Review of The Valiant by Lesley Livingston

thevaliantcoverThe Valiant
By: Lesley Livingston
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:

Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.

Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

My Thoughts:

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston is a fiercely addictive tale pulling from the vastly untold history of female gladiators in Ancient Rome. The pacing is fast and I was immediately drawn into the writing, story and characters. There’s no time wasted before we have action and even some kissing.

We, as the reader, follow Fallon as she falls from Celtic princess to slave to a gladiatorial- fighting for her life in the colosseum. Livingston makes tangible the horror of losing the right to guide your own future by detailing what it might have been like to have been taken from your home and sold to the highest bidder. I feel that following Fallon on this journey enabled me to really feel a connection to her.

The historical details and vividly described world made it is easy to visualize what it might have been like in the time period and to feel the grit, sweat and blood of the coliseum. I loved how well the fighting was depicted and honestly I was able to play it all out like a movie while I read.

The secondary cast was well developed and I loved that historical figures such as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra were included in the story line. I loved the portrayal of Cleopatra especially. As Fallon drew closer to her sister gladiators so did I. I became entrenched in the drama between the girls. There were so many different types of characters in this story- from the powerful to the weak I loved seeing how Livingston gave them all a backstory and motivations. One of my favorites was Caius Varro. He was such a great character and I loved seeing Fallon’s feelings for him change.

Final Thoughts:
With themes of family, loyalty and betrayal interwoven with a whirl wind of intense battle scenes and a touch of romance you will be clamoring for more.

Blog Tour- Review for Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller + Giveaway

ShadowRunShadow Run
By: AdriAnne Strickland, Michael Miller
Release Date: March 21st 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: E-ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
They can steal her home. They can attack her ship. But they cannot touch her crew.

Nev just started as the cargo hauler on the starship Kaitan Heritage. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person on Alaxak to have her own ship. She’s brassy and bold, and she brooks no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. Nev can’t resist her, even if her ship is a rust bucket.

As for Nev, he’s handsome and impetuous—and Qole and the crew have no idea that he’s actually a prince in hiding. He thinks Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, but when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, he resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary. Word of Nev’s presence on board spreads quickly to other ships, however. Soon a rival royal family is after Qole, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. Before he knows it, Nev’s mission to manipulate her becomes one to save her.

To survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. Nev may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power of her own—and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

My Thoughts:
I had been really looking forward to Shadow Run since the cover revealed and I wasn’t disappointed. It was everything I wanted- adventure, great characters, snappy dialog and chemistry. What I didn’t expect was just how much I’d love the characters- especially the secondary ones. They were so well developed and I felt like part of Qole’s crew. Each member of the crew was given adequate time and personality.

Qole- wow what a character. She’s so strong and powerful but has so much internal struggles and I loved her dedication to her crew and her brother. She was so tough but also so incredibly loving. I can’t imagine how it must feel living with what she does and knowing her fate is somewhat decide. Her and Nev have such great chemistry and I loved all their scenes together. Nev was so easy for me to like- there was so much about him I could immediately discount (spoiled, his somewhat questionable approach to his goals) or hold against him but his heart. I couldn’t help but love him.

The very beginning was a tiny bit slow to me just as I tried to get myself absorbed into the world but a couple chapters in the pacing sped up and it became hard to put down. I loved the action scenes- they were so well done and I could visualize everything- the ships, planets and characters. I loved that this book sort of had a fantasy vibe in some aspects-  there are magical powers and a Prince. A Space Prince. If that’s not a selling point I don’t know what is.

Final Thoughts:
Shadow Run was a fast paced space adventure with incredible characters, dialog and chemistry. I can’t wait to read more about these characters.

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Giveaway

This is an US only giveaway. The prize (1 hardcover copy of Shadow Run) will be sent by the publisher.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Tour- Review for Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Welcome to the Strange the Dreamer blog tour! I’m the first stop and I’ll be sharing my attempt at a review. There are some books that seep into your veins and you aren’t the same after reading them- Strange the Dreamer is one of these books. I don’t feel I’m fully adequate to express myself in a review but below is my attempt. But first, let’s take a look at the book and author…

About the Book

StrangeTheDreamerStrange the Dreamer
By: Laini Taylor
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary:
A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound

ABOUT LAINI TAYLOR:

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

LINKS: Website | Twitter

My Review

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I am a long time fan of Laini Taylor’s work and couldn’t wait to get my hands on Strange the Dreamer. It lived up to every single expectation I had for it. Beautifully written, magical and a story that left me breathless. I don’t know how Taylor creates such detailed and exquisite worlds. And her characters! Just wow- Lazlo is real to me now as are all the population of Weep.

We follow Lazlo on his journey from junior librarian to Weep. He’s had a lifelong obsession with Weep and the idea of magic. To watch him realize that dream and get to experience what he’s wanted to for so long was wonderful. He also has such character growth as the story progressed. I loved reading from his view point and seeing this intricate world from his eyes.

The mystery around the city of Weep kept me completely mesmerized. I became just as enamored with it as Lazlo. I needed to know what all had happened in Weep’s past just as he did. The characters we meet in Weep are so well developed and detailed. I love the mix of dreamers, gods and myths in this book. It all ties so beautifully together.

Beyond just how intoxicating the characters and story are the writing itself is something else entirely. I can’t think of any other author that can write like Taylor can. Her words are literally magic. And because of this magical writing this book will cast a spell on you. It’s a long one- with a lot of characters and world building and you’ll want to savor it. Don’t go into this thinking it’ll be a quick read. You’ll want to take your time and really bask in the words and world.

In short- read this book as soon as possible.

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
3/20: My Friends Are Fiction – Review
3/21: Alexa Loves Reading – Bookish Style Files
3/22: Mundie Moms – Review
3/23: What Sarah Read – Review
3/24: Reading Teen – Review

Week 2:
3/27: No BS Book Reviews – Makeup Collage
3/28: YA Bibliophile – Review
3/29: The Irish Banana Review – Review
3/30: Quite the Novel Idea – Review
3/31: Fiction Fare – Review

 

Blog Tour- Traitor to the Throne Review and Giveaway

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I am so excited to be sharing my review of Traitor to the Throne as well as this giveaway. These books are just so good! I love them so. Without further ado here’s my review…

Review:

Ttraitortothethroneraitor to the Throne
By: Alwyn Hamilton
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Summary:
The sizzling, un-put-downable sequel to the bestselling Rebel of the Sands!

Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

Forget everything you thought you knew about Miraji, about the rebellion, about djinni and Jin and the Blue-Eyed Bandit. In Traitor to the Throne, the only certainty is that everything will change.

My Thoughts:
I absolutely adored Rebel of the Sands and this sequel was fabulous though it does have a much different feel than Rebel had. Rebel was all action, shooting and that fun dialog between Amani and Jin. Traitor separates these two (both on their own journeys) and there was more focus on the politics surrounding Miragi and the Sultan. I enjoyed seeing these aspects of the story and I feel that it gives us a different understanding of the world and characters.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed Jin. I love him so and he really wasn’t in this book nearly enough. I’m hoping that we’ll see much more in the next installment. I felt that it was necessary for the story to go in the direction it did and I still really love the world building and Amani. She’s such an amazing character and we really see some growth for her.

Go into this book expecting a bit of a slower story line than the first book. Rebel had me swept up and not able to put it down until I finished- this book I took more time to savor and enjoy the smaller details. Since we aren’t traveling the dessert in this book the setting takes place in a much smaller scale but this allows for the focus to be on other conflicts.

Hamilton has done such a great job with the mythology and magic in this world she’s created. I adore it and am constantly impressed with the side characters and the magic introduced.

Final Thoughts:
Traitor to the Throne has a different feel than Rebel did but I loved it. It was a slower read that was more focused more on politics and subtle character growth. Things have been set up wonderfully for the next installment which I need immediately.

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter for a chance to win one (1) grand prize set of Alwyn Hamilton’s books, including a paperback copy of Rebel of the Sands and a hardcover of Traitor to the Throne, or to win one (1) of five (5) paperback copies of Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 6, 2017 and 12:00 AM on March 27, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about March 29, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
3/6 – The YA Book Traveler – Mood Board
3/7 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A
3/8 – Love is Not a Triangle – Review
3/9 – Mundie Moms – Review + Favorite Quotes
3/10 – Butter My Books – Guest Post
Week Two:
3/13 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Guest Post
3/14 – The Eater of Books! – Favorite Quotes
3/15 – Two Chicks on Books – Author Q&A
3/16 – Lost in Lit – Review
3/17 – My Friends Are Fiction – Review
Week Three:
3/20 – The Yong Folks – Author Q&A
3/21 – The Book Addict’s Guide – Traitor Candle
3/22 – Seeing Double in Neverland – Review
3/23 – Bookworm Everlasting – Review
3/24 – Fiction Fare – Guest Post

Blog Tour- Promo Post for Well That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

WTWABanner

I admit I’ve not yet read Well That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail but just look at that cute cover. And the title! I’m very eager to read this one and find out what exactly is so very awkward.

wellthatwasawkwardWell That Was Awkward
By: Rachel Vail
Release Date: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Summary:

Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can’t breathe, can’t walk, can’t anything and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.
It turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie’s beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J. s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She’s had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.
It s all good. Well, almost all. She’s trying.

About the Author

RachelVailRachel Vail is the award-winning author of more than 30 books for young people. As a theater lover, Rachel sees and reads as many plays as she can. Well, That Was Awkward was in part inspired by her love of the play Cyrano – another tale of secrets, wit, self-confidence, self-loathing, friendship, identity-hiding, and romance that blossoms between all the wrong people. Or does it?

Rachel lives in New York City with her husband, their two sons, and (like Gracie) a tortoise named Lightning.

You can visit her online at www.RachelVail.com or on Twitter: @rachelvailbooks

Tour Schedule

Week One
2/27 – Here’s to Happy Endings – Bookish Recipe
2/28 – YA Book Central – Excerpt
3/1 – Margie’s Must Reads – Author Guest Post
3/2 – Crafty Moms Share – Review
3/3 – Once Upon a Twilight – Guest Post
Week Two
3/6 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Author Guest Post
3/7 – ButterMyBooks – Quote Graphics
3/8 – Stories & Sweeties – Spotlight
3/9 – Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Guest Post
3/10 – My Friends Are Fiction – Spotlight