Bruja Born: A Review

Hi Readers & Writers,

I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova due to publish June 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. After reading and falling in love with Labyrinth Lost, you couldn’t imagine how excited I was to follow another one of the Mortiz sisters.

Note: There will be no spoilers so no need to click away. 

1.PNGWhereas Labyrinth Lost followed Alex Mortiz, Bruja Born follows her eldest sister Lula who is still adjusting to the fact her sister is an Encantrix and sent her along with the rest of her family to another world. Lula’s relationship with her sister is a complicated one and often met with tension. She prefers to dive into any other part of her life including school and her boyfriend Maks. When their relationship goes south, Lula is devastated, but has little time to process it when their school bus crashes leaving all of her classmates, including Maks, dead. Given the power to heal, Lula believes she can fix the damage she’s done – unprepared for the consequences.

If anyone knows my reading preferences, they’ll know I love a dark novel and Bruja Born was crafted out of shadows and darkness. I mean, it’s kind of about death (you’ve been warned in advance). Not only did it have fantastic prose, but you were able to see the desperation of Lula as she tried to save her boyfriend, the complexity between her and her family, the strength of her magic, but most importantly, her humanity. Love is a powerful emotion and when you combine that with the ability to heal, you can see where lines cross. Lula doesn’t always make the best choices, but you understand where she’s coming from.

I felt as if Bruja Born had an entirely different atmosphere than Labyrinth Lost, but it makes sense because so much has happened to this family since the first book. Though not exactly a sequel, it happens after the events of Los Lagos. You see the trauma of what Alex did ripple through the family, but also problems the family had yet to resolve in the beginning. These come out as Lula creates an even bigger conflict that throws her family, the magical community, and the world in danger.

I found Bruja Born tugging at my heart strings more often than once and it put Lula in front of beyond difficult situations. How do you fix what you’ve broken? How do you get over someone you love? How do you get past what hurt you? The world is never black and white and Zoraida does an amazing job crafting that for the reader. I devoured this book and was thrown on a roller-coaster of twists, turns, and emotions I hadn’t expected. You even get to revisit some old characters like Nova, but also learn a lot about other characters like Rose.

If you were hesitant about picking up this book, put that fear aside. You’re going to dive into a whole new story, but one that is well crafted and heartfelt.

Xx
Megan

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Relative Strangers: A Review

I was super fortunate to receive a copy of Relative Strangers from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. This book is due out April 10th, 2018 and I highly recommend picking up your copy or doing the author a favor and preordering it.

No spoilers below!

Paula Garner left an impact on me after I read her debut, Phantom Limbs. She had a unique way of tugging at my heart strings. I devoured her book in one sitting and had to not cry in a car ride. It was a fun time. Relative Strangers had this same kind of emotional tug.

1This book is vastly different than Phantom Limbs as it explores a relationship between Jules, her mother, and a life she had never known about – particularly that she was in foster care for some time as a toddler. The plot not only centers around finding out what happened to her, but delves into her connection to her foster family, a complicated bond between mother and daughter, and how this shapes Jules as a person.

What I liked about Jules is the conflict within her, how things didn’t just settle into place, but was something she needed to explore in order to move on and craft a bridge between her past, present, and future. She makes some horrible decisions, but this demonstrates her conflict, her humanity, and her youth. I thought Garner did a great job with drawing on how emotionally taxing the revelation was to Jules and the people involved. Though this book may be short, it packs quite a punch to the heart. 

Also, I want to give a shout out to one of the secondary characters, Eli, because we need to protect him forever and his cuteness. When you read this book, you’ll understand what I mean.

Overall, this was a great read and Garner is definitely on my list of authors to watch.

Xx

Megan

History and Vikings with Adrienne Young

Hello Readers & Writers,

Joining me on the blog today is Adrienne Young, author of Sky in the Deep which comes out April 24th, 2018 from Wednesday Books. This is Adrienne’s debut novel and I couldn’t be more than excited for it as I’ve heard it’s a brutal and enticing story. Also, it has vikings which is cool!

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Sky in the Deep.

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Seventeen-year-old Eelyn’s world is war. Raised to fight alongside her Aska clansmen in a generations-old blood feud against the Riki, her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki if she wants to make it back to the fjord after the thaw. But when she begins to see herself in the people she’s been taught to hate, the world Eelyn once knew begins to crumble. And after the village is raided by a ruthless clan many believe to be a myth, Eelyn is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend who has tried more than once to kill her. Together, they must end the blood feud between their clans or watch their people be slaughtered.

A lush, Viking-age inspired fantasy about loyalty, forgiveness, and the definition of family.

Where to Buy: 

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Audible // Indiebound // Powells

Book Depository // Books-A-Million

Q1: Before we start off, I want to give a huge thank you to you, Adrienne, for joining me on the blog! It’s great to have you. To kick things off, your bio mentions you have a love for history. If you could travel to any point in time, what would it be?

Adrienne: Oh geez, this is an impossible question… so I’ll pick three. The African “rebirth” period during Europe’s Dark Ages when the great kingdoms of Africa reigned, the Pacific Northwest before North America was colonized, and the French Revolution.

Q2: How did the idea of Sky in the Deep develop? Was it something that happened over time or an idea that kept nagging at you or something else?

Adrienne: The idea for this story literally hit me like a train. I was driving in the rain and the image of Eelyn on the battlefield, seeing the brother she thought was dead just appeared to me. It was all-consuming. I didn’t know what was going to happen in the story, but I knew how it began and I just started writing and didn’t stop.

Q3: What was the biggest challenge you faced writing Sky in the Deep?

Adrienne: It was a challenge capturing Eelyn’s internal process dealing with her brother’s betrayal because it was complicated and it’s not black and white. She had to go through a lot of emotions and even in the end, it’s not necessarily resolved. That was a hard decision to make as a writer to not button that up completely, but it was true to the character.

Q4: What’s a major theme of Sky in The Deep?

Adrienne: So, when I wrote this book, I was going through some major life stuff that really inspired me to change the way I saw the world and to let go of some things that had defined me for a long time. I think that is totally reflected in this story. It’s a really terrifying process to confront your own beliefs and worldviews and realize that you don’t want to hold onto them anymore. That’s exactly what Eelyn does. And she’s brave enough to change her life and the way she lives.

Q5: What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Adrienne: Pretty much what I said above, that just because you were taught something or you picked up a way to see the world somewhere along the way, that doesn’t mean you can’t change and grow. You aren’t letting go of yourself by letting go of things that keep you from love and freedom.

Q6: Describe Sky in the Deep in three words.

Adrienne: Brutal. Beautiful. Brave.

Q7: Is there another time period of history you would love to explore in an upcoming story?

Adrienne: I’d love to write something inspired by the Transnationalism Movement in the 1800’s in New England.

Q8: Favorite drink?

Adrienne: Cold brew coffee with a little cream.

Q9: Tell us a fun fact!

Adrienne: I love pie. All kinds. There are few things in life that make me happier than pie.

About the Author

 

Author-PicAdrienne Young is a born and bred Texan turned California girl. She is a foodie with a deep love of history and travel and a shameless addiction to coffee. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, scouring antique fairs for old books, sipping wine over long dinners, or disappearing into her favorite art museums. She lives with her documentary filmmaker husband and their four little wildlings beneath the West Coast sun.

 

Website: https://www.adrienneyoungbooks.com
Twitter: @adriennebooks
Instagram: @adrienneyoungbooks

So if you haven’t heard of Sky in the Deep, now you have and if you haven’t pre-ordered it yet, what are you doing?? This book is going to blow your socks off. (Is this cheesy? Probably, but I’m so excited for this.)

And once again, a huge thank you to Adrienne for joining me on the blog!

Till Next Time,

xx
Megan

Time Bomb: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Today I will be reviewing Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau which is due out March 13th, 2018 from HMH Books for Young Readers. I was sent a galley in exchange for an honest review.

It is important for readers to know that this book contains mentions of: terrorism, Islamophobia, death, cancer, suicide along with suicide ideation, and blood.

This book has been circulating around my twitter for quite some time and I was immediately drawn in by the promise of a multi-faceted, thrilling young adult novel. After having devoured this in a day, I can say that Joelle does not disappoint. Time Bomb is fast paced and doesn’t leave you waiting long to launch into the story. We are given six points of views, each a different character who we wind up following as a bomb rips through their school. Joelle gives everyone a questionable motive to be at the school and while I figured out who caused the destruction early on, it is not an easy task. There are a lot of curve-balls and distractions that are meant to push the blame onto someone else and distract you from looking at the real culprit.

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However, this book is more than just a guessing game as to who set off a bomb. Time Bomb forces a reader to confront stereotypes, racism, and the political dialogue behind these kinds of attacks. For example, Rashid, despite having conflicts with his faith, is a practicing Muslim and a lot of his story arc is dealing with Islamophobia and how he wishes people would separate him from his religion. On the other hand, he also wishes more people would take the time to understand what his religion teaches. He pushes back against harmful accusations and ridicule and is one of the more compelling characters. We also have Diana, the daughter of a senator, who brutally points out that rescuers and the media will be talking about her and the group she’s with because of her relation to politics.

Joelle does her best to examine the framework of the media with these kinds of attacks and does not handle the material lightly. This is a book that will stick with you because of the honesty that is unraveled at your feet. She forces not only the reader, but her characters to confront what they may know about people and what comes from society’s expectation of people: what they should be like, how they should present themselves, and how we need to untangle our discourse from our prejudices and in some cases, blatant racism.

My only main critique of this book was I felt as if some of the points of view were not as developed as others and some motives may not have been as clear as they could have been, but overall, Time Bomb is a book that will stick with me. It could open up some important conversations that need to be had.

This gets 4/5 stars from me!

Till Next Time,

Xx

Megan

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