Posted in First Lines Friday, General Books

First Lines Friday – 01 November

Yayaya, HAPPY FRIYAY and HAPPY FIRST OF THE MONTH, book lovers and friends ๐Ÿ˜We’re back with another First Lines Friday! This is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are THE RULES:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but donโ€™t give anything else about the book away just yet โ€“ you need to hook the reader first
  • Finallyโ€ฆ reveal the book!

First lines:

We must, by law, keep a record of the innocents we kill.
And as I see it, theyโ€™re all innocents. Even the guilty. Everyone is guilty of something, and everyone still harbors a memory of childhood innocence, no matter how many layers of life wrap around it. Humanity is innocent; humanity is guilty, and both states are undeniably true.

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

Okay, okay, calm yourself Loki, mate...

*drumroll please!*

The book is: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end lifeโ€”and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scytheโ€”a role that neither wants. These teens must master the โ€œartโ€ of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Have you read Scythe or is it on your TBR? Can’t wait for The Toll!
Leave me a comment and let’s chat ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Fantasy, General Books, Humor, Kid Fiction, Middle Grade, Science Fiction

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1) by Andrew Petersen – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness (The Wingfeather Saga #1)
Publish date: 10 March 2020
Publisher: WaterBrook & Multnomah
Genre: Middle Grade, Children’s Book, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Panda Rating:

Janner Igiby, his brother, Tink, and their disabled sister, Leeli, are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that they love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang, who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice. The Igibys hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage,ย On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darknessย is a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to enjoy discussing for its many layers of meaning. Extra features include new interior illustrations from Joe Sutphin, funny footnotes, a map of the fantastical world, inventive appendices, and fanciful line art in the tradition of the original Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz storybooks.

It’s been a very long time since I read any middle grade books but I’ve recently added a few to my shelves that have been well praised by many book lovers, and when I saw the cover for this book I immediately wanted to read it because it’s simply a really attractive cover (yes, I’m judging a book by it’s cover so hard now). Plus, the blurb sounded good and I enjoyed the excerpt I read of it!

That said, while I was generally entertained by the book, I also found myself unexpectedly bored for certain periods of time (off-pacing), and I think that the story was going on for a lot longer than it should’ve. I was also unsure about the use of the footnotes. While some of the footnotes were interesting, I found that even if I didn’t read them, I wasn’t missing out on anything other than a humorous story or anecdote. I’m also wondering if footnotes are something young readers (especially middle graders) would appreciate? I don’t recall ever reading a book with footnotes in it when I was younger unless it was non-fiction or a textbook, and as an adult reader, I’m still not always a fan of footnotes; unless they really added key/important elements to the world building and the story itself.

I think one of the things I struggled with was not being able to form a connection with the story overall and in particular with the characters. I liked the Igiby family well enough–Janner, Tink and Leeli were interesting characters–but I just didn’t feel as invested in their journey as I hoped to be. Perhaps my favorite characters in the story were Peet and Nugget (the doggo, reasons for which go without saying. He’s a loyal companion to the Igiby children, particularly for Leeli)!

Peet was a courageous side-character who suffered from (what I can tell) possible mental health issues and a disability. He was pitied in town and was treated pretty awfully by the Igiby heads of house (Podo and Nia) for a reason that only becomes apparent at the end, but to me never justified the unfair treatment of his character. While I started off liking Podoโ€™s character, his awful treatment of Peet was so distasteful and made me like him a lot less (it says a lot about a personโ€™s character IRL just as much as in a book)! The Fangs of Dang were obviously awful characters we were meant to hate and the author did a great job of stoking those feelings against these characters. I thought the disability rep with Leeliโ€™s and Podoโ€™s characters was really great. Leeli was such a strong female character that had a fierce independent streak. I loved that her disability didnโ€™t stop her from having adventures and getting up to mischief with her brothers; her disability was normalized (as in, it didnโ€™t hamper her in any way) and it was nice to see that being shown in books to such a young audience.

As this was an e-ARC, most of the illustrations and maps were not yet included, so that was also a little bit disappointing because the illustrations that were already included in the story were pretty amazing! I can only imagine how much fun these illustrations will be to look at once itโ€™s done (and in color too)! Overall, while I was really pulled in by the premise of this story, I found it a bit difficult to get into and thatโ€™s what made me remove stars. I wish that the pacing was more consistent but it was still an enjoyable enough read. I think many young middle grade readers would enjoy it too!

Thanks to NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This new hard cover edition is out March 2020.
Have you read The Wingfeather Saga books? Let’s
chat in the comments!

Posted in General Books, Top Tuesday

#TopTenTuesday: Books with Numbers in the Title

It’s that time of the week again, friends! We’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: books with numbers in the title and the minute I read the prompt, my mind drew a straight blank. Had I actually read any books with numbers in the title? Thankfully I have my awesome buddy that’s known as Goodreads to help me figure this out! I found a few titles but I’m not sure if there are enough to amount to ten, so let’s see how it goes!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Read earlier this year, it is probably one of my 2019 favorites! I had a completely different idea of the book at the start, but wow, was I pleasantly surprised by what was served. TJR has a way of making you feel everything.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus. I devoured this story in one sitting (literally from 6pm – 4am) because I didn’t want to put this down! This was my first YA thriller and I was so pleasantly surprised with the Breakfast Club + Gossip Girl + HTGAWM vibes of the story. So good!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. There were some minor slow spots but I was so surprised by how quickly and how much I loved this book. RPO took me on a helluva 80s trip through music and gaming and it was incredible!

Marriage for One by Ella Maise. I still haven’t written a review for this one, but rest assured I loved it. The build up was agonizingly good and the chemistry between our two MCs was so ๐Ÿ”ฅ !

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray. I was immediately pulled by the gorgeous cover, then the title got my interest, and finally the premise just hooked me.

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo. I think I read this two years ago and while I remember genuinely loving it, I also can’t remember much of it now? ๐Ÿ™ƒ Writing reviews has done wonders for my memory, so I’m looking forward to reading this again, and reviewing it this time!

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. This was probably my fifth or sixth Jodi Picoult book after I discovered her in high school. You can do a lot of things in nineteen minutes and one thing is to get revenge. This is a story about a school shooting, and it was heartbreaking and extremely hard hitting.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. My third TJR read of the year and it certainly solidified her as one of my auto-buy and new favorite authors! I was worried the hype would let me down, but I needn’t have worried because WOWZER. I loved it (and the full-cast audiobook)!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini. This was the second Hosseini book I read and wow, did I cry or did I cry?! Hosseini doing what he does best with this story.

That Second Chance (Getting Lucky #1) by Meghan Quinn. This was my first Quinn and won’t be my last. I’m a sucker for small town romances and this one ticked all the boxes I love!

Have you read many titles with numbers in them?
If you’ve done a TTT for today, please leave your links in the comments so I can mosey over to your blog and check it out! ๐Ÿ™‚

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Dystopia, General Books, Science Fiction, Young Adult

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: The Grace Year
Publish date: 08 October 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Dystopia
Panda Rating:

No one speaks of the grace year. Itโ€™s forbidden. Girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. Thatโ€™s why theyโ€™re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive. Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better lifeโ€”a society that doesnโ€™t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that itโ€™s not just the brutal elements they must fear. Itโ€™s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for their chance to grab one of the girls in order to make their fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been pulled out of my reading slump because I finished The Grace Year in one night (literally); and despite being hella tired the next day, I had zero regrets doing it. I tried putting it down at one point because responsible adult etc., but it didn’t work. I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I picked it up and kept reading until the end!

โ€œIn the county, thereโ€™s nothing more dangerous than a woman who speaks her mind. Thatโ€™s what happened to Eve, you know, why we were cast out from heaven. Weโ€™re dangerous creatures. Full of devil charms. If given the opportunity, we will use our magic to lure men to sin, to evil, to destruction.โ€

The Grace Year was… wow? I really don’t have the words for it but I will say that it’s probably one of my favorite reads of 2019! Whoever said it’s reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale and Lord of the Flies was spot on. It’s dark and full of twists. It’s mind-bending and insanely spooky and makes you question whether the magic is real or not. It’s also surprisingly violent and gruesome–don’t let that beautiful pink cover fool you. This book is not full of roses and fluff! It’s a dark read that makes you think and question your role in perpetuating inequalities (whether you know it or not). It’s set in a dystopian society but I have no doubt that elements of this story will ring true for many women because on some level, we have all experienced what these girls/women go through. It took me on an emotional and mental journey that I was totally unprepared for (lol) but hell, it was worth it! I didn’t expect to find myself in tears by the end of this book, but there I was at 4AM hugging my Billy bear to my chest and crying into my pillow.

I loved (MC) Tierney’s character and how she developed throughout the story. Most of the other characters were minor, but I still enjoyed the roles that they played too, especially Ryker, Gertie, Michael and Tierney’s parents. The story was tense and fast-paced; I always felt as if some unknown horror was lurking around the corner waiting to be unleashed. There’s a pervasive eeriness to Liggett’s writing that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and goosebumps constantly rising on my skin, especially towards the latter half. After everything the girls survived, what happens in the end brought me to tears. The defiance and camaraderie, the willingness to acknowledge the need for change, and to open their hearts to making it happen by taking just that small step against the patriarchy, made me emotional AF.

“The things we do to girls. Whether we put them on pedestals only to tear them down, or use them for parts and holes, we’re all complicit in this. But everything touches everything else and I have to believe that some good will come out of all this destruction. The men will never end the grace year. But maybe we can.”

If thereโ€™s anything to critique itโ€™s that: 1) I donโ€™t think the romance was necessary. It also came off as hypocritical, especially considering Tierney’s strong stance on marriage throughout the story. 2) I wish that there was more groundwork for how this society came to be. There were hints that things were different beyond the borders, but how did this county and the poachers come to be this way? I wouldโ€™ve loved to know more of the backstory to this world. And 3) This might be because I read the ARC, but there were some editing errors that I hope are caught before publication because the way it reads right now, paragraphs start in next sentences and it’s often confusing, especially when there’s so much time that’s passed in between (hopefully that explanation makes sense).

This isn’t a story that has a typical HEA, and it was a little bit open to interpretation (imo), but it does bring hope and that’s just as important. I honestly can’t wait until everyone gets the chance to read this because Iโ€™d highly encourage you to pick it up. Iโ€™m so excited to see what else Liggett has in store!

The quotes used in my review were taken from an advanced copy, so there may be minor differences in the final publication.

Thanks to NetGalley, the author and St. Martin’s Press for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book is out 08 October 2019.
Have you read The Grace Year or does it sound like something you want to read?

Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, General Books, Science Fiction

Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab – #BookReview

Goodreads: Vicious (Villains #1)
Genre: Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, SFF
Reviewed: January 2019
Panda Rating:

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates–brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find–aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge–but who will be left alive at the end?
Inย Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

โ€œThe paper called Eli a hero.
The word made Victor laugh. Not just because it was absurd, but because it posed a question. If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that makeย himย a villain?โ€

This is a story about superheroes and supervillains and ExtraOrdinary people. Itโ€™s about right vs wrong, morality, jealousy, revenge and friendship. It explores a complex relationship between two college best friends turned archenemies, and the reasons and consequences of their fall out. Schwab does a magnificent job writing the fantastical into the ordinary, that although you know the concept is a little outlandish, you wonder if maybe itโ€™s really possible. With an immersive style of writing that encourages you to devour as much as quickly as possible, it isnโ€™t surprising that I was hooked right from the start!

Victor and Eli were college roommates and best friends until their senior year of college when everything came crashing down. After a shared interest in adrenaline, near death experiences and an exploration of seemingly extraordinary abilities moves from theoretical to experimental, things go horribly wrong incredibly fast and these two become each otherโ€™s worst enemy. When Victor gets thrown in jail because of Eli, he swears that he will get his vengeance and so the battle between our two villains begins.

โ€œBut these words that people threw aroundโ€” humans, monsters, heroes, villainsโ€”to Victor it was all just a matter of semantics. Someone could call themselves a hero and still walk around killing dozens. Someone else could be labeled a villain for trying to stop them. Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human.โ€

What can I say about this book? I loved pretty much everything about it. The characters, the storyline, all of it! It pulls you in and makes you think about perceptions – for example, what makes someone a hero or a villain? In the movies itโ€™s usually pretty cut and dry, but even villains have a reason why they end up being so evil, right? You could see from the start that Victor and Eli have such a complex friendship. Itโ€™s one filled with admiration but also jealousy, envy, and greed. Make no mistakeโ€”both Eli and Victor are โ€œbad nutsโ€ in the traditional sense of the word and as Schwab writes it, they have something dark lurking beneath their skinโ€”but in this story, it works. Itโ€™s funny how I didnโ€™t think Iโ€™d ever have a favorite supervillain but if there were teams, I think Iโ€™d definitely be team Victor. His rag-tag crew of misfits grew on meโ€”especially Mitch and his story and of course, sweet little Sydney and Dol!

I loved that all the characters in this book had complex backgrounds to their stories and that we got to learn about them all as we moved back-and-forth from past to present. Schwab did a great job with that as well, with smooth transitions and always spot on with the answers to your burning questions from the previous scene(s).

Have you read Vicious? Are you a fan of Schwab?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Posted in General Books, Top 5 Saturday

Top 5 Saturday: Books Set in Space!

It’s time for another Top 5 Saturday, a weekly meme created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and this week’s topic is: books set in space. You know, this prompt has made me realise that I really haven’t read many books set in space. I’ve got a lot that I want to read but I still haven’t managed to tick them off my TBR yet. I’m excited to get to them eventually ๐Ÿ˜‚ (this feels like dรฉjร  vu)! I find space settings can be really creepy, but I’m mostly always in awe by the descriptions of the vast nothingness; the silence. Who knows what’s out there?

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
I had no expectations going into this book but I loved it. It was intensely atmospheric and I left was questioning if what was happening was real or if it was the imagination of a lonely girl, stuck lightyears from Earth, with no one to talk to. Space has never been creepier! Check out my review.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Not only is this series told in the most creative way, it was heartbreaking, full of snark and such an incredible adventure. I mean, never have I loved and hated an AI more than I did AIDAN. This is one of my all time favorites!

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I feel like you either really love or hate Aurora Rising and there’s very little in between. It’s definitely not Illuminae, but many of the elements that I loved in that story were present in this, so I loved it. The best part of the series so far are the characters. I love the found family trope and I think this band of misfits fit the bill perfectly. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Check out my review.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
I’m sure it’ll be no surprise to hear that I love the Lunar Chronicles. I love retellings and this is probably one of the most unique retellings I’ve read. I mean, sci-fi retellings set in space? Very cool!

Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson
I was so excited to get my hands on this book when it came out, but until now I still haven’t read it yet. I’m really the worst! I’m very excited for it though since I’ve heard some pretty amazing things! Maybe it’ll be good for me to pick it up closer to the release date of the second book!

What are your favorite books set in space? Any of these?
Please leave me some recommendations in the comments below!

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, General Books, Magical Realism, Romance, Science Fiction

Blog Tour Book Review: A Different Time by Michael K Hill

I participated in my first ever blog tour earlier this year with TheWriteReads group for Ben Galley’s books (check out my review) and now I’m participating in my second blog tour with the gang, this time for the contemporary fiction: A Different Time by Michael K. Hill. Special thanks to Dave for hosting and organising another beast of a blog tour (please check out the other bloggers who have participated as they’ve all written great reviews for this book)! I’m in awe and super appreciative of all the time and effort you dedicate to TheWriteReads gang, and for bringing such a wonderful community of supportive people together! Special thanks also goes to Michael Hill for providing us with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: A Different Time by Michael K. Hill
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction, Magical Realism

In 1989 she spoke to the love of her life.
In 2019 he answered.
Keith Nolan falls in love with a remarkable young woman from the past, talking to him on a home video she recorded. To keep their conversation going, he must find more of her tapes – while forces work against them both – and time is running out.

About the Author

Beginning as a sketch comedy writer for American television, Michael K. Hill progressed to become an internationally published writer of fiction and non-fiction. His short story anthology, Anansi and Beyond, published in 2017, and his debut novel, A Different Time, is available now. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, kids, and 7 rescued animals. You can find out more about Michael on his website: http://michaelkhill.com/

When I first heard about this book, my first thought was OMG, IT’S LIKE THE LAKE HOUSE! You know, that movie with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves? The one with letters and past and future coming together? (The one that I may or may not be trash for…?) Yeah? No? It really doesn’t have the best ratings, but I love this duo and this movie is a definite guilty pleasure. BUT I DIGRESS!

At only 100 or so pages, this book was a very quick and easy read. The premise of this story is really fascinating and I actually haven’t read any books based on it. It’s told in alternating timelines between the past (1989) and present (2019) and focuses on Lindsey and Keith’s lives. There are few side characters so there’s not much to distract you from the storyline playing out between the MCs. I really felt for both of them. I think the strongest parts of this story were their characters; their indecision about their next steps in life and their loneliness and desire for company was extremely relatable. The doubt and loneliness make it unsurprising that they’re quick to accept the impossible the first time they connect, as they’re both desperate for connection, although the concept still requires you to suspend your disbelief.

As much as I questioned the possibility and probability of the events, I read on eagerly, wondering if they would ever find a way to be together and what that meeting would be like considering the large gap in the years between them. You can’t help but hope for a surprise that will allow them to be together. Despite being able to predict who Lindsey actually was, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of having it confirmed in the end. It was definitely a bittersweet one that made me feel emotional.

The only thing that had me feeling a little so-so about the story was completely based on my own preference when reading. While I used to be a fan of insta-love back in my younger days *cough* I’m very much not a fan of it now and this was very much what happened between the two. I found that I struggled to get past the fact that they almost instantly fell in love. Considering that this was novella length, I understand why things happened as quickly as it did. This made me honestly wish this book was longer so the story could’ve been more developed and we would’ve had the chance to get to know these characters and their stories more because Lindsey and Keith had very interesting backstories and they deserved more development!

That said I’m very glad I got the chance to read this and that I got to be part of this blog tour!
Thanks again to TheWrtiteReads for organising this tour and to Michael Hill for the book!

Have you read A Different Time? Is it something you’d perhaps be interested in reading? Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!