Review: You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

33155334You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Release date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, historical fiction
Format: eBook

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Five girls. Three generations. One great American love story. You Bring the Distant Near explores sisterhood, first loves, friendship, and the inheritance of culture–for better or worse. Ranee, worried that her children are losing their Indian culture; Sonia, wrapped up in a forbidden biracial love affair; Tara, seeking the limelight to hide her true self; Shanti, desperately trying to make peace in the family; Anna, fighting to preserve her Bengali identity–award-winning author Mitali Perkins weaves together a sweeping story of five women at once intimately relatable and yet entirely new.

I can’t believe that I downloaded this book from NetGalley and then completely forgot about it. It was one of those books that I heard so many positive things about and couldn’t wait to read. What happened…I have no idea! I’m just so happy that I rediscovered it on my iPad because this book was absolutely beautiful!

The story focuses on the lives of five women from the Das family. It begins in the 1960s and works its way to the modern day. The book is very character driven and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about each of the characters. They were all so different from each other with their own unique voices, perspectives, dreams and ways of approaching the world around them. They all felt so real and I could help but be drawn into their lives. None of the characters were perfect, instead they were flawed, made mistakes and dealt with the consequences. It truly felt like I knew them and that takes some masterful writing!

Talking about the writing, it was vivid and emotional. I particularly enjoyed how Bengali culture was woven into the story. I am not very familiar with the culture, but that didn’t matter to my understanding or enjoyment. Instead, the author explains key words or concepts without slowing down or taking away from the story. Culture is one of the central themes of the story and I liked how each character approached it in a different way. Basically, there is no right or wrong way to live and embrace your culture. It’s unique to each person and changes based on their beliefs and life experiences.

The only issue I had with the book was its pacing. It took me quite sometime to read through it. This is mostly because there isn’t a whole lot of action. It is very much a book that looks into the inner thoughts of a character. I often read a section, put it down and then came back to it. It’s definitely not a page turner or a book that will keep you up all night, but that by no means took away from how much I liked it. It’s not advertised or meant to be an action adventure novel.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to people looking for an own voices diverse read. I haven’t read any of the author’s other novels, but will for sure check them out in the near future. Her way of writing is magical and if they are anything like this gem I’m in for a real treat!


About the Author

21129Mitali Perkins has written several novels for young readers, including You Bring the Distant Near (nominated for the National Book Award), Rickshaw Girl (a NYPL best 100 Book for children in the past 100 years), Bamboo People (an ALA Top 10 YA novel), and Tiger Boy, which won the South Asia Book Award for Younger Readers. She currently writes and resides in San Francisco.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Review: Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

33509076Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Release date: September 5th, 2017
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance

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A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel is a perfect example of why I should never judge a book by its synopsis. When this book was first released I was offered a chance to read it and I passed. It really didn’t sound like something that I would want to read. However, when I received a chance to join the blog tour for its companion novel, Keeper of the Bees, I decided to give this novel a chance and I’m so happy that I did! I ended up becoming completely addicted to it…I just couldn’t stop reading! So, if you haven’t given Black Bird of the Gallows a read, I highly recommend that you do as soon as possible!

The story focuses on Angie Dovage, a teenage girl who has had a pretty rough life. Her mother is a drug addict and dragged poor Angie from one drug den or random house to another. Now, she’s living with her father and completely fascinated with the new next door neighbours. She becomes close friends with their son Reece, however, things aren’t as they initially seem. Reece has many secrets which could completely destroy everything Angie loves.

I really enjoyed how the book had a very dark and eerie feel to it. The world created by Kassel was interesting and the mystery established at the beginning of the story continues throughout. You just never really know what will happen next. The mythology was one of those mysterious areas that I though was really well written. It was unique and revealed in a manner that didn’t feel like info dumping. Plus, I finished the book with a sense of really knowing and understanding the world the characters resided in. Sometimes that’s a major issue with fantasy worlds…things are too complicated or rushed and a proper explanation is sacrificed for pushing the plot forward. I’m so glad that that wasn’t the case with this book!

I really appreciated how the book avoided an insta-romance between Angie and Reece. Everything started out slow with the two characters building a believable friendship. I did take issue with how the progression of the relationship was a bit rushed in the middle, but overall I really liked these two characters together. There was a lot of tension between them and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it!

I highly recommend this book to fans of paranormal romance, dark stories and mysteries. I’m very much looking forward to picking up the book’s companion novel very soon!

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About the Author

8353652Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before embracing her true passion, writing. She now lives in a log house in the Maine woods with her family, and is busy at work on her next novel. A fan of ’80s cartoons, original Netflix series, daydreaming, and ancient mythology, Meg has always been fascinated and inspired by the fantastic, the creepy, and the futuristic. When she’s not writing, Meg is reading, hanging out with her husband and daughter, hiding her peanut butter cups, or walking her rescue mutt, Luna. She is a two-time finalist and the 2016 YA winner of the RWA Golden Heart© contest. Her debut novel, Black Bird of the Gallows, was released in 2017.

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The ABC Book Challenge | “G”

Book Blitz_I absolutely love everything about this challenge/tag! I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to start it right away. Each week I’ll be posting another letter of the alphabet. So, be prepared for lots of posts in this series! 🙂


Memorable Titles That Start With “G”

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi was so much fun to read! It kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. It had tons of action, friendships, ghosts, talking lizards…like what more could you want? The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is one of my all time favourite books. Everything about it intrigued me and totally influenced my love of all things fantasy. My other love is historical fiction and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows is a perfect example of the genre done right. I can’t wait to watch the film version of it really soon!

Books Starting With “G” On My TBR

I have loved everything Roshani Chokshi has released so far, so I have extremely high expectations for The Gilded Wolves when its released in January 2019. My fingers are still crossed in hopes of receiving an eARC on NetGalley. I keep on saying that I’m going to start Graceling by Kristin Cashore, but just haven’t actually done so. Why? I have no idea. It has everything I adore in a book: magic, adventure, romance and political intrigue. Finally, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers has been on TBR since 2015. Yes, I know that’s a long time. It’s one of those books I really want to read but there’s always something else that steals my time away. Soon…hopefully soon!


Which memorable books that start with an “G” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤

ARC Review | The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

390787381The Navigator’s Touch by Julia Ember

Release date: September 13th, 2018
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Format: eBook

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After invaders destroyed her village, murdered her family, and took her prisoner, shield-maiden Ragna is hungry for revenge. A trained warrior, she is ready to fight for her home, but with only a mermaid and a crew of disloyal mercenaries to aid her, Ragna knows she needs new allies. Guided by the magical maps on her skin, battling storms and mutiny, Ragna sets sail across the Northern Sea.

She petitions the Jarl in Skjordal for aid, but despite Ragna’s rank and fighting ability, the Jarl sees only a young girl, too inexperienced to lead, unworthy of help. To prove herself to the Jarl and win her crew’s respect, Ragna undertakes a dangerous expedition. But when forced to decide between her own freedom and the fate of her crew, what will she sacrifice to save what’s left of her home?

Seeing this book posted to NetGalley made me the happiest person ever. I’ve been anxiously waiting for this sequel/companion novel since Julia Ember announced it. I loved The Seafarer’s Kiss…it was absolutely magical with mermaids, Norse gods and a whole range of diverse characters. I’ve stated over and over again that Ember’s writing just gets better and better with each book she releases and this novel was no exception. She’s really outdone herself with The Navigator’s Touch. I simply loved this book and know that I will re-read it again in the near future.

Before I actually start this review, I want to point out that The Navigator’s Touch can be read either as a sequel to The Seafarer’s Kiss or a companion novel. You don’t have to read the first book to understand and enjoy the second one. Like, it’s nice to already know the world and the characters, but Ember does an excellent job catching readers up without it feeling like a review or rehash of what has already been read. That said, you really, really should read The Seafarer’s Kiss because it’s a fantastic book that deserves all of the love in the world.

The story in this book is told from Ragna’s perspective, which means it has a completely different feel and tone. The focus here is on revenge and violence. Ragna is a totally badass Viking shield maiden who has magical shape shifting tattoos that act as a guide or compass (hence the title of the book). The plot primarily revolves around her wanting to punish the men that attacked her village and killed her family. However, this need for vengeance often causes her problems and isolates her from the people who support and love her. She’s an extremely flawed character and I love her all the more for it. Throughout her journey she really learns a lot about herself and I love stories like this. I think from time to time we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Ragna and that’s what makes her such an interesting character. What also stood out for me was her background story. We learn a little bit more about the tricker god Loki and Ragna’s family, especially her mother. Connecting the dots between characters, places and stories further added it the book’s worldbuilding. I love the mixture of the Viking world, Norse gods and mythology involving mermaids and monsters.

One thing I missed from the first book was Ersel, a shape shifting mermaid who rescued Ragna and fell in love with her in The Seafarer’s Kiss. She was very much a secondary character and often forgotten about. I would have liked more mermaid scenes but I totally understand that this wasn’t her “time”. She had her own book that told her story. However, I’m pretty sure we will see a lot more of her next time because of the way the book ended. I really hope we will be getting a third book in the series. THAT ENDING FLOORED ME! I need more from these characters and their world!!!!

A nice added touch were the content warnings for each chapter listed at the end of the book and online. There are scenes that could be very difficult for readers to read, especially since so much of Ragna’s story involves violence. There’s a particular chapter near the end of The Navigator’s Touch that was extremely violent. I think more books should have a resource like this as it improves the reading experience for everyone. Well done to the author and the publisher!

I cannot recommend this book enough. Like, I don’t even have the words to write a review that can do it justice. You really need to read it (and its predecessor) as soon as possible! So, if you enjoy books inspired by the Viking world, female/female romances, Norse gods, badass/battle axe-wielding women and lots of action, go pre-order it now!


About the Author

15037326_10157714059105285_2165799410648686596_nOriginally from Chicago, Julia Ember now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. She lives with partner and their city based menagerie of pets with Harry Potter themed names. Luna Lovegood and Sirius Black the cats currently run her life. Julia is a bisexual writer and regularly takes part in events for queer teens.

Julia began writing at the age of nine, when her short story about two princesses and their horses won a contest in Touch magazine. In 2016, she published her first novella, Unicorn Tracks, with Harmony Ink Press. It also focused on two girls and their equines, albeit those with horns. Unicorn Tracks was a finalist in the Florida Authors and Publishers’ Association awards for Young Adult fiction. Her first novel, The Seafarer’s Kiss, was released by Interlude Press in May 2017. It was heavily influenced by her postgraduate work in Medieval literature at the University of St. Andrews. It is now responsible for her total obsession with beluga whales.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

 

Review: Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

34865933Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer
Release date: August 31st, 2017
Publisher: Talem Press
Genres: Young adult, fantasy

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In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.

The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

I discovered this book through a blog tour on Twitter. I was simply scrolling through my feed and saw the cover for the sequel, Reign of Mist, and was stunned by how beautiful it looked. So, when I was selected to become a tour host for Reign of Mist and received a copy of this book I was beyond excited!

Heart of Mist is a stunning fantasy novel that had me hooked from the very first few pages. As I read through it I kept on wondering why hadn’t I heard of it before?!?! Where had I been?!?! I had certainly been missing out! The book takes place in a world that is under constant threat from a rapidly spreading mysterious toxic mist. Those who enter it, whether on their own or at sword point, never return. On top of that, in this world magic is only reserved for royalty. A horrible death is reserved for anyone else found possessing it, which is why the lead character, Bleak, has to try her hardest to hide her magical powers. She mostly does so through alcohol until she’s turned over to the king’s soldiers and forced to leave her home and all she’s ever known.

This was the first young adult novel that I’ve read that has featured a protagonist with a drinking problem. Alcoholism is not something you see openly discussed in a lot of YA books. Drinking is usually just mentioned as something that happens at parties or part of a normal medieval inspired world. Speaking of the main characters, Bleak really lived up to her name. She really had been through a lot and turned to drinking as a way to shut out her nightmares and the magic that she possessed. At first I was a bit annoyed by Bleak because she was so down on herself. Even when people tried to help her she pushed them away. She most definitely wasn’t a perfect character but I grew to appreciate that as I read on. I especially liked how when her behaviour got her and those around her in trouble, she was more than willing to earn up to it and learn from her mistakes.

While Heart of Mist mostly focuses on Bleak, the chapters were told through multiple points of view. I really enjoyed seeing what each character thought because they were all unique and very different from each other. It was fun making connections between them and weaving their stories together. Each character had a secret and unrevealing their stories kept me turning the pages wanting to know more and more.

Besides addiction, the book also tackles important topics such as feminism, mental and physical disabilities, abuse of power and corruption. While it’s a fantasy novel set in a made up world, I truly believe that we can learn a lot from how the characters act and are portrayed. I especially loved how women took centre stage in this book. On her journey, Bleak meets the Valian kindred, a society of completely fearless warrior women who defy the king in a variety of ways. I want to say more about them but this is a spoiler-free review. You really just have to read this book to learn more!

I, with all of my heart, highly recommend this complex and beautiful book to all fans of YA fantasy. I absolutely adored everything about it: the world building, characters, political intrigue, social commentary. I wasn’t planning on reading the sequel right away but I just can’t leave the world and character just yet. Time to read Reign of Mist!

** Also, as a side note, you can download five free prequels to Heart of Mist on the author’s website.


About the Author:

Author photo (Helen) coloredHelen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. It explores themes of identity, belonging, loyalty, addiction, loss, and responsibility.

Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit (www.writersedit.com), an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world.

Helen’s love of writing and books led her to pursue a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong and a Masters of Publishing at the University of Sydney.

Helen is now a full-time author living by the beach.

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The ABC Book Challenge | “F”

Book Blitz_It’s been a while since I’ve added to this tag! Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about it. Anyway, I saw this on Life of a Literary Nerd and was super excited to start it right away. Each week I’ll be posting another letter of the alphabet. So, be prepared for lots of posts in this series! 🙂


Memorable Titles That Start With “F”

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury is a retelling of Aladdin with a twist. I loved every single thing about this book…the romance, the adventure, the magic. Did I say the romance? *swoon* Sarah Glenn Marsh’s Fear the Drowning Deep was one of the very first physical books that I received for review. I loved how it blended historical fiction, mythology and magic. Faith and Moonlight is a novella by Mark Gelineau and Joe King. I really wish the authors would have finished with the series. I want to know what happens next, but they haven’t released anything since 2016.

Books Starting With “F” On My TBR

The Falconer by Elizabeth May has been on my TBR for quite sometime now. I love the fact that it blends steampunk technology and Scottish folklore. I really need to move it further up my list of must read books for this year! I automatically added Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao to my TBR when I read its synopsis, however, its cover is less than exciting. The green just doesn’t do it for me! I found The Freemason’s Daughter by Shelley Sackier while browsing through YA historical fiction lists on Goodreads. Again, I love how it takes place in Scotland. I currently have it on my TBR for the 20 Books of Summer challenge.


Which memorable books that start with an “F” have you read? Have you read any of the books included above? What were your thoughts about them? ❤

Book Blogger Test Tag

Book Blitz_

I’m having so much fun doing tags right now! Thanks so much to Read It & Weep for tagging me. Please go check out their lovely blog when you have a chance! ❤


The Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
2. Answer the questions asked on this post — don’t stress it’s quick!
3. Nominate and notify some peeps. 5 preferred.


The Questions:

1. What are your top 3 bookish pet peeves?

  • Cover changes mid-series. Like really?!?!
  • Love triangles or squares
  • Insta-love

2. Name a perfect reading spot.

When I was recently on vacation, I loved reading outside on the beach just before sunset. It was so peaceful listening to the waves roll in. All of the people had pretty much gone back to their rooms for dinner and the heat had died down. The cool breeze was so refreshing. I wish I could read there every evening!

3. Give 3 reading confessions:

  • I’m terrible at making TBRs. I never stick to them because I’m such a mood reader. However, I still keep on making them. I don’t even know why!
  • If I’m not really feeling a book (especially ones with alternating POVs), I’ll skim through parts/POVs that don’t really interest me.
  • I try to read to at least 45% before DNFing a book, but I can usually tell if I’m going to enjoy a book within the first few pages. It’s something about how the author writes…the flow, style and how the characters sound.

4. When was the last time you cried during a book?

I cried and cried while reading The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace.  There’s just something about that poetry collection that pulls at my heart. It was the same when I read its predecessor The Princess Saves Herself in This One.

5. Number of books on your bedside table?

Right now, I have two books on my bedside table:

  • The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One
  • What to Expect the First Year

I used to have a lot more but I moved them to my new area in our family library. My room was becoming too crowded and messy with books everywhere.

6. Favorite reading snack?

I don’t usually eat while reading unless I’m out somewhere by myself. Instead, I usually read while drinking a cup of tea or coffee.

7. What are 3 books you’d recommend to anyone?

Whoa…”anyone” is very broad. I just can’t recommend a random book to someone. I always struggle to give recommendations to friends and family members because I always want them to enjoy the book I tell them to read. The book is something I loved and enjoyed and I just really want them to feel the same way. So, knowing what they like, their interests, etc. is really important. For example, I may love reading fantasy but I would never recommend that to my dad. He’s more of a non-fiction, biography book kind of guy. Also, some books due to their subject matter aren’t for everyone as they could be hurtful or triggering. So, that’s also important to keep in mind when recommending books. It’s just a really complicated thing!

8. Provide a picture of your bookshelf:

It’s a work in progress! I’m still moving books and bookish items from my bedroom to the family library.

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9. How much do books mean to you in 3 words?

It’s really difficult to summarize how much they mean to me in 3 words! Let’s see…escape from reality. I love reading because I’m able to leave behind the things that are stressing me out or causing me anxiety. Reading has exposed me to so many different cultures, ideas and points of view. I honestly believe that it has made me a better, more open and empathetic person. That’s why I’m always trying to get friends, family members and my students to read. It has so many benefits, plus it’s tons of fun!

10. Biggest reading secret?

I never DNFed a book until I started blogging. It never even crossed my mind before. However, once I started accepting review requests and going on NetGalley binges things changed. I always try to give a book a chance and will read to around the 45% point. It breaks my heart giving up on a book, but there just isn’t enough time to struggle through something that you don’t enjoy. What’s the point? Prior to blogging, I always stuck to books that I knew I would enjoy. Right now, I try to branch out or take chances on books or authors I’ve never heard of before. The majority of the time it works out and I’ve discovered so many amazing books that way. However, this also means that some don’t work out hence the DNFing.


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