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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Girl Power Graphic Novels

Blog Tour Organized by First Second Books
See the full schedule HERE

Quests and adventures and monsters to defeat, here are a few of my favorite things about each of these Girl Powered graphic books:

(Click the title links for descriptions, buy links and other information about these stories courtesy of Goodreads)

The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson
One of my favorite things about this book was watching Isabel discover an entirely new world and in the process find her own voice and bravery. This book also has a colorful cast, and I especially enjoyed Button. Major bonus too, the artwork in this book is gorgeous. 

Cucumber Quest series by Gigi D.G.
What I loved about these books is how unexpected clever and engaging they were. The art appears to be very cutsey at first, and yes the characters are named after food, but the story kept me reading. And I ended up falling in love with the art along with this eccentric cast of characters led by Cucumber and Almond. When I got to the end of the first book, I couldn't wait to pick up the second and now I can't wait to read books three and four. 

Giants Beware! series by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado
I think these were my favorite books of the group. I just love Claudette's determination to battle giants - and dragons - and monsters no matter what she's told about them or how many obstacles are put in her path. I also love her two sidekicks: her best friend Marie who just wants to be a princess, and her brother Gaston, a chef with dreams of being a master sword maker. The three of them make a fierce and hilarious team. I couldn't wait to find out what they'd get up to next, and how they'd help each other out of each new predicament. I also like that each book in this series is its own story. 

Scarlett Hart: Monster Hunter by Marcus Sedgwick and Thomas Taylor
One thing I love about this book is Scarlett Hart's determination. She is told that she is too young to battle monsters, but she is determined to do it anyway. She's also really good at it. This story has some great monster battles, inventions and a butler sidekick that made it a whole lot of fun. 

Star Scouts series by Mike Lawrence
I'm not sure if it was intentional (or I misplaced the first) but I only seem to have received the second book in this series - major sad because what I read was great and that was definitely my other favorite of the group! I love all the female friendships in this book, and I was hooked on the adventure, which also kept me laughing. Avani's dad's determination to help find and rescue his daughter was especially amusing. Scouts in space are awesome! I need to get a copy of the first in the series now.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Not if I Save You First
by Ally Carter
Read: February 12 - 16, 2018
Published: March 27, 2018 by Scholastic Press
Source: Galley from publisher
Category: YA, Contemporary, Thriller, Best friends to enemies to love, Alaska, Wilderness, President 

Book Description: Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Three things I loved about Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter: 

1) Yay for another Ally Carter book in third person. So many people say they prefer first person perspective, but I typically prefer third, and for this author's books, I think she works best in third person. Now my favorite series of Carter's remains Heist Society, and I was so excited to see her get back to that POV. You're probably laughing at how important this is to me, but it is! 

2) This story and it's twisty thriller plot was great fun. Maddie is the daughter to a former Secret Service agent, and former best friend to the president's son. But she has been living in the Alaskan wilderness with her father for the past 6 years after a kidnapping incident at the White House. This girl is a survivor and highly adaptable to any situation, whether it be a fancy party or a trek through the wilderness. She is sharp, quick thinking and ready to act in a crisis, and a crisis comes hard and fast in this book. Like all of Carter's heroines, Maddie is definitely the one to watch in this story, and I couldn't wait to find out what she'd come up with next. 

3) Romance! Let's face it, for Ally Carter books, I'm always here for the romance. Now I do wish that we'd gotten a little bit more explanation where the letters were concerned. I needed more talking through that situation. But I really liked this second-chance romance and the way all the danger and action brought these two together again. Maddie and Logan have lots of great tension from the start, and I was all over watching them work their way through their unresolved feelings for each other while they fight to stay alive, and escape the dangers that have found them in the Alaskan wilderness.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

My bookish inspiration: 
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