If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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Title:
 Uprooted
Author: Naomi Novik
Publisher:
Del Rey
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Genres: Young Adult/Adult, Fantasy, Romance

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Synopsis:

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.


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Uprooted reads like a dark fairy-tale that ignites the most luminous story of courage, female empowerment, whimsical magic, and a hint of romance. I read this book back in November 2015 and this year I decided to do a re-read, because honestly I cannot get this story or the characters out of my head. And once again, I savored Uprooted to the very end.

Every chapter of Uprooted is captivating and beautifully written. The main character, Agnieszka, is a fierce heroine that is very in tune with her natural ability to be bold and selfless. I loved that Agnieszka is portrayed as being very intuitive to her magical gifts, but she never tries to outshine those around her. She observes, learns, and reacts with her instincts. Although her teacher, the Dragon, often gets irritated with her  because she doesn’t stick to the rule book of magic, you can definitely see that he respects and cares for her. 

Along with Uprooted being an enchanting, fairy-tale-esque  story, the book also contains a slow-burn romance that will make your insides tingle. I loved reading the pages where Agnieszka and the Dragon argue and banter. The chemistry between these two characters is deeply rooted with passion, care, and respect for each other. 

I also want to rave about the portrayal of female empowerment in Uprooted. While men in the novel try to play by traditional (patriarchal) standards and set rules, the female characters listen to their intuition and solve problems by their innate reactions. The female characters do not try to cut each other down. Instead they work together, often becoming each other’s saviors instead of the men being the “knights in shining armor.” 

Overall, once again, I loved every second of Uprooted. The magic is dark but the characters are incredibly stunning. I really enjoyed the whimsical twists and gruesome turns. But most of all, I love that the quiet, simple girl doesn’t get lost in the pages or overshadowed by potential heroes;  instead she uses her fears, instincts, and vulnerabilities as strengths to conquer evil. 

star rating

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Note:   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. 
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If It’s Not A Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of First & Then by Emma Mills

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Title:
 First & Then
Author: Emma Mills
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary 

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Synopsis:

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them: first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.


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This is a “second chance” read for me. Back in late 2015, I read First & Then and rated it at a 2/5 stars. At that time, I stated in my short Goodreads review that I could not connect with the story or the characters. Now fast forward to 2018! I re-read First & Then and OHHHHMYYYGOD . . . I don’t even know what was wrong with my past self. So in regards to my re-read, I adored First & Then, and I am so happy I gave the book a second chance. 

It’s quite possible that I could not relate to First & Then back in 2015, because I am not a football fan. But last year, I binged watched Friday Night Lights and fell in love with the show, the drama, and maybe (just maybe) I started liking football. Add in the swoons, a dash of Prejudice and Prejudice appreciation, and an adorable cousin friendship, and voilà First & Then won me over. 

Overall, First & Then is a quick read and it comes with two of my favorite reading criterion: angst and warm fuzzies. Devon, the main character, and Ezra, her “nemesis,” have great chemistry throughout the book and the storytelling definitely won me over. I love that Emma Mills portrays her characters with flaws and vulnerabilities, making the story more vibrant and realistic. I am so glad I gave this book a second chance and I highly recommend that if you are fan of romantic contemporary books, First & Then is for you. 

4 star rating

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Note:   I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in exchange for a review. I bought this book with my own funds, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Legendary by Stephanie Garber

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Title:
 Legendary
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher:
Flatiron Books
Release Date: May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

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Synopsis:

Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.


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Hello, again! Yes, I am back to gush and rave about the world of Caraval (RAVING REVIEW HERE), but more importantly its sequel: Legendary. As some of you already know, I am a huge Caraval fanatic. I’ve read the book three times, and each time it gets better and better. So when Legendary was announced, I knew I had to get my hands on it, and of course buy all the copies: US edition, special editions, Goldsboro’s edition, Waterstone’s edition, and all the UK editions. I’m a mess, you guys! I know it’s the same book with the same exact words with the same story, but I need all the editions. And finally, after much . . . and I mean so much contemplation, and trying to accept that my raving review would have to be sufficient enough to explain how much I LOVED Legendary, here are a few of my raving thoughts on the book.

Once again Stephanie Garber, creates a world filled with magic, romance, mystery, enchantment, and the most beautiful darkness. I adore Stephanie’s richly descriptive writing style. Each of her sentences are like shimmering swirls of an enchanting spell. Stephanie’s storytelling is very atmospheric, metaphoric ,and spellbinding; it has that hint of pulling at the heart and the aching emotion that true magic encompasses the world of Caraval.

Legendary is Tella’s story (Scarlett’s sister). I will admit, at first, I was not 100% on board for Tella’s story, because I wanted more Scarlett, but WHOA! I am so glad I gave Tella and her story a chance. Tella acts so fierce and determined on the outside. But behind her fire, Tella bottles up her loneliness, the motivation to protect her sister, and the emotional effects of being abandoned by her mother at such a young age. Even though everyone seems to underestimate Tella, she is definitely a fighter. What I like about Tella is that she doesn’t hold back any attitude or motivation to do what she believes is right. There is a darker aura that surrounds Tella compared to Scarlett, but I enjoyed watching Tella mature throughout the novel.

I also found Legendary to be much more darker than Caraval, and the darker atmosphere definitely adds a lot of intrigue and mystery to the novel. Death and loneliness tend be constant entities that litter Tella’s story, and you just cannot look away from the action that ensues. I highly recommend that you read Legendary NOW! Not only will you discover the true identity of Legend, but you will also be swept up into a new game of Caraval with deadly kisses, the power of the fates, and sacrifice. 

star rating

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Note: Thank you to Flatiron Books for providing me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

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Title:
Song of Blood & Stone
Author: L. Penelope
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, New Adult, Romance Fantasy

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Synopsis:

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

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

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

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. 

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


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From the very beginning, Song of Blood & Stone sucked me in. There is so much mystery and action that fills the first chapter, and I definitely wanted to know what was going on. Additionally, the book contains such elegant world-building, a unique magic called Earthsong, and, of course, the most intriguing characters. And with so many secrets and intrigue littering every page, I was on the edge of my seat to see how the story unfolded. 

In addition to the magic and beautiful world-building in Song of Blood & Stone, I really loved the two main characters, Jasminda and Jack. Jasminda is powerful, independent, caring, and has so much heart. And I found Jack to also be bold, mysterious, and kindhearted. The chemistry between these characters is a slow burn, but near the middle and end of the book, their relationship sizzles in the best possible ways. 

If you are fan of fantasy books with great world-building, a dash of swoons, and unique magic, you need to pick up Song of Blood & Stone. This book surprised me in the best possible ways. Every page held my attention, and I strongly wanted to know what was going to happen from beginning to end. I am very much looking forward to continuing this series.

4 star rating

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Penelope, L._CREDIT Valerie Bey
About the Author

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

 

 

Note: Thank you to Wednesday Books/St. Martin’s for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: A Playlist for THE STRANGE FASCINATIONS OF NOAH HYPNOTIK by David Arnold

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Title: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author: David Arnold
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland brings a speculative twist to his latest novel. The result: an incisive and deeply humane story with the feel of Haruki Murakami for teens.

“An epic wonder”* from the bestselling author of Mosquitoland

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes–inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories–in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . . 

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.


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Told in first person point of view, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a coming-of-age story that explores the strange and fascinating life of Noah Oakman. Noah is tired of figuratively wearing the same old sweater. After being hypnotized, Noah starts noticing all these crazy physical and personality changes with his family, friends, and even his dog. As Noah explores these odd occurrences, he also starts contemplating the definition of being alone versus alienation. Throughout the novel, Noah delves into his life choices while backpacking his favorite authors, books, musicians like David Bowie, and iconic songs along for the ride. Check out my 5-star RAVING review HERE

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Music and notable musicians play important roles in The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, and throughout Noah’s mind-boggling life he highlights the most fantastic tunes. But what fascinated me the most is that Noah’s world is surrounded by great people who inspire the perfect playlist. Below, check out some of my favorite quotes which sparked an eclectic playlist of songs. 

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WEEK ONE

May 7 – The Blonde Bookworm – Review
May 8 – Confessions of a YA Reader – Review + My Strange Fascinations
May 9 – Forever Bookish – Review
May 10 – Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Playlist with Graphic Quotes
May 11 – Adventures in YA Publishing – Author Q&A

WEEK TWO

May 14 – The Nerdy Girl Express – Review
May 15 – A Court of Coffee and Books – Review + Graphic Quotes
May 16 – BookCrushin – Review + Playlist
May 17 – Mind of a Book Dragon – Review
May 18 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Guest Post:  What Would Your Strange Fascination Be?

WEEK THREE

May 21 – Pop! Goes the Reader – Wallpaper
May 22 – The Young Folks – Author Q&A
May 23 – Page Travels – Creative Instagram
May 24 – Bookfoolery – Review
May 25 – Dazzled by Books – Candle Creation Post + Review

WEEK FOUR

May 28 – Paper Trail YA – Author Q&A
May 29 – Snowandbooks – Review + Aesthetic Board
May 30 – Reading Writing and Me – Book Review
May 31 – The Radiant Reader – Playlist + Creative Instagram Picture
June 1 – We Live and Breathe Books – Review + Moodboard

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David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages.

 

 

WEBSITE   /   TWITTER  /   GOODREADS   /
FACEBOOK 
 /   
INSTAGRAM

 

 


Note: Thank you to Penguin Teen for having me on this blog tour and for providing me a review copy to read for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own. Please note that I do not own or have rights to any of the music, lyrics, quotes, or videos shown in this blog post. All quote images were created by me.

If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Review of THE STRANGE FASCINATIONS OF NOAH HYPNOTIK by David Arnold

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Title: The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
Author: David Arnold
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Release Date: May 22, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland brings a speculative twist to his latest novel. The result: an incisive and deeply humane story with the feel of Haruki Murakami for teens.

“An epic wonder”* from the bestselling author of Mosquitoland

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes–inexplicable scars, odd behaviors, rewritten histories–in all those around him. All except his Strange Fascinations . . . 

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.


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First off . . . WHOA!

There is no one way to explain the profound literary oddities and beautiful complexities of The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. But for me, this book was a combination of my favorite movie, one of my favorite books, and one of my favorite TV shows. Mix the quirks and cerebral explorations found in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, add in a dash of Holden Caulfield’s blunt honesty and independent drive and the uncensored monologues of Angela Chase in My So-Called Life, and you get the perfect tome called The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik.

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a modern-day coming-of-age story that highlights and explores the emotional aspects of being alone versus loneliness. Told in first person point-of-view, Noah (the main character) explains to the reader that he is tired of figuratively wearing the same old sweater. He is tired of everyone expecting a traditional path for his future, when he honestly doesn’t even know what he wants. So after drinking the fruitiest of alcoholic beverages and ranting to a random stranger, Noah is hypnotized and wakes up noticing all these crazy physical and personality changes with his family, friends, and even his dog. The only constant in his life is his hilarious and good-hearted sister, Penny. For months, Noah unravels his own thoughts and exerts himself into the lives of lonely strangers. And in the end, Noah wakes up to a world of panic, concerns, heartache, but more importantly, love, compassion, and a triangular friendship.

David Arnold is one of my favorite young adult writers because his novels always encompass so much passion; his characters are so authentic and his storytelling always provides a realistic truth and the raw grittiness of teenage life. So when it comes to The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik, once again, David wrote a book that took my love for his work to the next level.

This contemporary book, with a sprinkle of science fiction, made me laugh so hard but also tear up in other scenes.  The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik made me want to listen to Bowie non-stop and watch my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls. And oddly enough, this novel made me think about how much I love my younger brother and how I appreciate that he is that stable constant in my life. If you love humming to the theme song of Friends and following a eccentric character that takes you on an unbeaten path, pull up a chair and open the pages to Noah’s strange and fascinating life known as The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik.

star rating

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David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky, with his (lovely) wife and (boisterous) son. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite and Mosquitoland, and his books have been translated into a dozen languages.

 


WE
BSITE   /   TWITTER  /   GOODREADS   /
FACEBOOK   /   INSTAGRAM

 

 

Note: Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me a review copy to read for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Blog Tour: Excerpt of Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

 

Song of Blood _ Stone_cover image
Title: Song of Blood & Stone
Author: L. Penelope
Publisher:
St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, New Adult, Romance Fantasy

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Synopsis:

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

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

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

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. 

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.


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Penelope, L._CREDIT Valerie Bey
About the Author

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

 

 

 

Note: Thank you to St. Martin’s for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review and excerpt reveal. All statements and opinions are my own.