Thursday, February 28, 2019

Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

Only a Breath Apart
by Katie McGarry
Read: January 14-18, 2019
Published: January 22, 2019 by Tor Teen
Source: Netgalley - TY!

Category: YA, Contemporary, Best Friends to More, Second Chance, Abuse, 

Book Description: Jesse Lachlin is cursed. 

So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.

Scarlett Copeland is psychic.

Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

I am a big fan of Katie McGarry's books and Only a Breath Apart features many of the elements I've come to expect (and love) in her stories. This book features a wealthy, seemingly straight-laced girl who is hiding a messy, difficult home life, who falls in love with the misunderstood, but big-hearted bad boy from the opposite side of the tracks. Surprisingly, and despite the difficult hand this boy has been dealt, he has a better support system than the girl does. These two semi-broken people find each other and work their way forward and out of miserable situations together, fighting to stay upright while getting knocked down along the way. I was rooting for them the whole time.

More specifically, this book features Scarlett and Jesse, former childhood best friends, who are no longer speaking. But when Jesse's grandmother dies, Scarlett goes to the funeral and slowly, and very tentatively a new friendship begins to rekindle between them. I really enjoyed Jesse and Scarlett as a pair, and would definitely say they're one of my favorites of McGarry's couples. I fell for each of them and just wanted better things for them both.

Scarlett's home life, and and all she's been facing with her family was particularly hard to read about (be prepared for
domestic violence), and I wanted nothing more than a magical cure to her situation. But what I always appreciate about McGarry's books is that she paints a realistic picture of the issues that her teens face and what it takes to get out of them. As hard it is to read, there are no cutting corners in this story. But what I loved was seeing Scarlett and Jesse find support and love in their lives, sometimes in places that they didn't expect, and then put in the work to love themselves and move forward from their current situations. 

Also I enjoyed many of the secondary characters in this book, especially, Jesse's cousin and psychic Glory. I wasn't sure how the supernatural elements - Jesse's family is under a curse - would play into the story, especially with McGarry's books being so realistic about life, but I liked the way they were woven into the tale. 

I'm a forever fan of Katie McGarry and I'll definitely be reading whatever she writes next. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone. McGarry often does companion series, and Jesse has 3 friends with some information teased about them but not fleshed out, and I could potentially see stories for each of them. But I haven't heard anything confirmed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

The Dark of the West
by Joanna Hathaway 
Read: November 29 - December 9, 2019
Published: February 5, 2019 by Tor Teen
Source: NetGalley - TY!
Category: YA, Fantasy, War, Pilots, Princesses, Revolution, Air Planes 
Series: Glass Alliance #1

Book Description: He was raised in revolution. She was raised in a palace. Can their love stop a war? Code Name Verity meets The Winner's Curse in Joanna Hathaway's Dark of the West, a breathtaking YA fantasy debut.

Aurelia Isendare is a princess of a small kingdom in the North, raised in privilege but shielded from politics as her brother prepares to step up to the throne. Halfway around the world, Athan Dakar, the youngest son of a ruthless general, is a fighter pilot longing for a life away from the front lines. When Athan’s mother is shot and killed, his father is convinced it’s the work of his old rival, the Queen of Etania—Aurelia’s mother. Determined to avenge his wife’s murder, he devises a plot to overthrow the Queen, a plot which sends Athan undercover to Etania to gain intel from her children.

Athan’s mission becomes complicated when he finds himself falling for the girl he’s been tasked with spying upon. Aurelia feels the same attraction, all the while desperately seeking to stop the war threatening to break between the Southern territory and the old Northern kingdoms that control it—a war in which Athan’s father is determined to play a role. As diplomatic ties manage to just barely hold, the two teens struggle to remain loyal to their families and each other as they learn that war is not as black and white as they’ve been raised to believe.

What I Love: Oh my goodness gracious, this series is going to murder me before it’s over. I don’t know how many books are planned, but I’m freaking out thinking of what is to come. I read this all the way through, then reread the prologue, and I’m even more of a mess now. 

THE DARK OF THE WEST is filled with political maneuvering and the machinations of war. And you need to pay attention from the start. It is all told through the perspective of a young princess and a new pilot, who are slowly but desperately caught up in its web, even as they fall for each other. It is a masterful process in an incredibly detailed world - and sure to have brutal results. The story contains a trope I love - enemies to lovers. As well as one I don't love - characters keeping their true identities secret from each other - but I was completely invested in these characters' lives and choices through it all. All I can say is that there's going to be some consequences to come, and I may need to be hiding under a blanket when they happen. 

What I Wish: I wish this book had a cast list, and I wish I'd had the map when I read. Also this is a small picky thing, but this story had so many R names - a prince, a king and two different countries, which definitely confused me on who and what was what. The plotting and war making are pretty complicated in this story, and though I love a good political book, some things edged towards confusing for me. I am just hoping that the next installment has a good recap! 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Medium - so much more to come! 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Blog Tour: Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller
Review + Photo Inspiration

Warrior of the Wild 
by Tricia Levenseller

Read: January 20 - 27, 2019
Published: February 26th 2019 
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
Source: ARC from publisher (TY!)

Category: YA, Fantasy, Wilderness, Survival, Fierce Warrior Girls, Betrayal, Beasts, Monsters,

Book Description: How do you kill a god?

As her father's chosen heir, eighteen-year-old Rasmira has trained her whole life to become a warrior and lead her village. But when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged and she fails the test, her father banishes her to the monster-filled wilderness with an impossible quest: to win back her honour, she must kill the oppressive god who claims tribute from the villages each year or die trying.


My Thoughts

I’m all about a stand-alone fantasies these days. Series have been giving me too much anxiety, and Warrior of the Wild hit all the right notes for me, with the great bonus of being a standalone - yay! This is the story of Rasmira who's life is completely thrown off course, when her coming-of-age trial is sabotaged by someone she trusts (several someones), and she's exiled into the wilderness. Suddenly, Rasmira's not going to become the next chief of her village, and in fact, she probably won't survive very long out on her own and surrounded by monsters. 

I connected to Rasmira immediately and wanted all the best for her. I was fully caught up in the injustice of her betrayal and the impossible task she faces in the wild. Through it all, Rasmira never lost focus and determination. But what I loved most about this story was seeing her grow and change through her time in the wild. 

When Rasmira is exiled into the wilderness, her trust has been completely broken by people she cared about, and she definitely doesn't expect to find anyone out there, let alone two people who become her friends. I adored Soren and Iric from the start - they were exactly what Rasmira needed and she was what they needed. I'm typically drawn to the the hate-to-love romance, but I couldn't help fall for Soren immediately. Rasmira doesn't trust him at all (so I guess it's sort of hate on her side haha), but Soren doesn't give up on her. Their banter was hilarious and one of my favorite parts of the story. Watching Rasmira, Soren and Iric learn to work together was completely rewarding. 

Rasmira such a fierce fighter and she's so broken and determined when she's exiled, that I wanted nothing more than for her to complete the impossible mission and show everyone how amazing she is. And this aspect of the story does not disappoint. But watching Rasmira find friends (and a romance) and gain confidence as a leader, was some of my favorite parts.

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone  

Photo Inspiration 

I took Warrior of the Wild on a journey into the wilderness during two seasons for some inspiration. 

1) The first photo incorporates water, which is featured in an important task in the book. It also includes lots of color, which is how I imagine Rasmira's wilderness. 

2) The second photo was taken in winter, but we can pretend that it's actually hot, since the weather is warm in Rasmira's wilderness. Rasmira must find food in the wild, and berries are one of her first options. This photo also reminds me of Soren, who teaches Rasmira which berries are okay to eat. 

Find these and other bookish photos on my Instagram @loveisnotatriangle

About the Author

Tricia Levenseller is the author of the Daughter of the Pirate King duology and forthcoming standalone, Warrior of the Wild. She likes to describe her books as young adult alternate–world historical fantasies with heavy romantic subplots. 

Initially from a small town in Oregon, Tricia now lives next to the Rocky Mountains with her bossy dog, Rosy. She received her degree in English Language and editing and is thrilled that she never has to read a textbook again. When she’s not writing or reading, Tricia enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, playing volleyball, playing OVERWATCH, and watching shows while eating extra-buttered popcorn.

Find Tricia Levenseller: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Book Website

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Don't forget to preorder your copy of Warrior of the Wild and receive a quote magnet, signed bookplate, and annotated chapter by Tricia!

Submit your receipt HERE
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