Category: Reviews

Review: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of Fire Topheir of fire

Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

I first heard about the Throne of Glass series at BEA 2012. A girl assassin who wears ball gowns and beats the boys? Sign me up! In 2013, I made sure I had got a copy of Crown of Midnight. I tore through that one too, and it destroyed me in the best way possible. This year, Sarah J. Maas is back with the third book in the bestselling series, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Coming out of an absolutely huge shocker at the end of Crown of Midnight,  Celaena’s world is completely different. Twisted by grief, loss, and depression, this isn’t the same character we’ve come to know in the last two books. Unsurprisingly, something is missing after the events of the last book.

But Celaena’s grief and recovery aren’t the only elements of the book. We get a slew of new characters: A faerie warrior named Rowan, a general, a bad-ass Iron Teeth Witch named Manon, and the mysterious faerie queen. These characters along with a whole host of new threats take the series to a whole new level.

Throughout the course of Heir of Fire, Maas simultaneously expands the world of the book and deepens it, filling in parts of Celaena’s backstory we never knew about while strengthening her character through challenges she’s never had to face.

The scale of this book is so far beyond what I ever imagined when I first read Throne of Glass, and fans of the series will be thrilled with this latest installment. If this is what happens in book three, I can’t even picture how awesome the rest of the series is going to be. Oh, and for those of you worried that I haven’t mentioned Chaol or Dorian yet, don’t worry, your favorite prince and captain are still alive and causing trouble as always.

Review: The Falconer by Elizabeth May

falconer headerEdinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

I’ve been hearing a lot about The Falconer for a long time. I’ve heard that it was awesome, that there was romance, that it was a book I had to read, but I didn’t really know anything solid about it other than it being about a girl who kills Faeries.

And boy does this girl love to kill faeries.

The Falconer has a lot of very cool and surprising elements in it, the first being the Steampunk version of Scotland where the book is set. In this book there are such awesome things as automatic tea dispensers (I need this in my life), floating clockwork lanterns, and little mechanical spiders that will fix your wounds. I hadn’t known beforehand that the book was in anyway Steampunk, so it was a fun discovery–especially the organic way in which those elements blended with the story.

Second, is the integration of Scottish lore. There have been many books about faeries, but few specifically focused on Scotland. I thought that the world building surrounding the faeries was excellent, blending what some people might know of fairy lore with a spin that is wholly unique. Immortal, deadly, and completely inhuman. Faeries in the world are evil. Or are they? (can we talk about Kieran please?)

The Falconer is exactly the kind of fantasy adventure anyone would wish for. Violence, romance, and the fate of the world. Not to mention pixies, kisses, and flying machines. What else could you want in a book? As soon as I finished the last page I instantly wanted to read the sequel. So if you’re looking for a faerie fantasy to escape into, this one is a good choice.

Picture This: Big Cities, Little Beaches, and Kids of All Sizes

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
9/2/14 | $16.99

Amid the hustle and bustle of the big city, the big crowds and bigger buildings, Little Elliot leads a quiet life. In spite of the challenges he faces, Elliot finds many wonderful things to enjoy—like cupcakes! And when his problems seem insurmountable, Elliot discovers something even sweeter—a friend.

At some point, everyone feels a bit like little Elliot. Lost. Different. Helpless. But little Elliot loves living in such a big city even with all of its challenges because of the little things he finds. Even when others don’t notice him, he is able to find a friend who does. This beautifully illustrated story may be little but it has a BIG heart!

The Storm Whale by Benji Davis
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
9/30/14 | $16.99

Every day, in a house by the sea, a little boy watches his father leave for a long day’s work. The boy is lonely, until one night, a storm brings a very unexpected change.

This is a heartwarming story of the bond between the father and a son.

The first thing you’ll notice about this book is the stunning artwork by Davies. While simple in form, the structure gives way to wonderful detail in every corner of this book. On top of that, the story is a lovely tale of growing up, friendships, and the ability to let things go. To be honest, I just really want to frame pages from this book to hang on my walls.

Little Humans by Brandon Stanton
Farrar Straus Giroux
10/7/14 | $17.99

Little humans are brave and bold, creative and curious, stylish and sweet. They love their brothers and sisters, their moms and dads, and their friends. Each little human is perfectly unique. Just like you!

Street photographer and storyteller extraordinaire Brandon Stanton is the creator of the wildly popular blog “Humans of New York.” He is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Humans of New York. To create Little Humans, he used some of his favorite children’s photos from the blog, in addition to all-new exclusive portraits. The result is a hip, heartwarming ode to little humans everywhere.

After gaining widespread popularity for his blog and now book Humans of New York, photographer Brandon Stanton is back with a book for the little city dwellers. With beautiful photos of kids big and small, this story is one motivating children to do things bigger than themselves, to be strong, brave, smart, and playful. This is one book perfect for kids of all ages this holiday season.

Review: Amity by Micol Ostow + Giveaway

For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Connor’s family moves to Amity to escape shady business deals. Ten years later, Gwen’s family moves to Amity for a fresh start after she’s recovered from a psychotic break.

But something is not right about this secluded house. Connor’s nights are plagued with gore-filled dreams of demons and destruction. Dreams he kind of likes. Gwen has lurid visions of corpses that aren’t there and bleeding blisters that disappear in the blink of an eye. She knows Amity is evil and she must get her family out, but who would ever believe her?

Amity isn’t just a house. She is a living force, bent on manipulating her inhabitants to her twisted will. She will use Connor and Gwen to bring about a bloody end as she’s done before. As she’ll do again.

Alternating between parallel narratives, Amity is a tense and terrifying tale suggested by true-crime events that will satisfy even the most demanding horror fan.

If you’re one of those readers who is a bit on edge about the idea of jumping into horror, let this book be a sign. Horror is back. The past few years have seen a new surge of frightfully terrifying horror novels and this one can be counted among the best of them. And I hope that we’ll be seeing plenty more in the mainstream soon!

Amity may be a new take on the true events of the Amityville Horror most know about but believe me, this book (and house) has a story of their own and they’re ready to tell it. Relive the horror like never before. You will feel this house in your bones before you finish this book and it may haunt you.

One of the most interesting things I found about this book was the perspective in which it’s told in. Now, I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t because that’s the magic of it. But the POV tells two different stories within the house that are ten years apart. Two different characters experiencing nearly the same horrors weaving them together though they’ve never met themselves. It was a seamless transition from past to present every few chapters and one that I think the reader will find extremely unique and powerful.

If you’re looking for a light read to cap off the summer, I don’t suggest this book to you. But if you’re looking for a killer novel that will scare the pants off of you (you can handle it), then this is one book that you absolutely cannot miss.

Amity will be available in stores everywhere August 26, 2014.

micolostowAbout the author:

Micol Ostow has written dozens of books for children, tweens, and teens, but Amity is her first foray into horror. I turns out, writing a ghost story is almost more terrifying than reading one. (In a good way.) Her novel family was called a “Favorite Book of 2011” by Liz Burns at School Library Journal, and her illustrated novel, So Punk Rock (and Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother), was a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. In her spare time, Ostow blogs with the National Book Award-winning literacy initiative readergirlz.com. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, her (utterly fearless) daughter, and a finicky French bulldog named Bridget Jones. Visit her online at www.micolostow.com or follow her on Twitter.

The next stop on the blog tour is Good Books and Good Wine with a guest post and giveaway.
To keep up with the rest of the tour, click here.

Giveaway:

Enter the form below for a chance to win a finished copy of Amity! The giveaway is for US/Canada only.

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Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla Top
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

It’s not a secret that all of us have been waiting a long time for Isla. A long time. Despite the long wait and all the hype surrounding the book, Isla more than lived up to my expectations. In fact, she surpassed them.

Taking place in my relatively new hometown of New York, and the series’ beloved Paris, the scale of this book feels larger than the others in the series, simply because it covers more distance. But the locations themselves play less of a character in this book, and for good reason. While our two previous heroines of the series  Anna and Lola — know very much where they are and where they are going, Isla does not.

Isla is facing the choices and questions every senior in high school faces: what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What happens if you don’t know? Does my life still have value and do I as a person still have worth even though I haven’t claimed my place in the world? How exactly do I figure out who I am? Isla grapples with these things through the highs and lows of new love, the pressures of family and school, and what the rest of the world thinks of her.

While Anna and Lola stole my heart, I identified with Isla and her struggles on a whole other level. I sat down with the book, only intending to read a few chapters and read the whole book in one sitting. I finished at four in the morning, blown away by what I had just read and filled with happiness.

This book has everything fans will want and expect in the ending. Breathtaking romance, beautiful cities, heartbreak, wonder, and closure, all blended together with Stephanie Perkins’ characteristic wit and charm. If you love the series, then this is definitely the book you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for?

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