Friday, April 29, 2016

Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers

Tone Deaf
by Olivia Rivers
Read: February 28 - 29, 2016
Published: May 3, 2016 by Sky Pony Press
Source: Edelweiss (Thank You!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, deaf issues, 

His world is music. Her world is silent.

Description: Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.


I have been dying to read this book ever since I did a cover reveal for it last fall, and I'm happy to report that I enjoyed it. 

Set up - Ali was on a track to musical greatness before a tumor left her completely deaf. A rock concert featuring a spoiled musician is the last thing she wants to attend, but  she goes anyway to oblige her best friend. Ali's even more dismayed when she wins a backstage tour with the band, and things get worse when she encounters the arrogant lead singer Jase, who seems to hate her because she's deaf. But then Jase notices the bruises that she can't quite hide and offers to help her escape to New York. Desperate to get away from her abusive father, Ali agrees, hoping this is her chance of a new life.

What I loved - Tone Deaf is a great mix of serious themes and a sweet romance, and I'm always a sucker for rockstar romances. Ali is deaf and though I don't know a lot about deaf culture, I enjoyed how that aspect of her - and Jace's - life was put into the book. Although Jase seemed like a jerk at first, it was wonderful to see how much he worked to help Ali once he knew her situation. I really liked watching them begin to open up to each other and the romance that developed between them. Watching Ali and Jase write music together was also a favorite part. I loved that friendships are an equal part of this story, and I'm so glad that Ali had a great best friend, and also the relationships she built with Jase's band mates. 

What I didn't love - As Ali was hiding through much of the book, a lot of the story takes place in Jace's RV and I wish I could have gotten more of his life as a performer, and see Ali interact more within his public life (because that will remain a huge part of him). Also if I'm reading it right, it takes the tour bus 3+ days of driving to go from LA to Albuquerque, with no mention of any other tour stops on the way. Were they driving in circles in the desert, bc that's way too long! The entire book takes place over about of 2 weeks, and I wish we could have gotten more of the buildup of Ali and Jase's relationship over more of the tour. So much of the story takes place in the tour bus, and there's only so many different scenes that can occur in that small space. I think the author did a good job making the setting realistic, and the safest place for Ali was on the bus. But I would love to have seen more scenes in different places. 

Conclusion - The ending of the book ties a nice bow on the package, which I admittedly don't mind for books like this, although it happens pretty fast. Overall, I enjoyed Tone Deaf and found it to be a sweet romance with some depth and diversity in it as well. Those rockstars get me every time!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: standalone

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Early Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

One Paris Summer 
By Denise Grover Swank
Read: February 29 - March 1, 2016
Published: June 7, 2016 by Blink
Source: NetGalley (Thanks, HC)
Category: YA, Contemporary, Paris, Summer

Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren't betrayal enough, he's about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn't support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.


I have mixed feelings about this one. Some aspects I liked a lot. Some, I didn't so much. 

What I loved - I enjoyed the Paris setting and culture, as well as the focus on arts and music through Sophie's piano playing and the sites she visits. But I think my favorite part was Sophie's growth. I loved her transition from the start to the end of the book. In the beginning she is afraid to go anywhere by herself, and by the end she is navigating Paris with ease, but she is also more certain of herself and her own confidence by the end. I really liked how Sophie's relationship with her brother changed from the beginning, though I'd liked to have seen even more of it. Although I'm not sure that I liked either of them, I thought Sophie's parents were both drawn with complexity and flaws (and sometimes dubious advice giving), and I appreciated how real they seemed.

What I didn't love - However, One Paris Summer has a lot of angst and drama all the way through it, and while that kept me reading, it also felt like it was endless and over the top. Sophie's new stepsister Camille was especially despicable, and her behavior became increasingly negative and vindictive, so much so, that this book was hard for me to read. Especially when Dane came and then coupled with the way all her friends continued to support her as she treated Sophie horribly again and again. And I thought the ending was way too easy on Camille! 

I also had some mixed feelings about the romance. On one hand, I was thankful there is no love triangle (it seems like there might be at first, but there is not!), and I enjoyed so many of Mathieu and Sophie's interactions. But I didn't care for the way they had to hide their relationship, even though Mathieu eventually explains his reasoning. And I just could not forgive Mathieu for how he treated Sophie at the end. (Spoiler) First, believing Camille and Dane over Sophie was completely unforgivable. But I also did NOT buy that he tried to text her after she left and he was unable to get through, so he gave up without trying another method of communication! I hate when poor technology use is the excuse for drama and not communicating! (end spoiler)

Conclusion - One Paris Summer kept me reading from the beginning. Once I started the book, I had to get to the end. I loved the setting and watching Sophie's growth throughout this story, but a lot of the angst and drama was too much for me, and I didn't fall as much in love with the romance as I'd wanted. 

Love Triangle Factor: None

Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

Note: One Paris Summer is published by Zondervan's Blink imprint, which is not Christian based. Beyond an off mention of church, this book has no religious themes in it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Blog Tour: The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows
Review + Giveaway

See below for the full schedule

The Mirror King

By Jody Meadows
Read: September 19 - 25, 2015
Published:  April 5, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Edelweiss (THANK YOU!!)
Category: YA Fantasy, queens, masked vigilantes 
Series: The Orphan Queen #2 (Duet + 4 prequel novellas)
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Description: Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right. 

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

NOTE: The Mirror King is the second book in a series. See my thoughts on The Orphan Queen, HERE


I'm loving the new duet trend, especially when the second book in the series is is as emotional and epic as this one is, and the end of the first installment is as shocking as The Orphan Queen was. In my mind, The Mirror King splits itself well into two halves, but thankfully, I didn't have to wait to read the latter one. This is a win-win for me. I don't want to say a lot about how the book splits itself up, but YOU WILL KNOW, and I am so thankful the book didn't stop at that point.

Many of the secrets from The Orphan Queen, and questions of identity, are no longer hidden from the reader - or Wilhelmina - in this installment. We know the identity of Black Knife and the Indigo Kingdom knows that Wil is the princess of Aecor. But that hasn't really made anything easier for her. Wil's magic is seemingly more uncontrollable, the wraith are coming, and claiming her kingdom still feels out of reach. Not to mention that when the book begins, Tobiah is lying on the floor covered in blood, Patrick is on the loose and what the wraith boy will do next is anyone's guess. All this is to say that this story starts with a bang, and I could not put it down.

Most of all, I fell more in love with Wilhelmina as I read this book. From the start of this series, my heart has belonged to her, and that love continues to grow throughout this installment. Wil is put in one impossible situation to another, and I admired it through it all. Even when she makes mistakes, she always has her people's best interest at heart, and she works as hard  as she can to do the right thing in all circumstances. I hated seeing the moments when she doubted herself, faced criticism or felt less than others. But I was so so proud of her strength and integrity through this book. All hail Wilhelmina! 

If I'm being honest, I struggled with the romance in the first half of the story. The set-up and how it plays out was really hard for me, and I was not happy with how all parties handled it. Much of this is my personal low threshold for complicated things, but, thankfully, I was much more on board with it in the second half, and fully rooting for them - and swooning - by the end. Changing circumstances and growth from both characters was essential to this. 

The Mirror King is a big book that is action packed all the way through. It also brought on the feels from the start and doesn't let up on the intensity - or gasping revelations. Anything could happen (and does) at any moment. Second book slump doesn't exist in these pages. You don't want to miss this series! 

Love Triangle Factor: Feeling's wise none (also none from Wil's POV. But a big 'it's complicated' in relationship set up, because Tobiah is engaged to Meredith when the book begins.

Cliffhanger Scale: Series end!

About the Author

Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy and the forthcoming ORPHAN QUEEN Duology (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).

*A Kippy is a cat.



Blog Tour
Thank you Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books for organizing this tour!

Swoon Thursday
Top Masked Vigilantes
ABCs: Character Edition
Calligraphy Post



WIN (1) copy of The Orphan Queen + one (1) copy of The Mirror King! 

Open internationally (as long as Book Depository ships to your country).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...