Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review: The Last Magician

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Released: July 18, 2017
Read: July 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: ARC, 498 pages
Series: The Last Magician #1

Description on Goodreads:

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Review:

    The Last Magician had a slow start but it picked up right away. I think it was slow just because I didn't  really understand where the plot would take me yet. And the beginning confused me a little too, because of the back and forth between different time periods. I didn't realize Dolph's time was when Esta was going to travel to. It was smooth sailing from then though, as soon as the puzzle pieces fit together.
    The idea for the novel was clearly well developed. I loved how the plot lines intertwined and left me almost completely shocked and numb. Every new development felt like an exciting surprise and I honestly couldn't wait to read more.
    And it helped that Esta was a complete badass. She was witty, smart and daring, and clearly a feminist. It was funny and interesting to see how she interacted with Harte Darrigan. It's like she always had the upper hand and knew how to get underneath his skin. Her backstory was just as depressing as Darrigan's, and it really suited the thief she would later become.
    Meanwhile, Harte Darrigan was just a product of many betrayals. He acted the way he did because of how people treated him as he grew up, and because he knew just how cruel people could be. To me he was just a misunderstood and broken man who did what he could to survive. I loved reading about the metaphorical masks he wore when he was surrounded by people he couldn't trust. He played the people around him and put on one of the best performances I've read about in ages.
    And speaking of manipulators, Dolph was definitely one of the most dynamic and complex characters that you meet. He had so many different sides to him: the busy, all-knowing boss, the caring gentleman, the power-hungry beast and the loyal friend. Just like Darrigan, he wore each expression and attitude like a mask that could be swapped out at any moment, depending on who he was with.
     The time period Lisa Maxwell picked was perfect as well. I liked that the book depicted all of the different gangs and their turf's. It truly felt like I was in the 1900's with Esta from the way the characters dressed, to the transportation, to the clubs and the views on women. It was different from other novels I've read, where the authors pick the same old settings. It was quite refreshing.
    The only thing I didn't particularly like about the Last Magician is the ending. I know the author had to leave some questions unanswered and put out an idea what the sequel will be about, but I'd actually much rather have this be a standalone. The concept and idea was only enough to be one long book for me. I believe it would have been a bit better if Lisa Maxwell had tied up all the loose-ends and altered the ending. Of course, I'm still going to read the sequel. I just don't see how she's going to be able to write another full book on this. Other than that, the novel was beautifully written and I'm still excited to see where Esta goes from here in the next book!

Favourite Quotes:
  • "Steal me the night."-Dolph Saunders
  • "He wasn't sorry for using their fears and their hopes, their prejudices and their sense of righteousness against them. For distracting them from the truth. He was simply surviving in a world that hated what he was." -Harte Darrigan
  • "Change your feathers often enough, and the mark won't recognize the bird."-Esta
  • "There's always a choice. The question is which one you're willing to live with."
  • "He'd wanted an ace in his pocket and had chosen a serpent instead."
  • "After all, Harte Darrigan might be a bastard, he might be a double-crossing lowlife scoundrel, but he wasn't so low as to leave."

Rating: 8.5/10

Recommended if you like: historical fiction, fantasy, magic, romance, manipulation

Keep flipping pages,
Lauren


Friday, July 28, 2017

Blog Tour: Royal Crush












                                                                                                                


Hey friends! It's Mari here, reviewing for one of my FAVOURITE AUTHORS OF ALL TIME!!!!!! Thanks to Rockstar Book Tours, we are bringing you a blog tour for Royal Crush by Meg Cabot! 

Title: ROYAL CRUSH
Author: Meg Cabot
Pub. Date: August 1, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 192
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads

Being the newest princess of Genovia is WAY more complicated than she expected, but Olivia Grace Clarisse Mignonette Harrison is getting used to it. She gets to live in an actual palace with two fabulous poodles, a pet iguana, her very own pony, and, best of all, a loving family to help her figure things out!

And right now Olivia, having finally admitted that she likes Prince Khalil as more than just a friend, could REALLY use some advice. What is a princess supposed to do once she's found a prince she likes? With her half-sister Mia busy enjoying her honeymoon, Olivia turns to Grandmere for help.

The third book in the middle-grade Princess Diaries spin-off series, written and illustrated by New York Times-bestselling author Meg Cabot.


About Meg: 
The kween herself
Meg Cabot is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of books for both adults and tweens/teens. There have been over 25 million copies of Meg’s nearly 80 published books sold in 38 countries. Her last name rhymes with habit, as in “her books can be habit forming.” She currently lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and various cats.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest | Instagram 


Review:

Let me make something very clear. I do not, ever, read middle grade fiction. EVER. It's not my thing, nor was it when I was the age that it's targeted for.

But I will always, ALWAYS make an exception for Meg Cabot. She is a kween among women, and I will always give her books a try, especially when it comes to the Princess Diaries.

I'm so glad I made that rule.

I was expecting the whole Princess Olivia series to be a watered-down version of the original parent series. But it wasn't. It hit all the notes that the original did, but in a fresh way, geared toward a new generation of readers. Olivia is much like her half-sister Mia, in that she is neurotic and obsessive over the things that she loves, and her relationships with her friends and family are very similar to Mia's. She is a plucky and relatable heroine, and her personality is so freaking charming! But while that may seem like Cabot is simply trying to recreate something that she had with her other series, it really doesn't read that way. Trust me. 

The things that made me fall in love with the Princess Diaries in the first place, (that it was about a girl who came from a "common" life, and now lives with her rather trying royal Grandmere and family) are present in this series as well. What is new however, is that Olivia lives (and goes to middle school) in Genovia. It brings a new level to the story having her be surrounded by young royals, unlike her sister. It's hilarious seeing Olivia trying to navigate her new royal life. Plus her crush on a certain Prince is super cute to read. 

What also made me hesitant about reading this, was that it felt like I was cheating on Mia, what with reading about her sister and all. But never fear. Mia has a prominent role in the book (what with her pregnancy and all!) and even her friends are mentioned. Also, her mother and Rocky are still around, and reading about their happy life in Genovia is wonderful. It really makes you feel better about read-cheating on the original series.

All in all, this book hit all the right notes, and Olivia is a new princess for a new generation of readers. And (dare I say it?) even old ones like myself!

Recommended for people who enjoy: The Princess Diaries, contemporary fiction, middle grade




Rating: 9/10 Stars

Giveaway Details:


3 winners will receive a finished copy of ROYAL CRUSH, US Only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

Week One:
7/24/2017- YA Book Nerd- Review
7/25/2017- Bibliobakes- Review
7/26/2017- Margie's Must Reads- Review
7/27/2017- Never Too Many To Read- Review

Week Two:
7/31/2017- Little Miss Drama Queen- Review
8/1/2017- The Book Nut- Review
8/2/2017- Becky on Books- Review
8/3/2017- Pervy Ladies Books- Review

8/4/2017- YA Books Central- Spotlight


Well that's it from me! Let me know what you think of the Princess Olivia books, and if you missed my review of the first Princess Diaries book, click here to check it out!

Happy Reading,
Mari

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Blog Tour: Blight




Hello all! We are happy to bring you another wonderful book to showcase! Be sure to add them to Goodreads, and let us know what you think!


Blight by Alexandra Duncan

Published: August 1st, 2017
Format: Hardcover & Ebook, 400 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Find it:  Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads

Summary:

When an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out.

From the author of the acclaimed American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce pick Salvage, which was called “Brilliant, feminist science fiction” by Stephanie Perkins, the internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. This stand-alone action-adventure story is perfect for fans of Oryx and Crake and The House of the Scorpion.

Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again.

Inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity, this is an action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.

About Alexandra Duncan

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.


You can visit her online at:

Q & A with Alexandra, who is crazy smart and wonderful!


When writing this book, were there any books/authors/stories that inspired you?
This is going to sound silly, but part of the inspiration for the main character Tempest was She-Ra (Yes, the Princess of Power. He-Man’s sister. From the ‘80s cartoon.) I was obsessed with She-Ra when I was a kid, largely because of her back story. She had been captured as a baby and raised by the Evil Horde, so when He-Man first meets her, she’s a warrior fighting on the side of evil. She has a redemption story arc that I found really compelling as a five and six year-old (Yes, I was a strange child.), and ever since then, I’ve been drawn to that same sort of arc.

What do you want people to take away from the book? In this year, 50, 100?

I hope people will take away the importance of diversity, both in people and in our food supply. Diversity is how we survive as a species. I know some people are going to read this and think it’s a polemic against genetically modified foods (aka GMOs), but the GMO issue is a complicated one. Personally, I’m fine eating some corn that’s been crossed with fish DNA if that’s going to help end world hunger. What we have to be careful about is monoculture in our crops, which makes them more easily wiped out by disease, and control of our food supply falling into the hands of a select few people or companies, which is something we’re starting to see. In 50 and 100 years, I hope people are laughing about how paranoid I was to write this book, not calling it prophetic. 

Why did you choose your main character to be a teen and not an adult?

In general, teens are more open-minded and idealistic than adults. At that age, you’re more willing to question and reevaluate the world around you, rather than accepting it as it is, but on the flip side, teenagerhood is also a time when you can find yourself tricked or manipulated by people with more life experience or a rigid worldview. I felt Tempest would be more compelling as a teenager than as an adult because of that tension between the pressure to conform and the spirit of skepticism that is a part of so many people’s lives at that age.

What inspired the highly scientific background of your novel?

I’m a nerd. I’ve been following the development of agricultural technology since I was in high school, and some of the things people have created sound straight out of a science fiction novel. Take terminator seeds, which were thankfully never put into production, or herbicide sprays that interact with weeds on a genetic level. As I was writing Blight, I also began hearing about CRISPR, a gene-editing technology that would allow scientists to change the genetic code of a person or animal after they were born, rather than in the embryonic stage. It’s something that could have life-saving applications, such as eradicating degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, but could also be used for more morally questionable ends, such as making sure a baby had blue eyes and blonde hair. In the world of Blight, technologies like these have run wild, with no one keeping them in check.

What were the challenges in writing a strong female character in such a novel? Would this have been different if set in a non-dystopia world?

In some ways, writing a strong female character is easier in a dystopia than it is in the real world. The evils in a dystopia are usually more clear or heightened than in real life, because the writer is trying to highlight a particular issue or injustice. For example, if the dystopian world has a rule that all girls must be married by their sixteenth birthday, it’s easier to point to that as wrong than it is to recognize all the subtle ways sexism and rape culture affect girls that same age in our own culture. When we’re reading about a strong female character in our own world, we bring all of our unconscious biases and beliefs to our reading of her. It’s easier to label her a bitch or unlikeable. If, on the other hand, we remove her from our own context and put her in one without the same cultural expectations as our own, it’s easier for us to support the idea of her breaking with tradition and to see her as strong. *Word from Mari: PREACH IT GURL!!*



These are the prints that you can win!


Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
7/24/2017- Savings in Seconds- Review
7/26/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Excerpt
7/27/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
7/28/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

Week Two:
7/31/2017- Buried Under Books- Review
8/1/2017- The Bewitched Reader - Guest Post
8/2/2017- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
8/3/2017- Kati's Bookaholic Rambling Reviews- Excerpt 
8/4/2017- YABooksCentral- Review

We hope you enjoy the book! 
Your Friends,
The Autumn Bookshelf

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Blog Tour: Wesley James Ruined My Life


Hello all! Today we are apart of a blog tour for a very exciting summer read! We hope you enjoy it, and that you pick it up this summer too!

31145064Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn

Released: July 18th, 2017
Read: July 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Format: Paperback ARC, 256 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Quinn Hardwick’s having a rough summer. Her beloved grandmother has been put into a home, her dad’s gambling addiction has flared back up and now her worst enemy is back in town: Wesley James, former childhood friend—until he ruined her life, that is.

So when Wesley is hired to work with her at Tudor Tymes, a medieval England themed restaurant, the last thing Quinn’s going to do is forgive and forget. She’s determined to remove him from her life and even the score all at once—by getting him fired.

But getting rid of Wesley isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Quinn finds herself falling for him, she has to decide what she wants more: to get even, or to just get over it. 

Review:

This book was the quintessential beach read. Honestly it was the kind of light book that you sometimes NEED during vacation, and it didn't disappoint. While it had a predictable and somewhat cliche plot, the backstory more then made up for it. Q is a likeable girl who (like me) loves England, and needs to make cash in order to go. Her relationships with her parents are complex (what with her gambler of a dad) and in many ways she is a fully developed character. Then in comes Wesley who "ruined" her life a while ago, who is stirring some new feelings in her. In my opinion it was stupid that she blamed him for the divorce of her parents. Like really Q? You really thought that he was the one to reveal to your mom that your dad lost his job? How dumb and naive can you be? But whatever. Wes is SUPER hot, and his reporte with Q is extremely cute, something that really drives the book forward. Their love/hate relationship is super fun and cute to watch, and it was perfect to lazily read on a summer day, outdoors with a lemonade in hand!

Rating: 7.5/10

Recommended for people who enjoy: sweet rom-coms, summer romances, England

Interview with the author:

Q: What was it that inspired the novel? (was it a summer romance of your own, simply a thought that came to you in the shower, etc.) How much of the story did you personally connect with?


A: I was inspired to write a book set at a medieval theme restaurant after attending a renaissance faire back in 2013. I loved the setting and I thought it gave me a lot to play with. I knew I wanted to write an enemies to lovers story, but there’s no real basis from my own life reflected in Quinn and Wesley’s relationship. The part I’m most personally connected to is Quinn’s relationship with her grandmother. My grandmother didn’t have Alzheimer’s but I was very close to her and I borrowed some of the feelings I had when my grandmother passed away for this novel.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!
Displaying Wesley James blog evite.jpg

Happy reading,
Mari

Monday, July 10, 2017

Book Review: Traitor's Kiss



The Traitor's Kiss by Erin Beaty

29346870Released: May 9th, 2017
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback, ARC

Summary from Goodreads:

An obstinate girl who will not be married. 
A soldier desperate to prove himself. 
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.


Review:

Going into this book, I was expecting it to be almost exactly like a Jane Austen novel. And it was, for the most part. The language was very "olde timey" and it had a feel for a classical love story. The twist being, that the main female lead is stronger than that of Austen's typical heroines, and that shes a spy. 

This novel was a fun read, but was reeeaaaallllllyyyy slow to get into. I am a HUGE Austen fan, and was excited to read a YA "version" of her work. But this was tough. Since I don't believe in DNFing anything, I pushed through. And it got really good. Once the action started, it kept moving, and it kept me at the edge of my toes. But like I said, it was really long to get into.

My favourite part of this book was (of course), the strong female lead. Sage is loud and very unladylike. She does what she wants, when she wants it. It's really easy to like her, because of the rich backstory that she has (very tragic, very Jane Austen). She falls in love with a soldier, and the road to true love is very rocky. 

The only thing novel/plot wise that made me really upset was the confusing strategy that the soldiers used, where they switched their names to stay undercover. As you could probably tell, it got confusing FAST. It was really hard to keep who was who straight. Other than that, it was a fun read, and I'll probably look out for book two. 

Favourite Quote:  “We don’t always like what’s good for us,” she said. “Especially at first.” 
― Erin Beaty, The Traitor's Kiss

Rating: 7.5/10

Recommended for people who enjoy: spy novels, romance, Jane Austen, historical fiction

Happy Reading,
Mari