Blogoversary Giveaway: The Bookish Libra is Turning 2 Years Old & I’m Celebrating with a Giveaway!

 

Happy Blogoversary to me! I honestly can’t believe I’ve actually been blogging for two years now! I guess time flies when you’re having a great time, lol.  My technical blogoversary is March 22, so I’m actually a little late celebrating this year just because life has been so hectic lately.  But I’m ready to celebrate now!, I honestly love to celebrate blogging milestones, so I’m hosting a bookish giveaway as a way to say thanks to everyone who follows and reads my blog.  You’re the best!

At first I was going to come up with a specific list of books for you to choose from, but there’s so many amazing books out there right now that I didn’t want to limit your choices. So, instead, I’m just setting a $20 value on my giveaway and letting the winner select a book of their choice (up to that $20 value) from The Book Depository.  The giveaway is also open internationally as long as TBD ships to you, so be sure to check their list before entering: (Countries The Book Depository Ships To)

The giveaway runs from now until April 8th, so be sure to get your entries in by then.  I’ll be contacting the winner via DM.  Thanks again for all of your support!

 

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Discussion Post: Who are You?  Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

Who are You?  Finding Your Voice as a Blogger

I’m celebrating my 2nd Blogoversary this week (I’ll be hosting a giveaway soon to celebrate that, by the way, so stay tuned!) and as I start my third year, it really has me thinking about how far I’ve come and what some of my biggest challenges were starting out as a newbie.

I think where I struggled most, aside from the actual mechanics of setting up a blog and getting started, was figuring out who I am as a blogger – finding my voice, so to speak.  When I first joined the community, I was easily intimidated because there are just so many bloggers out there with these confident, energetic personalities who have amassed tons of followers.  All I could think was “Who is going to pay attention to shy, awkward little me when there are all of these amazing and vibrant personalities out there?”

 

Now, that said, while I know it may be tempting to try to model your blogging voice after bloggers like that, if I could offer one piece of advice to new bloggers, it would be this…don’t do it.

Why?  Here are my thoughts on the subject as they have evolved over the past two years, every time I have doubted myself and felt like maybe I should do something differently:

  • Even the biggest blogger started out small and had to find his or her way as well. Maybe they now have thousands of followers but chances are, it has taken them years to build that kind of following. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with personality. It’s all about putting in the work to make your blog and online following grow.
  • If you model yourself too closely after a “big” blogger, eventually someone is going to notice and probably say something and, ugh, who needs that kind of stress and awkwardness in their life? Not to mention if what you’re trying to do doesn’t really reflect who you are as a blogger, are you really going to be able to keep it up long-term?  Or want to, for that matter?
  • Why would you want your blog to reflect someone else’s personality and style when you have a personality and style of your own?
  • Wouldn’t the blogging community be boring if we all sounded exactly alike?

When I think about the bloggers I enjoy interacting with the most, it’s not necessarily the bloggers with the most effervescent personalities that I’m most drawn to.  Yes, of course I enjoy those vibrant and energetic bloggers too, but the ones that reel me in and keep me coming back are those blogs, big or small, where I feel like I’m getting to know the blogger a bit each time I visit and read their posts.  Whatever their personality happens to be, it comes shining through and I feel like I’m making a real connection with someone.  And I honestly don’t think I’m alone in this.  Aren’t many of us in the blogging community trying to make connections with people we think we’ll like and share interests with?

So, that said, the point of my post is that even when we’re having doubts about whether we’re good enough, we should still strive to be ourselves, no matter what.  If you’re a bubbly, energetic person, then by all means, make your posts reflect that, but if you’re quieter and more subtle, that’s cool too.  And if you’re a ranter, rant away! In short, you be you and your confidence as a blogger will grow, and, best of all, your tribe will find you. ♥

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on LITTLE BIG LOVE by Katy Regan

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is LIttle Big Love by Katy Regan and I have to admit that the main reason I’m excited about it is the comparison in the blurb to About a Boy and Parenthood, which are two of my favorites. Parenthood is one of those shows that gave me all the feels and that I could only watch with a box of tissues nearby because I knew I’d sob at some point during almost every episode.  I’m really hoping that this book packs a similar emotional punch and by the description, it sounds entirely possible.

 

 

LITTLE BIG LOVE by Katy Regan

Publication Date:   June 5, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

About a Boy meets Parenthood in this smart, big-hearted love story about a family for whom everything changed one night, a decade ago, and the young boy who unites them all.

Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson collects facts: octopuses have three hearts, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. But no one will tell him the one thing he wants to know most: who his father is and where he went.

When Zac’s mother, Juliet, inadvertently admits that his dad is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides he is going to find him and deliver his mom the happily ever after she deserves.

But Liam Jones left for a reason, and as Zac searches for clues of his father, Juliet begins to rebuild what shattered on the day that was at once the happiest and most heartbreaking of her life.

Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – MY TOP 10 FAVORITE READS SET OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.

 

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Top Ten Books That Take Place In Another Country.  I live in the U.S. and I love to read books that are set in other countries.  Not only is a great way to learn about other cultures, etc, but It also helps to somewhat satisfy my wanderlust because reading these books is like traveling without a passport.  That said, here are some of my favorite reads that have non-U.S. settings.

 

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MY TOP 10 FAVORITE READS SET OUTSIDE OF THE U.S.

 

1. ON THE JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta  (Set in AUSTRALIA)

 

 

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2. WARCROSS by Marie Lu (Set primarily in TOKYO, JAPAN)

 

 

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3.  HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi (Set primarily in AFRICA)

 

 

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4. MY LADY JANE by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton (Set in ENGLAND)

 

 

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5.  ANGELS & DEMONS by Dan Brown (Set in ROME, ITALY, VATICAN CITY, & SWITZERLAND)

 

 

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6. HARRY POTTER SERIES by J. K. Rowling (SET IN LONDON/HOGWARTS)

 

 

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7. A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki (Set in TOKYO, JAPAN & BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA)

 

 

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8. THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak (Set in GERMANY)

 

 

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9. THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini (Set primarily in AFGHANISTAN)

 

 

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10. ANNA KARENINA by Leo Tolstoy (Set primarily in RUSSIA)

 


 

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Question:  What are some of your favorite reads set outside of the U.S.?

Review: NOTHING LEFT TO BURN by Heather Ezell

Review:  NOTHING LEFT TO BURN by Heather EzellNothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
three-half-stars
Published by Razorbill on March 13th 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 320
Source: First to Read
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

MY REVIEW:

Heather Ezell’s Nothing Left to Burn is a captivating debut novel that spoke to me on many levels.  On one level, it’s a compelling story about growing up, falling in love, family, and the lengths that we’ll go to in order to protect those we love.  In addition to being a coming of age story, however, it’s a suspenseful tale about a community fighting wildfires that threaten to destroy their homes and lives.

The novel follows the story of sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper and opens with her reflecting on the fact that she lost her virginity the prior evening.  Her thoughts are interrupted by firefighters pounding on her door. The firefighters inform her that the wildfires they’ve been monitoring are now dangerously close and Audrey’s entire neighborhood is therefore under mandatory evacuation.  Audrey’s parents and sister are out of town so it’s up to Audrey to gather up any precious belongings and get them out of the house in the twenty minute window she has been given.  Pushing her thoughts about the prior evening aside, Audrey rises to the occasion, packs her family’s belongings, and heads for safety.

While she is waiting for her family to join her, Audrey spends much of the next 24 hours worrying about how she may lose her family home. The current dangerous situation also has her thinking back to happier, more carefree times such as the previous summer when she first met and fell in love with her boyfriend, Brooks. As she relives some of the memories of their budding relationship, however, she is also forced to recall that not all of their times together were great and that there’s more to Brooks than meets the eye, and not necessarily in a good way.  He has a dark past that is slowly revealed to Audrey over time, and even though she loves him and wants to protect him, she fears she may be in over her head and realizes she has to make some hard choices.

Audrey is my kind of main character.   She’s not perfect by any means and doesn’t always make the best choices, but her heart is always in the right place and she will clearly go to the mat for those that she loves.  Her devotion to her younger sister Maya is especially touching as we see when after she evacuates, Audrey learns from a friend that Maya was secretly keeping a kitten stashed in her bedroom closet. Horrified by how distraught Maya would be if her kitten were to die in a fire, Audrey heads back into the danger zone to try to retrieve Maya’s pet. The idea that she would possibly risk her own life for her sister’s happiness was just so touching.

It was very easy to become invested in Audrey and her well being after that, and I was especially concerned for her well being as she reflected on her relationship with Brooks – how wonderful it had begun and then how increasingly troubled and dark it became as Audrey learned more and more about Brooks’ past.  Ezell did a beautiful job of portraying not just the budding romance but also the many internal conflicts raging in Audrey’s mind as she thinks about the dark secrets she has learned about Brooks. There’s a lot going on in Audrey’s head and Ezell really captures that complexity and makes the character leap off the page.

Aside from Audrey, I was also a big fan of how the book is structured.  The story is presented to us from Audrey’s perspective in chapters that alternate between the present and the past.  The present chapters focus on the life-threatening wildfires and all that is happening regarding evacuation and fire containment efforts, while the other chapters focus on Audrey’s backstory and some internal conflicts that she is clearly experiencing regarding her new boyfriend.  As the narrative flips back and forth between past and present, we are slowly fed key details that reveal what is causing Audrey so much distress and how it relates to the events of the present.  The author does a brilliant job creating suspense by telling the story this way and I loved watching everything unfold.

Finally, I was captivated by the overall atmosphere of the novel.  It’s a bit dark and dangerous, both in terms of Audrey’s thoughts regarding Brooks and in terms of the threatening wildfires that are looming all around Audrey’s community.  Ezell really made me feel like I was right there in the middle of the action and danger, which made it a real page turner for me as I waited with bated breath to see what would happen.

My biggest issue with Nothing Left to Burn was that I found a couple of the plot twists to be predictable. I think I would have enjoyed the story much more if I hadn’t guessed those so early on.

Even though I did predict a couple of the plot twists, I still really enjoyed reading this book.  Between the story of Audrey and Brooks and the tense story of the encroaching wildfires, Nothing Left to Burn is an engrossing story that kept me thoroughly engaged from start to finish.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she’s been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it’s time to evacuate.

Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey–and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks’s dark past come to light, Audrey can’t help but wonder if there’s danger in the pull she feels–both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance.

three-half-stars

About Heather Ezell

A Southern California native, Heather Ezell was evacuated for a fire at the age of three and subsequently grew up with an obsessive fear of wildfires. She has been chasing reprieve from California’s heat ever since–from the Rocky Mountains to Interior Alaska. Heather graduated from Colorado College with a degree in English literature and creative writing, and she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she writes, practices amateur ballet in the forest, and obsesses over the weather.

Heather’s debut novel, NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, was published by Razorbill Penguin on 3/13/18.

Weekly Recap #45: Week of 3/18 – 3/24

 

It’s time for another weekly recap post of all things happening on and off the blog. This week I’ll be linking to the Sunday Post, which is hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer and to Stacking the Shelves, which is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews.

So last week was the first week of Spring, but apparently Winter wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye because we had 4-5 inches of snow here and two more snow days for my son.  All I can say at this point is “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Winter!”  Anyway, here’s hoping that the warm and sunny days will begin soon, especially since I got a call from my son’s soccer coach yesterday and practice starts tomorrow.  I’m excited to get back to watching him play but wondering how it will be this time around since my family isn’t involved with any of the coaching duties at all and will only be spectators.  With my father-in-law’s recently diagnosed condition, we made the decision that coaching soccer was just not an option this year.  My son also decided he wanted to waver up to a new league with kids that closer to his age and grade.  (Our county sets July 31 as the cut off to determine what age league kids should be placed in and my son’s September birthday always puts him with younger kids and he’s over it now that he’s about to go to middle school, lol.)  Anyway, lots of new things to expect this season.

Aside from that, it was all work and not much play for me.  I had to work yesterday so I didn’t get to participate in any of the marches, but wow, it was so incredible to see on TV.  When I left work yesterday, I saw that we even had a march going on here.  I was so touched by what I saw that I cried all the way home from work, lol.  The newspaper is estimating the crowd size at around 400 people but in my gun-loving town, that is incredible.  Those students have really started a movement!

I got a fair amount of reading done this week in spite of my busy work schedule. I devoured The Woman in the Window and I Was Anastasia and hope to finish up The Room on Rue Amelie today, although this one has been somewhat of a struggle for me so far.  It’s a WWII historical fiction but even though the blurb says fans of The Nightingale and The Lilac Girls should love it, I don’t think it has the same vibe as those two books.  It feels more like a romance novel with WWII as a backdrop rather than focusing on the war itself.  I still have a ways to go so I’m hoping that will change but so far I’m a little underwhelmed.

I think that’s it for me for now.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

WHAT I POSTED LAST WEEK

 

 

 

WHAT I’M READING THIS WEEK

 

       
  

UPCOMING REVIEWS

       
   
   

 

 STACKING THE SHELVES

 

   
   
 

TOTALLY RANDOM

 

Source: Pinterest

Review: I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel Lawhon

Review:  I WAS ANASTASIA by Ariel LawhonI Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
four-stars
Published by Doubleday Books on March 27th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

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

MY REVIEW:

Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the subject matter of Ariel Lawhon’s I Was Anastasia.  One half of the novel chronicles the imprisonment and subsequent assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire royal family following the Bolshevik Revolution.  Even if you don’t know all of the details, you’ve probably at least heard the name Anastasia Romanov, who was one of Tsar Nicholas’s daughters and who was rumored to have survived the assassination attempt.  Whether or not Anastasia survived is the focus of the other half of I Was Anastasia, as we follow a woman named Anna Anderson who claimed to be Anastasia for 50 years until her death in 1970.

Is it possible that Anastasia survived?  If Anna isn’t really Anastasia, what would lead her to so desperately claim that she is for so many years?

Even though those of us who are familiar with the Anna/Anastasia story know how it ends, it’s still quite compelling to see how it all unfolds in this incredibly well researched retelling.

 

What fascinated me most about this novel is the way Lawhon captured both Anna and Anastasia.  Whether they are one in the same or two different people, I was completely invested in both journeys I was reading about.  Anastasia’s story of course immediately had me sympathetic, just knowing the history of how her family suffered at the hands of first, Alexander Kerensky after he forced her father to abdicate, then later the Bolsheviks after they overthrew Kerenksy’s provisional government.   Lawhon chronicles these painful events in great detail, making the reader want, all the more, for someone from the Romanov family to have survived the brutal massacre.

Anna’s story, however, was equally compelling as Lawhon shows how she spent much of those 50 years trying to prove her identity — being shuffled from place to place, having no real home or financial security of her own.  Some are sympathetic to her cause and believe she truly is Anastasia and want to help her prove her case in a court of law, while others don’t care who she is but just want a piece of the spotlight that is bound to come from being associated with possible royalty.  And still others pursue her relentlessly, trying to do everything they can to prove that there’s no way she can be Anastasia.

Even though I was already familiar enough with the story to know how it all ends, what I loved about I Was Anastasia is that the author focuses more on showing us how the story began and she does this using a unique dual timeline structure where she alternates the chapters between Anna’s story and Anastasia’s, presenting Anastasia’s timeline in chronological order, while presenting Anna’s timeline in reverse chronological order.  It was fascinating to watch these two timelines on a collision course and I couldn’t wait to see how the author would have them crash into one another to give us the truth about whether Anna Anderson and Anastasia Romanov are one in the same.

 

Even though it was fascinating watching each of the timelines unfold and waiting to see how the author would merge them in the end, I have to admit that I found Anna’s timeline much more difficult to follow than Anastasia’s.  Where Anastasia’s is a straight forward chronological rendering of events in the months leading up to the Romanov family facing a firing squad in 1918, Anna’s journey is actually presented in reverse chronological order, working backwards from 1970 to 1918.  That wouldn’t have been an issue in itself, but the way her story unfolded it meant that sometimes she would be referring to someone in earlier chapters but who that person is and how they came to be connected to Anna and her cause isn’t really revealed until later chapters as we continue to travel back in time.  It took me a few chapters to get used to this structure and slowed me down a few times throughout my reading as I tried to remember what I had read about a certain character in later years now that I was meeting him for the first time as I continued to journey back in time.

 

 

If you’re not at all familiar with Anastasia Romanov and Anna Anderson, I’d definitely recommend reading I Was Anastasia.  Lawhon has crafted together a suspenseful mystery that will keep you guessing as to whether or not Anna is Anastasia, and at the same time, will have you hoping against hope that she really is.  And even if you do know the story, as I did, I’d still recommend it because it is a powerful and emotional retelling and because the journey to 1918 and the “birth” of Anna Anderson makes for an engaging read.

 

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918 Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.

Germany, February 17, 1920 A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.

As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened.

four-stars

About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is the critically acclaimed author of THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, FLIGHT OF DREAMS, and I WAS ANASTASIA. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have been Library Reads, One Book One County, and Book of the Month Club selections. She is the co-founder of SheReads.org and lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, four sons, and black Lab—who is, thankfully, a girl.

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for SIEGE & STORM and GEMINA

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for SIEGE & STORM and GEMINASiege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
Also by this author: Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)
four-half-stars
Series: Grisha Verse #2
Published by Henry Holt and Company on June 4th 2013
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 435
Also in this series: Shadow and Bone
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Review:

Siege and Storm, the second installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse trilogy, is a much darker book than its predecessor, Shadow and Bone, and I loved every page of it.  The Darkling is back and he has a few new tricks up his sleeves with which to terrorize Alina and anyone else who resists him.  He’s more determined than ever to bend Alina to his will.

Speaking of Alina, she faces many challenges in this second book, the Darkling playing a starring role in many of them, and she faces each challenge head on, becoming ever more powerful along the away.  I found Alina to be a much more appealing character in this second installment, not just because she rises to the occasion and becomes a total badass but also because her character develops a bit of a dark side along the way.  She is really feeling the allure of her growing power, and the more she has, the more she wants.  The plus side is that her power could possibly be strong enough to defeat the Darkling, in spite of his new tricks. The downside is that her hunger for power, as well as her growing obsession with defeating the Darkling, puts a tremendous strain on her relationship with childhood friend and potential love interest, Mal.  Things get awkward, to say the least.

The awkwardness between Alina and Mal was a bit of a drag, but thankfully the addition of a fabulous new character kept me from getting down too much.  Sturmhond is a pirate and an inventor of sorts and he is just the most charming character ever!  Imagine Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles in pirate form.  He’s full of fun stories and witty banter, and just when you think you have him figured out, he springs an entirely new and unexpected identity on you.  I thought the Darkling was my favorite character, but I have to rethink that now that Sturmhond is in the mix.

Siege and Storm takes us from the lavish worldbuilding and the set up of Alina versus the Darkling straight into full-on adventure, dangerous mind games, and epic battle scenes, all of which culminate in a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. I’m so glad I already have a copy of the final book in the series because I need to know who comes out on top!  4 STARS

 

 

Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for SIEGE & STORM and GEMINAGemina by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Also by this author: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
four-stars
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 18th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction
Pages: 659
Also in this series: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Review:

Each time I start reading a book from The Illuminae Files, my initial thought is that I’m not going to like it.  I always worry that I’ll find the book’s structure to be gimmicky and that it will distract me from what is actually taking place in the story.  And each time I’ve been dead wrong.  I love everything about this series and not only does the book’s structure not distract from the story, but it actually enhances it and makes it feel all the more authentic, like you really are sitting there reading a case file about an incident aboard a space station.

When Gemina opens, we meet our two new main characters, Hanna and Nik, polar opposites with seemingly nothing in common aside from the fact that they both live on Jump Station Heimdall.  Hanna is the pampered daughter of the ship’s captain, while Nik is a member of a prominent crime family.  Although they have nothing in common, one view Nik and Hanna share is that they are on the “most boring” space station in the universe.  But all that is about to change… Heimdall is the station Kady Grant and what’s left of the Hypatia crew are fleeing to after the events of Illuminae, the first book in the series. The Hypatia is trying to get news of an invasion that killed most of the residents on the planet Kerenza, including proof about who was behind the invasion.

Once we meet Hanna and Nik, it’s off to the races on a heart-pounding adventure as those responsible for the deadly invasion have dispatched an elite strike team to attack Heimdall.  Their mission:  to ambush and destroy the Hypatia, thereby destroying all evidence of their murderous actions on Kerenza.  Once they get aboard Heimdall, they immediately round up all of the station’s residents and lie in wait for the Hypatia.  Guess who they missed though?  You guessed it, Hanna and Nik.  The burden of saving their station, the Hypatia, and possibly the known universe falls on the shoulders of these two young people.  Nothing like a race against the clock to help two people bond…

Oh and did I mention the snake-like alien predators that have somehow gotten loose aboard the station who are picking off residents one by one?  No?  Well, yes, as if they didn’t have enough to contend with, there’s that too. So needless to say, Gemina is an action-packed, thrill ride full of danger and suspense and I thought it was absolutely brilliant!  4.5 STARS

four-half-stars

About Amie Kaufman

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Illuminae (with Jay Kristoff) and These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light (with Meagan Spooner.) She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

About Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is a #1 international, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. He grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

His LOTUS WAR trilogy was critically acclaimed in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards and won the 2014 Aurealis Award. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller THE ILLUMINAE FILES, was co-authored with Amie Kaufman. Book 1, ILLUMINAE, became a New York Times and international bestseller, was named among the Kirkus, Amazon and YALSA Best Books of 2015, became a finalist for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and won the 2016 Aurealis Award and an ABIA Book of the Year award. ILLUMINAE is currently slated to be published in thirty five countries, and film rights have been acquired by Brad Pitt and Plan B Entertainment.

Jay’s new fantasy series, THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, commenced in 2016. The novel was an international bestseller, won the Aurealis award and earned Kristoff his second Gemmell nomination. Part 2, GODSGRAVE, was published in 2017, and won the series its second Aurealis award. A new YA series, LIFEL1K3 has also been acquired by Knopf/Random House Kids, and commences publication in early 2018. A new series with Amie Kaufman, THE ANDROMEDA CYCLE, begins in 2019 with Knopf/Random House Kids. Jay is as surprised about all this as you are. He is represented by Josh Adams at Adams Literary.

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 12,000 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell. He does not believe in happy endings.

About Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo is the #1 New York Times bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the Six of Crows Duology and the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising), as well as the upcoming Wonder Woman: Warbringer (Aug 2017) and The Language of Thorns (Sept 2017).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be delighted if you followed her on Twitter, elated if you visited her web site, and fairly giddy if you liked her selfies on Instagram.

Can’t Wait Wednesday – Spotlight on THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY

 

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.  It is a meme that I have  loved participating in for over a year now, but as Jill is no longer actively posting, from now on I’ll just be linking to Can’t Wait Wednesday, hosted by Tressa, which is a spinoff of the original WoW meme.

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My selection for this week is THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY by Ruth Ware.  From what I’ve seen from a few early reviews, this is a suspenseful thriller that is full of twists and turns and juicy family secrets all wrapped up in a creepy Gothic setting. I’ve also seen several people mention that it’s their favorite Ruth Ware book since In a Dark, Dark Wood.  I actually still haven’t gotten around to reading any of Ware’s books yet, but the premise of this one really intrigues me.

 

THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY by Ruth Ware

Publication Date:   May 29, 2018

 

From Goodreads:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and The Lying Game comes Ruth Ware’s highly anticipated fourth novel.

On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your CWW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Top 10 Books I Plan to Read This Spring

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Top Ten Tuesday has been one of my favorite memes ever since I started blogging, so huge thanks to Jana for taking over the hosting duties!

This week’s TTT topic is Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR.  As usual, it’s practically impossible to narrow down my list of books I want to read to just ten, but here’s my tentative Spring TBR list.  It’s a mix of ARCs and 2018 releases that have already come out, and since I’m such a mood reader, it’s also a hodge podge of genres as well – some fantasy, some historical fiction, some science fiction, a couple of retellings, thrillers, contemporaries, etc.  I’m really excited about these ten so I hope to be able to read all of these before the end of Spring.

 

Top 10 Books I Plan to Read This Spring

 

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 1. GIRL MADE OF STARS by Ashley Herring Blake

Goodreads Synopsis: “I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that.”

Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara’s friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn’t know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn’t help that things have been strained with her ex and best friend since childhood, Charlie.

As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.   (Read more…)

 

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2. FROM TWINKLE WITH LOVE by Sandhya Menon

Goodreads Synopsis: Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.  (Read more…)

 

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3. THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A.J. Finn

Goodreads Synopsis:  Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.   (Read more…)

 

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4. SONG OF BLOOD AND STONE by L. Penelope

Goodreads Synopsis:  A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.  (Read more…)

 

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5. SKY IN THE DEEP by Adrienne Young

Goodreads Synopsis: OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.   (Read more…)

 

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6. I STOP SOMEWHERE by T.E. Carter

Goodsreads Synopsis:  Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place. (Read more…)

 

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7. BRIGHTLY BURNING by Alexa Donne

Goodreads Synopsis:  Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet. (Read more…)

 

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8. LEGENDARY by Stephanie Garber

Goodreads Synopsis:  Stephanie Garber’s limitless imagination takes flight once more in the colorful, mesmerizing, and immersive sequel to the bestselling breakout debut Caraval

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun. (Read more…)

 

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9. CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE by Tomi Adeyemi

Goodreads Synopsis:  Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.  (Read more…)

 

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10. TWENTY-ONE DAYS by Anne Perry

Goodreads Synopsis:  In this first book in a new series, Thomas Pitt’s son Daniel races to save his client from execution, setting him against London’s Special Police Branch.

It’s 1910, and Daniel Pitt is a reluctant lawyer who would prefer to follow in the footsteps of his detective father. When the biographer Russell Graves, who Daniel is helping defend, is sentenced to execution for the murder of his wife, Daniel’s Pitt-family investigative instincts kick in, and he sets out to find the real killer. With only twenty-one days before Graves is to be executed, Daniel learns that Graves is writing a biography of Victor Narraway, the former head of Special Branch and a close friend of the Pitts. And the stories don’t shed a positive light. Is it possible someone is framing Graves to keep him from writing the biography–maybe even someone Daniel knows in Special Branch?

The only answer, it seems, lies in the dead woman’s corpse. And so, with the help of some eccentric new acquaintances who don’t mind bending the rules, Daniel delves into an underground world of dead bodies and double lives, unearthing scores of lies and conspiracies. As he struggles to balance his duty to the law with his duty to his family, the equal forces of justice and loyalty pull this lawyer-turned-detective in more directions than he imagined possible. And amidst it all, his client’s twenty-one days are ticking away. (Read more…)

 

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Question:  What books are you planning to read this Spring?