Review of Given to the Sea by Mindy McGinnis

GiventotheSea

Given to the Sea
By: Mindy McGinnis
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Putnam’s Childrens
Format: E-Arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Everyone has a place.

Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart.

While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer.

My Thoughts:
I really love that McGinnis’ style and genre changes for each book she releases. When I saw she was venturing into fantasy I had to have this book. It was a tad different than I expected but it did have some of the McGinnis trade marks- it wasn’t an overly happy story and it had a complex world. The story was told from 4 point of views. I am a fan of multiple POV so I didn’t have trouble with this though I did sort of mix up a character or two. For some reason the Witt story line had me confused each time it went to his chapters. I don’t know if I couldn’t get a good feel for his character or what but I was always having to remind myself who he was.

I thought at first that I would enjoy Khosa’s character the most but I never did really connect to her. I thought the idea of her family history and her draw to the sea was so interesting though. What a completely original story idea! Her constant draw, even against her will, to the ocean was mesmerizing. The fact that she felt dancing in her bones and the need to dance to her death? Wow, that’s dark and awesome.

The characters I really grew to like were Dara and Donil. The fact that they were the last of their race was so sad to me. I loved their magical abilities and how much it really weighed on them and their actions. The unrequited love Dara felt had my heart breaking for her. Really- they just had such a sad story.

Vincent was likeable and easy to read about. I enjoyed his POV and I might have felt he was the easiest to connect to. With the combination of all these characters and their stories it was a really complex storyline. I admit, there were times I wasn’t sure what was happening! I still felt the draw to continue reading regardless.

Final Thoughts:
Given to the Sea wasn’t what I expected exactly but regardless I found the characters and story to be incredibly interesting even if I didn’t follow everything throughout my entire read. It all pulled together and the further I read the more I could grasp the world and reasoning behind character’s actions. As with most McGinnis books, this one wasn’t overly happy but it had a realistic quality to it that I really appreciated.

Review of Duels and Deception by Cindy Anstey

DuelandDeceptionDuels and Deception
By: Cindy Anstey
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Format: Print arc
Source: Publisher

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Miss Lydia Whitfield, heiress to the family fortune, has her future entirely planned out. She will run the family estate until she marries the man of her late father’s choosing, and then she will spend the rest of her days as a devoted wife. Confident in those arrangements, Lydia has tasked her young law clerk, Mr. Robert Newton, to begin drawing up the marriage contracts. Everything is going according to plan.

Until Lydia—and Robert along with her—is kidnapped. Someone is after her fortune and won’t hesitate to destroy her reputation to get it. With Robert’s help, Lydia strives to keep her family’s good name intact and expose whoever is behind the devious plot. But as their investigation delves deeper and their affections for each other grow, Lydia starts to wonder whether her carefully planned future is in fact what she truly wants…

My Thoughts:
Duels and Deception was exactly what I expected and wanted! It was a fast, fun read that had that Jane Austen feel and such a cute story. Have you read any of Tessa Dare’s historical romance novels? This book had that feel but for a YA audience.

The pacing was quick and this was one of those books that’s perfect for vacation reading, waiting for an appointment- really- the kind of book you stick in your purse and read whenever you get a few minutes. The driving force in this novel was by far the characters and the chemistry they have with one another. I immediately liked the main character Miss Lydia Whitfield. She’s pragmatic and knows exactly what she wants out of life. She’s got everything planned (if only others would play by her rules a little easier).

The law clerk, Mr. Rober Newton, was so cute. I shipped these two quickly and looked forward to their interactions. I loved their misadventures and how they brought out the best in one another.

This book wasn’t overly mysterious- I thought it was obvious what the outcome would be but that didn’t diminish the fun of reading for me at all. It was, as they say, the journey that mattered and not the destination. Reading about these two characters was so much fun. I loved the historical setting and felt that the author did a great job of taking the reader there.

Final Thoughts:
Duels and Deception was an adorable read with quirky characters you love and a fun story line. It’s a standalone and perfect for a vacation read or something quick to pick you out of a reading slump.

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.

9bb73e1423892fa24fffc96b3be37892

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

StrangeIG

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