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

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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)

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*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:

GoodreadsAmazonAudibleB&N,  iBooksTBD

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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Saturday Spotlight: Match Me if You Can by Tiana Smith

mmiycTitle: Match Me if You Can

Author: Tiana Smith

Publisher: Swoon Reads/Macmillan

Release Date: January 8, 2019

Page Count: 288 pages

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Summary:

Mia’s best friend Robyn is known for her matchmaking skills, which is perfect, because homecoming is just around the corner. But Robyn refuses to set Mia up with the guy of her dreams, which forces Mia to take matters into her own hands. She uses Robyn’s matchmaking service to make sure popular Vince Demetrius falls for her.

Vince asks her out, but Mia doesn’t count on Logan, the persistent school newspaper photographer who seems to like her out of the blue. Now she has to choose between Vince – the guy she knows is right for her – and Logan, who insists that she give him a chance. And she needs to make sure Robyn doesn’t find out that Mia’s been matchmaking behind her back.

Mia has two weeks before homecoming. Can she fix the mess she made or will she have to kiss her perfect match goodbye forever?

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Purchase Links

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Book Depository     Indie Bound



 About the Author

tiana smith

Hey there! I write YA books with lots of kissing in them, because those are the best. Supposedly, I’m too old for boy bands and the Disney channel, but I love them anyway. A little more about me: Math is my nemesis and chick flicks are my happy place. Also, mint chocolate chip ice cream is heaven on earth and can make all your problems go away. If I could do anything I wanted, I’d train to be a lion tamer. Dead serious. I’m not sure how one gets on that career path, but it’s on my list of to-dos. Also on my list? Travel to London, learn sign language and be the best mom I can be to my ninja boy. (Bio from Swoon Reads)

The Page 69 Test: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

Happy last Saturday of 2018! Can you believe that 2018 is almost over? I still have so much left to do for blogging (my top ten of 2018, under-hyped books of 2018, etc.), though I probably won’t get to any until the new year. I also still have one more book to finish to beat my Goodreads goal by 10 books! So almost there!

The Page 69 Test    My co-bloggers and I have started a new weekly blog post: The Page 69 Test! Have you heard of the page 69 test? If not, it’s basically where you read page 69 of a book you think you will like. If you liked reading page 69, chances are you will enjoy reading the rest of the book.

Instead of posting the full page, we will be posting the first 10-20 lines of that page, starting with the first full sentence.

This week I decided to go with a book that’s been in my TBR pile for a very long time. I’m hoping to read Firstlife by Gena Showalter in 2019, but it all depends on what books I pull out of my TBR Jar. I’ve heard amazing things about this book!

Enjoy!

“…Or I’m simply malnourished and on edge, and my brain is overcompensating.

Yeah. That.

This close, I can almost count New Guy’s individual lashes. They are long, spiky and jet-black…and I’m staring at him, I realize.

‘That wasn’t a very nice thing to do,’ I say.

‘And knocking over my chair was?’ His voice is low and husky with a slight Irish lilt, and it’s almost as smoky as his scent. ‘Let’s do the introduction thing so my heartbeat will finally calm down. I’m Killian. And you are stunningly beautiful.’

Before he’s finished delivering the (clearly) practiced line, I’m already building walls. ‘I think you mean I’m attitudinal.’

‘Definitely not. But now I’m certain you’re irresistible.’

‘I think you mean unsuitable.’

‘Or adorable.’

Oh, crap. Are we flirting?”


firstlifeStep one…you die.

ONE CHOICE. TWO REALMS. NO SECOND CHANCE.

Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.

In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…

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*ARC Review* White Stag – 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 Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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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My Review

Trigger warnings: White Stag contains some content that may be uncomfortable for some readers, including mention/discussion of rape and self harm, violence, death, and animal harm.

“Here, as the only mortal in a hall of monsters, I was very glad that I was not most humans.”

This dark and richly lush novel surprised me. I was expecting a book with a main character that still lived in the past and struggled with the circumstances of her present life. That was somewhat the case, but for the most part, I was way off, and that’s a good thing because the main character is so much better than what I was expecting.

White Stag demonstrates that it’s okay to present a fantasy world that’s crawling with foreseen and unforeseen dangers. It’s okay to have a main character that has been through many hardships and lives a life she never would have expected for herself. And it’s wildly okay to write a book with a dark atmosphere.

“The heartbeat of the Permafrost was like thunder underneath my feet, and the prey lines were clear as the morning sun.”

I haven’t read a dark fantasy in a long time. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy with this many dark elements. It’s a good thing, since most YA fantasy books have dark elements, but none as dark as the ones in White Stag. The world Janneke lives in is harsh and dangerous and cruel, a world humans would run from if some, like Janneke, were not forced into staying. Goblins rule the Permafrost and humans are merely considered servants to most. They fight, they kill one another without a simple care for who they are. It’s as if everything is a game to them, and everyone is merely a pawn in the Permafrost.

The idea of hunting the white stag was unique. I enjoyed how having the power of the white stag proved who was the next Goblin King. But the hunt itself is deadly to many and one hundred percent unkind to all. Janneke doesn’t know what really to expect in the hunt, except that many goblins will perish and one will come out the victor. But she was never expecting to find herself in the hunt and come out being the person she was meant to become.

I loved the dynamic between Janneke and Soren. Janneke is slow to trust Soren, as Soren is considered her “master.” But unlike the other goblins, unlike Lydian, Soren doesn’t want Janneke to be a servant, to treat him like a master. He wants Janneke to see him as a friend, or potentially something more. But like most relationships, theirs starts out rough. Janneke originally belonged to Lydian before she landed in Soren’s possession, so Janneke believes that all goblins are monsters. But over the years, Janneke realizes Soren is nothing like the other Goblins, and that Soren wants her as a confidant and someone to trust. And, slowly, that’s how their relationship begins to change.

“The future is frightening, I know. The choice is the hardest of all. But it is a choice — who rules and who lives and who dies, who hunts and who mends and who heals. It is your power to choose.”

Janneke’s inner demons and her disturbing past are constant factors in the story. Lydian stole her from the human world after killing everything she held dear and from there, he only made her life worse. Lydian did what he could to rip her apart and break her spirit. And even though she lived after her captivity, she has scars branded on her body and nightmares that haunt her day and night. She faces her demons daily and, though she is a strong soul, she can’t escape everything. And then there’s her fear of becoming something she never wanted to become: a monster. But she soon realizes that monsters come in many forms.

Overall, I enjoyed this darkly atmospheric book and I look forward to reading the sequel.

White Stag releases January 8, 2019!

Thank you to the publishing company 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 print copy.

nikole

*ARC Review* The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

similars

Title: The Similars

Author: Rebecca Hanover

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Release Date: January 1, 2019

Page count: 352 pages

Genres: Young adult, Science Fiction

My Review: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

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My review

“I stop in my tracks as I arrive at our old spot. I’m not alone. They’re ten, fifteen feet away, at most. Their presence — their existence — sends my heart hammering in my chest. I freeze, watching, observing. I don’t think they can see me, not yet — but I can see them.”

When I first came across The Similars, I instantly was drawn to the cover and the optical illusion. It has a type of cover you don’t see very often in YA. And then I read the summary and I just knew this was a book I had to read. And I was not disappointed.

The Similars had surprising twists and turns, where even some of the twists caught me off guard that I literally went “holy crap!” And trust me, for me, that doesn’t happen very often. I’m usually very good at predicting what is going to happen, but I missed some of the shocking discoveries in this book. The last one hundred pages of the story, I was gripping the book, hoping that the clues I desperately needed to solve this mystery would surface. Most did, but the author did a marvelous job at revealing those clues only when they needed to be revealed. And that made for a very intriguing story.

The idea behind The Similars is brilliant and wonderfully unlike anything I have read in the YA genre. I thoroughly enjoyed the aspect of the six clones and what they represented in a world that didn’t want anything to do with them. And the dynamic between Emma and Levi brought the story to a whole new level, in the sense of how their relationship evolved over the story.

Like the summary states, Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars. She doesn’t want to constantly be reminded of the best friend she lost. But every mystery she uncovers links back to the Similars, and she soon realizes she has no choice but to become involved in their lives. Over the course of a year (or close to a year), Emma unearths dark secrets about the Similars, which tests her loyalty to those closest to her and puts a strain on the relationships she has with each Similar.

Rebecca Hanover’s writing will pull you in and keep you planted in the story’s roots until the very last line. And even after that, you’ll be craving more of Emma’s story. Hanover’s storytelling was captivating and so on-point, in the sense that she only gives the readers enough details to try to uncover each mystery before Emma does. I wholeheartedly enjoyed Emma’s voice and how her opinions slowly changed overtime. It was not an instant switch of emotions. Emma is easily a character that will charm readers, with her strong-headedness and personality.

“The boy is Oliver–only he is not. he is, and he isn’t….He has every feature that Oliver has–had. Only none of the memories. None of the stuff of our lives, the stuff that made us us. This boy has none of it; he knows none of it. Because Oliver is dead, and this, most definitely, is not him.”

And Levi. Oh, my sweet, sweet Levi. Levi has quickly become one of my favorite characters. In his own way, he’s charismatic and alluring, which Emma soon realizes as she becomes tangled in the Similars’ lives. He may look like Emma’s dead best friend, but he is in no way like him. Levi is one of those complicated souls that easily captures your attention. I looked forward to his scenes in the book, not just because he added a type of complication to the story, but because he swiftly became my favorite character in the story.

How The Similars ended left me open mouthed and going, “well, where’s the rest?” I need to know what happens after that ending, so I cannot wait for book two.

The Similars hits bookshelves January 1, 2019.

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

nikole

*Review* Fire & Heist – Sarah Beth Durst

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Title: Fire & Heist

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: December 4, 2018

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars

Summary:

Fans of Cassandra Clare and Julie Kagawa will devour this contemporary fantasy about a teen were-dragon who must steal her first treasure. But a dark discovery during her heist could put her family in incredible danger.

In Sky Hawkins’s family, leading your first heist is a major milestone–even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It’s a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you’re a wyvern–a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family’s wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society–a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be.

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My Review

“You know how sometimes in life, you can look back on a moment and know that this, this, this was the instant when everything changed? I felt, in that moment, as if I were outside myself, looking in, and knowing that from here on, everything would be different.”

Fire & Heist easily became one of those stories that surprised me. I went into this book not expecting much, but came out with a new found love and appreciation for Sarah Beth Durst. And most of that had to do with the main character and how she was depicted.

Sky Hawkins is the point of view for this story, and quite a lovable and relatable narrator. I’m no longer a teen, haven’t been for a few years, but even I could relate to Sky and the problems she was facing. She’s sixteen and has a lot on her shoulders, and I felt the same way at that age. Granted, her issues are slightly more…intense…but she’s still undeniably relatable. And she is easily one of those characters you love almost immediately. She’s got a spunk and a positive attitude that drove the story forward. It was refreshing to see a main character like Sky.

“It’s not arrogant to know who you are. It’s powerful. And I am powerful.”

I know that some people are going to deem Sky’s voice as immature and childish, when really, her voice is perfect for her age. I’ve never been more surprised by a voice than I have with Sky’s. And I loved that. I loved reading a book where the voice of the main character sounded exactly like her age. It was a nice breath of fresh air.

I also enjoyed the fantasy in Fire & Heist. I mean, were-dragons, fantastical heists, and all this happening in this day and age? Count me in! I’m a huge fantasy genre reader, and in that genre, this book does not disappoint. Fire & Heist does not place a heavy focus on fantasy, but more on what it’s like to be a teen were-dragon and plan your own heist. There are a few chapters that focus heavily on the fantasy part, but I enjoyed how Sarah Beth Durst connected it all in this world. And what I also liked about this book is how the romance is not the main focus of this story, but is placed more on the back burner.

Another aspect I loved about Fire & Heist is how important family is to Sky. She plans this heist to protect her family and find out what happened to her mom. And best of all, she comes to terms that family is not just your bloodline, but also those friends closest to you. Family plays such a big role in this book, and I loved that.

I believe Fire & Heist is a perfect book for teens, especially those looking for a relatable character in the YA Fantasy genre. Readers will easily feel a connection to Sky and her friends and find that not all YA fantasy books need a main character that puts the weight of the world on his/her shoulders. Sky has the help of her friends, and best of all, she doesn’t believe she needs to do everything on her own. So, I hope you all will take a chance on Sky and her wonderful depiction of her world and her heist!

Fire & Heist by Sarah Beth Durst is available now!

nikole