Ace of Shades: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody which is due to release April 10th 2018 from Harlequin Teen. I was beyond excited to have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Note: There will be no spoilers so no need to close the tab.

Haven’t heard of this book? Well, it better be on your radar because it will blow you away. The story follows two characters, Enne Salta and Levi Glaisyer. Enne enters The City of Sin, a.k.a. New Reynes, searching for her mother who should have been home two months ago.  Immediately, the mystery and reputation of the city take her by surprise and she is forced to quickly learn the ropes or fall to its prey. Levi on the other hand, is the leader of the Irons, known for cheats and the sly of hand. A scam too far has put him in over his head and he will do anything to clear his name. Levi and Enne cross paths – both trying to fix their problems, but also growing closer the longer they stay together.

Capture

Taken from my Instagram: Written Infinities

I am always a sucker for a gritty, get your hands dirty kind of novel and Ace of Shades proved to be beyond satisfying. Amanda crafted a unique and lifelike world that I felt I was a part of. Her small touches, descriptions, and character reactions made New Reynes a character of its own. I got similar vibes from her debut novel, Daughter of the Burning City, and after reading her second novel, I have no doubt this is where Amanda’s strengths are. Despite this connection between her two books, Ace of Shades was vastly different and I fell in love with it all the same.

You feel for Enne and Levi throughout the entirety of the story. You want them to succeed, but you also understand how they got into the messes they did. Enne is a thought provoking character as she slips deeper and deeper into the ways of her new environment. Just when you think the world may break her, she rises above it.

Then we have Levi who has a heart of gold, who is pushing to keep the Irons afloat despite knowing the group is not where it should be. We see the development of Levi’s character and the open and honest account of his sexuality. One of my favorite parts about Levi’s sexuality is there is no bat of an eye towards it. It just is. Together, these two become an unforgettable duo, but what I also love are the companions they meet along the way – both new and old. Where these characters begin and end are very different and this journey not only felt organic, but necessary.

There are great quotes and contemplations about fighting against evil, fighting for those you love, and fighting against men whose only goal in life is to take advantage of those weaker than them.  Ace of Shades sucks you in and doesn’t let go. It is a dark YA novel, but one that has a lot of lessons to take from it and characters who force themselves into your heart.

I am so excited for the next installment of this series.

It gets 5/5 cards from me.

Xx

Megan

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Chainbreaker: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Chainbreaker by Tara Sim which is due out January 2nd, 2018 from Sky Pony Press. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

CaptureThe first thing I noticed about Chainbreaker was it had a very different feel than Timekeeper and I don’t mean this in a bad way. Timekeeper focused strictly on Danny as a main character and we got to follow his journey as he learned about what was happening with the clock towers, as he fell in love, as he fought to save his home town and his father. Chainbreaker expands the world that Tara built in the first installment. Not only do we get several more POVs, but we are taken to India, learn more about time, the clock towers, and their existence in the world. We’re even given a chunk of history.  While for some books, expanding the world this sharply could be a problem, Tara handled it flawlessly. To put my enthusiasm into perspective, I read two-thirds of the book in one sitting. Why did I stop? I had to be an adult. Gross, I know.

The main premise of Chainbreaker is clock towers are being destroyed in India, but time isn’t stopping as it’s prone to do. Danny and Daphne are sent from England to India in order to investigate the strange occurrences, but get way more than they bargained for.

There were tons of things that stood out to me about Chainbreaker. Getting Colton’s POV was a delight as we were able to see how he thought and snippets into his past. (No spoilers, I promise. You just have to read the book.) We got another round of Danny who was once again, a great character to follow, with strong morals and a fighting spirit. Then, perhaps my favorite of the bunch, was Daphne. Like Daphne, I’m biracial. Though I don’t share an Indian heritage with her, I have struggled with similar thoughts of what culture I belong to and what it means to not look like where you come from.  Daphne’s journey and thoughts resonated with me in a way I wasn’t expecting, but welcomed all the same.

This cast of characters and the world building create an engaging read in the Steampunk genre. You root for them. You get to know them and by the end, you want to solve the mystery as much as they do.

Though I’m still freaking out about the ending, (Tara, how could you?), I am beyond excited for book three. I need to know where these characters wind up and hopefully, I won’t have my heart broken.

This book gets 5/5 cogs from me.

Xx

Megan

2017 Debut Author Bash with Scott Reintgen

Hi Readers and Writers!

2017 Debut Authors Bash Banner

If you couldn’t tell by the banner, I am participating in the 2017 Debut Author Bash along with a ton of other bloggers and authors. I was lucky to interview the wonderful Scott Reintgen who wrote Nyxia. If you haven’t read this, put it on the top of your TBR because not only is it full of action but the characters and twists will punch you in the gut. It was, without a doubt, one of my favorite reads this year. Now I’m anxiously awaiting (and crying) for book two.

Before I kick off the interview, here is everything you need to know about Nyxia.

27426044Emmett Atwater isn’t just leaving Detroit; he’s leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden—a planet that Babel has kept hidden—where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel’s ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won’t forever compromise what it means to be human.

Goodsreads   |    Amazon   |    Barnes & Noble

1: If you were able to manipulate Nyxia, what are some things you’d create?

Scott: This might be a boring answer, but the most useful thing for me would be a really cool coffee mug, preferably one that keeps the coffee at the exact right temperature no matter how long it’s abandoned as I dive into a new story.

2: If you had to compete in a similar competition as Emmett, what do you think your best skill would be?

Scott: Fun fact: I’ve participated in something like the Rabbit Room before. No one was throwing three-dimensional objects at me, but for one night at a YoungLife club I was the “hype man” on a treadmill. The louder the group sang, the faster I had to run. I definitely think those skills would translate well aboard the Genesis 11.

3: What character do you relate to or admire most?

Scott: I think the character I admire the most is Bilal. He’s based on a friend of mine, and I’ve always admired people who cling to great hope and joy and compassion, regardless of their circumstances. But I’d say that Emmett is the character I relate to the most. He’s that chip-on-his-shoulder, grind it out, earn-your-way-past-these-barriers kind of person. We’re also both intensely competitive and far from perfect.

4: What’s one thing you would be excited about if you got the chance to visit another planet?

Scott: Everything. I got to nerd out hardcore in creating this new world. I actually reached out to Dr. Neil Comins who wrote What If The Earth Had Two Moons? Eden has two, and I wanted to get all the animals and fauna done in an accurate way. One of my favorite things would be finding the familiar threads. In what ways is the new world like Earth? In what ways is it entirely alien?

5: What do you want readers to take away from Nyxia?

Scott: Given the opportunity, anyone can be a hero.

6: Describe Nyxia in three words.

Scott: Possibility. Power. Control.

7: Are there other genres you would like to explore other than Science Fiction?

Scott: I’m a fantasy and science fiction guy, and it’s kind of always been that way. Along with young adult, I’m also hoping to write middle grade and adult fiction, too. I’d love to say I’ll write something relatively normal one of these days, but I’ve got 23 stories planned, and all of them are super weird. Sorry not sorry.

8: What are some books, tv shows, or movies that inspired you to write?

Scott: George R.R. Martin once said the key to inspiring a young child was to introduce them to a bunch of awful writing. Eventually, he thought, they’d get frustrated and decide it was their duty to write something better. All the respect in the world to one of my favorite authors, but my experience has been quite the opposite. There are so many movies and books and shows that transported me. I’ve been to Narnia and I’ve crossed imaginary bridges and stood my ground before monsters. There are too many to name and my debt to them is far too large to count. I’ll just tip my hat and keep writing; I don’t think any of them will mind.

About the Author: 

Scott Reintgen was always a back-row dreamer. As early as kindergarten, teachers noticed his tendency to stare out of classroom windows and disappear to more interesting elsewheres. In high school, he began laboring away on the opening chapter of his first fantasy novel. One of his favorite English teachers agreed to read the pages and the very next day she switched him (illegally) out of Spanish and into a Creative Writing class. The story got tossed eventually, but he never lost the confidence he was given by that single act of empowering faith.

Convinced he would one day be a writer, Scott spent most of college and graduate school investing in the world of literature. This eventually led to a career teaching English and Creative Writing in North Carolina. He strongly believes that every student who steps into his classroom has the right to see themselves, vibrant and victorious and on the page. It’s his hope to encourage a future full of diverse writers. As he’s fond of reminding his students, “You have a story to tell and you’re the only one who can tell it.”

As for his own writing, Scott continues to follow in the footsteps of his favorite authors. It was Tolkien who once wrote, “The fairy gold (too often) turns to withered leaves when it is brought away. All I can ask is that you, knowing all these things, will receive my withered leaves, as a token at least that my hand once held a little of the gold.” And Scott hopes his books are a trail of withered leaves that might lead readers to the bright elsewheres through which he constantly finds himself wandering.

He currently lives in North Carolina with his wife, Katie, and family.

Website: https://itspronouncedrankin.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Scott_Thought

Once again, I want to give a huge thank you to Scott for doing this! Keep an eye out for other tour stops and authors.

Until next time!

XX
Megan

These Things I’ve Done: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing These Things I’ve Done by Rebecca Phillips which published August 2017 from Harper Teen. I received this title from Eric Smith, (thanks so much again!) as a review copy. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away. Though I will warn you that:

  1. This book surrounds the theme of death. Please take caution while reading.
  2. There is an incident of sexual harassment and it is talked about through some parts of the story.

These Things I’ve Done will punch you in the gut as it deals heavily with grief and its different stages: anger, guilt, understanding, etc. It has been on my list to read for the longest time and it did not disappoint.

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It is told in two alternating time periods, before and after the death of Dara’s best friend, Aubrey. These tales do eventually weave together in order to create a cohesive past as well as help the reader understand Dara’s relationship with Aubrey, and who Dara was before the incident. After reading both the first chapter of before and the first chapter of after, it broke my heart to see the stark contrast in Dara’s personality. Phillips did an amazing job at depicting a believable stage of grief, but it didn’t stop there. She dug into the layers of Dara’s psyche to show a teenage girl who was suffering, who didn’t know how to find forgiveness within herself.

The main premise is Dara returns to her hometown over a year after the death of Aubrey. She believes it is time to face the consequences of her horrible action and drown in the suffering she thinks she deserves. Her parents are unsteady around her and her little brother who she was once so close with is afraid of her. All of her former friends want nothing to do with her.  None of this compares to seeing Aubrey’s little brother, Ethan, someone who had been a huge part of her life prior to Aubrey’s death. Reacquainting with him leads to a roller coaster of emotions, unresolved problems, and finding acceptance. It also allows us as readers to gain a better sense of who Audrey was, both as a friend, and as a sister.

The story doesn’t leave you with a bleak outlook on life. It does have some sad bits and a lot of lines that will cling to your heart and not let you go, but it offers hope. It shows a way out of the darkness especially when you believe choices and actions cannot be undone. It shows that there will always be people to accept you and pick you up during the most difficult moments of your life.

Overall, it gets 4/5 stars from me and I will definitely be keeping an eye on whatever Rebecca Phillips has in store next.

Xx

Megan

SST Blog Tour: Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows

 

Hi Readers & Writers,

In case you couldn’t tell by the banner above, I am a part of the Sunday Street Team Mask of Shadows Blog Tour! If you haven’t read or heard of Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller, it’s time to change that. I was lucky to win an ARC and was immediately entranced by Sal, the darkness of The Left Hand, and some other secrets I won’t reveal here.

Synopsis:

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling genderfluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action.

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But genderfluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen’s personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.

But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

Now if that doesn’t intrigue you, maybe this will:

Tips on How to Survive The Left Hand Auditions (from Linsey’s unqualified perspective)

  1. Don’t Audition

I know it’s probably not the thing you won’t to hear but look: it’s a fight to the death with a bunch of killers and fighters and alchemist, and depending on how many people audition, your chances aren’t high. Unless you’re secretly like my mentor Jessie Devine and could probably fight your way out of Igna.

  1. No, really, there are tons of other cool jobs you could do that don’t involve a 99% chance of getting murdered.

While very few people auditioned for the earlier spots in the Left Hand, the quartet has gained a romantic reputation now that the war and recovery is barely a memory to some of the younger teens of Igna. That’s twenty people out to kill you.

Which is probably about twenty more people out to kill you than usual. I hope. I don’t know you’re life.

  1. Ok, we’re really doing this. Let’s go.

So there are two ways to go about the audition: let everyone kill everyone else off in order to survive to the end; throw yourself into the fray and try to kill everyone; or a mix of both (sort of what Sal did). It’s sort of like Skyrim where you start off as either sneaky, punchy, or magic-y (poison in this case), but unlike Skyrim, you don’t have to end up as a sneaky archer.

You can do whatever you’re best at to survive. Surviving, no matter how, is the key.

  1. Follow the rules.

The downside of survival is that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive. That doesn’t fly at auditions. A large part of what the Left Hand looks for is how you react to rules, orders, morality, and hard choices. The rules are there for a reason, and you can’t be caught breaking them if you want to

So either be a rule-obeying murderer or don’t get caught breaking the rules.

  1. Be nice.

Though it seems counter-intuitive, the Left Hand doesn’t want to work with jerks. As they explain to Sal, they have to like their newest colleague, and Our Queen wants trustworthy guards and assassins. The Left Hand aren’t calculating or cold murderers with no morals. They’re empathetic and kind, and they also happen to murder people on occasion when the safety of their people depends upon it. They have all mentally made a choice that killing a few will protect the many.

  1. Be prepared to murder people.

This may seem obvious, but the auditions is a fight to the death. It’s not something to be undertaken lightly. I’ve kept a flippant tone; however, the Left Hand and the auditioners kill people, and there are very real mental, physical, and emotional ramifications. Auditions should not be undertaken lightly.

  1. Or be prepared to split.

Just get out of there. Surviving auditions—even if you aren’t named a Left Hand member—is still a pretty huge accomplishment. Eat some good food, get some cool, new black clothes, and duck out of auditions with your life intact.

  1. Play to your strengths.

Look at you! You’ve got angles that work! Use them. If you’re the punchiest person this side of the Caracol, punch your way through auditions. If you’re the sneakiest, sneak your way through auditions. Own your strengths!

The auditions are a fight to the death filled with the best, and if you’re in them, it means you’re the best. Use that. Everyone has a strength. Everyone has the potential to survive. You can and you will.

Everything else you need to know about the author, where to buy Mask of Shadows, how to win a copy of the book, and to read other posts from those on the tour can be found below!

About the Author:

A wayward biology student from Arkansas, Linsey has previously worked as a crime lab intern, lab assistant, and pharmacy technician. Her debut novel MASK OF SHADOWS is the first in a fantasy duology coming in August 2017 from Sourcebooks Fire. She can be found writing about science and magic anywhere there is coffee.

Goodreads Link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29960675-mask-of-shadows

Preorder Links:

The Book Depository || Barnes and Noble || IndieBound || Amazon

Social Media:

Website: www.linseymiller.com
Tumblr: www.linseymiller.tumblr.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/LinseyMiller
Instagram: www.instagram.com/linsey.miller/
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/AuthorLinseyM/

 

 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

The Prize: 1 Copy of Mask Of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Open to US Residents Only


Here is the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4197540e138
 

Tour Stops

9/3 Tour Stops

 

Interview – Emily Reads Everything

Unique Post  – Roecker Reviews

Review – Bayy In Wonderland

Review – Bookishly Thinking

9/10  Tour Stops

Interview – Tween 2 Teen Books

Review –Charmingly Simple

Review – Pondering The Prose

Interview  – When Curiosity Killed The Cat

9/17  Tour Stops

Interview – YA and Wine

Style Boards – Here’s To Happy Endings

Review – Areli Reads

Review – The Hermit Librarian

Interview – Sarcasm and Lemons

9/24 Tour Stops

Interview – Flyleaf Chronicles

Review –  Books N Calm

Review – A Thousand Words A Million Books

Guest Post – Written Infinities

Girl Made of Stars: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the wonderful honor of receiving a copy of Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Blake from HMH Teen. This book is due out in May 2018.

Before I start this review, there are two things to note:

  • This review will contain minimal spoilers so no need to click away.
  • If you are triggered by sexual assault, please take caution reading this book. Sexual Assault is the plot and deals not only with this, but with consent, slut-shaming, victim blaming, and how sexual assault is handled by the criminal justice system.

With that being said, let’s dive in.

Girl Made of Stars is one of the most powerful, heartbreaking, and hopeful books I’ve ever read. I will not say it is an easy read, because the subject matter is heavy and an overwhelming problem in society, but this book puts it all on the table. Ashley Blake challenges the notion of choosing the easy way out, of being complacent, of what happens when trust is obliterated.

31351689The story opens up with a glimpse into Mara and Owen’s lives. They are twins and they are as close as expected, a pair that has always found comfort in storytelling and constellations. You immediately feel their genuine bond and their unwavering security in one another. You also get a glimpse into their family and social circles. For being teenagers, their lives have a solid foundation.

But all of this unravels quickly as Hannah, one of Mara’s closest friends, doesn’t show up to school and a phone call to her parents reveals Hannah’s family wants to sue for what Owen did to her. It doesn’t click in Mara’s head at first. Her brother wouldn’t rape anybody, let alone Hannah. On the opposite end, Hannah wouldn’t lie about being raped. Quickly, Mara is thrown into a whirlwind of not only deciphering what’s real and what’s not, but memories of her own past she hasn’t allowed herself to discuss. She is also dealing with breaking up with her girlfriend Charlie, as she doesn’t want their friendship ruined by dating.

Throughout the story, we see Mara break apart and the strings connecting her to her family and to her twin snap. We see her trying to deal with a past that has been weighing her down for so long. We see her trying to reconcile with Hannah, if there is anything she can say that will fix what her brother has done. We see her trying to figure out if she is immediately a bad person because of her brother’s actions and if there is any way to mend that relationship. We see her trying to understand love. Ashley Blake tosses us into a whirlwind as Mara breaks apart and it is up to her how she chooses to piece herself back together.  There is no easy way to deal with rape, to have the image of someone you’ve known all your life be destroyed. She is pulled in two directions: needing to be what her family wants her to be and doing what she knows is right.

This book made me angry for all the stories that get swept under the rug, for everyone this happens to without any justice.

This book made me sad because my heart broke for Mara and for Hannah and for anyone who has suffered this.

This book made me hope because Ashley Blake doesn’t leave her readers drowning in darkness and confusion and pain. She offers stepping stones, small bits of light to cling to, to pull yourself up.  She in no way makes it sound as if dealing with sexual assault is easy.

You will not forget this book. I know I won’t. It is thought provoking, emotionally challenging, and leaves you speechless. It takes a close look at sexual assault and how many people it truly affects.  It pulls at your heart strings and it is so well done.

When this book comes out – if you’re able to – pick it up and prepare yourself for a powerful narrative that needs to be read.

Xx

Megan

The Hazel Wood: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, publishing late January 2018. I received this title from Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. There will be no spoilers so don’t click away.

I heard so much going into this read and I can say this book did not disappoint. As children, fairy-tales are supposed to be comforting stories that we read, that are passed down from generation to generation. It is usually when we’re older we discover the truth behind the stories and how not everything is as perfect as we thought. Reading The Hazel Wood was very similar to this experience. It took traditional fairy-tale elements, spun them on their head, and spat out creepy, alternative versions. Needless to say, that is no reason to not read it. If anything, that is the reason you should.

35390838The book follows a teenager named Alice who hasn’t had the most stable life. Her and her mother, Ella, constantly move locations when bad luck shows itself. Alice has never known the feeling of a permanent home, but she has accepted this lifestyle. If anything, she is simply happy to have her mother around.

We learn that Alice is the granddaughter of Althea Proserpine, a woman who wrote a successful collection of fairytales, and received a cult like fame. Alice however has never met or seen the woman before. So when Alice receives news that Althea is dead, it is both a shocking and unexpected realization. She’ll never get to meet her grandmother, but she also has to wonder if her grandmother ever cared about her in the first place. Ella’s reaction is entirely different, one of relief almost. Alice doesn’t understand why, but she is given little time to process her mom’s reaction for she goes missing. Her only clue is a note that says to stay away from Hazel Wood.

It is after Alice receives the note that we plunge into a world of fantasy, darkness, and mystery. I found myself wanting to know more about Althea, but also the fairy-tales she created that took on such a following. We are given two major ones in the novel and I wanted to know them all after reading. They stick with you and you understand how Althea derived the following that she did. You can see where the seeds of obsession can grow. 

Aside from the tales, we get vivid descriptions of scenery, delicious prose, and an overall haunting vibe that paints every word you read. You also get a teenager who wants to fight for the only person she has ever had. The motivations made me sympathize greatly with Alice as well as made me root for her to succeed no matter the obstacle, no matter what awaited her.

The biggest selling point of this book is the world that Melissa Albert creates and the subversion of a typical fairy-tale. She doesn’t guarantee a happy ending nor does she guarantee a predictable read from start to finish. What she does guarantee is stepping into a world very different from our own and one that plays on how much we can trust our reality. The noise you heard, the shadow you saw, the person that looks just the slightest bit odd – are they real or are they your imagination or are they something else entirely? Overall, I could barely put this book down and if you’re into a dark fantasy read with tropes that get squashed and moved around, this is it.

The Hazel Wood gets 5/5 icicles from me. You’ll understand this reference once you dive in and read.

Do it. Do it now.

Xx
Megan