a few days hike. Speaking of the hike, I am dying to visit these parks out west. Bennett always describes settings in her books, in this case the wilderness, that makes me want to book a flight to a new adventure ASAP. 

Love Triangle Factor: Low (decoy boy)(spoiler) Many will  say none, because there's never a question where this is going. Still, the beginning made me a little bit nervous, since Zorie does think she likes Brett for a time. (end/spoiler)
Love Triangle Factor: None

Thursday, April 26, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Blog Tour organized by Wednesday Books

GUYS, I cannot express to you how much I loved this book. And yes, I know there's a lot of hype around it, but for me it's totally warranted. I actually waited a while to start this because I was so worried that the story wouldn't live up to my high expectations. But it just cut all of those expectations to pieces. With a sharp axe. And then it exceeded them.

Below are some brief thoughts on this book - sometimes the more I love a story, the less I say about it, which was the case here. After that, author Adrienne Young stops by to answer some questions, including her thoughts on love triangles. Don't miss that. 

Sky in the Deep
by Adrienne Young
Read: January 21 - 28, 2018
Published: April 24, 2018 by Wednesday Books
Source: NetGalley (TY Macmillan!)
Category: YA, Historical, Fantasy, Vikings, Family, Standalones, Enemies-to-Love
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother's betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.
My Brief Book Thoughts: 

Wow. Sky and the Deep was incredible. Ferocious and thoughtful and intensely character focused. The strong theme of family and loyalty plus an achy slow building romance that was even sweeter for the wait to get there, all made this a completely addicting read. Eelyn had my heart from beginning to end, and I became totally focused on her complicated emotional and physical journey through this book. Nothing this girl faced was easy but she was fierce through it all. 

Love Triangle Factor: None 
Cliffhanger Scale: Stand-alone. More of these gorgeous fantasy standalones, please.

Q&A With Author Adrienne Young

Q: What’s one quality that Eelyn brings out of Fiske and vice versa? If they suddenly discovered they were were-beasts along with Iri, what form would they each take?

Adrienne Young: I think they bring the same thing out of each other – vulnerability. If there were were-beasts, Eelyn would be a raven, Fiske a bear, and Iri a stag.

Q: I was excited to see you at ALA Midwinter this year, especially when we had a little discussion about love triangles that made my heart so happy. For all my Love is Not a Triangle readers, would you tell me again your thoughts on triangles?

AY: I really hate love triangles. I think the reason is that I can’t relate to them at all. They feel unrealistic to me and I’m loyal to the core, so I can’t root for more than one person and it makes me angry at the main character for being so divided. I don’t get the love triangle appeal at all.

Q: What type of research did you do for your characters and world-building? What languages did you study to implement the languages that the Aska and the Riki speak? What was the strangest thing you had to research for this book?

AY: I did a ton of research for this story. I actually really love to research things so it was a lot of fun. A lot of it was stuff like clothing, landscape, weapons, food, etc. But I did a lot of research into Norse mythology as well to build a foundation for this world. The language used is Old Norse, but it’s a dead language so studying it was really difficult. There is a lot of controversy about it among scholars and there’s no real way to fully understand it, so I just did my best based on my own investigation. I’m definitely not an expert! The weirdest thing I had to research was how to tear out someone’s eyeball. Yuck.

Q: What was your writing process like for SKY IN THE DEEP?

AY: Complete and utter obsession. When I draft, I get really buried in the world and I don’t really come up for air until I get to the end. I write as much as I can and limit my intake of other influencers that could mess with my mindset. I don’t watch TV or movies or listen to music that’s not on my playlist, and I kind of don’t have a social life until it’s done.

Q: Any details about the companion novel?

AY: I can’t say anything about the companion novel yet! But I’m hoping that we can start talking about it soon because I am really excited about it!

About the Author

Adrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun. 

Follow the author: Twitter | Website | Instagram | Goodreads

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