Gambit by C.L. Denault

Willow Kent is about to have her life turned upside down. First she discovers that she’s a prodigy with special powers, then she’s taken away from her quiet village life to live in the Core with people she’s never met before. Not only that, but she’s forced to associate with the man largely responsible for these changes–Commander Reece. She wants to hate him, but it’s kind of hard to hate someone who makes your stomach do flips every time he’s¬†nearby.

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What a gorgeous cover, right? That’s what immediately drew me to this book and I’m happy to say that it’s actually relevant to the story. After that, I’m afraid the rest of this review will not be quite so nice. First, the story opens and we’re not sure where we are. Is this the future? The past? Are we still on Earth? Or is this some other world entirely? Let me just clear things up for everyone who wants to read this book: this is future Earth. Something obviously happened (that the reader is not told about) to make some sections of the world regress to little villages, but then there are also some technologically advanced cities who keep themselves separate from the villages. The beginning of this book felt overwhelmingly clunky to me. There really is no other word for it. I didn’t feel like the narrative or dialogue flowed well together and it seemed like there was just a lot of set-up involved with introducing readers to this futuristic Earth. I hoped that the story and writing would smooth out as the book progressed, but unfortunately it never really did. The writing continued to be clunky throughout the book.

I had a very hard time connecting with Willow. I didn’t really like her as a character–she was too chippy. Why does she have this chip on her shoulder? Yes, I understand how hard it must have been to leave her family. I understand that Reece did some pretty bad things in her village, but I still don’t feel like all of her anger and attitude was warranted. If anything, I feel like Willow should be more resigned to her fate. Willow knows that if there is no Roanoke heiress that war will break out and her family will probably become casualties anyway. At least she has some power to stop that war. I wish she had concentrated more on that than the fact that she hates everyone.

There were a lot of other things I just didn’t understand in this book. I already mentioned that the futuristic Earth is kind of weird and there’s no backstory given there. I also don’t get the whole “tiger in her belly” thing? I just don’t understand what that’s supposed to be. Her temper? Her second phase power? I just don’t understand and it’s never really explained why she (and Reece I guess?) have these “tigers” inside of them or what they do. Also, Willow’s relationship with Joshua is WEIRD. I was super uncomfortable reading scenes between the two of them but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Overall, I feel like the story has potential. I’m interested in finding out what happens next, but I feel like there are a lot of improvements that could be made. For example, the book was much longer than it needed to be in my opinion. I mean, it takes 200 pages just for Willow to leave the village. Not necessary. I’ll probably try the second book when it comes out, but if it’s too much like this one, I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest.

Overall Rating:3
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy, some gore.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate, especially in the beginning. Not so much with the rest of the book.
Sexual Content: Mild. Nothing crude really.

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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BOOK TAG: The Coffee Book Tag

Well…I don’t actually drink coffee, but that’s okay. I can still do this tag, right? I was tagged by Jess @Once Upon a Book Review. You should go check out her blog if you haven’t already!

BLACK: A SERIES THAT’S TOUGH TO GET INTO BUT HAS HARDCORE FANS.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I’m super intimidated by these books but I feel like the fandom (thanks, in part, to the T.V. show) is pretty huge. Eventually maybe I’ll get around to trying this series out? We’ll see.

PEPPERMINT MOCHA: A BOOK THAT GETS MORE POPULAR DURING THE WINTER OR A FESTIVE TIME OF YEAR.

I don’t have a specific pick for this (though Jess, who tagged me, picked Harry Potter and I have to agree). But I do love that everyone seems to gravitate towards scarier books around Halloween. It makes the entire holiday very…atmospheric.

HOT CHOCOLATE: FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – I love these books so much. I feel like I found them at a really pivotal moment in my early years and they set me on track to be the voracious reader that I am today.

DOUBLE SHOT OF ESPRESSO: A BOOK THAT KEPT YOU ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT FROM START TO FINISH.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman –¬†I don’t read horror because I’m a big scaredy cat. But I had to read a horror book for one of my library school classes so I chose one that didn’t have any ghosts or evil spirits in it. Even so,this book was super intense. There were some moments where the reader can relax, but they are few and far between.

STARBUCKS: A BOOK YOU SEE EVERYWHERE

Colleen Hoover in general – I have yet to read a Colleen Hoover book, mostly just because the NA genre doesn’t really appeal to me all that much. But I feel like I see a review post for one of her books at least three times a day.

THAT HIPSTER COFFEE SHOP: A BOOK BY AN INDIE AUTHOR (A SHOUTOUT)

K.M. Shea’s¬†Timeless Fairy Tales series! These books are seriously awesome and no one knows about them. If you like fairy tale retellings, you have to check these out. I love how each book is a standalone, but they all tie together as well. You can catch up with some of your favorite characters in later books. It’s really great. Seriously, go read them.

OOPS! I ACCIDENTALLY GOT DECAF: A BOOK YOU WERE EXPECTING MORE FROM.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – I know, everyone loves this book (and this series). But I just don’t. I cannot get over the fact that St. Clair is basically cheating on his girlfriend the whole time. I never understood why it was so hard to just break up with her? Anyway, this series is just not for me. Sorry, not sorry.

THE PERFECT BLEND: A BOOK OR SERIES THAT WAS BOTH BITTER AND SWEET, BUT ULTIMATELY SATISFYING.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – If you’ve read it, you understand.

GREEN TEA: A BOOK OR SERIES THAT IS QUIETLY BEAUTIFUL

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E Smith – I highlighted so many passages from this book on my Kindle. Jennifer E Smith is a really talented writer and I think you can see that in all of her books, but this one really takes the cake. Her writing combined with the poetry that is baseball is pure perfection.

CHAI TEA: A BOOK OR SERIES THAT MAKES YOU DREAM OF FAR OFF PLACES.

Firebird trilogy¬†by Claudia Gray – This one’s on my mind because I just finished book #2, but through these books we get to “visit” places all across the U.S. and Europe. I love learning about the different Multiverses.

EARL GREY: A FAVOURITE CLASSIC

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Does this really need an explanation?

BLOG TOUR: Kingdom of Ashes by Rhiannon Thomas

Kingdom-of-Ashes-GalleyCatKingdom of Ashes (A Wicked Thing #2)
by Rhiannon Thomas
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: February 23rd, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales, Romance, Magic, Fiction, Teen

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|iTunes|Kobo

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:
A Wicked Thing (see my review for it here)

SYNOPSIS: Asleep for a hundred years, awoken by a kiss, Aurora’s life was supposed to be a fairytale. But since discovering that loyalty to the crown and loyalty to her country are two very different things, Aurora knows she can only dream of happily ever after. Once the enchanted princess, savior of her people, she is now branded a traitor.

Aurora is determined to free her home from the king‚Äôs tyrannical rule, even if it means traveling across the sea to the kingdom of the handsome and devious Prince Finnegan‚ÄĒsomeone who seems to know far more about her magic than he should. However, Finnegan‚Äôs kingdom has perils of its own, and any help he gives Aurora will come at a price.

As Aurora and Finnegan work together to harness her power‚ÄĒsomething so fiery and dangerous that is as likely to destroy those close to Aurora as it is to save them‚ÄĒshe begins to unravel the mysteries surrounding the curse that was placed on her over a century before‚Ķand uncover the truth about the destiny she was always meant to fulfill.

Brimming with captivating fantasy and life-threatening danger, the sequel to A Wicked Thing takes Sleeping Beauty on an adventure unlike any she’s ever had before.

REVIEW:¬†Let me start off by saying that this series is a commitment. There isn’t a lot of resolution in each book, but I think the overall series will be able to accomplish that. That being said, the pace of this book is slow. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Aurora is in her head a lot so it sometimes keeps the story and the plot from advancing as quickly as it could (so just be ready for that). At the same time, I feel like we as readers really get to know Aurora well and understand her feelings and motivations. It’s just kind of a trade-off there. Sometimes it can¬†get tiresome with all of the, “Should I kiss Finnegan? But no, I shouldn’t. But I really want to. But I can’t.” Just kiss him already!

Outside of Aurora though, I have a hard time figuring out some of the other characters and why they’re doing what they’re doing (i.e. Finnegan, Orla, Nettle, Tristan, etc). It seems like everyone is really secretive and nobody is telling Aurora the whole story. It’s almost like we’re all still playing catch-up with her from when she was asleep. This was hard for me at times because I typically like to feel like I know more than the protagonist does. In this case, we’re just as uncertain as she is who to trust.

Lastly, even though I feel like I get Aurora, I had a hard time understanding what exactly her end goal was which made it hard for me to care all the way about the plot of the story. Does she want to be queen? What does she want to do with her magic? Does she intend to stick around for a while? We don’t really know the answers to any of these questions.

Overall, I liked this book and I will continue with the series. There were some things that I disliked about it, but they were all personal preferences and I would not consider them fatal flaws in any way. My last bit of criticism is that I wish we had been given a more complete description of the dragons. They become a big part of the story, but I had a hard time picturing them.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: None


giveaway

Click on the above picture or this link to be taken to a Rafflecopter giveaway


RhiannonABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhiannon Thomas is a recent graduate from Princeton University, where she studied English and Japanese, and smuggled bubble tea into the library on a regular basis. She now lives in York, England.

As well as reading and writing YA fiction, she runs the blog FeministFiction.com, where she discusses TV, books, and all kinds of fannish things from a feminist perspective.

I don’t hang out on Goodreads much, so if you want to contact me, please swing by my personal website or message me on Twitter.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Tumblr|Instagram


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Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

The Start of Me & You by Emery Lord

In her small Indiana town, Paige is known as the girl whose boyfriend drowned. It’s been over a year since Aaron died and even though they only dated for a couple of months, Paige still doesn’t feel like she can move on. But it’s the start of her Junior year and if there’s one thing she can do, it’s make a plan. So Paige creates a list of five things that she wants to do and she calls it “How to Begin Again”. 1) Parties/social events; 2) New group; 3) Date; 4) Travel; 5)Swim.

41ds3cq4zql-_sx331_bo1204203200_First let me say that I know this is not the most common cover, but this is the cover that was on my Kindle and I kind of fell in love with it. Anyway, there are hardly words for me to explain how much I loved this book. We have a quirky main character who just seems so real. She has this realistic conflict going on because she feels guilty for being happy when Aaron’s never going to have another happy day. She also feels guilty because she doesn’t feel like she has as much of a right to mourn him as his parents or friends since she and Aaron¬†dated for such a short amount of time. I can’t even¬†imagine what it would be like to be in Paige’s shoes. Your boyfriend dies in a freak accident? That’s hard to deal with at any age, but Paige has to do it while she’s still in high school.

I love that our main character is smart and has a unique talent/hobby/interest (screen-writing). That only serves to make her more real in my book. I also loved that she joins Quiz Bowl. If this was any other book (or movie for that matter) about high school she would have gone out for cheerleading or drama or something that would make her awesome and super popular all of the sudden. Again, the fact that she joins Quiz Bowl instead makes her more real to me. I also liked that several scenes in this book are set in a bookstore(/coffee shop). We need more bookish characters!

I absolutely love the secondary characters in this book! Every secondary character served a purpose and felt well-developed. I was having serious envy over Paige’s relationships with her grandma and her three girl friends. First, I love that her grandmother was her confidante and the advice that Paige receives is always spot on. Second, I am basically in love with these four girls. I love how in sync they are and that there was no extra/unnecessary drama between them. It’s obvious that they all really care about and support each other despite their differences. I LOVE THEM.

The overall plot was great and I felt that the characters developed in a realistic way. There was nothing that I was forced to suspend my belief about and that made this book so much better to me. Lord did a great job of dealing with death and grief in a respectful but realistic way. I really appreciated that she wasn’t flippant about certain details. It felt like every serious moment in this book had appropriate weight if that makes sense.

Overall, this book completely shattered my expectations. You know when you just pick up a book randomly to have something to read and then you actually start reading and are completely blown away by how good a book it is? That just happened to me in a major way. I will DEFINITELY be reading more from Emery Lord. Welcome to the #instaread club.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

HW Assignment: Prompt 3

Romance is a genre that some people look down upon in book form. At the same time, I think romantic comedies and romances as movies are very, very popular. I would want to create a display called, “You’ve Seen the Movie, Now Read the Book!” One part of the display would feature some popular romantic comedy and romance movies with their book counterparts (ex.¬†The Time Traveler’s Wife by¬†Audrey Niffenegger,¬†Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin,¬†PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, Austenland by Shannon Hale,¬†etc.). Another section of the display would feature popular romance movies with some romance book read-alikes. The last section of this display would be romance books that are in the process of becoming movies or will soon be in theaters.

The overall goal with this display is to expose readers to romance as a book genre and to help them make that transition from romance movies to romance books. We want patrons to see that they already like the stories being told in these books by showing the connections between movies that they may have enjoyed and their book counterparts. Hopefully by doing this we can remove some of the stigma that currently surrounds this genre. This display would probably be most effective in February¬†close to¬†Valentine’s Day but may be able to work around Christmas time with more seasonal books and movies.

ANNOTATION: Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Genre: Horror

Publication Date and # pages: May 13, 2014; 272 pages

Plot Summary:¬†There’s something out there that’s making people kill themselves and if you see it, you’re dead. Mal doesn’t believe in this “monster”–she thinks¬†everything’s¬†gotten blown out of proportion by the media. But one¬†day she finds her sister¬†lying on the bathroom floor with a pair of scissors sticking out of her chest. Alone and pregnant, Mal answers an ad from the newspaper. She finds herself with a new group of housemates who are just trying to figure out how to survive in this new world. This story follows Mal and the housemates through those first few months and also gives the reader glimpses of what the world will be like five years later.

Characteristics of Horror: Sense of unease throughout, erratic pacing, haunted/vulnerable characters, supernatural monsters, unresolved ending, moments of surprise

Appeal Terms: Sympathetic characters, nightmarish tone, deliberate pacing, violent

Read-alikes: The Silence by Tim Lebbon; Cell by Stephen King; I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Top Ten Tuesday: From Songs to Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is: 10 songs I wish that were books

1) When the Day Met the Night by Panic at the Disco (this was during their non-! phase) – This would kind of be like a fairytale retelling. That same kind of tone/atmosphere at least.
2) Transylvania by McFly – Gothic castles and stormy nights. HEA not guaranteed.
3) Immortals by Fall Out Boy – I picture something The Reckoners-esque. Underdog superheroes.
4) Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me by Hunter Hayes (feat. Jason Mraz) – Fun contemporary romance.
5) Knights of Cydonia by Muse – Sci-Fi/Spacey. It would be good, just trust me.
6) Annie Use Your Telescope by Jack’s Mannequin – Maybe a story about a girl who’s lost her father but learns how to deal with her grief…or something like that.
7) Forever and Always by Parachute РOkay this song is basically a book already and it makes me cry every time. Nicholas Sparks is probably going to write this one eventually.
8) Lay Me Down by Dirty Heads – Bonnie and Clyde but modern.
9) Speak Now by Taylor Swift – I’ve always thought it was a shame that she never made an official music video for this one–it seems like it would really lend itself to that format. But oh well, let’s have a book of it.
10) Two Princes by Spin Doctors – This is a love triangle I can get behind.