Friday, December 15, 2017

Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George

Speak Easy, Speak Love
by McKelle George
Read: November 15 - 19, 2017
Published: September 19, 2017 by Greenwillow Books 

Source: Purchase
Category: YA, Retelling, Shakespeare, 1920s, Prohibition, 
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound


Book Description: Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background.

Hilariously clever and utterly charming, McKelle George’s debut novel is full of intrigue and 1920s charm. For fans of Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, and Anna Godbersen.
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Speak Easy, Speak Love is a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing set in New York during the 1920s. In sum, everything about this book was fantastic. This story follows six characters during the summer of 1927 - Beatrice, Benedick, Maggie, John, Hero and Prince - as their lives converge at Hey Nonny Nonny, a Speak Easy on Long Island. 

Drama, romance and hilarity ensue as these characters navigate running a nightclub during the prohibition era. The language in this book is seriously so good, most especially the snappy dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick, neither of whom I couldn’t get enough of. 
I could roll around all day in their conversations. 

I say this all the time, but my favorite retellings are those that take a story and make it their own and George does exactly that. I felt present in this 1920s setting and invested in these characters lives. I didn’t want it to end! There’s so much more I could say about this book, I feel inadequate to describe how amazing it is. Also goodness gracious, isn’t that cover gorgeous? I can just picture Beatrice and Benedick facing off. 

This is a book that nearly fell under my radar and I'm so so happy that it did not. Definitely one of my favorite reads of 2017. Put it on your holiday book list if you haven't read it already. 

Love Triangle Factor: None for 2 of the couples (my favorites). One of them does, yes. But totally worth it.
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone. I cannot wait to find out what else this author writes!
 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades 
by Marissa Meyer
Read: October 25 - 30, 2017
Published: November 7, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends 
Source: Galley from Publisher (TY, Macmillan!)
Category: YA, Superheroes, Secret Identities, Future world, 
Series: Duet 1/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies—humans with extraordinary abilities—who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone...except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice—and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.
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Having read and loved both The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless, it's safe to say that I am a fan of Marissa Meyer. I also went into Renegades expecting some things based on my experiences with Meyer's other stories. 

(1) All of Meyer's previous stories have started slowly for me, but once they've taken off, I've been hooked. I wasn't fully invested in The Lunar Chronicles until I read Scarlet and the excitement only grew with each book after that. Though Heartless is a standalone, it also took me some time to feel invested in that story. I can safely say that the same was true for my experience reading Renegades. I expected it to take me time for me to feel invested in this story, and it did.  

However, as Renegades is the beginning of a duet (instead of a quartet) and a long book at that, not as much was accomplished in the story as I anticipated/hoped. Much of it felt like a set up, and the characters and plot still seemed to be in the beginning of their journeys when I got to the end of the book. Tied up into my expectation of a slow start, is (2) my expectation that I have to let a lot of world building questions go in Meyer's books, which also happened to me in this story. I tried not to think too hard about how the world got this way, why so many people have powers, or some of the logistics of the Anarchists vs the Renegades. Previously, I've been able to (mostly) ignore these overarching world questions because the characters and plot have been so engaging. I'm not sure I fully got to that point with all 500+ pages of Renegades

More specifically, (this is where things get a little spoilery. I'm not giving away huge things, but some details you might not want to know if you haven't read this. You've been warned!Nova and Adrian still don’t know each other’s alternate identities by the end. The only thing really accomplished is that Nova has successfully infiltrated the Renegades, which happens early, and Ingrid/Detonator is determined to be Truly Bad and killed, but that’s about it. By the end of the book, I expected that Nova or Adrian’s opinions would have started changing about their 'sides,' or there’d be a big revelation about their pasts to shed things into new light. But none of that happened.

There is a big reveal in the last chapter, and while it was a surprise to me, it didn't work for me as the big "Gasp!" "AH-HA!" moment that it was supposed to be. I think that's because I was really confused about whether Nova knew about it the whole time, and what that meant for the book I just read and rest of the story to come. Why, if Nova knew about that revelation, was it not brought up sooner? Wouldn't that have been a factor/strategy in everything she did? Wrapped up in this, I'm still not sure what I think of Nova at the end of this book. She certainly is a complicated character. Also, I don't like any of the people who "raised" her and she's still so loyal to them.

I am a huge fan of the enemies to love romance. It is one of my favorite tropes and one of the reasons I was most excited to read this book. I loved Adrian a lot. He is the sweetest. But the thing is, I just can’t fathom things working between him and Nova at this point. And that's left me feeling very uneasy. There is so little romance in this story and Nova and Adrian are still very much on opposite sides - he way more in the dark about everything than she is. I don’t know if I believe everything is going to reconcile itself. I think this is part of my feeling disappointed in how much is accomplished in this story, and unsure about my feelings about this book. I don't know if I can fully ship these two yet, and I need that to feel confident about where the story is going.

All that said, one thing I do love about this book is that neither the Renegades nor the Anarchists is all good or all bad. There’s a lot of complexity in how the two sides are draw. And I like that in a tale of superheroes, there’s no black and white/ all good vs all evil. Still, I liked many of the Renegades characters, despite also seeing their faults (Adrian's parents are good dads, despite some of their decisions and leadership), but I didn't end up liking the individual Anarchist characters all that much by the end. 

Even though I spent a lot of time talking about things that disappointed me in Renegades, I still enjoyed reading the story. I also can't wait to read the next installment in the series. I just wish I'd ended this story feeling more excited about where it was going. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium, no immediate 'hanging off of a cliff' danger, but definitely the middle of the story. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mini Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
by Natasha Pulley 
Read: July 21 - 26, 2017
Published: July 14, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA 
Source: Paperback from publisher (TY!)
Category: Adult, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Clocks, Time
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound


Book Description: 1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.
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Every time I try to write more about this book, I can't manage it. It just feels as if doing so will spoil the magic of the story. Do you ever feel like that? As if, writing out all the details of a book in a review will take away from some of the magic of why you love it so? It doesn't happen with every book I read, but because it has with this one, I'm leaving this very short review as it is. But I highly recommend The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Bedlam Stacks, two of my favorite - and most enchanting - reads this year. 

I loved this book so much! The entire fabric of the story is gorgeous and in its seams is the tale of two lonely people finding each other. That and a bombing and pianos and a clockwork octopus and the ability to see future possibilities. The only thing I didn't like was Grace's role in the story. Although I've come to a lot more peace about her after the end, I was definitely not a fan of how some things involving her played out. But Thaniel and Mori stole my heart for sure. I cannot wait for more of Natasha Pulley. 

Love Triangle Factor: Low - there's definitely some romantic confusion. Feelings wise there's no triangle. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone companion to The Bedlam Stacks


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Blog Tour: Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson
Review + Excerpt

Not Now, Not Ever
By Lily Anderson
Published: November 21st 2017 by Wednesday Books
Read: November 19 - 21, 2017
Source: NetGalley (TY St. Martin's)
Series: Book 2/2 
Category: YA, Summer Camp, Geniuses, Romance, 
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.
 
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My Thoughts:

Five things I loved about this book:

1) Elliot/Ever's inner monologue is hilarious. I wanted to spend more time in her brain. This girl is the whole package. Super smart, athletic, funny, and gutsy. But she doesn't always see all those parts of herself. I enjoyed watching her navigate camp and make friends (loved her friendship with Leigh!), and embrace her nerdy-ness. But also start enjoying life more without just looking at what's ahead. 

2) This is a retelling of The Importance of Being Earnest. Where Ever plays Earnest and makes up a new identity to attend a summer decathlon (nerd camp!). Things get even more dicey when her cousin Isaiah shows up at the same camp. Wilder's play is so much fun and this book captures its spirit well. But there's also depth in here, as Ever works through family obligation and her own expectations and desires for her life. 

3)  I didn't anticipate how much we'd get to see the characters from The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You, even the love interest in this book! Not Now, Not Ever is set 3 years after the previous story, and it was so fun to see what everyone is doing now, especially Trixie and Ben. If you have yet to read that book, go do it now.

4) Super Nerd Brandon. AKA The Love Interest. I loved seeing more of this boy. He is sweet and a bit of a mess, but also completely adorable. Brandon and Elliot are a great match and and I loved watching them fall for each other. (For a fancast of these two, the author imagines Marsai Martin paired with Finn Wolfhard - aged up about 5 years). This book had a high factor of swoon that I didn't anticipate. I also loved to see how much the previous cast of characters care for Brandon still. This book is entirely from Ever's POV, and while that completely works for this tale, I also wish there was even more of Brandon in the story. 

5) Like Elliot/Ever, this book is the whole package. Witty humor, nerd references, friendships and romance, plus a diverse cast, all wrapped up into one great story. Bonus: tree-houses, typewriters and a little bit of a mystery too. Don't miss this one! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Self-contained story that's the second in a companion series. You can read each as a standalone, but I loved all the connections of reading them together. And I'd absolutely adore another story set in this world! 
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An Excerpt: 



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About the Author: 


LILY ANDERSON is an elementary school librarian and Melvil Dewey fangirl with an ever-growing collection of musical theater tattoos and Harry Potter ephemera. She lives in Northern California. She is also the author of The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You

Find the Author: Website | Twitter | Goodreads 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Blog Tour: The Speaker by Traci Chee
Review + Photo Inspiration


Tour organized by Penguin Teen

See below for the full schedule 

Last year I fell in love with The Sea of Ink and Gold series when I read The Reader. Now I'm thrilled to say I'm even more obsessed after finishing The Speaker. Read on for more of my thoughts on this sequel. Plus my photo inspiration for the book.

The Speaker
by Traci Chee
Read: September 12 - 21, 2017
Published: November 7, 2017 by G.P. Putnam's Sons BYR
Source: Galley from Emma @miss_print (TY!!)
Category: YA, fantasy, books, pirates, wars, 
Series: Sea of Ink & Gold, Book 2/3

Book Description: After escaping the clutches of the Guard, Sefia and Archer slip into the safety of the forest to tend to their wounds and plan their next move. Archer finds himself struggling with the trauma of his painful memories from captivity and the impressors cruelty. But when Sefia and Archer happen upon a crew of impressors in the wilderness, Archer finally an escape from his nightmares – hunting impressors and freeing the boys they hold captive. The two quickly travel across the kingdom of Deliene rescuing boys while Sefia continues to investigate the mysterious Book and its secrets. But something strange seems to be happening to Archer. The more battles they fight and boys they rescue, the more violence Archer craves, ultimately threating to transform him from the gentle boy Sefia knows to a grim warrior with a cruel destiny. As Sefia begins to unravel the threads that connect Archer’s fate to her parents’ betrayal of the Guard, she and Archer must figure out a way to subvert the Guard’s plans before they are ensnared in a war that will pit kingdoms against each other, leaving their future and the safety of the entire world hanging in the balance. 
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NOTE: This book is the second in a series. See my thoughts on The Reader, HERE

I love this series and this book lives up to it well. Sefia and Archer are the heart of the story, but this is an intricately woven tale with many converging storylines. I was never bored while reading and couldn't wait to find out what new adventures and revelations these characters discovered next. 

One of the most important characters in this story is The Book. What it is, what it says and whether everything written in it is inevitable is explored in greater detail. Is it possible to run from your destiny - in this case, what is already written? Sefia and Archer and all the other characters - there are a lot of different POVS - continue to grapple with this question, sometimes in painful and brutal ways. 

Sefia and Archer are one of my favorite YA couples. I love them so much, including the way they have supported each other even through the most brutal of times. Things get very intense in this story with the introduction of the bloodletters, but despite it all, Archer has a sweetness in his soul that rings off the page, and I loved seeing he and Sefia develop friendships with others. Still, these two make some mistakes in this story that really shook me, and I'm struggling with how to come to terms with them. My one issue with this book revolves around what happens when Archer goes looking for his past. (If you want my full spoiler thoughts on this, see my Goodreads review and the comments below that review.) 

This book features a lot of revelations, many of which are painful and left me gasping. But one of the most surprising (and relieving!) aspects of this book is that it doesn't end on a cliffhanger. It definitely ends in the middle of the tale, and a lot of intense and scary things are to come. But for the moment, the action has settled down and the characters are not in immediate danger. None of the characters have an easy road in this book, and things are sure to get harder in the future, so I was thankful for that small miracle. 

The Speaker is a strong and lovely sequel that expands this world and its characters into much greater - and often painful - complexity. I cannot wait until the conclusion of this trilogy! 

Love Triangle Factor: Low - I'm sorry to say this, but for me, a bit of a weird love triangle situation crops up in this book, and I'm still unsettled by how it played out, though I also don't think it's true threat and comprises a small part of this overall story. Check my Goodreads review and the comment section below it for more info on this. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - Definitely not the end of the series, but this book ends in a way that is settled. 

My photo inspiration for The Speaker and an ode to Sefia:

Whenever I picture Sefia, she is outside. In the woods, up a tree, even standing on the cliffs over the ocean. And so I took her for a walk and snapped this picture along the way. I love how she is facing the camera head-on in this cover. Instead of spending the whole book running, this girl stands up and takes action. And it is beautiful to watch. She makes some mistakes along the way but she works hard to fix them. I admire her so much. 

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About the Author

Traci Chee is the New York Times bestselling author of The Reader. An All-around word geek, she loves book arts and art books, poetry and paper crafts. She studied literature and creative writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and earned a master of arts degree from San Francisco State University. Traci grew up in a small town with more cows than people, and now feels most at home in the mountains, scaling switchbacks and happening upon hidden highland lakes. She lives in California with her fast-fast dog.

Find Author Traci Chee: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
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Follow the Tour

Week One
October 30 – Ex Libris – Review
October 31 – Bette’s Pages – Review with photos
November 1 – Never2Many2Read – Review
November 2 – ButtermyBooks – Review
November 3 – YA Wednesdays – Favorite Quotes 
Week Two
November 6 – FlyLeaf Chronicles – Review
November 7 – The Fox’s Hideaway – Review
November 8 – In Wonderland – Review
November 9 – Book Reviews Express – Review
November 10 – Brianna Book Binding – Review
Week Three
November 13 – Readers Live A Thousand Lives – Excerpt and Review
November 14 – Good Choice Reading – Review with Photo
November 14 – Love Is Not a Triangle – Review 
November 15 – Dazzled by Books – Review with bookish Candle
November 16 – A Belle’s Tale – review and Spotlight
November 17 – MelihYoutuber – Review
Week Four
November 20 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review
November 21 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
November 22 – Bookshelves and Paperbacks – Author Interview
November 23 – Across the Words – Review
November 24 – Eastern Sunset Reads – Review

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne Releases Today!

Hi Everyone!

This is Livia Blackburne, and I'm thrilled to share ROSEMARKED with you at long last. There are a lot of elements to this book, including a love story, a spy story, reflections on trauma and mortality, medical ethics, and political intrigue.  Perhaps because of this, my research for the book was equally eclectic, from archery and stick fighting lessons, to chats with memory researchers and soldiers, and lots and lots of reading, including books about leper colonies, hospice care, and PTSD. Hopefully, I wove it all into an entertaining and thought-provoking story!

This story centers on Zivah, a talented healer with an incurable illness, and Dineas, a traumatized soldier. The two couldn't be more different, and I had a lot of fun writing their unlikely love story.  In order to work together, they both have to let go of their own prejudices and preconceptions. It's a painful process, with fights and misunderstandings, anger, laughter and tears, but in the end, they both come out as stronger people.

To celebrate the ROSEMARKED release, I’m offering 3 lucky winners a ROSEMARKED swag pack, which includes a copy of ROSEMARKED and a signed bookplate! Due to sweepstakes laws, entrants must be 18 years or older to participate. Best of luck, and happy reading!

***
The first in a duology, ROSEMARKED (Hyperion | On Sale November 7, 2017) by New York Times bestselling author Livia Blackburne follows a healer and a solider on a high-stakes mission to spy on the Empire to uncover a deadly secret. With sizzling chemistry and a heartrending ethical dilemma, this thrilling fantasy with nuanced characters will capture fans of An Ember in the Ashes and The Lumatere Chronicles.

New York Times best-selling author LIVIA BLACKBURNE has a PhD in neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she conducted research on the neural correlates of reading. She still blogs on the intersection of writing and brain science, and she now lives in Los Angeles with her family. Livia is also the author of Midnight Thief, an Indies Introduce New Voices selection, and its sequel, Daughter of Dusk.


ROSEMARKED by Livia Blackburne 

Hardcover: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository
Ebook: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo



Also by this author…
MIDNIGHT THIEF
New York Times Bestseller 2014
Indies Introduce New Voices Pick
2015 YALSA Teens’ Top Ten Nominee
Ebook:  Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play

DAUGHTER OF DUSK
Ebook: Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Google Kobo

Enter the Giveaway





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