Tag Archive | Random House

REVIEW: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Read: June 25-27, 2017

Format: ARC Ebook

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Random House, Del Rey Books

Release Date: June 27, 2017

Genre: YA / NA Fantasy

Pages: 400

Reading Challenge(s): Flights of Fantasy

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In the lush and magical tradition of Naomi Novik’s award-winning Uprooted comes this riveting debut from brilliant young writer Callie Bates—whose boundless imagination places her among the finest authors of fantasy fiction, including Sarah J. Maas and Sabaa Tahir.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder—and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition—powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

First of all, can we look at this cover? How cool is this cover! And it’s entirely appropriate for this book. Like, I can’t think of any cooler cover for this book. It perfectly sums up the story and the character Elanna.

So, as far as I can tell this is a stand alone fantasy novel. It’s billed as YA, but it’s really more upper YA into NA due to one steamy scene. I hope this becomes a series though, because I was blown away. I’m just not sure what is left of the story to tell… but I’d still read it!

This world and magic system is so cool. Basically, El lives in a country where magic is outlawed. If someone is suspected of magic, the Witch Hunters are called, and it’s a death sentence. So El doesn’t tell anyone that plants come alive around her – one touch of her finger and she can make them grow. She has big plans of going off for further training to be a botanist. Of course, the king might have other plans, like an arranged marriage.

No worries about that whole arranged marriage by the king thing though, because the king is murdered. Oh, and El is one of the prime suspects. And aside from taking her away from her parents and homeland at five years old to become a political prisoner—due to her father leading a rebellion, she actually kind of liked the guy. So begins her tale. She goes through a lot of changes of heart in this book, starting with not wanting anything to do with her parents. Not wanting to accept her magic. Wanting things to stay the same for her in King Antoine’s court.

El’s journey is a long one. Like, this book could have been broken into like, at least a trilogy, but it wasn’t, and I’m glad the author chose to keep it as one book. It meant no wait time to finish this journey!

The magic in this book is so cool. The land is literally alive and that power lives inside Elanna. There’s a lot of talk of the ancestors and ancient magics and so on. I loved it.

The romance? I don’t know if I was just in the mood for this kind of romance or what, but I immediately fell under Jahan’s charms. His personality was just so… charming! And he’s got secrets of his own. He was very easy going and had a nice sense of humor.

This review does this book no justice. Seriously, none. I can’t even describe all the feels. I can say this though, I did not want to put this book down. Most times I have my specific reading times and I stick to them. With this book? That went out the window. I read and read, and then I read some more. Until I’d devoured this entire thing in 3 days time—which is pretty quick for me for a book this long.

So, long story short: fans of YA fantasy tales with really cool and unique magic systems and a swoon worthy love interest will enjoy this story.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

It’s been fourteen years, last night. Fourteen year since King Antoine took me hostage; fourteen years since I’ve seen or heard from my parents.

 

I’m supposed to be safe here, safe to taunt myself with a magic I am not supposed to possess. A magic I still don’t understand.

 

I have no power but the king’s mercurial affection, which would vanish as soon as anyone named me a witch.

 

For a moment, I forget to be afraid. I just want to listen. I want to understand what the plants are saying.

 

“Jahan what?” I demand. “And I’ll thank you to state your intentions as well!”

A snort escapes him: He’s definitely trying not to laugh. “Jahan Korakides, at your service, demoiselle. I swear to you, my intentions are nothing but honorable.”

“Indeed?” I say. “A man takes a woman—by magic—and knocks her senseless, and she comes to on a horse in the middle of the night, and she’s supposed to assume his intentions are honorable?”

 

But I won’t use my magic to help them. It’s too dangerous, and it gives others ideas. It makes them think I might be what they want me to be.

 

“But you never came for me,” I say. “You left me there. You left me—”

“No,” she says fiercely. “I was always with you. Every day. Every moment. I am your mother, and I was with you.”

 

There’s a story in which Wildegarde makes an entire forest grow overnight; the next morning, the trees rip their roots from the ground and walk.

 

“…The Ereni had to fight their way through shifting forests and hills; they drowned in streams that appeared out of nowhere and valleys that seemed never to end. So by the time they reached Barrony, they wanted more than conquest. They were half mad. They wanted blood.”

 

The earth knew what I wanted. It did as I asked.

 

“So you trust me now?” His breath touches my face; his fingertips linger on my neck.

“Maybe,” I say with a laugh that catches in my throat.

 

REVIEW: 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

Read: March 4-22 , 2017

Format: Paperback ARC

My Book Rating: 2 Stars

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House)

Release Date: February 28, 2017

Genre: Contemporary YA / GLBT / Mental Health

Pages: 320

Reading Challenge(s): 2017 YA, 2017 LGBTQIA

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Perfect for fans of Finding Audrey and Everything, Everything, this is the poignant and uplifting story of Maeve, who is dealing with anxiety while falling in love with a girl who is not afraid of anything.


Think positive.

Don’t worry; be happy.

Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?


REVIEW

I was really excited to start this book, and actually it jumped ahead of a LOT of other books in my pile. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

The thing about Maeve is that she’s a really annoying and boring narrator. I understand WHY the story was told as it was, but I just didn’t really like her or care about her for a good half of the story. I know that anxiety is a real and often crippling thing for someone to go through, but for my personality type, this book was too much for me. I actually found humor in a lot of Maeve’s thoughts, but they were very repetitive and didn’t move the story forward.

I hated the adults in this book. Her dad was a joke of a father, and her mom was… well, not there. Which I get. But she made questionable decisions (such as not allowing her daughter to take medication to help her through her anxiety.) The only adult who seemed to really look out for Maeve and want to help her was her stepmom, Claire, who is a fun and slightly kooky character herself.

I liked that there was a f/f romance, but I didn’t buy it. I’m not really sure what Salix sees in Maeve. It was a little too “insta-love” for my liking. Salix was actually the best thing about the book, though.

By the time I reached the halfway point, the book actually seemed to be developing a plot versus the endless pages of Maeve freaking out about everything. Salix really helped with that. The ending was really good too.


So do I recommend this book?
It had it’s good parts, but on a whole it was mostly just boring with not much happening plot wise. Ultimately for me this just wasn’t a very memorable book.

 

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads First Reads in the hope of an honest review.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

(Taken from an advanced release copy. There’s a chance the following passages may vary from the final copy)

There were no laws against crossing the border with a hunting knife. Or a box cutter. Or a blowtorch. Or a hammer. A person could do a lot of damage with a hammer. There have been an inordinate number of murders involving hammers.


But my parents actually agreed on a lot of things, and one of them was that they wouldn’t let me take prescription drugs for my anxiety until I was an adult. Your brain is still developing, Maeve. You might grow out of it. It’s too soon, they said. I disagreed. My brain was hardwired differently. What was the point of trying to put out a wildfire by pissing on it?


A cute girl playing the violin for me at a sidewalk café? I wouldn’t have been surprised if a
Tyrannosaurus rex lurched down the street and swallowed her whole. It was about a as likely.


I blinked. “I love that you know that.”
“Thanks.” Salix lifted her sunglasses and grinned at me. “I love that you don’t think that knowing that is completely dorky.”

 

REVIEW: Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Dead Letters by Caite Donlan-Leach

Read: December 27, 2016 – January 10, 2017

Format: Paperback ARC / NetGalley

My Book Rating: 4 Stars

Publisher: Random house

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Genre: Literary Mystery

Pages: 352

Challenges: none

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sharp and clever debut novel of suspense, a young woman—presumed dead—leaves a series of clues for her twin sister, which leads her on a scavenger-hunt-like quest to solve the mystery of her disappearance.

Ava Antipova has her reasons for running away: a failing family vineyard, a romantic betrayal, a mercurial sister, an absent father, a mother slipping into dementia. In Paris, Ava acquires a French boyfriend and a taste for much better wine, and erases her past. But two years later, she must return to upstate New York. Her twin sister, Zelda, is dead.

Even in a family of alcoholics, Zelda Antipova was the wild one, notorious for her mind games and destructive behavior. Stuck tending the vineyard and the girls’ increasingly unstable mother, Zelda is allegedly burned alive when she passes out in the barn with a cigarette. But Ava finds the official explanation a little too neat. A little too Zelda. Then she receives a cryptic message—from her sister. Just as Ava suspected, Zelda’s playing one of her games. In fact, she’s outdone herself, leaving a series of clues to her disappearance. Ava follows the trail laid just for her, thinking like her sister, keeping her secrets, immersing herself in Zelda’s drama. Along the way, Zelda forces Ava to confront their twisted history and the boy who broke her heart. But why? Is Zelda trying to punish Ava for leaving? To teach her a lesson? Or is she simply trying to write her own ending?

Caite Dolan-Leach’s debut suspense takes readers on a literary scavenger hunt for clues concealed throughout the seemingly idyllic wine country, hidden in plain sight on social media, and buried at the heart of one tremendously dysfunctional, utterly unforgettable family.


REVIEW

Caution: There may be mild spoilers, but I promise, NOTHING will ruin the ending.

 

Literary fiction isn’t my GO TO genre. In fact, I tend to avoid it. For the most part I don’t like that style of writing. Going into Dead Letters I knew it was a more literary book than I gravitate toward and honestly, up until about 15-20% I seriously considered quitting. By the time I reached THE END (sobbing like a baby) I was so glad I didn’t quit this one.

As the blurb indicates, Ava’s from a family of alcoholics. They’re all pretty terrible people, making all kinds of terrible life choices. It was hard to relate to them because I’m the opposite, I just don’t see the point in alcohol so I usually abstain. It actually bothered me a lot more up until the point when Ava says out loud that she knows she has a problem. Once the cards were on the table, I could respect her more.

One of the problems I have with literary fiction is that they tend to linger on seemingly random tangents. That was very much the case with this book, as present day Ava reminisced about something that happened years ago, usually involving Zelda. And much of the time they seemed unimportant to the story, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a flashback that didn’t pertain to the clues/ending.

The clues laid out by Zelda were very clever. I found myself wondering how she was doing it. What was going on. Just when I thought I figured it out, I got a slap in the face. My theory was 100% incorrect, and though it would have been cool, this ending was so much butter. (If anyone wants to know my theory, feel free to private message me! I don’t want to spoil the journey for other readers by posting it here!)

Seriously, I can’t express my feelings for this book without spoiling it!

I’ll sum it up this way – for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. Days later and I’m still thinking about it. The book shot from like, a 2.5-3 star book to a 3.75/4 star book.

So should you read the book?

If you’re into literary books – YES.

If you’re not so much into literary but you like a book with a mind lowing ending that leaves you thinking – YES.

 

 I received an advanced release copy of this book from Goodreads First to Read and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Random House and the Author.



Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

I’m an idiot and accidentally deleted all of my quotes from my phone! Yikes!

 

REVIEW: The Martian by Andy Weir

 

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m finding it hard to believe 2017 is less than a week away!
How the hell did that happen???

I’m a couple books behind on my Goodreads reading challenge. That’s not to say I didn’t read enough books, I just haven’t written the reviews for them yet! It’s going to be a scramble these last few days getting these posted!

I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas (or, if you don’t celebrate – a fabulous weekend!) I know I did. I spent plenty of time with family. The kids had a blast opening gifts and playing with cousins. Food was bountiful and delicious. And I got a new Kindle Fire HD 8! Woohoo! The screen on my 2012 Kindle Fire HD was starting to fade at the edges and was quite sluggish. I’m so stoked for my new beauty. I’ve just ordered a case and can’t wait until it arrives!

By new years, watch for my BEST OF 2016 post! I’ve got a list going of my favorite reads for the year. I can’t wait to share them with you all!


The Martian by Andy Weir

Read: December 17 – 25, 2016

Format: Paperback

My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars

Publisher: Random House

Release Date: February 11, 2014

Genre: Sci-Fi

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

A mission to Mars.
A freak accident.
One man’s struggle to survive.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, Mark won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark’s not ready to quit. Armed with nothing but his ingenuity and his engineering skills—and a gallows sense of humor that proves to be his greatest source of strength–he embarks on a dogged quest to stay alive, using his botany expertise to grow food and even hatching a mad plan to contact NASA back on Earth.

As he overcomes one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next, Mark begins to let himself believe he might make it off the planet alive.

But Mars has plenty of surprises in store for him yet.


REVIEW

I’m late to the game on this one. I heard about this book when I heard about the movie. I have yet to see the movie, but I’m glad I waited until I read the book first. (Fun fact – I found the book in my neighborhood Free Little Library! Now that I’m done it’s making the rounds to my dad next.)

You wouldn’t think a book about a man stranded alone on Mars would be funny, but this book is HILARIOUS. The hero, Mark, is probably the best person to be placed in this situation because he’s got the personality and humor to see the bright side. He’s also a mechanical engineer / botanist. Strange combo, but it worked out well for him!

Though this book is full of techno mumbo-jumbo, Mark’s humor makes it easy to follow what’s going on, even when the details went over my head. It was just the details that made it feel real, and because I’m not a science nerd*, I’ll have to just believe the author knew what he was talking about. Even if it’s all BS, I’d never know.

Despite being an absolute page turner, I can’t give 5 stars to this book. The dialogue was downright comical in it’s ridiculousness. It read like bad fan fiction. I would rather the book have remained 100% Mark’s log of his time on Mars. But, because I was engaged in the rest of the story, it still gets a solid 4.5 stars from me.

I can’t wait to see the movie next. I’m trying to imagine how they pulled this off.

(*NOTE: I wish I was a science nerd.)



Get the The Martian here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

~ Add to Goodreads ~


QUOTES

 

Log Entry: Sol 6
I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.
Fucked.

 

Remember those old math questions you had in algebra class? Where water is entering a container at a certain rate and leaving at a different rate and you need to figure out when it’ll be empty? Well, that concept is critical to the “Mark Watney doesn’t die” project I’m working on.

 

Godspeed, little taters. My life depends on you.

 

In high school, I played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons. (You may not have guessed this botanist/mechanical engineer was a bit of a nerd in high school, but indeed I was.)

 

If ruining the only religious icon I have leaves me vulnerable to Martian vampires, I’ll have to risk it.

 

I’ the first person to be alone on an entire planet.

 

Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.”

 

I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.

 

I can’t wait to have grandchildren. “When I was younger, I had to walk to