Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

14th Nov 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey CoulthurstOf Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst
Published by Balzer + Bray
Pub Date: November 22nd 2016
Pages: 400
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, LGBT, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2.5 Stars

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?

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

7th Nov 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Timekeeper by Tara SimTimekeeper by Tara Sim
Series: Timekeeper #1
Published by Sky Pony Press
Pub Date: November 8th 2016
Pages: 368
Format: ARC | Source: Borrowed
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, LGBT, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Two o’clock was missing. 

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

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

5th Oct 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: The Lie Tree by Frances HardingeThe Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Published by Amulet Books
Pub Date: April 19th 2016
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

To earn a secret so profound, I would need to tell momentous lies, and make as many people as possible believe them…

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is modest and well mannered—a proper young lady who knows her place. But inside, Faith is burning with questions and curiosity. She keeps sharp watch of her surroundings and, therefore, knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing—like the real reason her family fled Kent to the close-knit island of Vane. And that her father’s death was no accident.

In pursuit of revenge and justice for the father she idolizes, Faith hunts through his possessions, where she discovers a strange tree. A tree that only bears fruit when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit, in turn, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father’s murder. Or, it might lure the murderer directly to Faith herself, for lies—like fires, wild and crackling—quickly take on a life of their own.

Faith Sunderly and her family have just moved to the remote island of Vane. They fled their former home in Kent when Faiths reverend father made a discovery at a dig site that was not received well. Faith is a 14 year old well-mannered young lady on the outside. On the inside Faith is far more interested in science than housework and she has a ton of scientific questions she is dying to find the answers too.

When her father is found dead on the island, Faith knows it was no accident and she is determined to find his killer. Though Faith has a few ideas of who would hurt her father, she has no proof. Faith begins to run out of time proving the murder. In a desperate fit, she begins to rummage through her father’s belongings and discovers his biggest secret of all, a tree. Of course this is not an ordinary old tree, this is the sole reason Faiths father was murdered. This tree has the ability to reveal a truth to you, but in exchange you must tell it a lie. Once you tell it a lie, and the lie takes hold in the community, the tree produces a red fruit. Eat the fruit and it will send you into an opiate dream-like state where the truth is finally revealed. The tree must remain in very dark conditions though and to properly care for it, Faith has to sneak out in the middle of the night and somehow avoid leading her father’s killer directly to the tree.

I ran across this book at BEA this year and immediately fell in love with the cover and the premise. I admit I did have a little trouble getting into the book, it starting out a bit slow for me. I was immediately annoyed with Faiths father and his nonchalance toward her; Harding portrays the sexism of the time in almost every chapter. It’s completely accurate but frustrating none-the-less! I love Faith and her hunger for knowledge; her fierce persistence made her a woman to be feared in her time.  I did feel like the ending was somewhat abrupt, maybe I just wanted more. I do think this could easily be made into a series, I’d love to know more about what happened to Faith!

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Surrendered by Case Maynard

4th Oct 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Surrendered by Case MaynardThe Surrendered by Case Maynard
Published by Blaze Publishing
Pub Date: September 20th 2016
Pages: 340
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

I have been on a serious contemporary binge for the last couple of months, so throwing in a dystopian, and a great one at that, was extremely refreshing! I kept picking up the book right before bedtime so it took me about 4 days to get just 10% in. Yesterday, I finally got some free time and I devoured the remaining 90% of the story!

Our main character, Vee, is a fireball and that caused for zero downtime. The Surrendered was action packed from start to finish and Case Maynard really did a great job at moving the story along. I’ll have to be honest, I didn’t go into this 340 page dystopian standalone expecting a whole lot. At most, I thought there may be a hitch or two in the plan to survive outside of the fence and that would be all. Boy was I wrong. Maynard made every single page count! She wasted no time on random story lines meant to only fluff up the book. Everything you read was something that would come to play at some point or another. To say I was impressed with the way it all wrapped up in the end is an understatement!

I think the author did a great job at explaining the world the characters are now living in. There were different jobs and titles and it was fairly easy to understand how the system worked. What I do think could’ve been done better is the description of the world itself. At times, it was hard to visualize the actual setting and I wouldn’t be able to draw a map of the town/city or what was located where. I would usually be peeved by this, but what lacked in world building was definitely made up for with the thought that went into each of the characters.

The Surrendered really made me feel. No joke: I was up at 3:30am crying, shocked, and feeling like my entire heart had been crushed into a million pieces. When Vee was hurt, I felt the pain. When she was loved, I felt the tug on my heart. When she was betrayed, I felt the betrayal! Major kudos to Case Maynard for taking risks that many other first time authors wouldn’t have! If you are looking for a quick dystopian that packs a punch, look no further and pick this one up today!

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

22nd Sep 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare BlakeThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
Series: Three Dark Crowns #1
Published by HarperTeen
Pub Date: September 20th 2016
Pages: 416
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

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.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

20th Sep 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Blog Tours, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: Heartless by Marissa MeyerHeartless by Marissa Meyer
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Pub Date: November 8th 2016
Pages: 464
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads

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.

gwtw-separate-line

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!

Enter the win-a-Tea-Party #Sweepstakes! #HeartlessCountdown http://www.thelunarchronicles.com/heartless/#Sweepstakes

 

About Marissa Meyer

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.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani + Giveaway!

2nd Sep 2016 Tamara @ Gone with the Words 2016, Giveaways, Reviews, Reviews by Tamara

Review: The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani + Giveaway!The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani
Published by SparkPress
Pub Date: 7 June 2016
Pages: 282
Format: Paperback | Source: Author
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with before he disappeared. She's being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather. And imaginary or not, they're starting to to take over her mind. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her.

The last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did. But what about the tattoo? And the aliens trying to recruit her? With her new alien-savvy friend Agatha and her apocalyptic visions, Courtney begins connecting the dots between the past, present and future—of her bloodline, and the ancient history that surrounds it. Is she going insane, like her family claims her grandfather did, or is she actually a "chosen one" with ancestral connections to another world? Either way, Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before it's too late for everyone.

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman follows Courtney through some crazy and out of this world adventures. When Courtney was seven years old her grandfather tried to drown her in a bathtub. He always spoke of aliens and people being out to get him, and after he died Courtney’s mom wrote him off as crazy. Courtney wants to think her grandfather was crazy too, except she sees the aliens too. Strange things just keep on happening to her, the aliens are visiting her in her dreams at night. So, maybe Courtney and her grandfather aren’t crazy after all. Maybe the aliens are real and it’s up to Courtney to figure out what they want.

This is a sci fi, alien story with some secret society mystery thrown in. Courtney meets a lot of interesting characters along her journey. It’s hard to know who she can and can’t trust. I trusted no one in this story. I thought everyone had ulterior motives, and didn’t know what to believe. Agatha is one of the first people Courtney meets. The aliens also visit Agatha’s brother and she looks exactly like Courtney’s imaginary friend Astra. She is the first one to believe Courtney and not write her off as crazy. All of this can’t be a coincidence.

There is a lot going on in this story and I never knew who to believe or trust. Most of all I felt bad for Courtney, being 15 years old and having to deal with all of this on her own. She isn’t just visited by aliens; she’s also alienated from her family and friends. These events keep her very isolated and alone. It’s hard for her because no one believes her and everyone just wants her to act normal.

The major thing I disliked about this book was Courtney’s mother. I know she’s not supposed to be likable but she was awful to an extreme. She treats Courtney like a nuisance. She believes her daughter is mentally ill and she is constantly shaming her for it or threatening to lock her up in an asylum. She seems to have no desire to actually help Courtney; she just wants her to shut up and act normal. She drove me crazy!

The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman is a great sci fi adventure with some conspiracy thrown into the mix. The bad guys are easy to root against and I found myself rooting for Courtney to figure out this mystery and finally find her place in the world.

I was lucky enough to receive a signed finished copy of this book from the author to giveaway to one lucky reader!

Giveaway

Signed paperback of The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani

 

 

Tamara @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull

9th Aug 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena BrignullThe Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull
Published by Weinstein Books
Pub Date: September 6th 2016
Pages: 368
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

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?

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

15th Jul 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley

Bitsy Words: Dating Sarah Cooper by Siera MaleyDating Sarah Cooper by Siera Maley
Published by Author
Pub Date: July 30th 2014
Pages: 242
Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Katie Hammontree and Sarah Cooper have been best friends since the 2nd grade. Katie's welcoming, tight-knit family is a convenient substitute for Sarah when her distant parents aren't around, and Sarah's abrasive, goal-oriented personality gels well with Katie's more laid-back approach to life.
But when a misunderstanding leads to the two of them being mistaken for a couple and Sarah uses the situation to her advantage, Katie finds herself on a roller coaster ride of ambiguous sexuality and confusing feelings. How far will Sarah go to keep up the charade, and why does kissing her make Katie feel more alive than kissing her ex-boyfriend Austin ever did? And how will their new circle of gay friends react when the truth comes out?

This is the kind of fluff I’m always looking for! I read Dating Sarah Cooper in about 4 hours and I really loved it. First of all, Katie and Sarah are extremely likeable despite the very unlikeable fake dating scenario they find themselves in at the start of the book. I loved their voices (especially Sarah) and I really liked the other characters as well. Not all of them were super fleshed out but there’s a good bit of “more than meets the eye” going on.

 

I also adored Katie’s parents and how close and supportive they were of her. One of my favorite scenes is when they reassure her they’ve always “known” about Katie because Katie isn’t even sure what she knows about herself! It was very sweet, but also kind of hilarious and a good turning point. Their quarterly family date night was such a fun idea too!

Not being LGBT myself (but knowing this book comes highly recommended from people who are), I thought Dating Sarah Cooper did a really wonderful job of exploring sexuality, prejudice, and how that all gets confused and fits into high school life. I loved watching Katie’s journey especially, the way she explained and sorted through her feelings, and gosh, this book was just CUTE ok!?! And had some very swoony kissing and really nice friendships. I totally loved it.

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Giveaway: Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

13th Jul 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Giveaways

Giveaway: Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Giveaway: Afterward by Jennifer MathieuAfterward by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press
Pub Date: September 20th 2016
Pages: 320
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads

When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.

Friends!! Happy Wednesday! Today the wonderful Jennifer Mathieu is sponsring a great giveaway of her upcoming novel, Afterward, along with some cool swag!

 

ARC of AFTERWARD by Jennifer Mathieu Giveaway

 

Good luck!

 

 

About Jennifer Mathieu

Jennifer Mathieu

Jennifer Mathieu started writing stories when she was in kindergarten and now teaches English to middle and high school students. She won the Teen Choice Debut Author Award at the Children’s Choice Book Awards for her first novel, The Truth About Alice. She is also the author of Devoted and Afterward. She lives in Texas with her husband, son, dog, and two cats. Read about her books on her website!

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Summer After You And Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

11th Jul 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: The Summer After You And Me by Jennifer Salvato DoktorskiThe Summer After You and Me by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: May 5th 2015
Pages: 306
Format: eBook | Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Goodreads
4 Stars

Will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances?

For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn't just the perfect summer escape, it's home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can't help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.

Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy's summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.

The Summer After You and Me was such a delightful way to kick off the summer! I really enjoyed it. I grew up 5 minutes from the Jersey Shore myself, about an hour north of the town the book is set in, and it brought back all of these beach memories :)

The book takes place not long after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, so there is definitely a somber tone throughout that’s balanced by the feeling of hope in the air. The town is rebuilding, everyone’s working to get back on their feet; it’s not without setbacks, but Seaside Park is getting there.

I really liked Lucy a lot; her interest in marine life and her academic drive coupled with her love of her hometown was refreshing! I loved her inner monologue, her love of the ocean, and her varied interests. I also loved her relationships with the people in her life. There was a lot of drama, included love triangles, but it felt like very realistic teenage drama. The ache of having seasonal friends, fighting with your parents, growing pains within your friend group, feeling replaced, realizing that you and your boyfriend might not have been meant to be more than best friends, competing with your sibling, and all the other stress that goes along with being in high school.

The thing I liked most is that everyone has these moments where they realize people make mistakes. And it takes work to get relationships back on track but it was refreshing to see them apologize to each other, to be mature and really work on their friendships.

Sometimes the dialogue was cheesy and oh gosh years of missed opportunities is the worst, but the romance was also very sweet although I can’t say I shipped anything very much. I did like Connor and the shared history between him and Lucy. Sometimes the flashbacks got confusing and I couldn’t tell whether I was reading about present day or not.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book to contemporary fans. It wasn’t earth-shattering but I could feel the ocean breeze and smell the boardwalk food. It has a unique New Jersey flavor mixed with summer romance and real relationships between family and friends, which was very appealing.

Have you read TSAYAM yet? What other summer books do you love? And have you ever been “down the shore”? Let me know in the comments!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller + Giveaway!

30th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Giveaways, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Tunes for Books

Bitsy Words: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller + Giveaway!

Bitsy Words: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller + Giveaway!The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback | Genres: New Adult, Romance, Suspense, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

From critically-acclaimed author Trish Doller comes a powerful new psychological page-turner perfect for fans of Lauren Oliver and Sara Zarr.

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving--the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

The Devil You Know was just released in paperback and since I’ve read AND listened to the audiobook and have yet to post a review for it, I thought now would be a great time to do so, PLUS offer my friends a chance to win a copy!

Trish Doller delivers the perfect Summer suspense beach read in The Devil You Know. Not only is it a page-turner, it’s also SEXY AS HELL. Trish gives us TWO hot guys in this book, but only one of them is a good guy… the other one could turn out to be a straight up killer. DUN DUN DUUUUUN.

I love Trish’s writing. It’s always so lush and atmospheric. I could literally picture the outdoors in this one, as well as feel that humid heat. Grant it, the humidity is not a stretch for me to imagine considering I live in it here in Texas, but she made it to where you’ll feel it anywhere you live.

Audiobook lovers!

I re-read this through audio and OMG, IT WAS FANTASTIC! The audiobook only builds on the suspense in the story. The performance by Susannah Jones was spot on. I highly recommend you listen to this book.

Trish also has some really great visuals and music to go along with The Devil You Know
 

 

Giveaway

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller – Paperback Giveaway!

 

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

27th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 496
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, LGBT, Retelling, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. 

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

And I Darken was incredible. I thought this was amazing alternate history because it felt SO real. Kiersten White took details of real countries, people, religions, and politics and twisted them just so. And the characters! Oh my god. From the opening pages, you are painted a very stark picture of brutal Lada and her scared little brother Radu. They ensnared me immediately. But as with any good story there are layers and twists in every relationship. It’s all so complicated in the best way, sometimes loving and sometimes toxic. 

The story is definitely slower paced but not boring; this is a long haul kind of story and we’re setting the scene. The political machinations, the attention paid to religion, and the moral grayness of characters, the sometimes Machiavellian attitudes, really do bring A Game of Thrones to mind. Every action has a reaction. I also loved the diversity in every aspect, from culture (Turkish/Wallachian/Ottoman/etc) to religion (I learned a lot about Islam!) to sexuality (an unexpected but very welcome surprise). Everything was woven into the story seamlessly. I can’t say enough about the writing, I thought it was wonderful. White really knows how to weave a complicated web.

There are also some excellent kisses, a few ships, and some complicated romances, though not in the ways you might expect (no spoilers here!). It was also interesting to watch how Lada and Radu’s characters shifted over time, learning to soften and strengthen in turn.

The book faltered slightly in the middle just because it is a looong book and it can’t keep up the pacing the whole time. And it some ways I expected plots that happened later in Lada/Vlad’s life. But where the story leaves you is perfect and I can’t wait to follow Lada, Radu, and Mehmed to see how their lives intertwine; loyalty (to family, to yourself, to your country) are big themes throughout. If you love historical fiction, and a lot of political cleverness mixed with action, violence, and romance in a non-Western setting, you should read And I Darken.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

24th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon ThomasA Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #1
Published by HarperTeen
Pub Date: February 24th 2015
Pages: 337
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I enjoyed A Wicked Thing a lot! It was the perfect fairy tale feel that I’m always looking for and I loved the twist, thinking about what would happen to Sleeping Beauty when she woke up. It was well done and felt believable. I really liked the setting at the castle, and the snippets of history, as well as watching Aurora come to terms with her predicament. I loved Aurora as a character but I didn’t feel very connected to anyone else. Rodric is sweet but bland, the king is cliche, and I’m verrrry interested in Finnegan but he was almost too smooth. Banter is always a plus, though. I also wish more happened but it did get exciting in the second half. I can’t wait to read the sequel! Overall, I loved the detailed setting, Aurora’s love of books, and the language; I just wanted more connection to the characters (aside from Aurora, who I thought was fleshed out nicely). If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, it’s worth a shot!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

17th Jun 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah BiancottiZeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
Series: Zeroes #1
Published by Simon Pulse
Pub Date: September 29th 2015
Pages: 546
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Don’t call them heroes.

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.

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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