Two Dark Reigns (Three Dark Crowns #3) by Kendare Blake #bookreview #YA #fantasy #TuesdayBookBlog

Queen Katharine has waited her entire life to wear the crown. But now that she finally has it, the murmurs of dissent grow louder by the day. There’s also the alarming issue of whether or not her sisters are actually dead—or if they’re waiting in the wings to usurp the throne.

Mirabella and Arsinoe are alive, but in hiding on the mainland and dealing with a nightmare of their own: being visited repeatedly by a specter they think might be the fabled Blue Queen. Though she says nothing, her rotting, bony finger pointing out to sea is clear enough: return to Fennbirn. 

Jules, too, is in a strange place—in disguise. And her only confidants, a war-gifted girl named Emilia and her oracle friend Mathilde, are urging her to take on a role she can’t imagine filling: a legion-cursed queen who will lead a rebel army to Katharine’s doorstep.

This is an uprising that the mysterious Blue Queen may have more to do with than anyone could have guessed—or expected.

I’ve loved this dark fantasy series from book one.  And those covers – oof.  Stunning.

This author continues to throw in unexpected surprises, whether with plot twists or character traits.  I’d fully intended to dislike Katharine after the events that occurred in One Dark Throne, but she honestly seems to have some good intentions in this book.  Not all good.  But some.  And the ending?  Just one surprise after another.  I’m glad it took me a few months to get around to reading this one, because that means I have a shorter wait for the next book.

This was a longer read at over 450 pages, and although it may not have moved the story along quite as well as books 1 and 2, there are some major developments, and I got to spend a good amount of time with these characters.

If dark fantasy with exquisite world-building is your thing, this is your series.

Calendar Girls: Black History Month (Best Book by a Black Author)

Calendar Girl is a monthly meme now hosted by Katie@nevernotreading and Adrienne @darquedreamer

The Calendar Girls is a monthly blog event that was created by Melanie at MNBernard Books, and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile. It was inspired by the 1961 classic song by Neil Sedaka and created to ignite fun bookish discussions among readers and bloggers.

Each month we get a new theme and choose our favorite book for the theme. The participants get to vote for their favorite.

To narrow this down, I’m sticking with YA books I’ve read in the past year.  Recently I reviewed Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (review).  I loved the zombie-added alternate history take by this author, and Jane, her intelligent, snarky protagonist stole my heart.  Pride by Ibi Zoboi is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, probably my favorite Jane Austen novel.  The modernized version of this story intrigued me – unfortunately, I only read a 5 chapter sampler, and I’ve never been able to get back to the book.  But I plan to!  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi has received exceptional reviews.  It’s been in my TBR for a while, and I’ll be reading it for my book club in a couple of months.  If I’d had been more caught up, I’m sure it would be at the top of my list.

My choice will probably be a popular one, but The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas had such a profound effect on me.  It’s crucial, timely, powerful, honest, uncomfortable, gut-wrenching – and should be required reading.  I’m thrilled Angie Thomas will be at our local book festival in April, where I’ll be able to meet her and get a signed copy of her new book, On the Come Up.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. 

#BlogTour – #YA Mega Blitz! #FreeBooks #scifi #contemporary #thriller

Only two more days to register to win!  These are the last stops on what’s been a whirlwind tour this week – hope to see you there!

Thursday Jan. 31st

Life at 17 – https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

Friday Feb. 1st

Eclectic Reviews – https://eclecticreview.com/

Dash Fan Book Reviews – https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Banshee Irish Horror Blog – http://www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

WWW Wednesday: What Am I Reading? #amreading

WWW Wednesday is a meme from Sam at Taking On A World Of Words

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees.  Isn’t that the perfect cover for this book title?  I seriously just started it – haven’t even finished the first chapter, but the writing is so lush and descriptive.  It’s unlike anything I’ve read in a while.

The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more—until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive? 

I just finished The Tesla Legacy by K.K. Perez.  If you’re a science geek like I am, you’ll want to be adding this to your TBR.  All kinds of tech talk, geeky references to Star Trek, Dr. Who, Wonder Woman, X-Files, and more made my little nerd heart dance.

THE TESLA LEGACY follows a precocious young scientist named Lucy Phelps whose fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel unlocks her dormant electrical powers. As Lucy struggles to understand her new abilities through scientific experimentation, she is thrust into a centuries old battle between rival alchemical societies.

One side wants her help and the other wants her dead, but both believe she is the next step in human evolution. Unfortunately, carriers of the genetic mutation—including Nikola Tesla—have a greatly reduced life expectancy. Even if Lucy can outrun her enemies, she can’t outrun herself.

Next, I’ll read To Best the Boys by Mary Weber.  Another beautiful cover!  This is my first book by this author, and from this blurb, you can see why I’m excited about it.

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

The Deceivers (Vale Hall #1) by Kristen Simmons #bookreview #YA #TuesdayBookBlog

Pretty Little Liars meets Ocean’s 11 in this intrigue-filled contemporary drama from acclaimed author Kristen Simmons.

Welcome to Vale Hall, the school for aspiring con artists.

When Brynn Hilder is recruited to Vale, it seems like the elite academy is her chance to start over, away from her mom’s loser boyfriend and her rundown neighborhood. But she soon learns that Vale chooses students not so much for their scholastic talent as for their extracurricular activities, such as her time spent conning rich North Shore kids out of their extravagant allowances.

At first, Brynn jumps at the chance to help the school in its mission to rid the city of corrupt officials–because what could be better than giving entitled jerks what they deserve? But that’s before she meets her mark–a senator’s son–and before she discovers the school’s headmaster has secrets he’ll stop at nothing to protect. As the lines between right and wrong blur, Brynn begins to realize she’s in way over head.

A school for aspiring con artists?  That’s all I needed to know before requesting this title from NetGalley.

Right away, Brynn tugged at my heart strings.  With a rough home life and a less than promising future, she’s committed to her education, works a part time job, and is determined to claw her way out of Devon Park.  Running cons on unsuspecting victims supplements her meager income.  All the supporting characters are exceptionally well-developed, with their own complicated backgrounds and various reasons for being at Vale Hall, but as the comic relief, I think Henry is probably my favorite.

Nothing in this novel is black and white, and I loved that.  Nearly every person, action, and circumstance is colored in differing shades of gray, and I found myself, along with Brynn, being surprised how actions and behaviors can sound logical and necessary after weighing the positives versus the negatives.  For me, books like that are few and far between.

These characters are put into some tense situations where there’s little to no wiggle room for escape, and I plowed through the pages, excited to see what they’d do next.  The final con is a carefully orchestrated, and intricately layered work of art, and will delight fans of Ocean’s Eleven.

Although The Deceivers doesn’t end with a cliffhanger, it’s the start of a series, and I’m anxious to see where it goes next.  If you’re a fan of heists, cons, morally ambiguous, determined characters, and hold-your-breath life-threatening situations, this is your book.  I loved every minute of it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.

 

I’m On Tour! #BlogTour #YoungAdult #FreeBooks

Hannah, Marina, Randy, and I are all over the blogosphere this week – and there are GIVEAWAYS!  Our books are all young adult, but are various genres under the YA umbrella – contemporary, thriller, sci-fi/fantasy, and coming of age/semi-autobiographical.  Drop by any of the sites listed below to register to win free books – hope to see you there!  

Schedule

Monday Jan. 28th

Reads & Reels – http://readsandreels.com

Gloria McNeely – https://gloriamcneelywriter.com/blog/

The Writer’s Alley – https://www.jacobrundle.com

Go By the Book – http://gobythebookblog.wordpress.com

YA/NA Book Divas – http://www.yabookdivas.com/

Just 4 My Books – http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

Tuesday Jan. 29th

Devouring Books – https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.com/

Didi Oviatt – https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Breakeven Books – https://breakevenbooks.com

Tsarina Press – https://www.tsarinapress.com

The Hufflepuff Nerdette – https://thehufflepuffnerdette.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Jan. 30th

Jessica Rachow – http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space – http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Touch My Spine Book Reviews – https://touchmyspinebookreviews.com/

Thursday Jan. 31st

From Belgium With Book Love – https://frombelgiumwithbooklove.com/

Life at 17 – https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

Friday Feb. 1st

Eclectic Reviews – https://eclecticreview.com/

Dash Fan Book Reviews – https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

The Dead Queens Club by Hannah Capin #bookreview #YA #contemporary

Mean Girls meets The Tudors in Hannah Capin’s The Dead Queens Club, a clever contemporary YA retelling of Henry VIII and his wives (or, in this case, his high school girlfriends). Told from the perspective of Annie Marck (“Cleves”), a 17-year-old aspiring journalist from Cleveland who meets Henry at summer camp, The Dead Queens Club is a fun, snarky read that provides great historical detail in an accessible way for teens while giving the infamous tale of Henry VIII its own unique spin.

What do a future ambassador, an overly ambitious Francophile, a hospital-volunteering Girl Scout, the new girl from Cleveland, the junior cheer captain, and the vice president of the debate club have in common? It sounds like the ridiculously long lead-up to an astoundingly absurd punchline, right? Except it’s not. Well, unless my life is the joke, which is kind of starting to look like a possibility given how beyond soap opera it’s been since I moved to Lancaster. But anyway, here’s your answer: we’ve all had the questionable privilege of going out with Lancaster High School’s de facto king. Otherwise known as my best friend. Otherwise known as the reason I’ve already helped steal a car, a jet ski, and one hundred spray-painted water bottles when it’s not even Christmas break yet. Otherwise known as Henry. Jersey number 8.

Meet Cleves. Girlfriend number four and the narrator of The Dead Queens Club, a young adult retelling of Henry VIII and his six wives. Cleves is the only girlfriend to come out of her relationship with Henry unscathed—but most breakups are messy, right? And sometimes tragic accidents happen…twice…

I’m not a big history buff, but I watched The Tudors series on Netflix several years ago and was hooked.  Given, it was highly dramatized, but you can’t tell me there weren’t clandestine meetings, backstabbings, political maneuverings, and power plays during that time.  And then, of course, there was Henry and his wives.  When I saw this book, I was instantly curious about a modern day retelling – in high school, no less.

The author is very clever in how she created her characters based on the historical figures, bringing the queens, Henry, and some of their acquaintances into modern day.  Cleves, based on Anne of Cleves, who was queen for a few short months, is Henry’s best friend.  Like Henry VIII, this Henry has a wandering eye and a long string of girlfriends.  Loosely paralleling their historical relationship, Cleves and Henry date for an awkward couple of weeks, but decide they’re better as friends.  Cleves is blindly loyal, awkward, and her snark had me chuckling several times.

Make no mistake – this high school is just as socially treacherous as Henry the VIII’s court, with suspicious deaths and characters falling out of favor.  Scheming, plotting, and gossip abound, making up a large portion of the book, but occasionally don’t do much to advance the story.  All the back and forth is difficult to follow at times, but once the book hits the 75% mark, things move along quickly.

I didn’t enjoy this read as much as I’d hoped, but that’s more me than the book.  I’m not a big fan of Mean Girls and erratic high school drama, but judging by other reviews, many readers thought The Dead Queens Club was fabulous.  This book is scheduled for publication January 29th, 2019.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.