Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.
Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.
When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.
But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.
Of Fire and Stars was one of my most anticipated books of the year; it sounded amazing and looked amazing! I was overjoyed to get a copy at BEA. And even though the world-building and characters were fairly cliché, I was enjoying the first half; it reminded me of The Girl of Fire and Thorns.I liked Mare the most and liked how her relationship with Denna was developing. I was even intrigued with the mystery and political subplot even if the Directorate was totally useless. I couldn’t stop reading.
*Slight spoilers ahead*
Unfortunately it fell apart for me in the last 120 pages. All of a sudden, the pace went at breakneck speed because the story had so much to cram into the end. I’m certain this will be a book with a sneaky sequel. The search for the spy and the dagger was basically dropped; I was left wanting so much more in general. I wanted to know MORE about Affinities, MORE about the different cultures, and I wanted a more natural progression of Mare and Denna’s feelings.
It was so abrupt, from stolen glances and blushing faces to declarations of love and “can’t live without you.” I could feel their emotions in the first half; once they admitted their feelings, it was a lot of telling. I was disappointed to find that Denna was awfully selfish while Mare was somewhat immature. No one else had much personality to speak of.
At the end, I just wanted to finish the book. It didn’t have enough depth for me and had some terrible dialogue in the last 30 pages. I was sincerely happy to see two princesses in love, but I wanted to feel their love and I wanted their story to be more compelling in its other aspects. (Side note: the German cover is so gorgeous I’m tempted to buy it despite everything.)
This is difficult for me because I want this book to do well. Diversity in fiction is important and I’d really really love more f/f fantasy and more LGBTQ fantasy in general, especially from #ownvoices authors. Maybe Of Fire and Stars will work for some readers, but it was mostly wasted potential for me.
Have you read Of Fire and Stars yet? What did you think?
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.
Let’s start off with a disclaimer: Tara’s agent is one of my very good friends and she was nice enough to lend me an ARC for review, but that in no way affected the honesty of my review or my enjoyment of the book. In some ways, it added a lot of pressure!! Luckily, I needn’t have worried- I loved everything about this book and was pulled in from the very first page.
The writing is superb and I love the alternate London with its steampunk elements. It wasn’t too different, just different enough. I loved the historical details. And I love the mythology behind the clocks and clock spirits! The short interludes with mythology were wonderful and it showed another layer of Sims’ writing and imagination.
Most of all, I loved the characters, especially Danny. They felt so alive and richly drawn. Poor Danny, with the weight of the world crushing his shoulders. His home life is a bit of a shambles, but he loves his apprenticeship, even if most people dislike how fast he’s climbed the ranks- he can’t help that he’s so talented and unique. The fact that he could repair time was such a great addition. He’s stubborn and determined, and has a bit of a Potter streak to him when it comes to solving mysteries and sticking his nose where it might not belong. But he’s endearing and I love his friendship with Cassie. And Colton is quite the cinnamon roll! He’s such a bittersweet character, this spirit pulsing with energy and warmth who loves his clock tower but who wants to experience life (and love) outside his tower.
And the rooooomance!! Ahh! Colton and Danny’s relationship was so great, very Casper in some ways, and very sweet despite the myriad of obstacles (with lots of kissing!). In fact, Danny kisses and flirts more than I expected in this book, and it is excellent. There aren’t any triangles but sometimes you kiss the wrong person before you get to kiss the right one, especially when said person is a spirit. I liked that Danny’s sexuality was part of his story but not the crux of his story.
The action really ramps up in the second half and it’s all very exciting and tragic. I couldn’t imagine how the book was so long and part of a series, but now I already want more! The pacing was excellent and it felt magical and charming. There’s so much to this world and these characters. I’ve only read The Archived but I can see fans of Victoria Schwab loving this, along with fans of historical fiction mixed with a bit of fantasy, adventure, friendship, and swoony lovely ships :D
Ella Coach has one wish: revolution. Her mother died working in a sweatshop, and Ella wants every laborer in the Blue Kingdom to receive fairer treatment. But to make that happen, she'll need some high-level support . . .
Prince Dash Charming has one wish: evolution. The Charming Curse forced generations of Charming men to lie, cheat, and break hearts -- but with the witch Envearia's death, the curse has ended. Now Dash wants to be a better person, but he doesn't know where to start . . .
Serge can grant any wish -- and has: As an executive fairy godfather, he's catered to the wildest whims of spoiled teenagers from the richest, most entitled families in Blue. But now a new name has come up on his list, someone nobody's ever heard of . . . Ella Coach.
I loved this book SO much for many different reasons! And I’m going to try something new and format my review in bullet points to really drive home my thoughts on Disenchanted.
-This book has all of the adventure, humor, and heart of Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel but still manages to feel completely different, which I think is incredible; the land of Tyme is so huge that each land truly feels like a different kingdom! They have their own cultures, histories, and landscapes, and it’s exciting to get to experience various parts of Tyme. Plus there are two maps!
-There are three POVs (Ella, Dash, Serge) that alternate in various lengths instead of chapters, and it was satisfying to see them begin to interweave while also getting the full scope of the story.
-I loved Ella! She was an amazing, well-realized main character: passionate, brilliant, and while she sometimes spoke too quickly or out of anger, her heart was always in the right place.
-I loved what Megan Morrison did with Ella’s family- it’s not the typical evil stepmother and stepsisters. Ella’s dad is alive and remarried, and she has a stepbrother and stepsister. It’s also more a case of growing pains and misunderstandings rather than them being “evil”. I really loved watching the evolution of their relationships.
-I loved Prince Dash! He was handsome but awkward, and his relationship with Ella (and his kingdom) really grows and flourishes. He takes the time to listen to her, even if he doesn’t agree. Plus there are well earned swoons ;) I loved Dash’s mother too. And the fairy godfathers Serge and Jasper, who I TOTALLY SHIP (and yes, it’s a legit ship!). Also, the head godmother Jules reminded me of the fairy godmother from Shrek 2. What a piece of work.
-I loved everything about the Blue Kingdom: the boarding school, the castle, the Glass Slipper, and the focus on the workshops and business class. It was unexpected and very dark and Dickensian at times, including one particularly harrowing sequence. I really appreciate that Megan Morrison never talks down to her readers. These are mature (but not inappropriate) books and deal with tough subjects much like the Harry Potter books did- through a fantasy lens.
– Disenchanted does a wonderful job of capturing a diverse group of characters within its pages, everything from race to culture to class. There are hints of an LGBT relationship too. The world feels multicultural and racially diverse, and the differences in custom and culture between each kingdom is illustrated nicely. Even the groups of fairies vary with regard to their own customs.
-At the crux of Disenchanted, however, is the issue of class and ethical dilemmas. Would you rather buy quality goods for cheap if the workers are treated abysmally or pay more for better goods if you know that the workers are treated fairly? This is what Ella is fighting for, for very personal reasons.
-The book made me emotional at different points- I laughed, I gasped, I almost cried- but last 60 pages are particularly fantastic. I love a good courtroom scene!
-Most of all, I loved all the small details. This world feels lived in, with a rich history that I’m dying to know more about. It’s timeless but modern and I love all the allusions and details from the first book and from fairy tales. I can’t wait to see what else is in store in the land of Tyme!
Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.
Three Dark Crowns is dark, strange, meandering, brutal, and fascinating. It’s a great book for fall for those very reasons! I really loved this fantasy world but it’s hard to get completely attached to anyone because the 3rd person present tense is peculiar and makes you feel distant. That being said, I found myself rooting for each queen at different points and I was genuinely shocked and dismayed at various points as well.
I definitely had favorite characters, and the details are fantastic: about the island, about the cities, about the abilities of the queens. It’s one of those books that burrows under your skin and stays with you afterwards. It’s not loud or flashy but it’s inventive and original. I loved how different the triplets Mirabella, Katharine, and Arsinoe were from each other; I also liked the compare and contrast between their upbringing and companions. Nature vs. nurture and all that.
I felt a little meh in the middle; I was going to rate it 3 stars for a while because I thought this was a standalone for some reason. No wonder the pacing felt off to me! It was interesting the entire time but I kept waiting for the story to ramp up. And the ending was fantastic but unexpected for that reason. It was harder to appreciate a slow burn story when my mind didn’t know to expect a sequel. However, I couldn’t get enough once the pace started rolling again towards the end.
It’s a captivating book. Even now, I keep thinking about the story, the characters, the terribly interesting history of Fennbirn Island and their Queens. The world building is so rich! And there is a map! Ellis and I keep discussing our theories for the sequel; there’s so much at play, so much to be answered for, and I can’t wait to see where the story will go.
Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.
At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.
Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
Heartless was marvelous, enchanting, and oh so heartbreaking. I’ve been looking forward to this book for years and I’m so glad it lived up to my expectations! Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite YA series and I was interested to see what a new story would look like from her. Heartless feels very different from her previous series but I loved it just as much.
It’s difficult to reimagine a beloved, well-known story but Heartless is done so well. It’s a slow build with a few pacing issues but I was entranced by the writing and the characters from the beginning. The world building is detailed and full of whimsy with clever allusions to Alice in Wonderland. You truly feel that this is a story taking place in the original Wonderland, but it also feels fresh.
Heartless would be nothing without a worthy main character and Catherine is magnificent. I couldn’t imagine how she could possibly become the Queen of Hearts that we all know; Catherine was full of love and ambition, and had such lofty dreams for her bakery, but you could see the hints of passion and temper simmering underneath. And oh how I loved all of the lemon tarts and spiced pumpkin cakes and other scrumptious treats! It made me want to bake everything.
All of the characters were deliciously complex, just like her recipes, although I didn’t care much for her parents or the King of Hearts. I loved the tea party scene with the Mad Hatter, I loved learning about the lands of Chess and Hearts and their history, and I loved Catherine’s relationship with Jest. It could have felt rushed but I like how it played out and it fit the whimsy of the story. Plus Jest was mysterious, fun, and quite romantic. The story and mystery comes to a head (pun intended) in this explosive crescendo that makes your heart break, even for characters you don’t like. It’s marvelous and awful.
If you love retellings in general, Alice in Wonderland in particular, or tragic romances and baked goods, Heartless needs to be on your reading list. It’s worth the preorder! And it’s the rare standalone that I wish would have a companion novel or two. It’s magical.
Can you believe there’s only 49 days left until the release of Heartless?!
It’s true!! And Fierce Reads is currently holding a sweepstakes so be sure to visit their site to enter!
Marissa Meyer is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles. She lives in Tacoma, Washington. She’s a fan of most things geeky (Sailor Moon, Firefly, any occasion that requires a costume), and has been in love with fairy tales since she was a child. She may or may not be a cyborg.
She never saw it coming. Without even a shiver of suspicion to warn her, Caroline Hammond discovers that her husband is having an affair with a man—a revelation that forces her to question their entire history together, from their early days as high school sweethearts through their ten years as a happily married couple. In her now upside-down world, Caroline begins envisioning her life without the relationship that has defined it: the loneliness of being an “I” instead of a “we”; the rekindled yet tenuous closeness with her younger sister; and the unexpected—and potentially disastrous—attraction she can't get off her mind. Caroline always thought she knew her own love story, but as her husband's other secrets emerge, she must decide whether that story's ending will mean forgiving the man she's loved for half her life, or facing her future without him.
Compassionate and uplifting, Results May Vary is a bittersweet celebration of the fact that in love and in life, we rarely get exactly what we bargained for.
We’ve all heard the stories: after years of marriage, a husband finally admits to himself and to his wife and family that he’s gay. Most recently you may have read about Trey Pearson, a Christian Rocker, who come out as gay and whose story really touched me. The difference here is that in Results May Vary the revelation wasn’t as honest or heartfelt as Trey’s was.
Results May Vary is about the fallout of a betrayal in a marriage. It’s about how Caroline picks up the pieces of a life she was so secure in and how she comes to terms with the realization that she’s never really known the person she loved and married. But it’s also about all the good that will come after such a devastation.
If you’ve visited my blog in the last year, or even the past six months, you’ve probably seen me say at some point that Bethany Chase’s debut, The One That Got Away, was a favorite read last year. This book is really different than that one. I loved Results May Vary in a completely different way. This is one of those books that really made me think about myself and the people I know, about the experiences in my life and how they’ve shaped who I am now. While reading I wondered, “What if that was my man? How would I react?” Devastated, for sure. But I would hope that above all I’d be kind. Caroline’s journey through this was really heart-wrenching at times, but I really admired her in the end. I was glad that we got to see her go through so many ups and downs because it made her character more authentic. I was very happy with where this story left off and felt content, but at the same time I was left feeling like I was saying goodbye to people I knew in real life. They sure stayed in my mind for a long while after.
Results May Vary is easily my favorite book of the year so far, and I think it’s going to be hard to top at this point. The writing is superb and the emotional depth really moved me. I hope you all run out and get a copy! Or you could try to win the extra one I unknowingly purchased, haha.
And now, here’s Bethany Chase…
Writing Playlist – Results May Vary
This is an interesting thing to write about, because this book has such a different musical personality from my first book, The One That Got Away. When I was writing that, I was listening to a lot of classic soul and 70’s rock (think Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack), and that made its way into the book in many places. Results May Vary’s playlist is a lot more eclectic, both on purpose and by accident.
Sugar & the Hi Lows, “Right Time to Tell You”: This song is gorgeous. The melody and harmonies are about as pretty as it gets, and the lyrics are incredibly apropos to Adam’s situation—the narrator has something to confess, has been waiting for the right time to do it, but no time is ever the right time.
Fountains of Wayne’s gorgeous “Valley Winter Song”: This is a quintessential New-England-in-winter song for me. It talks about short, dreary winter days and snowstorms and hanging in there till the summer. (True, perfect fact: the Fountains guys are Williams alums just like Caroline and me.)
Band of Horses, “No One’s Gonna Love You”: Really sums up Caroline’s feelings toward Adam in the early part of the book.
Amos Lee, “Chill in the Air”: Another beautiful breakup song (in this one, it’s the steel guitar that cinches it), and a nod to Caroline’s predilection for mopey singer-songwriters. I think Amos is fantastic, but the man sure can write a good mopey song.
The Grateful Dead, “Fire on the Mountain”: This is one of my personal favorite songs that I was delighted to give to a character. I am only an entry-level Deadhead, but the guitar riff on this song is just so mellow and pretty that I could listen to it for hours. Or, you know, 13 minutes, which is the length of the longest live version of it that I own.
The Apache Relay, “Katie Queen of Tennessee”: Very pretty little love song from one of Jonathan’s favorite bands.
Jo Dee Messina, “Downtime”: Ruby wasn’t kidding that Jo Dee is the queen of upbeat breakup anthems. I’ve always loved this song because it’s about the process of recovering yourself while you get over a breakup, which is really what the book is about. I especially love the line where she says “Your memory’s taking second to a good book and a nice, long bath.”
Duke Ellington, “Jeep’s Blues”: this piece gets a very specific call-out in the book because good lord, is it sexy. I’ve always thought blues is the sexiest music there is. (And this stood me in good stead when one of the questions on my online dating survey was “What’s your favorite music to get you in the mood” and I referenced something about one of the Allman Brothers barn-burners, which impressed the musician who is now my husband.)
Rodgers & Hart, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”: I have an Ella Fitzgerald recording of this song that is one of my favorite all-time pieces of music. Ella’s voice is so beautiful, and the song’s lyrics have this sly, witty charm that—yes, I sound like an old person—you so rarely find anymore. “I’m wild again, beguiled again, a simpering, whimpering child again…” It’s such a great description of being infatuated.
First Aid Kit, “Emmylou”: Stunning harmonies in this song, and sweet, upbeat lyrics that remind me of Caroline and Neil. Especially where she says “I’m not asking much of you, just sing, little darling, sing with me” and “Things just don’t grow if you don’t bless them with your patience.”
A native of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Bethany Chase headed to Williams College for an English degree and somehow came out the other side an interior designer. When she’s not writing or designing, you can usually find her in a karaoke bar. She lives with her lovely husband and occasionally psychotic cat in Brooklyn, three flights up. This is her first novel.
Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn’t lead more different lives. Poppy is a troubled teen: moving from school to school, causing chaos wherever she goes, never making friends or lasting connections. Ember is a young witch, struggling to find a place within her coven and prove her worth. Both are outsiders: feeling like they don’t belong and seeking escape.
Poppy and Ember soon become friends, and secretly share knowledge of their two worlds. Little do they know that destiny has brought them together: an ancient prophecy, and a life-changing betrayal. Growing closer, they begin to understand why they’ve never belonged and the reason they are now forever connected to each other.
Switched at birth by the scheming witch Raven Hawkweed, Poppy and Ember must come to terms with their true identities and fight for their own place in the world. Enter Leo, a homeless boy with a painful past who – befriending them both – tests their love and loyalty. Can Poppy and Ember’s friendship survive? And can it withstand the dark forces that are gathering?
This book was a mixed bag for me. On the plus side, The Hawkweed Prophecy grabbed me from the very beginning and kept my interest all the way through. I loved the witchy feel; it was unique, secretive, creepy, and otherworldly. It also celebrated the bonds of friendship and sisterhood. I was intrigued by Ember, Poppy, and Leo, and how their lives were intertwined. It was at times sweet and very sad. There were quite a few characters that all had interesting, complicated parts to play.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a complete emotional connection to the characters, which is where I got lost. Plenty scenes made me emotional, and I felt emotion between the characters themselves- love, jealousy, betrayal, loss…. but not between them and me. It’s hard to explain. There were also a few really disturbing sequences that bummed me out, but the writing is great and it worked for the story. The word choice throughout the book was precise and evoked so many senses and details. There is quite a bit of action in the second half while the majority of The Hawkweed Prophecy is very character driven.
It’s going to be a great book for fall. I could see glimmers of the strangeness of The Raven Boys, the witchiness of Unspoken and Beautiful Creatures, the curses and sisterhood of Practical Magic, and the creepiness of The Glass Casket. The book lost some luster for me in the middle and I wish I personally felt more connection, but I’m glad I picked it up at BEA.
Is this book on your Fall TBR? If you’ve read it already, what did you think?
But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.
Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.
Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.
Six Californian teens have powers like super heroes only not, which is why they call themselves The Zeroes. Their quirky dysfunctional group consists of:
Ethan (a.k.a. Scam) whose power affectionately is known as “The Voice”, can scam Ethan out of any situation, or into the arms of any girl. The Voice knows things about people even they don’t know.
Kelsie (a.k.a. Mob) has the ability to project her feelings into a crowd, so when she is happy and upbeat, so is everyone around her, but when she is sad or angry…so is everyone around her.
Riley (a.k.a. Flicker) is blind, as in she can not see, with her own eyes that is. Flicker has the ability to use the eyes of those around her to navigate through her surroundings.
Chizara (a.k.a. Crash) has the ability to shut down any electronic device in her general vicinity including cell phone towers, medical equipment and cars that heavily rely on electronics to operate.
Nate (a.k.a. Bellwether) has the ability to bend the will of individual people as well as groups of people and crowds, he is also the groups leader.
Thibault (a.k.a. Anonymous) Thibault’s ability is to remain unmemorable to everyone he meets. You could see him walk into your house and rob you but moments later you’ll have forgotten he existed.
After a year of not speaking, the Zeroes are thrust back together when Scam’s Voice gets him into some big trouble with some major mobsters; he accidentally stole a duffel bag full of money. Once Scam discovers the money, he decides the only way to hide it is to deposit it into the bank. Wouldn’t you know it, the bank gets robbed while Scam is waiting his turn in line flirting with a girl. Since someone triggered the silent alarm and the bank vault wasn’t unlocked as planned, the bank robbers decide to start taking money and jewelry from the hostages. Just before a robber tries to look into Scam’s bag, Scam unleashes The Voice on him and turns all the robbers against each other ending the robbery with gunshots and a dead robber. This is only the beginning of Scams troubles as he is hauled down to the police station for questioning. The story plays out as expected, the Zeroes come up with a plan and they begin to execute it but mobsters and police detectives keep getting in the way.
Told from 6 POV’s, I was pretty confused at the beginning of the book, especially because each chapter is named for it’s characters code name. For example: the first three chapters are called Scam then the fourth is called Mob. It doesn’t become clear until later that Scam and Mob are characters in the story.
I enjoyed this book for several reasons but I really like the zero vs hero storyline, it was different. The group has the ability to help people, they just lack the knowledge to make it happen without hurting themselves or others. Though I gave the book 4 stars, I did think it was unnecessarily long. I would have enjoyed reading more about characters individually. I’m not sure if this is a stand alone or not but it could definitely be made into a series and I would probably read the next installment.
Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.
When I first opened the ARC of The Girls and read the editorial note from Random House (it basically says the book is amazing and the editor couldn’t put it down) I thought “yeah, that’s what they all say”. Then I flipped the page and began reading, before I knew it I was half way through the book, completely entranced. On the back of the book there is a blurb that says something about “Clines first novel…” I kept thinking there was no way this is a debut author, NO WAY! I love the way Cline writes, she is such an amazing story teller. I don’t consider myself a picky reader by any means, but if a book doesn’t move quickly, if something doesn’t grab my attention in the first 50-60 pages, I’m out. I don’t want to sit and read about nothing, I want to be intrigued, mystified, scared SOMETHING or I will simply put the book down and never think of it again. The Girls is not a fast paced book, but Cline gives you just enough from chapter to chapter to make you want more. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about cults and susceptibility of impressionable young girls, myself at that age, the shit I got myself into, what I did to feel like I belonged. I even spent a few hours down a Charles Manson rabbit hole, then a few hours down a Emma Cline rabbit hole as well. I was VERY excited to discover this will not be a stand alone novel, it has been bought (for a very handsome sum) to be a three book deal including a second novel and a short-story collection.
As it turns out, the Random House editor (Kate Medina) was right (are you surprised? Me either.) This book is unputdownable. It’s weird too because this novel isn’t that surprising really, we all know what happens in cults, we know how crazy it was in 60’s, yet there is something about the way Cline develops the story of these women, their bond, the friendships, it’s simply amazing. I drank the Kool-Aid and I think you should too!
The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.
Like that could go wrong.
This book was so unexpectedly delightful!!! My Lady Jane KNOWS that it’s twisting history and winks at that, which allowed me to get swept up in the story and the characters without constantly comparing it to actual historical events. Comical, fantastical, romantical really is the best way to describe it, like the blurb says. It was refreshing to know that you had no idea how the story would end and that a happily ever after of some sort might be possible.
I loved the three POV characters, and Jane’s obsession with books in particular! She’s a true book nerd like the rest of us. Edward, Gifford, and Jane were easy to tell apart while reading (I still don’t know which author wrote which POV though!!!), but the chapters are nicely labeled for you just in case.
Their stories twist and dovetail in ways I didn’t expect, and even though it’s a meaty book, the pacing is great. You really feel for Edward, and Jane and Gifford have the BEST bantery romance. It feels very Austen-y.
All three have strong character traits and personalities, and I also liked getting glimpses of other historical figures such as Edward’s half sisters Elizabeth and Mary.
I also loved how the fantasy element was woven into the story! Instead of religious factions, you have magic: shape shifters (Edians) vs non-shifters. Some people can shift into an animal form, while others can’t; furthermore, some can control their shifting, while it only happens to others in moments of emotional distress. It lent an air of absurdity and humor to a serious topic (prejudice), while still staying in the framework of the religious wars that swept across 16th century England.
My Lady Jane is very funny, very charming, and has some really excellent romances and action scenes, along with narrator asides (I loved the dry humor). It’s silly in a clever way. I had so much fun reading it! There were also quite a few wink wink pop culture references, including my favorite: “Frying pans, who knew?” :D It really is a book in the spirit of The Princess Bride. And it’s a Tudor book without being a Tudor book. I highly recommend it for fans of history and comedy and smiling while you read :)
New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession
In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she's the person Quinn thought she knew.
Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.
As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl's spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.
I’ve had a few Mary Kubica’s books on my TBR for a while now, so when this one came across my desk, I decided to give it a try. The book is broken up into days Sunday through Thursday (when Esther goes missing) and told in alternating points of view between Quinn and Alex.
Quinn wakes up on a Sunday morning to find her roommate Esther missing. With her bedroom window open and her alarm blaring, Esther is no where to be found. Whats more odd is her purse and phone are still at home. Even though Quinn knows something is wrong, she isn’t quite sure what to do and when the police tell her she has to wait to file a missing persons report, Quinn decides to start her own investigation. Ransacking Esther’s room Quinn discovers things about Esther’s past that makes her begin to question her own safety.
Alex was supposed to be starting college this year but he has to stay behind and take care of his alcoholic father. He works at the diner in town and knows mostly everyone who comes in, except the mysterious brunette who always sits by the window and watches the houses across the street. Alex becomes obsessed, he can’t stop thinking about her and even waits hours after his shift end just to catch a glimpse of her. When he does end up finding the mystery girl, she’s in an abandoned house across the street from his own house. The more Alex gets to know the woman, the more mysterious she becomes, and when he discovers who she really is, his whole world comes crashing down.
I enjoyed reading Don’t You Cry, it was very well written and fun to read. The way Kubica weaves the story and the character had me running in circles trying to figure out what was really going on. I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good mystery, it’s not too scary or gory, and I love the creepy-ish cover!
In New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby’s brand new series, five best friends open a hot new restaurant, but one of them gets much more than she bargained for when a sexy former rock star walks through the doors—and into her heart.
Seduction is quickly becoming the hottest new restaurant in Portland, and Addison Wade is proud to claim 1/5 of the credit. She’s determined to make it a success and can’t think of a better way to bring in new customers than live music. But when former rock star Jake Keller swaggers through the doors to apply for the weekend gig, she knows she’s in trouble. Addie instantly recognizes him—his posters were plastered all over her bedroom walls in high school—he’s all bad boy...exactly her type and exactly what she doesn’t need.
Jake Keller walked away from the limelight five years ago and yearns to return to what’s always driven him: the music. If he gets to work for a smart-mouthed, funny-as-hell bombshell, all the better. But talking Addie into giving him the job is far easier than persuading her that he wants more than a romp in her bed. Just when she begins to drop her walls, Jake’s past finally catches up with him.
Will Addie be torn apart once again or will Jake be able to convince her to drown out her doubts and listen to her heart?
I picked a copy of this book at ALAMW in Boston this January. I was browsing the HarperCollins booth when the cover instantly caught my eye. I picked it up, read the synopsis, and knew I HAD to get myself a copy. Sadly, they were not giving them out at that moment, so it kind of put a damper on my instabook high (yes, I just made this term up). Luckily for me, they put out A TON of them later on, and I made sure all my friends had this book on their radar and got themselves a copy too.
I’m happy to report that I was not let down! Listen to Me has really great, fleshed out characters. It’s the first book in a series, so we meet everyone, but it didn’t feel like a set-up for the others which happens quite often with first books in series.
Addison and Jake have really great chemistry from the start. Their banter was really great, as she is a smart-ass and he has this charming-cocky thing going on. I will admit I found some parts cheesy at times, like that song toward the end… I was also disappointed with their conflict and breakup/makeup toward the end because it felt so overblown. Neither of these things were enough to make an impact on my overall experience though, so still very much recommend you read it!
These two start out as friends but that quickly turns into more, and things got reeeeeeally steamy. This book turned out to be a lot racier than I was expecting! Not that that’s a bad thing, but I thought I should mention it in case it’s helpful to others. I liked that he was bossy in bed but a total sweetheart all the other times. That’s how all guys should me, amirite?! ;)
Addison runs a restaurant with her four best friends, and these girls are AWESOME. I loved all their scenes together, but there’s this one where they get drunk and that was my favorite because their dialogue was so funny.
I can’t wait to read each of other girls’ books but I may pick up Kristen Proby’s other books in the meantime because I enjoyed her writing very much.
About Kristen Proby
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Kristen Proby is the author of the bestselling With Me In Seattle and Love Under the Big Sky series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong, humorous characters with a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type; fiercely protective and a bit bossy, and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves. Kristen lives in Montana, where she enjoys coffee, chocolate and sunshine. And naps.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.
In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.
Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.
Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever
Let me start by saying I waited for this book for what seemed like forever! It was on my list of books to grab at BEA last year, and when I didn’t get it I was pretty sad. Then I heard Alexandra Bracken was going to be at Y’ALL Fest (which is a mere 8 hr drive) I knew I had to go in hopes of getting this ARC…and I GOT ONE! I only had to stand in line for four hours but it was totally worth it!
I have to admit, the beginning moved more slowly than I usually like in a book. Etta is lives in current day New York as is preparing for a big concert, as she plays her piece, she is drawn to a noise only she can hear. When she investigates the noise, she is suddenly transported back in time. She finds herself onboard a ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in 1776, she’s in strange clothing and dripping wet with no recollection of how she got there.
It is on the ship she meets Nicholas, a teen about her age but from a completely different time. When it comes to Nicholas though, I kept going back and forth: I like him, I hate him…nope I like him, he means well…uh no he doesn’t…back and forth. I’ve decided I like him. (I think).
While on the ship, Etta learns she comes from a magical family that can time travel. Can you imagine? How cool would that be!? She also learns that she’s been kidnapped by a man called Cyrus (who I think of as The Grandfather) an old man who is the head of the family, the leader if you will.
Now that Etta knows who she is and what she has to do, the adventure really begins! Together her and Nicholas must find the only remaining astrolabe, the magical object used to create new portals, if Etta doesn’t find the astrolabe and return it to Cyrus someone Etta loves will die.
I’m telling you…this is the good stuff! Etta travels from Bhutan 1910, New York in 1776, 1940’s London, 1685 Angkor, Paris 1880 and Damascus in 1599. Each place she visits she gets closer and closer to the astrolabe and each place she visits she encounters people who want the astrolabe for themselves.
Now this book is well over 400 pages so it’s not a quick read, and the beginning is slow to get started but don’t discount Passenger just yet. Once you get started and the time traveling really begins, you won’t want to put it down!
About Alexandra Bracken
Alexandra Bracken is the New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds and Never Fade. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved east to study history and English at the College of William&Mary in Virginia. Alex now lives in New York City, where you can find her hard at work on her next novel in a charming little apartment that’s perpetually overflowing with books.
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
The basics: Starflight is exciting, action packed, with a great cast of characters and a cool, different sort of sci fi setting!
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book considering that sci-fi is not my go-to genre! But with that gorgeous cover and enticing description, I couldn’t resist. You’re thrown right into the action and into Solara’s predicament which is the best way to start a book; it’s fast paced throughout without sacrificing world-building or character arcs.
I think my favorite aspect of Starflight’s world was that Earth hadn’t been decimated by aliens, or beset by a natural disaster; humans weren’t forced to flee their home planet. It feels like a few hundred years in the future, if space exploration was driven by the discovery of new fuels and metals. Texas still exists for example, but you can also travel to other planets and the outer rim; you can rub elbows with alien species but it all feels wonderfully familiar.
The technology is newer (and cooler), the world is larger, but you can picture our future evolving this way. No WALL-E environmental disasters or 5th Wave apocalypses here. There are still reasons to leave Earth but it’s the familiar economical and classes struggles… IN SPACE! It made it feel different from other sci fi settings I’ve read. This isn’t the end of the world, but more like exploration, going out to conquer the unknown while keeping a home base.
The other thing I loved was the mix of characters. Solara is really awesome, sort of a Cinder-meets-Jack Sparrow and Doran is the wooooorst at first (but handsome of course). But like all awesome romances and character arcs, there is more to each of them than what appears and I loved the slow burn move from loathing to begrudging friendship and attraction. Landers did an excellent job of making you actually like Doran and it was interesting to learn about Solara’s past.
I haven’t watched Firefly (something I need to remedy) but from what I know of the show, I think the comparison is right on. There’s a Guardians of the Galaxy-meets- Star Wars Rebels vibe (sans aliens), this hodge podge of personalities on the ship that Solara and Doran find themselves on, and it leads to some great moments. I loved how they worked together and fought like a family.
There’s a hilarious carnival scene on a distant planet, a bloody fistfight for a pirate bride, politics, a few twists, lots of secrets, and a lot of close calls. The entire book was exciting, filled with tension and breakneck pacing; you could feel the authorities and space pirates breathing down their necks!
My main complaint is that the last quarter of the book felt a little rushed, and the twists stretched the bounds of believability. It was a bit cliche. At the same time, the book was funny, a little sexy, and entertaining enough that I could excuse its faults and roll with the story.
Starflight is a standalone but there is a companion novel coming out next year; the characters it will feature weren’t my favorites but I think their story could be compelling so I’m interested to see where it will go and what other characters might show up! If you want rip roaring action (in space), laaaadies kicking ass (in space), kissing (in space), and don’t mind a cliche here and there, read Starflight! You won’t be disappointed.
About Melissa Landers
Melissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her husband and three kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.”
When Chris wakes up tied to a chair in a dark basement, he knows that he's trapped—and why. He shot and killed Derek's little brother. He had his reasons, but no matter how far Derek goes to uncover the truth about that night, Chris's story won't change. It can't. There is far too much at stake…
Derek is desperate to prove his brother didn't deserve to die. And if kidnapping his brother's killer is the only way to the truth, than he'll go to extremes. But Chris's truth is far more dangerous than Derek could have imagined, and knowing could cost both their lives…
When the story starts, Chris finds himself duct taped to a chair in a strange room with Derek, a high school drop out just out of juvie. Chris only knows who Derek is because he killed Derek’s brother in a robbery gone bad. Now Derek wants answers only Chris can give him, if he doesn’t tell the truth, Derek will cut off his fingers with a pair garden shears. After hours of interrogation, Derek finally concludes Chris is leaving something out and he escalates the situation to the next level, putting someone Chris loves in danger.
I liked the format of this book, I found it easy to follow and interesting enough to keep my attention. Told from Chris’s point of view both as the story is happening and as he walks Derek through the events of the past that led up to his brothers death. A fast paced quick read that could totally be an episode of Criminal Minds!