Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Audiobook review: The Golden Tower by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

I heart this series so much! And, yes, I am missing the third book. I need to fix that...
Book Summary 
The final, thrilling installment in this extraordinary series from bestselling authors Holly Black and Cassandra Clare.

A generation ago, powerful mage Constantine Madden came close to achieving what no magician had ever achieved: the ability to bring back the dead. He didn't succeed . . . but he did find a way to keep himself alive, inside a young child named Callum Hunt.

Facing up to what he is, Callum has battled chaos and evil across four years of magical training at the Magisterium, eventually defeating the armies of chaos in an epic battle.

It came at a cost.

Now, triumphant and heartbroken, Callum Hunt has just about had enough, and is ready to complete his training. But the evil Callum faced has not given up just yet...

Flo's Review
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series! It's been 5 books of fun. I feel proud of how the characters have grown, almost as if they are my little brothers and sisters. The Golden Tower found a creative and effective way to both solve a seemingly unsolvable problem and also give the reader all the remaining background information on the events that led up to this series. It was kind of a lot -- there was what seemed like a pretty big reveal in there, but basically nothing came of it. Also, what was the point of including Gwenda? I feel like her only purpose was to -- ahh never mind, I won't say it (minor spoiler), but it's not a big or necessary plot point in the story. Jasper however -- Jasper FTW! I love that crazy little boy. 

I found myself getting teary eyed as I listened to the closing scene of the book, which was 100% perfect...
and true to Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. That's all I can say about that.

The Magisterium series is such an overlooked gem in middle grade literature. You don't hear much about it, but I simply adore it. I love how it purposely is kind of like Harry Potter, but then is totally not. I love how all the book endings are true to Black and Clare (read: cliffhangers of the "OMG!" variety). I loved this trio of main characters, and some of the supporting ones as well. And when I reached the end of The Golden Tower, I felt the happy combination of satisfied with the ending, curious about what may come, and sad to say goodbye.

Read our reviews of the Magisterium series:

The Iron Trial:

The Copper Gauntlet:

The Bronze Key:

The Silver Mask:

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Blog Tour and GIVEAWAY: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

TITLE: A Blade So Black
AUTHOR: L.L. McKinney
PUBLISH DATE:  September 25th 2018
PUBLISHER: Imprint (Macmillan)
The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.


Click on the "Read More" arrow for an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with author L.L. Kinney and a chance to win a copy of the book!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I'm spoiled and have been lucky enough to meet Tomi twice. This picture is from when she came to  my favorite local bookstore, Books & Books, earlier this year.
Book Summary
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Flo's Review
I am about a thousand percent late to the party on reading this book. Especially since my journey with Children and Blood and Bone started way before it was even released. I was lucky enough to snag a sampler at Comic Con 2017. I was going to give it away to a blog reader, but then my Dad got ahold of it and I never saw it again.

Then, the awesome ARC box became my very first unboxing video:
Anyway, all this has led us here. I read this book in a combination of book reading and audiobook listening, over a period of months during which I set it aside and then picked it up again. One of my strongest memories of listening to this audiobook will be of yelling at the characters when they did things I did not approve of. Like, all 3 of the main characters. I definitely yelled at all 3 of them at least once at some point.

Needless to say, I was invested in the story. I (luckily) hadn't been spoiled about the ending, so I really wanted to know how it would all end up and that kept me listening and turning the pages. I tend to struggle with long books and audiobooks, so even though I split this up into multiple periods of listening and reading, I was by the end ready for the end. I've seen and read many reviews of the book, so I won't rehash everything floating around. But everything this story represents, all the issues it brings up, all the power struggles and the representation, and at the very base a strong plot with action and romance -- it truly is legendary. This book deserves all the hype.

Here's Tomi reading from it:

Book review: The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs

Book Summary
When a bullying incident sends twelve-year-old Nico Holland over the edge of a cliff into the icy waters of Still Cove, where no one ever goes, friends Tyler and Ella - and even 'cool kid' Opal -rush to his rescue... only to discover an island hidden in the swirling mists below.

Shrouded by dense trees and murky tides, the island appears uninhabited, although the kids can't quite shake the feeling that something about it is off. Their suspicions grow when they stumble upon an abandoned houseboat with an array of curiosities inside: odd-looking weapons, unnerving portraits, maps to places they've never heard of, and a glass jar containing something completely unidentifiable.

As the group delves deeper into the unknown, their discoveries - and their lives -begin to intertwine in weird and creepy ways. Something ancient has awakened... and it knows their wishes and dreams - and their darkest, most terrible secrets. Do they have what it takes to face the shadowy things that lurk within their own hearts?

Flo's Review
First of all, I have to let you know in full disclosure -- I'm kind of obsessed with Ally Condie. Did you know that there used to a fansite for the Matched trilogy? That's right. Guess who was the main writer? This girl. Wanna hear about Atlantia? Here's the review I wrote for Fangirlish. Anyway, I love Ally.

So when I read about this middle grade story she was co-authoring with Brendan Reichs, I immediately wanted it. First the cover: it's cute and creepy at the same time! Yes, a contrasting combination, but it somehow manages to pull it off, what with the 4 kids in the rowboat (aww!) heading toward a big, dark scary thing (eek!)

What a creative story! I don't want to give away details, but so many elements are so unique and quirky. I can definitely see a kid exclaiming, "Cool!" as he experiences some of the supernatural things in the story. But there's also so much more to the Darkdeep than I think we learned in this first book. I was impressed and intrigued with the back story and I am so curious to learn more about its history. 

The Darkdeep also does so well with character relationships and development. Everyone has that super enthusiastic friend like Emma. Tyler's comments made me laugh at several points in the story, because, dude, Tyler is me! He reacted to the Darkdeep probably how I would react. But he will drop everything for Emma and that is just adorable and I love it. I also thought the relationship between Opal and Nico was well done, especially for a middle grade novel. It's true to the age group, but there's definitely more to it that I hope will be uncovered in future Darkdeep novels. I can't say too much about Logan's character arc and remain spoiler-free, but I appreciate his journey and contribution.

The Darkdeep publishes on October 2, and if you're looking for a creative, easy-to-read middle grade novel, I'd recommend you check this out. But I have to know....what's the thing in the jar??!?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Book review: What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Book Summary
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Flo's Review
I apologize in advance for this review, which is basically going to be a big, gushy mess. I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH, Y'ALL. I think it's my favorite book I've read this year. Because I was 18% into it when I started reading it again last night and I literally couldn't put it down. I stayed up until 2 a.m. when I turned the last page with a huge smile on my face. The last time I remember a book having quite that effect on me was the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. (I stayed in one weekend and just read books 3 and 4. Like, that's all I did all weekend. Zero regrets.)

But this book. Oh my goodness! First of all, I love both of these characters so much. They are fun, smart, sassy, vulnerable, loyal, and brave. I wasn't to hug them both and then start a group hug with both of them. I want them to be my friends! I would have so much fun talking Hamilton and writing and pop culture with them.

I love how Arthur's ADHD was presented as part of him that he and everyone accepts and it's not stigmatizing. I love how the reality of ignorance and hatred is in there, honestly, as a little reminder that wow, it's 2018 and some attitudes and hearts can still open and grow more. I love how Ben is proudly Puerto Rican and calls out someone he loves on it from a place of wanting them to be better and not from a place of judgment. I love Dylan, but that guy is crazy! I loved seeing New York through Arthur's new eyes and the East Village through the eyes of Ben, who grew up there. I love that both boys had real and open relationships with their parents. I loved the scene where Arthur reads Ben's story and Ben listens to Hamilton for the first time -- the writing there, the wordplay, is so well done. I loved the reality in the way  all the relationships -- the romantic ones and the friendships -- grew, developed, and morphed as time went on. I laughed out loud at several parts, and I wanted to cry at a few as well. 

I could go on...and on...and on.

This book filled me with the same level of happiness of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and The Upside of Unrequited -- if not more. I definitely need to read all Adam's other books now. 

What If It's Us comes out October 9, 2018 and oh my gosh, guys. In case you didn't get the gist of my review -- I love it so much! Get thee to the bookstore or the library and get your copy ASAP!!