My friend Morissa recently joined the blogosphere. You guys should check her blog out!
Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani
Released June 13th, 2013
Received as an ebook through NetGalley
The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
This book completely took me by surprise. Khanani may be an indie author, but this book is as good as (if not better than) many of the books currently sitting in the YA section at Barnes & Noble. If you enjoy reading about powerful females saving people and kicking butt, then this book is for you.
Sunbolt is a novella, so it is fairly short. Most readers will tell you that this doesn’t have an impact on the quality of the book, and I agree with that to a certain extent. However, I do feel that the novel was lacking emotional depth. In the first half, we are thrust into action and adventure, yet we aren’t given the necessary amount of time to form a connection with the protagonist. As a result, I often found myself wondering why I should care about the protagonist to begin with. Why should I be invested in her story? Why should I want her to succeed? I almost felt as if I was handed an incomplete book because of that lack of emotional and mental development.
Other than that, this novella had all the makings of a good fantasy. The protagonist, Hitomi, is a person of color (which is AWESOME). She’s resourceful, intelligent, strong, and witty. She’s also determined and full of a desire to help the people around her.
Being a fantasy novel, magic does play a significant role in the story. There are also vampire and werewolf-like creatures, as well as other creatures such as a “breather” which basically can suck the soul out of you. There aren’t really any love interests in the novella, so if you’re looking for romance this isn’t the place to find it.
Overall, I think this series has potential and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment once it comes out.
Thanks for reading,
The Splintered Series by A.G Howard
If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that I don’t normally review an entire series at one time. Originally, I planned on reviewing Splintered on its own, but I ended up reading this series so fast that I can’t really separate the books anymore. It’s all just become one giant blur of emotions and crazy events. So, I’m going to do my best to try to explain why I ended up loving this series so much.
Here is the Goodreads synopsis of Splintered to give you a bit of background:
Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.
When I started reading this series I had no idea what to expect; unlike so many other books that I’ve read, there wasn’t really any hype or talk surrounding it (or at least none that I had seen). It seems like the Splintered fandom is pretty quiet, and that needs to change effective immediately because these books are AMAZING.
Since the author does draw inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s story, Splintered features magic and crazy creatures galore- but with a dark and sinister twist. One of the reasons this series is so amazing is Howard’s attention to detail and her commitment to engaging the readers’ senses. Her descriptions of Wonderland and its inhabitants are so rich that you feel as if you are experiencing everything first hand. Wonderland is no longer the fun and bright place you saw in the Disney movie; it’s scary and threats lurk around every corner.
Another aspect of this series that also drew my attention was the extent to which the protagonist’s parents were involved in the plot. A common trend I often see in young adult literature is the lack of a consistently present parental figure, or the presence of one who is problematic. While these kinds of relationships certainly exist in real life, they are not a reflection of every real world family. It was refreshing to see that even though Alyssa’s relationship with her parents, especially her mom, does become strained at times, her parents consistently support her and do what they can to be around her and keep her safe.
As for Alyssa, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series from her perspective. She’s fun and quirky and, like any good character, has her own flaws and shortcomings that she works through on her journey into adulthood. She develops strength and confidence as she matures, and along the way she learns to balance other people’s expectations with her own expectations for herself.
Now I know what you may be thinking. What about the romance? Are there any good looking love interests to swoon over? Yes, there are romances. And yes, they are very swoon worthy- I literally had to stop reading several times to either a) stop blushing, or b) put a hand over my heart and sigh dramatically. I kid you not. In case you were wondering, there is a strong presence of a love triangle, but that wasn’t a problem to me. It certainly didn’t detract from the story. Actually, I would argue that it made the story better because Morpheus and Jeb (the two love interests) are like incarnates of Wonderland and the human world, so they represent everything that those two worlds have to offer.
Oh, and you know this guy?
Well, he’s the character that Morpheus is supposed to be based off of, but he gets a MAJOR upgrade in Splintered. Oh, Morpheus. I could write an entire post on why his name has been added to my “Favorite Male Characters of All Time” list. He’s a tricky, manipulative, self-serving word master with a penchant for eccentric fashion and flashy moth-covered hats, and yet I could not help but fall in love with his wicked ways. But seriously, the guy’s got a hat for literally every occasion. Seduction Hat? Check. Insurrection Hat? Check again.
Before I end my post, I’d like to take a moment to do something I don’t normally do. I’d like to thank A.G Howard for writing this beautiful series. Before reading it, I had been stuck in the biggest reading slump of my life. College had hacked away at my will to read, and, in a fit of desperation, I almost gave up on something that I consider to be my passion. This series changed that. It made me fall in love with reading all over again, and I will be forever grateful for that.
Take the time to fall into this series just like Alice fell down the rabbit hole. I promise you that it’s worth it.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Hi everyone! This is my review for one of the Sunday Street Team’s November books, The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennet.
You can enter to win a copy of this book here.
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Release date: November 3, 2015
Artist Beatrix Adams knows exactly how she’s spending the summer before her senior year. Determined to follow in Leonardo da Vinci’s footsteps, she’s ready to tackle the one thing that will give her an advantage in a museum-sponsored scholarship contest: drawing actual cadavers. But when she tries to sneak her way into the hospital’s Willed Body program and misses the last metro train home, she meets a boy who turns her summer plans upside down.
Jack is charming, wildly attractive . . . and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. On midnight buses and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who Jack really is—and tries to uncover what he’s hiding that leaves him so wounded. But will these secrets come back to haunt him? Or will the skeletons in Beatrix’s own family’s closet tear them apart?
As far as contemporary young adult romance goes, this has to be one of my favorites so far. Since the goodreads synopsis gives you a good idea of what to expect, I’m going to jump straight into the review and skip the summary that I usually give.
I love the fact that this book has a strong artistic flavor to it. Both the protagonist, Beatrix, and her love interest, Jack, are artistically inclined, but in completely different ways. I also love that Beatrix is motivated and has a goal in sight which she stays focused on throughout the novel.
Both Jack and Beatrix have family issues that they have to deal with throughout the novel, and the support that they provide for one another is admirable; I enjoyed seeing the way that they were able to help each other during those difficult moments. I liked how no one in the novel is “perfect” and that even the characters that we assumed were honest and straightforward turned out to be hiding something. It’s fun to see a contemporary novel that still has plot twists and surprises.
This book deals with specific issues that I won’t go into because of spoilers, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a seemingly light book take such a dark and heavy turn. To me, that shows that you don’t have to sacrifice a good plot and meaningful message for a cute romance story; you can have both and still end up with a great novel.
Lastly, I liked the romance between the two characters. They were both endearingly cute and shy and a little awkward at times. They respected one another and understood that boundaries should only ever be crossed with permission. Neither of them tried to push the relationship in a way that made the other uncomfortable.
If you’re looking for a short and adorable love story that isn’t cliche or boring in the least, then I highly suggest you give this book a try.
Thanks for reading!
About the Author:
Jenn Bennett is the author of the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series with Pocket and the Roaring 20’s historical paranormal romance series with Berkley. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two pugs.
The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.
Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He’s also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?
Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.
If you’re eager to read Gabriel, you can get a sneak peek of it on Nikki’s Wattpad.
And now, on to the interview portion of this evening-er…morning.
What did you do on your research trip to France?
Mainly, I visited all the locations used in the book! I also spent some time writing while I was there of course! I think the nicest thing about my research trip was that I ended up using my Auntie and Uncle’s barn conversion as a base for the property our gang find themselves staying in! Everything in the story form the barn, the village itself and various locations (including the snowy mountains) are completely real – you could even go and visit them all yourself!
Was the writing process for Gabriel a lot different than Lailah?
The writing process for GABRIEL was shorter, because this time around I was writing full time! But the actual ‘writing’ part was much the same. I start with a premise, have an idea in my head of the beginning/ the ending/ a specific character etc etc. and start writing! I only ever do rough outlines, it’s all pretty much in my head, which is another reason why I have often said I feel like this story was implanted in my brain sometimes and I am the mere mortal who gets to put pen on paper to bring it to life!
What can we expect from Gabriel (the novel) ?
Gosh, A LOT! The story picks up right where it left off, and continues to be told form Lailah’s POV – The main cast are back, but we get to meet some lush new ones too! I am still a great fan of the twist – suffice to say, just when you think you know, really you have no idea! 😉 Oh, and also, did I mention… #NoMercy 😉
Would you say that you’re similar to Lailah in any way?
Naturally, Lailah and I have a few of the same traits, I think every character in my stories have a little something piece of me, whether intention or not! But I think we can all relate to Lailah’s plight, I think most of us go through a time in our lives where we are working out who we are and making choices that carve out who we ultimately end up becoming.
What are you currently reading?
I have a new baby, so my hands are a little tied at the moment! But I can tell you what I will be reading next *grabby hands* Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo !!!
Any advice for aspiring authors?
If you have a story to tell, don’t stop until it’s told… and Never.Ever.Give.Up
How much of your personal experience is tied into this series?
A very large percent! A good example — In GABRIEL Ruadhan tells Lailah ‘You only fail, if you never try.’ That is the very advice my Mom gave me, and one of the reasons I am living my dream today… I think it all goes back to that great advice you hear again and again about writing – about writing what you know. So in this case, for example, I know very well the true meaning and the importance of that message… Even down to the mythology in the story — it’s all based loosely on my own belief system (you’ll see plenty more of that in Book2 and especially in Book3)
For those of you who haven’t read Lailah yet, check out the goodreads synopsis below to get in on the action.
The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.
On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.
In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name: Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find her place? And with whom?
Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who she truly is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to Wattpad, an online readers and writers community. Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a Chihuahua).
LAILAH is my debut novel, and first launched in serial form to wattpad, a readers & writers community. Within just 6months, LAILAH had over a million reads and thousands of comments and votes.
Since then, The Styclar Saga has gone on to pick up a traditional deal with Feiwel & Friends, and LAILAH, the first book in the series is due for release on October 7th 2014.
These days I spend my time balancing my amazing job of writing fantasy fiction, with my other, very important role of Chocolate Connoisseur. I like to multitask and do the two together. It makes me happy.
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Released on September 2nd, 2014
Borrowed from local library
Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.
Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.
The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.
I read Heir of Fire for the first time almost a year ago. Since I never reviewed it, I’m going to do that now having read the book for the second time. I’m actually glad I didn’t review it after only reading it once; the first time I read it I was so focused on Rowan’s character that I failed to notice how AMAZING Celaena’s character development is in just the span of that one novel.
One of my absolute favorite things about this novel is how emotionally intense it is. Since the other two novels don’t really focus the emotional and mental effects that Celaena’s experiences have had on her, it’s great to see this part of Celaena in such a raw and undiluted way. In this novel Celaena is broken and has to find the strength to piece herself back together bit by bit. She clearly suffers from depression, and even what seems to be PTSD. It’s also great to see her come to terms with who she truly is. Up until this point she has been spending her life running from her past, but in this novel she embraces her past and finds peace within herself. She recognizes that she has made mistakes, and she makes a promise to herself to go into the future with a goal of changing the world for the better this time. In my opinion, Celaena’s character development is the most beautiful and emotionally powerful character development that I’ve read about.
Maas also develops Dorian’s character in a way that makes me feel so proud of the person he has become. He is no longer a scared boy who can’t stand up to his father; Dorian finds his voice and uses it to fight for what he believes in. Other than that, this novel introduces some awesome new characters that you will be sure to fall in love with. *Cough* ROWAN *cough* *cough* MANON *cough*.
Lastly, I love that we see the power of having even one true friend. We’ve never seen Celaena really rely on anyone else, but in this novel she sees that sometimes true strength and bravery can be just accepting the help and support that you need. I enjoyed seeing Celaena both heal herself and help others heal as well.
And Celaena has some intense, hard-core, bada** fire powers. Just thought I’d drop that in there. LIKE SUPER INTENSE, GUYS. Okay, I have to control myself. *takes deep breath* BUT DID I MENTION HOW COOL LIKE I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND HOW AMAZING HER POWERS ARE?!?!
So far, Heir of Fire has been my favorite out of the first three ToG novels. Fingers crossed for Queen of Shadows!