New to Me – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

In 2018 I had the idea to have readers and friends read my favorite books from years past. I had 20+ amazing people sign up and read some of my all-time favorite books. They took the time out of their busy lives and reading schedules and read books I love and shared what they thought on my blog. It was a lot of fun and I got to see some new takes on old favorites. It actually was a fun experience. If you are interested in the reviews HERE.

This year I decided to give back in a way and asked everyone that signed up to tell me their favorite book (that I have not read) because in 2019 it is time to do NEW TO ME.

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I knew going into this feature there may be books that weren’t for me. I was hopeful it wouldn’t happen, but not delusional. If we all loved the same things and didn’t have different tastes the world would be a dull place.

That being said I was really disappointed when it was almost 2 weeks in and I had only gotten through 83 pages of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Honestly you guys, I tried. I gave it my all, but we just didn’t click. From what I read the imagery was stunning and the characters were there but I just wasn’t invested enough to want to read more and jump into that world. And you know what? That’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad book nerd, it just means I have 678 books on my TBR and I don’t need to waste my reading time on something that isn’t bringing me happiness at that point in time. It’s okay to put it aside and maybe pick it up again, or maybe not.

In my years of keeping track of my reading, I have quit 22 books, all for varying reasons and at varying points in the story. Some of those books have 4 plus star ratings on Goodreads. Just because a book isn’t for me doesn’t mean it isn’t for everyone else. As a reader, we have to remember that and know it is okay to let go and move on. Daughter of Smoke and Bone wasn’t for me, but it was for others, and here is why they loved it:

There are countless of other reviews out there on Goodreads so make sure you check them all out.

New to Me – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini TaylorDaughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Published: September 27, 2011
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Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands", she speaks many languages - not all of them human - and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

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And there you have it, March’s book selection for New to Me. Sorry I couldn’t do better, but I can only be me.

 

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Debut Author Take Over: We Rule the Night by Claire Barlett

Sadly I have come to the end of my debut author take over journey. I have had a great time working with this ladies that are new to the YA world. They have brought a spark back to my blogging life and I’m so grateful to them and to the people at  Class of 2k19 Books that contacted me and asked if I had any interest in working with this new gems.

For my last (planned) debut author take over I have Claire Barlett joining me. Claire’s debut, We Rule the Night is out on April 2, 2019. I haven’t yet read the book but I personally can’t wait. It sounds so amazing!

 

Thank you so much, Andi’s ABCs, for the chance to do a guest post! I’m super excited because today I’ll be talking about one of my favorite things: tropes.

Tropes are the building blocks of a story, whether they’re played straight, inverted, subverted or otherwise messed with. Some tropes target a community and pigeonhole marginalized groups in bad ways (for example, the bury your gays trope) and these tropes should die a horrible death. But otherwise, tropes can be effective tools, and fun to spot in the makeup of a story – at least for my nerdy self.

While writing We Rule the Night, I thought a lot about tropes – tropes I wanted to use and tropes I wanted to challenge. Of course, by the time I’d finished, I’d ended up with some unintentional tropes in the novel as well! Here are a few of the tropes present in We Rule the Night – if you’re a sucker for any of these, maybe you’d like to try out the book!

There Are No Adults: Missing, dead, off at war – doesn’t matter. The teens are in this by themselves.

I couldn’t resist this trope, even though it’s the most common one in YA! There is some slight historical relevance to it, but let’s face it – books are more fun when parents aren’t around to criticize your main character’s terrible decisions.(link: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThereAreNoAdults)

Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: The yellow eyes of sneakiness point to someone, well, sneaky. Wily. Cunning and clever, and often with an ulterior motive. 

In We Rule the Night, the Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness denote a group of people known as the Information Unit. I’ll leave it to you to guess what they do!(link: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YellowEyesOfSneakiness)

Women are Better than Men: It’s not that they’re better than men, per se. But the main characters are women  and the few men present are evil, incompetent or both.

This trope is part of the Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality. And for the record, no. I don’t think women are better than men. But the central characters of We Rule the Night are women and girls, with few exceptions, and the men of the novel usually stand in the girls’ way. I purposefully wrote a story with a gender imbalance, not just because of my source material (a real life night bombing regiment known as the Night Witches), but also because in so much fantasy, even fantasy with a female main character, there’s a big gender imbalance the other way.(link to the sliding scale of gender inequality: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SlidingScaleOfGenderInequality)(link to the night witches: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_Witches)

Not Like Other Girls (inverted): She’s special. She does things other girls couldn’t or wouldn’t do. And she doesn’t go in for that feminine stuff. Of course, the other girls hate her for no reason, and the boys respect her…because they’ve got to respect someone, and it won’t be the girly girl.

A much and rightly despised trope, that has irritated me for many years. I set out to challenge it with We Rule the Night, and include a host of girls with different hobbies and preferences. And without giving away too much of the story, Linne’s main challenge is to see that trying to be Not Like Other Girls isn’t a good thing! All girls are valid and unique, and being like other girls is something to be proud of!(link: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NotLikeOtherGirls)

There are many more tropes in We Rule the Night, so if you are intrigued and want to find more, grab a copy of the book on April 2nd! Sound off with your favorite (or least favorite!) tropes in the comments, and I hope to have more nerdy talks with you all in the future. Thank you again, Andi the brilliant host!

(link to pre-orders: https://www.lbyr.com/titles/claire-eliza-bartlett/we-rule-the-night/9780316417266/)

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Debut Author Take Over: We Rule the Night by Claire BarlettWe Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett
Published: April 2, 2019
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Two girls use forbidden magic to fly and fight–for their country and for themselves–in this riveting debut that’s part Shadow and Bone, part Code Name Verity.

Seventeen-year-old Revna is a factory worker, manufacturing war machines for the Union of the North. When she’s caught using illegal magic, she fears being branded a traitor and imprisoned. Meanwhile, on the front lines, Linné defied her father, a Union general, and disguised herself as a boy to join the army. They’re both offered a reprieve from punishment if they use their magic in a special women’s military flight unit and undertake terrifying, deadly missions under cover of darkness. Revna and Linné can hardly stand to be in the same cockpit, but if they can’t fly together, and if they can’t find a way to fly well, the enemy’s superior firepower will destroy them–if they don’t destroy each other first.

We Rule the Night is a powerful story about sacrifice, complicated friendships, and survival despite impossible odds.

Thank you so much, Claire, for stopping by and sharing some tropes with us! I’m a huge fan of a good trope and these are all fantastic!

Make sure you pick up a copy of Claire’s debut release on 4/2/19!

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New to You (10): April Reviews Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is April from Good Books and Good Wine. I have been suggesting books to April for the past few months (All in Pieces and I’ll Meet You There)  so I was really excited when she signed up. Truth be told I had some trouble deciding which one of my favorites I wanted her to read but I decided it had to be Twenty Boy Summer since it will forever and ever be a top favorite of mine! Let’s see what she had to say about Sarah Ockler’s book that was actually banned in some place(s)!

New to You (10): April Reviews Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah OcklerTwenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Published: May 1, 2010
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four-stars

"Don't worry, Anna. I'll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it.""Okay.""Promise me? Promise you won't say anything?""Don't worry." I laughed. "It's our secret, right?"

According to her best friend Frankie, twenty days in ZanzibarBay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there's a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there's something she hasn't told Frankie---she's already had that kind of romance, and it was with Frankie's older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

Beautifully written and emotionally honest, this is a debut novel that explores what it truly means to love someone and what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every single moment this world has to offer.

Thank you so much, Andi, for hosting me on New To You. This is SUCH a cool feature, and honestly, I am glad you’re encouraging bloggers to read some awesome backlist books. I know that you’ve never lead me wrong when it comes to book recommendations!

The book Andi challenged me to read is none other than Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer. Friends, I have had this book on my Kindle since AUGUST freakin 2011. What even! I cannot believe I slept on this book so long and it took being nudged into by this feature to read this book. I’ll tell you why I bought it — it was one of the BIG books back in the heyday of book blogging. Every other blogger received a copy from this publicity group so it was ALL over. However, like every other reader, my eyes were bigger than my reading time? (Does that even work as a saying?)

H’okay. So. Twenty Boy Summer. This book took me three days to get through. Honestly, that’s not bad considering my life these days. Ockler’s book is a contemporary YA about a girl and her best friend and how they go away for the summer. LOL. No, it is a bit more deep than that. Okay, so, the girl is Anna Reilly. She’s basically neighbors with Frankie Perino who is also her best friend. Anna and Frankie are both grieving Frankie’s brother Matt who died really before the events of this book take place.

Anna, however, is hiding something from Frankie. DRAMA. Basically, Anna dated Matt on the low. Matt wanted to break the news to Frankie himself and make sure she could handle it. So, without this knowledge, Frankie decides this is the summer that she and Anna will hook up with twenty boys. It is the summer where Anna will lose her virginity aka her albatross.

So, Anna and Frankie, and the adult Perinos fly from New York to California to Zanzibar Bay. Bad life choices are made. There’s more drama. And well, okay during the flashbacks I found myself wondering where in Upstate NY they are from, because they mention being an hour from Cornell and Matt has a Syracuse Orange shirt. So a little piece of me likes to think they’re from Syracuse.

Anyways, I mostly enjoyed this book. I found myself getting very reactive though. You see, Frankie’s character just kept irritating me. AND THEN. She does something no good very bad. And well, it was hard for me to be loyal. I was Team Anna throughout the book. And well, Frankie is not a great friend to Anna. That’s all. I think there’s a lot of realism in this book.

Give Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler a read if you want a book that showcases first love, friendship, drama, and ultimately, forgiveness.

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Thanks April for signing up for New to You! I’m so happy you trust my recommendations! Next I suggestion you read Second Chance Summer if you want to cry. 🙂

My review of Twenty Boy Summer.

Have you read anything by Sarah Ockler yet? I’m a massive fan of her books and of her (I got to meet her last year and it was the best!).

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Review: Reborn – Jennifer Rush

Review: Reborn – Jennifer RushReborn by Jennifer Rush
Series: Altered #3
Published: January 6th 2015
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five-stars

An action-packed, romantic, and suspenseful third book in the Altered series.The Branch is in shambles, but Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick can't rest easy. Remnants of the organization lurk unseen and the flashbacks to their old lives are only getting stronger--especially Nick's.Following scattered memories and clues from his Branch file, Nick sets off alone in search of answers and in search of the girl who haunts his dreams. But the sleepy town where she lives in full of secrets and Nick soon learns that uncovering their shared past may have deadly consequences.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review

This book! Oh this book! To say I’m a huge cheerleader of the Altered series is basically an understatement. When I first read Altered I was blown away by it and still think it is one of the most underrated books out there. Read it people! Read it! And then I read Erased and I was 100% hooked. There was something special about these boys, Sam, Cas, Trev and Nick, and Anna. I wanted to learn more about all of them. We learned about Sam in Altered and Anna in Erased. But we also got a deeper glimpse at Nick in Erased and I knew I needed to know more. Well more I got. Reborn is Nick’s book and it was fan-freaking-tastic.  But it also left me wanting more, more, more.

Reborn focuses on Nick. He has started to remember things from before his memories were altered and they are haunting him. So much so that he drinks to dull the feelings his flashbacks bring on. But no matter how much he drinks he can’t seem to forget a girl that haunts his memories that he may or may not have been sent to kill and that he may or may not have actually followed through on. Making a decision Nick takes off in search of this girl not sure what he will find but needing to know. But with the Branch still out there anything can happen and Nick ends up finding more than he expects.

What I really loved about Reborn was the change of voice. The first two books were from Anna’s point of view which I enjoyed, but I was dying to get into the heads of these boys. Jennifer Rush made a wise move in making it Nick’s head space in Reborn and an even smarter decision in bringing in Elizabeth, a new character, to counter Nick’s gruffness. Don’t get me wrong, I love Nick, he’s my favorite Jennifer Rush boy, but he’s not the happiest of dudes. Having Elizabeth’s voice helped soften him some and brought his back story to life.

Which brings me to the plot. The plot was super compelling. I was hooked almost immediately on the story and the mystery behind it. Both Nick and Elizabeth had fragmented memories of the situation that connected them so the clues they had were limited. But there were some clues that surfaced straight out and subtly that made me wonder how it was all going to play out. I did guess some of the mystery, but there was enough that that didn’t matter to me. It kept me interested and the last 3rd of the book is end of your seat addicting. I just loved it.

Reborn was pretty much everything I had hoped it would be. It was fast paced, entertaining, and everything I expect from Jennifer Rush. I fell in love with Nick even more than I was before and I was invested in his story completely. If I said it once I will say it again, this series is something everyone should need and talk about. It needs buzz and love and I need more books on these boys! Thank you Ms. Rush, thank you.

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Review: Torn Away – Jennifer Brown (Blog Tour/Giveaway)

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Title: Torn Away [Amazon]
Author: Jennifer Brown [website]
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: Netgalley/Digital ARC
Stars: 4 of 5

Publisher Description:
Born and raised in the Midwest, Jersey Cameron knows all about tornadoes. Or so she thinks. When her town is devastated by a twister, Jersey survives — but loses her mother, her young sister, and her home. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with her only surviving relatives: first her biological father, then her estranged grandparents.

In an unfamiliar place, Jersey faces a reality she’s never considered before — one in which her mother wasn’t perfect, and neither were her grandparents, but they all loved her just the same. Together, they create a new definition of family. And that’s something no tornado can touch.

My Thoughts:
I have been a fan of Jennifer Brown’s books since I read Hate List what seems like forever ago. I have read every Young Adult book she has published and loved them all. She has a way about her writing that just gets the hard stuff right. Her stories are filled with heavy, emotional issues and she always seems to do them with class and grace and nothing preachy. So naturally when I saw she had a new one coming out, Torn Away, it was a no brainier that I had to read. And once again Brown came through.

Torn Away is about Jersey a Midwestern girl that has grown up with the threat of tornadoes her whole life. They’ve been trained and conditioned to know what to do in case one hits. However they have never experienced one so they all have become desensitized on what it will mean if one does hit. And hit it does. In one night Jersey loses everything that is important to her. Her mom, little sister, belongings and home all taken away by a tornado and she is left alone and scared and uncertain. When her step father thinks it’s best for her to be with family Jersey is first sent to live with the father she never knew and then to the grandparents she never wanted to know. Dealing with her loss and grief and changes to her life she didn’t expect Jersey learns stuff about her mom, her family and about herself she never could have imagined.

This book made my heart hurt. I hurt for Jersey. I hurt for Jersey’s sister. I hurt for Jersey’s mom. I just hurt. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go through something like this. To have everything you know and love ripped away from you in the blink of an eye over wind and the being left at 16 to pick up the pieces. To be shuffled around because it felt like no one wants you. And on top of all of it to deal with the grief and guilt of losing the two you love most. At almost 35 I don’t think I could handle it. Jersey was just so utterly sad when it came down to it because to her she had no one but strangers and felt unloved and I really couldn’t blame her since I would have felt the same way.

Basically Torn Away was not about the tornado but about moving on and rebuilding afterwards. It was about recovery and holding on to what’s important and letting go when you don’t want to. Jersey was a character everyone will like and relate to.  Jennifer Brown once again brought words and emotion to the page and it is another book I highly recommend in her long list of greatness.

Other books by author:
hate  bitterend perfectthousand

 

 

 

 

 

brownABOUT THE AUTHOR
Two-time winner of the Erma Bombeck Global Humor Award (2005 & 2006), Jennifer’s weekly humor column appeared in The Kansas City Star for over four years, until she gave it up to be a full-time young adult novelist.
Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.

 

*Click on the banner for more tour info.

The publisher has also been kind enough to offer each blog tour participant one paperback of Torn Away to giveaway to readers from the US. Below you will find a picture of the cover and when you click on it it will bring you to the Rafflecoppter giveaway. Unfortunately this is for US only and it will run from now until May 13th at 11:59pm. The winner will be notified by email and all information will be passed on to the tour copy which will then be passed on to the publisher. Good luck.

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