Bad Bloods: November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson

Bad Bloods: November Rain by Shannon A. ThompsonNovember Rain (Bad Bloods, #1) by Shannon A. Thompson
Format: Audio
Narrator: Jonathan Johns
Series: Bad Bloods,
Published by Clean Teen Publishing on July 18th 2016
Genres: YA, Dystopian, Fantasy
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


Review of the story:

November Rain starts off with a bang, as Serena, our main female protagonist, is being marched to her own death. A stranger sets a plan in motion for Serena to escape and she becomes the first person to ever escape this particular “Bad Blood” camp. a Bad Blood is someone who has undergone a mutation that gives them superhuman abilities (similar to X-men). The society in which this is set does not recognize Bad Blood as being equal and therefore seeks to find and eradicate all of them. 

The story is full of action while still leaving room for character development and a steady story-line progression. November Rain is told from the POV of Serena and Daniel, another Bad Blood. The book is actually set over a period of only 8 -9 days, but the multiple POVs keep the story moving. 

If you are looking for a clean YA book that has lots of action, a great story, strong and loyal characters, and is a quick read – I recommend picking up November Rain. 

Review of the audio:

Johnathon Johns does a great job transitioning between Serena and Daniel’s POV without making it seem jumpy or disjointed. He has a smooth cadence that was truly enjoyable to listen to. 

Next Books in the series:


Giveaway!

November Rain Giveaway: Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box


Author Interview

 

  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

My favorite (and first) part about turning Bad Bloods into an audiobook was discussing my book with the narrator, Jonathan Johns. I let him know some exclusive behind-the-scenes info that never made it into the book but was essential to understanding the characters. He was really receptive to it, and he truly understood what each person and scene represented. After he recorded, I listened to each scene and provided more notes. Then he recorded more, and now, we have an audiobook!

  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

Yes, I think it’s absolutely possible—not to mention that there are readers who NEED audiobooks in order to access novels and other pieces of text, so audiobooks are extremely important.   

  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Yes and no. I always loved the idea of an audiobook, but I didn’t let it change my writing style. However, I always read all of my books out loud in the last editing phase to check the sound and overall flow, so that’s very similar. Sound is important.

  • How did you select your narrator?

My publisher sent me a few auditions, but Jonathan Johns stuck out the moment I heard his voice. He captured both the dark essence of the story and the characters’ individual voices. From the beginning, I felt as if he understood it more than anyone else, and he truly brought it to life.

  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

Yes! I provided pronounciation for any words or names that might be difficult, but I definitely gave him insight into each character. Bad Bloods is very character heavy (and a character-driven story), and it was important to me that they were distinguishable and matched what I pictured when writing. He learned facts that will never even make it into the series. Why? Because those details often shape characters, but they might also be unseen details. I needed to know those details to create the prose, so I thought Jonathan would need to know them in order to create the audio. He absolutely nailed it!

  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

I think there is truth in all types of writing, including fantasy. For me, I originally wrote this book shortly after my mother died very suddenly. I was eleven, so I had a lot of anger and depression and confusion about how terrible things can happen to very young people. Those feelings are scattered throughout Bad Bloods, and to this day, Bad Bloods still feels like the closest books to my heart—probably because writing these books saved me when I was young.  

  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

I get burnt out all the time! I try not to, but I work full time (and often overtime). Writing books while working full time is hard, especially when you’re on a deadline, so I absolutely get burnt out. But I never lose my enthusiasm. No matter how difficult life gets, I always love writing, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m feeling down.  

  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

Actually (eek), I’m not. I have a difficult time remembering anything when it’s in audio format. Even when I was a kid, I struggled to learn from lectures. I’ve always taught myself by reading materials. (Maybe my dad was right when he said I was a bad listener. Ha!) But I’m so glad it exists for those who need and love audiobooks.

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Jonathan Johns added some sound effects (wheezing, sighing, breathing) that helped bring the dialogue alive in very particular spots. I loved it!

  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?

YES. I would love to see the Amarna Period in Ancient Egypt, mainly because my soul is submerged in that time period for research right now. But there are lots of places I’d love to see. The future would be neat, too!


Tour Schedule

Nov. 19th:

The Audiobookworm

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Crazy Beautiful Reads

Nov. 20th:

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Books, Dreams, Life

What Is That Book About

Nov. 21st:

Chanda Reads

Hall Ways Blog

Nov. 22nd:

Buried Under Books

Jazzy Book Reviews

Nov. 23rd:

Lomeraniel

Lilly’s Book World

Nov. 24th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

Loves Great Reads

Nov. 25th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

The Book Slayer

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four-stars

Haven by Mary Lindsey

Haven by Mary LindseyHaven by Mary Lindsey
Format: Kindle
Published by Entangled Publishing on November 7th 2017
Genres: YA
Pages: 371
Source: NetGalley
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-half-stars

"We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed."

Rain Ryland has never belonged anywhere, He’s used to people judging him for his rough background, his intimidating size, and now, his orphan status. He’s always been on the outside, looking in, and he’s fine with that. Until he moves to New Wurzburg and meets Friederike Burkhart.

Freddie isn’t like normal teen girls, though. And someone wants her dead for it. Freddie warns he’d better stay far away if he wants to stay alive, but Rain’s never been good at running from trouble. For the first time, Rain has something worth fighting for, worth living for. Worth dying for.

(Former title: Hide from Me.)

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


 Review:

I was really surprised by Haven. I went into the book not knowing what it was really about, but that it involved werewolves. I wasn’t expecting the grittiness, romance, and suspense that Haven delivered though.

Aaron “Rain” Ryland comes from a life on the streets with his drug and alcohol addicted mother. When his mother fatally succumbs to her addiction he is sent to live with an Aunt he didn’t even know existed in a small town, very unlike the streets of Houston he is used to. A hard city kid is sure to be safe out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of country bumpkins, right? *insert maniacal laugh*

I won’t delve into the plot any more than that because I think the reason I so thoroughly enjoyed this book was because of the twists and reveals I experienced while reading.

What I can tell you: This book is full of strong and fully developed characters, lots of romance (and less “fade to black” sex scenes, but still YA appropriate), plot twists, suspense, and of course: werewolves and magic. 


four-half-stars

Rimrider by L.A. Kelley Book Tour

Rimrider by L.A. Kelley Book TourRimrider by L.A. Kelley
Format: Audio
Narrator: Cassandra Richardson
Series: Rimrider Adventures,
on Aug. 22, 2017
Genres: YA, Science Fiction
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Orphan, pirate, spy.

Awakened by her father, teenager Jane Benedict is ordered to memorize a mysterious code. Hours later, Mathias Benedict is dead and Jane and her brother, Will, are wards of United Earth Corporation. To evade the company's murderous clutches and uncover the meaning of her father's last message, Jane leads Will on a desperate escape across the galaxy aboard the Freetrader smuggler ship, Solar Vortex. Tangled in the crew's fight for freedom, Jane saves the life of young smuggler, Mac Sawyer, and learns her father's code identifies a secret cargo shipment. The trail leads to the planet Rimrock and the massive prison complex of Golgotha. Undercover as a spy, Jane stumbles into a conspiracy that can spell doom for the entire Freetrader cause and the extinction of an alien race. Can she escape the prison confines and deliver a warning before it's too late?

Piracy, intrigue, romance, space battles, and a daring rebellion from Earth wait on the galactic rim. Will Jane answer the call to adventure and find new purpose, or is death for high treason her fate?

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


Review of the story:

Rimrider is about a young girl (Jane) and her little brother (Will) who have become orphans within the first chapter of the book and their fight for survival and what family means for them. Jane and Will escape their parent’s killers (the government) by boarding a space ship and getting involved with space pirates, rebels, and spies. 

This book was difficult for me to get in to until about 20%. I think part of the reason is because I couldn’t connect with Jane. She is very young, and quite immature for the YA genre of heroines. Now, I will say that sometimes I forget how young YA heroines are because so much seems to get piled on them and they are often thrown into very adult situations, but Jane was hard to like in general . Her disposition was a little whiny and she lacked emotion for things like her father’s death. She does seem to grow up quickly though and becomes decidedly more likable as the book progresses. 

With that being said, I did enjoy the book about 20% in and after. The world building was interesting, but not confusing and so big as to distract from the story. Secondary characters really held their own (Gem is the best) and the plot of the book was interesting and fun to read, albeit a little predictable at times. The book ends by setting up for the next book, but with no major cliffhangers. I would rate the story 3.5/5 stars. 

Review of the audio:

I’ve never listened to any of Cassandra Richardson’s narrations before, but I think she did a pretty good performance. Her characters were easy to distinguish from one another and her male voices were believable. I will say, sometimes her voice for Jane got a little whiny, but honestly that could have been intentional. I needed to keep reminding myself that Jane was a sheltered 15-16 year old who would likely have reason to be whiny sometimes, so it wasn’t really a mark against the actual narration. Overall the narration itself was 4/5 stars. 

Next Books in the series

four-stars

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn SkyeThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Format: Audio
Narrator: Steve West
Published by HarperAudio on May 17th, 2016
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters - the only two in Russia - and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown's Game, an ancient duel of magical skill - the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar's most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter - even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown's Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with - beautiful, whip smart, imaginative - and he can't stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai's best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love...or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear...the Crown's Game is not one to lose.

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


Review of the story:

This was a book I was pleasantly surprised by. I actually really hate when books are compared to best sellers like The Hunger Games or other popular books like Red Queen. I think it sets unfair expectations on what the book is about, which was the case for The Crown’s Game for me. Sometimes I feel like any book that has the word ‘game’ in it is going to be compared to The Hunger Games, but The Crown’s Game was nothing like THG, in my opinion. THG was raw, violent, and dark. The Crown’s Game has a few dark moments, but is a bit more light than THG. 

As for the competition, it was definitely not what I expected. I was expecting a deadly game of magic and sorcery, but the game in this book is slower paced, and more of a poetic show of talents. While the story did seem to creep along at some points, I was intrigued by the story-line and never felt bored. The last few chapters had me on the edge of my seat and nearly in tears, so I’m really looking forward to the next book!

 

Characters 

There is a love triangle, kind-of. I really hate love triangles, but I promise this one isn’t bad. The story is not consumed by the romance (which is actually my thing, lol, but if it’s not you’re in luck) and one part of the triangle is one-sided. I thought the theme was less about romance and more about friendship and platonic love than anything. The character development in this book was remarkable. Vika is a sassy and strong heroine that doesn’t need to depend on romance or supporting characters to shine, ad Nikolai and Pasha stand well on their own as well. I even found myself caring for (and despising) secondary characters as well and wasn’t annoyed when the POV switched to them because I genuinely cared what happened to them.

 

There is not a traditional “villain” in this book, but I think Skye did a wonderful job with the complexity of this character. I felt my heart breaking for her, even as she carried out terrible acts against some of the characters I loved. She will definitely be playing a more pivotal role in the next book so I am torn between understanding her motives, and wanting her dead before she can hurt anyone else. 

I’m including this fan art made by Charlie Bowater because she’s amazing and I’m obsessed with her art, especially her vision of Nikolai! Click here or on the picture below to be taken to Epic Reads, where this art was originally shared. 

 

Review of the audio:

Steve West was easy to listen to and did a beautiful job with voice distinctions and transitions. I would listen to another book he narrates based off this performance. 


four-stars

Top 10 Tuesday (12)

“Top Ten Tuesday” is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Every week they pick a topic for us to do a top 10 list for and this week’s topic is…

I took this as books that just remind me of fall, whether because of the theme or just the nostalgic feeling I get when I think of the book. Brace yourselves for lots of books about witch trials, as they have always fascinated me! Some of the books I’m sure almost everyone will be familiar with, but for the ones maybe not as familiar I included a synopsis underneath.

As always, click on the book cover for a link to purchase the book. 

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


.1.

Title: A Storm of Witchcraft
Author: Emerson W. Baker
Genre:  Non-Fiction, History

Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers–mainly young women–suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history.

Historians have speculated on a web of possible causes for the witchcraft that stated in Salem and spread across the region-religious crisis, ergot poisoning, an encephalitis outbreak, frontier war hysteria–but most agree that there was no single factor. Rather, as Emerson Baker illustrates in this seminal new work, Salem was “a perfect storm”: a unique convergence of conditions and events that produced something extraordinary throughout New England in 1692 and the following years, and which has haunted us ever since.

Baker shows how a range of factors in the Bay colony in the 1690s, including a new charter and government, a lethal frontier war, and religious and political conflicts, set the stage for the dramatic events in Salem. Engaging a range of perspectives, he looks at the key players in the outbreak–the accused witches and the people they allegedly bewitched, as well as the judges and government officials who prosecuted them–and wrestles with questions about why the Salem tragedy unfolded as it did, and why it has become an enduring legacy.

Salem in 1692 was a critical moment for the fading Puritan government of Massachusetts Bay, whose attempts to suppress the story of the trials and erase them from memory only fueled the popular imagination. Baker argues that the trials marked a turning point in colonial history from Puritan communalism to Yankee independence, from faith in collective conscience to skepticism toward moral governance. A brilliantly told tale, A Storm of Witchcraft also puts Salem’s storm into its broader context as a part of the ongoing narrative of American history and the history of the Atlantic World.


.2.

Title: How to Hang a Witch
Author: Adriana Mather
Genre:  YA, Fiction, Fantasy

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.


.3.

Title: The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege
Author:Marilynne K. Roach
Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Based on over twenty years of original archival research, this history unfolds a nearly day-by-day narrative of the Salem Witch Trials as the citizens of Salem experienced the outbreak of hysteria.


.4.

Title: ‘Salem’s Lot
Author:  Stephen King
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Suspense

Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work—in fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town.


.5.

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Illustrated
Author:  J.K Rowling (Illustrations by Jim Kay)
Genre:   Fantasy

This is one of the times where the book just makes me nostalgic for fall. I want to be in the Great Hall having a feast  with the rest of the Hogwarts students. 


.6.

Title: Whispers in Autumn (The Last Year Book 1)
Author:  Trisha Leigh
Genre:   YA, Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi

In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.

Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.

The autumn she meets Lucas, everything changes.

Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.

It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.

And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.


.7.

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Genre:  Horror, Fantasy

A junior solicitor travels to Transylvania to meet with an important client, the mysterious Count Dracula. Ignoring the dire warnings of local townsfolk, he allows himself to be seduced by the count’s courtly manners and erudite charm. Too late, the solicitor realizes that he is a prisoner of Castle Dracula, his guards a trio of voluptuous young women with sharp white teeth and a taste for blood.

Soon thereafter, the solicitor’s fiancée, Mina, visits a friend on the English coast. The town is full of speculation over a Russian ship run aground nearby, its crew missing, the dead body of its captain, crucifix in hand, lashed to the wheel. A giant dog was seen leaping from the deck before disappearing into the countryside. The ship’s cargo: fifty boxes of Transylvanian dirt. As the beautiful Mina will soon learn, Count Dracula has arrived.


.8.

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Washington Irving
Genre:   Fantasy, Horror

North of New York City lies Sleepy Hollow, a secluded glen rumored to be the home of countless phantoms and specters. Chief among them is the Headless Horseman, the ghost of a Hessian soldier whose head was removed by a stray cannonball in the Revolutionary War. He rides across the glen each night and disappears in a flash of fire and brimstone at the bridge near the Old Dutch Burial Ground.

Ichabod Crane, a superstitious schoolteacher who recently arrived from Connecticut, wants to marry Katrina Van Tassel, the only child of a wealthy farmer. The locals spook him with story after story about the ghosts of Sleepy Hollow. Late one night, he spies a menacing figure at a crossroads. Worse yet, the man’s head appears to be on his saddle. Crane has only one chance to survive—he has to make it to the bridge before it’s too late.

I still think of the Sleepy Hollow animated movie and the above Ichabod every time I hear the story 😂


.9.

Title: Edgar Allen Poe The Complete Collection Tales and Poems
Author: Edgar Allen Poe


.10.

Title: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Author: Alvin Schwartz
Genre:   Children’s

Folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time.

I’m an adult and still think of these stories around Halloween time!


Bonus:

Title: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Author: Charles M. Schulz (illustrated by Scott Jeralds)
Genre:  Children’s


See other people’s lists here!

Thanks for reading, tell me what was on your list or link it below so I can check it out!

Scythe of Darkness by Dawn Husted

Title: Scythe of Darkness
Author: Dawn Husted
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Format: eBook, ARC provided by author
Description
(Source: Amazon):

 

For Mia Hieskety, surviving high school meant focusing on exams and avoiding stupid parties. After breaking up with the only boyfriend she ever had, dating was off the agenda. That is, until Thanatos came along. Inexplicably drawn to Thanatos, she’s determined to find out who he is and why he insists on wearing gloves to school. Something is off about him. And it’s as if she can feel him when he’s near. Without warning, she’s thrust into a sinister world and discovers a truth that she never expected. When a supernatural connection puts Mia’s life at risk, she doesn’t know who to trust—especially Thanatos. But what if she’s in love with him?”


Okay, so first I need to apologize to the Author. The author so generously provided me with this book as an ARC, but with my recent health problems I have gotten so far behind all my posts and reviews. I’ve actually read about 12 books and haven’t written a single review in the last month about them because I’ve been feeling so sick. I do not see this changing for at least another month, so please bear with me if you follow my blog. I may have a little announcement in the next few weeks 😉 . 

Review:

Alright, onto the book. Scythe of Darkness is about Mia, a teenage girl who was abducted (and escaped) when she was a little girl. Mia is a relatively normal girl, despite her traumatic past. Mia runs into (literally) a boy named Thanatos with whom she shares an immediate and intense connection with. As you can probably tell from that last sentence, this is an insta-love story. It’s well done, but if you’re not into that you should know now. 🙂 Shortly after meeting Thanatos Mia’s world is turned upside down. Thanatos and his family are not what they seem and Mia discovers that she has been the center of a sinister play for power for years. 

The book itself was well written and kept a pace that moved quickly, but not rushed. I really enjoyed the writing style and the development of Mia and Thanatos. I’m hoping for even more character development from Mia’s character in the next book, because that ending left room for a lot of growth from Mia!

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:

That. Ending. 😱😱😱😱😱


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Description
(Source: Amazon):

The Star-Touched Queen by [Chokshi, Roshani]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.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.


Review:

First of all, can we just appreciate this cover? 😍😍😍😍😍

The Star-Touched Queen is about a girl who is cursed with a horoscope of death and destruction. This makes her a social outcast and expendable within her kingdom. The story starts out pretty quickly with not an overabundance of world building, which is helpful if you are like me and don’t want to wait 3-5 chapters to get hooked on the book. I think one of the reasons the book begins so well is because of the protagonist Maya. She struck me as immediately likable, as she is strong, independent, an quick-witted. She makes some pretty stupid decisions in the book, but they aren’t out of character and I think readers can empathize with her logic during these decisive moments. 

Although the story starts out interesting, I found most of the first half of the book went pretty slow for me, but the last half definitely made up for it. The last half was more action based and starts to wind in the plot of the next book. The action scenes were well done and the climax didn’t seem rushed, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.  

I find that I’m torn on Chokshi’s descriptive style throughout the book. Some of the metaphors used just didn’t really make a lot of sense, but there were other times that I found myself completely enthralled with the tale Chokshi was spinning. Obviously this is subjective to who is reading, but overall her writing was beautiful. 

There were two reasons this book was only 3/5 stars for me. The first was what I had already mentioned about the book moving slowly in the first half. The second is the connection between Maya and Amar. I didn’t feel the passion or love between them and would have liked to have seen their relationship grow through more interactions in the book, rather than just a few kisses here or there. 

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
– I have the next book A Crown of Wishes on NetGalley so I will be moving onto that book next. Although I gave this book 3 stars (which is still NOT a bad review) I am excited to move onto the next because I love the character the story will be surrounding. 


The Glitch by Ramona Finn- Audiobook Tour

 Hey everyone!

I have decided to start participating in book review tours so you will see several of them pop up on my blog this month! There is a giveaway for this tour located at the bottom of the page 😉 I hope you enjoy!

Title: The Glitch
Author: Ramona Finn
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Sci-Fi
Format: Audio
Narrator: Genevieve Kaplan
Description
(Source: Amazon):

The Glitch (The Glitches, #1)On the brink of extinction, being human means more than just surviving. 

In Lib’s world, it’s dangerous to deviate from the norm. In fact, for someone who doesn’t live up to the Artificial Intelligence’s standards, it’s practically a death sentence. Lib learns this the hard way when she wakes up in a barren wasteland, with her memories erased, and only one thought lodged in her mind:

“It’s all my fault.”

Lib is a Glitch—an imperfect human component of the utopian world called the Norm. Now she’s thrown out, Lib will be forced to team up with another Glitch, Raj, and the mysterious Rogue Wolf and his clan to survive. Wolf only cares about the survival of his group, but Raj thinks they can hack the A.I. and change the Norm for the better.

Now, Lib will have to decide which path to choose—whether to go with striking loner Raj or stay with Wolf and his tight-knit group. Her heart is drawn to both, but she’s carrying a deadly secret that could jeopardize them all. Will she be able to save her newfound family and stop the A.I. before it’s too late? “


Review of the story:

The Glitch starts off by immediately throwing readers into a whirlwind of action. Our female protagonist (Lib) wakes up in a desert and remembers nothing- and I mean, nothing. Not her name, age, what she looks like, or even basic words at first. Over the course of the book Lib starts to have fleeting memories about who she may have been and her “purpose”, but it’s not until the end where we start to get big answers. 

After Lib wakes up she notices another girl in trouble and instinctively saves her life. The girl (Skye)  brings Lib to a group of people surviving outside the “Norm” (where Lib learns she was cast out from). The group of people is called a Clan and is comprised of Glitches like Lib, and Rouges – people born outside the Norm. It take a little bit longer than I would have liked to get an explanation to what a Glitch actually is, and this starts to enter spoiler territory so I won’t go into it too much. I can say however, that Glitches are people who used to live inside the norm but were tossed out due to the AI who runs the norm deeming them as malfunctioned. 

As the story progresses we see Lib struggle to gain the trust of her newfound friends and start to uncover truths about the Norm, the AI, herself, and the world. There is a little romance, but it definitely doesn’t overpower the main story-line.

The Clan reminds me of the Grounders from the show The 100. The harsh language, the lack of technology, and the reliance on folk-like traditions showed similarities to that group. If you like that aspect of the show, I think you will love the world that Finn has built outside of the Norm. 

My only complaint about the book is the lack of character development. I am very much a plot driven type of reader, so the action in this book was appealing to me. I do think however, it could have been slowed down a little for more character development. This would have allowed for more emotional connection not just to the protagonist, but also to the supporting characters that die throughout the book. 

Review of the audio:

Genevieve Kaplan does an okay job at narrating the book. There were times where I felt like she rushed the words and I thought I was listening at 1.25x speed, but she would usually even herself back out within a few minutes.  Her character voices were distinctive and I never had a hard time trying to decipher who was speaking. 

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
– Overall, the book was pretty good and I would recommend it to anyone interested in dystopian sci-fi. I will continue the series to see what happens to the group. 
– If you have Kindle Unlimited, It’s included in the program! If not, I highly suggest you get it. I can’t tell you how many great books I have found through Unlimited. Click below to join!

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Ramona Finn. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.


 

The Glitch Audio Blog Tour Giveaway


May 7: Dab of Darkness

May 8: Chapter Break

May 9: Chanda Reads

May 10: The Book Addict’s Reviews

May 11: The Page Unbound

May 12: SMADA’s Book Smack

May 13: Haddie’s Haven

May 14: terriluvsbooks

May 15: The Cinnamon Hollow

May 16: Lomeraniel

ABW Promos3

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The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Format: Audio
Narrators: Will Patton
Description
(Source: Amazon):
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, Book 1) by [Stiefvater, Maggie]

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”


Review:
There has been a lot of hype about this series, which is why I think I was reluctant to start them, and the synopsis didn’t really appeal to me either so I kept putting it off. I ended up getting the audio from my library because it was available and I’m on the wait list for a few other things.

From the very first chapter something about this book ensnared me.  I absolutely adored this book, but I still don’t even know how to put into into words why. The writing is beautiful, the story is interesting and surprising, and the characters are well developed and complex, but I’ve read plenty of books this year that share those same characteristics. This book had a little something extra that had me feeling addicted – just one more chapter. I’d take the long way home so I can just get a few more minutes. Yesterday while listening I even moved a restoration project up (one of my hobbies is restoring antique furniture) so I could work on it while listening to this book. It had that “it factor” that kept calling me back. I had just finished ACOWAR and had a bit of a book hangover from that, which makes me even more surprised at how much I loved The Raven Boys. 

I’m not going to give away anything from the plot because I think it’s better to go in not knowing what the book is really about and without getting any of the twists hinted at. 

Review of the audio:

At first, I though Will Patton kind of sounded like Donald Trump – which had me initially:

Within the first chapter though I thought maybe I was mistaken because I didn’t notice it anymore so I was surprised that my husband commented “that guy sounds just like Trump” when he walked into the room and I had the book on speaker. Don’t let it deter you though because it seriously vanished for me as he began getting into the story more.

His southern accents were great. I’ve found that some voice actors/narrators make southern accents sound like either stereotypical red-necks or uneducated. Patton did a great job at capturing that “old money” Virginian accent. And the whispering willow trees were creepy AF with him narrating, I kept getting goosebumps and looking over my shoulder every time they “spoke”.

Side note: I can’t be the only person who pictured this at first with the tree? 😂😂

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
– It has got great characters, a forward moving plot, and superb writing. I’ve already purchased the next book on audio.


Flame in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retellings
Format: eARC via First to Read
Description
(Source: Amazon):

Flame in the Mist by [Ahdieh, Renée]The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.


Review:
Flame in the Mist is a Mulan retelling of sorts. It has very Mulan-esque vibes, but is original in it’s own right. The story is engaging, thought provoking, and well written. I’ve never read a Mulan retelling, but it was always one of my favorite Disney films so I was excited to have the opportunity to get my hands on an ARC!

The checklist of things I love in a YA Fantasy that Flame in the Mist fulfilled:

  1. Kick-ass female protagonist ☑️ →Mariko is great. She is witty, intelligent, and funny. AND…..breaks the mold on YA fiction’s heroines (so pretty, but doesn’t know she is; clumsy and awkward, but can wield a sword like she’s been doing it ll her life; etc.)
  2. Lots of action☑️
  3. Plot twists☑️ →Two major ones. And the ending! 😲😲😲😲
  4. Great platonic friendships☑️→ Not only do we have friendships between males, but also a couple good ones between Mariko and other members of the Black Clan. 
  5. Romance☑️ →The romance is barely there, so if you don’t like romance in your books I still think you will enjoy it. 

The biggest reason I didn’t wouldn’t rate it a full 5/5 is because I found myself getting caught up a few times by all the descriptions. I connect more with plot-driven writing than character-driven, even when the descriptions and internal dialogue are beautifully done. 

 

Rating:

    – 4.5/5, but for the purposes of this rating system it’s been rounded up. 

Final Thoughts:
– This is a random and unexpected thought. I like how Mariko’s virginity was handled. It’s not really a major spoiler to anything significant in the plot, but spoiler alert if you don’t want to know. Mariko made the decision to have sex with a stable boy that she didn’t particularly know or have feelings for. She chose to do this because she wanted the loss of her virginity to be her own choice, not sold to the highest bidder. I liked the lack of slut-shaming and the fact that a big deal wasn’t made about it.

– Overall, I loved this book. I’m definitely going to be continuing with this series! – which is good because I’m getting this book in TWO of my book subscription boxes in May 😑