Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

Thick as Thieves 
by Megan Whalen Turner
Read: February 7 - 9, 2017
Published:  May 16, 2017 by Greenwillow Books

Source: ALA MW 2017
Tags: YA, Fantasy, 

Series: The Queen's Thief 5/6?
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository Indiebound


Thick as Thieves is the eagerly anticipated new stand-alone novel set in the world of the Queen’s Thief. New York Times—bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner’s entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels bring to life the world of the epics and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power, passion, revenge, and deception.

Kamet, a secretary and slave to his Mede master, has the ambition and the means to become one of the most powerful people in the Empire. But with a whispered warning the future he envisioned is wrenched away, and he is forced onto a very different path. Set in the world of the Queen’s Thief, an ordinary hero takes on an extraordinary mission. Includes two maps, a map of the world of the Queen’s Thief, and a map of Kamet’s journey.
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Spoiler free thoughts

The Queen's Thief series is one of my favorite series of all time. I just cannot express how much I am in love with this world and Gen and Irene and Eddis and Costis and Sophos and and now Kamet and and and. I count myself lucky to have discovered this series after the fourth book was released, as they come out every five years or more. That means I didn't have quite so long to wait for number five, but of course the wait is on for six. *cue sobbing* For newbies to the series, each book is a complete entity with its own narrative approach, but they all build on each other. So while this addition is being called a "standalone," I would argue strongly that it's in fact, part of a series, and you must read the previous four installments to understand the magic of this one. Trust me. 

If you're interested in my thoughts on the previous books in this series, see my reviews of The Thief & The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia and A Conspiracy of Kings


Every book in The Queen's Thief series is something different, but they all build on each other in a magical way that is defies explanation. My favorite remains The King of Attolia, but this is a more than worthy edition to the collection. MWT's books are filled with quiet moments and an intense thoughtfulness that add up to greatness. You never know where you're going until all of a sudden you're there, and then you're blown away when you turn around and see the full picture. I was thrilled to learn which characters would be the focus of this installment, and I loved the theme of an unlikely friendship. I cannot recommend this series enough.


Thick As Thieves is narrated in first person by Kamet, secretary and slave to Nahuseresh
, the nephew of the Mede Emperor and one time suitor of the Queen of Attolia. Despite being a slave, Kamet is content in his high position within Nahuseresh's household, and as his master advances in rank, Kamet has the potential to as well. Nothing would induce him to leave his role, until one day, his perfectly planned out future comes crashing down and the entire course of his life changes. This leads to a journey fraught with much danger and adventure, as well as a an unlikely friendship that Kamet never would have anticipated, and which had me cheering. 

One of my forever favorite parts of this series is the opportunity to see beloved characters from different perspectives, and this installment does not disappoint in that respect. Cue sobbing for the next installment. 


Love Triangle Factor: None (this book is much more focused on friendship)

Cliffhanger Scale: Low. This seres has at least one more book, though this part of the larger narrative is complete. 


Monday, April 24, 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer
by Laini Taylor
Read: March 2 - 6, 2017
Published: March 28, 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: ALA
Category: YA, Fantasy

Book Description: The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.
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I am a huge fan of Laini Taylor's books. She creates intensely details fantasy worlds, characters who jump vividly off the page and romances that tear you apart with their beauty and longing. I could not wait to get my hands on her newest work Strange the Dreamer, and when I finally read it, I was completely blown away. This story is everything I expected in her books and more, including the fantastic creatures and heartbreak amidst the gorgeous words and imagery. 

Strange the Dreamer is not fast paced, but it is completely mesmerizing, and I was enthralled all the way through. I love the way the story begins with Lazlo Strange and builds slowly and powerfully. I fell harder and harder in love with Lazlo and then Sarai, and then their connection with each other as the tale unfolded. Especially Lazlo, whose love of stories and dreams of seeing Weep made me ache with longing along with him. 

Strange the Dreamer has a dreamlike quality that mirrors the themes in a mind-bendingly gorgeous way. But dreams can easily tip into nightmares and this story creeps into terrifying darkness as well. I loved everything about this tale save one thing that broke me into a million pieces. I'm never going to get over it, though I should have expected it. I'm such an emotional reader, and I was so mad when I finished that it took me a few weeks to recover, but there's no denying this story's magical pull. 

I know I didn't give very many specific details in these thoughts, which is mostly because this story was so wonderful to discover on its own without much influence. Also, often the less I say, the more protective I feel about a book. I highly, highly recommend this, and now I'm desperate for the sequel Muse of Nightmares. 

Love Triangle Factor: None 
Cliffhanger Scale: High


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Blog Tour: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Review + Giveaway

Tour organized by Hannah @ The Iris Banana Review
See the full schedule below

I feel incredibly honored to be able to review Letters to the Lost as part of the blog tour. This book is amazing. Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for a giveaway too!

Letters to the Lost
by Brigid Kemmerer 
Read: March 18 - 20, 2017
Published: April 4, 2017 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Source: NetGalley (TY!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, Letter Writing, Loss, Photography, Cemeteries 

Book Description: Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at thelocal cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
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My Thoughts 

Even though she can't read them anymore, Juliet Young still writes her mother letters by hand. But instead of mailing them to wherever her mom is currently on photography assignment, Juliet leaves the letters by her grave. Declan Murphy mows the grass in the cemetery as part of a court-ordered community service. When he comes across one of Juliet's letters he reads it...and writes back.  Neither knows who the other is, and they don't expect the strength of connection they find in each other's words. But while they feel free to express their hearts under the anonymity of their letters, things become a lot more complicated when they realize they aren't actually the strangers they think they are. 

I loved this book so much! The You've Got Mail trope is popular right now, and I've read a bunch of books with this set up. But Letters to the Lost is definitely a favorite. In many ways that's because of the depth of emotion in these page - how raw story is, and the way the dual narrative allows us to get inside of both Juliet and Declan's heads. It's not as much waiting for the big reveal - when will they realize who the other is? - though I couldn't wait for that. It's aching for the pain and loss both characters are carrying, and wanting so much for them to be okay. It's seeing how much they crave connection, and watching how the letters gave them something to hold onto in a time that was dark for both of them. 

Both Juliet and Declan are/have dealt with some really tough stuff in their lives, and this book does not shy away from any of it. This book gutted me, but it's also uplifting amidst everything these two are facing. I love that Juliet and Declan find each other amidst all of that, even though for a while, they don't know it's each other they've found. And boy do they spark against the other at first. The chemistry is strong with these two, even when they're yelling at each other. 

Another thing I loved about this story is that Juliet and Declan each has a supportive friend who sticks with them through it all. Declan's friend Rev is my favorite, and I'm thrilled he's getting his own book next year. Though they feel nothing but alone and misunderstood at first, Juliet and Declan also both find other supportive people in their lives - teachers, family members, coworkers. To that end, both of their relationships with their parents go through an evolution in this book, and I wasn't prepared for how affected was by those relationships. 

I truly don't have anything negative to say about this book. Highly Recommended.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone - Next year there is to be a companion book from Declan's friend Rev's POV called More Than We Can Tell

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About the Author

BRIGID KEMMERER is author of Letters to the Lost (Bloomsbury; April 4, 2017), a dark, contemporary Young Adult romance; Thicker than Water (Kensington, December 29, 2015), a New Adult paranormal mystery with elements of romance; and the YALSA-nominated Elemental series of five Young Adult novels and three e-novellas which Kirkus Reviews calls “refreshingly human paranormal romance” and School Library Journal describes as “a new take on thesupernatural genre.” She lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and four sons.

Find: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Instagram

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Follow the Tour

Week 1:

Week 2:

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Giveaway

3 Finished Copies of Letters to the Lost (US Only)

Or go HERE for the giveaway





Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Blog Tour: Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Blog Tour organized by Griffin Teen

A Crown of Wishes is the gorgeous sequel to The Star-Touched Queen and I loved it even more! 


A Crown of Wishes
by Roshani Chokshi
Read: March 11 - 13, 2017
Published: March 28, 2017 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: NetGalley (TY!)
Category: YA, fairytales, myths, Indian culutre


Book Description: Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.


Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.
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Book Thoughts: 

Crown of Wishes is a lush and enchanting tale full of magic, deception and swoon. The story is narrated by both Gauri and Vikram, and I loved both of them. These two approach the world very differently, arguing and sparking against each other from the start. While she is more likely to fight her way out of a situation with blood and sharp daggers, Vikram's wits are his weapon of choice. These two clash from the start, especially as they meet when Vikram is supposed to be telling Gauri of her upcoming execution. Obviously the meeting doesn't go as either of them expected, and it is the beginning of a reluctant partnership that completely changes the course of both of their lives. 

From the start, these two banter endlessly over their differences, but those differences are also what make them such a strong team, and slowly through their journey to compete in the Tournament of Wishes, they realize that they are not as dissimilar as they once thought. I loved watching these two characters fall for the other slowly through the course of the book, as they also realize how much more they could accomplish when they support each other. 

But this book isn't just a love story, and Gauri and Vikram each have their own path to forge ahead. As they they face the wonders, as well as the perils of the Otherworld where nothing is what it seems, including it's various residents, they begin to see themselves and their histories and abilities more clearly. I especially love the message that every person's story is interconnected to someone else's, and can look completely different depending on your perspective. That is a hard but important lesson for both of them that weaves through the entire book.   

A Crown of Wishes is a sensory experience of delicious food, decadent textiles, new sights to explore and dangers to escape around every corner all wrapped in the fabric of Indian culture and mythology. Don't miss this story! 


Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone - Companion to The Star-Touched Queen. I don't know if this is the end of the companion series, but there is one character I would love to see get her own story. 

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About the Author

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, "The Star Maiden," was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award. 




Monday, March 20, 2017

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately 
By Jenn Bennett
Read: January 6 - 9, 2017
Published: April 4, 2017 by Simon Pulse
Source: Borrowed from Andi @AndiABCs
Category: YA, Contemporary, 

Book Depository: In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
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This was so so good. In all genres Jenn Bennett is a favorite author of mine! Here are some reasons I loved Alex, Approximately:

1) The setting is so vivid it's tangible. 
This town came alive with colors, sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Cornado Cove is a Californian mid-coastal tourist town with lots of surfing, a boardwalk, delicious food (I was hungry every minute of reading this book), and a weird and wacky museum called the Cavern Palace. I'm desperate to book a trip to visit. I nearly cried when I looked it up and found out it isn't a real place (is it based on one?). 

2) I liked Bailey right away. She's got some things she's fighting from her past and she's a little bit of the broken girl, but her tone was still upbeat and hopeful. I didn't get the heavy 'here we go...' feel with her at all. Not that that isn't an honest portrayal within this trope, but I get exhausted following a character who's fighting against everything. I enjoyed watching Bailey learn to open up and get closer to her father and make friends with Grace and of course get to know Porter better. She makes mistakes (who doesn't?!), but she learns from them and doesn't create unnecessary angst for herself. I do wish we'd been able to explore her relationship with her mom more, though. It felt a little tacked on to the end. 

3) I love the banter between Bailey and Porter and everything about watching their relationship develop. I like that they don't seem to have anything in common at first but the more they got to know each other, the more they realized that wasn't the case at all. Even when their direct interests didn't align, they were constantly fascinated by and being challenged by each other. Jenn Bennett is so good at showing a relationship develop from awkward meetings and misconceptions to fluttery feelings, changing perceptions and more more more. It was gooood. 

4) This story is a little bit hate to love and a little bit You've Got Mail and all adorable summer read. Also I totally thought about the song they reference at the end while reading this book! 

I can't wait until this comes out for real. Recommended for sure! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Six Degrees of Separation - Book Style (6):
Wintersong to Thick as Thieves

How is Wintersong related to Thick as Thieves?

Guys, it has been over FOUR years since I posted one of these. YIKES! Where has the time gone? I used to love this feature, and I'm excited to share a new iteration of it. 

If you're new to my Six Degrees of Separation posts (which I'm sure more of you are), this is where I look at some of the books I've read recently and make connections between them. In today's post I'm featuring 7 books with 6 connections. These are all non-contemporary reads, because that's mostly what I've been reading recently. The similarities between them are spoiler free. 

Ready?


In Wintersong and Caraval a responsible elder sister will do anything to rescue her flighty, younger sibling. Along the way she will let loose her own inhibitions and find love. 




Both Caraval and Crown of Wishes begin with an invitation to play a mysterious game, and feature an unlikely partnership that turns to more (aka swoons abound!).




Crown of Wishes and Strange the Dreamer feature boys who look for magic and dream of the impossible, and their lives changes in unexpected ways when they find it.  


Two of the main characters in Strange the Dreamer and Traitor to the Throne are powerful godspawn who have become trapped in places they want to escape. 



In Traitor to the Throne and The Valiant, powerful heroines are captured against their will and taken away from their beloved homes and families to the capital city of their lands. There they are pressed into service to the ruler. 

 
Both The Valiant and Thick as Thieves center around empire slaves - the former character goes towards that life, the latter, away from it - who take long journeys where friendships are formed and their perspectives on their world is changed. 


 See any connections that I missed? 

Have you read any of these books recently? Which were your favorites?

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