Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

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.

36347830Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
Release date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Format: eBook

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Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

This was a difficult book to review because while I enjoyed parts of it, others left me wanting something more, like it was incomplete and didn’t reach its full potential. It was definitely a book of ups and downs, which makes me rather sad because it could have been amazing.

The book had many beautifully written sections that were lushly described and almost lyrical. These fired up my imagination and completely engrossed me in the story. However, other parts were basically just tell, tell and tell. This character has a wonderful family, two brothers….but we never meet these people. We never actually get to see examples of this wonderful family. So many aspects of the book are written this way and if we were actually shown things rather than told, I truly believe it would have been more believable and I would have felt more of a connection to the characters.

Talking about the characters, they seemed too perfect to me. The female lead, Jasminda, was pleasant to read about. She was strong, brave and empathetic. Her love interest, Jack, was so kind and understanding. Together, their romance was very unbelievable, at least for me. Maybe it’s because I don’t like the whole destined to be together forever, true love conquers all thing? *shrugs* A lot of their interactions were kind of silly, with cheesy one-liners. The whole thing felt like a bit too much.

The book could have went in a very different direction and as a result missed out on opportunities to discuss racism and xenophobia. Jasminda lives in a world where the people appear to be predominately white, like her love interest Jack. The beginning of the story kind of touched on how she and her people were discriminated against and how hard it was for her and Jack to be together, but the message isn’t clear. It gets lost in the love story, which completely dominates everything else. Yes, it’s fantasy, but I wish more fantasy books would focus on topics that impact the real world.

The last few chapters in the story felt quite rushed and were basically a set-up for the sequel. While it had moments of amazingness I don’t think I’ll be picking up the next book anytime soon.


About the Author

9870934L. Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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Bout of Books Wrap-Up

December Wrap Up

The latest round of the read-a-thon Bout of Books has just ended. I’m extremely pleased with myself. I was actually able to read almost all of the books on my TBR and even wrote reviews for them (which will be posted soon)!


What is Bout of Books?

The Bout of Books is read-a-thon organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It began on Monday, May 14th and ended on Sunday, May 20th. Bout of Books is a low-pressure read-a-thon. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional.


What I Read:

  • Sister’s Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud: This poetry collection was an emotional rollercoaster. It tackles some very tough topics such as genocide, war, racism and prejudice in a very honest and brutal manner. While it was difficult to read at times, I’m glad that I did. I look forward to seeing more from this author. screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-2-02-59-pm-copy
  • Star-Touched Stories by Roshani Chokshi: This collection of short stories was beyond beautiful. I love everything that Chokshi writes! It was magical, romantic, heartbreaking and exceeded all of my expectations. A must read for fans of the full-length novels The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of WishesScreen Shot 2017-02-19 at 2.02.59 PM
  • Waiting on a Bright Moon by J.Y. Yang: I’ve been meaning to read this short story for a long time. It’s completely unique and unlike anything that I’ve read before. I’m always amazed at how people can fit so many complex ideas into less than 50 or so pages and have it all completely click into place. I’ve added a bunch of the author’s other short stories to my TBR. I’m completely intrigued by their ideas. Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 2.02.59 PM copy 5

I also started Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed but ran out of time to finish it. I’m on page 193 and hope to have time to read the rest of it in the next few days. So far, I am really enjoying it. It completely deserves all of the positive reviews that its been receiving. 🙂

Did you participate in Bout of Books? What did you read? 

Review: Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

I received this book for free from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

34733250Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor
Release date: September 12th, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, romance
Format: ARC (paperback)

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Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to make the first move, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy is not going to know what hit him.

Prior to reading this absolutely wonderful novella I had never picked up anything by Laini Taylor. An early copy of it arrived in the mail ages ago and I kind of forgot about it which was my loss because I loved it so, so much! I now NEED to pick up the series that it belongs to ASAP!

The story filled me with such happiness. It was adorable and reminded me of being a teenager, trying to deal with a huge crush and just ending up being dorky. The story revolves around Zuzana, a girl who has made it her mission to attract the attention of her crush, Mik. I absolutely adored Zuzana! She’s a bit strange, lover of all things dark and magical and small for her age. She totally embraces who she is and I thought that was wonderful. I also enjoyed her interactions with Mik, which were awkward and had me smiling ear to ear. These two were so darn cute together! My heart just melts thinking about it.

This particular version also featured very cool illustrations by taylor’s husband, Jim Di Bartolo. While not all completed in the ARC that I received, they were perfect for the story and characters. It was great to see the characters and the magical world that they inhabit come to life as I turned the page. I really need to pick up a finished version because I’m very curious to see how they turned out.

This short story was simply magical from start to finish! Whether you are a fan of Taylor’s work or want a taste of her writing, this novella is one that you must read. I just bought a copy of Daughter of Smoke & Bone (the first in the series that this novella belongs to) and can’t wait to start reading it. I need more of Zuzana and Mik right now!!!!


About the Author

324620New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor‘s works include Strange the Dreamer and the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy: Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and now this illustrated companion, Night of Cake & Puppets. She is also the author of Lips Touch: Three Times and the Dreamdark books: Blackbringer and Silksinger.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch (Guest Post)

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32333026Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Release date: May 8th, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Young adult, romance, contemporary

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Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.


Author’s Guest Post

As I’m gearing up for the release of Love & Luck on May 8th, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the past two years and everything it has taken to get to release day. Would you mind taking a trip down memory lane with me?

image004Back in 2015 when I finished my first novel, Love & Gelato, I knew immediately who I wanted to write about next: Lina’s best friend, Addie. I also knew it would be a road trip story, but I had no idea what a (literal) trip this book would be. Originally the book was set in Hannibal, Missouri (one of my favorite places, btw). Then one day I was on the phone with my editor and she casually asked if I’d ever considered setting this book in Europe. The second she said it I got the tingly feeling I get whenever I happen upon something important to my novel. The very next second I knew where that European location would be: Ireland. It was perfect.

This realization brought on a whole lot of problems. For one, I had a newborn. For another, I had a deadline. There were so many reasons not go to Ireland that I decided to ignore them all. Right after I hung up with my editor I called up one of my BFFs and our conversation went like this: “Are you busy next weekend? Do you want to go on a road trip across Ireland with me?” To her credit, she paused only a second before saying yes. (Everyone needs a friend like Fife.)image001

The trip itself was full of all sorts of things I couldn’t anticipate—almost missing our layover in NYC, the absolute terror of driving overgrown, winding roads on the wrong side of the street, a cat sized rat that ran at me in a parking garage in Dublin, the fact that I packed absolutely nothing weather appropriate…oh, and the fact that we only had 72 hours to drive across the entire country.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Love & Luck was written in a whirlwind and is meant to be experienced as one—as a fun, emotional, winding adventure that plucks you out of wherever you are and sets you down on an overgrown Irish road, the countryside exploding in green outside your window. I hope you enjoy the ride.

With luck (but mostly love),
Jenna


About the Author

www.echosphotos.comJenna Evans Welch was the kind of insatiable child reader who had no choice but to grow up to become a writer. She is the New York Times Bestselling author of LOVE & GELATO and the upcoming LOVE & LUCK.

When she isn’t writing girl abroad stories, Jenna can be found chasing her children or making elaborate messes in the kitchen. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and two young children.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


Giveaway

Click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. US residents could win a copy of Love & Luck. Good luck! ❤


Blog Tour

header2bsmlDon’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour hosted by the Fantastic Flying Book Club.

May 15th:

Spring Fling Read-A-Thon

December Wrap UpI’m in full read-a-thon mode now! The Spring Fling Read-A-Thon is hosted by several lovely bloggers and begins on May 15. I actually stumbled across it on Twitter and loved the idea of it as well as the TBR prompts. I probably won’t read everything on my TBR, but I’m sure going to try! What’s great is that I’ve able to blend most of the books on my Bout of Book TBR with this read-a-thon. Yay for doubling up!

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Details:

  • The read-a-thon begins May 15 and ends June 15.
  • Use the sign-up link to officially participate (link to a read-a-thon intro post and include your TBR).
  • Read books according to the categories, listed below in any order you choose!
  • Post a weekly catch-up on your blog or elsewhere and link up!
  • There’s also the possibility of a random participant prize drawing.

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My TBR:

Flower Power: 

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Popping Daisies: 

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Blooming Time:

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May Flowers:

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Bird Song:

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Spring Clean:

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Nature Calls:

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Ice Cream:

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Spring Showers:

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Wild Beauty:

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Will you be participating in this read-a-thon? If so, which books will you be reading? ❤

Tag: My Blog’s Name in Books

Book Blitz_I found this tag on Lynne’s blog Fictionophile a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun to do. This tag was great for me because I got to narrow down my Goodreads TBR (I haven’t looked at it in a long while). Yay for getting rid of books I now have no interest in reading. Also, oh my gosh, so many books starting with the letter “T”. That was a bit of a challenge. Most of the books on my TBR start with “A”, “B” or “H”.


Rules: 

1.  Spell out your blog’s name.

2. Find a book from your TBR that begins with each letter. (Note: you cannot ADD to your TBR to complete this challenge – the books must already be on your Goodreads TBR.)

3. Have fun!


R

33413926

A

35068505

T

20558124

T

25898555

L

30285562

E

33413892

T

35604682

H

30653719

E

30269126

S

28645639

T

34499221

A

30635597

R

34992929

S

31123249

Blog Tour: Spies, Lies and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts

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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.

31450640Spies, Lies and Allies by Lisa Brown Roberts
Release date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Genre: Young adult, romance, contemporary
Format: eBook

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Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

There’s a crazy guy running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting –– in a good way. But I can’t even think about him that way because Crazy Guy says any fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous weirdo with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media…and I’m afraid it’s working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

I discovered Lisa Brown Roberts’ book last year and totally loved them! Spies, Lies and Allies was such a fun read full of Star Wars references, funny jokes, friendship, mystery and an oh so adorable romance. I honestly couldn’t stop reading it once I picked it up. It’s very rare when I read a book in a day, but this one I just devoured within a few hours. I should have been grading essays, but this was just so much more enjoyable!

The story focuses on Laurel who lands a summer job at her dad’s company in order to spend more time with him. She’s assigned to help a group of interns competing for a scholarship, however, nothing is what she expected. What I really enjoyed about this story was it’s many layers. It’s not just about the romance because it explores friendships, trust, betrayal, prejudice and family relationships. All of these aspects were well written and blended together perfectly. The book easily transitioned between serious to silly to swoon worthy without feeling forced or like it was trying too hard. Everything just flowed and the pacing was spot on. As I wrote above, I didn’t want to stop reading. It was exciting and full of so much fun!

What made the book for me were the characters. I completely loved Laurel right from the start. She’s determined, curious and very much a fangirl. Her constant Star Wars references had me smiling from ear to ear because it reminded me of a friend. Her relationship with Carlos had the perfect amount of cheesy one-liners, sass and romantic tension. I loved reading about their interactions and conversations. It’s something the author does well in all of her books.

If you are looking for a fun contemporary read this summer than this book is definitely for you. Also, don’t forget to check out the author’s other books as well!

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About the Author

lbr-color-headshot-200x300-1Award-winning romance author Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage catastrophes of tweezing off both eyebrows, or that time she crashed her car into a tree while trying to impress a guy. It’s no wonder she loves to write romantic comedies. Lisa’s books have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and the School Library Journal. She lives in Colorado with her family, in which pets outnumber people.

Website | Twitter | GoodreadsFacebook


Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a signed copy of Spies, Lies and Allies and some great spy-related swag. Good luck! 🙂