Saturday, October 12, 2019

Book review: Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Book Summary
A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher's chest: an illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog -- donning the moniker Technician -- to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner's tyrannical laws.

Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner's son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father's respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father's elusive affection is worth chasing at all.

Their game of cat and mouse takes an abrupt turn when Eliza, a skilled assassin and spy, arrives. Her mission is to learn the Commissioner's secrets at any cost -- even if it means betraying her own heart.

When these uneasy allies discover the most dangerous secret of all, they must work together despite their differences and put an end to a deadly epidemic -- before the Commissioner ends them first.

Flo's Review
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with this book. Sci-Fi is not a genre I usually read, but every once in awhile I get hooked by an interesting premise and expand my reading universe. (See what I did there?! Lol). When I read the synopsis for Tarnished, it gripped me and I wanted it. 

This book didn't disappoint and I'm so glad it didn't! The pacing was incredible. I had a deadline for getting this review done, so I'd given in to the fact that I'd need to spend the majority of the day reading to meet this goal. But it ended up being a chore by no means. Even if I didn't have to get the review done today, I would have still kept reading. I would think that I needed to put the book down and take a break, then I would just keep turning the pages. I would think that I was taking a break at the end of a chapter, but guess what? I wasn't! I kept going.

Tarnished had three narrators, and I really liked all three of their voices. Thor did a good job of making them distinct. Often with books that are written by the same person that have multiple POVs, the characters sound the same, because the writer is the same. That wasn't the case here. Nathaniel, Anna, and Eliza remained true to their own voices throughout. 

Nathaniel. Needs a hug. Come here, Nathaniel, let me give you a hug. Of the three, I think he had the hardest journey of self discovery. His growth, the decisions he makes, are honest and true to where his character is at each point in the story. He went a long way from the beginning to the end, and the reader felt allll his pain.

Eliza was just interesting to read because of her training. How she was trained affected her every move and was fascinating to read about. Then, oh, a little more than halfway through Thor dropped something on the reader, and I'm all, "Wha!?!!" While Nathaniel had the biggest journey of self growth in the story, Eliza, too, moved quite a bit. 

I felt least connected to Anna, because her tunnel-vision passion is something I could not relate to. But, of course, you can see why she was the way she was.

The slowly growing romance was great! I love me some romantic tension, and Tarnished brought it! The only thing that gives me pause is the end. The "whole story" comes out in typical fashion, but without enough context. I don't feel like I truly understand how the "villain" came to be the way they were. How did their past, motivations lead them to what they did? Perhaps a novella a la Marissa Meyer's Fairest is in order.

Tarnished Are the Stars publishes October 15th from Scholastic, and if you enjoy sci-fi, romance, queer rep, an engaging story, and intriguing characters, then definitely pick it up!


I received this ARC as part of Miss Print's ARC Adoption Program.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Audiobook review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

Book Summary
The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.
 

Flo's Review
What a pleasant surprise this book was! I've been wanting to read Sky in the Deep ever since I heard about it, but it never quite made it all the way up the TBR pile. Then a good friend gifted me with the beautiful hardcover copy of this one, and I decided to give it a read before YALLFEST. I listened to the audiobook and it flew by! It was only about 8 or 9 hours, which is my sweet spot for audiobooks. (After that, I really have to like the story because they start to seem too long to me at that point.) I felt like I started and finished this within a few days. But the pacing also contributed. The story started off with a mystery, with a question, and just went full in from there on out.

I am happy to report that even though this is a companion novel to Sky in the Deep, you don't have to read that one first to fully understand this one at all. I never did get to read Sky -- though I definitely will now! -- and the only reason I figured out that the two books were related is because I went poking around for information about this book on Goodreads. I wanted to emphasize that point because I think it's fantastic. I have been caught before by "It's a companion, but you don't have to to have read the original series" and then I've tried the book and been completely lost. Not the case here. This stood alone perfectly and made me excited to go back and read the other one.

Tova was a great character. There was just something about her that drew me in as a reader. She blames herself for a lot of the deaths in the book, and even as I was thinking she was right, it didn't make me dislike her at all. And naturally Tolvard (excuse me if I'm spelling any one's names wrong) was bae. I'd even consider living on the fjord for him. But then I wouldn't because let's be real -- that just sounds cold!

Likeable characters that you're rooting for, nonstop action, fantastic pacing, the joy of being a standalone -- all of these qualities endeared me to this book. It's definitely one I would recommend.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Book Review: The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware


Goodreads Overview:

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.
 

Review:

This book was recommended to me by a former co-worker when I told her I was planning on going on a cruise???  Well, the Aurora isn't a typical cruise ship with hundreds or thousands of passengers. It is a luxury yacht with only ten plush cabins. The ship is getting ready to embark on its maiden voyage with a guest list consisting of media and travel writers, a photographer, potential financial backers, and the yacht's owner and his wife.  

Lo Blacklock has worked for Velocity travel magazine for years, but her boss is the one who usually takes advantage of the more upscale trips that come their way.  When her boss is laid up due to a complicated pregnancy, Lo is offered this once in a lifetime opportunity to sail on the Aurora.  She plans on networking and showing everyone how valuable she really is to the magazine. This may be just the beginning of bigger and better things to come. Unfortunately, she experiences a  rather traumatic event prior to embarking on the trip and isn't in the best frame of mind to schmooze or write.  Sleep deprivation and anxiety get the better of her and she decides to drink a bit too much to help cope.  She witnesses what she believes is a body being thrown overboard and immediately calls the staff to report it.  When all of the passengers are eventually accounted for, her story is dismissed.  Everyone tells her she was either too intoxicated or overly tired and didn't really see what she believes she saw.

Lo is convinced she did not imagine the event and continues to investigate.  The closer she gets to the truth, the more dangerous things become for her.  She refuses to let it go and eventually finds herself in the middle of a very twisted tale.  

The pace of the story was excellent and I was constantly on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next.  I never would have guessed what ultimately took place and couldn't believe the lengths someone would go through to orchestrate a murder.  The plan would have worked perfectly if only Lo hadn't been awoken by a scream from the cabin next door.  It wasn't even a scream of terror, but more of a scream of shock or surprise.  It was just enough to get her attention and then she heard the splash.

I love murder mysteries and found this book to be very enjoyable.  It was a fast read and really gave you a sense of what it can feel like being trapped on a boat at sea.  We also had no wifi or contact with the outside world when we were on our cruise.  When Lo felt like she was in danger she couldn't contact anyone and had no way off the boat.  She was trapped and at the mercy of the passengers and crew.  She had no idea who she could trust and really needed to play her cards right if she wanted to walk away from the voyage alive.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Book review: The Beast by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

Book Summary 
Nico, Opal, Tyler, Emma, and Logan survived their worst fears come to life, and saved their tiny Pacific Northwest town of Timbers from a monstrous figment invasion. Now they just want to keep their heads down, enjoy Halloween, and explore the secrets of their mysterious houseboat clubhouse. And also figure out their new Torchbearer responsibilities as keepers of the Darkdeep, an ancient whirlpool hidden in Still Cove that can make both dreams and nightmares into reality.

But when a dangerous new breed of figments starts appearing on their own, and the very environment around them begins to spiral out of control, the friends realize they have no idea what they are doing-or how they're supposed to restrain the Darkdeep. They must uncover the pool's origins, as well as those of the freaky Thing in a Jar, a seemingly lifeless green creature Opal believes is communicating with her. To make matters worse, a trashy YouTube series has rolled into town intent on finding the Beast, the legendary local sea monster suddenly stirring up the countryside.

As threats rapidly close in around them, the friends must fight to protect their secrets, defeat new enemies, and save Timbers and all that they love.

Told from alternating points of view, this chilling sequel from bestselling duo Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs will once again have readers sleeping with the lights on.

Flo's Review
Y'all. If you thought The Darkdeep was craaazay (aka "good crazy") then get ready for The Beast! This book takes everything literally to a whole new level. Like I was fully not expecting to go all the places this story went. I was sitting there reading it and just when I thought things couldn't get any more insane -- they totally did!

There was so much going on here, what with the Beast, the figments, Freakshow, and the gang trying to solve another mystery. It all ended up connecting of course, but daaaang. I am super impressed with the creativity of Ally and Brendan and this world they've created. This group of friends is pretty great, too. They have each other's backs 100%, always remembering their oath, "We look out for the Darkdeep, and we look out for each other." I was especially touched by some of their little actions, which actually weren't so little. Like Tyler's badass moment toward the end. And Nico subtlely cutting Logan some slack at one point.

Like with the last novel, this one ended with a little hint about what's to come. I, of course, can't imagine what that is. But based on the teaser, I fully believe it's going to get even craaaazier than this one. I cannot wait!

In the meantime, The Beast publishes Tuesday, September 24th. This is a fun series so far (although I will never look at Care Bears the same way, thank you very much, Brendan and Ally!!) and I recommend you give it a try if you're in the mood for a super creative adventure.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Audiobook review: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Book Summary
How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany's locker? When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn't under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal's office for the third time in three days, and it's still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany's locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared. Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he's capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken--including his dead mother--and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There's only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk. A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

Flo's Review
I picked up a copy of this book during the Barnes and Noble #bookhaul sale a few weeks ago. Then, about a week ago, I was going through a sort of audiobook slump and decided to give this one a listen. I'm so glad I did! It got me out of my slump fast!

There's so much that I love about this book! I jotted down notes as I read, so this review might be out of order and a little random, but here we go--

Sal: Sal is one of the best protagonists I've read in a long time. He's just a genuinely good kid and an amazing role model for kids who will read this book. Sal is down-to-earth -- he's honest and direct about how devastated he is about the death of his mother and about his time in therapy afterward. I love that he casually talks about how he uses techniques he learned in therapy. To him, there's not stigma or awkwardness about it, and that's so great for kids -- and adults! -- to read. Sal is described in this book as a decent person, as smart, and he's both of those and more. To him, it's like, "Yeah, of course you've got to be a good human being." His reflex reaction is to "be decent," as Yasmany points out. That's fantastic! He is smart, like his parents say. I also love how down-to-earth, honest, and open he is about his diabetes. He never complains about it. He talks about it, as it's a big part of his life. We see what happens if he doesn't stay on top of it. But he doesn't whine about it or pity himself. You guys, I truly love Sal. Can't you tell?! 

Parents: All the parents in general. What I love about the parents in this book is that they are involved. It's so refreshing, especially when I'm so used to reading all these MG and YA novels where the kids are going on all these adventures and their parents have no idea. Yes, Sal and Gabi do get into some stuff that their parents don't know about, but more often than not they are involved and supportive. One of my favorite scenes was the one where Sal's parents and all Gabi's parents are helping them with their play. I also love how the parents talk to the kids in this book like they're on their level -- they don't talk down to them at all. In this book, parents and kids are equal players and that's really, really cool. Also, Sal recognizes that his parents are cool and appreciates them. But don't worry, I'm not about to revert back to talking about my love for Sal! Lol

Gabi: Who runs the world? Girls. Or, I mean, Gabi Real. Gabi is the girl I would love to raise. She is smart, she knows her own worth, she is also compassionate. The first time we see her, it's because she is helping her friend Yasmany. She is quick to accept apologies, as Sal notes. And of course her t-shirts are on point! She is the perfect partner in crime for Sal as he tries to figure out what he's doing to the multiverse and what everything means.

Gabi's dads: I also loved her dads. We are never told what happened to Gabi's biological father, or who he is, and that's completely okay. I didn't even miss it. It was like a warm hug every time we got to hang out with Gabi's dads in the novel. Hernandez does a great job describing them all and giving them all unique and interesting personalities. And names.

Serious subjects: This book was a lot of fun, and it's about moving things between different parallel universes, so it's a little crazy, too. But it also handles some serious topics. Grief, and how Sal deals with it, with his mom. I'm so proud of him for a thought he has at the end of the book! There's Iggy, Gabi's little brother, and the gravity of his situation. Gabi's mom brings in matters of faith. The whole plot with Yasmany made my heart hurt a little. I think one of the beauties of this book was the reality of it -- one minute the characters are dealing with Yasmany's horrible home life, and then next they are laughing over a fart joke.

Culeco: I love Sal and Gabi's school! How fun does it sound?! I would have freakin' loved to go to a school like that! I love how the teachers encourage creativity in their students. I love how the students all enjoy school -- they get there early and stay late because they want to. Detention is fun! Also, Principal Torres for the win. Sal even recognizes that she's boss, as in she's awesome.

Overall: I had a big, fat smile on my face the entire time I was listening to this book. The audiobook narrator was incredible as well -- he did a great job with all the voices, and there were many he had to portray. I would love Sal and/or Gabi to be my children. I cannot wait to see how they plan to "fix" the universe in book 2!

Oh, and a bonus promo: I picked this book up sooner than later because the author is going to be at this year's Miami Book Fair in November. Here are some of the details about this upcoming event:

36th Miami Book Fair
Nov. 22-24, 9am-dusk
Downtown Miami MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 4th Street, Miami
FREE for children 12 & under; Teens 13-18 & Seniors: $5 and adults: $10
Parking: FREE, Building 7, block sized garage between NE 1  & 2nd Avenues & between 5 & 6th Streets (6th one way going West, and 5th Street is one way going East)
For more information, visit miamibookfair.com

Monday, September 9, 2019

EXCLUSIVE: Miami Book Fair MG Author Reveal!


The Miami Book Fair is one of my most anticipated events of the year. Every November, tons of amazing authors descend upon the 305 for panels and autographing, vendors sell great books new and old, and I have the opportunity to just have a blast with my bookish friends. So I am *beyond the moon* excited to be partnering with the Miami Book Fair this year on their middle grade author lineup reveal!

First, here is some general information for this year's Fair:

36th Miami Book Fair
Nov. 22-24, 9am-dusk
Downtown Miami MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 4th Street, Miami
FREE for children 12 & under; Teens 13-18 & Seniors: $5 and adults: $10
Parking: FREE, Building 7, block sized garage between NE 1  & 2nd Avenues & between 5 & 6th Streets (6th one way going West, and 5th Street is one way going East)
For more information, visit miamibookfair.com

And now, without further ado--

2019 Miami Book Fair MG Authors

Andrea Beatty, Sofia Valdez, Future Prez The newest picture book from the creators of Iggy Peck, Architect; Rosie Revere, Engineer; and Ada Twist, Scientist stars Sofia Valdez, a community leader who stands up for what she believes in!


Kadir Nelson, The Undefeated The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. 

Carlos Hernandez, Sal and Gabi Break the Universe How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany's locker? When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn't under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal's office for the third time in three days, and it's still the first week of school. 


George O’Connor, Olympians: Hephaistos: God of Fire  New York Times–bestselling author and illustrator of the Olympians series as well as such graphic novels as Journey into Mohawk Country and Ball Peen Hammer. Thrown from Mount Olympus as a newborn and caught by Thetis and Eurynome, who raised him on the island of Lemnos, Hephaistos had an aptitude for creating beautiful objects from a very young age. Despite his rejection from Olympus, he swallowed his anger and spent his days perfecting his craft. His exquisitely forged gifts and weapons earned him back his seat in the heavens, but he was not treated as an equal―his brothers and sisters looked down at him for his lame leg, and even his own wife, Aphrodite, was disloyal. In this installment of George O'Connor's bestselling Olympians graphic novel series, witness Hephaistos’ wrath in God of Fire as he creates a plan that’ll win him the respect he deserves.


Jamaica Kincaid, Party: A Mystery Three girls--Pam, Beth, and Sue--attend a party to celebrate the publication of the first of the Nancy Drew mystery books. There are many distractions at the fancy affair: flower arrangements, partygoers, refreshments, and lots and lots of marble. Suddenly, the oldest girl, Pam, sees what can only be described as something truly...bilious...not good! Beth sees it too. The youngest, Sue, does not, and as usual, she has a hard time getting anyone to tell her anything. Party: A Mystery is a beautifully drawn adventure story that promises questions that will grab, but does not guarantee an answer.


Jarod Roselló, Red Panda & Moon Bear (comic) Two Latinx kids battle supernatural threats to their working-class neighborhood with the power of science, magic, and a pair of very special hoodies. Red Panda and Moon Bear are the defenders of their community! Together, these brave siblings rescue lost cats, scold bullies, and solve mysteries, all before Mami and Papi get home. But lately... the mysteries have been EXTRA mysterious. All of RP and MB's powers may not be enough to handle spooks, supervillains, alien invaders, and time warps! It'll take all their imagination -- and some new friends -- to uncover the secret cause behind all these events before the whole world goes crazy. In his first book for young readers, Cuban-American cartoonist Jarod Roselló presents a whimsical and tender-hearted adventure, packed with Saturday-morning action and glowing with Caribbean sunshine.


Mark Kurlansky, Bugs in Danger:: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles “The disappearance of a few prominent insects could lead to the complete unraveling of life on Earth.” This is only one of the dire warnings that punctuate several chapters in a text that is accessible, informational, and often humorous. Using Darwin’s theories and the assumption that every species must prioritize its own promulgation or perish, the author suggests, among other things, that humans may have created their own decline by emphasizing individual life choices over species survival. He emphasizes biodiversity as the key to preserving life as we know it, employing the historical decline of ladybugs, bees, butterflies, and fireflies to fuel that argument. The text—original for young readers—has fascinating details, both historical and biological. As an entomological reference book or to start conversations about biodiversity or climate change, the book is solid.


Mike Cavallaro,  Nico Bravo and the Hounds of Hades hilarious new graphic novel by Mike Cavallaro takes a look at one of our favorite myth & legend. Got a problem? At Vulcan’s Celestial Supply Shop, you can find the magical merchandise to set things right. The seasoned staff―a kid named Nico Bravo, a sphinx named Lula, and a unicorn named Buck―pride themselves on providing “legendary service and expertise in all areas of the arcane.” But Nico’s world is about to be turned upside down, and it’s all thanks his latest customer: Eowulf, the pint-size descendant of the monster slayer Beowulf. Determined to carry on the family business, this would-be warrior plans to slay Cerberus, the terrifying, three-headed hound of Hades. There’s just one problem―Cerberus is the only thing preventing the hordes of the Underworld from entering the land of the living. Can Nico stop Eowulf from unleashing a zombie apocalypse?

EXCLUSIVE: Miami Book Fair YA Author Reveal!


The Miami Book Fair is one of my most anticipated events of the year. Every November, tons of amazing authors descend upon the 305 for panels and autographing, vendors sell great books new and old, and I have the opportunity to just have a blast with my bookish friends. So I am *beyond the moon* excited to be partnering with the Miami Book Fair this year on their YA author lineup reveal!

First, here is some general information for this year's Fair:

36th Miami Book Fair
Nov. 22-24, 9am-dusk
Downtown Miami MDC Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 4th Street, Miami
FREE for children 12 & under; Teens 13-18 & Seniors: $5 and adults: $10
Parking: FREE, Building 7, block sized garage between NE 1  & 2nd Avenues & between 5 & 6th Streets (6th one way going West, and 5th Street is one way going East)
For more information, visit miamibookfair.com

And now, without further ado--

2019 Miami Book Fair YA Authors

Brittney Morris, Slay “The YA debut we’re most excited for this year.” —Entertainment Weekly “A book that knocks you off your feet while dropping the kind of knowledge that’ll keep you down for the count. Prepare to BE slain.” —Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out Ready Player One meets The Hate U Give in this dynamite debut novel that follows a fierce teen game developer as she battles a real-life troll intent on ruining the Black Panther–inspired video game she created and the safe community it represents for Black gamers.

Cecil Castellucci, Girl on Film insightful memoir of making art, the nature of memory, and being a teenager in 80s New York City. One thing young Cecil was sure of from the minute she saw Star Wars was that she was going to be some kind of artisté. Probably a filmmaker. Possibly Steven Spielberg. Then in 1980 the movie Fame came out. Cecil wasn’t allowed to see that movie. It was rated R and she was ten. But she did watch the television show and would pretend with her friends that she was going to that school. Of course they were playing. She was not. She was destined to be an art school kid. Chronicling the life of award-winning young adult novelist, and Eisner-nominated comics scribe Cecil Castellucci (Shade the Changing Girl, Star Wars: Moving Target), Girl On Film follows a passionate aspiring artist from the youngest age through adulthood to deeply examine the arduous pursuit of filmmaking, while exploring the act of memory and how it recalls and reshapes what we think we truly know about ourselves.

Kat Cho, Wicked Fox An addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul. Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret--she's a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead--her gumiho soul--in the process. Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl--he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He's drawn to her anyway. With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon's.

David Yoon’s Frankly in Love One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong? Frank Li is a high school senior living in Southern California. Frank's parents emigrated from Korea, and have pretty much one big rule for Frank - he must only date Korean girls. But he's got strong feelings for a girl in his class, Brit - and she's not Korean. Frank Li has two names. There's Frank Li, his American name. Then there's Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California. Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl--which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white. As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he's forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don't leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he's found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he's left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all. In this moving debut novel—featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author—David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.

Liz Braswell, A Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale What if Ariel had never defeated Ursula? It's been five years since the infamous sea witch defeated the little mermaid... and took King Triton's life in the process. Ariel is now the voiceless queen of Atlantica, while Ursula runs Prince Eric's kingdom on land. But when Ariel discovers that her father might still be alive, she finds herself returning to a world--and a prince--she never imagined she would see again. Liz Braswell, author of The Nine Lives of Chloe King, a series that was adapted as a 2011 television show of the same name.

G. Willow Wilson, The Bird King (YA) An epic journey set during the reign of the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, which tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret―he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate. G. Willow Wilson’s debut novel Alif the Unseen was an NPR and Washington PostBest Book of the Year, and it established her as a vital American Muslim literary voice.

Maritza Moulite, Maika Moulite, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret. All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

F. C. Yee & Michael Dante DiMartino- Avatar: The Rise of Kyoshi  The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.

Nina Moreno, Don't Date Rosa Santos For fans of GILMORE GIRLS and TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE, this effervescent love story from debut author Nina Moreno will sweep you away. Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that's what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you're a boy with a boat. But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about. As her college decision looms, Rosa collides-literally-with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

Stephanie Garber, Caraval #3, Finale: It’s been two months since the Fates were freed from a deck of cards, two months since Legend claimed the throne for his own, and two months since Tella discovered the boy she fell in love with doesn’t really exist. With lives, empires, and hearts hanging in the balance, Tella must decide if she’s going to trust Legend or a former enemy. After uncovering a secret that upends her life, Scarlett will need to do the impossible. And Legend has a choice to make that will forever change and define him.

Walter Naegle’s Troublemaker for Justice: The Story of Bayard Rustin, the Man Behind the March on Washington A biography for younger readers about one of the most influential activists of our time, who was an early advocate for African Americans and for gay rights. Congressman John Lewis Bayard Rustin was a major figure in the Civil Rights movement. He was arrested on a bus 13 years before Rosa Parks and he participated in integrated bus rides throughout the South 14 years before the Freedom Riders. He was a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., teaching him the techniques and philosophy of Gandhian nonviolent direct action. He organized the March on Washington in 1963, one of the most impactful mobilizations in American history. Despite these contributions, few Americans recognize his name, and he is absent from most history books, in large part because he was gay. This biography traces Rustin’s life, from his childhood and his first arrest in high school for sitting in the “whites only” section of a theater, through a lifetime of nonviolent activism.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Book review: Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

Book Summary
Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers her principal’s “prohibited media” hit list. The iconic books on the list have been pulled from the library and aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises. Students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished.

Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

So Clara starts an underground library in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it.

Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?

Flo's Review
I was lucky enough to snag an early copy of this book from agent extraordinaire Eric Smith (sadly, not my agent 😔). As soon as I read the synopsis, I was intrigued. How can a booknerd like me not love a book about a book lover and books?!

So I got the book and the first thing I was noticed....was the the author is from Chattanooga! That's my hometown! I was already so excited about that, but then I started reading and this book is based in Chattanooga, too! It's so fun! All the places he describes in the story, like the Walnut Street Bridge and the Hunter Museum -- I've been there. A lot. Chattanooga is my place. It was really cool to see the story unfold in a setting so near and dear to me.

I read this book in a day, while waiting for No Show Hurricane Dorian. (Side note: I am still so sad about the Bahamas! Sending out prayers and well wishes to them for what they endured.) Anyway, even though I joked to my husband that I was able to read this in a day because the words were big, it was really because of the short chapters and the writing style. Connis has a simple, direct writing style. It's just so easy. I found myself flipping page after page and hardly realizing how many had gone by. 

There were so many cool things about this story. Each chapter started with a quote from a banned book. The author created the protagonist's favorite book and a few of the quotes were from that. I thought that was a really good way to ensure that he had a story that fit with Clara's story. 

This book was full of such insight and heart. I loved so much about it. I loved that Clara really questioned her underground library. She didn't just accept that she was doing it as a reflex response to what the school was doing. She really asked herself why. I loved that she had one opinion of Ashton and Jack (what did she call them? The super-supers or something?), but then she had the opportunity to really see them -- and, importantly, she took the opportunity. This changed her view of them. This allowed her to make friends she never thought she would have. I love that her view of books was challenged and how she was able to expand her view of the effects of books on herself and others. I loved that from the beginning she had teachers and school staff members who were allies and, importantly, weren't afraid to share with her and the other students what they thought and why. I loved the queso book club. (Because, really, who doesn't love queso?!) The quote lover and collector in me loved how patrons of the Unlib shared quotes about the books on their white covers when they returned them. I loved the moment in the book that was a reference to the movie Spartacus. I loved Clara's non understanding of football! 

I could probably go on and on. There was so much that I loved about this book. So much. Suggested Reading comes out September 17th and I suggest you read it. Even though I just made that horribly bad pun! Because I would love to hear what you love about it.

Audiobook review: Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch


Flo's Spoiler Free Review
Ack! What can I say without giving anything away?! Let's see...

I will say that this one was definitely my favorite of the three. Meira undergoes some amazing personal growth that was cool to witness. But she wasn't the only one. I also really enjoyed learning more about what was the behind the masks of Ceridwen, Mather, and even Sir.

Also, dang you Sara Raasch for making me cry during my commute! (That's what I get for listening to the audiobook!)

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Primoria. Reading this trilogy makes me so excited to meet Sara Raasch at the Epic Reads Tour this month. I'm also now super curious about her Stream Raiders books. Has anyone read These Rebel Waves or These Divided Shores?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Book review: No Judgments by Meg Cabot

Book Summary
When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

Flo's Review
Well I'm here in South Florida hanging out in the "calm before the storm" as I wait to see what Hurricane Dorian will do. Seemed like a perfect time to read this new book from Meg Cabot. I've been looking forward to it ever since I was lucky enough to snag an ARC at BookCon. 

No Judgments did end up being the perfect hurricane watch read. Not only because I felt I could completely relate to everything going on weather-wise, but because it was a quick and cute story. Meg did a good job of writing the attraction between Bree and Drew. You could just feel the romantic tension rising off the pages as you read. I also really enjoyed the storyline about Bree and Drew helping look after people's animals -- taking care of your pets is an important part of hurricane prep that doesn't always get talked about as much as it should. 

Just as important is Lucy Hartwell's hurricane dip. That sounds amazing! I wish I had some of that as I wait for Dorian.

I feel like the book summary could have done without the last paragraph. First of all, that happens very close to the end of the book -- I think it would have been a nice surprise in the story. (Actually, it probably was meant to be.) Secondly, that whole scene was just...I don't know...it kind of fit with the story but was also a little too... I don't know. Not my favorite. 

I'm seeing that Meg Cabot is going to keep writing in this Little Bridge Island universe? That's great! I enjoyed meeting all the characters. There's already a novella out that I may read next. I hope she focuses a story on Bree's roomie Daniella -- I feel like her story would be a lot of fun!

No Judgments comes out September 24th, and if you love hot men who are hot because they love animals then this is the story for you! (I'm talking, like, those calendars of hot men holding kittens, ya know?!? ;-p) 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Book Summary
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou's, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou's most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

Flo's Review
Wow. I don't know where to start with this book. I really enjoyed it. I think one of my favorite parts about it was how invested all my Goodreads friends were with my status updates. I've gotten more likes and comments on updates for this book than I have for any other in a long time. I think it's because this book has been heavily hyped.

And let me just say -- worth the hype! The many details and intricate plot points were impressive. It seemed to me that this book really took a lot of thinking and plotting to pull it together. On top of that, it was just fun. I immediately loved these two together, and so I was rooting for them all the way through. That made me feel the range of emotions for them and their relationship as I read. 

I also really enjoyed some of the secondary characters, especially Ansel and Coco. It's a little random, but Ansel is just adorable and I love him. I hope I get to see more Ansel in book #2. Speaking of book number two -- some major reveals at the end of this book! I won't give anything away, but a major reveal about one the characters has me already anticipating book 2. And that last sentence left me questioning and wanting answers immediately.

Serpent & Dove comes out September 3rd. 

On a side note, I am so excited to meet Shelby on the Epic Reads Tour next month and gush with her about it!