Archives for February 2016

February 21, 2016

Emotional Rollercoaster Ride|Girl in the Blue Coat ARC Review

Emotional Rollercoaster Ride|Girl in the Blue Coat ARC ReviewGirl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
on April 5th 2016
Pages: 320
Goodreads

An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible timesThe missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.
Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.
On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
Meticulously researched, intricately plotted, and beautifully written, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice in historical fiction.

I have been in a historical fiction mood lately and when I was afforded the opportunity to review The Girl in the Blue Coat I jumped at it. I love WWII era books and this one did not disappoint.

Despite reading a lot, and knowing the actual history behind WWII novels, Holland’s involvement in the conflict was a whole new concept to me and is one of the reasons I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Most of the information that I found fascinating was the Author’s Note in which it was explained the history behind the book. I believed for a long time that the only countries that were involved with the war where America, Germany, Japan, Brittan, and France. Turns out, that wasn’t the case. Holland was promised neutrality by Hitler and then was betrayed. Hitler invaded in 1940 anyway and two thousand Dutch nationals were killed defending their country in the Battle of the Netherlands. Germany began their occupation and instantly implementing stricter and stricter policies on the Jewish population. Over one hundred thousand Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, three quarters of the Jewish population, a much higher percentage than those in surrounding countries. Hesse explains that this could have been caused by the Netherlands lack of tree lines and natural space used for hiding like other countries.

This information was something that I read in the Author’s Note AFFTER I read the book and made me love this book even more than I already had. So please don’t think that my review has just to do with my love of the history. This information did give me a better love for the fictional characters that represented those who truly struggled and died during this horrific time in our history.

The Book

This book follows young Hanneke, a Christian Dutch girl who spends her time procuring and delivering sought- after contraband to paying customers. During most of the book Hanneke explains that she has changed since the German invasion. Most of the reasons are slowly revealed throughout the story. It all begins with a boy named Sebastian. Throughout the story, Hanneke wrestles with her past, her present deals with an older woman Mrs. Janseen and a Jewish girl Mirjam, and finally her future in a world where all of her future plans have been destroyed.
For the most part, I don’t read mystery novels. I find them dry and easy to figure out. This story was not that. Not only was I guessing through each turn I found myself having an emotional attachment to these characters. Yes, Hanneke was a little dry and repetitive at times but I feel like that was natural for the situations that she found herself in and the reality of her everyday life.

Overall, if you love gut wrenchingly beautiful stories of guilt, love, war, with a touch of mystery Girl in the Blue Coat is the book for you. You won’t want to miss this roller coaster of a book!

five-stars

February 19, 2016

Do You Believe in Magic?|A Darker Shade of Magic Review

Do You Believe in Magic?|A Darker Shade of Magic ReviewA Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab, Victoria Schwab
Published by Tor Books on February 24th 2015
Pages: 398
Goodreads

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

You know that book that comes around once in a lifetime. The one that as soon as you read the first page grips your body and soul like a rabid squirrel. A Darker Shade of Magic is that book for me. It whispered to me “Read meeee…” and even after the last page was turned it still whispered. It whispered to me all the things that could happen, had happened, and what the hell I was going to do until the next book came out.

Let me preface this review with the fact that A Darker Shade of Magic has been whispering from my bookshelves since the first week of its release. That’s right, I rushed out to get it and promptly put it on my shelf. Why might you ask would I put an anticipated book on my TBR and not pick it up in the whole year since its release? Fear. I was afraid that this book would not meet my expectations and I didn’t want to start my blog out on such a note.
Boy was I wrong. I should have read this book so long ago! Although, I’m glad that I waited because now I don’t have to wait SO long before A Gathering of Shadows comes out. Go me!

I’m not going to give too much of the plot away and considering this book has so much love already and you can find all about it. I will though give you two reasons that I loved it and one thing that I wish there was more of.

1. Magic

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I am a sucker for a good magic system and I feel like Schwab did such both a fantastic and beautiful job coming up with the magic system. She didn’t lay it out all for us in the first ten pages which I LOVE and cannot stand. I love explanation, but some books start off info dumping and it becomes too much too fast. This is not one of those books. You’re constantly getting information about the different types of magic, what can happen, and how it effects in each of the different London. There is something about the magic that makes the magic ten times more interesting than most books, but I won’t give it away because it’s a big part of the book. But believe me when I say, it’s awesome.

2. The Settingtumblr_mf8ihzUaea1rcn1rso1_500_large

I absolutely enthralled with the setting of this story. My curiosity was piqued by the idea of there being different London’s and each representing a different brand of people, places, and even magic. Boy, I can’t wait to read more about these London’s and how everything goes together.

Now for the thing that I wish and hope that I see more in the book

1. Character Development

Don’t get me wrong, there was some character development but I kept wondering if there could have been more. Considering this is the first book in a series I think that I can live with the amount of character development and not writing off the series (like I have in the past for absolutely zero character development). I was completely enthralled with the settings and the magic (what I feel like the book discussed more). I just can’t wait for more interactions between Kell and Rhy!!

So, there you have my thoughts on A Darker Shade of Magic. If you’ve been on the fence like I have please give it a shot. It’s such a wonderful read and you won’t regret it!

 

February 12, 2016

FOF Book Club: Damar Series

flightsoffantasy-2016

So, I am still waving in the wind trying to figure out a way to handle my blogging and student teaching. It is almost half way over and I honestly can’t wait! But, one of the few books I was able to finish reading was for the FOF reading club. Each month we are asked to read one specific author and the following month to talk about what we thought on the books that we read. For January, the author was Robin McKinley! The two books that we were asked to read were one of her more famous books that I was so happy to reread!

 

511gixRwc-L._SX318_BO1,204,203,200_The Hero and the Crown happens to be one of my all-time favorite books. It rates up there with the Tortall series by Tamora Pierce. Hero and the Crown follows Aerin – the only child to the king and his second wife, who many believe was a witch who ensnared the king for nefarious reasons. In the beginning, Aerin defines her worth, or lack thereof, based off of what the people around her see her having. Instead of folding under the pressure of those who would see her broken, Aerin soon proves that she is worthy of everything (and more) that she has. It would be detrimental to the plot to go through more than this but I can tell you that it is such a wonderful story and that you should at least give it a try. If you love strong females (that might not start out that way), fierce and AWESOME battles, and a love that doesn’t get in the way of the woman’s fierceness this is the book for you!
I cannot give McKinley any more praise for not only her story but the way that the words paint such a picture that I can imagine myself in the story right along with Aerin.

 

 

 

 

8941560Which leads me to The Blue Sword, the companion, but published first, book The Blue Sword. To be completely honest I did not find this book as entertaining as I did The Hero and the Crown. I felt that The Blue Sword was more formalistic than the Hero and the Crown. While the surprises in The Hero in the Crown surprised me, the ones in the Blue Sword I could see a mile away. The story follows Harry Crewe who after the death of her father has to move away from her home, at her brother’s insistence, to live in an eastern outpost of the Homelander empire – which if you read The Hero and the Crown used to be part of Damar many years ago. Both protagonists crave something more than what they have and find that they are at odds with the society they live in. Harry wants more than to be a woman bound by the whims of men. She is forced into an adventure that challenges everything that she knows.

 


 

Every time we share about our book club reads, we’ll be answering these three questions below! We’d love for you to join us and share your answers in the comments or in your own post. Don’t forget to leave a link in the comments or in the monthly link-ups.

1. Who is your favorite character?

As much as I love both Aerin and Henry, there is no competition in my eyes. Aerin – hands down is my favorite character out of the two books. Aerin has so many moments were she has to fight not only those around her and their perceptions of who and what she is capable that it breaks my heart. But, on the other hand she slays those opinions with not only grace but in a strong and capable way. Go her!

2. Which is your favorite book?

Again, this award goes to The Hero and the Crown. I love swords, sorcery, and strong women. While The Blue Crown also has some of these things I feel that the way McKinley brought together in such a vivid way just makes me love this book so much!

3. Would you read more books by this author?

Yes, actually I have read a lot of McKinley’s books in the past due to my love of these two books. It has been YEARS, but I am sure that I am going to add some of these to my reread pile.

February 6, 2016

The Tsar’s Guard Parade & Giveaway: What Powers Would I Have if I Was an Enchanter

 

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Hello all of you wonderful people! Welcome to my humble stop on the awesomely-awesome Tsar’s Guard Parade! As I hate assumptions (you know what they make out of you and me) I’m going to get all of the technical and explanation stuff out of the way so we can get on to the fun stuff.
The Tsar’s Guard Parade is a several month long parade of blogs to celebrate one of the most anticipated books of 2016 – The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye!

Now for the fun stuff! It can be no surprise if you have talked to or read anything on my blog (again, assumptions) but if you haven’t and are new, I love fantasy! One of the things that I love most about fantasy is magic. I don’t have enough words to describe how much I love magic and as The Crown’s Game showcase Enchanters who are gifted in various different ways. Now because I have a love for magic and The Crown’s Game makes my mouth water at the magical possibilities I am here to share with you:

What powers would I have if I was an Enchanter:

Oh boy, because I’ve loved magic for so long this is a question that I have pondered and pondered over many moons. After thinking long and hard (and pulling out my extensive list of movies and books) I have finally narrowed it down to two. Yes, you will notice something about these two powers and what might have inspired them (and hilarious but I won’t go comic book geek on you) but here they are;

1. Traffic, thy Name is Teleportationnightcrawlergif

You guessed it, my first choice would be teleportation. Considering my issue with anxiety and driving I feel that this power would be the most beneficial thing to me to have.

Think about it, apart from kicking butts, teleportation is probably one of the most useful powers that you can have. “Honey, we’re out of milk” “Don’t worry about it hun, I have it!” BAM there and back again without a thought.

2. With Skin Shifting Who Needs Zit Cream

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My second choice would be the ability to morph myself to appear like anyone else I would like. Now, this power isn’t practical but it sure is fucking awesome. Not only would I have the ability to look like and blend into any environment, but I would have the ability to take care of nasty surprise that show up in the mirror when I wake up. Yes, it’s a vain power, but you can’t always be perfect can you?

 
As I said, for those of you who know comics you know that I used two X-Men as my inspiration for my powers. For those who have only watched the movies here is a little trivia. Nightcrawler is Mystique’s son. BOOM!

With that being said, we need to get back to business. I know that you must have had tons of fun and let me know what you think of my powers down below. After that, make sure that you check out the rest of the parade here! You can also click the banner and it will take you to where you need to be.

But don’t go yet! Make sure that you scroll down and enter the fantastically amazing giveaway for a signed ARC of The Crown’s Game! But first a little information about the book and the amazing Evelyn Skye!

The Tsar’s Guard Parade & Giveaway: What Powers Would I Have if I Was an EnchanterThe Crown's Game (The Crown's Game, #1) by Evelyn Skye
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 17th 2016
Pages: 416
Amazon
Goodreads

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.
And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.
Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?
For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.
And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.
As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

About Evelyn:

Evelyn Skye head shot high res
Evelyn Skye was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies. THE CROWN’S GAME is her first novel. Evelyn can be found online at www.evelynskye.com and on Twitter @EvelynSkyeYA.

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And without further ado, here is the giveaway!

 

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