Waiting on Wednesday: Now I Rise

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)

 

 

From Goodreads:

“Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.”

 

I enjoyed And I Darken so much that it made me excited for the sequel! Did you read the first book? Are you anxious for the second? Let me know!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for Second Half of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every week they have a different theme for bloggers to post their top tens about, and this week I’m listing…

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for Second Half of 2017

 

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

 

 

Wonder Woman Warbringer

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

 

 

 

Warcross

Warcross (Warcross, #1)

 

 

Godsgrave

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle, #2)

 

 

The Library of Fates

The Library of Fates

 

 

Now I Rise

Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)

 

 

Renegades

Renegades

 

 

Because You Love To Hate Me

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy

 

 

 

The Ends of the World

The Ends of the World (The Conspiracy of Us, #3)

 

 

The Becoming of Noah Shaw

The Becoming of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions, #1)

 

I’m bursting at the seams when it comes to these upcoming releases! What books coming out in the second half of 2017 are you excited to read? Let me know!

 

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Review: A Million Junes

A Million Junes

 

 

I have been struggling with how to start this review. First, a huge thanks to the First to Read through Penguin that gave me the opportunity to read an eArc of this story. Second, I felt let down and disappointed with this story. I’ll get into the whys in a moment. Just know I finished feeling underwhelmed.

Short recap: June O’Donnell (aka Jack O’Donnell) was raised knowing that all Angerts in her home town were people she needed to stay away from. They mixed as well as oil and water. Everything changed when June met Saul Angert and their paths changed forever.

This was blurbed as a “Romeo & Juliet” type story. I could sort of see that as throughout the entire story I read (many, many times) that O’Donnells and Angerts were never to mingle. The one thing that bothered me was why? It was not explained until the very end why these two families had such bad blood and let me tell you – I could not have rolled my eyes any harder if I tried. It felt like a cop-out, an easy pass, a Get Out Of Jail Free card. It was not believable and it made me upset. I obviously won’t give it away here but know I felt so let down. The heavy use of magical realism also left a sour taste in my mouth. When the magic started to take over the story, that is when I feel it lost a lot of its steam. It soon completely focused on all magic that involved flashbacks, flash forwards, and flash sideways. I soon couldn’t figure out what tense I was reading in. Was it June’s past? Was it one of her great-great grandfather’s pasts? There were just too many too keep straight and I gave up caring.

Now the characters. I liked Hannah more than most of the other characters and she was only June’s best friend. June herself was just alright. Brace yourself for June being called various names throughout the story: Jack, Junior, June, Junie, June-bug, and more. There is a history of “Jack” kids in the the O’Donnell family so when she was born, she was named Jack. That’s cool, I know a female Kevin so I didn’t mind that. What I did mind was her answering to various names. I found it hard to keep up with her going by so many names. I also wanted her to be stronger, to realize that she could rely on others to help her instead of always running off to take care of things herself. Whenever she did that she was never strong enough and came back (to the present?) shattered. Events like that did not make me root for her. I thought she was a bag of snarky comments trying to be cool. Saul’s character was good but I did not find him swoon worthy at all. He felt like he needed to be the love interest because he was slated as the enemy. Always want what you cannot have, right? I felt no spark or connection between the two of them. They exchanged a lot of witty banter which got old real fast. Basically I read a lot of facts about these characters but nothing that made them seem real or believable to me. They never came to life.

There were some side other side characters that felt out of place and I am mainly speaking about June’s creative writing teacher Ms. deGeest. Henry really mucked things up by including this character. Apparently Saul (who is older than June) had a fling with Ms. deGeest back in the day. Ms. deGeest makes it a point to pay super close attention to June and her interactions with Saul outside of school, to the point where she jumps to conclusions and causes unnecessary trouble. Completely unnecessary and rather creepy. How can a teacher get away with that? At the same time, this teacher is also bending over backwards to help June in a creative writing class. Why the back and forth? Either you are the girl’s teacher or you are her frenemy – you can’t be both in this story. It seemed so out of place for Ms. deGeest to keep telling, or basically shoving it down June’s throat, that she will be a great writer someday. That side storyline had zero to do with the overall story. What was it Henry, filler? Something to fill the pages? Something for conflict? Either way it did nothing to add to the story.

Overall, I really wanted to like this story. I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review early because of the hype around Henry’s previous novel. I believe what Henry was trying to go for with this one got lost along the way. She tried to make too much happen and in the end it just did not work. Either this is a retelling of R&J, or this is a magical realism story. With the way this novel is written currently, it certainly is not both. There was so much potential but it fell so very short of the goal.

 

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Books Left Unread #78

Wallpaper-Books

Books Left Unread

Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.

This week’s post is dedicated to:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

 

This cover is simply stunning and that is the reason I bought this book. That was 3 years ago and it has sat on my shelf ever since. Have you read this? What did you think of it?

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Review: And We’re Off

And We're Off

 

By looking at the cover of this one, you would expect this to be about an epic road trip throughout Europe stuffed full of adventure and self discovery. Well, that is what I expected anyway. That is not what lies between the covers. What you will get is an very angsty teenager and a mother with secrets.

Short recap: Nora Parker-Homes is the granddaughter of the famous artist, Robert Parker. He has given her an all expense paid trip to travel through Europe and then three weeks to train at a very selective art school. Everything changes for Nora when her mother chooses to tag along on her trip at the last minute.

I struggled with this book. I mean, really struggled. Thank goodness it is a very quick read because that’s the only reason I didn’t DNF. I believe the biggest obstacle I had was Nora herself. I never connected with her because she didn’t allow anyone to connect with her. She was so self centered, selfish, and stubborn that no character in the book, other than her grandfather, could get through to her. How am I, the reader, supposed to root for someone like that? I had hoped for some growth from her character, some small twinkle that told me she was maturing, developing, or maturing in some way but that never happened. I could understand how much it hit her and hurt her that the mother that has always been so distant suddenly wanted to tag along on a trip to Europe. But instead of trying to talk to her mother about it rationally, she yelled, screamed, threw temper tantrums, and let it affect her entire trip. What made that even more annoying was how Nora kept screaming about how this trip was supposed to be about her becoming an adult and experiencing life. Well, how about you act like an adult and talk to your mother like a civil human being instead of a spoiled brat? That was apparently too much to hope for from this protagonist. The constant bickering, yelling, and nitpicking got old read quick.

Let’s talk about Alice, Nora’s mother. Now there is a character with a subscription to her issues. She was negative, self-centered, and rather delusional the entire time. Alice was just so dang negative and unsupportive about her daughter’s dreams to become an artist. I can sort of see where she was coming from but in the end, she was projecting her fears and regrets from her own life onto her daughter. Not a very original storyline but it made me strongly dislike her even more. It also made me struggle with the mother-daughter relationship. Their relationship was more of two roommates living together, not one of a mother and a daughter. The one thing I found completely unrealistic was how Alice decided at the last minute to hijack Nora’s trip. What mother would do that? A self-centered and crazy one, that’s who. If Alice despised her daughter’s dreams that much, why tag along?

This story is categorized as a contemporary so there are some boys involved. There are two, actually, one back home who Nora fooled around with and one in Ireland. Little to no information is given on the boy back home other than he’s a jerk. Callum is the new one in Ireland and Nora moved super fast with him. It bordered on instalove. Here’s why I couldn’t connect to that relationship: Nora was only supposed to be in Ireland (the fancy school) for three weeks yet she started obsessing over Callum in a matter of days. Then she became upset when he pulled away and realized it didn’t make sense to start something if she was going to leave. He was the smart one of the two! But I didn’t feel what they were feeling and as a result, I didn’t care what they did. I liked Callum but I didn’t see him as anything more than a male character to fill a specific role in that part of the story.

The ending pissed me off. When will authors realize that they cannot solve everything in the last five pages of a story? The way this author tried to tie everything up with a pretty bow was unrealistic. There is no way any of that would happen in real life and it made me dislike the book more. I would have liked this story so much more if the author had picked one topic: either a coming of age story or a mother-daughter working through their issues. This story proved that both cannot work together. The characters also needed so much more development than what was presented here. I feel like this book should have been edited a few more times before it was released. There is so much work that should needed to happen to make this a good story. What we were given was not a good story.

 

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Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks

 

What a huge, steaming pile of disappointment.

Short recap: Flora Banks is a seventeen year old who has no short-term memory and therefore cannot form long term memories. Things change when Flora kisses a boy and suddenly that memory stays in her mind, the first one that has stayed since her surgery. She starts a journey on her own to hunt down this boy after he leaves for school.

If you followed my reading progress on Goodreads, you would have seen how much this book irritated me. Allow me:

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If you read this, go into it knowing that a lot of this book will repeat itself several times. That means the overall story is not really that long, but the protagonist, Flora, spends most of her time repeating the same things over and over and over. This did start to grind my gears after a while because of her reactions to discovering she had no idea what was going on. She was just so manic and had no rational sense that might come with sitting down and trying to figure things out. That could have also been due to her mind sometimes thinking she was a ten year old and not a seventeen year old. Either way, it started to wear on me. Flora’s character was maddening, no question about it. I never connected with her so I felt nothing when except frustration when she chose to lie to everyone and put herself in extreme danger. She chose to behave in the most immature way possible as her thoughts became more and more irrational.

That brings me to her best friend, Paige. I know these are teenage girls but Paige was horrid, self-centered and uncaring. She was supposed to be staying with Flora while her parents were out of country but Paige chose to leave Flora alone and never told anyone about it. You’re talking about a  girl that cannot form memories! How selfish can you be?! How is she going to remember to do anything besides the notes she writes herself and leaves scattered throughout the house? I wanted to smack her. Hard. She was supposed to be Flora’s bestest friend in the entire world, the one person Flora and her family could rely on and she chose to behave like a childish brat. I felt nothing but frustration and anger towards her. There was nothing she could do to ever change that.

Now let’s take a few moments to talk about Flora’s family. What in the ever loving. WHO wouldn’t notice what Flora’s mom was doing to her? What was really going on? Had nobody heard of child services? How could she get away with that? Not even a concerned neighbor or family friend placing an anonymous call to have things checked out? I don’t buy it. You’re selling and I’m not buying. That was a cluster pot of a family and it did not feel believable. I sort of believed Flora’s brother, Jacob. I wish he had more of a role in this one but he felt like a side character only referenced when it was convenient. If this had been more of a story about the power of a sibling connection and their bond I would have enjoyed that more.

The overall plot of the story was all over the road. I feel Barr couldn’t decide what direction the story should take so she decided to throw a little of everything in to see what came out. There was one part that stood out in my mind more than the rest that really made this unbelievable and made me just want the story over. Barr wrote in a few paragraphs how easily Flora made a trip (trains, boats, and planes) as if it were something the character did every day. Are you messing with me right now? This is the same character that couldn’t remember to shower daily but yet she can buy a plane ticket and make a huge trip from the UK to the Arctic? You need to peddle that stuff to someone else but it doesn’t jive with me. There is no way. The girl woke up in a hotel room absolutely freaking out but apparently it wasn’t a big deal if she woke up on an airplane?! Get real.

I can tell you this: the last chapter did not match the rest of the book. Not one bit and really sealed the deal on me not enjoying this. It was not an “AH-HA!” moment, it was a “What? Are you serious? That’s what you’re going to do with this?!” It just felt too convenient. Barr tried to wrap everything up in a pretty bow and leave the reader with a warm fuzzy feeling. How is that possible when the entire book was nothing like what dished out at the end?

Most of the book was Flora chasing what she thought was instalove across the globe (not believable, either) and screaming, “I KISSED DRAKE” every time she read her notes and that one memory came back. As shown above in my GR status updates, I don’t ever want to hear the name Drake again. Here is the big thing I want to scream: Can we just stop pretending falling in love cures all illnesses? It felt like that is what Barr was trying to say with this story. In a way, this story felt insensitive to those in real life that actually have the inability to form long term memories. This story was not one about a girl with a mental disability, it was one about a girl who latched on to the first boy that paid attention to her and she turned stalker on him. She chased him around the globe without a care for her safety or what it might due to her family/friends. That’s not the story I was hoping to read.

 

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Jay Crownover’s SALVAGED – Excerpt Reveal

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jay Crownover continues her delightfully sexy Saints of Denver series with the next thrilling standalone, SALVAGED! Don’t miss the amazing excerpt below and pre-order your copy today!

 

 

Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google

iBooks | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada

ADD SALVAGED TO YOUR GOODREADS

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

Poppy

I rounded the corner at the end of my block and came to a halt. The puppy took that as a sign that we were done playing outside and started jumping all over my lower legs and pawing at my shins. He whined at me until I picked him up, and as soon as he could reach my face, his little tongue started darting all over my chin and cheeks. I wondered if he could feel the tension that made my limbs stiff and the anxiety that tightened all my muscles. I felt my breath catch in the back of my throat and there was no stopping my eyes from rapidly blinking to make sure what I was seeing was real and not a figment of my imagination.

He looked like one of those black-and-white art prints that hung in every diner and restaurant I’d ever eaten in. The one that was a throwback to another era when cool was something you had to cultivate and couldn’t buy on Amazon. He was leaning against a black-and-silver car that looked like it should be on the cover of a hot-rod magazine and not parked on a busy and crowded Capitol Hill street. He had on dark jeans and a dark canvas jacket that had the logo of his garage embroidered on the front. His ankles were crossed on the curb in front of him and one booted foot bounced up and down, giving the impression that he’d been waiting for me for a while. His arms were crossed over his chest and his eyes were locked on mine as I stood still, unsure what to do. He had an effortless kind of charisma that radiated off of him. It was equal parts intimidating and irresistible. I was unsure if my feet wanted to rush me toward him or run me as far from him as possible.

The puppy made the decision for me. Seeing another human, and thus another opportunity for pats and rubs, he threw his wiggling little body out of my arms before I could react. He hit the ground with a little yelp and then bolted right for Wheeler. I let out a gasp and took off after him thinking I could catch the end of the leash that was trailing behind him. I didn’t want him to run into the road or veer off into a yard where he didn’t belong. I was light-years away from being able to handle a confrontation with a hostile stranger that didn’t want the puppy in their space.

I didn’t need to worry because Wheeler pushed his long, lean frame off the polished side of the car and reached the scrambling animal within just a few strides. He crouched down as the puppy hurled himself into his arms and scooped the excited bundle up in one fluid motion. Then he was rising back up to his full height, which meant he was towering over me when I made my way over to where he was standing. I was embarrassed at how out of breath I was. I was supposed to be stronger than I was before, but I could hardly handle a little jog up the block or the way my heart raced at the sight of him.

I shook my head and put my hands on my hips as I looked up and into those arctic eyes. He was scratching the puppy under the chin and looking at me from under lashes that had the barest hint of red to them. “Why don’t you have a coat on?”

It wasn’t what I was expecting but his question reminded me that I was cold and that the lightweight hoodie that had the Saints of Denver logo on it wasn’t doing much to keep the bitter chill in the air off my skin. The shirt came from the tattoo shop where both Rowdy and Salem worked and was probably the most exciting garment I had in my closet. It was the only thing I owned that was bright and colorful. I rubbed my arms up and down and fired my own question right back at him. “What are you doing here?”

The puppy barked like he was telling me not to be rude but I was unsettled by Wheeler’s unexpected appearance, and not the typical unsettled that I struggled with because he was a man that I didn’t know. It was the kind of unsettled that made parts of my body I forget could react to an attractive man feel warm and tingly. The kind of unsettled that had me involuntarily leaning closer to him as he started to shift so that he could pull his heavy jacket off one arm without letting go of the dog.

“I wanted to talk to you about the dog. Did you find someone to take him yet?” He shifted the puppy to his now bare arm as I watched the endless amounts of ink that covered his skin move and flex as he shook his other arm free of the coat.

“Uh…not really.” The truth was I hadn’t really put that much effort into finding someone because I didn’t want to let the puppy go. In just a few days I’d grown surprisingly attached even though I knew I wasn’t allowed to keep him in my apartment. I’d already asked since Dixie was allowed to keep Dolly, but the landlord informed they were grandfathered in before the laws surrounding pit bulls in Denver changed. My little guy wasn’t that lucky.

My response made Wheeler chuckle. He stared at me silently as he held out the coat he’d taken off in his free hand.

“Put this on.” I stared at him like he’d suddenly started speaking Russian until he shook the coat again and frowned at me. His voice was serious and left no room for argument when he repeated the command. “Put this on, Poppy.”

 

 

Jay Crownover continues her Saints of Denver series with SALVAGED, available June 20, 2017

Preorder and fill out the form here: https://a.pgtb.me/MdHvvG

Enter your name, email address, and the order number from your pre-order receipt on the form to receive an advance excerpt of DIGNITY and a Saints of Denver Doodle download to print at home.

Entries must be received by midnight PST on June 19th to be eligible.

The print-at-home Doodle and Dignity excerpt will be emailed the week of June 20th

 

 

About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men, The Point, and the Saints of Denver series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her dogs.

 

 

 

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

 

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