SST: Signs of You by Emily France + Giveaway

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Sunday Street Team comes from the fabulous brain of Nori over at ReadWriteLove28. Basically we act as a street team for a particular author (or authors) every month, promoting their book and basically flailing about (we do that right?). To learn more about it you can visit the Sunday Street Team page over on Nori’s site.

Today I will be talking to you about Signs of You by Emily France. This is one of the first contemporary books I have review for Sunday Street Team, and I am so excited to share with you!

27272341Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.

When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.

When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

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This book took me completely by surprise. I don’t know if I just didn’t fully take in the synopsis or what, but I was not expecting the book that I got. This may sound like I see this in a bad way, but I don’t. What did I expect? I expected a book about the loss of a family member. I expected to see someone struggling to get by because they just could not handle it. I expected to see people leaving the main character and her just kind of trying to overcome things. This book is none of those things, and I honestly can’t believe I even thought that. It makes me wonder what made me decide to read this book if that was my initial impression. Here’s a few things that I did get from this book…

  • A fresh take on grief. If you don’t know it by now…I am drawn to books about grief. At 13 I lost my father to a battle with cancer, and grief is something I have dealt with ever since. You might wonder why that makes me drawn to books about grief, but I think it’s because it helps me see that I’m not alone, that there are many ways to handle it, and that it can be tolerable. I felt that this unique telling of grief didn’t bog the reader down with feelings of sadness and sympathy towards the main character, but I think it helped the reader relate. I think that it almost gave the book a hopeful tone instead of the tone of helplessness and sadness. Obviously there were some intense moments, but it didn’t weigh the book down by any means. I think that if you have not experience this kind of grief you should definitely look for Riley’s take on it. Because it was unique, and it came with an adventure and a mystery.
  • A tight-knit group of friends. I thought it was so amazing that Riley had a group of friends that were also fighting their own battles with grief. Though all battles came from different situations, a lot of the feelings can relate. I think that THIS is what helps Riley through. This is something that would have helped me through the worst of my grief. To have friends who understood would be so incredibly huge. I think that I would have been more open to talk about my feelings, which I think was huge for the characters that we see in this book. Without this close group of friends…well some of the mystery wouldn’t exist but I also think that the book would have been along the lines of my initial impression and not what actually happened.
  • Adventure and mystery. It seems odd for me to say that a conteporary book that dealt with grief had mystery and adventure right? Well, this one does. It was a mystery that I honestly couldn’t figure out for the longest time and it kept me going through the book. I think this part of the plot was why I was able to finish the book within 24 hours (a pretty rare accomplishment for me). I can’t really dive into this further without giving things away, but know that this is a thing in the book and it changes EVERYTHING as far as a book about grief.

Bonus: I learned something new about the Jesuits and things that they believe, MY SHIP FRICKING SAILED GUYS!

All in all, this was a really well done book. A book that gave me a taste of something I already felt I knew well in my own life…but with a twist.

About the Author:

Emily France graduated from Brown University before going on to law school, where she was the editor-in-chief of the law review. She finds creative inspiration in all things spiritual, from sitting with Benedictine monks for 4 a.m. vigils in a Rocky Mountain monastery to trekking to Buddhist and Hindu temples in India. Now she writes full-time and lives with her husband and their fearless Tibetan Spaniel in sunny Colorado—the closest place to Nirvana she’s found. Signs of You is her debut novel. Visit Emily online at http://www.emilyfrancebooks.com and follow her on Twitter @EmilyFranceBook.

Click here for the giveaway!!

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Some things I’ve read lately

It seems to me that summer has decided to take off full speed ahead. Not that this is a bad thing, but I had some books I had intended to talk about that I just couldn’t get a full post going on. This isn’t to say that I have been reading bad books, it’s just that I am getting so easily distracted that I seem to lose focus pretty quick. To avoid that I am going to just give you a little idea of what I have been reading and liking so far this summer.

The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons

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I actually just finished this one with a bunch of other fabulous people as part of Rock My TBR. This book was the dystopian book I didn’t know I needed. When I had originally read the description I had some mixed feelings about it. I was a little worried that this book would spend ALL this time complaining about men. Now, don’t get me wrong…men can suck sometimes. But so can women. And since this book was about women being hunted and sold off I think I had a right to be concerned. I am so thankful that Kristen Simmons wrote this though, because she tackled this subject beautifully. It showed the balance that needs to happen between men and women while also showing that women are strong individuals, capable of so much more than they are sometimes given credit for. Aya was an amazing character. She was tough. She fought for her loved ones. She did whatever she could to keep her people safe. She was also tragically flawed. She tried and failed so many times, as most all humans do. Her failures never stopped her though. She continued to fight. She is the role model I think teens need. I think she is the role model that a lot of people need. A strong, independent woman who tries, fails, and tries again. I also adored Kiran, but honestly…who doesn’t? He was a great guy that really seemed to give Aya her space, listen to her, and help her in whatever way that he could. They worked so well together. And this world…this world was so much more brutal than I had ever imagined. It honestly shook me a bit. It was a very dark world, but a world where some light was able to shine through Aya and what she did. I am so incredibly glad I was finally able to read this and I hope that you give it a go if you haven’t already. I mean…it’s a standalone so that’s about 10000000000 bonus points right?

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

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Not going to lie, I picked this book up on a total whim. I had seen it all over the place and I was curious. While I may not have been in love with it I think I definitely liked it well enough. I found some value in it. The biggest thing to me is that it was a reminder that everyone handles grief differently. Some bottle it up SO much that it become too much to handle, others go the complete opposite way. Gottie was one to bottle it up, which is not quite how I was. She never even let it out in private, which blew my mind. I thought that this is a good reminder, in a fictional way, that everyone handles grief differently and that when we approach them we need to keep that in mind. The romance in this book was fun. It’s a troupe that I am so in love with (possibly because I kind of lived it). They just made my heart so incredibly happy. There were other awesome secondary characters too, like Sof, Ned, Mrs. A, and Grey. I found myself much more drawn to them than the main characters, which is too bad because it really was her story. The time travel aspect of this book confused me a bit (and I had totally forgotten about it until all of the sudden we are in a possible loop and I was super confused). I was also not a fan of Gottie. It could just be differences in personality, but I had a very hard time with her. But even with that I was super glad to have taken the time to read this book. I think it opened my eyes to some possible real life situations in front of me.

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell

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Ok, so I know this isn’t necessarily a book and more of a short story but STILL. Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors. I think there is just ONE book of hers that I didn’t love, and I think that was more of a me thing than anything else. This short story was ADORABLE. It was exactly the pick-me-up that I needed during a pretty rough month (the person that I send to for Secret Sister sent it to me and seriously…I sobbed when I got it because it was so thoughtful and it came just after I was told of a massive and necessary car repair I needed to do. Crazy). Now, you have to know that it does involve Star Wars. I like Star Wars well enough, but I don’t necessarily LOVE it and can get annoyed with people when they overly talk about it and such. This book didn’t annoy me one bit. It was less about Star Wars and more about getting out of your comfort zone and exploring the world. You never know who you might end up meeting, what relationships you might end up creating, and what memories you may make along the way. I think, in a way, this book told the reader to take small risks and put yourself out there. I probably would be ok with MORE about these particular characters and the life that they have ahead of them, but I will be satisfied enough with the short amount of time I spent with them. Seriously, if you have the opportunity to read this short story I highly recommend it. Well worth your time.

Have you read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Let’s Talk About…Break Me Like a Promise by Tiffany Schmidt

26073071No one is unbreakable.
All Magnolia Vickers has ever wanted was to follow father’s path as head of the Family Business. But new legislation is poised to destroy the Family’s operations in the black-market organ trade and Maggie’s recent behavior has wrecked the business-savvy reputation she’s worked her whole life to build.
She’s given an ultimatum: shape up or step aside.
Then Maggie messes up: she downloads a virus onto her father’s computer, and must sneak it off-estate for repair. When Alex, a tech whiz, uncovers the type of information on the machine, he offers Maggie a choice: her Family can give him a kidney, or he’ll irreparably scramble the data. Maggie agrees, but has no intention of keeping her promise or every seeing him again. That night Alex shows up at her Family estate with copies of confidential Family files and a shocking revelation—the kidney is for him.
The Vickers aren’t willing to let Alex out of their sight, so he moves onto their estate and Maggie is assigned to be his keeper. A task she resents and he enjoys making as challenging as possible. But procuring black market organs is becoming increasingly difficult, and as Alex’s health declines, she’s surprised to find herself falling for him.
Like it or not, Maggie must accept that if she wants to save Alex’s life and carve out a place in the new legalized organ business, she’s going to have to fight for both.

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I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way sways my opinions.

Reactions upon finishing:

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I was so excited to continue on with this series. If you remember, the first book (Hold Me Like A Breath) came out about a year ago and had reviews that were all over the place. I really enjoyed it, even though it had a bit of a slow start for me. I really ended that book curious about what was next for the series and where the Organ Act would go, if anywhere. Insert Break Me Like a Promise. This book started off strong with a bit of gut-wrenching grief and just built off of itself, making me pretty invested in the story. A few of my favorite things:

  • Characters! The characters in this book stuck with me so much more than the first. I was not the biggest Landlow fan, and Penny kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I know that she is battling a crazy illness in the book and kind of at a loss when she is free from her home, but still. Magnolia is the exact opposite. Magnolia is fierce, strong, independent, and is not going to take anyone’s crap (though she does do that a handful of times). Throughout the book you see her experiences so many of life’s crazy moments, and you see her battling grief. Add that to the list of trying to be her dad’s #2 and it is just a mess of emotions. Her emotions felt so real to me, and the way she dealt with them is exactly how I would deal with them too. I found her incredibly relatable. There was also James and Alex, both of which I loved. I found them to be so much more real and normal than I had expected, and I was so excited to see just what would happen with everyone.
  • Storyline! I think that this particular plot got me to be much more invested in the business of the Family. I don’t know what it was, but I really cared about what would happen with the Organ Act and about their patients . As Magnolia got more and more invested in the care of Alex, I also got more invested in it. I think that this connected with me a reader more than the daughter of a Family dealing with her disorders. I also do know a little bit about kidneys and whatnot, so I felt like it was easy to follow along with (THANKS SCRUBS AND HOUSE!).
  • Life lessons! I know, I know. Hearing that there are valuable life lessons in the book kind of make it sound lame…but hear me out. I have dealt with grief since I was 13. I lost my father in battle with cancer, and since then have continued to feel that loss. Obviously Magnolia’s loss and mine are different, but I found that there was so much to relate to…mostly the importance of putting one foot in front of the other and moving on. This doesn’t necessarily mean replacing that person, but it means trying to move your life forward as far as work, education, etc. I think this book really painted a decent picture of that for the reader, and it’s something that so many can relate to and so many may need to hear. To me this was the BIGGEST takeaway from this book, but there is also the idea of not judging a person by appearances and taking time to care for yourself before trying to fix the world’s problems. I loved that these sort of lessons were in there, but not in a preachy way. It was perfect and something I still to this day need to hear.

I think that this was the PERFECT continuation of the series and I am so excited to see what is next. If you read the first book and are kinda curious about what happens next I highly recommend you dive right in. This series just upped it’s game, and I think you definitely need to see that!

Lets talk about…Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

25614492Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.

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Reaction upon finishing:

Ok, before I get into my feelings for this book I should probably let you know why it is I absolutely adore this author. I have read all of the books that she has released and have loved and adored every single one. Not only does she have a way with words, but she has a way of writing a story that makes me feel for a moment in the past. She writes it so that I care so much about the characters even though I know what could be the outcome for them. I absolutely love that she writes from the perspective the innocent individuals from the sidelines. In all of her books it hasn’t been just those that are being persecuted or treated poorly due to war, but also those that just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong, I love historical fiction told from those that succeeded and did good. Those that were persecuted but used it as a chance to demonstrate their strength and to inspire others…I love those stories. But a lot of the times I can see myself as being the person that is just on the sidelines and suddenly BAM, bad things happen. These people were just getting ready to start their lives on their own. They were at the age to marry and to strike out on their own adventures and now they have THESE things to deal with? I think that she almost makes it more realistic to someone like me.

She is one of those authors that I will do whatever I can to buy her books. And I will recommend the heck out of them. So prepare yourself friends that love historical fiction…I will try to throw this one in your general direction.

Alright, so now to the story at hand. This book was something else. I am really struggling to come up with the words to accurately describe what my journey was while reading this book. And it was definitely a journey. I found myself on such a roller coaster of emotions because I really connected and cared for these characters.

  • I had zero knowledge of this historical event. Seriously, nothing. It seems bizarre that I didn’t because as a kid I was really into the history of the Titanic (and no, it was not because of that movie that I can never unsee). I just couldn’t believe that a tragedy like that had happened, and I wanted to know more about the people and the lives they had before they lost everything. This…this tragedy is so much worse than that. The number of lives lost when this ship sank is huge. It was women, children, soldiers…people fleeing from the advancement of the Soviets. Innocent people who were just trying to make it to tomorrow. People like the main characters of this book.
  • This book is told from the perspective of 4 individuals. All 4 are from different backgrounds entirely. If you were to put them in a lineup I probably would never put them together (especially Alfred…but he’s a different story entirely and I can’t really go into too much detail about him). They are from different countries. They are from different families and different beliefs. Heck, some of them are on opposite sides even throughout the story. Even with these differences 3 of the 4 of them form almost what looks like a family with the rest of their group. They look out for one another and care for each other. They do more for each other than some families will do for one another. And even with that they were all strong, independent individuals that were just trying to get by.
  • I absolutely loved Joana and Emilia. The strength that these two young women had was enviable. They were thrown into terrible situations and came out even stronger. And their actions and behaviors seemed to inspire those around them. There was so much fight in them, fight that I wish I had some days. Even though I know that the characters are fictional throughout an even that is completely historical, I can’t help but think that there had to people like these two. I like to think that even in the darkest of times there was some light.
  • I really loved the balance of mystery and tension throughout the book. Each and every character had a dark secret. Something from their past that they didn’t want to talk about and wanted to move forward from. I think that added so much because it’s reality. So many people have secrets that we are running from, and so many times we view something that has happened in the past as our fault even if it wasn’t. This secrecy, this tension, it moved the book along even faster. To me, this made the book even more real.

I still feel like there is so much more I could say, but my words are going to start coming out all jumbled up pretty soon. I cannot recommend this book and this author enough. She is why my love for historical fiction continues to grow strong. It’s books like this one that continue to make me curious about events in the past that I know very little about. It’s books like these that make me want to research more and know more.

This book has stuck with me since finishing it. It had me smiling, it had me angry, it had me sobbing and experiencing so many other emotions. I am so glad I purchased this book and I am so glad that I took the time to read it. I hate thinking that there is so much history that I know nothing about, especially a tragedy such as this. And I am glad for authors like Ruta Septeys, because they make sure that I am kept in the know.

Did you read this book?

Let’s talk about…The Rose and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

23308084The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as “a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance.”
I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.
In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love

Add this book to your Goodreads | My Review of The Wrath and the Dawn (book 1)

Initial reaction after finishing: my_heart_bobs_burgers2942237-6105032690-tumbltumblr_inline_nt70d1jk7c1rtzci0_500

I….I can’t…I can’t even….words are super hard guys. Seriously. Super hard. I finished this book 24 hours ago and I just cannot think of anything else. So please..excuse me while I fangirl.

I absolutely loved being back in this world and with these characters (and some excellent new ones). I seriously just…I laid in bed and hugged my book for quite some time after I finished. 13221174_10206543155999274_379145076546604685_oOnce again, this book had the most beautiful writing. It was just magical. The words weaved together so well to create the most beautiful story. I could picture myself there. Picture myself in the desert with these people. I could see everything playing out before me. And these words…these words brought a beautiful romance to life. It brought heartache to life. It brought so much action to my eyes. It was so beautiful, and just as well done as the first book.

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”

“I prefer the color blue to any other. The scent of lilacs in your hair is a source of constant torment. I despise figs. Lastly, I will never forget, all the days of my life, the memories of last night—
For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.”

“‘Since you can’t say it, will you at least tell me how much you love me?’
Khalid ran the tip of his nose beside her ear, a grateful smile upon his lips.
‘From the stars, to the stars.'”

I became so attached to these characters. I was so concerned for them as they faced so many situations throughout the book. This is one of those books that I found myself yelling at. I found myself throwing my book to the side in frustration. I found myself squealing in delight when good things happened. It’s been so long since I have been so heavily invested in a book and in what happens to the characters. So long. I am so glad that I felt the same connection to book two as I did to the first one.

I honestly don’t know what else to say without giving some massive stuff away. There are amazing characters in this book, some new ones. I found that some grew on me, even as I started off the book just hating them. The way their lives connected with each other, and the way they worked together. It worked together oh so well.

And that ending…oh that ending. It was everything. It ended so well, to the point where I don’t feel like there NEEDS to be more but I would still welcome more because I seriously love this world and these people. I need another series like this in my life. tumblr_njvv4mdv011siywdno3_250So…if you haven’t started this series you definitely should. It’s just two books (though a few novellas in there as well which I obviously need to get my hands on) and it is a beautiful and magical romance in the land of a fairy tale that I absolutely adore. It is well worth the read, and I am so sad there is no more.

Have you read this book, or this series? I would love to know your thoughts (and to have people to fangirl over this wonderful book with).

Let’s Talk About…Gravy Mercy by Robin LaFevers

9565548Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

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Reaction Upon Finishing:

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Wow. Wow wow wow. I am so sad that I had waited so long to read this. Seriously, it has been on my list for a few years, and it has been on my shelf in my house for the past year. I am so glad that I finally decided to read it and that I can cross off another book on my Rock My TBR list.

So…what exactly is it that I loved about this book:

  • Historical Fiction: This book reminded me SO much of the books that I devoured as a kid. I was very into historical fiction, particularly the medieval times. Reading this book transported me back to the feelings I had while reading as a child. I was excited and giddy and so incredibly pumped to be reading a book that involves duchesses and dukes. Not only that, but the book was largely based on events that actually happened. In the back of the book it is only lightly brushed on, but if you go to Robin LaFevers’ site you can find her author’s note with the history behind it. I just love how much of this was based on things that had actually happened. I think this helps me make further connections to the book and opens my eyes to historical events that I did not know about.
  • Ismae: I absolutely loved Ismae. She comes across as this highly trained assassin that could take you out oh so quickly, but you learn that there is more to her than that. She was strong and independent, but she showed caution. I know this sounds like something that isn’t a positive quality necessarily, but in most instances it really helped her out. She showed the importance of thinking about what you are doing instead of just going on and wrecking havoc. She showed imperfections too, and weakness, which made her more real to me. And even with those things, she never let that slow her down.
  • Plot Balance: I loved how this book was the perfect mix of action, adventure, intrigue, and romance. With a 500 page book I am always worried that the plot will get old or predictable, but not the case with this book. There was enough going on the whole time that I just had to keep reading to know what happened next. I felt that it flowed well and it all worked together to create a book that I came to love. I never felt bored throughout the entire 500 pages.

Bonus: ASSASSIN NUNS! This book was done in a way that you didn’t HAVE to keep reading (but obviously I will)!

I am so glad that I finally dove into this book. I had no doubt in my mind that I would enjoy it, but I didn’t know it would be among some of my favorite books. I definitely recommend this book if you are into historical fiction. I am definitely excited to get in to the next book!

Have you read this book? I would love to know your thoughts.

Buddy Review: Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

18712886Young Kelsea Raleigh was raised in hiding after the death of her mother, Queen Elyssa, far from the intrigues of the royal Keep and in the care of two devoted servants who pledged their lives to protect her. Growing up in a cottage deep in the woods, Kelsea knows little of her kingdom’s haunted past . . . or that its fate will soon rest in her hands.
Long ago, Kelsea’s forefathers sailed away from a decaying world to establish a new land free of modern technology. Three hundred years later, this feudal society has divided into three fearful nations who pay duties to a fourth: the powerful Mortmesne, ruled by the cunning Red Queen. Now, on Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of the Queen’s Guard—loyal soldiers who protect the throne—have appeared to escort the princess on a perilous journey to the capital to ascend to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling.
Though born of royal blood and in possession of the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic, Kelsea has never felt more uncertain of her ability to rule. But the shocking evil she discovers in the heart of her realm will precipitate an act of immense daring, throwing the entire kingdom into turmoil—and unleashing the Red Queen’s vengeance. A cabal of enemies with an array of deadly weapons, from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic, plots to destroy her. But Kelsea is growing in strength and stealth, her steely resolve earning her loyal allies, including the Queen’s Guard, led by the enigmatic Lazarus, and the intriguing outlaw known simply as “the Fetch.”
Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun. Riddled with mysteries, betrayals, and treacherous battles, Kelsea’s journey is a trial by fire that will either forge a legend . . . or destroy her

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Before I dive in I just want to ask why…WHHHHYYYYYYY did I wait so long to read this book????

This book was a part of the #RockMyTBR challenge for this year. And what better way to tackle a book than to read it with a buddy? I was very excited to tackle this large book with Cilla over at Paved with Books, and it sure did leave a lot to talk about.

Initial reaction upon finishing:

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This book was fantastic, and everything I want in a good fantasy. It may have started off a bit slow, but once it picked up it kind of took off running. There was a lot of world building that needed to be done, and though that is important it is also something that sometimes loses me easily. This world was a brutal place. The author did not shy away from details about what happened and the awful things that people are subject to. Honestly, I think it shocked us a bit. tearling 1

Once those things were established though, and we knew the world we were in for the plot really took off. Kelsea proved to be a much stronger heroine that I had thought. She came across as so timid and shy right away, but her first few acts as queen are shocking and bold. She clearly dug deep into herself and found some courage that a queen needs. She kept me on my toes when I was reading because I honestly had no clue what to expect from her.

There were other amazing characters throughout this book. Pen, Carling, Barty, the Fetch (OH MY GOSH WHO IS THE FETCH AND WHY IS HE SO FETCHING!?)…and Mace…

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I honestly think that Mace became my favorite character by the end. He was loyal to a fault. He was reliable. He was talented at what he did. He knew his strengths and definitely honed in on them. And he supported Kelsea. Not always, but he definitely was there for her even when he questioned her.

There was so much action in this book. Honestly, there was little time for anything else. There were a few swoons here and there, but I was so concerned with how the country was doing on how Kelsea was going to solve all the problems that came with her ruling the country that I didn’t care (as much…I still care. I still want you two crazy kids to end up together). I feel like this really made the book fly by, and had me wanting more.

This book ended so perfectly! Seriously. I read plenty of books with a cliffhanger ending that has you BEGGING for the next book in the series. And it’s not that I’m not excited to read the next book in this series (I AM GUYS! I AM!) but I feel like it’s not a necessity. I definitely need to know what happens next, but it’s not urgent. If that makes  sense. I think this book set up for the plot of the next book really well, and obviously things are about to go down that I am not even full prepared for. I am definitely excited.

This book was very enjoyable. An adventure I definitely needed, and I am really looking forward to what is next.

Who else has read this book?

Let’s Talk About…The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

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I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is no way sways my thoughts on this book.

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

Release Date: April 26th, 2016

Add this book to your Goodreads |  Order a copy though Amazon | About Rochani Chokshi

Initial Reaction Upon Finishing:

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This book took my by surprise. I have been hearing so many good things, meaning that when the opportunity to request it came up I jumped on it. No regrets friends! No regrets! This book comes out on April 26th, and I definitely think it is something you should be adding to your TBR. Why, you may ask….

  • Beautiful writing: Oh my gosh, the writing in this book is just gorgeous. I felt that it really created such an amazing and vivd picture of this world. The world you are submerged in is crazy. Yes, I got lost a few times, but I could still picture it (just the exact location sometimes got lost on me…oops?). I could see all the colors. I felt like I was standing there. The characters, the plot…it was all written just so perfectly. That alone made me love this book. I don’t think I can do it justice. It was just so beautiful. I think I would love reading her grocery list. So amazing.
  • Strong females: Wow, was Maya ever amazing. She started off so headstrong, kind of stubborn, and a bit standoff-ish (but obviously for good reasons). I loved watching her grow, watching her adapt to everything that was happenig to her, and watching her mature. She made some mistakes, but she also made decisions that I know for a fact I would make in her situation because OH MY GOSH SO MANY THINGS HAPPENING AND IT JUST SEEMED LIKE THE GOOD DECISION AT THE TIME! She seemed relateable even in this fantasy world. And then there was Guari. She kind of stole the show for me. She was so adorable in the beginning and by the end…I would probably be terrified of her. These two females really grew into their characters and became forces in their worlds. I loved seeing that.
  • Swoons: Warning…this book comes with the swooniest of swoons. Like was Amar even trying!? I feel like he said something super simple and I just…oh man. The way he spoke, the care he took, the mystery that is Amar. It was so perfect. I went back and forth so many times wondering if I should trust this guy, and then he would do something swoony again and I was all confused all over again. I like that he kept me guessing. I like that the swoons kept me guessing.

Bonus: INDIAN FOLKLORE! STANDALONE (with a companion book coming out eventually about minor characters!)!

My one, teeeeeeeny tiny issue…I got lost. A lot. I mostly chalk this up to knowing absolutely nothing about Indian folklore. I sometimes am easily lost too. Luckily I was able to enjoy the story still and find where I was within a page or so. It never took away from my enjoyment of the book (though sometimes I did stare at the page for a bit or paused to think about what happened last). I am so happy that it wasn’t an issue when it came to my enjoyment of the book, but I know some people would want to know.

BELIEVE THE HYPE FOR THIS BOOK PEOPLE! IT IS REAL! I am so glad I gave this book a chance.

Has this book been added to your TBR?

Book Talk: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

7514925Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…
Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn’t believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.
Peter is unlike anyone she’s ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland’s inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she’s always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.
With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it’s the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who’s everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Add Tiger Lily to your Goodreads | Find Tiger Lily on Amazon

Initial reaction upon finishing: swoon

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Oh my goodness, Tiger Lily is not at all what I was expecting. I am honestly not sure what I was anticipating when I started this book, but I know it took me by surprise. I found this to be an adventure that is nearly typical of Neverland while giving you insight on a character that, at least with the Disney movie version, you don’t totally love. My oh my…how my opinions have changed. A few thoughts on this book… tumblr_m8asea42z51rppri6o1_500

  • TIGER LILY IS FIERCE! I guess I never really though of Tiger Lily as a wimpy character, but she was so much more than I had ever anticipated. She is strong, stubborn, terrifying, and yet not at the same time. She is a force to be reckoned with and most people tried to stay away from her. She was super intimidating, but you watched her grow. Not saying she lost her fierce-ness, but she almost tamed it a bit so that it wasn’t just scary and in your face, but so that it was a quality that could be admired (ok…maybe some people were still scared of her, but oh well). She had a softer side too, but it was pretty rare that anyone saw that.
  • PLOT! Oh my gosh there was a lot to process. There were so many dark situations that I didn’t even think about. From gruesome deaths to simple crimes, like sneaking off, we had it all. There was one particular dark situation involving Moon Eye that I just could not process. I don’t want to get into it too much because I think that gives away some key character development, but I was shocked. I had not anticipated such darkness in this book. It made Neverland to not be quite the land of fairy tales that we would expect.
  • ROMANCE! Ok, the romance had me…it had me so much. I wasn’t expecting it to grip me so much and tug at my heart, but it did. I was all for Tiger Lily and Peter Pan. They made such an adventurous couple that wasn’t afraid of anything (or at least they would never let on that they were afraid). This romance broke my heart. When Wendy showed up…I had so much rage. I don’t think I have ever adored Wendy, but I hated her in this book. Hated her so much. This story put you through a romance that is doomed. I mean you know from the start that it has no future, but oh my gosh was I hoping the entire time that it did. I was cheering for them. So much. But know…things do end nicely. I was very happy with that.

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This book was just not at all what I expected. I expected Tiger Lily to just be your average person, but she was so much more than that. And the world of Neverland…it will never be looked at the same by me again. It was a world of fantasy, but so many real world situations were thrown into this world of fantasy that we see every day. That we try to shed light on every day and that we try to fight for those who come out those situations on the other side. It amazed me how the author did that.

I would highly suggest taking the time to read this book. I can’t believe it took me as long as it did, but once my hands were on it I couldn’t stop. This was a 24 hour read.

Have you read this book? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I loved that I was hesitant about.

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish

I confess, I am changing this week’s topic just a teeny tiny bit. Instead of talking about books that were out of my comfort zone I am going to talk about the books that I read even though I was a little hesitant towards them. Why would I be hesitant? Ohhhhhh the hype, opinions of readers that I have always trusted so well (both good and bad), the way the story sounded like it was going to happen, comparisons, etc. There are many reasons to be hesitant about a book, but you never know what you will think unless you try it. So here are 10 books I have read within the last few years that I was initially hesitant about but wound up loving.

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby 17571215

Reasons I hesitated: Beloved author by many, contemporary, the premise sounded like it could go full cheese super fast…I WAS WRONG GUYS AND I ADORED THIS BOOK!

Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard 18143898

Reasons I hesitated: sci-fi, husband said I would love it and he loved it so therefore I would be disowned in my own household if I did not like said book…it’s cool though because I really enjoyed it!

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford 0-545-10708-3

Reasons I hesitated: contemporary, came highly recommended in a way, not something I would have picked up on my own, and what is going on in that synopsis…it was a pretty awesome read though.

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt 10594356

Reasons I hesitated: mixed reviews, highly recommended by a few trusted readers, contemporary (this genre is hit or miss for me)…I really enjoyed this one.

The Black Mage Series by Rachel E Carter 23365048

Reasons I hesitated: my best friend LOVED this series so what if I didn’t love it, kind of came out of nowhere…it has become one of my favorite series guys…READ THIS SERIES!

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard 22328546

Reasons I hesitated: hype, mixed reviews by somewhat trusted reviewers, I just wasn’t sure ok! But it’s cool, it was one of those books that I needed right at that moment!

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi 13455782

Reasons I hesitated: hype, different writing style, fear of all the cheesiness known to man…I devoured this in one day. Loved it. Need to finish the series!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas 16096824

Reasons I hesitated: super hype, story about fae, kind of weird relationships if you REALLY think about it, scared of Beauty and the Beast inspiration gone wrong. It was really an enjoyable book though guys! 

The Storyspinner by Becky Wallace 18488433

Reasons I hesitated: multiple POVs from ALL over the place, mixed reviews from trusted reviewers. I think this book taught me to just dive in anyway because I loved this book so much!

The Heir by Keira Cass 22918050

Reasons I hesitated: I thought this series was over, a Selection done years after the first 3 books took place, hype. This book series is my addiction guys…I have heard it referred to as book crack and that is entirely accurate. This book was no different (even though I could not stand the main character for the LONGEST time).

What are some books that you were hesitant to read?