Thursday, July 20, 2017

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts


Published: May 2017
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 352
Copy Provided by: NetGalley
Summary: Goodreads

Summary:

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . 

Review:

I had not heard much about this title until after I had read it.  And now that I've scanned the reviews, I'm shocked to see that most people either LOVED it or HATED it.  How can there be so much disparity? Well, I'm in the category of.... LOVED IT!!  Yes. Andrew Shvarts, I think you did a great job.  For me, it was a fresh take by following the family underdogs on an adventure.  

Personally, I felt that Mr. Shvarts did a great job with character development and had a very promising storyline.  It flowed fairly well and there were only a few situations where I wished to have more information. For instance, at the beginning of the novel I would have liked to learn more about the rings.  We learn more towards the end of the novel but I did not understand much of Lyriana's people and their connect to magic until much later in the story. Tilla, her status in the family and her relationship with her father was interesting.  I think at one time or another, many of us feel like outsiders in our own clan so it was very identifiable.

I would also like to see more on the history of how Tilla's people were conquered by the Mages.  How did the war come about? What have Lyriana's people done to improve or change the lives of the people? Are all ill feelings toward the Mages from the war or from other things as well? So many questions.  Perhaps some good jumping points for a prequel or short-stories? I do hear that Royal Bastards is book 1 of a trilogy so I will definitely be adding it to my list of titles to continue.   It is not quite as complicated and intricate as A Kiss of Deception but it has the potential to skyrocket to complete awesomeness.  There are so many humorous moments that I thoroughly enjoyed as well. The characters are slightly awkward but very likeable.  And somehow, they all work well together.

It's hard for me to comment too much on details in the story without giving things away.  There was enough action and romance to keep me interested and continually reading.  As some of you know, I don't have much time to read (mostly in the evening at during my commute to work) but I did read this title quite quickly.  It was highly enjoyable.

On a sidenote, I didn't realize how invested I was in this novel until one HUGE tragedy struck and I became very emotional by the results. I love books like that. Where the characters slowly evolve in your head, enough to be important to you.  Well done Andrew. I look forward to seeing how book #2 goes (we know how difficult that one is....I would be a horrible author....I don't know how authors do it....)


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Because you Love to Hate Me






Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,  that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating or books that are in our TBR pile.  This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is


Summary (by Goodreads)

Leave it to the heroes to save the world--villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains' points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like "Medusa," Sherlock Holmes, and "Jack and the Beanstalk" provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains' acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage--and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

I don't know the BookTubers but I do recognize some of the authors!  What a great idea! It is like a biographical account of "how I became the bad guy" by villians!  Love it!

- Christinabean

Waiting on Wednesday - I See London, I See France - by Sarah Mlynowski






Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,  that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating or books that are in our TBR pile.  This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is


Summary (by Goodreads)

I see London, I see France
I see Sydney’s underpants.
 


Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.
 

What I love about this is that I haven't read a Sarah Mylnowski book in AGES plus, she is Canadian!  Doesn't this sound like a fun read? I'm just going to take a guess but if you like Sophie Kinsella and Katie Finn, you will probably like this title as well.  I know I'll be picking it up for the summer!
- Christinabean

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday - Fireworks by Katie Cotugno




Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine,  that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating or books that are in our TBR pile.  This week’s “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is



Summary (by Goodreads)


From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-'90s boy-and-girl-band craze.


It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along. 


But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing. 


It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through. 

(I meant to list this MONTHS ago but didn't hit publish apparently...Fireworks is out now and I am adding it to my TBR list because Katie is a great contemporary writer and I have really enjoyed her last couple titles.)

I loved How to Love by Katie Cotugno.  She always seems to know how to tug at heartstrings and capture the essence of "growing up". Plus, I love how her titles are not series and I can be happy with the one book without having to wait another year for the next installment.  Yay!  If you are looking for the perfect author for summer titles, Katie is your girl!

- Christinabean

Monday, June 19, 2017

Stacking the Shelves




Stacking the Shelves allows us to share the books we have added to our collections - physical, virtual, borrowed, bought or received


Summary by Goodreads

Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey . . 

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley and thought it might be kind of fun.  We don't often hear stories of the bastard children being heroines/heroes maybe with the exception of Game of Thrones. They are barely considered family. More like the family secret.  Andrew Shvarts is a new author to me as well so I thought I'd give it a read!

- Christinabean

Friday, June 16, 2017

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White


Published: Sept 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 278
Copy Provided by: Bought
Summary: Goodreads

Summary:

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Review:

This was a shorter title than I expected and very refreshing from the series that I have been reading lately.  As a stand-alone, I quite enjoyed it.  Jessamin is a strong woman who attracts a very unusual suitor. She is very focused on her studies yet is drawn into a curious situation in a magical society she did not even know existed.

It felt a little bit like Downton Abbey meets Harry Potter to me.  Weird combo, eh? 

In true Kiersten fashion, she brings a bit of humor to Jessamin's rather focused life.  I love the correspondence letters between Jessamine and her mother as she tries to let her mother know that all things are well while she fends for herself.  I especially appreciate the interpretative parts that Jessamine DOESN'T write, but commentates in her head.

Kiersten White is one of my favourite authors.  I fell in love with her Paranormalcy series. In fact, Evie is one of my favourite characters in a book series (Jace and Clary have a category all on their own).  She always brings her own humor to her books (which I LOVE).  A little bit of snark and a whole lot of sarcasm to make you laugh out loud.  Another thing that I admire about this writer is her ability to diversify her topics and stories.  She also has series and stand alone titles.  Give Illusions of Fate a try if you are looking for a standalone.  If you are looking for a longer series, start with Paranormalcy.  You might fall in love with her books as well!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn


Published: January 2016
Publisher: St Martin's Griffin
Pages: 320
Copy Provided by: Netgalley
Summary: Goodreads

Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
 

Review:
I think a lot of people experiment with sex when they're younger, before they really know themselves. Mercedes was no different and she legitimately (in an odd sort of way) believes she is helping these virgins prepare for their first time with their girlfriends by giving them experience and guidance.   As the story progressed, it was almost uncomfortable to see this trainwreck happen in slow motion.  I felt myself saying "- NOOOOOOO...." in a very exaggerated frame by frame sequence.

I really liked Charlie in the beginning but he quickly turned into a complete douchebag. TOTAL douchebag.  I would have liked to learn more and more about Angela though.  Mercedes and Angela's relationship is discussed but I didn't feel like they connected as well as her and Faye.  



This was a first read for me to read a title by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn.  But I think I would read more. She had a very easy-going writing style and I think she captured the characters well.  I felt that as a reader, I could identify with them and their situations.  I especially liked Faye.  She was everything Mercedes needed and more. She seemed very REAL and sure of herself.  She applied her own experience in life to show Mercedes that no one is perfect and we just need to accept one another for who we are and the mistakes we make.  She seemed to be the kind of friend that everyone is looking for.  If you have the chance, I highly recommend this book!

- Christinabean

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