Waiting on Wednesday: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokski

I’m so excited about this YA Fantasy!

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: OMG I WANT THIS BOOK NOW

treat yo self parks

the star touched queen coverTitle: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokski
Pub Date: May 3, 2016 from St. Martin’s Press
Amazon: I’VE ALREADY DONE IT NOW YOU PREORDER TOO
B&N: OR HERE
Goodreads: Your shelves NEED this book

Cursed with a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, sixteen-year-old Maya has only earned the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her world is upheaved when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. But when her wedding takes a fatal turn, Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Yet neither roles are what she expected. As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds friendship and warmth.

But Akaran has its own secrets – thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Beneath Akaran’s magic, Maya begins to suspect her life is in danger. When she ignores Amar’s plea for patience, her discoveries put more than new love at risk – it threatens the balance of all realms, human and Otherworldly.

Now, Maya must confront a secret that spans reincarnated lives and fight her way through the dangerous underbelly of the Otherworld if she wants to protect the people she loves.

The Star-Touched Queen is a lush, beautifully written and vividly imagined fantasy inspired by Indian mythology.

Truth time: I’ve been looking forward to this book since Roshani announced she signed with her agent on Querytracker with a YA Indian Inspired fantasy. I followed her on Twitter right after that and was SO stoked when the deal announcement came. THIS BOOK. I haven’t read it so this is just hypothetical flailing about how amazing I expect it to be.

brb singing about my feelings

I love fantasy, I’m Indian, I’m all for girls finding their voice and power, I love romance, I love secrets, and lush world building, and pretty words, and I kinda love the ‘forced relationship to love’ trope. So I’m convinced this book is made for me.

PLUS THAT COVER. Mega swoon. That has to be one of the most perfect covers ever.

Are you excited for THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN? The only acceptable answer is ‘gcujksvdfghb YES.’

Advertisements

Best Books I Read in: January (and You Should Too)!

Sorry I left you guys waiting for this month’s list a couple extra days longer. I got distracted with snow and school and watching The Royals.

So in January I read a whooping 16 books! That must be an all-time best. I wanted to read as much as I could before the semester started–though I still read a fair amount the last two weeks of January, balanced with school work. Let’s get started!

love actually dancing

Short version here!
-WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin [asfghjkl masterpiece]
-MAP OF FATES by Maggie Hall [swoon]
-KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky [this book is effed up]
-EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone [cute! poetry! yay!]
-THE ANATOMY OF CURIOSITY by Maggie Stiefvater, Brenna Yovanoff, and Tessa Gratton [yessssss]

Longer/cooler version here!

wolf by wolf

OH MY GOD THIS BOOK. I love it SO much. I read it in a day because I just could not stop. I don’t think I’ve ever really read an alternate history book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was also wary of the subject matter since we’ve had a crop of Nazi Romance Book scandals in the last several months + last semester I took a class on Genocide, so the material was close to my heart. But this. book. was. incredible. Yael is such an amazing MC–she’s been through so much shit, but she still has so much heart, and it’s beautiful. The plot is nonstop and the writing broke me. Like, I had so many feels, it was disgusting [evidence below].

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

map of fates cover.

The Conspiracy of Us was one of my favorite books of last year. I loved the characters and was totally hooked. I was so excited to win an ARC so I could read it and sate my fangirlsh needs! But who was I kidding, this book just made me need book 3! Again, spot on characters, humor, and sass. And swoony guys that actually made me CHANGE SHIPS. This has NEVER happened to me before. But as much as I love Jack Stellan, I’m here for Avery and her character growth and unraveling all the mysteries of this twisty tale. Okay, and Stellan. Full review coming soon!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

.
anatomy of curiousity cover.

I’ve never really read short story collections before, but I’ve been in a writing slump recently, so I wanted to check this out since it’s a book for writers and readers. And oh man, I’m so glad I did! These stories and the writing tips/insights/notes  were incredible. The stories themselves were super interesting. I was hooked on two of them and found the other interesting but it just didn’t grab me, though the author notes were still invaluable. If you’re a fan of one or more of these authors or enjoy fantasy and richly woven stories, def check this out!

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

.

kill the boyband cover.

I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH! I don’t even know how to talk about it and I want to review it, but you see how not knowing how to talk about this book could pose a problem. Just… just… I don’t even know. This magical book is somehow real. It has messy characters, insane situations, satire, a twisty plot, and GIRLS AND THEIR POWER AND FEELS. I’ll try to be coherent about this book some other time.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

.

.

.

.every last word cover

The poetry in this book is beautiful! I thought it was also interesting to see a different manifestation of OCD that had more to do with invasive thoughts than the more well known neurotic tendencies. Even though this book deals with a heavy subject, it was a fluffy easy read with fun characters and a cute ship.

Amazon || B&N || Goodreads

.

.

.

.

 

What are the best books you’ve read recently? Have you read any of these?

 

ARC Review: REIGN OF SHADOWS by Sophie Jordan

Check out what I thought about a new YA Fantasy Retelling of Rapunzel!

reign of shadows coverTitle: REIGN OF SHADOWS
Author: Sophie Jordan
Pub Date: February 9, 2016 from HarperTeen
Amazon: Pre-order it here!
B&N: or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Thanks to HarperCollins for sending me an ARC!

REIGN OF SHADOWS was an enjoyable read. I flew through it, and it had nothing to do with its slim volume. It kept me turning the pages and rooting for the main characters, Luna and Fowler. Despite my enjoyment though, there were a lot of things I disliked about the novel.

My biggest complain is that there’s no reason for it to be a 2 book series. So little actually happens in book 1 that some of the romantic tension could have been cut to add in more plot and conflict that has to do with Luna’s true identity, the secret she’s keeping, and how it affects her world. A lot of scenes are repetitive and don’t establish anything new. Luna and Fowler trek through the forest and bump into people and have sexual tension and almost kiss but then don’t and then do more walking and almost kiss again. The interesting stuff like the bounty hunters slaughtering teenage girls and the main plot line of Luna being the true heir to the throne are barely present. Sometimes I also felt Luna was kept from making decisions purely to stretch the thin plot.

ugh hook

There isn’t really an ending since it just ends on a massive cliffhanger very abruptly, after a massive plot twist is revealed. I have no problem with a cliffhanger when it feels natural, like some questions have been answered or a character arc has progressed, but this book was devoid of character arcs for me and the world building still left so many questions (a forest in a world that has no sun? what do dwellers look like/what are they/how did they even come to be? how does the city above the trees have a lake?), that the end doesn’t provide any closure while still leaving the story open. It just cuts out, like if you were in a movie theater and the screen goes black in the middle of the film.

reign of shadows

As a Rapunzel retelling, it had some interesting subversions. I liked that Luna was blind instead of her “prince.” I just don’t know if she was written as Magical Disabled Person instead of simply a normal disabled person who knows how to take care of herself and isn’t solely her disability. Luna has a lot of skills, but I don’t know how she could maneuver around foreign parts of the forest without a walking stick or anything perfectly. Maybe that’s just my ignorance.

While this is a retelling, it also reads like a romance novel. Words like “heady” and “sinew” were used multiple times, which isn’t a big deal, but it just changes the feel or aesthetic of the novel. The plot was basically made up of romantic tension and almost kisses, as mentioned. I’d also call it insta-love, though some might dispute me on that point. Also, the first “moment” they share when Fowler nearly kisses her seemed to come out of nowhere, since he was very closed off before then. Fowler and Luna both fulfilled some very common, cliche romance tropes. Fowler is the gruff alpha male closed off to love, and Luna is the bright-eyed, optimistic innocent  girl. I just wish something else was done with their characters so the trope wasn’t so pronounced.

Despite that, I still enjoyed this story! Fowler and Luna had some great sass, their POVs flowed well, and I liked the side characters of Perla and Sivo. I hope we see them again! Side note: When Luna leaves the tower and begins to run out of food Perla gave her and she had feels, that gave me feels. Loved that.

feeeeels

Some might be bothered by the pace of the novel, but I wasn’t. The lead up to the end feels vaguely episodic with stuff Happening, Dramatic Break Ups and Getting Back Together compared to how slow the previous 250 pages were. All in all, REIGN OF SHADOWS needs some fine tuning, but kept me hooked to the page. Recommended for romance and fairy tale fans, rather than someone looking for a good fantasy.

Cover Thoughts
enchanted

Favorite Quote (From an ARC, so check the final version)
“Being a little dangerous in this world was a requirement.”
ouat hook once eyebrow

Favorite Character 
Maybe Fowler…? 🙂
asfdgh emma

ARC Review: OTHER BROKEN THINGS by Christa Desir

Check out what I thought about Other BRoken Things, a YA contemporary novel.

other broken things coverTitle: Other Broken Things
Author: Christa Desir
Pub Date: January 12, 2016 from Simon Pulse
Amazon: Buy it here! 
B&N: Buy it here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Nat’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.

Unfortunately her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.

But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life and things start looking up. Joe is funny, smart, and calls her out in a way no one ever has.

He’s also older. A lot older.

Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she’s been desperate to forget.

Now in order to make a different kind of life, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.

Thanks to Edelweiss for granting me an e-arc!

I was very curious about this novel for a personal reason–my father has a drinking problem. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this story and I hadn’t really heard a lot about it until I came upon it while perusing review copies. But I was instantly hooked on the premise–again, personal connection always helps.

I read this book in one sitting. The voice was so addicting. I think it’s the kind of book you need to binge to really feel Natalie’s character arc. Plus, this is a very character driven story. There’s no flashy plot. It’s just one girl’s journey post-rehab. Natalie is doing court mandated community service and attending AA meetings as she tries to catch up with school work and get back to her life.

holland punch And Nat’s a boxer, too! 🙂

Nat’s not a perfect character. Obviously. She struggles in her recovery, in her relationship with her parents, and also in her relationship with herself. I found it so easy to relate to her, why she drank and occasionally slid backwards, and also when she was reluctant to move forward. Does that make sense? I hope it does. I think you’ll get it once you’ve read the book. But Nat is not exactly all gung-ho about AA at the start of the book. Rehab has not magically made her want to be healthy. I appreciated how Nat got to be, maybe, “unlikeable” and make bad choices or ugly choices. I loved her for it.

The relationship with Joe, the older man she meets through AA, was very well done. It was handled with such maturity. This wasn’t one of those stories that romanticizes the young girl/older man relationship. If you’re wary about the book for this reason, don’t be. I don’t think it will make you rage.

Other things (ha, get it? :D) I loved about Other Broken Things was the relationship with Nat and her mom and how that mends. It gave me all happy feels. I feel like this book might have also helped me understand my dad in new ways. There was this one quote that really spoke to me because it described him perfectly.

I think you’ll definitely gravitate to this book if you have a personal connection, and you might see a little of your experience mirrored in this book. However, OTHER BROKEN THINGS stands on its own and creates a fully drawn visceral female character. This is a book you’ll read in one sitting!

Cover Thoughts
I really love that ‘Twelve Steps’ is on top of the bottle, the cork. It gives me feels.
mind blown parks

Favorite Quote
The one I mentioned loving above, duh! Just a note this is from an ARC so it might have been changed in the final version.

“How about this one: everyone alcoholic, including you, princess, is a liar. … You are. And your attitude comes from the fact that you think everyone else is lying too. Not just the alcoholics. Everyone. And the reason you think that is because you lie all the time. That’s what alcoholics do. And once you get real with the fact that more than likely you’re the only liar in the room, you’ll save yourself a ton of grief. And you’ll start to trust people.”

Favorite Character
I really loved Nat’s mom and her insane amounts of Christmas cheer! I just feel like this somehow summarizes Nat and her mom so well…
time after time parks

ARC Review: THIS SONG IS (NOT) FOR YOU by Laura Nowlin

Check out what I thought about this YA novel about music, glitter, and love from Laura Nowlin.

this song is not for you coverTitle: This Song is (Not) For You
Author: Laura Nowlin
Release Date: January 5, 2016 from Sourcebooks Fire
Amazon: Order it here!
B&N: Or here!
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves!

Ramona fell for Sam the moment she met him. It was like she had known him forever. He’s one of the few constants in her life, and their friendship is just too important to risk for a kiss. Though she really wants to kiss him…

Sam loves Ramona, but he would never expect her to feel the same way-she’s too quirky and cool for someone like him. Still, they complement each other perfectly, both as best friends and as a band.

Then they meet Tom. Tom makes music too, and he’s the band’s missing piece. The three quickly become inseparable. Except Ramona’s falling in love with Tom. But she hasn’t fallen out of love with Sam either. How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band?

Thanks to Netgalley for an e-arc!

I was excited to read this book because I heard there was an asexual main character. Said character is Tom and the parts of this book where he questioned himself and his sexuality were so well written, they broke my heart. I felt for him and wanted to scream at anyone that ever pushed him away once he told them he was ace.

my-babies belle ouat

The other main characters were Ramona and Sam. I had a hard time telling each POV apart because the voice was relatively the same. However, that voice was addicting and made this a fast read.

I got a little restless while reading because I felt this was missing a more developed conflict and plot. My favorite part was Ramona being dead set on this music college and expecting Sam and Tom would want to go too, and they’d be together. However, Tom and Sam aren’t so sure they want to study music, have a career in music, or even go to college at all. I felt like some parts of this subplot were brushed over, which made me sad.

The love triangle is definitely not an over the top, in your face, angsty one. It’s really well done. The resolution is an interesting one, and perhaps unconventional. But you know what, their love is not for you. 😉

Also, how dare The Cure’s Just Like Heaven be considered a secret/guilty pleasure song. It is perfect.

doctor who air guitar

This Song is (Not) For You is a must read for music lovers and glitter enthusiasts that deals with first love and transitioning from high school to college. It is a good book for anyone looking to learn more about asexuality–which should be everyone and will give you feels. 

Cover Thoughts
that was awesome

Favorite Quotes [From an ARC & subject to change]

Back then, playing the piano felt like my purpose. Beavers build dams. Bees make honey. Ramona plays piano.

Ramona sighs, and I think it’s for me. Ramona sighs, and I am sinking into the floor as my soul flies up past the ceiling.

“You don’t care. About sex.” She said it like I’d said I didn’t care about curing cancer.

“They’re mean because they’re unhappy, and they’re unhappy cause they’re stuck. They’re stuck because they’re refusing to open their minds, to consider changing the way they live their lives.”

The most important thing is love. “That’s true,” Dad says, his voice quiet again. After a pause he adds. “Though for me it’s novels. Novels are the second most important thing.”

Favorite Character 
I kind of really liked Sam? He was such a romantic.
he's so pretty i want to cry friends

ARC Review: THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig

 

Check out what I thought about Heidi HEILIG’s debut YA novel, THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE.

the girl from everywhere coverTitle: The Girl From Everywhere
Author: Heidi Heilig
Pub Date: February 16, 2016 from HarperCollins Greenwillow Books
Amazon: Pre-order
B&N: Pre-order 
Goodreads: Add the pretty!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

Thanks Brittany for loaning a poor fangirl your ARC.

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE was one of my most anticipated reads! I first heard about it on QueryShark in June 2014. I was blown away by the concept and knew I had to have this book! Fast forward to now and I finally read it!

The writing is beautiful. It has such a great rhythm and feel to it. It’s so smart, too! So many references to mythology and all sorts of things. I was so happy when I knew one. The worlds were richly drawn with so much love I could feel it. A pet peeve of mine is when New York is written as a caricature or geographic details are off. Not only is New York brought to life here, but so is 1800s Hawaii and ancient China.

The characters! I loved Nix and Kash. They kept me reading besides the gorgeous writing. I want to cuddle them both and squish their faces together.

*insert that Barbossa JUST KISS gif* *searches in vain* *can’t find*

The supporting crew of the Temptation were also a joy. I want all their sass.

owl-fangirl-hearts-happy1

However, there’s one perfect character I’ve left out. SWAG the cutest little sea dragon EVER. Ahhh! He is the real star of this novel. (Spoiler alert: I have a mighty weakness for adorable animals doing adorable things)

girl from everywhere

And now onto the things I wasn’t so swoony over. Sadly. Regrettably. I seriously wanted to love every single second. But this section is still riddled with feels.

-The pacing kind of got away from me in some places, namely in the beginning and end. The middle, though, was pretty amazing. I was totally hooked. The scene where Nix meets Joss for the first time I was so totally in. Every word, I was like, ‘what is this magic.’ So much double meaning and symbolism!

-The semi-love triangle wasn’t my cup of tea. But it is hard to outshine Kash.

kash hot persian thief

Thanks, Heidi! 

I know that Nix wanted to experience something outside of the ship, but why couldn’t she have just made an epic bestie? Friendships are just important as romances and I felt like this was a great opportunity for that.

-I didn’t really feel the stakes throughout (like, logically I knew them cause I was told it, but I wasn’t really shown the threat throughout), nor did I particularly care for the reveal of who the villain was.

I feel like my dislikes of the novel are purely subjective and a lot of other readers will love everything about it. I would recommend it despite my issues with it because everyone deserves to meet Nix and Kash and Swag.

Gorgeous vivid writing, fantastic characters, and a sweeping new world make THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE a book not to miss!

Cover Thoughts
minions fangirling

Favorite Quotes
[Obligatory note about how these come from an ARC, so they may not be the  final version :)]

“It’s wrong.”
“It’s illegal,” he corrected. “There are a lot of things that are illegal but not wrong. And probably more that are wrong, and still legal.”

Unasked for–and unappreciated–my brain reminded me of an Arab proverb: Jealousy is nothing but a fear of being abandoned. 

Everything must come to an end. In every myth, paradise is meant to be lost.

“You expected honor among thieves?”
“It’s more common than honor among gentleman!”

“…And once everyone agrees something is one way, all the other ways it could have been disappear.”

Favorite Character
SWAG FOREVER AND EVER
i live mulan

Waiting on Wednesday: SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys

Today we’re Waiting on SALT TO THE SEA, an epic historical fiction novel.

Waiting on Wednesday Theme: Free Day

salt to the sea coverTitle: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Pub Date: February 2, 2016 from Philomel Books
Amazon: Pre-order
B&N: Pre-order 
Goodreads: Add it to your shelves

.

.

.

.

.

The author of Between Shades of Gray returns to WWII in this epic novel that shines a light on one of the war’s most devastating—yet unknown—tragedies.

In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Ruta Sepetys is a phenomenal writer and she takes periods of history and brings them to life. I am so excited for her newest novel, Salt to the Sea! I also adore the title. The alliteration, the sound, the words. I don’t know. I’m weird, okay.

it's art yelling

I read Between Shades of Gray years ago, when it first came out. I didn’t fall in love with it, but the writing was beautiful and I appreciated getting to learn more about a period of history I hadn’t known about. I’d had no clue about the deportations Lithuanians suffered in WW1.

I read Ruta’s next novel Out of the Easy and that is when I became a believer. I loved every second of Out of the Easy. Every word, every character, every second I lived in that book. This time the stakes were less dire, but no less personal. Discovering 1950s New Orleans was fascinating. I heartily recommend this book to everyone.

And now I’m here, waiting for Salt to the Sea. I’m nervous it’ll fall more towards the Shades of Gray spectrum (although for many people, obviously that means they’ll love it), but I’m hopeful that I’ll enjoy it as mush as I did Out of the Easy.

Plus, it has water. It doesn’t take much to hook me when there’s water involved.

water tribe atla