Monday, June 26, 2017

BLOG TOUR: Knife's Edge by Hope Larson,
Illustrations by Rebecca Mock

Blog tour organized by First Second books
See below or go HERE for the full schedule 

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Knife's Edge blog tour. This is the second in a duet that began with Compass South, and I had so much fun reading both books back to back. 

Knife's Edge
by Hope Larson
Illustrations by Rebecca Mock
Read: June 4-5, 2017
Published: June 27, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Finished copy from publisher (TY!)
Category: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Twins, Adventure, Ships
Series: Sequel to Compass SouthFour Points Duet 2/2

Book Description: Twelve-year-old twin adventurers Cleopatra and Alexandra Dodge are reunited with their father and realize that two family heirlooms reveal the location of a treasure that is their birthright. When they set sail with Captain Tarboro on the Almira, they know they’re heading into danger—the ocean is filled with new and old enemies, including their nemesis, the infamous pirate Felix Worley. But like a coral reef that lurks below the surface of the waves, trouble is brewing between the siblings. Alex is determined to become a sailor and is happy with his role aboard the Almira, but Cleo—the only girl on the ship—is tired of washing dishes in the galley. In an effort to find her own purpose, she begins studying sword fighting with Tarboro, but neither Alex nor her father approves. Can the twins remain close as they pursue different goals and dreams, or will their growing differences tear the family apart before the treasure can be found?

In this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Compass South, Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock once again create an outstanding seafaring adventure.

The Four Points duet is about twelve year old twins named Alexander and Cleopatra Dodge. In the first book, Cleo and Alex are living in New York in 1860 and trying to survive in the wake of their father's disappearance. After getting into trouble because of their involvement in the Black Hook Gang, they embark on a journey with the ultimate goal of reaching San Francisco. In the second installment the twins head back out to sea to find a lost treasure, guided by family heirlooms and the crew of the ship Almira. Discovering friends and running from foes through both installments, Alex and Cleo encounter pirates, find things once lost, and learn more about themselves and their family. 

My Thoughts on the Duet:
I read Compass South and Knife's Edge one right after the other, and had such a great time with this duet! I am not a big reader of graphic novels, but am slowly changing that about myself. I am such a streamline reader (focusing on one element) that stories combining pictures with words, always take me some time to get into. But once I do, I always love them, and this series was no exception. The pictures in these books are beautiful and expressive, capturing the movement and emotions of the characters so well. I loved seeing both the grittiness of ship life and the wonder of Alex and Cleo as they traveled from North to South America and across islands in the sea. 

I love books about twins, and this series plays with that theme in some fun ways, including one of my favorites, hidden identities. But within the excitement of following Cleo and Alex on their adventures, we also see the difference between being a girl and being a boy in the nineteenth century. One of the most compelling underlying parts of this series is watching Cleo figure out who she wants to be in a world that is heavily dominated by men, and has very specific roles for women (that definitely don't involve wearing pants or sword fighting).  

Both of these books are just so much fun. They feature lots of adventures, pirate ships and lost treasure. But under all of that intrigue are orphan twins who are trying to find out who they are and where they belong in the world, and anyone can relate to that. I definitely recommend these books!

About the Authors: 

Hope Larson adapted and illustrated A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, for which she won an Eisner Award. She is also the author and illustrator of Salamander DreamGray HorsesChiggers, and Mercury. She lives in Los Angeles.

Rebecca Mock is an illustrator and comics artist. Her work has appeared  in various publications, including the New York Times and the New Yorker.  She is co-organizer of the Hana Doki Kira anthology. Compass South is  her first book.

Follow the Tour: 

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....

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


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.





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

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?

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.

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
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