*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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*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Pretty in Punxsatawney_RD3Title: Pretty In Punxsutawney

Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

Publisher: Blink

Release date: January 22, 2019

Genre: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

A mashup of Groundhog Day and Pretty in Pink, the book stars a senior who is forced to relive the first day at her new school in an endless loop. Andie is convinced she needs true love’s kiss to break the curse, but instead discovers how a high school filled with cliques and misfits can find common ground despite everyone’s differences.

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36168849-pretty-in-punxsutawney

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2rdEb48

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pretty-in-punxsutawney-laurie-boyle-crompton/1128209537?#/

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Pretty-in-Punxsutawney-Laurie-Boyle-Crompton/9780310762164

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Pretty+in+Punxsutawney


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

laurieboylecrompton (1)Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of the upcoming PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY (Blink/HarperCollins 2019) as well as ADRENALINE CRUSH (Macmillan/2014, Square Fish/2016), BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH and LOVE AND VANDALISM (Sourcebooks/2013, 2014, 2017). Growing up in ‘Pennsyltucky’ in the 1980s, Laurie couldn’t wait to escape rural life. After saving up her tips from waitressing at a local greasy spoon at 18 she packed up her acid wash jeans and moved to NY. Where everyone else had stopped wearing acid wash.

She graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and Journalism. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. And yes, ‘toy expert’ is an actual profession. Really.

She has lived in places like Orlando, Florida where she and her husband spent all of their spare time and money visiting theme parks before moving to the Cotswolds in England for six months, which was every bit as cool as that sounds. The Cromptons are now back in New York where their two children resent never going to Disney.

Laurie occasionally enjoys hanging out in fields of blooming flowers and also refering to herself in the third person.

Website: https://www.lboylecrompton.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lbcrompton

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lbcrompton/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laurie.b.crompton


MY REVIEW

This book was absolutely adorable! When I read that Groundhog Day would be the main basis for this book, I knew I needed to read this. Pretty in Punxsutawney is a cute and fast-read contemporary that hooked me from the very beginning. It’s a wonderful mash-up of Groundhog Day and Pretty In Pink, which makes for a fun and laugh-at-loud read. I loved how much Andie evolved over those repeating days. Each day brought a new scenario for Andie, which gave the reader a little snippet into another part of Andie’s personality.

When Andie wakes up the next morning after her first day of school, only to find out that she’s reliving the same day over and over again, she thinks it’s a blessing, yet also a curse. She thinks it’s the world’s way of telling her to get the day right and to find true love. And, of course, to get her first kiss. But little does she know that not everything is going to go as planned and not everyone is who they seem. And maybe, just maybe, you don’t need a kiss to break a time loop.

I loved Andie as a character. She’s strong and funny and someone I could really connect with throughout the book. I enjoyed seeing her dynamics with the many characters along the way, especially with Tom. She interacts with kids from different cliques in her high school, where she sees that many people put on an image at school and hide who they really are. And through all these characters, all these interactions, she starts to understand the person she wants to be. Even though her days are filled with angst and high school drama (like having to deal with a girl trying to steal the guy she thinks she likes), she stills fights to figure out who she is and what she’s supposed to do to break the curse.

One of my favorite things about Pretty in Punxsutawney was all the references to classic 80s movies, like Pretty in Pink. I’m a huge movie buff, so I loved all the references and how they all incorporated into the story. Andie references some of her mom’s favorite 80s movies to help her get through each repeat day, and each movie reference helps create a different outcome, which, in turn, teaches Andie something about herself she didn’t know.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Pretty in Punxsutawney. It was different from any contemporary books I have read and referring to 80s nostalgic movies definitely put the cherry on top. If you enjoy contemporaries with big-screen features similar to Groundhog Day and other well-known movies, I highly recommend!

Pretty in Punxsutawney comes out January 15, 2019!


GIVEAWAY

Prize: 5 finished copies of Pretty In Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton (USA only)

Starts: 1/7/19

Ends:  1/16/19

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TOUR SCHEDULE

http://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2018/12/tour-schedule-pretty-in-punxsutawney-by.html


Thank you so much, Fantastic Flying Book Club, for having us on this amazing book blog tour!

Saturday Spotlight: White Stag by Kara Barbieri

whitestagTitle: White Stag

Author: Kara Barbieri

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Page Count: 368 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Review

Summary:

The first book in a brutally stunning series where a young girl finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover dangerous truths about who she is and the place that has become her home.

As the last child in a family of daughters, seventeen-year-old Janneke was raised to be the male heir. While her sisters were becoming wives and mothers, she was taught to hunt, track, and fight. On the day her village was burned to the ground, Janneke—as the only survivor—was taken captive by the malicious Lydian and eventually sent to work for his nephew Soren.

Janneke’s survival in the court of merciless monsters has come at the cost of her connection to the human world. And when the Goblin King’s death ignites an ancient hunt for the next king, Soren senses an opportunity for her to finally fully accept the ways of the brutal Permafrost. But every action he takes to bring her deeper into his world only shows him that a little humanity isn’t bad—especially when it comes to those you care about.

Through every battle they survive, Janneke’s loyalty to Soren deepens. After dangerous truths are revealed, Janneke must choose between holding on or letting go of her last connections to a world she no longer belongs to. She must make the right choice to save the only thing keeping both worlds from crumbling.

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Pre-order Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound


 About the Author

kara

Kara Barbieri is a writer living in the tiny town of Hayward, Wisconsin. An avid fantasy fan, she began writing White Stag at eighteen and posting it to Wattpad soon after under the name of ‘Pandean’. When she’s not writing, you can find her marathoning Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reviving gothic fashion, and jamming to synthpop.

*Blog Tour + Giveaway* My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life – Rachel Cohn

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life High ResTitle: MY ALMOST FLAWLESS TOKYO DREAM LIFE

Author: Rachel Cohn

Pub. Date: December 18, 2018

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: 384

Find it:

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“I’m here to take you to live with your father. In Tokyo, Japan! Happy birthday!”

In the Land of the Rising Sun, where high culture meets high kitsch, and fashion and technology are at the forefront of the First World’s future, the foreign-born teen elite attend ICS-the International Collegiate School of Tokyo. Their accents are fluid. Their homes are ridiculously posh. Their sports games often involve a (private) plane trip to another country. They miss school because of jet lag and visa issues. When they get in trouble, they seek diplomatic immunity.

Enter foster-kid-out-of-water Elle Zoellner, who, on her sixteenth birthday discovers that her long-lost father, Kenji Takahari, is actually a Japanese hotel mogul and wants her to come live with him. Um, yes, please! Elle jets off first class from Washington D.C. to Tokyo, which seems like a dream come true. Until she meets her enigmatic father, her way-too-fab aunt, and her hyper-critical grandmother, who seems to wish Elle didn’t exist. In an effort to please her new family, Elle falls in with the Ex-Brats, a troupe of uber-cool international kids who spend money like it’s air. But when she starts to crush on a boy named Ryuu, who’s frozen out by the Brats and despised by her new family, her already tenuous living situation just might implode.

My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life is about learning what it is to be a family, and finding the inner strength to be yourself, even in the most extreme circumstances.


About Rachel:

RachelRachel Cohn is the bestselling, award-winning author of many books. She lives in Los Angeles with two very cool cats named McNulty and Bunk.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram


Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive finished copies of MY ALMOST FLAWLESS TOKYO DREAM LIFE, US only.

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Excerpt

Keep your head down. Stay quiet. In ten minutes, it will be over.

“EZ! EZ! EZ!” The boys at the back of the bus chanted. My  bad  luck  that  the  initials  in  my  name—Elle Zoellner—made  me  too  “EZ”  a  target  for  unoriginal bullies.

A sharp pencil hit my neck and then fell to the floor behind me. I heard Redmond’s voice say, “Damn, I was hoping it would catch inside her spiderweb of frizz hair.” Hah, the joke was on him. My hair was indeed frizzy, but it was so dirty that anything thrown into it would have no scientific option other than to slide down, the result of that one-shower-a-week rule.

Today was my  sixteenth birthday.  While other  girls probably wished for a driver’s license or a new outfit or a later curfew, all I wanted was to be clean. Sucked for me that this year’s birthday fell on a Tuesday. Wednesday was shower day.

Of course Foster Home #3 parents always denied to my social worker that the shower was off-limits to me except on Wednesdays. If I had a phone, I could secretly record them talking about it, but why bother? Then I’d probably be sent to an even worse home. Foster Homes #1 (lice) and #2 (bedbugs) had been bad enough, but #3 (over- lords who were mean, and liars) was the worst. I didn’t want to know what could happen at #4.

The devil you know is better than the one you don’t, Mom always told me. Mom was raised in foster care; she would know. She tried for better for me, and until the car crash two years ago, she’d succeeded. She had a job. We had a nice, small house. There was laughter in our lives. A cat. Then, after the car accident, the Beast moved in and took over. He wasn’t someone I could see or talk to; the Beast was addiction. And thanks to that Beast, my mom was now in prison.

Was Mom keeping track of time? Did she even remem- ber today was my (Not So) Sweet Sixteen? If I had a phone, I knew I’d see a dozen emails/texts/GIFs from Reggie, my best friend from when we were both on the swim team at the Y, wishing me a happy birthday. But he also didn’t have a phone and was stranded at a boys’ home across the county, another foster care victim. Not victim—he’d hate that word. I’m a survivor, Reggie would say. His mother had also been an addict, but she never made it to prison. She died from a fentanyl overdose. Despite my miserable situation, I was still incredibly grateful that my mother was alive. I knew how lucky we were that Mom’s problem took her to jail rather than a graveyard.

“Hey, smell bomb! Turn around when you’re addressed by your superiors.” The latest taunt came from Jacinda Zubrowski, who sat two rows behind me on the bus and two seats behind me in homeroom, and never failed to comment on my smelly, secondhand clothes.

The poor kid sitting next to me—I didn’t even know his name, he was some scrawny freshman who looked about twelve—slid closer to the  window.  Smart  move. No reason he should be brought down with me. Then he scrunched his nose and said, on the down low, “There are showers in the gym locker room, you know.” Little jerk.

I knew. I was hardly going to further expose myself— naked—in a public high school locker room. I’d rather smell bad.

“Anybody hungry for some mixed nuts?” a male voice—one of Redmond’s friends—asked, and the back of the bus group laughed. What a not clever way to speculate about my heritage. My mother was part Irish, German, African American, and Native American, but the shape of my eyes and my cheekbones indicated my biological father was Japanese. I’d never met him, didn’t even know his name. “Mr. Tokyo,” Mom called him. He was probably married like all of Mom’s other boyfriends. Married men were her primary weakness, until she was introduced to painkillers. One of those men had been driving the car when they got hit from behind on the Beltway. He died. Mom suffered severe spine injuries. That’s when the Beast took over. I blamed the dead married man.

An object much larger than a pencil hit the back of my head. I wouldn’t have known exactly what it was, except the next one missed my head, grazed my shoulder, and landed on my lap. A bar of soap.

A new chant erupted in the back of the bus. “Smell bomb! Smell bomb!”

Happy birthday, Elle Zoellner.

Full Excerpt Here!


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

12/3/2018- Novel Novice– Excerpt

12/4/2018- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

12/5/2018- A Court of Coffee and Books– Excerpt

12/6/2018- BookHounds YA– Review

12/7/2018- A Gingerly Review– Review

Week Two:

12/10/2018- Rhythmicbooktrovert– Review

12/11/2018- Do You Dog-ear?– Review

12/12/2018- A Dream Within A Dream– Excerpt

12/13/2018- Daily Waffle– Excerpt

12/14/2018- The Reading Corner for All– Review

Week Three:

12/17/2018- Lisa Loves Literature– Review

12/18/2018- Eli to the nth– Review

12/19/2018- Dani Reviews Things– Review

12/20/2018- The Pages In-Between– Review

12/21/2018- Sincerely Karen Jo Blog– Review

Week Four:

12/24/2018- Falling For YA– Interview

12/25/2018- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

12/26/2018- All the Ups and Downs– Excerpt

12/27/2018- Confessions of a YA Reader– Review

12/28/2018- Wishful Endings– Excerpt

Week Five:

12/31/2018- Under the Book Cover– Excerpt


Thank you Rockstar Book Tours for this blog tour and included A Court of Coffee and Books!

nikole

*ARC Review* Prince of Secrets and Shadows by C. S. Johnson

secretsTitle: Prince of Secrets and Shadows, book two in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy

Author: C. S. Johnson

Publisher: Prodigy Gold Books

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Genres: Young adult, Romance, Historical fiction, Fantasy

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Summary:

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth?” The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him, but if I did not find a way to break free of him, I would risk doing even more harm.

Ferdy met my gaze with his. “I promise you this, Ella, that as of now, I will never lie to you again.” He leaned forward and kissed me again, and I stood there, letting him, desperately debating whether I could trust him or not. His promise burned through me, his words scorched into my being. It was so tempting to believe him, more tempting than anything else I had ever faced in all my life.

Freedom was only freedom if I could trust it to be true.

PRAGUE, 1870

After joining the Order of the Crystal Daggers, led by her dauntless grandmother, Lady Penelope, Eleanora Svobodová set out to save her kingdom from oncoming devastation.
And she failed.

Following the attack on Prague Castle, Eleanora is determined to redeem herself. She sets out to win Karl’s trust while distancing herself from Ferdy, whose secrets and lies have done nothing to stop her from falling in love with him. As she struggles to let him go, questions about the mission and her mother’s past cause a rift between Amir and Lady Penelope and add to the growing discord between Eleanora and her brother. 

But when a cunning provocateur arrives in Prague, Eleanora discovers there is an even more deadly game afoot, one that reaches into Amir’s past and threatens Lady Penelope’s future. Now, the members of the Order must work together if they are to uncover the true enemy hiding in Bohemia. 

Can they work together despite their divisions? Or will their division lead to even more destruction?

With spies, secrets, and suspense, Prince of Secrets and Shadows is the second book in The Order of the Crystal Daggers, a spy adventure series from C. S. Johnson.


My review

Please note: this is the second book in the Order of the Crystal Daggers trilogy and may contain spoilers from the first book. You can check out my review of the first book, Kingdom of Ash and Soot, here


Dozens of authors write fantastic first books in a trilogy. And most struggle with writing an excellent sequel. Sometimes the sequel doesn’t live up to the first book, but it’s still good. And sometimes the sequel is just as good as the first book, if not better. In this case, Prince of Secrets and Shadows exceeds its predecessor, Kingdom of Ash and Soot.

“You are young yet, but even you know there are things worth dying for.”

I knew this book was going to be phenomenal when I started the first chapter. I adore books that start almost right where the previous book left off. It’s a wonderful way to refresh your memory and get a feel for the impact the first book left on the main characters. And just like the first book, C.S. Johnson starts the story off with an important scene, one that involves one of my all-time favorite characters. Johnson sets the boundaries straight in the first chapter and gets the reader ready for what to expect throughout the novel. It’s exciting and a great way to start a sequel.

And then enter the one known as the Prince of Secrets and Shadows. He was a very interesting character and added a lot of grief to the story, in the sense that he did not make it easy for the characters. He’s a double-edged sword and, frankly, not someone I would want to mess with. It’s not that he’s necessarily a dangerous character, but he plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse. And his role in this story thickened the plot in a way I did not see coming.

“I used to think being free meant an escape; I thought it meant I would be able to move away from authority and addiction, to be still against the forces of time and space. But as he held me there, pushed against a wall, I knew freedom was not an escape, but a coming home.”

In Prince of Secrets and Shadows, Ella struggles with deciding what she wants to do with her life. She’s in the Order because she wants to follow in her Mother’s footsteps. But her heart desires something different, something more than the life Ella has chosen. Ella wants freedom and love and not to be controlled like she has been most her life. And throughout this book, she starts to realize that freedom and love can decidedly be the same thing.

“Even if you deny your heart, your heart does not go away. That is why everyone lies, everyone has secrets, and everyone has regrets.”

Ella struggles with many of her relationships, in more ways than one. Her brother distances himself from her, causing an unforeseen rift in their relationship. She connects with one of her trainers in a way she didn’t expect. And her relationship with Lady POW grows stronger in a surprising way.

And then there is Ferdy. Oh, Ferdy. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t love this character. He’s charming, considerate, and just an all-around great character and love interest for Ella. And though Ella battles with her heart and what she perceives as right, he never once gives up on her. Most of my favorite chapters consisted of Ferdy and the tension between him and Ella.

In the first book, Ella is a strong and courageous character. I’m not saying she isn’t in the second book (she’s quite brave and strong-headed), but she now realizes she has way more at stake than just her freedom. And to protect those she loves, she may have to knowingly play that game of cat and mouse.

If you haven’t ready Kingdom of Ash and Soot, I highly recommend. C.S. Johnson has beautifully woven a story that you will not soon forget. Kingdom of Ash and Soot is available now and Prince of Secrets and Shadows comes out next Tuesday, December 4!

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole

 

*ARC Review* You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

YAFPTitle: You Asked for Perfect

Author: Laura Silverman

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Page Count: 288 pages

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

Summary: 

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.


My Review

Have you ever felt the need to be perfect in something? A sport? Your job? What about in school? Whether you’re in school now or not, was there ever a point where you needed a perfect grade, a perfect test score, a perfect something? Do you remember dealing with the constant stress and increased anxiety levels to live up to the standards that others, or even yourself, hold you up to?

I’m one of those people that answered yes to each of those questions. In school, I struggled to maintain good grades, a social life, my family life, and my extra-curricular activities. I struggled so much that I would constantly break down because of the stress and anxiety bearing down on my shoulders and my mind. It wasn’t healthy.

And this beautiful, emotionally relatable book, You Asked for Perfect, sums up exactly what it feels like to deal with those overbearing pressures. This book is what I wished for in high school and I am so glad (so unbelievably thankful) that I had the chance to read an early copy. If you’re in middle school, high school, college, or just feeling the pressure to be perfect at something, you need to read this book. You need this book in your life right now. Trust me. Stress and anxiety take such a toll on one’s body that you may not even notice it until you wind up getting sick or worse.

“The calculus test is Friday. If I fail, it will literally be impossible to get an A in the class. If I don’t get an A in the class, I won’t have a perfect record. If I don’t have a perfect record, I’ll be a less appealing applicant for Harvard. If I’m a less appealing applicant for Harvard, I won’t get in. If I don’t get in…”

You Asked for Perfect centers on senior Ariel Stone, who struggles with academic pressure. He feels he must maintain his perfect grades, his first spot for Valedictorian, his first chair violin spot, and somehow squeeze in time to have a social life. Like most kids in school, he works exceptionally hard to maintain his perfect status. So a failed Calculus quiz is not acceptable in his perfect world. The readers see first hand what its like to struggle with the idea of being perfect, and what one failed quiz can do to someone who never fails in the academic field. Ariel puts too much on his plate, and because of that, his health starts to deteriorate, without him even noticing. He starts to swap out hours of sleep for studying when his grades start to slip. And though he gets a tutor, he doesn’t want anyone to know, especially the girl he’s up against for Valedictorian. Ariel doesn’t want anyone to see him as weak, not even his family. So, he works to maintain his perfect image in school and with his family and best friend.

Besides the emotional rollercoaster this book gives its readers, I thought the development with Ariel’s family and close friends was well put together. His sister is similar to Ariel, in the sense that she has to be perfect and puts an exceptional amount of pressure on herself for such a young age. And the worst part? Not even their parents notice what their kids are going through. It’s the aspect of being blind when your eyes can fully see: you don’t see the signs that are right in front of you. And so many kids in today’s world struggle with this, which is why this book is so vastly important. Ariel’s parents are wonderful people in this book, they really are, but like most parents, they don’t see the problems unless their kids bring it up to them. Or in Ariel’s case, unless you get really good at hiding your struggles. And then there’s Ariel’s best friend, who he somehow finds time to help her with her band. Ariel doesn’t want to disappoint his best friend, so even though he is struggling, he helps her out and doesn’t let her in on the problems he is facing.

And, of course, there’s Ariel’s tutor, Amir, who is such a loving guy, but who also happens to put a spin on Ariel’s life. Ariel swore off relationships until after high school, but could Amir possibly change that? And even so, it’s just another pressure Ariel puts on his shoulders; so, his struggle is not just with school, but with everyone in his life.

But the one pressure that Ariel needs to fix is the pressure he puts on himself. That’s the worst pressure of all. He holds himself up to a standard because he doesn’t want to disappoint those around him. And he really wants to get into Harvard, so a failed Calculus quiz is not in the cards. But his pressures and the standard he holds himself up to are issues that so many kids deal with. And that’s one of the reasons why I stress how important this book is.

I could keep going on and on about this incredible book (I could probably create a whole presentation on it), but there’s only one thing I can say at this point: You Need This Book. Even if you’re not currently struggling with anything, get this book because there will come a time that you will need it and, trust me, you will be so thankful that you read You Asked for Perfect. Laura Silverman delivers a beautifully crafted book that you are not going to want to miss.

You Asked for Perfect comes out March 5, 2019.

All quotes are from the advanced readers copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole