Monday, February 10, 2020

Review | The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne



The Stars We Steal
40950392by Alexa Donne
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 4th, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling, Romance, LGBT
Format: ARC
Source: Kindly provided by the HBG Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Summary from Goodreads: 
Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself falling for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.
 
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Review
The Stars We Steal is a retelling of Jane Austen's Persuasion with a dash of The Bachelor set in space.

Humans now fly in spaceships throughout the galaxy, with nobility having greater access to the luxurious ships. On board The Scandinavian, Leoine's family is on the verge of becoming penniless. In order to save her family's fortune, Leoine alongside her sister and cousin all take part in the Valg, an extravagant match-making ceremony that will enable them to meet and wed those with their necessary requirements. However, the last thing Leo expected was to come face-to-face with her childhood friend and ex-fiance, Elliot, who left her angry and heartbroken. Now that he is back as the captain of a ship that manufactures whiskey, Leo can't help but to want him still all the while wishing that she didn't. Trying to keep her mind off of Elliot, Leo focuses on endeavouring to establish a deal for a new water filtration system that will save her family without making it necessary for her marry as well as investigate strange things occurring on the ship itself.

I enjoyed a variety of things from The Stars We Steal. From its very concept to the incorporation of science fiction throughout the book, which was pretty light and nothing extreme like space opera, it really draws a reader's attention and hold it from beginning to end. I also liked seeing how Leoine, the protagonist, was an inventor and how the plot fit around her filtration designs as well as her relationship with other women - though she is often jealous of her sister and cousin, it does not head into girl hating and/or shaming. It was nice to see the influence Persuasion had on this new tale, though one can see how difficult it must have been to merge Victorian and modern sensibilities to create a cohesive story.

With that being said, I wish there could have been a bit more action involved, instead it was a bit too slow in my opinion with a focus more based upon the romance between the characters. I normally don't mind romance heavy books but I didn't really enjoy the amount of will they/won't they regarding Leo and Elliot relationship. The story was also a bit predictable, especially regarding the villain, and fell rather flat for me. I think it was mostly due to how it was written and how the story progressed. Overall, The Stars We Steal wasn't perfect but was a nonetheless okay book to read.



Rating



About the Author
Alexa Donne
Alexa Donne is a Ravenclaw who wears many hats, including teen mentoring, college admissions essay consulting, fan convention organizing, YouTub-ing and podcasting. Her debut novel, Brightly Burning, is a YA retelling of Jane Eyre set in space. Her next book, The Stars We Steal, is Jane Austen meets the Bachelor, and is set in the same universe as her debut. When she's not writing science fiction and fantasy for teens, Alexa works in international television marketing. A proud Boston University Terrier, she lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. Visit her at www.alexadonne.com or on most social media spaces @alexadonne. 


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Saturday, February 8, 2020

Review | Seven Deadly Shadows by Courney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani



Seven Deadly Shadows
31248158. sy475 by Courtney Alameda and Valynne E. Maetani
Published by HarperCollins on January 28th, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Kindly provided by the HBG Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Summary from Goodreads: 
Kira Fujikawa has always been a girl on the fringe. Bullied by her peers and ignored by her parents, the only place Kira’s ever felt at home is at her grandfather’s Shinto shrine, where she trains to be a priestess.

But Kira’s life is shattered on the night her family’s shrine is attacked by a vicious band of yokai demons. With the help of Shiro—the shrine’s gorgeous half-fox, half-boy kitsune—Kira discovers that her shrine harbors an ancient artifact of great power . . . one the yokai and their demon lord, Shuten-doji, will use to bring down an everlasting darkness upon the world.

Unable to face the Shuten-doji and his minions on her own, Kira enlists the aid of seven ruthless shinigami—or death gods—to help stop the brutal destruction of humankind. But some of the death gods aren’t everything they initially seemed, nor as loyal to Kira’s cause as they first appeared.

With war drawing nearer by the day, Kira realizes that if this unlikely band of heroes is going to survive, they’re going to have to learn to work together, confront their demons, and rise as one to face an army of unimaginable evil.
 
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Review
Seven Deadly Shadows centres around Kira, a young priestess working at her family's shrine, as she tries to resolve a centuries-old conflict involving beings from Japanese legend. 

The characters blended so well with the intricate world created by both Alameda and Maetani to create a unique take on fantasy in the modern world. There was some Chosen One vibes going on as Kira and her allies worked together to defeat the king. With a creative plot, lots of action, an otherwordly love interest, and the representation of Japanese culture my interest was definitely piqued and made me that much more excited about was going to happen next as I continued reading the book.

However, despite all of these amazing things, it just wasn't working for me. The authors seemed to have difficultly incorporating information into the story, due to the number of times words would be defined in the text itself. While it was appreciated to know what certain words or phrases meant, it ended up pulling me away from the story with countless information just pasted into the narrative. There was also a great amount of telling rather than showing, which made the characters ultimately feel cliched and a bit generic. I think it is ultimately due to this writing style that I wasn't able to connect with the characters as much as I would have liked. 

Overall, this was an okay read. There was numerous components I enjoyed but just didn't work for me overall. With that being said, if this sounds like something you would enjoy be sure to check it out.



Rating



About the Authors
Courtney Alameda
A veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

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Valynne E. MaetaniA veteran bookseller and librarian, Courtney Alameda now spends her days writing thriller and horror novels for young people. Her debut novel, SHUTTER, was nominated for a Bram Stoker award and hailed as a "standout in the genre" by School Library Journal. Her forthcoming novel, PITCH DARK (Spring 2017), is a genre-blending science fiction/horror novel in the vein of Ridley Scott's 1979 film ALIEN.

Courtney holds a B.A. in English literature with an emphasis in creative writing. She is represented by the talented John M. Cusick of Folio Literary. A Northern California native, she now resides in Utah with her husband, a legion of books, and a tiny five pound cat with a giant personality.

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Review | Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen



Loveboat, Taipei
45730524by Abigail Hing Wen
Published by HarperTeen on January 7th, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Summary from Goodreads: 
Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, and praised as “an intense rush of rebellion and romance” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Garber, this romantic and layered Own Voices debut from Abigail Hing Wen is a dazzling, fun-filled romp. 

“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.” 

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.
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Review
Loveboat, Taipei has quickly become one of my overall favourite books of 2020. 

Loveboat, Taipei centres upon Ever Wong, a college bound teen, whose summer plans become a complete mess when her parents send her off to Taiwan to attend Chien Tan, an educational program meant to help  Ever with her Mandarin skills and more. However, when Ever arrives she finds out the program is known for so much more than simply its educational background. Known as the Loveboat, it enables young adults to party all summer long without adult supervision, spending nights out and hooking up as much as they could ever want. Discovering what she really wants from life, her passions, and more, this unforgettable summer will change Ever's life forever.

Ever's parents were immigrants and though her father was a doctor in Taiwan, he struggles in America both trying to give their daughters a better chance at life. The hopes and dreams of an immigrant parent may be passed to their children, whether it is dictating their future or simply pushing them to achieve a higher level of education so they may be set later in life, both of which are not unusual. This aspect is shown through Ever's passion for performing dance and the struggle she goes through in making a decision, that will not disappoint her parents, between going to Art School and living her dreams or going to Med School and making her parents happy. 

Loveboat, Taipei is an absolutely amazing book to read! It tells the story of finding oneself and identifying how both cultures, Taiwanese and Western, have the power to shape you and make you who you are. As a debut, Wen managed to masterfully write about love, family, honesty, angst, friendship, finding oneself, competitiveness, and sacrifices. I adored how Wen managed to write Ever's character growth, her process of growing into her own person and the love she has for her family while trying to stand up for who she is. The only thing I didn't particular like was Ever's choice in regards to her ultimate love interest. I thought she had better chemistry with another character and felt like she didn't give as much of a chance compared to the other. Nonetheless, this frustrating romantic aspect is quickly redeemed by how the novel comes together in the end. I felt that Wen did an amazing job portraying these characters realistically, discussing and divulging into serious and sensitive topics, and creating a diverse and immersive read.

A wonderful debut with immersive characters that you couldn't help but root for, glimpses of Taiwanese culture, and themes that are completely relatable. Loveboat, Taipei is one I highly recommend picking up today!
 


Rating



About the Author

Abigail Hing Wen holds a BA from Harvard, a JD from Columbia Law School, and an MFA from the Vermont School of Fine Arts. Like Ever, she is obsessed with musicals. When she's not writing stories or listening to her favourite scores, she is busy working in venture capital and artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Loveboat, Taipei is her first novel.


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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Pick A Book & Hear A Song | Issue 2


Pick A Book & Hear A Song is an original feature here at I Write, You Read. This featured was created because I enjoy listen to music while reading. If a book is quickly becoming one of my favourite reads of all time, I create a playlist specifically for that book. I'd love to share my faves with you and would also enjoy to see what songs you listen to well reading!


This month's theme is:

What are you currently reading?





46299614Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different. 

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know. 

This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.
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32908361. sy475

Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.


Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn't approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan's disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.
 


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42119168. sy475 Anna K.: A Love Story by Jenny Lee

Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.

Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna's brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather an sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.

As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.

Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K.: A Love Storyis a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy's timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.

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35702241The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?
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42265183The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with a sumptuous, sultry and romantic new series set in 19th century New Orleans where vampires hide in plain sight.

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she's forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city's glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group's leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien's guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.
 


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Have you read any of the books mentioned or currently have them on your TBR? If so leave a comment below letting me know whether or not you liked it or are excited to read! 😄
~ Aimie

Monday, November 18, 2019

Review | Song of the Crimson Flower by Julie C. Dao


32605126. sy475
Song of the Crimson Flower
by Julie C. Dao
Published by Philomel on November 5th, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Summary from Goodreads: 
From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician's apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman's daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao's prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest's Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that's been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?
 
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Review
Song of the Crimson Flower is a story that reads like a beautifully woven fairytale. 

Song of the Crimson Flower follows the story of a daughter to a wealthy nobleman, Lan, and a poor physician's apprentice, Bao. After Lan rejects Bao, he leaves heartbroken and ends up crossing paths with a witch who places a spell upon him that will only love can break. Lan, regretting the way she treated him, vows to help him break the spell. 

I absolutely adored this book, from its characters to the story, everything came together so wonderfully that you just couldn't help but fly through it. Though it is a part of the Rise of the Empress series, it can be read as a standalone. While the characters from previous books in the series make appearance, it is fun to read about the adventures and action Lan and Bao face in this particular story. While I love fantasy with a bit more action than this book provided, it was actually enjoyable to read the way the characters were brought together and how they combatted the obstacles laid before them together. 

Another aspect of Song of the Crimson Flower I throughly enjoyed was the romance between Lan and Bao. Though Bao has loved her more years, Lan calls him out for loving an idealized version of her he conceived then the real person herself. Through the trials and tribulations of their journey, he comes to know the real Lan. I did enjoy reading the romance between Lan and Bao, however I personally enjoyed reading Wei and Yen's story a bit more as they were a bit more captivating to read.

If you enjoy tender characters and a heartfelt story then I recommend checking out Song of the Crimson Flower
 


Rating



About the Author
Julie C. DaoJulie C. Dao (www.juliedao.com) is a proud Vietnamese-American who was born in upstate New York. She studied medicine in college, but came to realize blood and needles were her Kryptonite. By day, she worked in science news and research; by night, she wrote books about heroines unafraid to fight for their dreams, which inspired her to follow her passion of becoming a published author. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is her debut novel. Julie lives in New England. Follow her on Twitter @jules_writes.


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