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: 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: 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.

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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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Blog Tour: Results May Vary by Bethany Chase | Review + Writing Playlist + Giveaway!

10th Aug 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Blog Tours, Giveaways, Guest Posts, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Tunes for Books

Blog Tour: Results May Vary by Bethany Chase | Review + Writing Playlist + Giveaway!Results May Vary by Bethany Chase
Published by Ballantine Books
Pub Date: August 9th 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Women's Fiction
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Can you ever really know the person you love?

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.

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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.”

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Giveaway

Paperback copy of RESULTS MAY VARY by Bethany Chase

 

About Bethany Chase

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.

Jess @ 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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Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

29th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Series Review

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatCaptive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: April 7th 2015
Pages: 270
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

I was beyond grateful and excited when I recived this series in the mail from Berkley publishers. I’d heard so many people just losing their minds over it. So I was ready to join in the fun. :)

Captive Prince started out really strong for me. I was instantly intrigued by this Prince (Damen) who was being carted away as a slave and being delivered into the hands of another Prince (Laurent). These guys aren’t friends, btw. Damen killed Laurent’s brother, so he’s always been out for his head, but when they finally come face to face with Damen as a slave, Laurent doesn’t know that he’s looking at his brother’s killer. Or does he?! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

I was warned that this series would be “pretty dark with some serious sexual slavery portrayals” and it was! And I think a lot of the reason why this book is my lowest rated in the series is because I felt too much time was focused on showing us how bad it was for slaves in Laurent’s kingdom when what I really wanted was just a lot of Damen and Laurent period. But I get that why it was set up this way.

Also, expect nothing to happen between these two. Settle in for the long haul. They have a lot of crap between them before anything romantic or physical can happen between the two of them.

I was worried that since I didn’t love this book I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the series, so I continued on with tamped down enthusiasm….

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatPrince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #2
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

Prince’s Gambit takes us out of the castle and into the lands and already I liked it so much better! For one, the Damen and Laurent pagetime increased, so YAY! Secondly, with their countries about to go to war, there’s so much scheming and stratergizing that goes on and I really loved that. It made it exciting again.

Something more was building between Damen and Laurent and tension started to get delicious. Will they, won’t they, WHEN, DAMMIT!! All I’ll say is, settle in for the long haul with these two, because the payoff will be worth it.

There’s also the question of will Damen reveal his identity to Laurent. It feels he’s on the cusp of it throughout the book and you won’t get an answer to that until the end either.

There’s this EPIC battle scene near the end that left me saying “whoa” and after it’s over EVERYTHING IS REVEALED! That was a scene I was so looking forward to and it left me so surprised. Definitly not what I was expecting, but in a good way.

Overall the second book made me excited to continue reading. It took away my worries that I wouldn’t enjoy the series after all.

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatKings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #3
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity - can it stand against the Regent's final, deadly play for the throne?

I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know how Damen and Laurent’s dynamic would be affected by everything being out in the open and oooooh, was it ever affected. But the best part is that even though they were at odds, they still had to work SO CLOSELY together in this one to get their countries in order and out of the hands of usurpers.

I loved that we got to see Laurent in situations where his true self could finally shine. Before this book he’d kept himself really private but I knew there was so much more to him and we finally got to see it. Damen on the other hand was always pretty much an open book throughout the series, aside from the hiding his identity thing. He never wavered, while Laurent wasn’t a sure thing. I always felt he was very cunning and would somehow betray Damen in the end. But I worried for nothing. These guys are loyal!

The ending was really gratifying and when I closed the book I was happy I’d read it and stuck with it. It’s been a very long while since I’ve binged a series like that.

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Some general thoughts on the series as a whole that I wanted to mention:

So much of the story is Damen and Laurent and their quest to take back their kingdoms… I didn’t feel like we got a good sense of what the people of thier land are like. I often wondered why it was that being love slaves was such a high regarded position, or why slavery exsisted at all. It was never really explained. And why mostly men? And why young men? There’s hardly any women in this series, and the ones we do meet aren’t that great.

Obviously none of these things affacted my overall feelings but they are thoughts I had that I wanted to share with you all.

Series Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Have you guys read this series? Is it one you’ll be reading soon? Let me know in the comments!

 

Jess @ 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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Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

13th Jun 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: The Girls by Emma ClineThe Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Random House
Pub Date: 14 June 2016
Pages: 368
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical
Goodreads
4.5 Stars

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!

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

18th May 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Don’t You Cry by Mary KubicaDon't You Cry by Mary Kubica
Published by Mira
Pub Date: May 17th 2016
Pages: 320
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

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!

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | 100% Spoiler Free!

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

Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater | 100% Spoiler Free!The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #4
Published by Scholastic
Pub Date: April 26th 2016
Pages: 438
Format: Hardcover | Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

The fourth and final installment in the spellbinding series from the irrepressible, #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love's death. She doesn't believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she's not so sure anymore.

In a starred review for Blue Lily, Lily BlueKirkus Reviews declared: "Expect this truly one-of-a-kind series to come to a thundering close."

This is probably one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write because:

  1. It’s the 4th book in a very complicated and spoilerish series.
  2. I don’t want to take away the magic of Maggie’s words before you read them.
  3. If I tell you my feelings, is that a spoiler?! I don’t know! *bites nails nervously*

Let’s continue.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Hugging Wolf

My favorite part of the experience was the thrill of reading NEW words from Maggie Stiefvater, new Raven Cycle words! I always love Maggie’s word choice and sentence structure and sense of storytelling. She has a very recognizable style. It was exciting because it’s been so long since we’ve gotten a new book and the other Raven books are so familiar to me by now.

For me, the thrill of holding and reading The Raven King felt similar to getting a brand new Harry Potter book in my hands, which is the highest praise I can give. And one feeling I never expected when I began this series. I already can’t wait to read it again because I know I raced through it, but how could I not? I NEEDED TO KNOW THINGS.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Confused

The nuance and linguistic brilliance shines through no matter how fast you read, of course, but it is a whole other animal when you have the opportunity to really sink into her words and turns of phrase. When you can see little dots connecting all over the series like its own sort of ley line. It’s very rewarding.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Happy

The Raven King is the best sort of series ender. It pulls together disparate plot points in a brilliant way and builds on the characterization we’ve come to expect from our favorite characters while allowing them to grow. Everyone was just…. more in this book. That’s the best way to put it. There is a sense of urgency and dread that isn’t lost on anyone and it makes the emotions stand out in technicolor.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan OverwhelmedGone with the Words Sebastian Stan Dancing

It was frightening at times, but also sad and humorous and tremendously lovely. There are lots of excellent otp and brotp moments. It’s full of Maggie’s wry humor; she has this magnificent way of twisting the knife in your heart while simultaneously making you grin.

AHHH. THERE IS SO MUCH I WANT TO SAYYYYYYY. It’s a tremendous five star book for me but I’ll leave it to you to glean what you want from that. There are a lot of Moments and she is able to gather her threads and knot them together in a very satisfying manner. I was content with the book individually and the series as a whole.

Gone with the Words Sebastian Stan Smiling

Now, DO NOT SPOIL IN THE COMMENTS BELOW but please let me know if you’ve read it and what you generally thought! And feel free to chat with me on twitter too!

 

About Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater

Professional novelist by day and artist by night, Maggie Stiefvater is the author of the Books of Faerie (Lament and Ballad); the bestselling Shiver trilogy (Shiver, Linger, Forever), as well as The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. Stiefvater lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children.

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

18th Apr 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Jess

Bitsy Words: Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

Bitsy Words: Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy WallachThanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Francisco Pryor Garat
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio
Pub Date: February 23rd 2016
Length: 6 hrs and 24 mins
Format: Audiobook | Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

Tommy Wallach, the New York Times bestselling author of the “stunning debut” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) We All Looked Up, delivers a brilliant new novel about a young man who overcomes a crippling loss and finds the courage to live after meeting an enigmatic girl.

“Was this story written about me?”
I shrugged.
“Yes or no?”
I shrugged again, finally earning a little scowl, which somehow made the girl even more pretty.
“It’s very rude not to answer simple questions,” she said.
I gestured for my journal, but she still wouldn’t give it to me. So I took out my pen and wrote on my palm.
I can’t, I wrote. Then, in tiny letters below it: Now don’t you feel like a jerk?

Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

From the celebrated author of We All Looked Up comes a unique story of first and last loves.

At the beginning of Thanks for the Trouble I thought we were going to have ourselves a manic-pixie-dream-girl situation on our hands, and while I’m not one to mind them as much as others, I do find them tiresome sometimes. What I ended up getting was more of a mix between a John Green novel, Tuck Everlasting, and Age of Adaline, which was not a bad thing at all.

I liked the story and thought the character of Parker was done very well. Parker has selective mutism and is pretty withdrawn and Zelda definitely helps him come closer to overcoming that. I was not expecting Zelda’s character to turn out to be more than an eccentric teenage girl, but I think that aspect added a nice surprise. I think the reason I didn’t love the book though was that I didn’t feel an emotional connection to these characters. There’s a thing that happens at the end that should have left me sad, but instead I didn’t feel anything. I loved the wonderfully written prose and that Parker is latino because we don’t see that a lot. There’s also a lot of mini-adventures that happen throughout the story that I thought were really fun.

Audiobook Notes

What really made this book for me was the narration by Francisco Pryor Garat. His accent really brought Parker to life. He had perfect timing and read at the perfect speed. (I usually have to speed up most narrators because they read too slowly.) I hope he decides to narrate more books!

 

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Listen To Me by Kristen Proby

11th Apr 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Jess

Review: Listen To Me by Kristen ProbyListen To Me by Kristen Proby
Series: Fusion #1
Published by William Morrow
Pub Date: April 12th 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Goodreads
4 Stars

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

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.

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

30th Mar 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Jess

Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff GarvinSymptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
Narrator: Tom Phelan
Published by Balzer + Bray, HarperAudio
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Length: 7 hrs and 47 mins
Format: Audiobook | Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

If I could, I’d put this book in the hands of every person, but teens especially. Symptoms of Being Human was educational without being preachy. It was relatable and funny and sad and really, really great. I loved how while you wonder if Riley was born boy or girl, by never revealing that to us, it drives the point Riley is trying to make: we’re all human and complicated and it’s never binary. Trying to figure it out is pointless, so just go with the flow and enjoy Riley’s story and message.

This is Jeff Garvin’s debut novel and he did an amazing job. The book had great characters that were well developed. There were moments where I was laughing out loud, then there’s those where I cried (at work, no less!). And there were the moments that made me angry. Intolerance is one of those things that just makes my blood boil. And not just tolerance for the LGBTQ community but race and economic status and just all the bullshit people do to others to make them feel OTHER and that they don’t belong here. I wish kindness and fairness ruled this earth but sometimes all we have the power to change is ourselves, so let’s be kind to one another!

“You know what’s messed up? People tolerate secrecy. I see it in my life. It’s like, it’s ok to have gay feelings or trans feelings or gender fluid feelings–as long as you keep them inside. As long as you don’t “act” on them. Whatever that means. People don’t condemn you for being trans. They condemn you for embracing it.”

GO OUT AND READ THIS BOOK! Or better yet, listen to the audiobook which was incredible.

Audiobook Notes

I think part of the reason this book had the effect it did on me was the amazing narration by Tom Phelan. Tom got the tone just right, but more importantly, he got Riley right. Perfect even!

Also! Pretty cool tidbit: Tom Phelan is probably best known for playing Cole, a transgender teen, on ABC’s The Fosters, a show I LOVE. (FYI – His character on that show was really moving. Check it out if you haven’t yet!)

 

About Jeff Garvin

Jeff Garvin

Before becoming a writer, Jeff Garvin acted in films and TV and was the front man of a nationally touring rock band. He has a BFA in film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts. Symptoms of Being Human is his first novel.

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Starflight by Melissa Landers

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

Review: Starflight by Melissa LandersStarflight by Melissa Landers
Series: Starflight #1
Published by Disney Hyperion
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 358
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

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

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.”

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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