June Wrap Up

June was a slow month for me, in terms of reading. While I read my goal of 5 books, I wished I had read more. With my personal life freeing up, I definitely plan on doing so in July. However, June was the best month for my blog with records in views and visitors. I hope to continue growing as a writer and maybe my blog will do so too.

Total Books Read: 5

Books Read from TBR: 4/5 

Highlights:

  1. Lemons by Melissa Savage

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Official Summary:

What do you do when you lose everything that means anything?

Nine-year old Lemonade Liberty Witt doesn’t know the answer to that question, except what her mom taught her. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what if those lemons are so big that you forget how?

How do you make lemonade out of having to leave everything you know in San Francisco to move to the small town of Willow Creek, California and live with a grandfather you’ve never even met? In a town that smells like grass and mud and bugs. With tall pines instead of skyscrapers and dirt instead of sidewalks. Not to mention one woolly beast lurking in the woods.

That’s right, Bigfoot.

A ginormous wooden statue of the ugly thing stands right at the center of town like he’s someone real important, like the mayor or something. And the people here actually believe he’s real and hiding somewhere out in the pine filled forests.

How can anyone possibly be expected to make lemonade out those rotten lemons?

Everything is different and Lem just wants to go back home. And then she meets Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. He invites her to be his Assistant for the summer and she reluctantly agrees. At least until she can figure out her escape plan.

Together, Lem and Tobin try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film and end up finding more than they ever could have even imagined.”

My Thoughts:

“Lemons provides an emotional and surprisingly mature novel for the young audience while also satisfying adults. Its likeable protagonist, solid supporting characters, and charming world allow the novel to stand out among its peers.”

2. Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

32048554Official Summary:

Let luck find you.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.”

My Thoughts:

Windfall does nothing new to the genre. It has some solid characters and some nice moments throughout, but the plot is painfully predictable. Those who like this genre will be satisfied with this novel and those who don’t will not find anything that will convince them to look at this genre in a new light.”

3. Fireborn by David Dalglish

51G73QQT6wL.SX316Official Summary:

“Bree and Kael Skyborn have seen their island invaded, their Seraphim disbanded, and their royal family imprisoned.

A rebellion grows from the ashes, demanding Bree to be their Phoenix, their symbol against Center’s tyranny, and for Kael to find the doomsday prophet Johan and sway his cult to their side.

Should they fail, the hope of their rebellion fails with them. ”

My Thoughts:

“While Skyborn was a fun and exciting novel, Fireborn is a much more refined and mature novel that surpasses the first entry. Kael and Breanna get some much needed character development that makes it much easier to get attached to them. While some supporting characters are pushed to the background, the addition of Johan adds some ambiguity and unpredictableness that livens up the plot and sets up the finale. To top it off, Dalglish gets deeper into the lore of the islands and continues to amaze with the fight scenes. All in all, Fireborn serves as an excellent sequel to Skyborn.

Here’s to July!

 

 

Versatile Blogger Award

It was awesome to see that I was nominated for this. It only helps motivate me to continue blogging. I know I am a little late to the party, but my personal life is just now being freed up. Thanks to Shalini for the nomination once again!

RULES

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and share their link.
  2. Nominate up to 10 bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs. Also, inform them about the nomination.
  3. Reveal 7 facts about yourself we that your readers may not know

Let’s begin:

  1. I am terrified of heights. I am also scared of roller coasters and find it hard to go on them.
  2. I am a huge basketball fan with my favorite player being LeBron James.
  3. I am also a huge fan of video games. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves remains my favorite game of all time.
  4. I am pretty clumsy and often find myself hitting furniture or dropping items.
  5. My favorite music genres include Rap, Hip Hop, R & B, and Pop.
  6. I will listen to pretty much anything besides country music. They all sound the same and talk about beer, America, guns, etc.
  7. My favorite superhero is Batman with Spider-Man coming in at a close second. Also, I cannot wait for Spider-Man: Homecoming!

That’s about it. I hope you guys got to know me a little better. Nomination Time:

 

 

Fireborn by David Dalglish Review

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Bree and Kael Skyborn have seen their island invaded, their Seraphim disbanded, and their royal family imprisoned.

A rebellion grows from the ashes, demanding Bree to be their Phoenix, their symbol against Center’s tyranny, and for Kael to find the doomsday prophet Johan and sway his cult to their side.

Should they fail, the hope of their rebellion fails with them. ”

Fireborn by David Dalglish presents an action-packed and deeper sequel that more than lives up to the first novel, Skyborn.  While the first half is fairly predictable and a bit slow, the second half is fantastic, moving at a frenetic pace that goes deeper into the history of the islands and the elements.

Breanna and Kael were, I felt, serviceable main characters in the first novel, they were much more fleshed out in the sequel. Breanna’s struggle between protecting her family or assuming the resistance’s mantle as their symbol was nice to see, but I felt it should have been more developed. While fleshed out a bit more, Breanna still feels like a one-note character, the female badass serving as the resistance’s symbol. Kael undergoes a much better character arc compared to the first novel. He was a bit whiny and weak in the previous entry, but by the second half of this novel, he becomes a much stronger character and a lot more likeable. The novel definitely seems to focus more on Kael which created some much needed character development. Unfortunately, some of the returning supporting characters such as Clara and Saul are pushed to the background. Saul, who was one of the better characters from the first novel, is barely in this book and as a result, he is given very little character development. Clara still feels as if she is only there as Kael’s love interest or when the plot needs her to be. However, Johan is an absolutely fantastic character. The ambiguity of this character often causes the reader to question which side he really is on and helps set up what seems to be an even more action-packed finale.

As with Skyborn, the world is the star of this novel. Dalglish really gets into the history of the islands and fleshes out the lore. It helps differentiate the novel from the other fantasy/YA novels. Fireborn is more of a fantasy novel than it is a YA novel which Skyborn was more of. The more fantasy-like focus helps, as I said before, flesh out the world. Now, the first half of the novel is fairly generic and predictable in terms of plot. It’s the standard time to fight back plot that many YA novels use and to add to that, there really was not a long going on. There were some awesome fights, but it felt as if the plot was barely moving. However, the second half of the novel moves at a much more frenetic pace with the addition of Johan and the novel really starts to shine. The plot also becomes a lot more intriguing and introduces some nice twists that sets up the finale while also fleshing out the world.  It is extremely action-packed with battles happening almost all of the time, but there are some nice quiet moments that help develop the twins and serve as a breather. The battles are once again a highlight of the novel. It’s visceral, brutal, and,  above all, exciting. Dalglish really knows how to write action scenes and one on one duels.

While Skyborn was a fun and exciting novel, Fireborn is a much more refined and mature novel that surpasses the first entry. Kael and Breanna get some much needed character development that makes it much easier to get attached to them. While some supporting characters are pushed to the background, the addition of Johan adds some ambiguity and unpredictableness that livens up the plot and sets up the finale. To top it off, Dalglish gets deeper into the lore of the islands and continues to amaze with the fight scenes. All in all, Fireborn serves as an excellent sequel to Skyborn.

Rating: Must Buy

Skyborn by David Dalglish Review

“The last remnants of humanity live on six islands floating high above the Endless Ocean, fighting a brutal civil war in the skies. The Seraphim, elite soldiers trained for aerial combat, battle one another while wielding elements of ice, fire and lightning.

The lives of their parents claimed in combat, twins Kael and Breanna Skyborn enter the Seraphim Academy to follow in their footsteps. There they will learn to harness the elements as weapons and fight at break-neck speeds while soaring high above the waters. But they must learn quickly, for a nearby island has set its hungry eyes upon their home. When the invasion comes, the twins must don their wings and ready their blades to save those they love from annihilation.”

     Skyborn by David Dalglish was one of my favorite books from last year. While the main characters were not that well developed, the awesome world and visceral combat was certainly engaging.

Not every book has to be a masterpiece, sometimes I just want to be entertained. And for that reason, I loved Skyborn. Breanna and Kael were serviceable main characters. I found Breanna to be a badass, but she was not given much depth other than that. She just ended up being a Katniss-like character once again. Kael, on the other hand, was a bit whiny, but often keeps her sister under control providing a nice foil to Breanna. She’s hot-headed and impulsive, he’s calm and cautious. Still, they form a formidable pair and provide some nice brother-sister moments throughout. I wish Dalglish established him as a bit more stronger character and gives him more to do. The supporting characters were likeable in their own ways. Brad provides some laughs as the comic relief and you can’t help but just cheer him on. However, he is nothing remarkable. Saul is the typical rival, but by the end of the novel, he becomes one of the stronger characters in the book. Clara is a solid supporting character as the daughter of the archeon, but she seems to only be there as a love interest for Kael which does have its moments. The romance aspect of this novel is executed better than most young adult novels and it definitely has its moments.

The main reason I loved this book was the world Dalglish creates. This fantasy novel has some very interesting lore and provides a sweet backdrop as the novel takes place on fictional islands hovering over the Endless Ocean. They are several factions that vie for control over the islands. The aerial battles are just plain awesome! They are brutal and extremely visceral. Easily, one of the best parts of the books. I do wish Dalglish explored the history of the islands a bit more and the elements as well. The plot is a bit predictable and fairly standard, but it is executed fairly well and culminates in an amazing climax. It does take some time for the book to progress. While this is marketed is a fantasy novel, it leans a bit more towards the young adult-side, just an FYI.

Skyborn is not a masterpiece by any means. But it is definitely an entertaining book. The solid characters, fantastic world, and even better combat make it a joy to read.

Rating: Must Buy

*This is my 50th post. I can’t believe it went by so fast.

Lemons by Melissa Savage Review

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“What do you do when you lose everything that means anything?

Nine-year old Lemonade Liberty Witt doesn’t know the answer to that question, except what her mom taught her. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what if those lemons are so big that you forget how?

How do you make lemonade out of having to leave everything you know in San Francisco to move to the small town of Willow Creek, California and live with a grandfather you’ve never even met? In a town that smells like grass and mud and bugs. With tall pines instead of skyscrapers and dirt instead of sidewalks. Not to mention one woolly beast lurking in the woods.

That’s right, Bigfoot.

A ginormous wooden statue of the ugly thing stands right at the center of town like he’s someone real important, like the mayor or something. And the people here actually believe he’s real and hiding somewhere out in the pine filled forests.

How can anyone possibly be expected to make lemonade out those rotten lemons?

Everything is different and Lem just wants to go back home. And then she meets Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. He invites her to be his Assistant for the summer and she reluctantly agrees. At least until she can figure out her escape plan.

Together, Lem and Tobin try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film and end up finding more than they ever could have even imagined.”

Lemons by Melissa Savage provides a surprisingly mature and emotional book with a heart that more than matches up the urban legend the kids are chasing.

Being a book meant for a much younger audience than me, I went into it with low expectations. I thought it would be nothing more than an average adventure book with some nice lesson of letting go at the end of the novel. But I was pleasantly surprised at how mature the novel was considering at the younger target audience. Honestly, there are some really good lessons here about loss and friendship that even adults can empathize with. Lemonade Liberty Witt, or Lem, was a charming protagonist. Savage did a good job of portraying her struggles with her mother’s death, not casting it off to the side until the very end when the novel calls for a lesson. You see her inner struggle as the novel goes on and how it affects her life in Willow Creek. Tobin is more of a comic relief and I was a bit annoyed by him at the beginning of the novel. However, as the book progresses he becomes a more developed character and complements Lemonade well. The supporting characters include the townspeople of Willow Creek. The main supporting character is Grandpa Charlie. He was a very sweet and caring character who often supports Lemonade as she struggles with her loss. The other townspeople were serviceable, but they were not given as much time to develop.

The plot, as I expected, was predictable as it is a book meant for a younger audience than me. Still, it was effective and developed at a nice place. There are some subplots that felt a bit abrupt, in terms of its conclusion. I will commend Savage for making the town of Willow Creek, a character of its own. The world feels fleshed out and takes on its own charm as the book progresses. The emotional moments were well done and felt organic considering Lemonade is an 11-year old girl.

In conclusion, Lemons provides an emotional and surprisingly mature novel for the young audience while also satisfying adults. Its likeable protagonist, solid supporting characters, and charming world allow the novel to stand out among its peers.

Rating: Must Buy (for younger readers or parents)

 

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

I was recently tagged by  Books and Co. and I am always up for doing a tag. As Summer draws close and the heat turns up, I hope to do these more often and post more often, in general. Let’s start.

1. Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017:

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Easily, Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentmer. Emotional, brutal, and genuine, it is a fantastic book!

2. Best Sequel of 2017 So Far:

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I am not sure if this question means, book I’ve read in 2017 or released in 2017. I am going to go with the former and pick Fireborn which is the sequel to Skyborn. While I felt the first is still the better book, this serves as an excellent sequel. I will review the two within the next two weeks.

3. New Release You Haven’t Read Yet, But Want To:

There would be more, but as I am a recent book lover I am focusing more on past releases I have missed.

4. Most Anticipated Release of the Second Half of 2017:

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5. Biggest Disappointment of 2017:

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Still a solid book, but it does not do much to shake things up for the genre.

6. Biggest Surprise:

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This book genuinely surprised me. I was taken aback by its heart and some of its mature themes dealing with the loss of a loved one.

7. Favorite New Author (Debut or New To You):

Jeff Zentmer. Definitely, plan on reading The Serpent King.

8. Newest Fictional Crush:

No one really.

9. Newest Favorite Character:

  • Johan in Fireborn
  • Carter in Goodbye Days
  • Mercer in Flip the Bird

10. Book that Made You Cry:

Men don’t cry…pfffttt. Okay, fine this made me pretty emotional.

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11. Book that Made You Happy:

Can’t just choose one, so I didn’t.

12. Favorite Book to Movie Adaptation of 2017 You’ve Seen:

Well, I have only seen Beauty and the Beast so that one I guess. It was pretty solid though.

13. Favorite Review You’ve Written This Year:

Easily, my Goodbye Days one.

Here’s the link (shameless plug): Review

14. Most Beautiful Book You Bought Or Received This Year:

I can’t really choose between these two. Windfall is fairly simple, yet quite appealing. Fireborn just looks so badass.

15. Books You Need To Read By The End of This Year:

Can I just say all of them?

I nominate:

Sorry if you have already been tagged. 🙂

 

 

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith Review

32048554Let luck find you.

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes.

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall.

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined…and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.”

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith was a solid and satisfying novel, although it does nothing new to the genre.  While the novel has solid lead characters and nice, sweet moments throughout the book, the overly predictable and generic feel of the book keep the novel from standing out.

I am not a big fan of romance novels, so take my review with a grain of salt. Teddy and Alice were solid lead characters. Smith did a good job of establishing them as separate characters. Alice is a kind soul, yet struggles to cope with her parents’ deaths. Her inner turmoil was well done and you genuinely care for her. Teddy was a bit generic and at times, he can be a bit annoying, but for the most part, he is tolerable and competent as the love interest. Max was a solid supporting character, although, again, he was a bit generic as the gay best friend. Now, the actual romance between Alice and Teddy was ok. I had no problems with their romance, but it was not as developed or as believable as I hoped it would be. It definitely has its moments, but as Alice chases Teddy, it feels all the same.

The plot of the book was extremely predictable. It is probably the most generic and predictable book I have read all year. I knew what would happen, almost the entire time I was reading. It’s as if Smith was checking a checklist of romance tropes. Read the summary and hypothesize how the book will play out. Chances are you are right. It’s ok to be predictable, but not painfully predictable. To top it off, some of the subplots don’t really get developed. Sawyer, a guy who develops a crush on Alice, is painfully underdeveloped. Alice even admits that she might even like him, but that he will never be Teddy. After several pages scattered throughout the middle of the book, he is gone. Only mentioned briefly near the end of the book. While they did go on a date, it just proved to be another “Oh, he’s cool, but he will never be so and so.” That being said, there are some genuinely cute moments throughout the book and some emotional ones as well, but that does not excuse the plot and underdeveloped subplots.

Windfall does nothing new to the genre. It has some solid characters and some nice moments throughout, but the predictable plot is painfully predictable. Those who like this genre will be satisfied with this novel and those who don’t will not find anything that will convince them to look at this genre in a new light.

Rating: Check it out if you like the genre