Waiting On Wednesday: 21 February 2018

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that highlights anticipated releases. Unfortunately, the host was no longer able to continue and Waiting On Wednesday has merged with Can’t-Wait Wednesday over on Wishful Endings.

This week, my anticipated read selection is:

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Publication Date: 6 March 2018

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

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.

 

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Happy reading, bookworms!

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Bookworm of the Week

Hey there, bookworms! I was going to write up a post to highlight a few of my favourite bookish blogs and vlogs. I love spreading the love so this seemed like a natural idea.

However, when that list started to get beyond the number in the title and continued growing and growing (you can’t blame me because there are loads of amazing bookworms out here), I remembered an idea I had back when I first started blogging but didn’t really know anyone. It just wasn’t feasible back then, but now that I know and know of so many amazing bookworm blogger and vloggers, I can finally make it a reality!

And so, it is with great pleasure that I can announce that I will be starting a weekly series  to highlight a bookworm blogger or vlogger and their platform(s) of choice! I’m really excited about starting this one because one thing I enjoy so much about this community is the sense of community. I’m still trying to decide what day of the week posts will go up. Probably Friday? We shall see, but I’m really excited to get started! 😀

For now, I must go read all the books. Happy reading, bookworms!

Time For A Change

So, you may have noticed a few things changed on my blog today. I got bored and decided to, finally after months of thinking about it, play around with a different theme. I’ll probably continue changing things slowly, but I wanted to at least start it off with a theme change and try to get things organized the way I want them.

Especially with me changing the way I use my blog lately, I feel like it’s important for me to have a fresh look to go with it. While I enjoyed the theme I used for my blog before, I just don’t love it as much as I used to. I hope you’re all as happy with the changes as I am!

If you would like to see more or less of something, please let me know and I’ll try to accommodate. While this is my blog, I like giving you all some things that you can enjoy as well or why make it public. Because of this, I’ll consider each and every suggestion given to me, but please don’t think that means I’ll do everything asked of me.

This blog is my release at the moment and I really don’t have much else in my life that allows for that. If your suggestion is something I can do without making myself unhappy or compromising my space, I’m more than happy to help make you happy.

Thank you all so much for sticking with me over the past almost two years. (Has it really been that long?!) Happy reading and keep living one page at a time!

Waiting On Wednesday: 14 February 2018

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine that highlights anticipated releases. Unfortunately, the host was no longer able to continue and Waiting On Wednesday has merged with Can’t-Wait Wednesday over on Wishful Endings. I’m going to attempt to make a post for this each week, but I’m a bit flaky lately so I promise nothing.

This week, my anticipated read selection is:

Everlife by Gena Showalter

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Publication Date: 27 February 2018

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter comes book three in the unique and exhilarating Everlife series. Tenley “Ten” Lockwood knows the fate of the Everlife rests on her ability to unite the realms and destroy the Prince of Ravens. When betrayal leads to defeat and Ten finds herself bonded to the enemy, an unthinkable choice may the only answer.

 

That’s all for me this post. Happy reading, bookworms!

Blog Tour: Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

Oh my gosh! Happy book birthday to S. Jae-Jones!! I’m super excited to be able to participate in the blog tour for Shadowsong! I devoured the first book in this series, Wintersong, in a single day and when I got the opportunity to be part of the blog tour for this sequel, I jumped at the chance! (You can check out my full review of Wintersong here if you’d like, but you might want to wait until after this post!) Stick around through this post for a few of my favourite excerpts, my full review of Shadowsong, and an awesome giveaway! But first, let’s have a look at what Shadowsong is about!

Six months after the end of Wintersong, Liesl is working toward furthering both her brother’s and her own musical careers. Although she is determined to look forward and not behind, life in the world above is not as easy as Liesl had hoped. Her younger brother Josef is cold, distant, and withdrawn, while Liesl can’t forget the austere young man she left beneath the earth, and the music he inspired in her.

When troubling signs arise that the barrier between worlds is crumbling, Liesl must return to the Underground to unravel the mystery of life, death, and the Goblin King—who he was, who he is, and who he will be. What will it take to break the old laws once and for all? What is the true meaning of sacrifice when the fate of the world—or the ones Liesl loves—is in her hands?

 

With a Goodreads synopsis like that, how could I not be psyched to read it?! (Yes, that was rhetorical. I was beyond psyched to read it.)

 

Favourite Excerpts:

These excerpts are taken from the digital galley and may be changed in the finished publication.

 

11%

The ring was a symbol of the Goblin King’s power, but more than that, it was a promise that his love was greater than the old laws. One could not place a price on a promise.

 

21%

There was a part of me that wished I could confess and confide everything to her. How I hadn’t played or composed in an age because I was unable to face the enormous effort it would take to sit, to work, to labor. Because whenever I worked on my magnum opus, I felt another’s presence beside me–his touch, his his, his caress. Because I was afraid she wouldn’t believe me; or worse, that she would.

 

54%

I had tried so long and so hard to move on that I was afraid of returning to the places where his ghost still lingered. To return to the Goblin Grove would be returning to a self I had outgrown, trying to tuck who I had become back into the seams of another girl.

 

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My Review:

I was so incredibly excited when I was asked to do a review of Shadowsong for the tour. Having recently read Wintersong (my review can be found here) and LOVING it, I wanted to get my hands on Shadowsong as soon as possible. I was hoping for something as overwhelming and epic as Wintersong was and not only was I not let down, but it blew my expectations away. Before we continue, I do want to go ahead and let y’all know that there are spoilers in this review for Wintersong.

I do need to mention that there was one secondary theme in the story that is aro/ace-misic. I don’t think it’s something S. Jae-Jones did on purpose and it might or might not have been run past a sensitivity reader. While reading it, I came across a single line that felt like it crawled under my skin and made this theme clear, but I thought I might have been over-reacting or over-thinking it. But then when a friend, who is also on the tour, came to me about that same line, I knew I had to include this tw/cw in my review just in case. I’m not going to put the line here just in case it’s spoily, but if you’d like for me to send it to you privately I would be more than happy to. On to the rest of the review!

The characters of Shadowsong are mostly those who we got to know in Wintersong with a few new and sinister additions. I really like how the character arc of Leisl went in this one because she is allowed to be uncertain while still trying to hold it together. Each character is given enough development to be realistic enough to converse with, though there were a couple I would as soon stay away from. They were all really well done and largely individual, save for a few of the secondary characters who we didn’t see as much and, thus, didn’t need to know as well.

I do want to go back to Leisl’s arc specifically really quick because her arc in Shadowsong gave me something I didn’t recognize until I started writing this review. At the beginning of Shadowsong, Leisl is still reeling from having to leave behind Der Erlkönig in order to stay alive. She’s unable to compose because each time she plays, she’s mentally thrown back into the Underworld. This, in some small way, made me feel like Leisl’s arc is decent representation for PTSD.

She was forced to leave behind the man she loves to be trapped in an eternal prison to continue living and working on a piece of music that is not only mainly about their relationship but that they worked on so closely together up until that point. She tries holding it together and putting on a good face, and she believes she is doing a decent job of it until she’s disillusioned of that belief. Music and composing are such huge parts of who she is that suppressing the need to compose pushes her further into her depressive state. And yet, when she does compose, it’s clear that it triggers a deepening of that depressive state as well. I just really enjoyed seeing this play out in the story, no matter how subtly it was done.

Shadowsong is set in a few different places because there are more than one point-of-view and they travel a bit. The Underworld didn’t receive as much world building as it did in Wintersong, but as this is a sequel I don’t feel like it really needed it. I was still able to picture the world and understand the way it functions from reading Wintersong. In Leisl’s home in the small town of Bavaria, we didn’t get much development either because, again, it was developed thoroughly in Wintersong. If its been a while since you read it a re-read wouldn’t be out of order and might help with this.

The two locations that received the most world building were Vienna and Snovin. Vienna is a bustling city, which is not what Leisl and her family are used to, having come from a small town inn. Snovin is an estate with a dark and magical background. Of all the places in this story, Snovin is probably my favourite. It’s the first place since the Goblin Grove and the Underworld that we get to see a good bit of magic but it was a bit twisted, which became clearer as the story revealed the backstory of the estate.

The story itself was so incredibly elaborate that it almost dares you to put it down, which is, of course, impossible. From beginning to end, there is something happening or something learned about the characters and their arcs. It flowed relatively well and everything came together so nicely at the end. Reading Shadowsong was basically eight hours of having my heart torn out, set on fire, and then replaced again. Burn, rinse, repeat. The ending of Shadowsong was so incredibly bittersweet and all loose plot lines were closed up so neatly.

The only thing that kept this from being a single sitting was the fact that I’ve had to work almost every day, a fact that I was still not prepared to let get in the way of me reading this digital galley. Late into the night, on the way to work (bus sickness be damned), on my breaks, and on my lunch break, I was deep in the world of Shadowsong and refused to come out. My coworker, who insisted I read Wintersong in the first place, only encouraged this, understanding when my only response to “how is it so far?” was “I HURT.” Shadowsong could easily be the finale of a duology, but I’m not sure I’m ready to let go. I look forward to reading more of S. Jae-Jones’ work in the future!

Overall, I rate Shadowsong 4 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Get your hands on a copy and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can order your copy from are:

 

About the Author

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S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, an adrenaline junkie, and the NYT bestselling author of Wintersong.

Born and raised in sunny Los Angeles, she lived in New York City for ten years before relocating down to Dixie, where she is comfortably growing fat on grits and barbecue. When not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skydiving, taking photographs, drawing pictures, and dragging her dog on ridiculously long hikes.

 

Giveaway

Didn’t I say there would be a giveaway? Congratulations! You made it! One lucky reader will win:

  • One (1) finished copy of Shadowsong by S. Jae-Jones

This giveaway is US Only! Sorry, international bookworms!!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

 

Follow The Tour

Would you like to see more reviews and creative content while increasing your chances of winning the giveaway prize? Wish granted! Check out the other stops on the blog tour and you can have these things and more. You can find the full tour schedule here.

 

Thank you SO MUCH to S. Jae-Jones for writing Shadowsong. It’s such a brilliant novel and gift to the YA/NA Fantasy community and you are such a rockstar!

Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club for allowing me to be part of this tour!

And, last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to Wednesday Books for the gift of being able to read Shadowsong before its publication date. And also, obviously, for recognizing S. Jae-Jones’ ridiculous amount of talent and publishing her in the first place!

That’s all for this post, bookworms. Keep living one page at a time!

Bookish Pet Peeves

Everyone has pet peeves, though they may not all call them that. I decided to put together a list of bookish pet peeves of mine. To me, these are the worst of the worst, whether it’s something the author does or something a reader does. Let’s just dive into the list, shall we?

 

Miscommunication as a plot device

I seriously HATE this. It’s shockingly common and it really just irritates me when there’s entire plot line that could have been avoided had two characters sat down for a nice cup of tea and had a conversation with more than scowls and secrets. Can your entire plot be rendered null and void by the use of effective communication between two or three characters? Please rethink your novel.

 

Dog-eared Pages

Okay so here’s the thing: You know it’s your book. I know it’s your book. But PLEASE just use a bookmark. Or a sock. Or a diaper (preferably unused). Or a cat. Or ANYTHING that will keep you from DAMAGING A PERFECTLY GOOD PAGE. Don’t even get me started on people who do this to library books. Monsters!!

 

Incorrect use of “BOOK meets BOOK” analogies in marketing

If you market your novel as “ONE POPULAR BOOK/SERIES meets ANOTHER POPULAR BOOK/SERIES,” you’re probably setting some big expectations. Example, I recently read a novel that was advertised as Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner and this description was laughable. While I could easily have come up with an accurate and effective BOOK meets BOOK for that novel (Spoiler: I did), the one given by the publisher was so far off that anyone reading it because of that BOOK meets BOOK will probably be pretty disappointed.

 

Damaging or Not Returning Borrowed Books

Seriously, people. If someone lets you borrow one of their most prized possessions (if you think books aren’t your most prized possessions, you need to rethink your priorities) and you can’t be bothered returning it in the exact condition it was in when they gave it to you…. Just don’t borrow it from them! And, no, damaging it does not mean that you should just keep it and hope they’ll never notice you still have it. They’ve noticed.

 

Cliffhanger endings

If you’ve been around for a bit, you probably already know that cliffhanger endings and I DO NOT get along well. My disdain for these monsters has even gone so far that I now automatically deduct a bookworm rating from the book containing it. I absolutely love the story and it’s perfect and the characters are lovely and the world building is brilliant, but wait! There’s another book in the series and we have to make sure they’ll want it so let’s leave the plot hanging in mid air with a cliffhanger ending! Yeah, that 5 bookworm read goes down to a 4.

 

Annotation in books you don’t own

Look, I know it’s really cool to have your notes on a book in the same place as the actual story. I get that it adds your feelings for the story to the story itself and when you reread it later you might be able to feel an added bit of nostalgia by seeing what you felt and thought the first go around. That’s great. HOWEVER. When you annotate a book I have loaned you or that you have borrowed from the library…. my eye starts twitching. Now, I know none of y’all have known me in real life so I’ll just let you know… Eye twitching? That’s my tell for “I’m trying REALLY HARD not to set you on fire.” Don’t write in books that aren’t yours!

 

While I’m sure I could keep this going and shout about all the many little things I dislike that people do (and yes, there are MANY), I’ll leave the list at the ones that bother me the most. Do you have any bookish pet peeves? Do we share any? Are there any you have that I haven’t listed? Let me know in the comments!

That’s all for me today, bookworms. Keep living one page at a time!

Blog Tour: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Happy Friday, bookworms! I am so excited to be finishing off this week by being able to participate in this awesome blog tour for American Panda by Gloria Chao! Stick around through this post for my favourite excerpts from the book, my full review, and a giveaway! But first, let’s have a look at what American Panda is about.

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

I’m sure you can see why I absolutely had to be part of this blog tour after reading that synopsis from Goodreads! Now that we know what it’s about, let’s dig into a few of my favourite excerpts.

 

Favourite Excerpts:

These excerpts are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy the publisher sent me and they might change in the finished copy.

5%

“Honesty is sometimes misconstrued as rudeness, which is probably why its so rare.”

 

23%

“What is this place?” I asked, my lips turning up into the grin reserved for after-midnight spoonfuls of Nutella.

“Whatever we want it to be.”

“A place to dream,” I answered immediately. And for a moment I let my dance-studio pre-prima-ballerina dreams back in. Let myself enjoy that I was in this secret garden between lectures and that maybe, just maybe, it was okay to enjoy Darren’s company for a few brief moments.

 

51%

I liked to personify the Porter Room because he had become such an integral part of my life, and when I danced, it was like I was conversing with Mr. Porter about my thoughts and emotions. When I stomped my anger into his tiles, he supported me, vibrated with me, and told me, I got you. When I dragged my feet, sweeping them across the floor to paint my sadness into the linoleum, he had absorbed my pain and told me it would be okay

My Review:

I was really excited to be able to receive a digital galley of this book because it’s one I’ve really been looking forward to reading. It was not even a little disappointing! It was a bit different from what I was expecting, but that didn’t stop it from being thoroughly enjoyable, something made crystal clear by the fact that I read it in a single day and stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish it.

The characters are all really well developed and three dimensional. I felt like I could easily have had a conversation with any of them. There was also something to each character that I don’t get to see much in YA: a high level of complexity. Much of the time while reading YA, the characters aren’t quite as they appear with friends often being revealed later as villains and vice versa. With American Panda, the characters aren’t quite as they appear at first… they’re so much more. We’re given a first impression of the character which is then built upon instead of turned away from later. I really enjoyed that.

The story is set in Massachusetts, going back and forth between MIT’s campus and Boston. Each location was described with just enough detail that I was able to fill in any gaps with my imagination and put myself into the places where the characters found themselves. The world building itself is so tied into the plot that it’s hard for me even now to separate the two.

When I saw YA Contemporary and a cute girl on the cover, I figured American Panda would be a light, fluffy read. It. Was. Not. Throughout the novel, I got a window into part of what Mei calls “Chinese Politics,” which is both incredibly complicated and incredibly overlooked in western society. I had to remove what I typed here because I accidentally included a spoiler but… part of an ongoing theme throughout the story reiterated the fact that Asian people are not interchangeable, which is something I would definitely LOVE to see more in media.

While I generally don’t mention the Author’s Note or Acknowledgements in my reviews, the Author’s Note at the end of American Panda really struck a chord for me. I read this novel as a white American woman and LOVED it. But… the whole time I was reading it and learning the different aspects of Mei’s experience I couldn’t help thinking “Someone out there is having this experience. Someone out there is Mei. This is so important. They need this. They deserve this.” So seeing the Author’s Note at the end after having thought this for the majority of the book was as perfect as the book itself.

Overall, I rate American Panda 5 out of 5 bookworms.

Don’t just take my word for it. Preorder your copy to receive it when it’s released on 6 February 2018 and enjoy it for yourself! A few places you can go to order your copy from are:

 

About the Author:

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Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. AMERICAN PANDA is her debut novel, coming out February 6, 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster.

Gloria currently lives in Chicago with her ever-supportive husband, for whom she became a nine-hole golfer (sometimes seven). She is always up for cooperative board games, Dance Dance Revolution, or soup dumplings. She was also once a black belt in kung-fu and a competitive dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out.

Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at gloriachao.wordpress.com and find her on Twitter @gloriacchao.

 

Giveaway

As promised, there is a giveaway at the end of the tunnel! Err–blog post! One lucky bookworm will win a finished copy of American Panda by Gloria Chao!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

 

Follow the Tour!

Want to see more fun and creative posts on the American Panda Blog Tour and maybe get yourself extra chances to win? Well, of course you do! Here’s the full tour schedule so you can visit all the other wonderful blogs on the tour!

A HUGE thank you to Gloria Chao for writing this book. You are such an amazing and wonderful author and I really can not wait to see what you write next!

Thank you to The Fantastic Flying Book Club for allowing me the privilege of participating in the blog tour for as wonderful a novel as American Panda and for the digital galley of the book.