Warm Transfer

by Laura Holtz

SmellRating3
(4.33 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published May 29, 2018, by Gatekeeper Press

Genre: Fiction / Women’s Lit

Format: Kindle Edition

Warm Transfer: A NovelThe problems in their marriage stemmed from something subtler, a toxicity that she couldn’t name. It was insidious and devastating, but it was also elusive and Tamsen struggled to put a label on it.

A few of my pet peeves: slow drivers, repeating myself, the improper use of “your” vs. “you’re”, and waiting on hold on the phone. Arrggghhhh! My blood pressure went up just by typing that! “On hold” means that time is wasting. “On hold” means that what you want isn’t happening yet. And “on hold” means that someone else is in charge of your time and is making decisions for you.

Tamsen Peel is on hold. She ended her career in order to marry and raise her children. She delayed any further commitments to work once her son was diagnosed with Doose Syndrome. And she buried her personal aspirations under duties to her family, her social clubs, and her controlling husband’s high-class clients. That is until Victor’s abusive tendencies toward her became more than she could bear.

Warm Transfer is one woman’s journey back to herself through queues of indecision, guilt, self-reproach, and something just a little darker niggling at her memories. Themes present are finding internal courage, combatting emotional and verbal abuse, and realizing self-worth in order to make positive life changes.

Tamsen has tried to take control of her situation more than once and only ended up getting disconnected – from her support systems, her financial backup, and her young children. She decides that what she needs is a warm transfer – someone to stay on the line with her until her transfer is made successfully. But ultimately it will be up to her to make the right connections.

Laura Holtz has written a story that could be played out in any social circle – not just in the high society of Chicago. It’s an encouragement to single mothers, divorcees, and women from all walks of life who are wondering, “What happens next?” The book is a fairly predictable slow-burn that had an overall theme to which I could relate and appreciate, and it was worth the read.

Ten percent of proceeds from this book will go to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

Many thanks to NetGalley, Gatekeeper Press, and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book.


About the Author

Laura Holtz

Website

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Laura graduated from Northwestern University back when applications were submitted in hard copy and Allison Hall was still a single-sex dorm. She spent her junior year studying in London where she developed an appreciation for Charles Dickens and clotted cream. She took a mid-career break from her job in sales promotion to accept a graduate teaching fellowship and earn a master’s degree in Special Education. When the head of the creative department at her former agency went on maternity leave, however, Laura could not refuse the offer to step into her dream job. She remained in the corporate world until she had children.

(Bio courtesy of Amazon)


 

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Illuminae

by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
SmellRating4
(4.32 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published October 20, 2015, by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Genre: Fiction / Sci-Fi / YA

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 599 pages

#Illuminae #IlluminaeFiles


Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)I am the ship and the ship is I. If I breathed, I would sigh. I would scream. I would cry.

If a nuclear missile hits a battleship in the dark void of space and there are less than 1,000 people on board (but 99% of them are afflicted with a zombie virus), does it still make a sound?

Kady Grant is about to find out.

Her only resources are her techy brain, her trusty datapad, and the possibly insane (definitely murderous) AI system with a God complex known as AIDAN.

I know them. All of them. Better than they know themselves. All this in the time it takes God to blink.

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 17 years old, but I wasn’t exactly a tech-savvy hack-master with the capability to rescue thousands of people and escape a cadre of virus-riddled infectants who are bent on revenge. I mean, if you were that bad-ass then please accept my congrats and a standing ovation. However, I get excited when I can just get Microsoft Word to perform correctly.

So, Kady Grant has a lot on me. She escaped the BeiTech Industries attack on the colony established on planet Kerenza, and now all she has to do is survive so that she can tell the story of that attack to the Universe.

BeiTech killed the people of Kerenza, and if you find this, you have to tell the ‘verse what happened.

This was a book like none I’ve ever read before. The events that play out in deep space between the Alexander fleet (including ships Alexander, Copernicus, and Hypatia) are relayed to us via intercepted emails, IM chats, transcribed video surveillance, classified office memoranda, etc. The 6000+ people on board the three vessels are flying for their lives from the one remaining BeiTech battleship, the Lincoln, that is bent on eliminating all witnesses.

AIDAN has also let loose a squad of passengers infected with the fatal and mind-bending  Phobos Beta virus, and now they’re spreading it to others on board. There’s chaos among the stars and eventually, it all comes down to 17-year old Kady to save everyone.

They don’t need this girl in neuroprogramming, they need her in psych ops, eyeball to eyeball with the guys who need to see things a little differently.

The action is constant and fluid, and the format of Illuminae will keep you turning pages long past your bedtime. Even now, AIDAN’s creepy voice (as I imagine it) is ringing in my head, “Am I not merciful?

Although there were familiar themes present (AIDAN is obviously 2001: A Space Odyssey -inspired; HAL could be “his” generation 1.0), that doesn’t take anything away from what makes this book remarkable.

Read it.

Illuminae is followed by Gemina (published in 2016) and Obsidio (published in 2018), and each book in the trilogy focuses on the same invasion of Kerenza from the perspective of a different pair of surviving teenagers. If you’re into science fiction and lots of YA action (with just a touch of romance), you’ll enjoy this futuristic space adventure.


About the Authors

Amie’s Website

Amie’s Twitter

Jay’s Website

Jay’s Twitter

Amie Kaufman is a New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. Her multi-award winning work has been published in over 35 countries and is in development for film and TV. A couple of her career highlights so far include professional wolf-howling lessons, and working as a story consultant at NASA.

Jay Kristoff is the #1 international, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, THE ILLUMINAE FILES, and THE LOTUS WAR. He is the winner of five Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, has over half a million books in print and is published in over thirty-five countries, most of which he has never visited.

(Bios courtesy of Goodreads)


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Circe

by Madeline Miller
Rating: 
(4.47 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published April 10, 2018, by Little, Brown and Company

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical Fiction

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 400 pages

Circe… in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth.

Back in high school – which really doesn’t seem so long ago to me now – I had an excellent teacher named Ms. Willoughby. I may have been in the minority, but I LOVED Ms. Willoughby. She introduced us to the classics, to hidden gems, and to books that ultimately became some of my favorites.

But Ms. Willoughby’s face would light up and she would gain a new level of animation when she talked about mythology! Greek, Roman, African, or Asian – she loved to teach us about gods, demigods, monsters, and the privileged (or not-so) mortals that interacted with them.

Gosh, I wish I had paid more attention.

Too late for all the things I should have known. I had made so many mistakes that I could not find my way back through their tangle to the first one.

I remembered that Circe is a goddess, but here is what I just relearned: Circe is a Titan, but is still considered to be a lesser god. Her dad is Helios, the Titan god of the sun, and her mom is a nymph, Perse, a daughter of Oceanos, also a Titan.

Circe grows up in the earthen halls of her father and grandfather, but she’s an outcast. Her brothers and sister are favored in her parents’ eyes and she is eventually exiled to an island, Aiaia, to live out her immortality alone as a witch.

Only, she doesn’t exactly end up entirely alone.

You know by now that I hate spoilers, so I’ll refrain from saying too much; however, since Madeline Miller’s book is more of a retelling, I couldn’t actually give too much away especially if you’re already familiar with Circe, Greek mythology, or even Homer’s The Odyssey.

What was I truly? In the end, I could not bear to know.

I have a confession to make here: I was drawn in. I had cover art shock. I mean it, this book cover is GORGEOUS. Seriously, a standing slow-clap ovation to Will Staehle, the jacket designer. Do you do that – get drawn in by the cover and the hype surrounding a new release? Well, I have succumbed to those two enchantments more often in the past two years than any other time in my life. Sometimes it has served me well (Children of Blood and Bone), but other times not so much (The Rules of Magic and The Hazel Wood).

Circe’s cover is admittedly eye-catching, but when you remove the jacket (which I usually do when reading hardcover books), the book cover itself is really plain. And that’s what I felt about this story.

Circe is truly an underdog – a lesser god, ostracized from her family, exiled to a remote island, and hunted by powerful and dangerous deities. You can’t get much more underdog than that. And I usually root for the underdog! But for some reason, I never felt connected to her. Whenever I wanted her to stand up for herself, she submitted; and when I felt it would be better for her to take a step back, she charged forward. Maybe that’s the difference between gods and mortals – besides the immortality part.

The Fates were laughing at me… It was their favorite bitter joke: those who fight against prophecy only draw it more tightly around their throats.

Miller does do a great job of marching both mortals and gods through Circe’s life so that we can see her interactions with well-remembered favorites: Hermes, the trickster son of Zeus who acted as Circe’s social media consultant; Athena, the goddess of war and Zeus’ favorite; Daedalus, the mortal that first captured Circe’s heart; and Odysseus, the mortal prince of Ithaca who ultimately changed Circe’s immortal life in several very significant ways.

It was an entertaining read but it wasn’t a favorite. Some parts of the events depicted felt monotonous while some of the more interesting events were covered too quickly and then left behind. I saw Circe as sad and tragic for 88.8% of the book, and that’s a tough kind of MC to get behind. However, I don’t regret buying it, if for no other reason than it looks stunning on my bookshelf!


About the Author

Madeline MillerWebsite

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Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. She has taught and tutored Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for more than fifteen years.

She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms.

The Song of Achillesher first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. It has been translated into over twenty-five languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic, and Greek. Madeline was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the GuardianWall Street JournalLapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. Her second novel, Circe, was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller. She currently lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(Bio from MadelineMiller.com)


 

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My (not so) Perfect Life

by Sophie Kinsella
Rating: 
(3.83 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published July 11, 2017, by The Dial Press (Random House)

Genre: Women’s Fiction / Humor

Format: Paperback

Page Count: 448 pages

My Not So Perfect LifeI’m owning my embarrassment. I’m not hiding or playing games. I lift my chin, high and resolute. ‘Here I am: Katie Brenner, Embarrassed. There are worse things to be.’

If you’re on Instagram, you’ve seen them – the people with the perfect lives. They’re always eating at the best restaurants, taking perfectly filtered pics of the most delicious-looking food, while wearing the most en trende outfits.

Their hair is styled perfectly. Their children are gorgeous. Their partners are gorgeous. Their jobs are high-paying and meaningful. In short, they are The Perfect Life People.

I’ve seen them, heck, I follow them. I’ve envied their cars, their homes, even their also-perfect friends. But I also realized that perfection is a myth and there’s always other things that a carefully cropped and filtered picture doesn’t show.

That’s the theme of this Sophie Kinsella novel: Getting past the Insta-mask and seeing people (and ourselves) for who they/we really are.

Katie Brenner has always wanted to live and work in London. She dropped her Somerset accent and exchanged her naturally curly hair for a sleek hairdo with bangs when she got her junior research assistant position at respectable Cooper Clemmow in London. She also changed her nickname to “Cat” and convinced her friends and family that she was living the high life through upbeat phone calls and a carefully constructed Instagram page. But life in London wasn’t quite as rosy as she was making it out to be.

Kinsella drops us into Katie’s life as she’s struggling to find her place in her dream city, a new job, and within a group that seems – to her – to have everything going for them. Especially Katie’s boss Demeter. We watch as Katie envies and emulates Demeter even as she judges her harshly for being disconnected, scattered, and insensitive.

I think I’ve finally worked out how to feel good about life. Every time you see someone’s bright-and-shiny, remember: They have their own crappy truths too.

A prominent theme in the book is to never judge a book by its cover. As the story progresses through Katie’s gained footholds and fumbles, we see how her revelations of this theme create a more mature young adult. But being a Kinsella character, we still also see some truly LOL self-inflicted foibles and hijinks.

My (not so) Perfect LIfe was an enjoyable quick read that reminded me that life is what you make it, and how you present yourself to the world – whether it’s fact or fiction – could have a big impact on how you ultimately view yourself.

Four happy, Somerset-accented stars for this feel-good story of revelation, family, and friendship that makes me feel so much better about posting unfiltered pics on my Instagram feed!

Get it here: Amazon, B&N, Half Price Books, Book Depository


About the Author

Sophie KinsellaWebsite

Facebook

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Instagram

Goodreads

Sophie Kinsella first hit the UK bestseller lists in September 2000 with her first novel in the Shopaholic series – The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic (also published as Confessions of a Shopaholic). The book’s heroine, Becky Bloomwood – a fun and feisty financial journalist who loves shopping but is hopeless with money – captured the hearts of readers worldwide. Becky has since featured in seven further bestselling books.


 

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A Court of Wings and Ruin

by Sarah J Maas
Rating: 
(4.53 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 2, 2017, by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 705

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)If he was the sweet, terrifying darkness, I was the glittering light that only his shadows could make clear.

If you’re not familiar with this fantasy series already, quick sum-up: Feyre was kidnapped from the human world and forced to live among the faeries in Prythian. These aren’t Tinkerbell fairies, no. These are otherworldly creatures with varied characteristics and deadly powers.
Feyre suffers a lot (that’s a bit of an understatement), there are a few love triangles, she meets some nice faeries, and then she meets some not-so-nice faeries.  And in an extreme effort not to spoil the series for you, I’ll just say that several relationships become more than a little strained in Prythian, and Feyre has a lot to do with it!

This series was not one that I initially set out to read. As you’ve read from me before, fantasy isn’t my usual go-to genre (although I have read more of it recently than in times past). YA also isn’t my usual go-to genre, so I can honestly say that I got influenced to read this series based on fan enthusiasm alone. And, overall, I haven’t been disappointed. I gave high marks to both Book 1: A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Book 2: A Court of Mist and Fury. However, sadly, my fan-love couldn’t push me to give this particular book in the series higher than 3 stars.

It was war.

I don’t really enjoy reading about war, and this book is filled with it – rumors of war, preparations for war, strategies of war, outright war, individual battles,  casualties of war, and the aftermath of war. Is there gonna be a fight? Are we gonna have to fight? Who is gonna fight with us? Who’s gonna fight against us? Are we gonna win? On and on and on. Because of that, there were some chapters that I found tedious and repetitive.

Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.

Here is where I make a confession: In movies where there is a battle scene, I often fast-forward until it’s over. Yes, I know, I know. It’s sacrilege. But I get it. Two sides disagree, they battle, it’s gory, there are some heroes, there are some cowards, one side wins, everyone loses some people. Done. See? I don’t have to see all the guts to get the point.

Only, with a book, I can’t fast-forward. I can’t skip pages. I can’t leave it unread. I know some people are able to do that and be okay with it, but – even with a bad book – I force myself to suffer through it all. So I did. Every battle, every slash of every sword, every clang of ash arrows against every strong shield, and every heart-wrenching injury to characters I’ve come to know and care about over about 1,750 pages now.

So, battle lines are drawn in Prythian and, if I’m being honest, the motive isn’t really clear. Apparently, the residents of neighboring island Hybern (with King Hybern as their lead – yes, confusing) don’t want to be confined to their lands anymore and they want to be able to take humans as slaves again. Yet, when they begin the war, they invade the human territories and just kill everyone. Uh, question? And then their interests are torn because they also want revenge against Feyre for surviving being Under the Mountain and ruining Amarantha’s plans (Book 1). So Hybern is fighting on several fronts, battling several individual Courts, AND the humans, and none of it seems very advantageous or sane.

But it’s war.

But I can say that in 705 pages, LOTS of stuff happens in this book. New allegiances are formed – on both the good side and the bad. Many new characters are introduced, some of whom I have been eager to meet since Book 1. And, of course, Sarah J. Maas does not skimp on the detailed faerie love scenes. Intense. Everyone’s beautiful/handsome, everyone is deadly, and everyone, EVERYONE, has an ego.

Several strings that I thought were going to be tied up were still left dangling in the wind and one of them, in particular, became a little more frayed as it just hangs there (What’s going to happen with Azriel and Mor in light of everything now?) Ugh, so frustrating.

You’ve read my gripes about war and about the dangling threads, but don’t let that make you think that this is a bad book. Sure, it was slower than the others, but still packed with the action and risky adventures that this series is known for. I enjoyed it, just not as much as the others. AND, I’m still looking forward to the novella A Court of Frost and Starlight (Book 3.1) that gets release May 1st, another short novella (Book 3.2), and Books 4, 5, and 6 after that!

Get it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-million | IndieBound | iBookstore | Kobo | Waterstones | Amazon UK | Book Depository


About the Author

Sarah J. MaasWebsite

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)


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Baby Teeth

by Zoje Stage
Rating: 
(3.9 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published July 17, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction / Suspense / Thriller

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 320



Baby TeethHanna knew nothing was wrong with her. But Mommy wanted them to look. Again.

As a young(er) adult, I remember wanting to be a parent. I clearly remember that strong maternal pull to create someone, to nourish them, and to pour all of my love into a little person who would love me back just as intensely. It took longer than I anticipated, but I eventually became that parent that I envisioned. There is no instruction manual about how to parent a child “correctly”, and I have made plenty of mistakes; however, my daughter is loving, smart, and beautiful.

And, thankfully, she has never tried to kill me.

That is more than I can say for little Hanna Jenson. Seven-year-old Hannah Jenson (pronounced “Yenson”) is an elective mute who communicates with nods and gestures. She can speak, but words seem to work better inside her head. Her mommy and daddy love her, they play with her, feed her healthy food, and place her in the best schools. But Hanna hates her mommy. She wants Daddy all to herself, and the only way to make that happen is if Mommy is dead.

So Hanna would act, and give Mommy a chance to act in reply. And then she’d know. If Mommy passed or failed.

Zoje Stage sets up a creepy tale within the backdrop of a normal family from Pittsburgh. A custom-designed home, a successful husband, a stay-at-home wife, and… a possibly demon-possessed daughter.

And with that knowledge, we watch the little Jenson family spiral through uncertainty, indecision, awareness, and different levels of acceptance (and rejection) as they battle the demons (figurative and literal) that plague their daughter.

The story becomes a question of what happens when innocence is not so innocent? It’s the familiar parental war of nature vs. nurture or the human conundrum of love vs. loathe. And, as a parent, while reading this book I found myself on a slippery slope of opinion – often suggesting some things to do to this little girl that weren’t so nurturing.

The dynamics of these characters are puzzled together so perfectly, the reader see-saws between who is actually to blame for all the malevolent behavior that permeates this family. Is it the eccentric but brilliant young girl whose devious plots seem to stem from an internal distrust of her mother? Or is it the mother who struggles to force perfection into her own world despite being bracketed by unhealthy and flawed female relationships? Or could it be the father who has chosen to turn a blind eye to any troubles and instead view his family only through rose-colored glasses?

Daddy was an island that seemed like a paradise in her desire, but was nothing more than a rocky crag that couldn’t save her from drowning. Not with mommy beside him.

I was instantly locked into this family’s fight for survival in this thrilling story that is just a little bit too real for comfort. No comparisons to Hollywood’s Problem Child movie of the 90’s here because that was a comedy and there is nothing funny about Hannah’s chilling moods and deadly schemes to have her daddy all to herself.

I did feel a little cheated in the end though. There should have been a more definitive resolution. I think readers deserved that after the tensely suspenseful buildup. So, that’s why I deducted a half star.

I would highly recommend this debut novel to lovers of suspenseful, thrilling fiction and maybe to couples who are considering having children for the first time. (insert sarcastic side-eyed smile here)!

Get it Here      |  Read an Excerpt Here


About the Author

Zoje StageBlog

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An author of dark and suspenseful novels, Zoje lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Her debut novel Baby Teeth (St. Martin’s Press) will be released 17 July 2018. It will be released in the UK as Bad Apple (Transworld).

(Bio from Goodreads)


 

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Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi
SmellRating5
(4.49 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published March 6, 2018, by Henry Holt and Company (Macmillan Pub. Grp, LLC)

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA

Format: Hardcover

Page Count: 525

#ChildrenOfBloodAndBone


Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)We are all children of blood and bone. All instruments of vengeance and virtue.

To say that I am enamored with everything this book has to offer would be a gross understatement. It easily earned every one of the five stars I willingly granted it. I was only disappointed that, by the “laws” that govern book rating, I couldn’t give it more. From the stunning cover (kudos Rich Deas!) to the heartfelt acknowledgments this book drew me in and refused to release me – even after the all-too-brief epilogue.

Tomi Adeyemi has birthed a world that instantly lives and breathes with some of the richest characters that have graced the fantasy genre. Orïsha is a land inhabited by the virtuous and the vengeful – each side holding their collective breath, awaiting a battle that will decide the fate of the kingdom and of magic itself.

Zélie Adebola did not ask for the battle to come to her. She only desired peace and for her family to be whole again – a fruitless hope since her maji mother had been slain by the king’s guard years ago. That’s when the magic disappeared and left Orïsha as hollow as her own heart. Since then, Zélie has seen people like herself persecuted, chained, beaten, and forced into the shadows of society – all at the hands of King Saran.

But when Zélie enters the capital city to trade a fish in order to pay her family’s taxes, her life is inexplicably and irrevocably changed forever. The events that follow will require more strength than she ever imagined she possessed, not only to attempt to bring magic back to her world but also to survive.

Her spirit swells through me like lightning breaking through a thunder cloud. It’s more than the feeling of breathing. It’s the very essence of life.

This is a story about a hope and determination that refuses to be quenched even in the face of extreme force and seemingly insurmountable odds. It’s a saga about learning who you are and opening yourself to trust others through life’s journey. It’s about recognizing that inner strength that is the essence of your very being and not allowing it to be suffocated by life’s circumstances.

Further, this is a story that is, in fact, a fantasy; however, its underlying topics echo real-world struggles of inequality, bigotry, and the overwhelming, invasive poison of corrupt government leaders. So, although this is a work of fiction, its themes are instantly recognizable and relatable to parallel current societal issues.

It doesn’t matter how strong I get, how much power my magic wields. They will always hate me in this world.

I recommend this book to fantasy lovers who appreciate an epic saga that is action-packed from the very first chapter. Fans of A Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings who love being able to follow the action along on maps included with the books will not be disappointed here. There are also descriptions of all the maji clans, their powers, and their deities (10 in all). All that is important because you’ll need it not just for this book, but also for… wait for it…

THE NEXT TWO BOOKS – because Children of Blood and Bone is only book #1 in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy! And that’s not all. Fox is already adapting book 1 into a film!!! If I’m being honest, I hope they do a REALLY good job, because it will be hard to beat the images that played through my head as I read this.

…today I crave it. I’ve been practicing and I’m ready. I know I can win.

Twenty-three-year-old Tomi Adeyemi has written a book that I will not loan out. That’s big for me.  (Have you seen that cover? I’m taking NO chances with that beauty). She has also helped to renew my love for the fantasy genre again (I can thank Sarah J. Maas for that too). But it’s more than that too: This is The Black Panther meets The X-Men; It is Roots meets Indiana Jone;. It is Rosewood meets Harry Potter.

It is all those things and more. It is its own stand-out story of desperation, doubt, hope, and triumph in the face of debilitating hatred and destruction. It is its own story of failure, tainted victories, and questionable truces. It is like so many things, and yet like nothing else I’ve ever read before.

I have to say thanks to my Bookstagram community for hyping this book and inspiring me to read it. It’s one of the few impulse purchases that turned out to be totally worth it.

Get it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Half Price Books


About the Author

Tomi AdeyemiWebsite

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Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, was released March 6th, 2018 and the movie is currently in development at Fox with the producers of Twilight and The Maze Runner attached. After graduating Harvard University with an honors degree in English literature, she received a fellowship that allowed her to study West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil. When she’s not working on her novels or watching Scandal, she can be found blogging and teaching creative writing to her 3,500 subscribers at tomiadeyemi.com. Her website has been named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest.


 

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How to Walk Away

by Katherine Center
Rating: 
( 4.38 stars – Goodreads rating)

To Be Published May 15, 2018, by St. Martin’s Press

Genre: Fiction

Format: Kindle Edition

Page Count: 320


walkDid I want to be a person who let minuscule statistical risks undermine any sense of bravery? Was this a challenge I couldn’t rise to? Was I going to let fear make me small?

How to Walk Away is an engaging story that inspires us all to make the best out of life – even when our situations are at their worst.

Margaret Jacobsen is young, newly engaged to the love of her life, and is, quite literally, flying on top of the world. In a matter of seconds, all that changes and her life cartwheels out of control. What follows is her story of survival, reconciliation, and renewal that can teach us all a thing or three about what it really means to be strong, accepting, and generous.

My future slid past my finger as I fumbled for it — and missed.

This is a story about purpose, family, and inner strength that will pull you in and motivate you to do something good afterward. The romance is subtle and endearing, and the characters are very nearly made flesh and bone.

I would recommend this book to those of us who don’t regularly read nonfiction, but who appreciate a good motivational novel that reads like a memoir.

Katherine Center writes in a way that makes our sullen, broken main character appear strong and unbeatable in the face of giant obstacles. I laughed, I cheered, but I also cried, felt anger and pity. A good book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions, and I felt all of those hills and valleys while I read.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, St.Martin’s Press, and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book.**

About the Author

Katherine CenterWebsite

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Katherine Center wrote her first novel in the sixth grade (fan fiction about Duran Duran) and got hooked. From then on, she was doomed to want to be a writer—obsessively working on poems, essays, and stories, as well as memorizing lyrics, keeping countless journals, and reading constantly… Katherine is always looking for reasons to be hopeful, and opportunities to laugh, and ways of getting inspired—both in real life and in fiction. She believes that the only compass you can follow as a writer is to write the story you, yourself, long to read.

(Bio adapted from http://www.katherinecenter.com)


 

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A Court of Thorns and Roses

by Sarah J. Maas
Rating: 
( 4.28 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published May 5, 2015, by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Genre: Fiction / YA Fantasy / Romance

Format: Trade Paperback

Page Count: 448

thorns and rosesAll I had wanted — all I had dared want, was a life that was quiet, easy. Nothing more than that. Nothing extraordinary. But now… now…

Feyre Archeron is the sole provider for her household. Her father is crippled and her sisters are lazy and still clinging to ideals from their former lives as wealthy members of their society. But things have changed. Enough so that Feyre finds herself hunting in the woods in holey boots to bring home enough meat to keep her family alive. That’s when it happens. A dangerous predator. A well-aimed arrow. And now Feyre’s life has been irrevocably changed.

There are those who seek me a lifetime but never we meet, And those I kiss but who trample me beneath ungrateful feet.

ACOTAR – as it is commonly called – is a young adult (YA) fantasy book that, at first, was completely off of my radar. Primarily because YA isn’t my usual genre of choice, and also because (outside of A Game of Thrones) I haven’t read a whole lot of fantasy. Movies, yes. Books, no.

But despite that, I ran into a trade paperback version of this book in my local Goodwill store and decided to give it a try. I don’t regret that decision one bit.

At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair, But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.

What initially pulled me in is that the book doesn’t immediately start off with people with pointy ears and tails. It begins as more-or-less a survival story. Feyre and her family have fallen on hard times and it’s up to her to not only protect them but to feed them and clothe them as well. She’s a young woman (late teens), so taking care of three other (mostly capable, but lazy) adults is a formidable task. But she does it. And she does it well.

I love a book with a strong female lead. I’m not the world’s best feminist by any means, but strong female characters make me feel like I could survive if I got dropped on a deserted island. Maybe.

Feyre is fierce and formidable. Even though she’s “only human” she is relentlessly brave.
However, even though Feyre is cunning and strong, as the story progresses and she enters the world of the faeries, we see that she sometimes makes unwise decisions. I always appreciate when an author is confident enough to make strong MCs fallible.
It’s her ability to survive those errors in judgment – sometimes not without help – that make the story compelling.

At times I seem to favor the clever and the fair, But I bless all those who are brave enough to dare.

Sarah J. Maas has dropped us into a world filled with beautiful flora, handsome men, and deadly enemies. And I loved it all.

A skilled writer, SJM’s buildup is slow and steady. Nothing is rushed, and that gives us time to get to know the characters, their motivations, and the complex world in which they exist. She writes so that we are constantly able to the see the world she has built as it surrounds us in the story. We’re never plopped into scenery that we have no basis of reference for.

Details are key in fantasy, and ACOTAR melds them perfectly into the story without it ever feeling like drudgery to read them.

By large, my ministrations are soft-handed and sweet, But scorned, I become a difficult beast to defeat.

You may have noticed that I’m not talking about the plot much. I know. That’s on purpose. The plot unfolded in a way that made me glad that I hadn’t previously read a lot of reviews and spoilers for it even though this book isn’t exactly new. I think readers who aren’t sure about exploring this world should definitely do it, but shouldn’t be spoiled on the nuances of it that ultimately pull you in.

For though each of my strikes lands a powerful blow, When I kill, I do it slow… 

I would recommend this book quickly and easily to lovers of YA fiction who love a good complicated romance along with their fantasy. I am not a young adult (anymore), but I still enjoyed the story, the skilled writing, the characters, and the promise of future adventure that will also appeal to series-lovers like myself.

I would also recommend it to those who appreciate a good bad-a$$ villain!

Get it here: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Half Price Books


About the Author

Sarah J. MaasWebsite

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Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

(Bio courtesy of Goodreads)


 

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The Tuscan Child

by Rhys Bowen
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(4.15 stars – Goodreads rating)

Published February 20, 2018, by Lake Union Publishing

Genre: Fiction / Historical Fiction

Format: Kindle

Page Count: 329 pgs (Kindle version)

TuscanI felt incredibly free, as if I was a butterfly just released from my cocoon.

Historical novels usually have to be very good in order to capture and hold my attention, and this one fit the bill. In this story, we travel with Joanna Langley from Surrey, England in the early 1970s into the lush, rolling hills of Tuscany and the little village of San Salvatore as she searches for clues about her recently deceased father’s past. Along the way, we are also treated to her father’s story of survival and romance at the end of German occupation of Italy during WWII.

The story was well-written and compelling. The dual timelines were not distracting, but instead lent even more drama and build-up to the story as a whole. Both perspectives were given equal attention and were very well represented by the author. Bowen’s writing was crisp and colorful without being muddled in unnecessary details. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the Tuscan landscape and the delicious food – it made me long to visit Italy.

Fans of historical fiction will appreciate this novel for its skilled placement in two distinctly different eras of history. Lovers of romantic fiction will also appreciate the tender love stories that develop as well.

**Many thanks to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing, and the author for the opportunity for me to read and review this book.


About the Author

Rhys BowenWebsite

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Rhys Bowen is the New York TimesBestselling Author of the Royal Spyness Series, Molly Murphy Mysteries, and Constable Evans. She has won the Agatha Best Novel Award and has been nominated for the Edgar Best Novel. Rhys’s titles have received rave reviews around the globe.

 


 

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