Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

About The Book:

  Title: A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)
  Author: Claudia Gray  
  Pub. Date: November 4th, 2014
  Publisher: HarperTeen 
  Pages: 360
  Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Romance 
  Rate: 4/5 stars 




Synopsis :

Marguerite Caine's physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite's father is murdered, and the killer—her parent's handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul's guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father's death is far more sinister than she expected.

Review:

"I would love you in any shape, in any world, with any past.
Never doubt that."


I've wanted to read this book since it was compared to Orphan Black, one of my FAVORITE TV shows. I'm glad I finally did! There was so much I loved about this first installment in the Firebird trilogy. It's a spectacular tale about time traveling, love, and family. When Marguerite's family discovers her dad was killed, years of research is missing, and Paul Marcov has jumped into another dimension with the device that allows people to travel into different universes, Marguerite is intent on finding him and killing him. Her and another research assistant, who happens to be Paul's best friend, take a Firebird prototype, and hop into the neighboring dimension to find him. When Marguerite finally finds Paul, he leaves her with more questions than answers before jumping to another universe. After she finally gets some answers, she realizes things are really not as they seem.

The characters are amazing. Since they jump into different universes, they are intensely multidimensional. You really get to know the characters on a personal level because while they are ultimately different people in the other dimensions, they are the same at their core. For example, the original dimension's Marguerite loves to paint canvases, however one of the dimensions Marguerite draws intricate sketches. And while they all live in different places at different time periods, it truly seems that their intentions and deepest desires are unchanging. This book will keep you guessing from page one - Is everyone who they seem? What are this dimensions motivations? Not only are the characters wonderful, but the wold building is glorious. Ms. Gray crafts not only one, but several unique worlds into one book. Even if you only get a small taste of a world, I felt like I knew all of the important workings and features of each one.

If you enjoy science fiction novels mixed with some romance, you will love this book. This book was a great mixture of action, swoony romance, and science. I already have the next book in the series, and I'm ready to start it as soon as I finish up with the book I'm reading now. Have you read any of the Firebird trilogy? What are your opinions about it?

"I fell in love with his unchanging soul."




- Jocelyn

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #91

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 
Legion (Talon, #4)

Legion (Talon #4) by Julie Kagawa
Publication Date: April 25, 2017

Synopsis:

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.
 


I seriously can't wait for the fourth book in this series! Julie Kagawa writes such amazing stories, and this series has been no exception. I have no idea what she has in store for us with this story, but I'm eager to find out.  And with only one book left after this, I'm kinda nervous for any twists she throws our way in the end.


Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Dividing Eden (Dividing Eden, #1) by Joelle Charbonneau 
Publication Date: June 6, 2017  


Synopsis:

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?


Just look at that cover!! Can it even get more beautiful? Besides the stunning cover, I am SO excited to see Ms. Charbonneau craft a fantasy story. We already know that she can write great dystopias with her series - The Testing, so I'm sure this will be a great one!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Blitz: A Star to Steer Her By

About the Book:
Title: A Star to Steer Her By
Author: Beth Anne Miller
Published by: Entangled Embrace
Publication date: March 20, 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance

Synopsis: 
I’m scarred. Broken. I’ll never be the same.
But I will take this journey.
Ever since my last dive ended in bloodshed, I’ve been terrified to go back into the water. But the opportunity to spend a semester at sea is too good to pass up. I need to get my life back.
I never expected to love it this much. And I never expected Tristan MacDougall.
Rugged, strong, and with demons of his own, Tristan helps me find the courage I thought I had lost and heals me with every stolen moment we share. But the rules of the ship mean we can’t be together.
When a dive excursion goes terribly wrong, our only hope for survival is each other.


EXCERPT:
I was standing alone at the helm, under full sails and a glittering sky, guiding the ship unerringly across the endless black sea with only the stars to guide me, like the sailors of old. It was amazing. This was why I was here, why I’d gone ahead with this semester at sea, even after everything that had happened. Because I loved the sea, and wanted it to be a part of my life.
I returned my gaze upward, focusing on my guide star.
“‘And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.’”
The low voice came out of nowhere. I spun to the right, where I could just make out the vague outline of someone leaning against the stanchion that held Speedy the motorboat suspended at the stern.
“Tristan?” As soon as the question left my mouth, I rolled my eyes in the darkness. Of course it was him.
“Aye, it’s me.”
“How long have you been standing there?” I hissed. “And where the hell did you come from?” I’d been at the helm for at least half an hour, and I knew he hadn’t been there the whole time.
There was a flash of white in the darkness as he grinned. “I’ve been here for about five minutes. You were so focused on staring up at the stars that you didn’t see me. I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“So instead, you just lurked in the dark until you could scare the hell out of me. Makes sense,” I muttered, trying not to be too thrilled that he’d chosen to hang out up here with me. “What was it that you said, anyway?”
“It’s from a poem. The full verse is:
“‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.’”
His lilting accent gave the lines a musical quality, and a shiver ran down my spine. “It’s beautiful,” I said, “and perfectly describes the way I feel. You didn’t write that, did you?” Because it would be supremely unfair for him to be kind, gorgeous, athletic, musically brilliant, and a poet, too.

Author Bio:
My first book, written in elementary school, was bound in pink fabric and was about—what else?—a girl and her horse. I soon began cheating on horses with the sea, becoming an open water scuba diver at age 14. That love of the sea led me to a college semester aboard a schooner. I returned with fond memories of the exhilaration of being on a ship under full sail, less fond memories of hurling over the leeward rail on a daily basis, and a sailing bug I couldn’t quite shake.
In addition to horses and the sea, I have a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts), which I explored with my first novel, INTO THE SCOTTISH MIST (The Wild Rose Press, 2011), and carried into my new novel, A STAR TO STEER HER BY (Entangled Embrace, 2017). A native New Yorker, I work in the publishing industry and am always looking ahead to my next voyage, whether a short one on a dive boat or whale watch, or, with luck, a longer one on a tall ship. You can find me on the web at www.bethannemiller.com

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~Cassie

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: The Forgetting (The Forgetting #1)

The Forgetting (The Forgetting, #1)About the Book:
Title: The Forgetting (The Forgetting #1)
Author: Sharon Cameron
Pub. Date: September 13, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 403
Rating: 4/5 stars




Synopsis:

What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.
 

Review:

“The past is never really gone. It only lies in wait for you, remembered or forgotten.” 

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this new novel from Sharon Cameron! Dystopian novels are very hit or miss for me (there's very few that are anywhere inbetween), and this one turned out to be a hit in my book! It's suspenseful, dark, and filled with twists that you'll never see coming. The beauty of this book is that Sharon Cameron drops hints throughout the entire book, but you never actually realize they're hints until the big reveal (which is also the major plot twist and take this book in an entirely different direction). After this reveal, you look back and realize it was in front of your face the entire time, and personally, that's my favorite type of thing while reading. The world-building is excellent, and there's just something that urges you to keep reading. Although I wasn't a fan of Ms. Cameron's first novel, I was a big fan of another novel of hers (Rook). I can honestly say that I am incredibly happy I gave her another chance because her storytelling keeps getting better and better!

“It's my choice that determines what I will become. Not the memories of the past.” 

Nadia, our main character, is a unique heroine to follow. She is a quiet rebel...literally. Nadia is a person of few words, and I think this is one of the things I liked about her, because I could relate to her a great deal. The only thing I liked about her is her inquisitive nature and how she's always on the hunt to learn. She's clever, quick-witted, and determined to figure out what actually is going on with The Forgetting. Nadia is just so different from current YA female leads, which made her POV very refreshing to read from. As you can tell from the synopsis, Nadia also has many secrets, and Gray (our romantic lead) is desperate to learn more. However, despite Nadia's quietness, they forge a bond that grows into something more. They have an excellent banter and their relationship is extremely believable. I honestly loved Nadia and Gray together simply because they helped each other grow and accomplish what the other wanted. 

“We are supposed to write the truth, for no one to see but ourselves. But how easily that truth can be twisted. Bend a little here, omit a little there, make yourself into the person you wish you were instead of the person you are. How easy to cut the truth away, to throw it in a fire, open your eyes, and have the whole world remember nothing of who you are. Nothing of what you’ve done. When you will not remember who you are or what you’ve done.” 

As I said, the world-building is absolutely fantastic, and you know right away that there's more going on than originally appears. That underlying mystery is what keeps you wanting to read, and when the big reveal goes down...it's definitely mind-blowing! I had plenty of theories while reading, but I certainly never guessed the truth. And after that plot twist, things slowly sink in...why characters are the way they are, who other characters are, and what's coming. The Forgetting is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, and dystopian, and it all came alive through Ms. Cameron's writing. She weaves the story expertly, and there are many sub-plots that you don't think are important at first, but in the end...everything is important (remember that while reading). 
I think the direction that Ms. Cameron took was extremely creative and makes this book stand apart from the other dystopian novels out there currently.

“Knowing the truth makes me alone. I wrote that once, but I think I was wrong. Fear of pain is what has made me alone. But today I realized that pain and love have a balance. I can feel so much of one only because I feel so much of the other.” 

The conclusion of this novel is incredibly fast-paced and you'll be glued to the page. I honestly couldn't put the book down because I had to find out how everything would end. I highly recommend checking this book out if you're a fan of dystopian or sci-fi novels. Sharon Cameron spins a story that definitely will not disappoint, and emphasizes the importance of relationships and standing up for what you want. As a side note, I think this would make an excellent movie or TV show, but then again I don't know if I would actually want that for fear that they would mess it up! But this is a must-read, so add it to your TBR right now!



Happy reading :)

~Cassie

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blog Tour: Traveler

About the Book:
Title; Traveler (Traveler, #1)
Author: L.E. DeLano
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 7, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:
A teen writer discovers that every mirror is a portal into an alternate version of her life in this romantic YA fantasy by author L.E. DeLano.
Jessa has spent her life dreaming of other worlds and writing down stories more interesting than her own, until the day her favorite character, Finn, suddenly shows up and invites her out for coffee. After the requisite nervous breakdown, Jessa learns that she and Finn are Travelers, born with the ability to slide through reflections and dreams into alternate realities. But it’s not all teacakes, pirates and fantasy lifestyles…Jessa is dying over and over again, in every reality, and Finn is determined that this time, he’s going to stop it… this Jessa is going to live.

Author Bio:
L.E. DeLano is a YA novelist rep’d by Barry Goldblatt Literary agency, author of the upcoming “Traveler” (Swoon Reads/MacMillan 2017) and lifelong writer. Her work has been featured on various online outlets and she lives in Pennsylvania with two very adventurous kids and two very ridiculous cats. In her spare time, she writes (of course) and binge-watches way too much Netflix.

Review:

I was going back and forth between 3.5 and 4 stars for awhile with this book because on one hand, I really loved this book, but on the other there were some predictable/run-of-the-mill aspects that I didn't enjoy as much. There is a lot to love about the story, and I think it was an excellent start to the series. Ms. DeLano set up the story perfectly for a sequel, and wrote a story that many will enjoy. 

I'm very picky when it comes to my time travel books. Time travel itself can go in so many directions (<-- see what I did there :P), and if the author doesn't write it well, unfortunately the whole book is a thumbs down from me. But Traveler is a great example of what a time travel book should be. It was simple, but creative. Nothing too overwhelming and very straightforward. Ms. DeLano does an excellent job at explaining and showing just how the time travel works. So automatically, this made the story that much more enjoyable for me. Her writing is also superb and the pacing is almost perfect. There were a couple times in the beginning where I felt it was slow, but once it hit a couple chapters in (and the story really got going), there was never a dull moment. I was easily able to read this in one sitting because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. There are a ton of plot twists that I didn't see coming, and the ending blew me away! I definitely didn't expect the conclusion of the story, and there is such a clever twist at the end that sets up the sequel perfectly.

Jessa is our main character (btw...love the name!). I thought she was a good lead female character, and easily relatable. She reacted exactly how any person would react to the new situation she was forced into, and she had an excellent sense of humor. I can't say that I 100% love her, but that will come in time I think when she matures and we have more character development with her. Finn is super sweet and I really loved him (especially the pirate version). He's very mysterious throughout the entire book, but he's very caring toward Jessa. I definitely want to know more about him though because we definitely didn't get the full story yet. Ben, Jessa's friend, is the other major character in the story, and he was fun and lovable. He's very supportive of Jessa and I loved how he stepped up to the plate once stuff started going down. Finally, Danny, Jessa's brother, played an interesting role. I'm actually interested to see what the author does with his character in future books because he might play a bigger role than what we originally imagine. 

There is romance in the story, and I thought it was done pretty well. However, it wasn't my favorite. There's an obvious love triangle that doesn't really happen (yet at least). Once you read the book, you'll see what I'm talking about, but I honestly do think Finn is a much better pick. I adored Finn and Jessa's banter and it was one of the aspects of their relationship that really cemented my love for the story. 

The couple of things that I didn't like was that some of the story was very predictable and cliche (at least to me). With such an original idea, I expected a little more than to have the story fall back on such cliche things. Also, I didn't 100% love how Jessa treated Ben throughout the story. I felt as if she led him on with her feelings, and I hate when characters do that. Granted, it isn't always obvious to the person, but still, it was pretty clear Ben liked Jessa as more than a friend from pretty early on. Finally, this book features a character with autism (Danny). First and foremost, I applaud any author that chooses to include such a character because there is not enough representation of ASD in novels today (even though it's very prevalent). This being said, there were times that I didn't think it was as well done as it should have been. Obviously, this could be the medical professional in me coming out, and no, not every person with ASD presents the same, but there are certain things that didn't line up with his character as well as Jessa's feelings when her brother didn't have autism in another timeline. These are just personal feelings though, so I tried not to let it effect my rating. Nevertheless, I still am very happy that such a character was included in this novel.

Overall, I would recommend checking Traveler out when you get the chance. It has a lot of potential to be an excellent series, and I'm excited to see where the story goes from here! The ending will blow you away, and with so many twists and turns...you truly never know what to expect in the next chapter! Definitely add this to your TBR right away!


Happy reading :)
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~Cassie

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Book Review: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

About The Book:

  Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly 
  Author: Stephanie Oakes 
  Pub. Date: June 9th, 2015
  Publisher: Dial/Penguin   
  Pages: 400
  Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
  Rate: 3/5 stars 




Synopsis :

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.

Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it's clear that Minnow knows something—but she's not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

Review:


This book is pretty difficult for me to review. On one hand, I loved it. On the other hand, I was bored. I devoured the first half of this book in a short flight to Florida. I couldn't wait to read the rest and figure out what was going on in the story. However, then I became very bored. A lot of the exciting parts seemed to happen over the first half of the novel so when I got to the middle it just didn't compare. It did speed up towards the end though, and I ended up enjoying the book as a whole.

Minnow Bly's family drug her out of her life and into the woods to follow a cult-leader who claims he talks directly to God. He keeps his followers sheltered from the outside world, making him the singular leader to the cult. Minnow Bly questions everything that he says, which is not characteristic of a "good"Kevinian. She disagreed so much that they ordered her hands chopped off. Minnow is a strong character with a decent foothold to her world before she moved to the cult. It was interesting to see her coming to terms with her life. One day she meets a boy, Jude, who is living in the woods with his father, and that's when her world really flips upside down. Both of them have secrets, and I think that's what really draws them into each other. This isn't really a romance but it affects a lot in the novel. Minnow's voice was intriguing. This story changes perspectives from the now (juvenile detention) to the past (living in the cult). The cult aspect of this was just amazing, and I never put those chapters down. However, I wasn't a huge fan of the chapters when she is in juvenile detention. It was clear that she was evolving from the victim to a strong survivor, but a lot of the time I felt bored and craving more of the cult scenes (they were addicting).

"But the wild don't change who we really are. It makes it worse." 

The descriptions in this book are so petrifying to imagine. The writing was beautiful and chilling at the same time. I felt the middle of the book was a sort of plateau of action within the cult, and I wanted to put the book down because it didn't seem anything was progressing on that front. However, the action does pick up again towards the end and it becomes just as addicting as the beginning. All in all, this book was pretty decent. If you are a fan of thrillers or dark contemporaries, I definitely think that you'll enjoy this read. APPARENTLY this is a retelling of The Girl Without Hands by the Brothers Grimm. I haven't read that but now I'm really thinking of giving it a go.


"Jude taught me what love was: to be willing to hold on to another person's pain.
 That's it."




- Jocelyn

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday #90

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Cassie's Waiting On: 
Letters to the Lost
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Publication Date: April 7, 2017 


Synopsis:

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother's death, she leaves letters at her grave. It's the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn't the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he's trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he's opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they're not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
 


I'm a huge fan of Brigid Kemmerer, and this is definitely a bit of a departure for her genre-wise, so I'm excited to check this one out.  Her writing is amazing, and I'm ready for a gripping novel that will probably make me a little misty-eyed.  

Jocelyn's Waiting On: 

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts 
Publication Date: June 6, 2017  


Synopsis:


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.


This seems like so much fun! I love books about royalty (hello, remnant chronicles series). I believe this is Mr. Shvarts' first book, so I'm not only excited to read Royal Bastards, but I'm excited to get to know his writing style!