BLOG TOUR: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria [GIVEAWAY]

Iron CastIron Cast
by Destiny Soria
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction

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SYNOPSIS: It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—whose “afflicted” blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, they realize how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot, and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn.

REVIEW: The author starts the book with a note regarding her two main characters. She emphasizes that she really wanted to focus on their relationship as opposed to their individual relationships with the boys they like. I always like a little romance in books, but I really appreciated that the romance wasn’t the sole focus. This book has much more depth to it than that. The thing that I really loved about this book is the interactions between Ada and Corinne. They’re so different and the author does a great job of really portraying them as individuals. Their loyalty to each other is inspiring and I love that the author didn’t have them get into any catty arguments or jealous fights. Their relationship is so much bigger than that.

I loved the atmosphere of this book as well. It’s set in a Boston winter shortly before Prohibition is passed. This book makes Boston seem like this really magical and atmospheric city and I think it was the perfect setting for this story. The magic was also very intriguing to me though I don’t think it was explained very well. What exactly is hemopathy? Why does iron effect hemopaths? And how do they get their powers? What determines what kind of powers they have? Even with all of these questions, I like how wordsmiths and songsmiths have their powers so closely tied to emotion. On the other hand thespians and whatever Saint’s hemopathy is called don’t really seem to tie-in. While I like all of the different skills, it seems like there’s a disconnect. The four “powers” don’t really seem to connect to each other. That being said, they’re all extremely cool.

Overall I really enjoyed this book even though the plot was pretty slow at the beginning. There’s a lot of background and character development that the reader needs to get first, but once the plot really got going, I was hooked. I’m just so intrigued by this world! I don’t know if the author plans on making it a series, but I would love to read another book featuring these characters!

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild



Destiny SoriaABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Destiny Soria writes Young Adult fiction. Her debut novel, IRON CAST, will be published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2016.

Destiny lives in Birmingham, AL, where she spends her time trying to come up with bios that make her sound kind of cool. She has yet to succeed.

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

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Mini-Reviews: In Which I Review Some Average Books

The month of July was a struggle for me reading-wise. I was just so busy with schoolwork and such that I really didn’t have long stretches of time to dedicate to reading. That being said, I was also reading a string of average books that didn’t particularly make me want to read faster. Here are some of those books that I was reading.

The Walled CityThe Walled City by Ryan Graudin
This one had been on my list for a while and my husband had already read it and loved it. This book took me longer than expected to read and I think that’s because I didn’t really feel particularly connected to the characters. I loved the setting and the way that the streets and the Walled City itself is described, but the characters were a little lacking for me. I didn’t feel like they had all that much depth. I could sympathize with the characters, but towards the end of the book when the plot was most suspenseful I didn’t feel myself agonizing over whether or not the characters would make it (as I did during Winter by Marissa Meyers). One thing I did really like about this book is that it features Asian characters. In the end, I liked this book and I might even read it again someday, but it was no Wolf by Wolf.

Overall: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate


The Lie TreeThe Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge [ARC]
Throughout this book I felt vaguely uncomfortable. The main character’s dad seriously creeped me out and a lot of the other characters were either creepy, unlikable, or both. The main character was fine, but I found it hard to sympathize with her because of how willfully blind she is to all of her father’s faults. She’s so committed to him when he’s obviously not a good guy. I did like her relationship with her little brother, Howard, though. I could not handle her mom and Uncle Miles was just another creepy character. It wasn’t exactly clear to me, at first, how the plant was supposed to work. This made some parts of the book just really confusing to me. I did like seeing the planning and plotting that went into each lie, though–that part of the plot was enjoyable. I also can’t say that I saw the ending coming.

Overall: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild


Loser/QueenLoser/Queen by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Overall, I thought this book had a pretty interesting premise even if it’s not altogether believable. There are so many questions that could be asked…like how does someone know everyone’s secrets? How can someone text you from a number that doesn’t work? Why isn’t the main character creeped out that someone seems to be spying on her all the time? Our main character is somewhat unbelievably naive about things which made the book less enjoyable for me to read. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would react in this situation and I think that I would have refused to do anything that could have been remotely harmful–I’m not really sure why she thought it was a good idea to go through with some of these things. I don’t want to have any spoilers, but if she hadn’t done anything questionable then some stuff wouldn’t have happened later… In the end, the book was okay, kind of sweet, but overall just okay.

Overall: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


9781619634961Poppy by Mary Hooper [ARC]
I felt like this book was a really good portrait of what it would have been like to live through WWI. A lot of the time WWII gets all of the attention, so I did appreciate reading a book set during WWI. I also liked that our main character seems to be intelligent and wants to help the war effort. However, she didn’t have much depth. The book is very much about the things that are going on and less about who the characters are–I guess I was just expecting it to be a little different. I also didn’t really thing there was much of a plot which kind of made the book drag a little bit. So yeah…this one was just another okay book. I thought it ended in a really weird place too–super sudden. I understand that there’s going to be another book, but still… It was just like *BAM* the book’s over.

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


Note: ARCS were received free from NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

BLOG TOUR: Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker [GIVEAWAY]

Smash and GrabSmash & Grab
by Amy Christine Parker
Release Date: July 19th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

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SYNOPSIS:
Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story.Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful….

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.

REVIEW: There were some things that I really liked about this book and then some things that I didn’t like as much. First, I liked that Lexi and Christian were from different walks of life. There was a little bit of stereotyping that happened, but it wasn’t a lot and I thought that was really refreshing. I also (overall) liked the friend groups that they had though I wish the secondary characters had been developed a little bit more. Our two main characters are definitely the stars and they tend to outshine their backup crew–I kept confusing who was who.

The setting was supposed to be LA, but I kept imagining everything going down in New York. I’m not sure if that’s really the book’s issue though…I think it might just be me. I’m also going to put it out there that this book is not going to seem very realistic–at least to me it didn’t. These teenagers are way more skilled than I think they should be, all things considered. Also, I’m not exactly that happy with the casual way the book treated breaking the law. Sure, the characters had some conflict, but the conflict didn’t really seem genuine to me and I’m not sure how I felt about the ending. Obviously I didn’t want anything bad to happen to our characters, but it left me feeling like they got off without any kind of consequences. Like it’s just that easy to break the law and then nothing will happen to you.

Overall, I thought this book was a pretty good heist book–if you’re into that kind of thing, I think you’ll enjoy the planning that goes on in this book. I liked switching perspectives between Lexi and Christian as well so that the reader can get both sides of the story.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Mild (a minor character is an alcoholic)
Sexual Content: Mild


giveaway (1)

Click on the picture above to be taken to the giveaway!


Amy ChristineABOUT THE AUTHOR:
AMY CHRISTINE PARKER writes full-time from
her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat. Visit her at amychristineparker.com and follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.

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

Thieves Attempt to Overthrow an Evil Government | Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

V51e2b7v-pdyl-_sy344_bo1204203200_in is lucky to be part of a crew instead of in one of the whore houses–even if her crew mates are abusive at times. Her whole life is changed when Kelsier walks through the door. Kelsier is Mistborn and claims that Vin is too. The Mistborn have a special ability to burn metals which give them special powers. Vin immediately takes to these powers, which are called Allomancy, and Kelsier asks her to join his crew on a very special job–to overthrow the Lord Ruler along with his Obligators and Inquisitors. Vin doesn’t believe this can be done, but she’s eager to learn more about Allomancy and wants to see how Kelsier’s plan will play out.

This book has been on my radar for a while now, but it took a book club to get me to actually read it. The size itself is pretty daunting (the book is 600+ pages) and as I started reading the book I felt a distinct lack of enthusiasm. I liked the story fine, but I just felt like a fish out of water–I don’t really read much heavy fantasy, I try to stick to YA. I felt overwhelmed at first by this new world and the magic and keeping the metals straight and all of the different characters. That being said, 600 pages later I still have trouble remembering what each of the metals do, but I have the characters down and feel like I have a better understanding of the world and Allomancy in general. I do want to read the next two books…but it might be a little while. These books are LONG and take some commitment.

Getting into the plot itself, I thought the pacing could have been a little quicker, but it wasn’t bad. I appreciated that the entire “job” is supposed to be completed over the course of a year. A lot of times I feel like authors rush the timeline, but I thought Sanderson did a really great job of having a reasonable timeline while keeping the story moving. The world was interesting, but I admit to not really getting it. The world itself doesn’t play that big of a role in this book, but I feel like it’ll play a bigger role in the next two. Allomancy is a really interesting concept to me and I really liked the scenes where we see how it’s used from Vin or Kelsier’s eyes. However, I don’t really understand the “burning” of metals in one’s stomach–that just seems so weird to me. I also don’t get why it’s an “either you can burn one metal or you can burn them all” kind of thing. That part just seems a little forced to match what the author wants to do with the story. Lastly, I wasn’t very happy when Sanderson introduced a second type of magic into the story. Yeah, I understand why it was necessary for the overall plotline, but I still don’t like it. Let’s just have ONE type of magic in a world at a time, okay?

The characters themselves were interesting. I really liked the cast of secondary characters and I wish that we had gotten to know them a bit deeper–maybe in the next books. Kelsier’s motives were a little hard to understand at times, but in the end I really liked him. Vin, on the other hand, was harder for me to like. I just felt like she kept making these dumb, stubborn decisions. I understand that she’s been raised to expect betrayal and to not trust anyone, but still… I guess her actions may have been consistent with the character that Sanderson was trying to develop, but I had a hard time connecting with her as a reader.

Overall, I thought this book was really intriguing and I’m glad that I read it. Like I said earlier, I plan to get to the other two books…but maybe not right away.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Extreme
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

 

The Evil Library Strikes Again | Paper & Fire by Rachel Caine [ARC]

Warning: This is the second book in a series and so may contain spoilers for the first book. Click here to read my review on the first book, Ink & Bone.

JesPaper and Fires Brightwell has been adjusting to life as one of the High Garda, but that’s not all he’s been doing. He has reason to believe that his friend, Thomas Schreiber, is not actually dead like he’s been told. Jess thinks that finding the Black Archives may be the key to locating where Thomas is being kept, but nobody knows if the Black Archives actually exist. As Jess and his fellow former-postulants research this sensitive topic, they will find that they have uncovered much more than they bargained for. In order to survive, each of them will have to choose: Friends? Or the Library?

This was a great follow-up to the first book. Each character stays true to their original descriptions and I felt like their motivations and actions in this book still made sense. I like the variety that we have with characters too. We have Glain who’s super tough, then there’s Dario who we all still kind of hate, and then there’s Khalila who is smart and just so kind. They all contribute to make the group dynamic really interesting and enjoyable. There are a couple of characters who I don’t enjoy as much–mostly I feel like they tend to stand in the way of moving the plot forward–but overall the group is enjoyable.

Something that I didn’t necessarily anticipate is the depth of the characters’ relationships with each other. Thinking back on the events of the first book I guess it makes sense that they’ve all formed such a strong bond, but I didn’t feel like that bond was ever really shown or developed all that much in the first book. At least, I didn’t see it. This carries over to Jess’s relationship with Morgan. All of the sudden they’re really serious about each other and I’m just left going, “Wait, what? Where did all of these super strong feelings come from?”

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this series. This book ends on such a cliffhanger! I can’t wait for the third book to come out. Another thing is that I LOVE these covers! They’re just colorful and interesting, yet kind of subtle at the same time. I definitely recommend these books.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Doctor Who with a dash of Sherlock Holmes (Jackaby by William Ritter)

JackabyAbigail Rook is fresh off the boat and looking for a job. Unfortunately, it seems that the only one hiring is the strange Mr. Jackaby. The rest of the people in town tend to give Jackaby a wide berth, but Abigail can’t afford to do that if she’d like to have a warm place to sleep and food to eat. On her first day she follows Jackaby to a crime scene–a murder investigation to be exact. While Jackaby seems to notice things that may or may not be there and may or may not have fantastical origins, Abigail is quite good at noticing the ordinary. The two misfits make quite a team as they investigate just what kind of supernatural killer they have on their hands.

I was lucky enough to get signed copies of the first three books in this series at BookCon. William Ritter is very nice and refreshingly genuine and I’m so happy that I can say that I enjoyed this book. It is very reminiscent of both Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes, but not necessarily in a way that is annoying or tiring. Jackaby is a really delightful character and it’s a really nice change for me that there is NOT a romance brewing between him and Abigail. Abigail herself is perhaps a little flat for a narrator–I wish she had a little more depth. That being said, I still thought she was a good narrator and didn’t get annoyed with her at all. Secondary characters were all fine, but I think they’ll probably have bigger roles in later books.

The plot itself is intriguing and I like how all kinds of mystical/fantastical elements are woven into the story so matter-of-factly. It really feels like the author did his research into these mystical animals/creatures. I had some ideas about who the murderer was, but I was by no means sure of myself. I think the best kind of mystery is where the reader has a suspect, but cannot say for sure whether or not they are right. This book definitely accomplishes that.

Overall, I thought this book was great! I also really appreciated that the book has very little adult content outside of violence/gore. Very little language, no sexual content, and very little alcohol/drug use. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Doctor Who or Sherlock Holmes, or anyone who is looking for a nice, clean mystery. I’ll definitely be reading the rest of them myself!

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: None

Other Dimensional Library Collects Books from Alternate Universes (The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman)

The Invisible LibraryIrene is a librarian and it is a librarian’s job to travel to alternate worlds to collect books significant or particular to that world. She’s just completed a job and is looking forward to a nice stretch of time to do her research. Without warning Irene is sent out into the field again this time with a student shadowing her named Kai. It’s supposed to be a fairly routine job–one week max. But when they get there, they find that the book they’re meant to retrieve has already been stolen. As Irene and Kai try to find the book while navigating this world, they’ll face giant robot centipedes, cyborg alligators, and more.

This book has basically every single fantasy element in it and somehow it all comes together and works. We’ve got fae, vampires, werewolves, dragons, and steampunk. There’s just so much going on! I’m amazed that Cogman has been able to keep the story from getting too confusing or bogged down with the different species and worlds that exist in this book. The library itself is a very fascinating place that we don’t actually get to learn much about. Librarians have a special magic called “The Language” that they can use and it works in any world with virtually any object. I was very interested with this interpretation of magic. It requires that a librarian uses very specific language in order for it to work and I enjoyed reading about how Irene uses it throughout.

There were definitely times when the plot was a little slow, but then there were times when the action made it move super-fast. Perhaps the author could have regulated the pace of the book a little more, but overall it wasn’t too distracting or disruptive.

The characters were really quite fun. Irene and Kai kind of have a weird relationship…I’m not exactly sure what’s going on there. Vale is 100% delightful.He’s basically Sherlock Holmes, but he’s much better with people than Sherlock ever was. Even Silver and Bradamant were fun characters to read even though they were kind of evil. And don’t even get me started on the villain. I don’t want to spoil anything, but this is probably one of the most evil villains I have ever read. Seriously, super messed up.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series (there are going to be at least three). I’m interested in seeing how this world continues to develop. Lastly, this book just makes librarians seem WAY awesome. They’re spies and thieves but they’re also just as bookish as any librarian would be!

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Heavy
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Note: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for a review and for featuring it on my Instagram account (@whatsshereadingblog).