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.

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


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


Follow the Tour

Week 1:

Week 2:



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.

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. 

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.

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. 


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?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Blog Tour: Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour organized by Penguin Teen
See below for the full schedule

I am THRILLED to be part of the blog tour for Traitor to the Throne. This sequel to Rebel of the Sands does not disappoint. I was once again transported to Amani's world of sand and magic. Read on for more of my thoughts on this second book in a trilogy, and don't miss the giveaway at the end of the post!

Traitor to the Throne
by Alwyn Hamilton
Read: February 19 - 21, 2017
Published: March 7, 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Source: ALA MW 2017 
Category: Fantasy, desert, magic, Djini, Revolutions
Series:  Trilogy, book 2/3

Book Description: Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al'Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she's fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne. 

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan's palace—she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan's secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she's a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she's been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.


NOTE: Traitor to the Throne is a second book in a series. See my thoughts on the thrilling first installment, Rebel of the Sands.

I'm always a little bit apprehensive when I start a middle book in a series, especially when I loved the first installment as much as I did Rebel of the Sands. But I shouldn't have worried about this book!  Although Traitor to the Throne does employ the separation trope, this is a very strong sequel. I liked it as much - and maybe more than its 

Amani is my first love of this series. W
hether she is on a mission to a desert town, or unexpectedly finds herself captured and taken to the Sultan's palace, this girl is strong and capable. But Amani is not a typical martyr heroine, offering herself up as a sacrifice in need of saving. She's able and willing to make smart but difficult choices in the name of rebellion. Amani is badass and a survivor, even in moments when her choices are taken away from her. But Amani is not an island to herself, and I enjoyed seeing Amani as part of a larger group, with friends and people she trusts and respects. That is so different from the girl we met in book one.

Although I hated seeing Amani captured, I love that through the experience, Amani's understanding of her world is broadened. Amani gains invaluable perspective when she is taken right to the heart of the ruthless Sultan's palace, coming face to face with the very ruler the rebellion is fighting against. While in the palace, Amani begins to think about what the rebellion means for all sides, as well as how her previous - often rash - decisions have affected others. Some of my formed opinions of characters even changed throughout this book, and I loved the further complexities that gave the story. 

Traitor to the Throne is not always fast paced, but this pacing allows more reflection, and I think that's almost more important for Amani's growth and continued work with the rebellion. Even so, this story is intense. A lot of action is packed in too, especially near the end. These characters are starting a revolution and that means people are going to die - and do die in this story. Very hard choices have to be made, and though they made my heart break, I admired the characters' willingness to make them and keep moving forward. 

The romance was definitely one of my favorite parts of the first book, and continues to be so in this installment, despite the fact that Jin and Amani spend a lot of time apart. While separations are never my favorite, and I love seeing these two work together the most, it wasn't as painful as I feared. Mostly because Amani has Things To Do and she doesn't let herself get pulled into unnecessary angst. I love Jin and I think he's a great match for Amani - they are stronger when working together, but I have to admit to being a little bit upset with him in this story. Jin loves Amani and his brother Ahmed, but his heart isn't in their rebellion and that definitely causes some issues. However, Jin and Amani's love for each other is palpable and this story does have some sweet and swoony moments. I have high hopes for the continued progression of their romance in the final book in this series. (GET YOUR STUFF TOGETHER BOY). 

I loved how this story developed. However, I do think some of the official cover copy was overstated a bit. There were definitely revelations and surprises and moments of reflection, but not exactly what I anticipated from my first look at the book's description. Thankfully, I'm very happy and excited about where this story took me and its characters. 

This is a book and series that I adore and highly recommend. I'm dying for the finale now! 

Love Triangle Factor: None 

Cliffhanger Scale: Medium - This book stops in a moment that is both quiet and intense. You'll know what I mean when you get there, and you will be desperate for the next one! 

About the Author

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often. Follow her at @AlwynFJH.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram 


Follow the Tour

 Week One:

3/6 – The YA Book Traveler – Mood Board
3/7 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
3/8 – Love is Not a Triangle – Review
3/9 – Mundie Moms – Review + Favorite Quotes
3/10 – Butter My Books – Guest Post

Week Two:
3/13 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
3/14 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite Quotes
3/15 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Q&A
3/16 – Lost in Lit – Review
3/17 – My Friends Are Fiction – Review

Week Three:
3/20 – The Yong Folks – Author Q&A
3/21 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Traitor Candle
3/22 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
3/23 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
3/24 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post



Enter for a chance to win one (1) grand prize set of Alwyn Hamilton’s books, including a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands and a hardcover of Traitor to the Throne, or to win one (1) of five (5) paperback copies of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. 

LINK to Rafflecopter form if you can't see it below.

Follow my @loveisnotatriangle instagram for other bookish snaps.

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