Thursday, April 27, 2017

ARC Review: Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick


Title: Saint Death
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publication Date: April 25, 2017
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pages: 240

Add to Goodreads

 //I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review// 

A propulsive, compelling, and unsparing novel set in the grimly violent world of the human and drug trade on the US-Mexican border.

On the outskirts of Juarez, Arturo scrapes together a living working odd jobs and staying out of sight. But his friend Faustino is in trouble: he's stolen money from the narcos to smuggle his girlfriend and her baby into the US, and needs Arturo's help to get it back. To help his friend, Arturo must face the remorseless world of drug and human traffickers that surrounds him, and contend with a murky past.

Hovering over his story is the unsparing divinity Santa Muerte, Saint Death--and the relentless economic and social inequalities that haunt the border between Mexico and its rich northern neighbor. Crafted with poetry and cinematic pace and narrated with cold fury, Saint Death is a provocative tour de force from three-time Printz Award honoree Marcus Sedgwick.

Arturo is a teen living in Mexico...so close to the U.S. border that he can see America from his home. So close that he could simply walk across the border through a gap in the fence if he gathered up the courage. He has lived his entire life in poverty, watching American businessmen set up factories in Mexico so they can get rich and use cheap labor. In an attempt to help a friend escape to the freedom that America has to offer, Arturo finds himself entangled with the drug cartels and desperately fighting to save his life.

First of all, I ADORE Marcus Sedgwick. I absolutely love his writing style and how he presents his stories. His writing is always very unique and beautiful in a very subtle way. Unfortunately, however, Saint Death did not live up to my expectations. Sedgwick embarked on quite an undertaking with this book, and I think he fell a little short of his goal. I still really enjoyed it, but it is definitely not one of my favorites and I think a lot of people may have trouble enjoying it.

There is actually not much I can tell you about Saint Death that isn't a spoiler, so I can't discuss the plot very much. Something that I did really enjoy about the book was the relevance to our current society and culture. Sedgwick took on the lofty task of discussing immigration issues that we hear debates about daily. There were multiple facts and statistics that were included about things such as drug cartels, immigration, and maquiladoras. I found that totally fascinating, but I don't know if many people will. Most people aren't looking for a sociological exposé when they pick up a YA novel. I am, but I will be the first to admit that I am not the norm.

Another difficulty with Saint Death is the writing style. I say "difficulty" because I don't want to call it a problem or issue; the writing itself is not a problem, but it may cause some readers to avoid the book or have problems connecting with it. The writing is more akin to an adult narrative than a YA novel, which may dissuade some readers. I didn't even realize that it was a YA story until I was almost finished with the book, when I noticed a note about a YA marketing campaign on the back of the ARC. I didn't realize that Arturo was supposed to be a teenager because the age of the characters was mentioned only once toward the end of the book.

If you are looking for a typical YA book, you are probably not going to find what you are looking for with Saint Death. This book is current, important, and beautifully written, but I fear that many people will shy away from it. The characters were difficult to connect to and there was very little action, making the book feel slow and boring at times. If you are interested in current affairs, this is definitely a book that you need to pick up, but if you are looking for something more action-packed, maybe try one of Marcus Sedgwick's other works. It is quite unfortunate that this book missed the mark with its target audience, because it deals with a topic that we could all be more informed about.




Read more »

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #145: Things that make me skip a book


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Things That Will Make Me 
Instantly NOT Want To Read A Book


After last week's topic, I thought this would be a difficult topic to tackle, but surprisingly it wasn't! (You know, I like complaining about things sometimes.) These are the top ten things that will make me NOT want to read a book! 

  • 1. Love triangle/square/etc.
  • 2. There are 15 books in the series, with each book getting progressively longer
  • 3. The author only writes one book every 5-10 years and is almost 70 and the series isn't nearly complete (I'm looking at you, George)
  • 4. Contemporary high school romance
  • 5. "For fans of Twilight"
  • 6. Multiple points of view
  • 7. Written in second person or third person present
  • 8. Slut shaming
  • 9. No romance (all stories need a little bit)
  • 10. Chick lit


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Read more »

Monday, April 24, 2017

Audiobook Review: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes


Title: Falling Kingdoms (Falling Kingdoms #1)
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Razorbill

Pages: 412
Add to Goodreads

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?

It's the eve of war.... Choose your side.

Princess: Raised in pampered luxury, Cleo must now embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of magic long thought extinct.

Rebel: Jonas, enraged at injustice, lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished. To his shock, he finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making.

Sorceress: Lucia, adopted at birth into the royal family, discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.

Heir: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, firstborn son Magnus begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword....

Here's the thing: epic fantasy kind of scares me. Falling Kingdoms has been on my TBR list for quite awhile, but I feel like I can only commit to one massive series at a time and The Wheel of Time has been occupying me for literally ever. But I finally decided to give this one a try when I found the audiobook. In fact, I tried it twice. The first time I couldn't get into the narrator's voice. The second time I couldn't understand why that was because he was amazing!

Falling Kingdoms is a story of several people and is split into multiple points of view. Usually I hate this, but it really worked here! Cleo is a princess who is in fear of losing her sister and sets off on a mission to save her life, against everyone's wishes. Lucia is a princess of a different kingdom who makes shocking discoveries about herself at every turn. Jonas lives in a country in the middle of two kingdoms and on the verge of destruction and finds himself in over his head when he tries to stop it. And then there's Magnus... Magnus, poor guy, just can't catch a break. He wants to please his father, he wants his sister to love him, and he makes some pretty big mistakes along the way that interfere with those wants. I love him.

Each of these characters have their strengths and weaknesses, but I'm really pleasantly surprised to come out of this reading experience not hating a single one of them! Considering two of them are princesses and there are multiple POVs in this book, I really expected to dislike at least some of them. Instead, I got strong, yet flawed characters with depth that you don't always find in YA. But as I've kind of implied, Magnus was my favorite of them all. I love a good tortured character and he fits the bill! There were also plenty of secondary characters that really made the story come to life.

The world building was one of the areas of this book that I'm conflicted about. While I really enjoyed the world and the mythology and I did feel like Morgan Rhodes did an incredible job of transporting me to Mytica, there were some serious issues. Primarily that characters seemed to jump from country to country in a matter of hours. I was continuously flipping back to the map trying to figure out how big the countries were. I've concluded that they must be a few miles across. Otherwise, I cannot figure out how everyone travels so fast. All of that to say I wish there had been a better sense of distance established.

While I ultimately did enjoy Falling Kingdoms, I can definitely say that this book dragged a little. There were times I wondered where it was going and if would ever get to the point. There were exciting parts every now and then, but it was mostly pretty slow. Since I've already read book two though, I can assure you it picks up! That's often the way with epic fantasy. Book one drags while it sets up the rest of the series, but it's usually worth it in the long run. Based on the hype for the rest of the series, I'm hoping it is!

Falling Kingdoms is a solid, if slow, first installment in this fantasy series. I was bored at times and I did have some issues understanding the (tiny) world, but I fell in love with the characters and was genuinely interested in their individual stories. Everyone told me that the first book might be just okay but that the rest of the series was incredible and that has been my limited experience. I definitely recommend this to fans of YA and adult fantasy alike!




Read more »

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekly Recap: 4/16 - 4/22



So... wow, this has been a pretty unproductive blogging week. I don't know if you remember, but last Saturday I got a new puppy. This entire week has revolved around the little guy. I feel like this might be a fraction of what it's like to have a human baby and I do not envy parents! XD I'm anticipating that the next week will be a lot better around here! I have been productive in other areas though! I'm currently working on a new line of candles with a new partner! Keep an eye on the Cornerfolds Candles Instagram for updates!


UK ARC





Hooray for the weekend! This week was a loooooong week at work. My boss was away, so I was in charge of running the place, and it was NOT an easy week. But we made it through and now I get to relax a bit. This weekend there is a daffodil festival in my town. Hopefully we have some nice weather so I can go check out all the pretty flowers and get some great food. I'd also love to just get in some quality reading and relaxing time this weekend. And maybe watching some more of The 100. I'm on season two and I'm completely obsessed. Have a great week!











The topic was phrases that make me want to read for Top Ten Tuesday
Friday book review of Poison's Kiss
On Saturday I shared a Strange the Dreamer giveaway





We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Read more »

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Strange the Dreamer Giveaway

Today I am excited to share an incredible giveaway for a #StrangetheDreamer prize pack thanks to @theNovl! This book has been on my radar since I first saw the gorgeous cover (and the author, honestly) and has been at the top of my must reads list! I've already heard so many amazing things about Strange the Dreamer and a couple of my friends are pretty much obsessed. I'm currently listening to the (magical) audiobook and I'm really hoping it's as incredible as I've heard! Keep scrolling for more info and a chance to win shiny things!

Title: Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) 
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 533
Add to Goodreads
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laini Taylor is a New York Times bestselling author and a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of the global sensation the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, and Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and the companion e-novella, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of the Dreamdark books Blackbringer and Silksinger, and the highly acclaimed Lips Touch: Three Times. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, and their daughter Clementine.


GIVEAWAY
THE GOLDEN TOUCH: Gold rules all in Strange the Dreamer – let the world know your power with this golden prize pack.
One (1) winner receives:
            copy of Strange the Dreamer
            golden earbuds, eyeshadow, and writing pen set.
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Little, Brown & Co.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONNECT

Visit the Official Site
Follow @TheNovl on Twitter and Instagram
Follow @LainiTaylor on Twitter
Hashtag #StrangetheDreamer


EXTRA FUN

Read the Prologue on EW
Read Chapter 1 on Mashable
Read an Excerpt on TheNov
Which Godspawn are you? Take the quiz!!
Read more »

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review: Poison's Kiss by Breeana Shields


Title: Poison's Kiss (Poison's Kiss #1)
Author: Breeana Shields
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 304
Add to Goodreads


A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive—like a poison kiss—and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It's a miserable life, but being a visha kanya—a poison maiden—is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she's really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Marinda is a visha kanya. A poison maiden. She was infused with snake venom as a child, making her both immune and lethal. With a simple kiss, she can kill. She works for the kingdom, killing enemies of the Raja. Marinda feels horrible guilt over what she is doing, but she does it to protect her brother and her kingdom. That is, until the day she is assigned to kill Deven, her only friend. As she embarks on a mission to save him, Marinda begins to unravel all the lies that have been told to her throughout her life.

Overall, Poison's Kiss was enjoyable, but it didn't blow me away. It was a pretty short book, and I felt that it could have benefitted from more exposition. There wasn't anything that I would necessarily say I didn't like about the book, but I needed more. The characters were enjoyable, the world was interesting, and the plot was intriguing - but it could have been so much more.

The characters were all pretty well written and developed. I particularly loved Deven and Mani, Marinda's brother. They had a great relationship that was adorable to watch. There were also some truly vile villains in Poison's Kiss, and they were some of the most interesting parts of the book. Kadru, the snake charmer, was intriguing and disgusting and terrifying all in one. I honestly think it would be more interesting to get a backstory on her than to continue with Marinda's story in future books.

I had a bit of trouble understanding the world in this story. I would think I had a good picture of it in my head, and then something would be described that felt anachronistic. I wasn't sure if we were in a completely made-up fantasy world or something based more on modern-day India (or something in between). There were great descriptions of the world, but the pieces didn't seem to fit together, so I couldn't get a clear picture of what it was like in my head.

The plot was really interesting, but I think the pacing was a bit off. The first half of the book was pretty slow. Not very much happened until much later in the book. Then suddenly twist after twist appeared and the action was nonstop. The twists were good, but it was a bit jumpy at the end. Again, I think this is because the book should have been longer so these things had more time to develop.

All in all, Poison's Kiss was enjoyable and I'm glad I picked it up, but it's definitely not a favorite of mine. It was a really quick and entertaining read, so I recommend giving it a try if it's something you've been wanting to read. I don't think I will be continuing with the series, though, because I really don't care enough about what happens to the characters and I already forgot how the book ends...oops.




Read more »

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #144: phrases that make me want to read


Today's Topic: 
Top Ten Phrases That Will Make Me
Instantly Want To Read A Book

Well, this one made me think. I'll admit I wasn't sure at all what to do with this topic when I first read the prompt, but I managed to pull out a list of ten! I ended up going with ten phrases I might see in a review that will make me instantly want to read the book. Here they are in no particular order:

  1. 1. "Retelling"
  2. 2. "Forbidden romance/star-crossed lovers"
  3. 3. "Fast-paced plot"
  4. 4. "Complex characters"
  5. 5. "No love triangle"
  6. 6. "The villain is the love interest"
  7. 7. "Twist ending"
  8. 8. "I was scared to go to sleep" (there just aren't enough truly scary horror books)
  9. 9. "Amazing mythology/lore"
  10. 10. "Believable dystopia"



Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish.
Read more »

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Weekly Recap: 4/9 - 4/15



This week was my birthday and it was a pretty good one! On Friday my husband made a birthday breakfast AND dinner and I got a few packages from family and friends. Thank you everyone!! Then on Saturday WE GOT A PUPPY!

We've been discussing getting another puppy for a few months now and since we've settled into our house we decided it was time. We contacted a shelter and went to see some puppies Saturday morning and left with the sweetest little puppy ever (other than my other two, obviously)! We posted a poll online to get third party opinions and his name is Kovu Rhysand. (He's the one standing on his new sister's head.) 





Nothing this week¯\_(ツ)_/¯



Hi everyone! I'm in the middle of a long weekend right now and it's wonderful! I was up visiting my boyfriend's family for a few days. It's been gorgeous weather and it was a ton of fun. I've gotten no reading done this weekend, but I hung out with family and friends and it was so nice and relaxing. Later today I'm going to go see the new Fast and the Furious movie. I'm so excited! Any other Furious fans out there???? I can't wait to see what shenanigans the crew gets into this time! Have a great week!



No new books this week!








Monday ARC review of The Beast Is an Animal
The topic was unique books for Top Ten Tuesday
Thursday ARC review of Literally
On Saturday I did the Birthday Book Tag





We're linking up to Stacking the Shelves & The Sunday Post!
Read more »

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The birthday book tag!



It's my birthday!! Okay, so it was actually yesterday. I wanted to do something fun and I was super excited when I found this tag, originally created by BrunetteBibliophile on YouTube! Obviously, I wasn't tagged, but I'm tagging anyone with a birthday who wants to join in! 




Since I have so many copies of my favorite books and they're on the top shelves, I used my TBR shelf for this one! I ended up on When the Moon Was Ours, which I'm very eager to read, but haven't quite gotten to yet!




Anyone who knows me already knew the answer to this question and probably doesn't need any explanation, but here goes. The Darkling, because someone needs to give the poor guy a chance! Gah!




Since I suck at paying attention I have literally no idea what books take place in Spring. (Any suggestions?) Instead, I'm sharing the book I'm most excited to read this Spring!




I actually didn't know how to approach this one since my birthstone is a diamond... I decided to go with The One since it looks kind of diamond-y between the white dress and the mirrors in the background!




So... no. Not that I could find and definitely not that I've read! The closest I could get was Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series, which is currently 28 (?) books long. I've read 17 of them (I think).




This is so hard to answer!! It was a tossup between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, but when it comes down to it I would love to visit Middle Earth, but I don't know if I'd want to live there. Meanwhile, the world of Harry Potter has magic AND the internet.



Thanks for stopping by for my birthday post!
If you can think of any books set in the Spring, let me know in the comments!
Read more »