The Voice of my Mind: A Review

The Voice of my Mind by T. A. Fish

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Cover Rating: 4/10 it’s simple and fits the title, but it’s not something that really stands out. It’s not something that would really attract my attention in a book store.

Publisher: Book Baby

Publish Date: June 1st, 2019

Number of Pages: 86

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

The Voice of My Mind, by author T. A. Fish, is an avant-garde poetry collection that took over 5 years to complete. Each poem is beautifully crafted with great virtuosity, that haunts with extreme depth and wonder. The collection deals with themes of grief, love, spiritual enlightenment, and philosophy. From beginning to end, the poems read in a mesmerizing and captivating style, expertly flowing from one theme to the next.

Opening Poem:

Treasure

The pyre of life Is a great treasure chest;

Pouring out All, Of the world’s best.

The fruit of men Is like a deep well;

To find the bottom Time will tell.

The love of God Is like a great vista view;

Endless in boundaries And beauty too.

The hate of the world Is an abominable snow;

Blinding in rage Of what it ought not know.

The knowledge of life Is knowing what is to gain;

Searching all truth And seeking in vain.

Musings:

I think one of the main issues with this collection is how much the same it is. The rhythms are all the same and it’s like reading one long redundant poem and no one wants that.

However, the reason why I rated this 3 stars is because there was 2 poems that I really did enjoy, but even those have the same redundant rhythm and I wish it didn’t.

I will share the one I liked the most with all of you:

Grim

The madness creeping deep within,

The lifeless body of a man named grim;

As a heartless beat quakes the thin,

Revenant who died and rose again.

Writhing and crawling with nary a shin,

Carrying a devilish smile,

disguised as a grin,

His twinkling eyes,

protrude through the dim,

Haze of blackness that encompass his skin.

Seeing a doppelganger claiming his twin,

The unrepentant soul of abhorrent sin,

Seeking to devour his spirited kin;

Dragging his corpse into the depths therein.

Screaming his last, from the pit, of the dungeon,

Never a fate so great and grim,

La fin.

I like this one because it was darker and it made me think of Halloween and creepiness. But, even re-reading it I don’t feel like it has a lasting impression.

Mostly, I just wanted there to be variety in the tone. It’s like the words no longer matter because there was no variety in the beat. It’s like the poetry is trying to be grander then it actually is. It’s not even that the poems themselves are bad. I feel like it’s all trying too hard.

All in all:

This collection had a lot of potential it never tapped into. It had some good topics and some good lines, but it fell lacking to redundancy. It’s a run of the mill poetry collection. Not terrible, but not great. Which is why I gave it the rating I did.

About the Author:

T. A. Fish is a Christian author, who spent over 5 years crafting the deep, provocative, and thought-provoking poetry collection The Voice of My Mind. “The Voice of My Mind is a journey of the human spirit; one that dives into the deepest and darkest crevices of the human mind, and then reaches for the heights of spiritual enlightenment and redemption. ” – T. A. Fish

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Wicked Saints: A Review

Wicked Saints (Book 1) by Emily A. Duncan

My Rating: 4/5 stars!

Cover Rating: 5/10 a standard book cover. I like the darkness of it. It just doesn’t give me a wow factor. I do like that the kingdom is in the cover though. That’s pretty cool.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish Date: April 2nd, 2019

Number of Pages: 385

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis: An instant New York Times bestseller! 

“Prepare for a snow-frosted, blood-drenched fairy tale where the monsters steal your heart and love ends up being the nightmare.” – Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Gilded Wolves and The Star-Touched Queen

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light. Wicked Saints is the thrilling start to Emily A. Duncan’s devastatingly Gothic Something Dark and Holytrilogy.

“This book destroyed me and I adored it.”- Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

Opening Sentence: Death, magic, and winter. A bitter cycle that Marzenya spins with crimson threads around pale fingers. She is constant; she is unrelenting; she is eternal. She can grant any spell to those she has blessed, her reach is the fabric of magic itself.—Codex of the Divine, 2:18

The calming echo of a holy chant filtered down from the sanctuary and into the cellars.”

Musings:

This book reminds me of why I love fantasy. A whole world in your fingertips that can be as dark and magical as you dream it to be. Emily writes such a tale. Something where everyone has their own agenda and manipulation and truth within lies makes world views shatter and the fate of whole kingdoms lying in the balance of all of it.

What I Loved:

The writing. There were some chapters of this book where the writing was positively addicting. The reason I say some is only because certain chapters were written like dreams and the elegance of those chapters shown, while others served the purpose of showing action and furthering the plot and that isn’t a bad thing. It made the book very well balanced and thoroughly enjoyable.

Falling for the wrong guy. It’s nice to see a story that shows someone making a mistake about the person they fall for. It happens to all of us and in this story it had some dubious consequences. Although I loved the attraction between Nadya and Malachiasz. I think I have a thing for male characters with M names “cough Morpheus cough Mephistopheles cough” with a penchant for magic and very charismatic personalities. It’s a sad that Malachiasz would probably kill me before showing me any sort of interest.

The unwinding of truth and lies. Nadya has lived her life incredibly sheltered. She lives to serve the Gods and has practiced a perfection of being and devotion that is tested and bent completely as the book unfolds. She uncovers lie after lie. Something about the way everything is revealed to her was sort of grossly beautiful to me. Because it makes me think what sort of incredible fury she will unleash in the next book. I want to see this girl rise and I have a feeling she will and I can’t wait to see it happen.

The magic itself. There isn’t really much limitation to how the magic in this world manifests. It does have limits from person to person, but in general there is a lot of variety to the spells that are very personal to who is casting. This makes for some beautiful scenes where the magic manifests in very unique ways that I really enjoyed.

All in all:

This book is a great one! The way things enfolded has me very excited about what is to come and what adventures await Nadya in the future! I love a book with intensity and Wicked Saints had that aplenty.

About the Author:

emily / XXVI / 
—NYT & Indie bestselling author of WICKED SAINTS and RUTHLESS GODS from Wednesday Books/Macmillan 

— purchase Wicked Saints here! 

—preorder Ruthless Gods here! 

— YA fantasy writer rep’d by Thao Le of SDLA 
evil!boyfriends / villains / metal music / Goth Life /

Thank you all for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

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Yesterday’s Wordcount: 918

In Another Life: A Review

In Another Life by C.C. Hunter

My Rating: 4 Stars!

Cover Rating: 3/10 stars, I’m not really feeling this cover. I think the only thing that would attract me to it is the color. It doesn’t feel like it’s truly connected with the story in any real way other then to say things get a bit fractured in the novel. I wish they had gone in a different direction.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish Date: March 26th, 2019

Number of Pages: 352

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

“What would you do if your whole life was a lie and learning the truth could cost you your life?

From New York Times bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series comes C. C. Hunter’s new YA thriller about a girl who learns that she may have been kidnapped as a child, and must race to uncover the truth about her past before she winds up a victim.

Chloe was three years old when she became Chloe Holden, but her adoption didn’t scar her, and she’s had a great life. Now, fourteen years later, her loving parents’ marriage has fallen apart and her mom has moved them to Joyful, Texas. Starting twelfth grade as the new kid at school, everything Chloe loved about her life is gone. And feelings of déjà vu from her early childhood start haunting her.

When Chloe meets Cash Colton she feels drawn to him, as though they’re kindred spirits. Until Cash tells her the real reason he sought her out: Chloe looks exactly like the daughter his foster parents lost years ago, and he’s determined to figure out the truth.

As Chloe and Cash delve deeper into her adoption, the more things don’t add up, and the more strange things start happening. Why is Chloe’s adoption a secret that people would kill for?”

Opening Sentence: ““What are you doing?” I ask when Dad pulls over at a convenience store only a mile from where Mom and I are now living.”

Musings:

Reading this book brought up a lot of emotions in me. It was a story way more intense then my own, but I was taken by the similarities in feeling. Chole was happy with her situation for most of her life. Living with the family that loved her and gave her all that she could have ever wanted, but her parents divorce changed everything. Then, Cash comes into her life and her world is flipped inside out and upside down. When he presents the idea that she was the kidnapped child of his foster parents and slowly reveals to her his own checkered past she is thrown into a state where she doesn’t know what to believe.

What I Enjoyed:

The action. It’s slow building to this point, but it has many tense thriller moments. I really enjoyed the way the events added up and built suspense as the story went on.

How suspicious Cash always was. Cash had constant suspicions to the 10th degree. Sometimes, I had no idea where they were coming from. But, I enjoyed how he began to trust Chole slowly as time went on.

Watching the two come together. I liked the relationship between them. It was complicated yes. It brought up a lot of baggage in them both, but what mattered was the love that was there and they decided to be there for each other and accept each other as they were.

That Chole had a good relationship with her parents. Yes at times due to divorce that the relationships were strained. However, at the end of the day the love was there. It was nice to read an adoption story where the parents weren’t abusive.

All and All:

In Another Life is a unique read with curious situations and some really great writing. You’ll keep guessing what the real truth is till the very end.

About the Author:

C. C. Hunter is the American author of the Shadow Falls young adult novels. C.C. Hunter is a pen name. Under her real name, Christie Craig, she also writes romantic suspense novels. Born in Alabama, she now lives in Texas.

Thanks for reading! I meant to write and post this review ages ago. I procrastinated on this one a ton and I no longer remember why, but better late then never! As always, let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Ransacker: A Review

Ransacker (Berserker Book #2) by Emmy Laybourne

My Rating: 4/5 stars!

Cover Rating: 10/10 I love this cover. It’s so painterly and beautiful. I love how you can clearly tell the emotions on each of the characters faces. It also clearly mixes the Norse mythology and western roots the story has. All in all, it is beautifully and artistically done.

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Publish Date: January 29th, 2019

Number of Pages: 448 pages

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

“The gripping, heart-wrenching companion novel to Emmy Laybourne’s much acclaimed historical fantasy Berserker.

Rare powers. Precious metals. A final showdown.

1886. The Hemstads possess supernatural powers bestowed upon their family by the ancient Norse gods. Now Sissel, the youngest at 16, discovers her gift: she is a Ransacker. She can find gold and other precious metals and pull them to her. Hers is an awesome and dangerous gift.

Sissel and her siblings have been living peacefully in a small town in Montana, trying to blend-in and escape the violent events that haunt them, but they’ve all been tricked―the handsome young man courting Sissel is secretly a Pinkerton spy, reporting to the man who wants to control them, the Baron Fjelstad.

Sissel’s beau is not the only one interested in her new talents. She’s also caught the attention of a local mine owner who’s convinced Sissel has a lucky touch when it comes to finding gold. With betrayal lurking around every corner, Sissel must tread carefully. Harnessing her powers could bring great fortune . . . or cause the powerful Baron to come hunting her and her siblings down for once and for all.”

Opening Sentence: “My dearest Stieg, I cannot tell you how glad I was to find your letter of June 10 waiting for me at the address of our contact in Årstad.

Musings:

Ransacker is the empowering sequel to one of my favorite reads of 2018 Berserker. The horror was dialed back in Ransacker to make way for a whole different sort of story. The story of Sissel. The sister who was known for being Nyette free and weak. But the sister who would not be set back by her perceived weaknesses any longer.

What I Loved:

Sissel’s strength. This is 100% Sissel’s story. She grows in this story. She finds her worth. She finds her strength. She decides for herself to take the path that she desires. Sissel shines in Ransacker and I’m all here for it.

The western feel. I am usually completely uninterested in western novels, but this one uses the western setting in a great way to tell a totally unique story and I’m all for it.

The Norse Mythology. I love a good fantasy with magic, but this sort of magic in particular is really intriguing to me. Using your powers eventually leading to some sort of physical punishment like the possibility of hearing loss is intriguing. Especially when the call to use these powers is always very strong.

Love beyond the flaws. McKray the mine owner is a swindler. He is fundamentally a flawed human being. He lied to increase his own wealth and yet Sissel saw more in him. Saw him in his totality and loved him for him completely. Though they did have their struggles love won out. That’s the kind of love that I’d like to share.

The other Beau. I may not hold any love for James, but I do love how Sissel grew from her courtship with him. Sissel knew that she didn’t want this boy. They had a friendship and James always acted like he wanted more (for not the best of reasons) and Sissel eventually chose for herself what she wanted and she did so with great respect for herself and I greatly admire that.

The continuation of Hanne’s story. I like that Hanne had her own little storyline within Sissel’s story. I loved seeing her and Owen together and seeing their relationship evolve more deeply. I always loved them together and seeing them live and grow together was a beautiful addition to the novel.

The imagery that the powers of a Ransacker creates. The way that Sissel connected with metals was so cool. They were characterized with different personalities and gold being of the most brilliance. It created this really beautiful and totally unique layer of description that I adored.

All in all:

Ransacker was brilliant and empowering and beautifully written. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to read it. It’s a worthy sequel to Ransacker with its own very unique vibe. I enjoyed every moment of reading it.

About the Author:

EMMY LAYBOURNE is a Young Adult novelist best known for her Monument 14 series, an internationally best-selling trilogy that has been translated into 9 languages. Her standalone book Sweet won a Junior Library Guild Award, was a YALSA Quick Pick and got a Perfect Ten rating from VOYA. Her latest books, Berserker, and Ransacker tell the story of a family of Norwegian teens with ancient Viking powers and are currently being adapted for television.

Emmy is a former character actress, and is occasionally recognized from her role as Mary Katherine Gallagher’s best friend in the movie “Superstar.” She lives outside New York with her husband, two kids, faithful dog and a flock of seven nifty chickens. Visit her online at www.EmmyLaybourne.com.

Thanks for reading! It’s been ages since I have written a review. I am so glad that the first I write in a while is for such an awesome novel. Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Freedom From Netgalley

I am finally.. finally free from my Netgalley obligations!!! That’s right.. completely and totally free!

I do not have a 100% feedback ratio. Because of the way I requested books at one point a lot of the books became unavailable because I took to long to get to them.. I am NEVER over requesting books again. From now on.. it’s one or two at a time.

Look at that 87% feedback rating… feels so good! I feel badly about the 15 novels that fell through the cracks.. some of them I didn’t review because they were problematic and I didn’t want to read them and others because I didn’t manage my time right and no longer had access to those books, but I got to a majority of the books and it feels like a true success!

I’m going to steer clear of Netgalley for a while.. I have quite a few books on my shelves and ebooks that I want to get to. I have some books on my shelves I should have read a LONG time ago, but now I am free to read what I want. Maybe I’ll reread a few things. Who knows? I might request the occasional Netgalley read, but for now my book shelves look really good to me.

This Netgalley clean-up took months! I kinda messed things up for myself when I did my book a day thing for the longest time.. it burned me out. Especially writing reviews all the time. It made me so unhappy with my blog and I just wanted to get back to writing posts the way I used to… daily, but whatever I wanted. It’d be nice to do some tags again. I have a couple of projects I’m thinking of doing. All I know is.. it feels good to be free!

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

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-Till next time!

Fresh Ink: A Review

Fresh Ink by Many Authors

My Rating: 5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 5/10 it’s an ok cover. A bit generic. I think they could have done something really cool with graffiti art showcasing some really great art of people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I think it was a missed opportunity.

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Publish Date: August 14th, 2018

Number of Pages: 208 pages

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

“In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.”

Musings:

Eraser Tattoo by Jason Reynolds

““I love you.” It slipped easily from his lips. Like breathing. Like usual.”

This was a sweet little story. I didn’t realize that eraser tattoos were a thing. It was a pretty little slice of life and I loved it. The writing of this little short story was beautiful. It really drew me in!

Meet Cute by Malinda Lo

“Tamia cocked her head at Nic. “Is gender-flipped Sulu gay too?””

This was another really cute little story about the art of subtle.. yet not so subtle communication. I thought it was cool to see the curiosity of meeting a prospective love and wonder if they were of the same sexuality as you on top of wondering if there is actually any interest in the first place. I also loved that this took place at a comic-con.

Don’t Pass Me By by Eric Gansworth

“He glanced down at my paper. “I see. Hubert. But you know, the assignment wasn’t a self-portrait.” “It was, if you’re white,” I said.”

This story is one of my favorites. I so enjoyed seeing race depicted in this way. A lot of thought went into this. I could see in my mind very clearly what this would have looked like as it played out. Very well-written.

Be Cool for Once by Aminah Mae Safi

“He pulled out a Chap Stick and swiped it across his lips. Like he’d decided to draw shining arrows to all of Shirin’s favorite parts.”

I loved this short story! Shirin and the way she thinks of the guy she’s been crushing on is exactly me. I really loved how her thoughts were written.. with that dramatic flavor of a girl in love. It all put a huge smile on my face.

Tags by Walter Dean Myers

“BIG EDDIE works hard at his tag, which is the letters spelling out smoke sitting on a bed of flames.”

This story was oddly powerful to me. It felt so real. Which is something because it was set in the afterlife. I liked the style of it, written like a play. It reminded me of the sad reality of gang violence. The lives that are lost and for what? It’s a culture of kill or be killed that should never have had to been a part of reality.

Why I Learned to Cook by Sara Farizan

““You don’t apologize for who you are. I’m an old lady now and perhaps that doesn’t mean much in the world we live in, but I exist and I shouldn’t have to be sorry for that. As a woman, you have to know that. Don’t ever apologize for who you are,””

Another super sweet little story. This one made my heart all happy. I loved seeing so much cultural influence in this story. The food and the places it all felt rooted in a experience totally different from my own and I loved that.

A Stranger at the Bochinche by Daniel José Older

“Gather, my children, I have a story.”

I feel like this story could have been made into a much longer one. It was packed with great description and full of adventure. I really liked it!

A Boy’s Duty by Sharon G. Flake

“Slaughtering pigs and wringing chicken necks did as much to chase me toward books as any teacher ever did.”

Again I could see this being a whole book. I really liked the character and I loved seeing how he dreamed. This was a really cool historical set short story!

One Voice: A Something in Between Story by Melissa de la Cruz

“I wanted everyone to see the truth—that even Stanford wasn’t free from this kind of hate.”

I loved this story. It made me feel like going out there and spreading my truth in such a beautiful way. It made me want to stand up and hold hands with people of all kinds and show that in my mind we are all valid, worthy, and wonderful people. Every day I see people of all kinds. The community I live in is so diverse and I think that if the diversity wasn’t there it would be colorless. I would feel empty from the lack of beauty. Hate is out there, but the more we choose to stand against it the more it weakens. That’s what I loved most about this story.

Paladin/Samurai by Gene Luen Yang, Illustrations by Thien Pham

“Aaand I’m Japanese.. hm, I wonder what a Japanese Paladin is called? Wait lemme think…That’s right we’re called Samurai!”

This was such a fun read. It made me laugh and it made me feel happy to see people standing up for what they believed in. It was super short, but I loved the drawings especially the fantasy parts!

Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar

“I used to dream of getting breast cancer.”

This was my favorite one. I can say wholeheartedly that this is the story that pulled at my heartstrings the most. It was so real and so full of the emotions of what it is to live life in the body of someone who you aren’t. That line above tore me up.. I love to hear stories from the trans community. To me they have a struggle that is one of the hardest because they are just trying to show themselves and the world who they are inside and be strong when there are people from all communities and walks of life standing against them. I have mad respect for the people of the trans community they have some of the toughest armor out there.

Super Human by Nicola Yoon

““I won’t hurt you,” he says. Which is ridiculous, because that is the whole point of her being here. He is going to hurt everyone.”

Wow… just wow. I don’t have the words for this one. It gave me chills. This was such a beautiful heartbreaking story. I wanted more.. so much more and yet it was perfect in its length. So.. so good!

Final Thoughts:

Our stories matter. All of our stories matter. I am so tired of living in a world where we look at each other and our difference is all we see. We all feel. We all love. We all are trapped in the same cells of bodies that we must walk with everyday. We all have issues. We all have dreams. Every book store. Every library. Every show. Every movie. Every piece of art. Should be filled with the experiences of all of us. With all of our passions. So many of us feel forgotten by the world. So many of us feel like we don’t matter. But we matter. We all matter. I am tired of living in a world where it’s all about just pure survival. I am tired of living in a world that for many compassion is forgotten. A lot of the time the weight of it all just makes me tired. Yet, still everyday I wake up and I try. I get so angry at some of the stories I read sometimes. Stories where people get so full of themselves that they lack basic respect for fellow human lives. Where they judge like their opinion is the only one that matters. Like how they were wronged is the only thing that matters. It makes me so angry and so so very sad. Sometimes I want to shake people and tell them to open their eyes.. and see.. look at these people.. look at how they dance.. how they laugh.. how they cry.. how they celebrate…how they kiss.. how they hug.. how they scream and shout for what they believe in.. and show them don’t you do the same? Don’t you laugh and cry and celebrate and work and keep taking every day step by step… don’t you see that them living their lives the way they want to does nothing to make your life any less. Reading Fresh Ink reminded me of that chip in my soul that angers for all the wrong. That just wants to see the world be a place where we could all be peaceful and happy. That even if I can’t do much on my own.. I can work to be compassionate. That maybe, if I could inspire one other person to do the same (all the time not just some of the time) that it would all be worth it. We need more anthologies like this. More inspiring works. More words that shake the people who read them and remind them of what they are fighting for.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

Ash Princess: A Review

Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 6/10 Ash Princess has a really strong cover and it fits the book, but I think it comes off as generic fantasy and I think that somehow that leaked into some of the reviews.. even though this while a fantasy is a story that stands on its own, but I digress.

Publisher: Random House Children’s

Publish Date: April 24th, 2018

Number of Pages: 432 pages

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

“Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia’s family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess–a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She’s endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn’t always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.”

Opening Sentence: “The last person who called me by my true name was my mother, with her dying breath.”

Musings:

Ash Princess is a fantastic fantasy about a girl who lived her life lying low finding her way to claim the title she was born to have. The world of this novel is bleak, but as characters grow and take action, hope is found in bread crumbs.

What I Loved:

Everything seemed bleak. Sometimes in life, shit hits the fan. This book has a lot of that. It’s messy and awful and almost hopeless. There are no holds barred and if this was real I think it would truly have been that way. When rulers take over countries things are awful for the oppressed. The terribleness made the book feel more real.

I didn’t like Theo. Sometimes, it’s not about having a likable character. Theo and the way she handled things was something I didn’t care for, but was I rooting for her? Yes. Right or wrong she did as she felt was best and that is admirable.

Religion. I don’t see it often in fantasy, but there are belief systems in this novel! I think it’s something a lot of fantasy books neglect. Of course people have things they believe in! It added to the authenticity of the narrative.

The little things. There are some small little things like the remembrance of a holiday that create little bright spots in a darker narrative. Even the touches of small actions characters took were lovely.

Attention to detail. There were so many subtleties to the writing that made great impact in how much I enjoyed the narrative. I felt like there was a world outside the palace even when all you got was Theo’s captivity.

Other things:

There is a love triangle in this book. A lot of people hate that. I for one enjoyed how it was done. It’s important to the story.

I’ve seen some weird reviews saying that this is a generic fantasy and it just got me to think about originality. (Especially because I’ve read books this one was compared to). This book 100% stands on its own and is in no way a copy of anything else. However, fantasy tends to read with twin flames and it is the nature of fantasy that it shows the oppressed trying to triumph over that oppression. Fantasy also often talks about the prince or princess, because in all of our hearts those are the stories we wanted to live out. Plus, it can add a political flavor that you can’t writing about other forms of politics in ya. Ash Princess is unapologetically a fantasy.. I see no fault in that.

Final thoughts:

Ash princess will take you away and into another world. It’s about fighting with what you have.. even if it’s only wit and mental strength. Being strong physically and able to fight isn’t the only way to make progress and that’s something to remember.

About the Author:

Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.

After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.

When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.

Her debut ASH PRINCESS, the start of a YA fantasy trilogy, will be out April  24th, 2018 from Delacorte (Random House).

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

Nothing But Sky: A Review

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 2.5/10 I don’t like this cover. Especially because the photoshop is to where I can really tell it was photoshop. Plus I think having a models face here was a poor decision. It could have been a really pretty 1920’s aviation inspired cover.

Publisher: North Star Editions

Publish Date: March 27th, 2018

Number of Pages: 284

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection.

“Trueblood’s action-packed first novel explores the post-World War I époque with visceral period detail, and Grace’s ambition carries the story about fighting for one’s dreams, seeking stability in some form, and a team becoming a family.” —Publishers Weekly

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

Opening Sentence:

“Blue sky, perfect day to fly.”

Musings:

Nothing But Sky was a fun feminist read that I for some reason had a hard time putting down. I had to know what was next with this book so I must say the author did her job and did it well!

What I Enjoyed:

The Barnstorming! I loved seeing a book featuring one of the coolest and most dangerous jobs ever! Women of barnstorming are the most badass women you could ever see and it was super cool to read about.

The Love Story. You’re going to read later on the small exception to this, but I really did like the love story this told. I liked that Henry came back from war with PTSD. Something that ends up bringing Grace and him together in a more natural way. There were some sweet moments in there and I loved all of them.

The Twist. In a book like this I was not expecting a twist like the one I got. It threw me for a loop and I couldn’t help but thinking “No way! No way! No Way!!!” Over and over again.

Her friends. Grace has two friends in this novel and their story together was actually one of the parts of this story I enjoyed the most. I loved that they kept trying to style Grace and the fact that Grace kept rejecting it to be herself.

Feminist Grace. I enjoyed Grace as a main character. She believed in herself every step of the way. No matter who was telling her to be careful or that she couldn’t do something she continued to persist. She was brilliant!

What I Did Not Enjoy:

Henry was a jerk at the beginning. I did not like seeing that for a long while Henry was not a guy that I would have liked to see as a love interest. He came off as a bit cocky and in some ways put down Grace and even though that changes later I still didn’t like seeing it happen in the beginning. (This is still a 4 star read this was the one thing I just couldn’t let go of).

About the Author:

I’m Amy Trueblood and I write Young Adult and Adult fiction. I grew up in Southern California and Arizona. After graduating from college with a degree in journalism, I lived in Los Angeles and worked as an NBC page before returning to Arizona to start a career in advertising.

My wild life has allowed me to live in many places including Nashville (for six years), and it’s true what they say, it’s very easy to pick up the accent. While living in Music City, I worked for Ingram Book Group and fell in love with the world of publishing and writing after reading an ARC (advanced reading copy) of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Shortly thereafter, I started writing my first Young Adult novel and I haven’t stopped writing since!

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below.

-Till next time!

In Sight of Stars: A Review

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

My Rating: 5/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 7/10 Stars! I really love this cover, but I feel that it could’ve been even more tailored to the story then it already looks. I would have loved a sort of Van Gogh inspired illustrated cover that would’ve been more painterly. But as it stands it is a lovely conventional ya cover!

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publish Date: March 13th, 2018

Number of Pages: 288

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Klee’s father was the center of his life. He introduced Klee to the great museums of New York City and the important artists on their walls, he told him stories made of myths and magic. Until his death.

Now, forced to live in the suburbs with his mom, Klee can’t help but feel he’s lost all the identifying parts of himself—his beloved father, weekly trips to the MoMA, and the thrumming energy of New York City. That is until he meets wild and free Sarah in art class, with her quick smiles and jokes about his “brooding.” Suddenly it seems as if she’s the only thing that makes him happy. But when an act of betrayal sends him reeling, Klee lands in what is bitingly referred to as the “Ape Can,” a psychiatric hospital for teens in Northollow.

While there, he undergoes intensive therapy and goes back over the pieces of his life to find out what was real, what wasn’t, and whether he can stand on his own feet again. Told in alternating timelines, leading up to the event that gets him committed and working towards getting back out, Gae Polisner’s In Sight of Stars is a gorgeous novel told in minimalist strokes to maximal effect, about what makes us fall apart and how we can put ourselves back together again.

Opening Sentence: “Even before I push the fucking door open, I know.”

Musings:

At first I didn’t know what to think of this story. It took me a while to really understand the writing style and where it was all headed, but when I did I began to appreciate the story all of it. It’s brilliant from the very first sentence to the very last. Starting in a (doctor prescribed) drug induced state of hallucinations going on to become more and more clear as Klee heals made the story incredibly unique.

What I Loved:

The change in tone. The ethereal almost mystical tone of the beginning changed to a very real hard hitting one as Klee heals. The beautiful writing created a novel that I am now in awe of.

Paintings influence. I love when the emotional aspect of painting informs the emotion in the characters. Klee and his dad are both painters and the memories of their bond and how they both used it to express themselves was a beautiful touch.

The rawness. Every single moment I felt the raw nature of the story deep within me. It was a hard read for me because I started reading right before my dad went into the hospital and it was difficult for me to keep going, but I feel like reading this and watching a character heal helped me see that I too would heal. After all I have to appreciate the time I have with my family now. I’ve been a mess of worry for a while.

Misinformation. Another thing I loved was that there are secrets kept and beliefs that Klee holds that he doesn’t realize are not true. This happens in real life all too often and utilizing this as a big part of the grief Klee held was brilliant.

The memories. I really like how the memories were told almost dreams, lost in thought moments, and direct stories Klee tells his doctor while in the ape can. At first they are all tangled up and more and more you get attached and emotional as Klee finally reveals the answers to the questions you’ve been thinking about. Mainly what happened to get him into the ape can in the first place?

A unforgiving look at grief and depression. This story holds no punches. Things get dark and very real. It’s heartbreaking. At times it brought tears to my eyes.

All in all:

I think everyone should give this book a shot. The beautiful writing and raw emotion will pull every person in. You can’t not care about Klee and his grief. Another example of a story well told.

About the Author:

“I write both women’s and young adult fiction.

When I’m not writing, I’m swimming, hanging with my kids, or cooking and cleaning. Okay, fine, I’m probably not cleaning.

I have written since I was little, mostly poems and short stories through college. Then, I went to law school and, for over a decade, replaced all that creative writing with legal briefs. But after my sons were born, I decided to return to my first love.

In 1995, I set out to write a book, not knowing if I actually could. I have completed at least five full manuscripts since then.

I like to think my novels are accessible, lyrical (somewhat literary) fiction – and, my young adult stories, an homage to the character-driven fiction I loved so much as a child and teen (anything by E.L. Konigsburg, Paul Zindel, Madeleine L’Engle, or Judy Blume…). The Pull of Gravity has a special “secret” nod to the first novel I couldn’t put down – Don’t Take Teddy, by Babbis Friis-Baastad. To this day, I remember the feeling of frantically turning pages to find out if the brothers would be okay. If any of you ever read that book, please send me an email, and we can be instant BFF’s.

My first piece of women’s fiction, The Jetty, was a Top Semifinalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. My second piece, Swim Back to Me, will be revised one day soon and hopefully see the light of day. In the meantime, my next YA novel is coming soon from Algonquin, and I have several more teen novels in the works. So, please check back here often for updates.

I live and write on Long Island with my two amazing boys, my handsome, smart husband who sings, and two very “enthusiastic” cockatiels, Taha and Bobo. When I’m not writing, I’m still a practicing family law attorney/mediator, and when I’m not doing that, I’m swimming in my pool or, better yet, the open water off of Long Island.

To learn more about YA-author me, come on over to my YA blog, That Wee Bit Heap.

To learn more about wife/mother/swimmer me, follow my women’s fiction blog, Trying to Stay Afloat in a Sea of Words.”

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below!

-Till next time!

To Kill A Kingdom: A Review

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

My Rating: 4/5 Stars!

Cover Rating: 7.5/10 I really like this cover. It’s really pretty and I like that the octopi legs remind you of the Sea Queen. It’s an elegant cover and it attracted me to this book.

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing

Publish Date: March 6th, 2018

Number of Pages: 352 pages

Received: Netgalley provided an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase: Amazon

Synopsis:

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Opening Sentence: “I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.”

Musings:

To Kill A Kingdom swept the ya scene in a building phenomenon. Raving reviews poured in bringing me to the decision that I had to read this book. That turned out to be a wonderful decision as I enjoyed this book immensely! Dark Sirens, budding magic, and hate to love relationships make me happy. This is a really great fantasy read.

What I Loved:

A dark spin on a familiar tale. The little mermaid is one of the most beloved fairytales of all. Seeing a retelling take that story and make it it’s own was a lot of fun for me. I liked seeing the little nods to the original storyline here and there.

Actual reasons for why the sirens act the way they do. I think it was really smart of the author to make sirens cruelty to be a part of their culture. It’s even praised among them! They are not necessarily bad just to be bad, but because it is what they know and what is expected of them as productive members of their people.

The descriptions of the kingdoms. I really like that even though the majority of the book is on the sea I had a sense of what other kingdoms were like based on their waters. It was like their character was defined by the surrounding sea.

Shipping on an actual ship. I mean as a fan girl I love seeing my ships set sail on literal ships. Nothing makes me happier.

The sea queen is a gorgeous Ursula. I’ve always thought it was a tragedy that Disney made Ursula ugly. Gorgeous villains and villains who are just regular people can often be more interesting. Although even the original Ursula didn’t hesitate to let her fab flag fly.

Final thoughts:

Whenever I am looking for a fun fast paced read I’m turning to this book. Retelling make for things of beauty more often then not.

About the Author

Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn’t be a fairy. She has a BA in Creative Writing and works as a copywriter in London, both of which make her sound more grown up than she feels. When she’s not busy making up stories, she can be found buying far too many cushions and organizing food crawls all over the city.

Alexandra currently lives in Hertfordshire with an abundance of cacti (because they’re the only plants she can keep alive).

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below! What do you think of To Kill a Kingdom?

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-Till next time!