Tuesday, September 26, 2017

[Blog Tour] Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda - Q&A

Today we have Kaira Rouda, author of Best Day Ever, here answering some questions about herself and her new book!

About the Book:
In BEST DAY EVER, Paul Strom has the perfect life: a glittering career as an advertising executive, a beautiful wife, two healthy boys and a big house in a wealthy suburb. And he’s the perfect husband: breadwinner, protector, provider. That’s why he’s planned a romantic weekend for his wife, Mia, at their lake house, just the two of them. And he’s promised today will be the best day ever.
But as Paul and Mia drive out of the city and toward the countryside, a spark of tension begins to burn between them and doubts start to arise. How perfect is their marriage, or any marriage, really? How much do they trust each other? Is Paul the person he seems to be? And what are his real plans for their weekend at the cottage?

About the Author:
Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, Here, Home, Hope, was the Winner of the Indie Excellence Book Award in Mainstream/Literary Fiction, Winner of the USA Book Awards in the Women’s Fiction category and received Honorable Mention in Mainstream/Literary Fiction for the Writer’s Digest Book Awards. Her novel, The Goodbye Year, which was released in May 2016, was Redbook Magazine’s “20 Best Books You Absolutely Must Read This Spring.”  Kaira’s latest novel, Best Day Ever, is one of the major launch titles for Harlequin’s new imprint Graydon House, and will be available on September 19, 2017.
Kaira is also the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs and the creator of Real Living, one of the nation’s most successful real estate brands and the first national women-focused brand in real estate. She has given speeches to both women and men’s entrepreneurial conferences and programs across the country on the power of women as consumers and in the world. Kaira was named Best Entrepreneur from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and was also recognized in Entrepreneur magazine’s inaugural Top 50 fastest-growing, women-led companies list.
In addition to her many entrepreneurial and literary accomplishments, Kaira is very active in both her native Ohio community and in her community in Southern California, where she now resides. Her philanthropic pursuits began when she founded Central Ohio’s first homeless shelter for families when she was twenty-five years old, and Kaira has since received numerous awards for her civic service.
Kaira’s family includes her husband of 28 years, her four kids, and her two spoiled dogs. She lives in Southern California and is at work on her next novel. After living in Columbus, Ohio, for most of her life, she now enjoys the beach whenever possible.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

[Review] SST Review - Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan

Cinderella Necromancer.png

Hey guys! I'll be reviewing this book as part of Nori's SST. So, I received this book in exchange for an honest review, which doesn't impact my review in any way.

Cinderella, Necromancer by F.M. Boughan
Rating: 3.5 stars
Version: eARC
Published: September 5th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Cinderella, Necromancer is Chime meets Anna Dressed in Blood and was inspired by a real medieval grimoire of necromancy from 15th-century Germany.
Ellison lost her mother at an early age. But since then, her father has found love again. He's happy and doesn't quite notice that Ellison does not get along with his new wife or her mean daughters. When Ellison discovers a necromantic tome while traveling the secret passages of her father's mansion, she wonders if it could be the key to her freedom. Until then, she must master her dark new power, even as her stepmother makes her a servant in her own home. And when her younger brother falls incurably ill, Ellison will do anything to ease his pain, including falling prey to her stepmother and stepsisters' every whim and fancy.
Stumbling into a chance meeting of Prince William during a secret visit to her mother's grave feels like a trick of fate when her stepmother refuses to allow Ellison to attend a palace festival. But what if Ellison could see the kind and handsome prince once more? What if she could attend the festival? What if she could have everything she ever wanted and deserved by conjuring spirits to take revenge on her cruel stepmother?
As Ellison's power grows, she loses control over the evil spirits meant to do her bidding. And as they begin to exert their own power over Ellison, she will have to decide whether it is she or her stepmother who is the true monster.

Monday, August 21, 2017

[Review] Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers

Truest by Jackie Lea Sommers
Rating: 3 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: September 1st 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Silas Hart has seriously shaken up Westlin Beck's small-town life. Brand new to town, Silas is different than the guys in Green Lake. He's curious, poetic, philosophical, maddening-- and really, really cute. But Silas has a sister-- and she has a secret. And West has a boyfriend. And life in Green Lake is about to change forever.
Truest is a stunning, addictive debut. Romantic, fun, tender, and satisfying, it asks as many questions as it answers.
6th read for #ARCAugust

I have a lot of thoughts here, so bare with me.

I enjoyed how Truest touched down on a disorder that isn't really well-known, depersonalization disorder, or the feeling of living in a dream. It's part of the dissociative disorders in the DSM-5 (abnormal psychology was one of my favorite classes so recalling this is fun). This brought something different to the whole summer romance table.

Friday, August 18, 2017

[Review] All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher

All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher
Rating: 2.5 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: July 11th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Lenny (short for Eleanor) feels like the world is about to end. Her best friend is moving to New York City to attend Julliard and her dad has terminal cancer. To cope with her stress Lenny is making a list of all the ways the world can end—designer pathogens, blood moon prophecies, alien invasion—and stockpiling supplies in a bunker in the backyard. Then she starts to develop feelings for her dad's very nice young doctor—and she thinks he may have feelings for her too. Spoiler alert: he doesn't. But a more age-appropriate love interest might. In a time of complete uncertainty, one thing's for sure: Lenny's about to see how everything is ending and beginning. All at the same time.

5th read for #ARCAugust

I'm a bit conflicted on the rating of this book, to be honest.

I understood it well enough. Eleanor, who is better known as Lenny, and her family are trying to cope with her dad's metastatic rectal cancer that he's slowly dying from. Her mom, who is nicknamed Sergeant Nutbags, tries her hardest to find a cure, and that often comes in the form of some insane diet or health video. Her older sister is away at college and seem to escape the stressors that come from her family to enjoy her college party life. Lenny is the frustrated one, and her method of venting is through anger. She also has a crush on her father's stand-in resident doctor, Dr. Ganesh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

[Review] Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Series: Code Name Verity #2
Rating: 4 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: September 10th 2013

Goodreads Synopsis: 
While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her?
Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

4th read for #ARCAugust

Another moving and evocative fictional account of the horrors of World War II by Elizabeth Wein. It's one of those books you just feel sad after because it's a really sad book.

I'm being monosyllabic instead of descriptive, so time for me to break down Rose Under Fire.

This isn't really a sequel to Code Name Verity - it's more like a spinoff. We have Maddie in the beginning and the end getting married to Julie's cousin. Julie is mentioned in passing. Anna Engel (and her name sounded so familiar even though it's been years since reading CNV) has a more prominent role. Different setting, different cast of characters, same emotions captured.

Rose Justice is an American pilot who is part of the British ATA - essentially a air taxicab service. Just as progress is being made in the war, Rose lands herself and her plane on enemy lines, and is forced to spend time in Ravensbruck, a concentration camp. There she meets and befriends the Rabbits, women who were operated on inhumanly to test on various war injuries and diseases.

She recounts her days in the camp following her escape back into Allied territory, and you can tell how broken she is by the way she writes.

And I have been able to sleep a little longer each night. I don't jerk awake at four a.m. expecting the Screamer anymore. But I still have the dream about the cold wind in the empty bunks. Funny how my Ravensbruck nightmare is about the bunks being empty, because by the end they were never empty. The whole Camp was so overcrowded we had to sleep in shifts, even during the day.
I have to keep writing. I can't talk about it at all, not to Mother or Aunt Edie over the telephone, not to Fernande in broken French. It would break her heart, I think, if I told her about it. I keep wishing I could talk to Nick, but how could I explain any of it to Nick? How could I possibly make Nick understand?  

It's just so sad.

Rose is so different from Julie, but in a good way. I related to Rose a lot - in the end, she starts medical school! And she loves to write.  She specifically writes poetry to keep the moral of Block 32 high.

Her relationships with her fellow prisoners were strong and so heartbreaking at times. Roza, who laughed when she was afraid. Irina, her Russian pilot-in-crime. Anna, the angel of death. No matter where they came from, they were all victims of the war.

And suddenly it became like so many decisions I'd made during the war; I didn't have a choice. I had to do it whether or not I wanted to. Not just for Karolina, who was dead, but also for Anna, who was still alive and had no one to defend her.
You only fly straight and level in balance.
Anna and Roza are the opposing forces that perfectly balance each other to keep me in the air. 

And I find out that there's a prequel to Code Name Verity? Ugh, Elizabeth Wein, you can take all my money. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

[Review] Breaking by Danielle Rollins

Breaking by Danielle Rollins
Series: Burning companion novel
Rating: 3 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: June 6th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
Monsters lurk where you least expect…
Charlotte has always felt ordinary compared to her two best friends at the prestigious Weston Preparatory Institute. Not enigmatic and daring like Ariel or beautiful and brilliant like Devon, Charlotte has never quite met the standards of the school—or those of her demanding mother. But with Ariel and Devon by her side, none of that mattered. They became the family she never had.
Until the unthinkable happens—Ariel commits suicide. And less than a month later, so does Devon.
Everyone accepts the suicides as tragic coincidences, but Charlotte refuses to believe that. And when she finds mysterious clues left behind by Ariel, Charlotte is thrust down a path that leads to a dangerous secret about Weston Prep. There’s a reason Weston students are so exceptional, and the people responsible are willing to kill to protect the truth… 

Third #ARCAugust read.

I keep on reading suspenseful books.

Breaking was alright. Its supposed to be a companion novel to Burning, but you don't really need to read the first one to read this one. Except I think the ending of this book would make a whole lot more sense with it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

#TheReadingQuest Sign Up Post

Hello everyone! In addition to #ARCAugust, I'm signing up for Aentee's #TheReadingQuest, which can be found here. I'm so excited for this challenge because I have been a gamer for ages. Final Fantasy, Dragon Age, Fallout, Bayonetta - I've played many games over the years. RPGs in particular. Favorite character class was always rogues, or dual-wielders, so what better way to pay homage to my gaming ways then by being a rogue?

All artwork in this post is from CW of Read Think Ponder!

Somehow made this without photoshop. Pretty good, no? 

Friday, August 11, 2017

[Review] The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
Rating: 4.5 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: August 25th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis: 
In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.
But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.
And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.
Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.
But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.
From master of suspense Katie Alender comes a riveting tale of twisted memories and betrayals, and the meaning of madness.

My second book for #ARCAugust!

I don't normally read horror. I don't normally watch horror either - I would think them too silly or not scary enough for me.

The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall surpassed my expectations on the horror genre. Coincidentally, I was also watching a Supernatural episode on an asylum the day before I picked up this book, so I guess I had some idea of what I was walking into.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

[Review] The Possible by Tara Altebrando

The Possible by Tara Altebrando
Rating: 2 stars

Format: ARC Paperback
Published: June 7th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:

Some storms rage from within.
What if…a teenage girl could move objects with her mind?
What if…someone turns up at her door asking questions she doesn’t want to answer?
Kaylee lives a normal life with her adoptive parents, and almost never thinks of her birth mother, Crystal, who is serving a life sentence in prison. But the woman at the front door is producing a podcast about Crystal that is about to blow Kaylee’s forgotten past wide open.
What if strange things have been happening Kaylee’s entire life, things she could not explain? What if she’s more like her mother than she ever imagined?
What if the podcast is about to put her on a collision course with Crystal—and her darkest self?
My first #ARCAugust read!

I can't really say much about it, because the book itself was very bland. The entire time we are dealt suspense around the main character, Kaylee, and whether or not she inherited telekinetic powers from her estranged, psychopathic mom, Crystal, who is currently in jail for killing Kaylee's little brother. There's a lot of buildup and not much spark for the reveals. The characters weren't that interesting - Kaylee more or less annoyed me at times. I found myself just trying to finish this book.

#ARCAugust Week 1 Update

Hello everyone!

I started off the first week of #ARCAugust pretty strong, finishing 4 books. Their reviews will come up in the next few days. My reads were mostly suspenseful ones. I ended up really liking two of my reads - Rose Under Fire and The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall. Here are my ratings for my read ARCs.

My next read for #ARCAugust will be - 

What's next on your TBR? 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

[Review] The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley 
Series: The Checquy Files #1
Rating: 4 stars

Published: October 16th 2012

Goodreads Synopsis:
Myfanwy Thomas awakes in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, her only hope of survival is to trust the instructions left in her pocket by her former self. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization and this person wants her dead.
As Myfanwy battles to save herself, she encounters a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and an unimaginably vast conspiracy. Suspenseful and hilarious, THE ROOK is an outrageously inventive debut for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.
What I noticed recently becoming a big thing in books (at least, the books I'm reading), is the presence of people with supernatural/otherwordly powers co-existing with people who don't have such abilities. Or maybe co-existing is too light a term.

Therein lies problems - overly done cliches, special snowflakes, and unnecessary romances.

But luckily for me, The Rook bypassed these and fulfilled all my fantasy expectations.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

#ARCAugust TBR

Hello everyone! It's been a long time since I've posted something, and this is mostly because college took over my life and I did lose interest in reading my books up until recently. But I'm back! And I'm hoping on staying.

I'll be doing two reading challenges for August, and this is the first. I'm also behind my Goodreads challenge by 39 books so I gotta catch up somehow, right? 

Without further ado, here are my arcs for this year's challenge. 18 books is going to be a doozy. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

[Review] Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu
Version: ARC Paperback
Rating: 3 stars

Release Date: May 2nd 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
They're more than their problems
Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay.
Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.
Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.
Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.
And Stella just doesn't want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.
As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.
I received this ARC from Miss Print's (Emma) ARC Adoption over here! Thank you Emma!

This will be a hard review to tackle, so please bear with me.

Four Weeks, Five People is told in alternating 5-POVs from the characters attending a wilderness therapy camp for the summer for their respective disorders. Stella has an anger-based depression and it's her second time coming to the camp. Clarisa has OCD and has a mother who is never satisfied with anything she does. Ben has a dissociative disorder and makes everything in his life into a movie. Mason has narcissist personality disorder and he thinks everyone at the camp is below him. Andrew has an eating disorder and he yearns to return back to his band and make them famous. 

The five of them are stuck together for four weeks and learn much about themselves and the people surrounding them.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

BookExpo & BookCon 2017 Recap

BookExpo & BookCon 2017 

BookExpo Logo

This was my second time attending BookExpo & third time attending BookCon, and it was still as exciting as it has always been. I skipped BookExpo/BookCon last year since it moved to Chicago, and I wasn't completely sure I would be attending this year until two or three months before, but I am glad I did!

Here are just some of my highlights from that week:

BookExpo (June 1 & 2)

Penguin Random House (and specifically Penguin Teen) definitely deserves a shoutout for their wonderful staff & lineup. They had so many popular signings, like for Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman and Marie Lu's Warcross, and they managed the lines pretty well; I didn't have any trouble trying to find the line. Their staff, including volunteers, were also very friendly and nice to chat with! 

Some of my favorites from Day 1 of the show:
  • Owlcrate's wheel, which consisted of either recent YA books or YA related swag, such as candles and calendars. I won Roseblood by A.G. Howard from the wheel. 
  • Disney also did a drop for The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken, which I didn't know about prior to the show so that was a nice surprise! And the art is just stunning. I mean, look at this!
(Photo from Amazon)
  • I also made it to the drop for Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen, which I had been anticipating since I absolutely loved Gaughen's Scarlet series. 

Some of my favorites from Day 2 of the show:
  • Of course, Marie Lu's Warcross signing on the second day was wonderful as expected.
  • Perhaps my most anticipated event for BookExpo and BookCon was Leigh Bardugo's Wonder Woman; it was my first time meeting Leigh, and I was just in the middle of reading Crooked Kingdom so that was a nice touch. The line for the signing started over an hour before, and it was nice to have book buddies to sit down with to pass the time. :-)

  • One of the last things I did at BookExpo was meet Julie Dao at her signing for Fires of a Thousand Lanterns and let me tell you - she was an absolute sweetheart! I cannot wait to read her debut.
  • I also met Holly Black, who was so friendly and a pleasure to chat with.
Scholastic also dropped Maggie Stiefvater's All the Crooked Saints, which wasn't announced pre-show, so that was a pleasant surpirse!

One thing I noticed is that Little Brown/The NOVL does not announce any dates and times for its events prior ro the show, so it's definitely worth heading there early on to grab their schedule.

The atomosphere was great, the lines went by fast, and BookExpo 2017 was even better than my first year (2015).

My BEA book "star" :D

BookCon (June 3rd)

BookCon is an annual thing I do with my friends, so above all, for me, it was more hanging out with my friends with the added bonus of being around books and authors. I only went the first day and didn't really plan a schedule.

If I can summarize BookCon into one word, it'll be lines.
Lines everywhere. Things at BEA that had absolutely no line (such as the Grishaverse) was swarmed on BookCon.

Despite the crazy crowds, I did have a great time.

Penguin had a bunch of random giveaways throughout the day with no coherent line, and they had a pretty cool giveaway promoting their new Underlined product. We got a zippered tote, a box with two books and some swag, a pouch, and a beach towel for signing up for Underlined. One of the books was The Golden Compass, which I've been thinking of reading anyway, so that was a cool surprise.

The only signing I went to at BookCon was the meet and greet for Kerri Maniscalo (Hunting Prince Dracula) and Lyndsay Ely (Gunslinger Girl). In fact, I think my next read may be Hunting Price Dracula.

I left not long after since I was still a bit tired from BookExpo, and the crowds were just not my thing.


BookExpo - A fabulous *insert many other positive adjectives here* event that I would reccommend to anyone with any role in the industry, whether it be blogging or selling.

BookCon - It's a nice event to enjoy with family or friends, but beware of the crowds.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

[Review] Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before #3 
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Published: May 2nd 2017

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.
But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.
When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?
This was such an endearing end to one of my high school favorites. It seem like all my favorite series are ending this year. While To All the Boys I've Loved Before is my favorite of the trilogy, Always and Forever brought me back to my own senior year of high school. There's the growing up and the separation from family and friends, as well as the fair share of drama.

[Review] Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
Format: Paperback
Rating: 3 stars

 Published: 1987

Goodreads Synopsis:
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.
This is a hard book for me to review.

I say this with the knowledge that my friend recommended me this book many years ago and I finally picked it up and finished it for #asianlitbingo not quite understanding what I had read. It is clear that Murakami writing style is artistic, even poetic at times. It even bares likeness to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which our narrator Toru mentions reading - this likeness I will explain shortly.

I was really unsure as to why my friend has recommended this book, beyond the fact of reading literature outside of YA; Norwegian Wood is depressing and dark, written by Murakami during a period of depression. This review mostly stems from my discussion with her after I read the book. There are deep meanings behind it - of loss, of sexuality, of youth, especially in one's college years (in a way, a coming of age novel), and of importance (what we find important now vs. later).

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

[Review] Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
Series: Flame in the Mist #1
Format: ARC Paperback
Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: May 16th 2017

Goodreads Synopsis:
The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.
So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.
The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires. Renee Ahdieh is well-known for her The Wrath and the Dawn duology, which was a romantic retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. 
I received this ARC from Miss Print's (Emma) ARC Adoption over here! Thank you Emma!

Flame in the Mist has its hints of romance, yes, but this is a dark story. Emphasis on dark. It's nothing like TWATD. The way Ahdieh juggles two extremely different genres is masterful and precise. You know you're in for one hell of a ride when the opening pages feature the seppuku of a character's father. 

What a great ride it was. Flame in the Mist had the action, but it also had a great story behind it, as well as well-rounded characters. 

[Review] Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Format: Paperback
Rating: 4.5 stars

Published: March 17th 2015

Goodreads Synopsis:
Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.
This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.YA Westerns usually fall under the same premise. Girl lives normal life, something changes girl's life forever, girl must disguise self as a boy in order to either seek revenge or make it big out West. To me, it's an overused concept that can get tiresome after so many times unless it is well done.
Under a Painted Sky was  one of those well done Westerns. Our heroine Samantha has just lost her father and must head westward to stake her claims. But, given the times and the fact that she is both Asian and a girl, she must disguise herself as Sammy, and journeys west with her new friend Annamae, who in turn becomes Andy. They join up with a trio of cowboys - Cay and his cousin West, and their friend Peety. 

This was a very heartwarming book, and what I loved about it was how Sammy's relationships with others changed over the course of the novel for the better. Of course, there is her father, who, despite dying early in the story, remained a constant presence for her, one of strength and courage. She is initially wary of Annamae, but soon enough, she can't imagine parting ways with her, and it is this sisterhood that really took me. Their banter was playful and displays their strong bond over the course of several long weeks. 

[Review] And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Version: HC
Rating: 3.5 stars

Published: May 21st 2013

Goodreads Synopsis: 
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.
In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.
Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.
This book marks my completion of Khaled Hosseini's works, and now that I've read them all, I can do a comparative review. For my next review on Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, I can't even say the same, because it's the first book I've read by him!

But for both books, I feel similar feelings. While both authors craft beautiful stories and have such a marvelous usage of language, I am not quite sure of what to make of the story. 

And The Mountains Echoed differed from Hosseini's two other stories in that there were multiple POVs. There was not just two main characters on which we focused on, but numerous characters, all intertwined in the smallest of ways. One minor character, mentioned for just a sentence in one chapter, becomes the narrator of the next.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

[Review] Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Romancing the Throne by Nadine Jolie Courtney
Version: ARC paperback
Rating: 3.5 stars

Release Date: May 30th 2017

I didn't expect myself to enjoy this as much as I did, but it was certainly an adorable read.

From my knowledge, this book is supposed to be based off of Kate and Pippa Middleton, with Prince William in tow. If they were all in high school and had high school-esque problems, as everyone in high school tends to do.

The first 100 pages reminded me of The Thousandth Floor - everyone is rich, everyone's got something to lose, and everyone was just so damn spoiled that I almost got tired of reading it and wanted to put it down.