Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | Review

Blog Tour: Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins | ReviewSummer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on May 17th 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
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4 Stars

Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom.

Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

picadillyblueWhen I heard that Stephanie Perkins was editing (and contributing to) another collection of young adult short stories, I was beyond ecstatic.  I was a fan of My True Love Gave to Me and I’ve really come to love collections like this one.

This is a little hard for me to review since if I had the time, I’d review each story separately.  Who knows, maybe I’ll get around to doing that eventually but today I’m just going to touch on the book as a whole!

Pros:

  • Authors: Summer Days and Summer Nights has a wide variety of authors, some I’ve read before and others that were new to me.  It’s also great that it’s not just one genre represented.  It didn’t hurt that a few of my favorite authors were included here (Leigh Bardugo, anyone?)  I feel like readers who already love these authors will enjoy getting even a little bit more from them and if the book includes new authors for you, maybe you’ll find some new books to check out.

Okay, that’s really the only point I can make in a pros and cons review.  The rest is just going to have to be more traditional.  I tried but I just don’t know how to word it to make things fit with all the stories.

Let’s break it down here:

My favorite story would have to be Stephanie Perkins’ (no surprise there) but I also loved Brandy Colbert’s and Tim Federle’s and I’ve never read any of their books.  I also really enjoyed Nina LaCour’s and look forward to reading more of her work.  A few others that were up there on my list were Lev Grossman’s, Jennifer E. Smith’s, and Jon Skovron’s.

Stories that were right in the middle for me were Libba Bray’s and Francesca Lia Block’s.  I’m not really a huge fan of either author so I didn’t know what to expect with these two which actually helped me like them more, I think.  I went in with no expectations so they couldn’t really disappoint me.  I know that’s sad but it’s true.  I think if you enjoy either (or both) author you will like these stories from them.

I was let down a bit by both Leigh Bardugo and Cassie Clare’s stories.  I think for Leigh Bardugo’s it had more to do with the subject than the author.  I still love her writing but I wasn’t impressed with the story and just didn’t get into it.  As for Cassie Clare, I think I’ve just read too much of her work and need a break from it all.  I find her stories to be really fun and that’s what I expected from this one but it just didn’t hit the right note with me.

Overall, while Summer Days and Summer Nights had a few stories I didn’t love, I really did enjoy it as a whole.  Overall, take some time to read through this one.  Not only did I get the chance to read some new things from some of my favorite authors, I got to read a couple new authors (Lev Grossman is a new one for me) that I’ll have to check out more from now.  Summer Days and Summer Nights really is the perfect book to take out with you on a summer day!

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | Review

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | ReviewThe Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

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.

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The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi’s debut novel, will have you shaking your head in disbelief that it is, in fact, a debut novel.  The Star-Touched Queen reads like Roshani Chokshi has been writing her whole life and I’m sure this will not be the only wonderful, heartbreaking book we get from her.

Pros:

  • Romance: While it might come across a bit like insta-love at first, that really isn’t what is going on. Amar and Maya didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to starting up a really quick relationship.  They got married the first time they met.  That’s just how it was.  However, their attraction made their marriage not quite as tough as it could have been.  Amar and Maya’s personalities fit together and they each brought different things to their relationship and their roles as leaders.  While Amar was quite closed off and a bit hard to read, Maya was the opposite.  She had a bit of a temper and she wasn’t afraid to say what she wanted and to go after it.  It also didn’t hurt that once they got to know each other, their chemistry was even better.  Roshani Chokshi managed to make all of their scenes together both steamy and sweet.
  • Characters: It’s not often that I like all the characters and find them to be well-developed but that was the case with The Star-Touched Queen.  Maya was dealt a poor hand in life due to her horoscope and the kingdom she lived in.  It was predicted that she would bring death and destruction to whoever she married.  It made many people scared of her and needless to say, made marriage kind of out of the picture for her.  Not that she minded that.  She smart and witty and fierce.  Amar, like I said, was kind of mysterious, in a tall, dark, and handsome way.  His personality was hard to gauge at first but once in his kingdom, he started to come out of his shell more.  He was sweet but also smart and cunning.  The harem wives were all very superstitious women who were pretty terrible.  Gauri, Maya’s half-sister, was adorable at first and fierce later on.  She was strong and smart and willing to do whatever it took for her kingdom and the people she loved.  Gupta was funny and a little odd.  Kamala had to be my favorite though.  I can’t even begin to describe her but she was funny in a morbid and quirky way.  She was fiercely protective of Maya and yet managed to keep a sense of humor even when defending her.  I wasn’t sure it was possible that even demon animals could be well-developed characters but Roshani Chokshi proved me wrong.
  • Setting: The Star-Touched Queen is set in both the kingdoms of Bharata and the kingdom of Akaran.  Both settings were extremely vividly detailed.  Bharata was both a gorgeous kingdom and a kingdom torn apart by war.  The Night Bazaar seemed like an awesomely creepy place but maybe could have used a little more development.  Akaran was, by far, my favorite though.  There were mirrors showing everything but your reflection, gardens made out of glass, and a tapestry full of mystery and fate.
  • Plot: At first, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to get with The Star-Touched Queen.  The synopsis on the back of the book doesn’t really say much and I actually really like that about it.  I went in not knowing what to expect and I felt like I got more mystery out of it.  There were a few things that I guessed along the way but I think if I had actually read the full synopsis, I would have guessed them a lot sooner.  However, I think I only guessed those things because of my knowledge of some Indian folklore.  If you don’t know any Indian folklore, you are in for a lot of twists and turns and I was still shocked by a lot of things.  Things are a little slow to start but not very.  Maya’s story really starts to take off early in the book and since it is a standalone, everything has to happen pretty quickly.  That’s not to say that anything is rushed though because it’s not.  And since it is a standalone, everything was wrapped up quite nicely and while I would never say no to more stories set in this world, I was happy with how things ended.

Overall, The Star-Touched Queen has a spot on my favorites shelf, that’s for sure.  I highly recommend it, especially for fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series.  While the stories are each uniquely different, I couldn’t help getting the same type of vibe from this one and that is high praise.  I look forward to more from Roshani Chokshi.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Blog Tour: Feuds by Avery Hastings | Review

Blog Tour: Feuds by Avery Hastings | Review

Blog Tour: Feuds by Avery Hastings | ReviewFeuds by Avery Hastings
Series: Feuds #1
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 2, 2014
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

For Davis Morrow, perfection is a daily reality. Like all Priors, Davis has spent her whole life primed to be smarter, stronger, and more graceful than the lowly Imperfects, or “Imps.” A fiercely ambitious ballerina, Davis is only a few weeks away from qualifying for the Olympiads and finally living up to her mother’s legacy when she meets Cole, a mysterious boy who leaves her with more questions each time he disappears.

Davis has no idea that Cole has his own agenda, or that he’s a rising star in the FEUDS, an underground fighting ring where Priors gamble on Imps. Cole has every reason to hate Davis—her father’s campaign hinges on the total segregation of the Imps and Priors—but despite his best efforts, Cole finds himself as drawn to Davis as she is to him.

Then Narxis, a deadly virus, takes its hold--and Davis’s friends start dying. When the Priors refuse to acknowledge the epidemic, Davis has no one to turn to but Cole. Falling in love was never part of their plan, but their love may be the only thing that can save her world...in Avery Hastings's Feuds.

picadillyblueFeuds was far from what I expected it to be and I mean that in both a good and bad way.  I started the book knowing very little about it and I went into it with an open mind.  To be honest  I only really knew that it was a dystopian and all I hoped was that it would be different from the rest.  It definitely had a unique feel to it and that was by far my favorite thing about it.

Feuds is told from the alternating points of view of Davis and Cole.  Davis is the daughter of a rich Prior who is up for election as the next prime minister.  She’s a driven ballet dancer who is very concerned about the role she plays in her father’s campaign.  She will do anything to help him get elected so that his new policies can be put in place.  She cares a lot for her family and that shows from the start.  The only problem is that she really doesn’t know the whole truth about everyone in her family and so she doesn’t quite know what it is she’s standing up for.  Cole is a Gen fighter in the FEUDS who does everything for his family and is willing to risk everything for them.  He’s strong and fierce but vulnerable and lost at times too.  He’s a much more well rounded character than Davis.  He’s also someone who should have nothing to do with Davis.  However, he’s thrust into her life and once he meets her he just can’t stay away.  He’s drawn to her without knowing anything about who she is.  She also knows nothing about him though and that’s just how he wants things to stay.  They are the definition of star-crossed love but neither of them realize that until it’s too late.

To be perfectly honest, Davis and Cole’s relationship screams instalove.  That’s what it is.  They meet, they kiss (very passionately, might I add), they have amazing chemistry, and they decide they are it for each other.  However, they still know nothing about each other when they decide this.  It’s when they find out the truth about each other that their relationship is really put to the test.

The story is a little slow to pick up but it’s interesting.  Feuds is set in a futuristic society split between Priors and Gens (or as Priors call them, Imps.)  The Priors are the upper class who have been genetically modified for perfection.  The Gens are just normal people but they are considered low class because of this.  Things aren’t so bad for the Gens though when the Priors start dying from a mystery disease called Narxis.  Narxis has no cure and what’s worse, most people don’t even know it exists.  The current prime minister of the Priors does not want word about Narxis to get out and he is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the Gens from speaking out about it.  For the first part of the book though very little about this is actually mentioned and most of the story focuses on Cole and Davis.  I get the necessity of building up the characters but I really would have liked it if the plot moved a bit faster.

Overall, Feuds definitely stands out in the dystopian genre.  It’s a bit slower than your usual fare of “down with the capital!” dystopian novels but it has a lot going for it other than that.  The characters, the writing, the romance (even if it is instalove) all stand in favor for Feuds.  I definitely plan on checking out more from Avery Hastings especially the next book in this series!

What others have to say about Feuds:

The Young Folks’ review: “Feuds, in one word, is captivating.”

Nick’s Book Blog’s review: “Feuds wasn’t the perfect book, by any means, but I do think this series has a lot of potential.”

Queen Ella Bee Reads’ review: “The marriage of political unrest and disease layered with copious amounts of romance will make any and all lovers of dystopia swoon over FEUDS (and Davis and Cole because, wow there’s some serious kissing up in this book).”
 
Avery-author-photo

About the author:
Avery Hastings is an author and former book editor from New York City. Avery grew up in Ohio, graduated in 2006 from the University of Notre Dame and earned her MFA from the New School in 2008. When she’s not reading or writing, Avery can usually be spotted lying around in the park with her affable dog. Like her protagonists, she knows how to throw a powerful right hook and once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. In addition to New York, Avery has recently lived in Mumbai and Paris, but is happy to call Brooklyn home (for now).

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