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Review: THE LAST THING YOU SAID


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Title: THE LAST THING YOU SAID
Author: Sara Biren
Release date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Description…

Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief.

Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

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Note: This review is based on a finished copy received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


The Review

THE LAST THING YOU SAID is a beautifully written, heartachingly sad, and absolutely breathtaking story of friendship, loss, and love. Told from the perspectives of Lucy and Ben, the story takes place over the four months of summer, nearly a year after the death of Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister Trixie. It is a poignant, emotional, and heartrending read that is easily relatable and easy to love, whether or not you’ve experienced the pain of loss.

On the day that Trixie died, Lucy lost more than just her best friend, she lost Ben and the possibility of something more between them. Ben’s guilt at not being able to save his sister has caused him to push Lucy away, leaving them both heartbroken, angry, and alone with their grief.

They managed to avoid each other during the school year, but when summer rolls around they can’t seem to stay out of each other’s way, serving as a constant reminder of Trixie’s absence, of how things used to be, and of what might have been. Their interactions are often filled with silences or angry words, but until they are willing to confront their feelings for one another, they won’t be able to move forward. And unless they are able to find a way through their sorrow, they won’t be able to move on.

Sara Biren’s debut is exquisite and fragile and incredibly affecting. The author perfectly captured the emotions – the anguish and emptiness and anger – that follow the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one. She revealed wonderful and touching memories of a character readers never got to meet, but didn’t make her into a saint. And she gave readers two characters who made mistakes, who were hurting, who were lost, who needed each other, and whose love story was not yet finished.

An impressive and expressive first from Author Sara Biren, THE LAST THING YOU SAID is gorgeous and delicate and without a doubt promises to be a tearful read.

The Rating

Like In-N-Out Burger‘s infamous secret menu this one deserves my off-the-menu 6 star rating.


A note on the printing…

The finished hardcover was printed in purple ink, which enhanced the reading experience, adding to both the beauty and sadness of the story.


About Sara Biren

Sara Biren lives just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and their two children. A true Minnesotan, she is a fan of hockey, hotdish, and hanging out at the lake. She enjoys seeing live bands, watching movies with her family, and drinking coffee. Her love of cheese knows no bounds.

Sara is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior, and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

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A CROWN OF WISHES Blog Tour Review

I am super excited to be a part of the A CROWN OF WISHES Blog Tour. Author Roshani Chokshi has created a series that is so beautifully written and magical that I can’t wait for everyone to discover it and fall in love with her writing and her characters.

If you haven’t yet read THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN I would definitely recommend reading it prior to A CROWN OF WISHES. And because A CROWN OF WISHES releases today you can read both books back-to-back without having to wait.

For my stop today I’m sharing my thoughts about this amazing sequel. If you’d like to know what I thought, scroll down for my review. There’s also information on both full-length books in the series, and a few excerpts if you want to get a sneak-peek. And if you’d like to know more about the author, her details and places to find her online are at the end of the post.

Oh… and a prequel novella, DEATH AND NIGHT, is releasing on May 2nd. If you’d like to add it to your Goodreads TBR pile, just click HERE.


About A CROWN OF WISHES

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Title & Series: A CROWN OF WISHES (The Star-Touched Queen #2)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Release date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffn
Pages: 384
Formats: Hardcover, audio, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes – a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

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NOTE: This review is based on an eARC received by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy was purchased for my collection.


The Review

A CROWN OF WISHES is the epic, action-packed, magical, and completely captivating second book in Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen series. With writing that is gorgeous and poetic, a setting that is enchanting and dreamlike, characters who are dynamic and whose personalities balance one another, and a journey that offers the promise of a wish, this sequel is certain to keep the pages turning.

Vikram wanted to be seen as more than just a figurehead for the Council of Ujijain to control. But not having royal blood running through his veins meant that they would always deem him unworthy and never give him the power to rule.

Gauri cared deeply for the people of Bharata. She couldn’t stand idly by while her brother’s callousness, selfishness, and indifference destroyed her home. But when her attempt to overthrow him and take the throne failed, she was banished, imprisoned, and sentenced to death.

Being a champion in the Tournament of Wishes is their only hope of becoming more than their empty titles – the Fox Prince and the Jewel of Bharata. It is the only way they believe they can achieve their dreams. They just need to find a way to trust each other, to pass whatever tests they’re given, and to figure out how to circumvent the rule that says only one of them can leave when the contest is over – that is if they both survive that long.

Roshani Chokshi brought to life a story that is myth and adventure and romance and magic. She imagined a world of injustice and cruelty and one of hopes and dreams and desires and vengeance. She introduced beings of terrifying beauty, those with a deadly touch, those who are cursed, those who long for something they don’t have – fantastical and interesting and bizarre creatures who make this tale fascinating and exciting and absolutely wonderful.

A CROWN OF WISHES will transport readers, with its beautifully written passages and stunning imagery, into both its human and mythical worlds. It will keep them transfixed as Gauri and Vikram confront their fears and put their lives on the line in their attempt to become champions and earn their wishes. And it will make them hope for each character’s happy ending and for the possibility that their happy endings will entwine.

A quick pace, intriguing Hindu mythology, and a riveting storyline make this sophomore novel a must.

[Note: A reading of the first book in the series is not required to enjoy this sequel, but it is strongly recommended.]

The Rating


Praise

Named “One of the Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2017” by Entertainment Weekly, Teen Vogue, Bustle, BookRiot and B&N Teen Blog

“Careful plotting, multiple viewpoints, high-stakes action, and a slow-burn relationship make this heady fantasy completely engrossing. A first pick for YA collections.” —School Library Journal, STARRED review

“Chokshi’s debut, The Star-Touched Queen (2016), was lush and gorgeously written, and Chokshi has only improved; this lovely companion tale boasts a stronger narrative structure in addition to the delightful prose.” —Booklist

“With a happily-ever-after reminiscent of beloved fairy tales, this is a great pick for voracious readers who like their bejeweled princesses to have hard edges.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Set against this vivid backdrop is a story with two skill- fully drawn protagonists…this gem will likely send those new to Alaka back to the companion story as its fans wait for another invitation to Chokshi’s luminous world.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Lush and ornate ribbons of language… rich and dizzying.” —The New York Times Book Review on The Star-Touched Queen

“The sentence-level beauty of this book often stunned me: There’s a smooth, understated loveliness to the writing that kept catching me off guard. In Chokshi’s prose, voices have substance and texture while light has color and flavor; never have I wanted to munch on books so much as after reading…Solidly crafted and very engaging, this is a smooth, lovely and assured debut.” —NPR.org on The Star-Touched Queen


Read an Excerpt

Download (PDF, 51KB)


About Roshani Chokshi

Credit: Aman Sharma

Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. Her short story, “The Star Maiden,” was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.

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Other Books in the Series

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Title & Series: THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN (The Star-Touched Queen #1)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Release date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.

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THE GLITTERING COURT Paperback Release Day Blitz + Giveaway

It’s the paperback release day for THE GLITTERING COURT by Richelle Mead and I’m totally stoked to help celebrate by participating in this blitz which includes a giveaway for a copy of the book to ten winners.

If you don’t yet have a copy of this awesome first book in the series or you want to add a paperback edition to your collection, be sure to enter for a chance to win in the Rafflecopter.

And if for some reason you haven’t yet heard about this fantastic book, its bookish details – with a link to an excerpt – follow immediately below.


About THE GLITTERING COURT

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Title & Series: THE GLITTERING COURT (The Glittering Court #1)
Author: Richelle Mead
Release date: April 5, 2016 / Paperback release date March 28, 2017
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, audio, eBook

Read an EXCERPT

Description…

Big and sweeping, spanning from the refined palaces of Osfrid to the gold dust and untamed forests of Adoria, The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the New World. But to do that, she must join the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise—first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

But no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An attraction that, if acted on, would scandalize the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

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About Richelle Mead

RICHELLE MEAD is the #1 New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Vampire Academy series and its spin-off series, Bloodlines. Originally from Michigan, she now lives in Seattle, Washington.

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The Giveaway

Courtesy of the publisher…

  • Enter for a chance to win one (1) of ten (10) copies of The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on March 28, 2017 and 12:00 AM on April 5, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about April 7, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Enter in the Rafflecopter below…

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Review: THE INCONCEIVABLE LIFE OF QUINN

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Title: THE INCONCEIVABLE LIFE OF QUINN
Author: Marianna Baer
Release date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 384
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Description…

Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

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The Review

Marianna Baer’s THE INCONCEIVABLE LIFE OF QUINN is a unique and unusual story of a girl who discovers she is pregnant, but has no recollection of how, when, or with whom it might have happened. Mainly told from her point of view, but with a number of brief chapters from several others in Quinn’s life, she attempts to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Her search for answers takes her down strange, disturbing, disquieting paths, but also those that are beautiful and magical and filled with wonder. All of which make for a different and haunting and thoroughly engaging read.

The daughter of a politician that turns up pregnant is enough to make headlines. But when it’s uncovered that she claims to be a virgin, the story explodes. Some believe she’s a liar. Some assume she’s covering up a traumatic event. And some believe she’s carrying the next messiah.

Having no memory of the conception, Quinn doesn’t know what to believe. Could she have forgotten a romantic night with her boyfriend Jesse? Could she have blocked out a violent attack from a stranger or someone she knows? Could she have been drugged? Could she be going crazy? Could there have been magical, mystical, or supernatural forces at work? Or could a higher power have bestowed her with a gift?

Her friends think she’s keeping secrets. Her family thinks she’s either lying, deluded, or unhinged. Her therapist wants Quinn to discover the truth by herself. The media loves having a juicy bit of gossip. The religious fanatics just want a piece of her.

And until she can solve the mystery, anything is possible.

Marianna Baer has created a story that has both elements of reality and of myth. She touches upon several real-life issues from unplanned teen pregnancy and the choices that follow, to dysfunctional families, to faith, religion, and zealotry, to mental health and wellness, to sexual assault, to the destructive influence of the media. And she balances this with the possibility of something elemental, spiritual, mythical, otherworldly.

THE INCONCEIVABLE LIFE OF QUINN gives you a lot to think about and invites you to come to your own conclusion. It is a curious, compelling, and rather marvelous tale of a girl whose life is most definitely inconceivable.

The Rating


About Marianna Baer

Marianna Baer received an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA in art from Oberlin College. She also attended boarding school, where she lived in a tiny dorm called Frost House, the inspiration for her first novel, Frost. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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Review: THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN

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Title: THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN
Author: Claire LaZebnik
Release date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Pages: 320
Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Description…

Chloe Mitchell appears to be the it girl: the one with a cute boyfriend, popular friends, and a wide open future. But Chloe’s life isn’t exactly what it seems.  Her older sister, Ivy, has autism, and Chloe worries that she’s Ivy’s only friend.  If Chloe goes away for college, who else is going to remind Ivy to brush her hair each morning or to be polite when someone talks to her?  Chloe wonders if life might be easier if Ivy had someone else in her life: a boyfriend, maybe?

Ethan, a sweet autistic guy in Ivy’s class, seems perfect for Ivy. It’s unfortunate that his older brother, David, is one of Chloe’s least favorite people, but Chloe can deal, especially when she realizes that David is just as devoted to Ethan as she is to Ivy. Chloe and David orchestrate a series of dates between Ivy and Ethan, and to Chloe’s surprise, she has way more fun as part of this unlikely foursome than she does with her popular friends at school. When Chloe’s matchmaking plan goes awry, she’s forced to look inward and realize that an easy life isn’t necessarily what she wants after all.

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Note: This review is based on an eARC received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book. A Kindle eCopy has been pre-ordered for my collection.


The Review

THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN is a sweet, funny, happy-making read that offers up a touch of romance, but is much more a story about siblings, and love, and family, and all of their inherent challenges. With a quick pace, a heartwarming narrative, and immensely likable characters, it’s a story that can – and will – easily be read in one sitting.

Chloe Mitchell doesn’t want to resent her perfect boyfriend with his perfect family and his perfect life. She doesn’t want to be envious of her friends whose only worries seem to be about what parties to go to, what tests to study for, or what colleges to attend. And she doesn’t. Not completely. She just wishes her life wasn’t as complicated and messy as it is.

Pretending to be the perfect girlfriend is wearing thin. Try as she might, she can’t keep up the facade that all is good, that she’s got everything under control, and that nothing bothers her – not even the ignorant comments people make about her sister Ivy.

But she doesn’t want to end up a social pariah like David. She just can’t figure out how to keep up appearances while worrying about what’s going to happen with Ivy. She can’t turn to her mom for help. Or her mom’s new husband, Ron. But if she could find someone else for Ivy to spend time with, to trust, to like, and someday, hopefully, to love, then maybe she wouldn’t have to be so stressed all the time.

Claire LaZebnik penned a heartfelt, delightful, and moving story that conveys just how strong the sibling bond can be and how important it is to have someone in your life who understands what you’re going through and who will be there for you when you need them. She introduces characters who are real and sympathetic and relatable. And she puts them in situations that are difficult, stressful, awkward and uncomfortable, emotional, and at times humorous.

Through her characters, she lets readers experience what it’s like to love someone with autism – the joy, the fear, the challenges, the sorrow, the hope. And with her words she will make readers smile, laugh, tear up, and  fall in love with THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.

The Rating


Praise for THINGS I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN

“This story about a girl who upends her own life by trying to help someone else is a winning read for young people ready for a realistic romance about life’s challenges… Chloe and her sister are so authentically portrayed, they nearly leap off the page… This story about a girl who upends her own life by trying to help someone else is a winning read for young people ready for a realistic romance about life’s challenges.” —School Library Journal

“A charmingly honest, insightful story about love, family, and frozen yogurt. So good you’ll finish it in one sitting!” —Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything and Extraordinary Means

Things I Should Have Known is funny, compassionate, and loving. LaZebnik writes with authority and ease, capturing the complexities of sibling bonds and first love, and crafting characters to root for from start to finish.” —Emma Mills, author of First & Then

“At once romantic and touching, perceptive and honest, Things I Should Have Known is about first love, the bonds of sisterhood, and living your most authentic life. I couldn’t put it down.” —Julie Buxbaum, author of Tell Me Three Things

“A fiercely honest and surprising story about family, first love, and the beauty of individuality. LaZebnik reminds us that sometimes the most wonderful things in life are the things you never expected.” —Ashley Blake, author of Suffer Love


About Claire LaZebnik

CLAIRE LAZEBNIK has written many adult and YA novels, has coauthored two books on autism, and has contributed to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She lives with her TV writer husband and four children, one of whom has autism. She resides in Los Angeles, California.

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