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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Release & Review - The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: The Way You Make Me Feel
Author: Maurene Goo
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: May 8th, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
 
From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.


Buy Links: Amazon


3.5. "KoBra" Stars

ARC via NetGalley.

Thank you, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

First of all, I'm a little late with this review, but I'm totally blaming life for that one. *hides behinds hands*

I was super excited to get a chance to read this book because OMG, a half-Brazilian main character. I didn't even mind that this wasn't written by a Brazilian author (at least I haven't found any info saying the author is Brazilian) because I thought the representation was pretty decent.

Clara and her parents had some moments that were just bold and loud and charming in a Brazilian way. Clara wasn't an easy character to get behind because she was a little extra, but she was full of life and had a bold sense of humor, which is something that immediately makes me think of my people. Plus, she ate fried-egg sandwiches and drank caldo de cana, which will always be a BR thing for me. I love those things and I'm hungry just thinking about them, by the way.


As far as I'm concerned, the rep of different cultures was of this book's best features. Clara was half-Korean and, although I can't say I know much about Korean culture, I could still tell the elements were well represented. And the diversity didn't stop with the main character. We had a strong, smart and amazing young black woman with a beautiful and well-structured family. A cute Chinese guy who was an absolute dream. And smart talks about diversity and feminism. I really, really loved all of that.

Something I also adored was Clara's relationship with her Dad. They had a strong bond that was built founded in friendship and freedom and respect. Clara did break some of that respect toward the end, but it felt like a necessary step so she could see and appreciate her father, who was a great man. I'm a little in love with Clara's father and I don't care.


My third favorite thing about this book was Clara and Rose's friendship. It started out with Clara annoying me for being unfair to Rose, but it developed into a beautiful bond between these girls that were nothing like each other. Rose learned how to let go a little with Clara, and she learned to take things a little more seriously with Rose. They complemented each other and I can see that friendship lasting for a long time.

As to Hamlet, the love interest, all I have to say is: ADORBS!!! TOTALLY ADORBS!!!

Now, to the thing I wished had been handled better: Clara's friendship with Felix and Patrick. I understand growing up and changing can lead people to drift apart from old friends and find new ones, but I didn't approve of the way Clara did this. It often felt like she was becoming "too good" for the guys who used to hang out with her before, and she treated them poorly instead of being honest with them. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

I also had a hard time buying how Clara's dad simply left two teenagers in charge of his food truck for so long without supervision after they had just started working there. It sounded a little immature and not believable, considering he had high hopes for his food business.

Having said that, The Way You Make Me Feel turned out to be a fun read with a main character that is so out there she made me laugh out loud a few times; tons of Brazilian references that actually made sense (not something I see often in books); food that made my mouth water; amazing friendship and cute romance; and a father-daughter relationship that was goals and made me tear up. The book had a slower start, but after the 50% mark it really won me over. 


*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.


Friday, May 04, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
(A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Age Category/Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we'd have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I'd now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.



Buy Links: Amazon


4.5 "I missed you" Stars

I can't remember this person's name, but one reviewer said it perfectly: reading A Court of Frost and Starlight was like being reunited with friends and family. As strange as it may sound considering we're talking about faeries, these people are my own. Reading this series feels like being home.

A Court of Frost and Starlight was a prologue I didn't know I needed. There are no battles or complicated plot choices, despite giving hints of what will come next in the series. Instead, there are many scenes with my favorite characters and tons of FEELS.

It shows Freyre and Rhys' much-deserved happy life, and there are no words to explain how happy that makes me.


I'm glad to announce I'm still very much in love with my OTP, and very much in love with Rhysand. I don't care that he's freaking perfect. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't make me roll my eyes. It brings nothing but pure joy. 


So this book gave me exactly what I needed when it came to Rhys and Freyre. It was swoon-worthy and sexy and perfect and food for my shipping soul. That is all.

And when the inner circle got together to drink, exchange gifts, tease each other, I just LIVED. It was everything. EVERYTHING.


A Court of Frost and Starlight also made me feel things other than happy.

It made me frustrated and angry, but passionate about Cassian and Nesta (as if I wasn't passionate about those two enough)


It left me sad and heartbroken for both Lucien and Az (when it comes to Mor)! Damn, that hurt.


And super confused (and hopeful) when it came to Az and Elain!!


And then, OMG, Tamlin. This should hurt less. Knowing what he did, this should have hurt a lot less, but it didn't. I know, I know. There's no excuse for what he did to Freyre and Rhysand's family. There simply isn't. I wish that could make me feel the way Freyre does, but I hurt for him. The things he had and lost (his own fault, I know) have broken him, and that's tough to watch. 


Well, whatever. All I'm saying is, Sarah J. Maas can make me feel more with a novella in this series than many stories can accomplish after three hundred pages. That is all.

Side note: Why are all the covers in this series so perfect?

Side note 2: The last book I gave full five stars was A Court of Wings and Ruin. I'm shocked.

Side note 3: How am I supposed to wait for the next book now? *cries*
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Release & Review - Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

Title: Song of Blood & Stone
(Earthsinger Chronicles #1)
Author: L. Penelope
Age Category/Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

From the very first pages of her debut, L. Penelope delivers as a new force in the fantasy genre. The first book in the historical fantasy Earthsinger series was originally self-published, earning a quick fan base, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Publishing Award and a starred Publishers Weekly review calling it a “fantastic opening to a promising series”. Now traditionally published to kick off the new series, SONG OF BLOOD & STONE (St. Martin’s Press; May 1, 2018) is a treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. With the world building of Brandon Sanderson, the romance of Ilona Andrews, the epic quest of Lord of the Rings, and the doomed star-crossed love of Romeo & Juliet, the start of the Earthsinger series has something to keep any reader entranced for books to come.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it's people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

As a reader, it’s not common to come across a truly original world, but Penelope manages to do just that in SONG OF BLOOD & STONE. In the vein of Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings, Penelope “shines a bright light into epic fantasy” (Booklist) and bridges the gap between the world of romance and fantasy. Inspired by religion and folklore, Penelope develops the start to what will be a series that will take readers by a storm.



Goodreads

Buy Link: Amazon


CHAPTER TWO

Jackal and Monkey stood at the edge of a wide canyon. Monkey asked, If I leap and make it to the other side, was that my destiny or merely my good luck?
Jackal replied, Our destiny can be taken in hand, molded, and shaped, while chance makes foolishness out of whatever attempts to control it. Does this make destiny the master of luck?

—collected folktales

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty­two­year rec­ ord for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldnt be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty­third year.
The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­ saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts.
His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kick­ ing in, his muscle memory ofended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?
Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle.
The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appea ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.
“Please dont be scared, he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . . He struggled with how to explain hi self.
There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth.
You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, theyre not far, but . . . He paused to take a breath; the efort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ ant to look at.
He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­ sion was not complete; he could not die yet. Can you help me? Please. Ive got to get back to Elsira.
She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him.
You must be delirious. Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.
It probably looks worse than it is, he said. I doubt that.
Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again. “The soldiers . . . theyre after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”

“Shh, she said, peering closely at him. Hush all that foolis ness; youre not in your right mind. Though Ill admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. Im not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.
She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadnt been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless.
He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. Sovereign bless you.
Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. Its just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. Itd take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storms coming. You need to find shelter.”
She retrieved a jar filled with a sweesmelling substance and began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.
What is that?”
“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts. Her hand paused for a moment. Never gunshot wounds, but its worth a try.
He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. A quick rest and Ill be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.
“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”

Yes. Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.




3 “Earthsong” Stars

ARC via NetGalley

Thank you, St. Martin's Press

I'm always excited to see New Adult Fantasy books with lots of romance, so this seemed right up my alley. And while it didn't make me fall as madly in love with it as I had hoped, it was still a entertaining read.

Song of Blood & Stone creates an interesting and unique world with magic, guns instead of swords, and a World War feel to it (hard to explain how I got that reference, though. LOL). In this world, we have Jasmine and Jack; the two main characters who meet in a difficult situation and fall in love while trying to save their kingdom.

Both Jasmine and Jack are Elsira, but Jasmine doesn't look like the rest of her people. The daughter of a Lagamiri man, she has his darker skin and his ability to use magic. It also doesn't help her situation that the Elsira and the Lagamiri have been at war for years, with the Lagamiri tyrant looking for the perfect opportunity to cross the border and take over. Due to all of that, Jasmine has to deal with racism from her people while trying to find a way to protect them.

Racism, oppresion, the struggles of birracial kids and refugees are just some of the important themes in this story, and I thought they were mostly handled well. In a lighter tone, the romance was one of the main attractions of this book. The relationship between Jasmine and Jack was both sweet and sexy. As I said before, this falls in the new adult category, so expect explicit steamy scenes.

On top of liking them together, I liked Jack and Jasmine as individuals. Jasmine was a strong heroine who had to overcome a lot of guilt and prejudice to help the people who looked down on her; and Jack was one of those kind kind and respectful guys I wish I saw more in books and real life.

With likable characters and good romance, this turned out to be an enjoyable read. Besides, this cover is pretty stunning!

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.