Tuesday, March 13, 2018

BLOG TOUR: Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton
Review + Photo Inspiration

Tour organized by Penguin Teen 
See the full schedule below

I have loved following Amani on her adventures since she was a girl living in a small town at the edge of the world. Until she became the Blue Eyed Bandit and escaped that town on a magic horse. This girl has done so much in three books, and the finale to her story is just as exciting as all of the rest. 

Read on for my thoughts on Hero at the Fall and my photo inspiration for the story. 

Hero at the Fall
by Alwyn Hamliton
Read: February 20 - March 1, 2018
Published: March 6, 2018 by Viking Books for Young Readers 
Source: Galley from publisher (TY!!)
Category: YA, Fantasy, Desert, Magic, Djinni, 
Series: Rebel of the Sands book 3/3

Book Description: When gunslinging Amani Al'Hiza escaped her dead-end town, she never imagined she'd join a revolution, let alone lead one. But after the bloodthirsty Sultan of Miraji imprisoned the Rebel Prince Ahmed in the mythical city of Eremot, she doesn't have a choice. Armed with only her revolver, her wits, and her untameable Demdji powers, Amani must rally her skeleton crew of rebels for a rescue mission through the unforgiving desert to a place that, according to maps, doesn't exist. As she watches those she loves most lay their lives on the line against ghouls and enemy soldiers, Amani questions whether she can be the leader they need or if she is leading them all to their deaths.

NOTE: Hero at the Fall is the third book in a series. See my thoughts on Rebel of the Sands and Traitor to the Throne. My thoughts may contain minor spoilers for the first two books. 

Hero at the Fall is a strong and worthy conclusion to the Rebel of the Sands trilogy. I'm always wary when going into the final installment of a series I've adored, but I had nothing to fear with this one. 

What I loved - 

I loved the theme in this book about how real people can become heroes that turn into stories told. But those tales cannot contain the small and messy details of a person’s life. I love that we see this concept in action through the alternating chapters featuring stories told about each character. I enjoyed knowing these characters intimately, and beyond what would be said about them in the future. 

I loved Amani and her fierce love of the sands of her home and her willingness to do anything to protect it. This girl has amazed me this entire series, and I have loved following her through three books. Her magic is also pretty amazing, and I couldn't wait to see what she would do next. The part that takes place on a ship was especially thrilling. And I love that it combined both her and Jin's loves. 

I loved this band of Rebels fighting together and sometimes dying in the name of the Rebellion and the Rebel Prince. This book definitely has some casualties and brutal moments. But their camaraderie and support of each other through so much made my heart swell. One of my favorite relationships was Amani and Shazi's friendship. 

I loved the romance between the Blue Eyes Bandit and her Foreign Prince. Seeing a girl of the sand and a boy of the sea fight for each other was so rewarding, especially after the drama of the last book. 

What I wish - 

I wish we’d gotten a little of Jin's perspective. I know he loves Amani and his close family. But it wasn't always clear where his head or heart were in terms of the rebellion. He was supportive, but I wanted a little more ownership from him, since this nation is part of him too - as much as he sees himself as a foreigner. But a lot of that could be more my perception than reality, since we never get his internal POV. And to Jin's benefit, he is always there for Amani and the mission of the Rebels. 

This book features a lot of traveling through the country, and I enjoyed getting to know the people and getting out of the city that Amani was stuck in during most of Traitor to the Throne, but there were a few times that the story slowed for me in the middle.  

Also, I wish I’d reread the previous books because I didn’t remember all of the mythology in this world and got a little confused about the different Demdji heroes and powerful Djinni of history. Thankfully, there is a list of characters at the start of the book that was helpful. 

In Conclusion - The ending of this book is dramatic, exciting and not everyone makes it out alive or unscathed. But it also ends in a way that left me extremely satisfied. Now that this series is out in full, it's the perfect time to read it. I cannot wait to read what Alwyn Hamilton writes next. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Series conclusion 

Photo Inspiration: 

To celebrate Hero at the Fall, I took Amani to the beach, which combines her favorite element - sand - with her least favorite - water. Of course, water happens to be Jin's favorite. 

Will this hero and her rebel crew be washed away or will the sand rise up and prevail?

About the Author: 

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and lived between Canada, France, and Italy until the was three, when her family settled in the small French town of Beaune. She studied History of Art at King's College, Cambridge, graduated in 2009, and lives in London.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram 


Follow The Tour

2/26 – Writing is Hard – Review + Social Media Promo
2/27 – Mike the Fanboy – Fun Recap of Series
2/28 – My Friends are Fiction – Review 
3/1 – The Young Folks – Review
3/2 – Lisa’s Lost in Lit – Creative
3/5 – The Reader Bee – Review + Bookstagram Post
3/6 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review + Creative Insta Post
3/7 – A  Book and A Cup of Coffee – Playlist
3/8 – Fiction Fare – Moodboard
3/12 – The Eater of Books – Moodboard
3/13 – Love Is Not a Triangle – Review + Bookstagram Picture 
3/14 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Creative Content
3/15 – Forever Young Adult – Review

Monday, March 12, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Now We Rise Blog Tour

#NowWeRise Blog Tour organized by Fierce Reads

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi 

Release Date: March 6, 2018 
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Book Description: Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

For the Children of Blood and Bone Discover Your Magic #NowWeRise Blog Tour, I am a Grounder and this book involves a journey, so I took Zélie and her book for a walk at one of my favorite local places to explore:

I am currently reading this book and LOVING it, but I also want to savor every minute of the story, and it's a constant pull in both directions. Although it is not the same at all, Zélie is pulled and stretched a lot in this book. I cannot wait to find out where she goes next on her journey (literally and figuratively).

Grounders can manipulate the earth, and being outside and exploring nature is one of my family's favorite things to do together. Zélie travels through the heat of a jungle and desert in this story, and she talks about living in a place with snow during her early life. 

My family loves to explore the same places in multiple seasons, experiencing the rhythms of the earth. Although Zélie's life gets turned upside down in this book, she talks about missing the daily life and rhythms of her own fishing village. 

Now back to reading this amazing story...


You can also take a more formal Maji Clan quiz at Childrenofbloodandbone.com

Lake Silence by Anne Bishop

Lake Silence
by Anne Bishop
Read: December 16-22, 2017
Published: March 6, 2018 by Ace
Source: NetGalley (Thank you Penguin Random House)
Category: Adult, Urban Fantasy, Shifters, Mystery
Series: The Others #6
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: In this thrilling and suspenseful fantasy, set in the world of the New York Times bestselling Others series, Vicki DeVine and her lodger, the shapeshifter Aggie Crowe, stumble onto a dead body . . . and find themselves enmeshed in danger and dark secrets.

Human laws do not apply in the territory controlled by the Others–vampires, shapeshifters, and paranormal beings even more deadly. And this is a fact that humans should never, ever forget . . .

After her divorce, Vicki DeVine took over a rustic resort near Lake Silence, in a human town that is not human controlled. Towns like Vicki’s have no distance from the Others, the dominant predators that rule most of the land and all of the water throughout the world. And when a place has no boundaries, you never really know what’s out there watching you.

Vicki was hoping to find a new career and a new life. But when her lodger, Aggie Crowe–one of the shapeshifting Others–discovers a dead body, Vicki finds trouble instead. The detectives want to pin the man’s death on her, despite the evidence that nothing human could have killed the victim. As Vicki and her friends search for answers, things get dangerous–and it’ll take everything they have to stay alive.

NOTE: Lake Silence can be read as a standalone, although it is a companion to the previous 5 books in The Others series. Those books start with Written in Red and focus on Meg and Simon and the Lakeside Courtyard. I would highly recommend reading them if you haven't already, because they are amazing. 

Although I miss Meg and Simon and he Lakeside Courtyard, I am so totally invested in this world and this book was just as addicting as all the rest. I enjoyed getting to know a new part of the country and following Vicky, Aggie, Grimshaw, Ilya, Julian and all the rest of the cast of humans and Others. I especially loved the new addition of the Sproingers. 

Lake Silence follows many similar elements of the previous books. A mystery involving terrible humans - this time when a Crowguard finds the eyeball of a dead man - necessitates the involvement of the local terre indigene (The Others) population in human town's affairs. As usual, The Others' are vastly underestimated by the terrible humans. This mystery also brings about the collaboration of The Others and the good humans. This time, the human at the center of the conflict is Vicky Devine, who has unwittingly inherited an Others' settlement in a nasty divorce agreement. Although Vicky seems fragile at first, and she's no match for any of The Others (no human is), she also has steel behind her that many miss, and I enjoyed seeing that come out. 

The characters are one of my favorite parts of these books, and I loved watching The Others band around Vicky, and she and other sympathetic humans around them. Together they work to solve the mystery of what is happening at her lakeside inn before the danger gets too close to her. There is also a sweet and tentative friendship that hints at a romance between Vicky and another character, though as per usual, it is a very quiet and minor part of the plot. 

The mystery and focus on this part of the world appears to wrap up by the end of this story, and I believe the next book will take place in another area of the country. Hopefully, out west. But wherever the book is located, I will be reading it as soon as I can.

Love Triangle Factor: None - (Spoiler: A very small romance is hinted at here, but it's a tiny side element.)
Cliffhanger Scale: This is a fully complete story/companion in The Others' world.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer

More Than We Can Tell
by Brigid Kemmerer
Read: January 20 - February 9, 2018
Published: March 6, 2018 by Bloomsbury Children's
Source: Galley from publisher (TY!!)
Category: YA, Contemporary, Fostering, Adoption, Families, 
Series: Companion to Letters to the Lost

Book Description: Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay...until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.

Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.

When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.

NOTE: Although More Than We Can Tell can be read as a standalone, it takes place after the events of Letters to the Lost and my connection to Rev was so much stronger having known him from Declan and Juliet's book. That book is just amazing in its own right too, so don't miss it! 

Ever since I finished Letters to the Lost last year, I've been desperate to know more about Rev Fletcher, Declan's hoodie-wearing, scripture-quoting friend. So of course I was thrilled when I heard that Brigid Kemmerer was writing a companion book from Rev's perspective. And oh my goodness, I love Rev even more after reading More Than We Can Tell. This boy stole my heart and then some. 

It was an absolute treat to be inside of Rev's head and get to spend more time in his world, even when it was difficult - and oh, how this boy and his life made my heart ache. I also loved getting to know Rev's adopted parents better. They are exactly the parents that Rev needs in his life with their steady calm and always reassuring love. I also enjoyed catching up with Declan and Juliet from Letters to the Lost. Declan and Rev have such a strong bond. I love the way they always support each other. Their conversations were one of the parts of this story that I enjoyed most. It just filled me with so much joy to see Rev surrounded by so much love and support, and the ways his parents and Declan reminded him that they were always there for him to lean on. But, one of my unexpected favorite parts of this story was Rev's relationship with his foster brother Matthew. I'd love a book set a few years later and focusing on him (crossing my fingers!).

This story also introduces us to Emma who has a lot going on in her life too. While I didn’t fall for her as much as I did for Juliet, I enjoyed seeing Emma grow and change through this story too. I also enjoyed watching Emma's growing bond with Rev, though I didn't find their relationship as swoony as I hoped I would. I think because of everything going on in their lives. I wanted more of the buildup of their growing friendship/relationship. But there were a lot of different issues going on in this story - in both Rev and Emma's lives - which started to clutter the story a bit for me. Honestly, I was so much more invested in Rev that some of the things going on with Emma didn't interest me. But that was all minor in a moving and very worthy companion-sequel to Letters to the Lost.

I cannot recommend More Than We Can Tell or Letters to the Lost enough. Both - and each - of these books is amazing and not to be missed. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone 

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber

Reclaiming Shilo Snow
by Mary Weber
Read: January 27-30, 2018
Published: March 6, 2018 by Thomas Nelson
Source: NetGalley
Category: YA, SciFi, Gamers, Siblings, Aliens, Second Chance Romance 
Series: The Evaporation of Sofi Snow 2/2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Indiebound

Book Description: Trapped on the ice-planet of Delon, gamer girl Sofi and Ambassador Miguel have discovered that nothing is what it seems, including their friends. On a quest to rescue her brother, Shilo, a boy everyone believes is dead, they must now escape and warn Earth of Delon’s designs on humanity. Except the more they unearth of the planet and Sofi’s past, the more they feel themselves unraveling, as each new revelation has Sofi questioning the very existence of reality.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sofi’s mom, Inola, is battling a different kind of unraveling: a political one that could cost lives, positions, and a barely-rebuilt society, should they discover the deal made with the Delonese.

But there’s a secret deeper than all that. One locked away inside Sofi and ticking away with the beginnings, endings, and answers to everything. Including how to save humanity.


Reclaiming Shilo Snow is the sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow (check the link for my thoughts on the previous book) and it's so clear how passionate author Mary Weber is about the themes in this series: The value of every human life, the importance of true and honest relationships, and the strength of family bonds, stood out to me the most. 

The first theme was especially prominent in Reclaiming Shilo Snow, as this story explores the very real world issue of human trafficking and how much we miss of what is happening around us. Of course, all of that is going on in a tale that is jam packed with danger and twists at every turn. Computer genius Sofi is trapped on the alien planet of Delon along with Ambassador Miguel. She's there hunting for her brother Shilo, but it's soon clear that in a world ruled by virtual reality and corporate deception, nothing is what it seems. So pay attention or you'll miss what's happening.  

Amidst the high stakes rescue - turned survival - mission is a second chance romance between Sofi and Miguel. The most rewarding aspect of their relationship for me was watching them reconnect and have a honest conversation with each other about there past. After a complicated history, Sofi and Miguel are sweet together and supportive of each other and it was so very needed in this story of danger, where nothing is certain. 

I also love sibling bonds and I enjoyed Sofi and Shilo's unique connection and care for each other no matter what they're facing. On the other hand, Sofi's relationship with her mother is complicated, and I enjoyed exploring that a little more in this installment, as part of the narrative is told from her mother's perspective. That added another layer of depth to the story and to Sofi's character as well. 

Sofi Snow remains at the center of this series, and as more information is revealed about her past, she has to face a lot of difficult truths about herself and her history. But through that, we also get to see Sofi begin to settle into her skin and embrace who she is and what she is capable of, and that was incredibly rewarding to watch happen. 

I'm loving this trend towards duologies and Reclaiming Shilo Snow ends the story begun in The Evaporation of Sofi Snow. The fast paced nature of this duet and cliffhanger mid series, makes this the perfect series to binge as a unit, so if you've yet to pick these books up, I highly recommend doing so now. If you've already read the first in the series, you don't want to miss the conclusion to the duet!

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Serie end

Monday, March 5, 2018

Blog Tour: The Super Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson

 Thank you Macmillan Children's Books for organizing this tour

The Super Life of Ben Braver
by Marcus Emerson
Read: March 1 - 9, 2018
Published: March 6, 2018 by Roaring Brook Press
Source: Finished copy from publisher (TY!)
Category: Middle Grade, Super Heroes, Schools, Secret Powers, 

Book Description: Ben Braver is an ordinary kid. All he wants to do is finish his summer watching awesome TV shows and eating his favorite candy. But when some kid screams for help, Ben, like his favorite comic book heroes, tries to save the day. Let's just say it ends badly. But it does lead him to a secret school where kids with super abilities learn to control their powers. Ben's never had any powers—and never thought he could be special. So when he's offered a spot at the school, Ben realizes this is his chance to become the superhero he's always dreamed of. Packed with black-and-white art and comic strips throughout.


Admittedly I do not read a lot of Middle Grade books, and I signed up for this blog tour because I planned to read this one with my son. However I received a copy of the book later than I expected: too late for us to get through it together before the blog tour. Also, for some reason, I thought this was a graphic novel. It is not. The Super Life of Ben Braver is a text novel with hilarious illustrations by the author throughout. But it is primarily words, making it a longer read than graphic would be. All of that is to say that I had to read this book quickly and without my son (we will go back through it at a more measured pace). And what I did not expect is how much fun I would have reading it myself.

Although The Super Life of Ben Braver is definitely targeting superhero loving boys - and girls! - between third and fifth grade, as an adult and a nominal superhero fan, I found myself completely hooked. Laughing and cringing along with Ben Braver and his adventures at Keplar Academy - "a secret school for kids with special abilities." Ben's not exactly sure how he got into this school, especially since it happened after he tried to stand up for someone and landed in a coma for three days. Also he has no idea what his talent is, and Keplar Academy isn't quite what he expected of a school for aspiring superheroes. Still, who wouldn't want to go to a special secret school if given the chance? 

Some of my favorite things about this book: 

1. From the beginning Ben is relatable. He's a normal boy who's having a lonely summer after his best friend moved away. Then after one failed attempt at bravado, Ben lands himself in a superhero school. And he's just as surprised about it as we would be. 
2. I also adored the friendship between Ben and his new friends Noah, Penny and Jordan. I especially enjoyed how Ben and Noah's room became connected to Penny's. These three made me laugh so much. 
3. The illustrations peppered throughout this book, introducing the cast and including amusing comic strips, broke up the text and added to the fun of the story. 
4. Ben's experience at Keplar Academy and his discovery of his special ability, did not develop exactly like I thought they would, based on other 'superhero' stories I've read and seen. This was refreshing and kept me on the edge of my seat to find out what would happen next. 
5. There's a bit of a mystery in this story and I didn't guess how it would play out. The book also ends with some questions left unsolved, though it's not a cliffhanger, and I cannot wait to find out what happens next to Ben. 

Although The Super Life of Ben Braver isn't one that I would have picked up on my own, I had a great time reading this story, and superhero loving kids from 7 - 11 will especially love it. 

Love Triangle Factor: None - N/A - No romance, though some possible developing feelings for future books. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low. Some set up for the next book, but ends in a settled place with no immediate danger.

About the Author

Marcus Emerson is the author of several highly imaginative children's books including the popular Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series and the Secret Agent 6th Grader series. His goal is to create children's books that are engaging, funny, and inspirational for kids of all ages - even the adults who secretly never grew up. He is a 35-year-old comic book reader, video game player, and toy collector.

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