*Arc Review* Maybe This Time- Kasie West

41473823One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?

Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.

Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .

Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.

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My Review:

“I didn’t even care; he tasted like heaven and I felt like I was floating on air.”

Usually, with any Kasie West book, it’s an instant love for me. But this took me quite some time to get into and I felt as if I walked into the middle of a conversation. This was sort of cute, just not my favorite of hers.

At times I felt that there wasn’t much of a plot. There was no lead-way to what was happening, you just jump straight in head first. The banter between the two lead characters wasn’t as funny as her others. I felt the pure hatred flow between the pages because it burned like a roaring fire. I wasn’t actually sure if Andrew and Sophie were going to get to that inevitable point like in almost every other contemporary novel. It happened but it felt fake.

I did love seeing the working side of being a caterer and florist. It was interesting reading about all the things they go through to make everything perfect for your special day. I also really enjoyed the growing of Sophie’s family. She was really easy to judge a situation before she knew all the facts but in the end, it brought her family closer together.

Maybe This Time wasn’t my favorite but I didn’t hate it. We all know what to expect from contemporary novels but this one didn’t have that heart-eyed overflowing cuteness like all her others.

 

stacy

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Book Mail!!

My reading for the week has changed. I just finished Call It What You Want and I’m dropping everything else to read what I just received in the mail.

I’ve been so excited since I’ve heard that there was going to be a third book and I’m going to lose all kinds of sleep to read it.

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It’s so beautiful. Are you guys just as excited about this release as Nikole and I are?

stacy

*ARC Review* Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

Bloodleaf_CSTitle: Bloodleaf

Author: Crystal Smith

Release Date: March 12th, 2019

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Page Count: 384 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Perfect for fans of RED QUEEN and UPROOTED, Crystal Smith’s debut novel, BLOODLEAF, is an imaginative retelling of the Grimm Fairy tale “The Goose Girl” that takes a ghostly mystery and sets it inside an epic fantasy world.

Aurelia is the first princess born to the Renalten crown in two hundred years, destined to fulfill a treaty by journeying to marry Valentin, the prince of Achelva – Renalt’s greatest enemy. Rumors of an unwell, cruel prince abound, and the only thing that eclipses Aurelia’s apprehension of her impending marriage is her fear of those who’d kill her to prevent it.

When an assassination attempt forces Aurelia to use forbidden magic to save a stranger, she is driven from Renalt by the witch-hunting Tribunal and a mob out for blood. But before she can claim asylum in the court of her betrothed, her travel party turns on her, forcing her to trade places with her treacherous lady-in-waiting, Lisette.

Now penniless in Achleva and bereft of her identity, Aurelia must decide if she wants to surrender to her new life or fight for her old one, all while navigating the complicated ties binding her to the enigmatic prince, the unquiet ghost of an ancient queen, and a poisonous plant called bloodleaf.

Aurelia is a pawn in a centuries-long game of love, power, and war— and if she can’t extricate herself from it before Lisette marries Valentin in her stead, she may face losses far more devastating than her crown.

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Preorder Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository  |   Indie Bound

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My Review

Thank you to the author for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve read a ton of Young Adult fantasy. More than 90% of the books I own/read are in the fantasy genre. Which comes to mean that I see a lot of the same elements over and over again in fantasy books. It’s not a bad thing, not at all, but it’s also refreshing when I read a fantasy book with unique elements. Bloodleaf is one of those books. Bloodleaf has many unique fantasy elements that I absolutely loved.

This dark and luscious tale will have you hooked from the first page. Smith’s writing blew me away. It was breathtakingly beautiful and nevertheless bewitching. I was captivated by the words that flew off the pages and made the world feel so real.The world Smith has built is phenomenal and deadly and all the while enchanting. It’s a fantasy world I could easily picture myself living in. The world is illustrated in such beautiful prose. And just to be clear, this isn’t a fantasy world where happy endings come naturally. It’s a dark world filled with daunting dangers and betrayal. But the way Smith describes the world is what makes me love it so much; the descriptions are not too much or too little and they make it feel like the world is alive, which is always a plus for me in fantasy novels.

What I also loved about Bloodleaf was the magic system. The magic system in Bloodleaf is incredible. To enter the second kingdom, Renalt, you must have a stamped invitation with the king’s blood to enter, or else you risk the possibility of death. This experience that Aurelia has to go through is so well-captured that I felt like I was right there seeing her cross into the kingdom. Actually, that’s what it was like for the whole book. The story, the characters, the hardships, all felt real and that is something I look for in books. I want the worlds to feel real to me and this world and the characters did not disappoint.

Princess Aurelia is a wonderfully flawed, yet strong character. She doesn’t want to do the blood magic oath, where her and three people she loves bound themselves to her with blood, where in order for Aurelia to die, her three protectors will have to die first. She would rather die than risk the lives of those she loves. But then the blood oath is completed and Aurelia goes on a daunting journey, using the name of one of her maids, to escape the Tribunal after she uses her forbidden magic to save someone. She fights for her old life, for her destiny, and for her kingdom. She learns so much throughout her journey, and I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her in the second book.

And then there is Zan. Zan is a character I was easily swooning over. He’s intriguing yet mysterious and though he hides many secrets from Aurelia, he becomes someone she can’t live without. He’s charming even when he’s trying not to be. He overall fights for a good cause and wants to see the world change. And he sees Aurelia as being that person, with her magic and her will to change the outcome of her life.

Overall, Bloodleaf has easily become one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. I loved the world, the character development (even the sad moments), and the uniqueness Smith brings to the fantasy genre. I’m one of the readers that is patiently (well, really, impatiently) waiting for the second book. If you are looking for a fantasy read that is gripping and intriguing with multiple fantasy elements, then Bloodleaf is a great book to read!

nikole

*ARC Review* Second Star by J. M. Sullivan

SS_JMSullivanTitle: Second Star (Neverland Transmissions #1)

Author: J. M. Sullivan

Release Date: March 5th, 2019

Publisher: Bleeding Ink Publishing

Page Count: 352 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Wendy Darling worked her entire life to rise through the ranks of the prestigious Londonierre Brigade. Now as a Captain, she has everything she’s always wanted, including a ship and crew of her own. But when the Brigade receives a strange transmission from the legendary James Hooke, lost a hundred years earlier in uncharted space and presumed dead, Wendy is willing to risk it all to rescue her hero. She races to the planet known only as Neverland; her mission to find the long-lost crew and bring them home.

But there is more to Neverland than meets the eye, and more to Hooke than what was written in history books. When Wendy crash lands on the ominous planet, she quickly discovers Neverland’s dark secret; a malevolent being known as The Shadow that’s looking for a host body to escape its eternal prison. To fulfill her mission, Wendy must decide whether to trust the dashing Hooke or the mysterious Fleet mechanic who goes by the name of Pan–and she has to decide quickly…

Before the darkness consumes them all.

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Preorder Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository   |  Indie Bound

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My Review

What I love about this Peter Pan retelling is how unique and captivating the story is. The original characters are there, but in fragments of who they were portrayed as in the Disney movie. And I loved that, because the author took a classic story and weaved it into something old and new. The author kept the characters but gave them new back stories and compelling attributes.

In this reimagining of Peter Pan, Pan is stuck in a place that quickly becomes called Neverland, with a wrecked spaceship and a Captain that’s out for his blood. And then there’s Wendy, a newly-appointed Captain of the ship dubbed Faith & Trust sent to rescue Captain Hooke and his crew from Neverland. She, and everyone else at the Academy, thought Captain Hook and his crew died many years ago, but when Wendy intercepts a transmission call, her and the Academy staff are in for an awakening. She sets out to rescue the crew, only for her ship to crash land on Neverland. Now she will have to work with Peter Pan to find Captain Hooke, find out the truth, and escape Neverland and go back home to London or risk being trapped in Neverland forever.

As the reader, I saw a lot of development in Wendy. The beginning chapters focus on her younger years and how she gets accepted into the Academy. Jump forward several years and she’s nineteen, about to lead a rescue team to Captain Hooke. She is the top of her class, which is one of the many reasons she is picked to rescue Captain Hooke. Wendy is a strong leader/individual and she wants to succeed at the Academy and finishing this mission would be a great start for her. She just never saw the dangers of Neverland coming; but those said dangers help her develop as a person and a Captain and that’s where Wendy really shines.

Peter Pan’s character is everything and he’s just as fun and enchanting as he was in Disney’s version. Him and his crew work to find a way to escape Neverland, while also dodging Captain Hooke and unfamiliar dangers. I enjoyed how much older he acted; he didn’t fully act like a kid and I really enjoyed that. He’s also caring when it comes to his crew and Wendy; he wants to protect them all, even if that means sacrificing his own life. And, of course, his relationship with Tinc is wonderful; I found myself chuckling at some of their interactions and it reminded me about my relationship with my best friend. Granted, Tinc is an advanced mini robot, but her personality and interactions with Pan were so much fun to see.

I really enjoyed the aspect of Peter Pan’s story involving space and a more technologically advanced world. The idea added to the world building and made the world fascinating to read about. I also liked how the romance came later into the story and didn’t overpower the plot and story line of the book. It was great to see the world developed first before introducing Wendy’s potential love interest.

Overall, Second Star is a great Peter Pan retelling and one I would recommend. I’m looking forward to reading the second book and seeing what is in store for the characters.

nikole

*ARC Review* To Best The Boys by Mary Weber

TBTB_CorrectTitle: To Best The Boys

Author: Mary Weber

Release Date: March 19th, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Books

Page Count: 352 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

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Preorder Links

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Book Depository   |  Indie Bound

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My Review

The title alone is what first drew me to this book. Any book that sounds like it will have a strong female lead is a must read for me. And To Best the Boys did not disappoint.

The girl power in this book is phenomenal. You have the main character, Rhen, and her best friend/cousin, Seleni. Both have two very different personalities: Rhen is stubborn and speaks her mind and wants to go to school, whereas Seleni wants to be a housewife to the boy she loves. Both have different futures, but both girls are so loyal to one another, and I really enjoyed seeing that. In her village, Rhen is not like most girls. Her cousin’s family is considered an Upper, people will money and high class. Whereas Rhen and her parents are considered Lowers, people working to stay alive and to put food on the table. Seleni doesn’t let her status stop her from seeing Rhen, even though Rhen does manage to get them both into trouble often. But Seleni would do anything for Rhen, even enter the Labyrinth with Rhen to show the boys just what kind of power girls are capable of possessing.

Rhen is an exceptionally strong-minded girl in her village. She has the dream of being something more than what she currently is; she wants to change the world of science and school. She spends most of her time working in her father’s lab trying to find a cure to an unknown, fast-growing disease that is killing her mother. And when she brings this up to her Uncle’s friends—the people who can offer help—they brush the disease off as nothing, as it doesn’t seem to be affecting the Uppers. That answer, the way most Uppers react to the Lowers, is what drives Rhen to enter the Labyrinth. And though she struggles over the aspect of leaving her Mom and Da, she knows that the only way to fix this is to enter the maze and win.

The idea behind the Labyrinth is intriguing and I found myself asking the question: Would I enter the maze disguised as a boy to prove my worth and that the world needs to change? I think I would, even if the aspect of death is involved. That’s exactly what Rhen does; she wants to see the world change and she wants the Uppers, especially the University board, to understand why they need to address the disease spreading in the Lower. I do wish the Labyrinth was a bit more developed, but nevertheless, I enjoyed each part of the maze and seeing how Rhen and her friends navigated each part. The Labyrinth doesn’t just involve mathematical equations but also tests your qualities as a human being. The winner of the maze does not win solely off of knowledge but how they treat other people. The maze involves both knowledge and characteristics and, in this maze, Rhen faces more personal challenges than she thought she would. But Rhen isn’t a quitter, and she refuses to give up, no matter the cost.

Mary Weber weaves fantasy so well with the setting and plot of this book. How the book starts out, I wouldn’t think fantasy elements would arise. But they did and the elements, though not present enough to overwhelm the plot, work so well with the story. The Labyrinth breathes fantasy, with ghouls and creatures and a maze that continuously shrinks in size until you find a way to escape. It was interesting and unlike most mazes I have read in books. Mary Weber truly brought this maze (and this book) to life, and I loved it.

To Best the Boys turned out to be the story I was hoping it to be. The characters were well-developed and the plot continued to thicken until the very end. It was, overall, a book I am thankful I got to read early.

To Best the Boys is a refreshing read in the YA genre. If you love girl power, individuality, fighting for what you believe in, a deadly and heart-pounding maze, and romance, then I highly recommend reading To Best the Boys!

nikole

Question of the Post:

Would you enter the Labyrinth? I’d love to know! Leave your answer below! 🙂

Saturday Spotlight: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

cofTitle: Crown of Feathers

Author: Nicki Pau Preto

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: February 12, 2019

Page Count: 288 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Summary:

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

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Purchase Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound


 About the Author

nicki-pau-preto-101027857

Nicki Pau Preto is a YA fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: she loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular 9-5 life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.

Her YA fantasy debut CROWN OF FEATHERS is coming February 12th, 2019 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster. (Bio from author site)

*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Lady Smoke – Laura Sebastian

lady smoke designer credit billelis @billelisTitle: LADY SMOKE (Ash Princess Trilogy #2)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 512

Find it:

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The sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that was “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” ( Bustle ), Lady Smoke is an epic new fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people. 

The Kaiser murdered Theodosia’s mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo’s country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess–a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn’t realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage–Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser’s rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.

A darkly enchanting page-turner you won’t be able to put down.” –Bustle on Ash Princess, Book 1 in the Ash Princess series


About Book 1:

ashTitle: ASH PRINCESS (Ash Princess Trilogy #1)

Author: Laura Sebastian

Pub. Date: April 24, 2018

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 432

Find it:

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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.


About Laura:

author-photo-300x200Laura 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.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


My Review

Lady Smoke, an exquisite and breathtaking read, is a perfect bridge between Ash Princess and Ember Queen, the final book in the trilogy. Lady Smoke continues where Ash Princess ends, and brings the readers on a journey full of history and the continuous game of cat and mouse.

In Lady Smoke, Theo meets many potential suitors who, in exchange for her hand in marriage, will give her a big enough army to take down the Kaiser and reclaim Astrea. What I liked about all these suitors is that we are given the chance to learn more about the other countries and why none assisted Astrea in that time of need ten years ago. And, of course, Theo’s heart still battles with her feelings for Blaise and Soren; one she knows she loves and one she denies her feelings.

Theo is still playing a dangerous game in Lady Smoke, using her wits to outsmart those who underestimate her and treat her as a China doll. The only main difference is that she’s playing multiple games with her aunt, the Kaiser, and King Etristo. She will have to prove to them all that she is strong enough to be Queen. But she also understands that she has more to lose than she did when she was in the possession of the Kaiser, so she must be choose her battles. As the reader, I was rooting for Theo to come out victorious in her battles; I want to see her take her country back.

In Lady Smoke, Theo discovers more about herself and what she’s capable of, and that power, that realization, is going to set up the third book to begin with a bang (especially with THAT ending). She battles with her actions as Queen; she starts to realize that some of her actions are similar to the Kaiser and that slowly scares her. Not only does she have to figure out how to get Astrea back, she also has to determine how to get the Kaiser’s voice out of her head. But her actions as Queen are not the only thing keeping her up at night. How she left things back in Astrea with the Kaiser haunt her and bring a surprising realization to what she is actually capable of and who she is potentially meant to be.

Overall, Lady Smoke provides a wonderful sequel to Ash Princess, one that will not disappoint. Lady Smoke leads up to what will be a heart pounding end to an amazing trilogy. Queen Theodosia is an ember burning among flames, and she won’t stop until the Kaiser pays for what he did; she won’t stop until she has reclaimed Astrea. The Ash Princess is no more; make room for the Queen of Astrea, the Queen of Flame and Fury.

Lady Smoke releases February 5, 2019.


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LADY SMOKE, US Only.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

1/1/2019- To Be Read– Review

1/2/2019- A Dream Within A Dream– Review

1/3/2019- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

1/4/2019- Random Bookish Banter– Review

Week Two:

1/7/2019- Tween 2 Teen Book Reviews– Review

1/8/2019- Jrsbookreviews– Review

1/9/2019- Omg Books and More Books– Review

1/10/2019- Fiction Fare– Review

1/11/2019- Du Livre– Review

Week Three:

1/14/2019- Loie Dunn– Review

1/15/2019- A Court of Coffee and Books– Review

1/16/2019- Paws and Paperbacks– Review

1/17/2019- A Gingerly Review– Review

1/18/2019- Lifestyle of Me– Review

Week Four:

1/21/2019- Paper Reader– Review

1/22/2019- Adventures and Reading– Review

1/23/2019- Popthebutterfly Reads– Review

1/24/2019- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

1/25/2019- YA Books Central– Interview

Week Five:

1/28/2019- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

1/29/2019- Colorimetry– Interview

1/30/2019- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

1/31/2019- Kat’s Books– Review

Hosted by Rockstar Book Tours; thank you so much for including us on this blog tour!

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