Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

Posted September 27, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 0 Comments

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas | Book ReviewA Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 3, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 626
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

So… I have been struggling and struggling with how to review A Court of Mist and Fury since I read it almost a year ago. I almost considered not reviewing it at all because it seemed so overwhelming to me. It’s a huge book, filled with so many things that I loved so much that writing down all my feelings and thoughts seems impossible. BUT… I want to be able to look back and remember how I felt, so this “review” is really just for me. It’s an unorganized list of feelings and impressions and fangirliness. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Everything that happened in ACOTAR that I thought I loved so much was replaced and/or outdone by everything that happened in this book. For example, I was totally on team Tamlin… until I wasn’t. The book starts out with a very emotionally destroyed, almost traumatized Feyre, and Tamlin sucked so bad. I literally hated him within the first few pages. How the crap did this even happen? I LOVED him! But Rhysand… *swoon* He made me fall in love with him even more, even though I hated his villainous ways in ACOTAR. He’s still his normal mischievous, cunning, slippery self, but he’s also passionate and tender and so caring and protective of those he holds dear. I was sold. My loyalties were flipped on a dime. I had no idea I was capable of loving Rhys, but now I can’t imagine feeling any differently. That’s what this book did to me!!

2. The reason Feyre and Rhys fall in love is super sweet and magical, at least in my opinion. I thought Tamlin and Feyre were meant to be, but these two are on a completely different level.

3. The romance… I just can’t. It was everything I hoped for and more. I love so many romantic passages and quotes, but here are some of my favorites:

“I am broken and healing, but every piece of my heart belong to you.”

“I heard every word between you. I knew you could take care of yourself, and yet … ” He went back to his pie, swallowing a bite before continuing. “And yet I found myself deciding that if you took his hand, I would find a way to live with it. It would be your choice.”
I sipped from my wine. “And if he had grabbed me?”
There was nothing but uncompromising will in his eyes. “Then I would have torn apart the world to get you back.”

“I was his and he was mine, and we were the beginning and middle and end. We were a song that had been sung from the very first ember of light in the world.”

4. There is so much emotion in A Court of Mist and Fury. There’s so many feelings, and I felt them right along with the characters. Feyre has been through a lot, if you’ll remember the end of ACOTAR and the whole Amarantha debacle. She’s very delicate and is having to recover from the trauma and abuse she went through. I related to her a lot, and found it refreshing that she didn’t just jump right back into her hardened, brave, strong self. I liked seeing the impact those prior events had on her. Even strong people have to process the bad in life. The author could have had them all recover during the break between books and then come back and show us strong characters. Tamlin is struggling, Rhys is struggling, others are struggling. Life is hard for these characters and I liked being able to witness it instead of hear about it after the fact.

5. I LOVED The Night Court and the secret, beautiful city of Velaris. The setting was just so pretty and magical. I also loved the people there, and all the new characters I got to meet.

6. The writing was wonderful. I love all the details and the feelings that Maas put into words.

7. This is the first time I have felt that the second book was better than the first. I never thought I’d see the day!

Basically… read it. Read. It. A Court of Mist and Fury was my hands down my favorite book of 2016, and I’m actually considering a re-read which I rarely ever do. Do yourself a favor and et invested in this series.

5 Stars

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale | Graphic Novel Review

Posted September 13, 2017 by Jana in Book Review, Graphic Novel / 0 Comments

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale | Graphic Novel ReviewRapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 5, 2008
Genres: Retelling
Pages: 144
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
3 Stars

Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you've never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.

Here we have a wild western retelling of the classic Rapunzel. Rapunzel lives in a walled-up city with her mother, Gothel, before climbing the wall and realizing how horrible things are on the outside. She also discovers that Gothel is not her real mother and goes on an adventure with a man named Jack to try and free the people of Gothel’s evil magic.

This story has a lot of elements that are the same as the original Rapunzel. Rapunzel was taken from her parents because the stole Gothel’s lettuce, Rapunzel has very long hair that she uses to her benefit, there is a handsome man along for the ride, and she is thrown into an isolated tower. In this version, though, her mother his been imprisoned, and the story takes place in the Wild West. Rapunzel is very feisty and brave, whereas most renditions depict her as a helpless, naïve girl who can’t take care of herself and does not understand the concept of evil. She goes up against gun carrying vigilantes, thieves, monsters, and scary situations. This time the man sits in the back seat and has to be saved. I loved seeing a fairytale heroine with a brain, who can hold her own and get things done. The illustrations are very well done and are infused with color, perspective, and a ton of detail. Children who enjoyed the original story of Rapunzel or Disney’s Tangled will enjoy this fractured version of the tale.

3 Stars

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Boldly Bookish Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

Posted June 22, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Giveaway, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Boldly Bookish Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Boldly Bookish Blog Tour Book Review (+ Giveaway)The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on June 7, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository
3 Stars

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back--with no idea of where they've been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn't come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max's sister Avery, who needs to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story.

Welcome to my stop along Bloomsbury’s Boldly Bookish blog tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review! It’s week three of the tour, which means it’s all about Tara Altebrando’s The Leaving. This book is crazy and weird and intriguing and I’m excited to review it today! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I’ve always been a huge fan of mysteries involving missing persons and amnesia, and this book treats the topic differently than I’ve ever experienced. Six small children disappear from school one day, and five of them return eleven years later with no memories. At all. They remember snippets of life before “the leaving”, and they have small flashes of what happened while they were gone. For the most part, though, they have forgotten the last eleven years of their lives. What’s crazy is that they are very well educated and are able to transition into their proper grade level with ease after their return. They seem to have been well taken care of. So what happened? And where were they? And why can’t they answer these questions themselves? I was intrigued immediately.

2. The mystery is super unique because all five of these teens (and some family members of theirs) are working with the police and hypnotists and therapists and specialists to try to piece together the past. But nothing is really working. The flashes of memories that I mentioned before continually occur, and these teens are getting more and more confused because they don’t make sense. But this confusion causes them to vigorously search for answers, putting themselves in danger in the process. They don’t know who to trust, and as more information surfaces the reader is left possibly more clueless than the characters. It’s quite a page turner of a book!

3. The story is told in alternating perspectives by three narrators: two of the teens and the sister of the boy who never made it home. This is a really tricky thing to do, and Altebrando did a great job of giving each narrator a recognizable voice. For example, one of the narrators is a little bit crazier… or eccentric? Or maybe she is just not handling things well and is spiraling out of control. Some of her words and sentences made weird designs or were written backwards, and I thought that formatting was a cool touch and gave us more insight into how she was feeling. There were other unique formatting details, but I can tell from reading other early reviews that they did not transfer properly to my eARC.

4. I do wish all five of the returned teens got chapters to tell their thoughts. I would have liked to understand them better. Perhaps that would’ve made things too hard to keep track of, but what’s the point of having four more kids if they don’t contribute to the solving of the mystery?

5. There is some romance that I wish hadn’t been there. I was more focused on learning the why’s and how’s and the romance took me out of that mindset.

6. The suspense was palpable. Practically every chapter ended on a cliffhanger that was not resolved or even addressed until that specific narrator had their turn to talk again. I was just SO curious that I read this book in record time, flying from narrator to narrator and wanting more details and more answers. Altebrando knows what it takes to keep a reader up reading instead of sleeping.

7. The ending was a little anticlimactic and some of the answers went in a direction that almost completely switched the genre of the story. It was a surprise for sure, but I guess I hoped the story would end with more of a bang.

8. I had it all wrong. I thought I knew what was going on, but I was wrong. And that’s a good thing.

Despite my few qualms, I’ve come away from this story with an overall favorable opinion of it. I can’t give many specifics of why I liked it because I’ll end up spoiling things,which is why this review is vague and lukewarm. I was throughly entertained, and Altebrando pulled me out of a reading slump I didn’t know I was in! The unique storyline had me intrigued to the very end, and I enjoyed the ride. I haven’t read a book this fast in years. I’d definitely recommend it to people who are looking for a spin on the normal YA contemporary mysteries. There are twists and turns and details you won’t see coming!

About Tara

Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Tara is a Harvard graduate who lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week 1 – BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE by Tiffany Schmidt
6/6: Pretty Deadly Reviews – Review
6/7: The Young Folks – Q&A
6/8: Swoony Boys Podcast – Character Interview
6/9: In Wonderland – Review
6/10: Jenuine Cupcakes – Guest Post

Week 2 – THE LONG GAME by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
6/13: Beauty and the Bookshelf – Guest Post
6/14: YA Bibliophile – Review
6/15: Such A Novel Idea – Playlist
6/16: The Cover Contessa – Q&A
6/17: Avid Reader – Review

Week 3 – THE LEAVING by Tara Altebrando
6/20: Once Upon A Twilight – Guest Post
6/21: Literary Lover – Review
6/22: That Artsy Reader Girl – Review
6/23: Novel Ink – Q&A
6/24: The Irish Banana Review – Top 10

3 Stars

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller | Mini Book Review

Posted June 5, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Devil You Know by Trish Doller | Mini Book ReviewThe Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4.5 Stars

Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

I gobble up mysteries and thrillers like the best of ’em, so I was all over The Devil You Know as soon as it arrived on my doorstep! Road trip + mystery + suspense + a little romantical intrigue and I was sold. And honestly, I loved it! I read it in one day because I was so creeped out that I worried I would not be able to sleep if I did not read the resolution and the wind-down of the story. The Devil You Know was exhilarating and refreshing and reminded me why I love reading so much.

Cadie, in an almost rebellion against her typical life and her typical self, daringly sets out on a road trip with two total strangers, doing many stupid and reckless things along the way. How could she NOT expect to end up in a boat load of trouble, unsure about who to trust? I mean… oh the scary. I kept wanting to tell her to stop! Go home! But the thing is, teens do this. Teen Jana NEVER would have, but I know teens who have done things like this, so I believed everything even though I was so flabbergasted that it was happening. I can only describe it as watching a train speed towards the end of the track with nobody in control. You know something is going to happen and you can’t do anything about it. This is the kind of thriller I love! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

This is my first book by Trish Doller, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of hers. I loved her writing style in this story, and her ability to completely transport you to the scene at hand. No matter what was going on in the story I was on pins and needles. There is this underlying feeling of discomfort that envelopes you from beginning to end, which is why I honestly could not stop until things were over. The characters are not the most important part of the story, and that shows. And it’s fine. Trish really focuses on feelings and settings and events more than the people involved, which actually made me feel even more nervous. The boys are both mysteries, and Cadie is a normal girl that I think most readers can relate to in some way or another. I felt like I was Cadie, and that I was the one in danger. The entire story is incredibly well done, and I continually think about it even though I finished it months ago. I really hope Trish writes more thrillers!


4.5 Stars

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae | Book Review

Posted April 21, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae | Book ReviewWish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
Series: If Only... #2
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on May 6, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Mail)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?

OH MY GOODNESS. I actively seek out romances that take place in Italy. I kid you not, I have spent hours looking for them. It’s kind of ridiculous, but I just love them because I love Italy so much and want to go back SO BAD. When I saw this lovely on Goodreads, I could not handle it! I immediately requested it, and was delighted when it arrived in the mail. Thank you SO much, Bloomsbury for sending me to Italy during the craziest time of my life (right now). I loved Wish You Were Italian so much, and I will be making everyone I know read it! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Italy. *sigh* Within just the first few pages, Pippa is in Rome eating gelato by the Pantheon. I DID THAT. I did that exact thing! You can totally tell the author has been to Rome, because she described everything I did! She perfectly described getting off the subway, seeing the massive Colosseum, walking past the Arch of Constantine to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. I was back in Italy! And she made Cinque Terre sound so beautiful. I have always wanted to go there, but I want to go even more now! Rae’s descriptions of scenery are just breathtaking.

2. I loved Pippa. I really respected her for taking such a risk and ditching her art program in Florence to run off to Cinque Terre to live with the cashier from the coffee shop and her family. I would never, EVER be able to do that! It would eat me alive. Her dream is to be a photo journalist, which is not at all what her art aficionado parents want for her. And instead of sulking through the art museums of Florence, which I would have hated her for doing because I LOVE FLORENCE, she actually did something about it and thought of herself for once. She had the best, most snarky, and level-headed voice I’ve read in a while.

3. I really loved the supporting characters. Bruno, the sexy Italian boy was just so endearing. I loved his broken English and his desire to be everything Pippa wanted. He developed a lot throughout the course of the story, and I really enjoyed seeing him change and become a better person. Chiara (Bruno’s sister), the new best friend who takes Pippa to Cinque Terre, is the kind of friend every girl needs. Pippa was floating around on Cloud 9, and Chiara kept pulling her back down to Earth and giving her doses of reality when she needed them. And the family was wonderful. Typical, loving, completely Italian. Darren was just perfection. I loved that he was this nerdy archaeology student with big hair, and he kept popping up wherever she was! I mean, when does that even happen? Pippa is one lucky girl.

4. I was totally ok with the love triangle. *dodges tomatoes* I know, right? I liked both boys for different reasons. I liked one more than the other, but I never found myself rolling my eyes. I was mainly jealous that Pippa was getting attention from both of them!

5. I love all the adventures! Long walks, exploring ruins, eating a lot, souvenir shopping, train rides, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, working in the restaurant, sightseeing. I wanted to be there so badly.

6. The romance is adorable and slow burning. There’s no insta-love, and I loved watching the slow development.

7. The ending is pretty everything-you-want-it-to-be.

I could rave and rave about this book, but I’ll quit now and let you go buy it and read it yourself! Seriously, this book will fly you to Italy and deposit you right into the middle of the best parts of it. My very favorite part was Italy, but the romance and the gelato and the wonderfulness of growing up and discovering your independence and your identity solidified my love. Like I said, I will be recommending this to everyone! And I’m going through Italy withdrawals now. Thanks a lot, Kristin Rae. :P

5 Stars

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (Book Review)

Posted September 20, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 9 Comments

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (Book Review)Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

When I read the synopsis for Starry Nights, I began to covet it immediately. We all know I’m artsy, but I think many people don’t realize how artsy I am! I minored in art history, so a book about art coming to life sold me. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The premise of Starry Nights is SO unique. I’ve always wanted to read a book with such a huge emphasis on art history. The fact that it’s about a boy who falls in love with a girl in a Renoir painting, and dances and eats dessert with her on the museum floor each night made me love it so much. And there are some twists which make it pretty exciting. Who is she? Why does she come to life at night? Why is Julien the only one who can see her? Yeah, these questions are answered in a blend of excitement, suspense, and the love of art.

2. There is SO much art history in this book, and so many mentions of paintings and museums I love. I never made it to the Orsay, which is where this book takes place for the most part, but I have been to the Louvre, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve seen the paintings in this book, and I have imagined them come to life many times. My dreams came true with Starry Nights.

3. Not only does the girl in Renoir’s painting, Clio, come to life, she and Julien can go into other paintings on their dates. They spend time floating on a boat in Van Gogh’s Starry Night, they dance in another, they watch Swan Lake performed by Degas’s dancers, they spend an afternoon on the bridge in Monet’s garden. Clio tells us all about the artists, the paintings, life during that time period, and more. Their conversations are so compelling.

4. You can tell Daisy Whitney loves art, and that’s what made this book so strong. Her descriptions of the museums, the paintings, the emotions, and the romance were utterly mesmerizing. I could picture every wave in The Raft of the Medusa (a painting I absolutely love). I could picture every brush stroke in Van Gogh’s Starry Night. She turned the art into magic.

5. Daisy painted a lovely picture of the artist, Renoir. We get to learn all about him and his desires, inspirations, and thoughts. I love that she made such a famous and influential artist a part of her book. She gave him a personality, and made him real. I’m not sure I’ll ever think of Renoir, or any other artist, the same way again.

6. Daisy took some real liberties with Starry Nights, and I love that she had the guts to do it. A lot of her artistic facts were true, but some of them she put her own spin on them. She created legends, new paintings, inside jokes, and even an explanation for the look on the Mona Lisa’s face. I loved reading about so many fun speculations regarding the art world.

7. I also loved the problem the art began to experience. The book’s synopsis mentions that things start falling out of paintings and that they start bleeding (figuratively) and getting sick. I loved reading about why this happened and the lengths people went to to fix it. It also allowed the art to come alive in a different way. The art itself is depicted as having feelings and desires. In a way, each painting became a character. It was amazing.

8. The characters were great! Julien is such a sweet, caring boy who loves art. Clio is a mystery with a special spirit. They we have Bonheur, a quirky guy who likes to dress up like a girl (wigs and all) and helps Julien figure out who he is and what his purpose is.

9. There were some absolutely breathtaking quotes. Here are some of my favorites:

“When the paintings come out for you, it’s what people have meant all along when they talk about artists being immortal. In a way, their work can live forever. When the art comes alive it’s like the immortal version of the painting, like a little bit of the person painted has gotten to live forever.”

“There is magic somewhere in Paris.”

“The sky could fall, the earth could split open, the garden could tear into two, and I wouldn’t notice.”

“It’s like you can do anything, it’s like the stars exist for you, it’s like you can stop time and fill it with the way your whole heart and mind clicks perfectly with another person. That it’s like the impossible has become possible.”

All in all, this book was a gift to my inner art historian, and is a brand new favorite of mine. The unique storyline is pure magic, and made my senses tingle. I’d give anything to be able to travel through paintings, watch them come to life, and interact with them. Starry Nights allowed me to do that. I would love to read more books like this, and will also definitely be seeking out more of Daisy Whitney’s works. Definitely read this book if you enjoy Paris, art, magic, and romance!

5 Stars

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas (Book Review)

Posted August 5, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 3 Comments

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas (Book Review)Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 27, 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4.5 Stars
An assassin’s loyalties are always in doubt.
But her heart never wavers.

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

I really enjoyed Throne of Glass, and was very excited when I was approved for Crown of Midnight on Netgalley! I dropped everything that I was doing, and began reading immediately. Sarah made me a fan of epic fantasy, and I’m still a huge fan after Crown of Midnight! As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Celaena is such a strong female character, and I absolutely love reading about her. We get to learn more about her and her past in this book, as well as her future and what she is capable of. She’s much more magical and mysterious that I thought she was in Throne of Glass! And even though she’s supposedly this ruthless assassin, she has a conscience. She’s not just the king’s lap dog. She does what she wants. And she likes to giggle, she can down chocolate cake faster than most people, she loves pretty things, and she is obsessed with books. There are so many sides and facets to her, and I’m enjoying getting to know her.

2. Chaol and Dorian are still both vying for Celaena’s heart, but there’s no wishy-washiness on her part. She knows who she wants and she sticks with it, which is a true testament to her strong personality. I really, really like Chaol. He’s sweet and concerned… protective and romantic. But I also really like Dorian. He’s finally having to grow up and find the answers to his own questions. He’s spent his life watching his dad hand out killings and death, and now that it’s Celaena doing it, he’s having a REALLY hard time with that. He has seen her go from a silly little girl to a hardened assassin, and he’s not sure if she’s the same person he fell for, or if she is still the same deep down inside. He’s becoming more noble, and beginning to stand up for what’s right now, and I found that to be a really attractive quality in him. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the suave, debonair prince. I’ve always been a fan of Prince Charmings. :)

3. Crown of Midnight is heartbreaking. I’d heard a little scuttlebutt about things, and how this book would be sad, and I was like, “I highly doubt it. My heart is strong.” While I did not cry, things happen that are just downright sad! There is so much emotion and feeling instilled within the book’s pages, and it all ends up a rather rough roller coaster. Celaena, Chaol, Nehemia, and Dorian go through a LOT of stuff.

4. There is SO much magic, and I loved it! This glass castle is definitely enchanted, and more people know it than are letting on. It holds so many secrets within its walls, hidden in the library, lurking in dark corners, sequestered behind locked doors. We get to explore the castle a lot more in Crown of Midnight, and it makes for a creepy adventure.

5. The writing is just gorgeous. The descriptions put you RIGHT THERE. The feelings are written so perfectly that you feel them yourself. I didn’t read this book, I was a part of this book.

I’m keeping this review short, because I don’t want to spoil anything! Basically, Crown of Midnight is an amazing sequel to Throne of Glass, and even though it just broke my heart, everything that happened needed to happen in order to make Celaena progress in her mission. I’ve seen a lot of comments floating around from people who are worrying that Crown of Midnight will be a huge letdown, with no real plot, a focus on a love triangle, and a bunch of emptiness. Let me ease your fears! I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Don’t be scared to read Crown of Midnight, especially if you loved Throne of Glass! I’d recommend this series to anyone who loves amazing world building, strong characters, tons of action, and even those who claim to not like epic fantasy. I think Sarah will change your mind like she did mine.

4.5 Stars

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (Book Review)

Posted May 30, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt (Book Review)Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on March 26, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
3 Stars

When Mallory’s boyfriend, Jeremy, cheats on her with an online girlfriend, Mallory decides the best way to de-Jeremy her life is to de-modernize things too. Inspired by a list of goals her grandmother made in1962, Mallory swears off technology and returns to a simpler time (when boyfriends couldn’t cheat with computer avatars).

The List:
1. Run for pep club secretary
2. Host a fancy dinner party/soiree
3. Sew a dress for Homecoming
4. Find a steady
5. Do something dangerous
But simple proves to be crazy-complicated, and the details of the past begin to change Mallory’s present. Add in a too-busy grandmother, a sassy sister, and the cute pep-club president–who just happens to be her ex’s cousin–and soon Mallory begins to wonder if going vintage is going too far.

When I think 1960’s, I think cute clothes, Doris Day (I’m obsessed with old movies), The Beatles, JFK, Martin Luther King, The Sound of Music, etc. What a fun time period! I’ve always wanted to go back in time and visit the 60’s, so I was very excited to read Going Vintage. This was a very cute book, and as always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I love the idea behind Going Vintage. Mallory swears off all modern-day conveniences like the Internet, computers, iPods, cellphones because this technology is what she lost her boyfriend to. Online gaming ruined two relationships of mine, so I totally know how Mallory felt when she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her with an online girl named BubbleYum.

2. I thought it was so much fun that Mallory’s desire to go vintage was inspired by a list of her grandmother’s goals for her junior year of high school. I just wish I liked her grandma more. I actually didn’t like anyone very much in Mallory’s family, especially her mother. Her mom is horrendous, and makes money off her daughters’ misfortunes. I could take or leave her sister, Ginnie, and her dad wasn’t memorable enough for me to have an opinion about him.

3. I also was not the biggest fan of Mallory. She was rather naive to think that life was easy in the 60’s because there was no Friendspace (basically Facebook). If you think back on history, there was a LOT going on in the 60’s that made it hard. It wasn’t all Doris Day and Cary Grant. I liked that she took action to get over Jeremy, rather than curl up in a ball and rot… but I just did not connect with her. And to be honest, I was never convinced she even liked Jeremy. I felt like she mourned the loss of a relationship (she couldn’t make out anymore) than the loss of him.

4. I loved Oliver, the pep-club president. He was charming and swoony.

5. There was a lot going on that had nothing to do with the main idea of the story. It was a little discombobulated for me at times.

6. I appreciate the fact that Going Vintage made me consider my own relationship with technology. I couldn’t help but think of all the time I have wasted online scanning Twitter or Facebook stalking people. I do feel like it rules me a bit too much, and that a technology ban might be beneficial.

Overall, I’m not left with a ton to say about Going Vintage. I was in the mood for a light, fluffy read, and that’s what I got. I loved the idea behind the book, but I feel like there were some things that were missing for me.

3 Stars

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black (Book Review/Blog Tour)

Posted February 7, 2013 by Jana in Blog Tour, Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 7 Comments

Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black (Book Review/Blog Tour)Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black
Series: Dance of Shadows #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on February 12, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 469
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
3.5 Stars

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed . . .

Welcome to my stop along the official Bloomsbury Triple Threat Blog Tour for Dance of Shadows! I’m so excited to be participating in such a fun tour! Expect reviews from me for the other two books in this tour over the next few weeks.

Wow. This story had so many twists and turns and unexpected elements. I was initially attracted to this book by the cover, shortly followed by the mysterious storyline… and the ballet. While I wasn’t expecting what I got from this story, I certainly enjoyed what I did. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. The dance descriptions are my absolute favorite part of this book. I love ballet, and I was a clumsy little ballerina as a child. I remember and exercise my ballet teacher used to have us do in class. We would grab a flowy scarf, run as fast as we could, and then jump gracefully over her gym bag. I tripped over said gym bag. Needless to say, my career path did not include ballet. But Yelena wrote in a way that brought dance alive in my mind, and let me picture myself as graceful and swan-like as Vanessa.

2. The mystery was intriguing, and kept me guessing. Sometimes I enjoy dark, mysterious, sinister happenings, and this book really delivered that. I’m a total chicken, and this book creeped me out in a good way.

3. I was not a huge fan of Vanessa. She was a bit immature and narrow-minded to me. And Zep was just too mysterious, that he became unrealistic. The other characters… well… I don’t remember them. I really liked the guy I was supposed to not like: Justin. Haha. He was the sense of reason in this book, and he seemed to be the most developed and interesting. I really enjoyed the part he played, and hope he gets a more dynamic role in the next book.

4. Paranormal, huh? Haha. I totally was not expecting the paranormal twists that tied into the mystery. There were demons, for goodness sake! I had no idea! I liked it, though, and I’m not really a lover of paranormal stories.

5. I liked the ballet school element. It reminded me of the dynamic of Step Up. (The first movie. The others are not to be spoken of…) I liked reading about the practices, recitals, and performances. And I feel like a got a great picture into the life of a dance student.

6. I appreciated the minimal romance. If you blink, you pretty much miss the romance and I really liked that. Sometimes it’s nice to get away from it and see an author build a story around something else. Although… there was a bit of insta-infatuation. I won’t call it love because it never really developed into that. But a minor obsession does keep you on your toes.

All in all, I enjoyed reading about the world I almost ended up in, had I actually been born with the ability to gracefully leap over a duffel bag. The dance descriptions were lovely, and the story was very intriguing. I liked the mystery, and the paranormal twist made it more exciting and creepy. I’m definitely curious to see what’s in store for us in book #2.

3.5 Stars

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Mini Book Review)

Posted August 17, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 8 Comments

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (Mini Book Review)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 7, 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (ALA)
Add to Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
4.5 Stars

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Let this be known… Throne of Glass is my very first high fantasy! After meeting Sarah at ALA, I came home really excited to read it. She’s so nice, and I had fun chatting with her. And seriously? Epic fantasy? Wow! I’m becoming so versatile that I’m surprising myself! I’m totally a convert to the genre, though, and I think this was a great way for me to enter in. I’m loving the glass castle, deadly secrets, hardcore assassin vibe happening with this book, and I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

I really loved the story, and all the elements that went with it: magic, romance, suspense, politics, mystery, a glass castle, an assassin, hidden identities, mythology, fairies, demons, crazy creatures, fight scenes, secret passageways, a handsome prince, a mysterious captain of the guards, a love triangle, pretty dresses, a masquerade ball, a princess from another land, a fight for survival, an amulet, a freezing winter, portals to another world, and scheming, all wrapped up into an exciting package with beautiful writing.

Celaena is awesome. She’s extremely dynamic and exciting, not to mention mysterious. She’s like this wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I loved watching her surprise people. Oh, and she loves candy. Like, a lot. Actually, she loves all food. It’s a unique trait that we don’t see very often in young adult fiction. She also has the ability to really soften people up with her charm, especially Captain Chaol, who wanted to dislike her but ended up really enjoying her company. And then there’s Dorian, who turned into a puddle of mush around her. The love triangle with these three was so much fun, and I had a really hard time deciding on which guy I liked the best.

Really, this book had everything I could ask for, and I loved the glimpse I got into this magical world. I’m left a little speechless, which is why my review is so short. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this author, and the Throne of Glass series. Oh, and now I’m off to get the 4 prequels to this book that were released before its publication date.

4.5 Stars