Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (30)

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews! It's where bloggers can share what they got for review, bought, borrowed, won or gifted (both physical and eBooks may be included! :D)

Here's what I got recently:

For review:

*ARC* The Radiant Road by Katherine Catcall (Goodreads)
*ARC* Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton (Goodreads)
*ARC* Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke (Goodreads)
*ARC* Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar (Goodreads)

I pretty much freaked out when I got the package of books because I have been dying to read Wink Poppy Midnight (I flailed about it in my WoW post here) and the rest of the books sound so good as well (I Goodreads-ed them and I approve). Also, I feel kind of special because I really like the both the original and new cover of Rebel of the Sands so I'm happy that I got a copy with the first cover, hehe. Anyway, thank you so much to my lovely friends at Penguin Random House International! You ladies are the b e s t.

What new goodies did YOU get recently? Be sure to leave us a comment with a link to your post and we'll check it out! :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

ARC Review: The Girl Who Fell by S.M. Parker

Title: The Girl Who Fell
Author: S.M. Parker
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: March 1st 2016
Pre-order the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

His obsession.
Her fall.

High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.

Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.

But love has a way of changing things.

Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.

Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?

But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.

So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.

If she waits any longer, it may be too late.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Every time I dive into a Contemporary novel, I always keep one foot out of the metaphorical water because I am very particular with the kind of Contemporaries I enjoy and most of the ones I've read usually don't sit too well with me; however, The Girl Who Fell is unlike any other Contemporary reading experience I have ever had and I am happy to say that while I overcome with a lot of conflicting emotions (because of the heavy underlying topic) I did enjoy the story and the writing (though there were moments when the book was too slow and a bit disconcerting with how heavy it was on the romance, which I understood was the point of the book). S.M. Parker handled and paced everything so well and managed to make The Girl Who Fell one of the most realistic novels I have ever read, I became a part of the story because of her writing and that was amazing.

This book gave me so much anxiety, mostly because I already got bad vibes from Alec and pretty much developed a nervous twitch from all the instances wherein I wanted to just step in and shout at Zephyr to not do it (and by "it" I mean everything related to Alec). No go can be that charming and that smiley without hiding something. And while the plot didn't particularly lead towards a love triangle, I was Team Slicer from the start, from the moment he carried Zephyr's hockey stuff during her game, I was all for Gregg. But my preferences aside I was very impressed that S.M. Parker was able to evoke such foreign emotions within me, I was an objective third party from what was happening but still managed to be included in what was happening with Zephyr and Alec. It was very interesting.

My mom would always tell me that first love is heady, a complete rush, and unpredictable and S.M. Parker was really able to embody those characteristics of first love within Zephyr. I feel like with everything that was happening with her life (her dad leaving, her wait for Boston College's acceptance letter and others), she was already vulnerable and Alec preyed on that. There were so many aspects of her life that were in disarray that Zephyr ended up depending on the one thing she considered constant, which was Alec. Zephyr is by no means weak, but with everything happening and Alec's affections and undeniable charms, she just ended up... falling. And that was what really hit me, this strong, determined girl who just didn't know.

Everything was resolved at the right time, it was timed perfectly but in a way, it was also a bit too late. I looked back at what I read in The Girl Who Fell and I can't help but wonder what Zephyr could have done to avoid all that crazy, disturbing stuff from happening but I couldn't think of anything (if she had spoken to her friends, would something have changed? How about her parents?), Alec was just so well put together that nobody could have found fault in him, and that's what saddened me, that all those things really did have to happen for Zephyr to get to where she is now.

The Girl Who Fell is a powerful novel that amaze you in the most unexpected of ways, it also carries with it a message of finding strength and the truth in yourself. It was an awakening for me on abusive relationships, that we never really realise that what abuse is (because they don't always come in the form of beatings or verbal lashes) until our eyes are truly opened. S.M. Parker has created a book that can and will speak to anyone who chooses to pick it up. I am extremely fortunate to have been able to read it.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

ARC Review: Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Title: Criminal Magic
Author: Lee Kelly
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Saga Press
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive - and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It's 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city's magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters' crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer's shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC's most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family's home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic - and when their paths cross at the Shaws' performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Criminal Magic is everything I've ever wanted in a book and more. There were not enough hours in the day for me to read this book and in a way, I was glad for it. I was able to savor every line, paragraph, page and chapter. There were so many pieces and moments that were meant to really be absorbed and appreciated and I was able to do those things. If there's one thing that I was able to take home from reading Criminal Magic, it's that Lee Kelly writes like a dream. Her different uses of imagery were overwhelming in the best way possible.

I have to applaud Lee Kelly for the expert and impressive execution of the alternating POVs. I am always taken aback by authors who can do multiple POVs justice and that's exactly what she did, Lee Kelly smashed it. There was great characterisation in both Alex and Joan's parts, they both had unique and distinct voices and what's great is that they both contributed a piece to the puzzle, so by the end of the book, everything was complete and wrapped up nicely.

Alex and Joan, I would say, are two sides of the same coin, they're essentially the same person but with certain aspects that stop them from being one. They have the same goals (more or less, for their family) and they're doing things that they aren't quite sure of. Lee Kelly paints a very good picture of two souls with good intentions but with a shady path ahead. (I think their moral compass needs a little tweaking.) And the things they had to go through for them to get to where they are now? My heart goes out to Alex and Joan.

I don't even know how to tackle the magic bits of this book but holy crap, the detail and vividness of magic in Criminal Magic blew my mind. Illegal shine bars, performance magic and mafia that use magic?! Oh my god. It was such a wild and amazing ride. I felt like I was an audience member in the Red Den, experiencing magic for the very first time. And the whole book literally felt like I was under a shine high, everything was so vivid and dark and overwhelming but I never wanted it to stop. Every page was a hit for me and when the novel hit the end with its explosive (and completely unexpected conclusion) all I could do was beg for more.

For me to say that I am looking forward to Lee Kelly's future novels would be an understatement. I am so excited for whatever she writes next it's almost obsession. And might I say that the ending of Criminal Magic was so shocking but actually so perfect for the book. It is easily one of my most favourite literally endings of all time, it just made so much sense. I can't wait, I can't wait for more.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

ARC Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Title: Blackhearts
Author: Nicole Castroman
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: February 9th 2016
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to CuraƧao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I have no idea what these 2016 debut authors have been drinking (cocktails made from the tears of their readers?) because I am on a roll with all these amazing debuts and from the impressive list I've read so far, Blackhearts is the one that truly gripped my soul from start to finish. There were not enough hours in the day for me to read Blackhearts, I used every second I could to devour this book. I was pretty much obsessed with it, I read it in a day but I know that it's beautiful and gripping story will stay with me forever.

Confession: I am 100000% in love with Anne Barrett. I have never met a heroine who is so resilient and feisty (so, so, so feisty and fierce!). Just a couple of chapters in a she'd already shook off someone's unwanted advances, thought of a solution to a problem and used a pail as a weapon, it was comical and so awesome, the only thing missing was a z-snap and a hair flip. But even more than Anne's fierceness, I was in awe of her passion and drive for freedom. Though she may work as a maid and gets treated like dirt by her peers for being bi-racial, she still manages to hold her head high and keep her snark/wit on, which is really so admirable. (And let's just say she knows how to take matters into her own hands when she needs to, even if it's something she doesn't really want to do. Sometimes one's circumstances force us to do things just to survive, and that's what she did.) I just absolutely love Anne, with her strong will and kind heart, it would be impossible not to. (One of my favourite scenes involves her + Miss Patience + some spices. That is all.)

Okay, though I may have fallen for Anne, majority of my heart belonged to Edward "Teach" Drummond (Louisse Drummond has a nice ring to it, am I right? How about Louisse Teach? Lol). I literally have no words to express how great and interesting of a man Teach is. His passion and sense of justice struck me hard. In Blackhearts, he had just returned from a year at sea and came back a changed man, and what a passionate man he became. Teach's love for the sea was evident in the book, from the way his thoughts flowed and his heart called to be out in a ship, I just wanted to throw him in the water just to ease his pain. I cannot wait for everyone to meet him because he will make you fall in love wit him, you won't even have a chance to resist. (That chiseled chest, those green eyes and his stubble. Good-bye, ovaries.)

I wanted to tie Anne and Teach together, throw them in a boat and let me ship, well, ship. Nicole Castroman promised a slow burn and she delivered, almost to the point of extreme teasing. By the middle of the book, I just wanted to press their heads close to each other and force them to kiss because my mind was pretty much thinking "Just kiss already!!" most of the time. But I seriously love Anne and Teach's romance, it was the kind that took patience and had a strong sense of trust between the two. It's so rare to see this kind of romance in books anymore, usually it's all about the number of kiss scenes or how hot the guy is but with Anne and Teach, it was their hearts and minds that called to each other. Their reading sessions and banter was basically foreplay between the two.

A friend of mine (ahem, Nicola) gave me a brief as to who people speculated Blackbeard was before I dove into Blackhearts and knowing all the details I did (Queen Anne's Revenge!!!!!!!!!!), it made my reading experience all the more amazing and heartbreaking. Blackhearts isn't just a book or a story about Blackbeard came to be, no, it's an experience, one that will change your heart in ways you'll never expect. Blackhearts is not only about Anne and Teach's budding yet profound romance, the novel also put emphasis on the external forces around them, as well as a very varied set of minor characters. Each character had a role to play and quite a number of them were villains, which added more intrigue to the story.

As much as I loved Blackhearts, the ending killed me. Both in a good and bad way, good because the ending was so unique and heartbreaking but so beautiful and made so much sense but also in a bad way because the sequel isn't a guaranteed thing. I may actually die if this amazing story does not get continued and write a strongly worded letter to S&S (White Chicks style). Blackhearts is such a special book and I really want it to receive the recognition and love it deserves. February 9th, mark that as the day your life will be made and your heart destroyed in the best possible way. (Also, so many thanks to Nicole Castroman for writing this phenomenal novel. I don't think I'll ever be the same again but I don't regret anything.)


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (53)

Waiting on Wednesday/s are hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine in which you choose a book or books that you're excited and waiting for.
This week's Waiting on Wednesday book is...

Title: No Love Allowed
Author: Kate Evangelista
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication date: April 19th 2016
Pre-order the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

It's all fun and parties until someone falls in love in this modern fairy tale from author Kate Evangelista.

Caleb desperately needs a fake girlfriend. Either he attends a series of parties for his father’s law firm with a pretty girl on his arm, or he gets shipped off to Yale to start a future he’s not ready for and isn’t sure he wants. And sadly, the last unattached girl in his social circle has just made the grievous mistake of falling in love with him. Fortunately, Didi, recently fired waitress and aspiring painter, is open to new experiences. As the summer ticks by in a whirl of lavish parties, there’s only one rule: They must not fall in love!
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

Reasons for why I am excited for this book:

1) I am a big supporter of Kate Evangelista and I will pretty much read anything she writes, and her Contemporaries have been pretty successful so far so I have complete trust that No Love Allowed will deliver. (And I've been seeing some great reviews of it so that's a good sign!)
2) I am in absolute cover lust with the cover. When Swoon Reads hosted a voting for the official image, that cover caught my eye and I've been in love with it ever since. It just screams summer Contemporary romance, it has everything working for it.
3) The blurb looks and sounds so good! I cheered for No Love Allowed back when it was just an MS in Swoon Reads's website so I'm all kinds of excited to finally see it published and in bookstores. I just can't wait!

What are your WoW pick/s for this week? Let me know in the comments and I'll check them out!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

ARC Review: Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell

Title: Unhooked
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

My thoughts:

Forget all you thought you knew about Peter Pan, his lost boys, Hook and even Tinker Bell. Just forget about your childhood Neverland and welcome Lisa Maxwell's dark but gorgeous version of Peter Pan, Unhooked. I could not put this book down (stayed up until the wee hours of the morning just to keep up the fast pace) and I kind of hated myself a bit after for reading it too fast. Unhooked is the tale of Peter Pan you never knew you wanted... until now.

It took me a few chapters to really connect with Gwen but once I caught on to her voice, I found myself captivated and unable to look away. My fingers were a blur with how quickly I was turning the pages and devouring their words. Gwen is your typical snarky, defensive heroine and that was the image that fit in her scenario, I was amazed that she was able to keep that bravado up for so long. Getting thrown headfirst into an unknown land by evil fey would've thrown anyone off their game, but she managed to keep her head straight (well, sometimes) and really thought things through, which I found admirable. And it was her tenacity and need for answers that helped her out in the end. There were moments, however, when I wanted to shake Gwen and tell her to believe in herself more. The constant doubt and avoidance annoyed me but I guess the ego-boost is where Rowan comes in.

I feel like I can go on and on and on about Rowan (Unhooked's Hook) but I don't want to spoil things for you. I just want to say I love Rowan and Gwen's dynamic together, though they were hesitant in trusting each other, it seemed like they found a part of themselves in each other. They were actually similar, in terms of how fiercely loyal they are (to the point of sacrificing themselves to protect those they love) and their obstinateness (mostly to each other). And there were also parts of them that were scarred and broken, those aspects of themselves called to one another. It was beautiful, heart-breaking and made my chest ache. I really did enjoy their banter, they were just so cute together.

I never knew that Peter Pan (or Pan, as he likes to be called) could be so damn creepy. There's only so many times a person can smile pleasantly before his face cracks. Sure, I was intrigued by him and his good looks and runed chest but as soon as he slipped into the page, I was on guard and so was Gwen, luckily. Honestly, he scared me more than the Dark Ones or the other creepy crawlies in Neverland (and there was an abundance of them), I just got really bad vibes from him. No one can be that charming.

The darkness of Unhooked was really what drew me in, everything was so fascinating and I just couldn't look away from all the blood and evilness. One of the things that got me were the Lost Boys, Lisa Maxwell's interpretation of them pulled at my heart-strings (especially when I saw how much Rowan cared for them) but also made me very afraid. With this novel, you never run out of excitement because every turn you make, you meet someone or something new that will wreak havoc. However there were moments in the book where I found myself confused, mostly with the Olivia bits, I felt like she was an afterthought and her scenes greatly disturbed me (in a good way?) but yeah, I didn't think she was too important.

Unhooked had me hooked, lined and sinkered, it was a story that managed to have heart amidst all the darkness. It was a great read and though the ending did leave me wanting for a bit more I felt like its conclusion made the most sense after all those events (they will be mended). Lisa Maxwell delivered a fantastic book and I look forward to whatever else she has in store for us.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (52)

Waiting on Wednesday/s are hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine in which you choose a book or books that you're excited and waiting for.
This week's Waiting on Wednesday book is...

Title: Kill the Boy Band
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Publisher: Point
Publication date: February 23rd 2015
Pre-order the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

From debut author Goldy Moldavsky, the story of four superfan friends whose devotion to their favorite boy band has darkly comical and murderous results.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)

Reasons for why I am excited for this book:

1) I actually heard about Kill the Boy Band at BEA and ever since I was told about it, I pretty much became obsessed with the idea of it (one of my biggest regrets was not being able to grab an ARC at the expo). So yeah, I basically stalked the author and the book everywhere. I read reviews like an addict looking for even the tiniest of fixes just to survive. Yeahp, that was me.
2) I'm not normally a fan of Contemporary books but when people start describing a book with words like "dark", "hilarious" and "unlike anything they've ever read", count me in first in line! Also, super odd but I am kind of in love with Goldy Moldavsky's name, it's cute and just rolls off the tongue.
3) Have you read the blurb? Can you look me in the eyes and tell me that you're not excited for a novel about friends accidentally kidnapping their least favourite band member from their favourite band? See? It sounds so good, am I right? You're welcome.

What are your WoW pick/s for this week? Let me know in the comments and I'll check them out!