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ARC Review: Vengeance Road

8.26.2015
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher (ARC)
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions.
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of
True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I will admit that westerns have never really been my thing. A lot of people were excited about Vengeance Road because of its western aspect and the rarity of that in YA, but what drew me in was the story of revenge. (And Erin Bowman, obviously. And also THAT COVER.) And thankfully, VR definitely delivered on the revenge front.

For those of you that don't know, Vengeance Road is written in dialect. I knew that going in and I'd read excerpts and such, but I was still nervous. I never managed to finish Blood Red Road because it was written in this manner (though it was a little more extreme in Blood Red Road). People said I would get used to it, and I suppose I did, but half the time I was converting it to the language we speak without even thinking about it.

#SBPT15: Advice With The Hardcover Lover!

8.23.2015

Today, Erin from The Hardcover Lover is here to offer up plenty of advice that I think bloggers both old and new could use a bit of!

Here's what Erin has to say: 

Let's face it. Everyone is a neophyte at some point in their life. It doesn't matter what you do; everyone starts out as a beginner. There are many great benefits to starting something new, but we all know how frustrating it can be to be new but try to achieve great things. 
Yes, there are some awesome, established book bloggers. You can tell just by looking at their blogs that they've dedicated a lot of time to becoming great. Many of them have been in our shoes, and of course, we look up to their blogs. Their blogs are undeniably exceptional, and we hope to one day get there.

Tips, Tricks, and Advice from The Hardcover Lover:


ARC Review: A Whole New World

8.19.2015
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Won (ARC), NetGalley
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions.
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

A Whole New World is yet another case where I should have DNF'ed but didn't. And there's not really a good reason for it. It took me ages to get through, and I don't think I was interested in a single second of it.

All the negative reviews I'd already seen had me very curious - I'm not a die-hard Disney fan, so I thought maybe I would just have a bit of a different perspective on it. I know I've seen Aladdin, but I was probably 4 or 5 years old. Many reviews have talked about how the beginning of this novel is basically an exact replica of the movie. I can't comment on this since it's been so long, but I can tell you this: A Whole New World didn't really seem to bring anything new to the story that I remember of Aladdin. Or anything new to any story at all, really.

Sure, Jafar gains possession of the infamous genie's lamp instead of Aladdin. But nothing after that feels very inventive or exciting or even mildly interesting. Nothing feels as if it's being brought to life, which is unfortunate because even I remember Agrabah in the movie with vivid clarity. I felt none of that here. There were no lush descriptions of palaces or the the desert. The writing wasn't awful, not by any means, but it simply felt like it  . . . lacked any life. Or maybe that was just the plot itself.

And I would just like to take a little interlude to state that I liked the older cover MUCH better. I love double exposure, sure, but the older cover was SO much more appealing to me, both in font and general design.

A photo posted by @seatledreams on

I can't even begin to tell you how much I skimmed. Not in the beginning, of course - I was trying to give myself time to get invested in the story. But it never happened. The dialogue can feel so, so awkward at times. I can't even tell you how many times I rolled my eyes, especially considering the beginning of Aladdin and Jasmine's relationship which flew from 0 to 60 in, like, two pages. And the saddest part? There was no chemistry there at all.

And A Whole New World has a problem I've been feeling a lot lately - the stakes were never high. They never even felt like they were lifted off the ground. Someone died and it brought no emotion out of me - nor anyone in the book, really. Nothing felt like it had an impact. I was never afraid or worried or sad. (Except for this one time when Jafar threw Rajah into the wall, and like, you guys have seen how I feel about cats. Rest assured, I FELT SOMETHING THERE.) It was all just very . . . dull. Yawn-inducing. Utterly boring. Take your pick.

I did appreciate the copious amounts of Abu, though, and, of course, any scene with Rajah. Because I'm obviously all about the animals here.

tl;dr: Trust the negative reviews. More importantly, trust your gut if you're 145 pages in and practically falling asleep every other page and accidentally skipping over entire paragraphs because OOPS YOU DON'T CARE. 1.5 unfortunate stars.



Blog Tour: Mechanica

8.18.2015

Mechanica  by Betsy Cornwell
Expected Publication: August 25th, 2015 by Clarion Books
Source: Publisher
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion.  

Huge thanks to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this tour! 
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
I don't know what I expected, going into Mechanica, but it definitely wasn't this. Before I start, I do want to reiterate what others have said - if you're worried about this being similar to Marissa Meyer's Cinder, it's not. Mechanica is absolutely its own story.

Nicolette, of course, has lost her mother and lives as a servant to her step family by day. By night, she explores her mother's old workshop, where tiny mechanical creatures have come to life. She learns from her mother's journals and books and designs. She plans to enter the Exposition to show of her designs and gain a sponsor, earn real money, so she can finally escape from the Steps.

#SBPT15: Quotes With Naomi!

8.16.2015
Hi, all! Today, I'm here with Naomi and some of her favorite quotes! (Slightly late because I apparently never scheduled this and it sat in draft form, oops. I would have noticed earlier but I work at the ungodly time of 6am.)

First, a Coco Chanel quote!



ARC Review: Court of Fives

8.11.2015
Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
Expected Publication: August 18th, 2015 by HarlequinTeen
Source: Traded (ARC)
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

The concept of Court of Fives is really cool. A heroine determined to win an intricate athletic race? I was so intrigued by that, but it seemed to take a backseat to everything else. And that everything else? It was a whole lot of boring. It's especially weird because the beginning of Court of Fives was interesting, exciting, but it all went downhill from there. Which is the total opposite of what usually happens for me - a lot of the time, I have to trudge through slow beginnings before I find any action.

#SBPT15: A Lesson in Children's Books with Danielle!

8.09.2015

Today, Danielle from Bibliosmiles is here to talk about what she's learned about children's books through her career! Danielle is a pretty cool person, if I do say so myself, and I really loved getting to learn about this!

Danielle says:


I always knew I wanted to work with books, but I wasn’t quite sure how. Through a bit of
luck and some fine resume crafting, I found myself in an internship in educational publishing. Now, out of college since 2013, I’m celebrating my first full year in a job I love: working as an editor at a children’s publishing company.

This makes sense to me: embracing the age group where I first learned to love to read. I like working on the education side of things, helping create teacher’s manuals and learning resources so teachers can share a wide array of reads with their students. I’ve learned quite a bit about reading and kids in the last year, and I think it’s pretty exciting to be “in the know” when it comes to current literary trends and needs for this crucial age group.

Here are a few cool things I’ve learned about kids this year in publishing:

1) Children respond to humor.  According to the 2014 Kids and Family Reading Report, 70% of children ages 6-17 want a book that “makes me laugh.” That’s why series like Captain Underpants, Junie B. Jones, and Wayside School are so popular. Who doesn’t like a good chuckle every once in a while when they’re reading?

#SBPT15: Anticipated Reads With Sarena and Sasha!

8.02.2015

Here for another week of the SBPT, and today, I'm hosting Sarena and Sasha of The Writing Duo! Here's what they have to say about some of their most anticipated reads! (I thought about linking them all, but...who has that kind of energy? Not me.)

Hello, all! We’re Sarena and Sasha from The Writing Duo, and we’re super excited to be featured here on Zoey’s blog for the SBPT tour! Today we’ll be discussing our most anticipated releases of
2015/2016.

8.26.2015

ARC Review: Vengeance Road

Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher (ARC)
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions.
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.

In the spirit of
True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

I will admit that westerns have never really been my thing. A lot of people were excited about Vengeance Road because of its western aspect and the rarity of that in YA, but what drew me in was the story of revenge. (And Erin Bowman, obviously. And also THAT COVER.) And thankfully, VR definitely delivered on the revenge front.

For those of you that don't know, Vengeance Road is written in dialect. I knew that going in and I'd read excerpts and such, but I was still nervous. I never managed to finish Blood Red Road because it was written in this manner (though it was a little more extreme in Blood Red Road). People said I would get used to it, and I suppose I did, but half the time I was converting it to the language we speak without even thinking about it.

8.23.2015

#SBPT15: Advice With The Hardcover Lover!


Today, Erin from The Hardcover Lover is here to offer up plenty of advice that I think bloggers both old and new could use a bit of!

Here's what Erin has to say: 

Let's face it. Everyone is a neophyte at some point in their life. It doesn't matter what you do; everyone starts out as a beginner. There are many great benefits to starting something new, but we all know how frustrating it can be to be new but try to achieve great things. 
Yes, there are some awesome, established book bloggers. You can tell just by looking at their blogs that they've dedicated a lot of time to becoming great. Many of them have been in our shoes, and of course, we look up to their blogs. Their blogs are undeniably exceptional, and we hope to one day get there.

Tips, Tricks, and Advice from The Hardcover Lover:


8.19.2015

ARC Review: A Whole New World

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Expected Publication: September 1st, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Won (ARC), NetGalley
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions.
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.

What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again.
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

A Whole New World is yet another case where I should have DNF'ed but didn't. And there's not really a good reason for it. It took me ages to get through, and I don't think I was interested in a single second of it.

All the negative reviews I'd already seen had me very curious - I'm not a die-hard Disney fan, so I thought maybe I would just have a bit of a different perspective on it. I know I've seen Aladdin, but I was probably 4 or 5 years old. Many reviews have talked about how the beginning of this novel is basically an exact replica of the movie. I can't comment on this since it's been so long, but I can tell you this: A Whole New World didn't really seem to bring anything new to the story that I remember of Aladdin. Or anything new to any story at all, really.

Sure, Jafar gains possession of the infamous genie's lamp instead of Aladdin. But nothing after that feels very inventive or exciting or even mildly interesting. Nothing feels as if it's being brought to life, which is unfortunate because even I remember Agrabah in the movie with vivid clarity. I felt none of that here. There were no lush descriptions of palaces or the the desert. The writing wasn't awful, not by any means, but it simply felt like it  . . . lacked any life. Or maybe that was just the plot itself.

And I would just like to take a little interlude to state that I liked the older cover MUCH better. I love double exposure, sure, but the older cover was SO much more appealing to me, both in font and general design.

A photo posted by @seatledreams on

I can't even begin to tell you how much I skimmed. Not in the beginning, of course - I was trying to give myself time to get invested in the story. But it never happened. The dialogue can feel so, so awkward at times. I can't even tell you how many times I rolled my eyes, especially considering the beginning of Aladdin and Jasmine's relationship which flew from 0 to 60 in, like, two pages. And the saddest part? There was no chemistry there at all.

And A Whole New World has a problem I've been feeling a lot lately - the stakes were never high. They never even felt like they were lifted off the ground. Someone died and it brought no emotion out of me - nor anyone in the book, really. Nothing felt like it had an impact. I was never afraid or worried or sad. (Except for this one time when Jafar threw Rajah into the wall, and like, you guys have seen how I feel about cats. Rest assured, I FELT SOMETHING THERE.) It was all just very . . . dull. Yawn-inducing. Utterly boring. Take your pick.

I did appreciate the copious amounts of Abu, though, and, of course, any scene with Rajah. Because I'm obviously all about the animals here.

tl;dr: Trust the negative reviews. More importantly, trust your gut if you're 145 pages in and practically falling asleep every other page and accidentally skipping over entire paragraphs because OOPS YOU DON'T CARE. 1.5 unfortunate stars.



8.18.2015

Blog Tour: Mechanica


Mechanica  by Betsy Cornwell
Expected Publication: August 25th, 2015 by Clarion Books
Source: Publisher
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion.  

Huge thanks to Rockstar Book Tours for hosting this tour! 
Nicolette’s awful stepsisters call her “Mechanica” to demean her, but the nickname fits: she learned to be an inventor at her mother’s knee. Her mom is gone now, though, and the Steps have turned her into a servant in her own home.

But on her sixteenth birthday, Nicolette discovers a secret workshop in the cellar and begins to dare to imagine a new life for herself. Could the mysterious books and tools hidden there—and the mechanical menagerie, led by a tiny metal horse named Jules—be the key to escaping her dreary existence? With a technological exposition and royal ball on the horizon, the timing might just be perfect for Nicolette to earn her freedom at last.

Gorgeous prose and themes of social justice and family shine in this richly imagined Cinderella retelling about an indomitable inventor who finds her prince . . . but realizes she doesn't want a fairy tale happy ending after all.
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg
I don't know what I expected, going into Mechanica, but it definitely wasn't this. Before I start, I do want to reiterate what others have said - if you're worried about this being similar to Marissa Meyer's Cinder, it's not. Mechanica is absolutely its own story.

Nicolette, of course, has lost her mother and lives as a servant to her step family by day. By night, she explores her mother's old workshop, where tiny mechanical creatures have come to life. She learns from her mother's journals and books and designs. She plans to enter the Exposition to show of her designs and gain a sponsor, earn real money, so she can finally escape from the Steps.

8.16.2015

#SBPT15: Quotes With Naomi!

Hi, all! Today, I'm here with Naomi and some of her favorite quotes! (Slightly late because I apparently never scheduled this and it sat in draft form, oops. I would have noticed earlier but I work at the ungodly time of 6am.)

First, a Coco Chanel quote!



8.11.2015

ARC Review: Court of Fives

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
Expected Publication: August 18th, 2015 by HarlequinTeen
Source: Traded (ARC)
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.


 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

The concept of Court of Fives is really cool. A heroine determined to win an intricate athletic race? I was so intrigued by that, but it seemed to take a backseat to everything else. And that everything else? It was a whole lot of boring. It's especially weird because the beginning of Court of Fives was interesting, exciting, but it all went downhill from there. Which is the total opposite of what usually happens for me - a lot of the time, I have to trudge through slow beginnings before I find any action.

8.09.2015

#SBPT15: A Lesson in Children's Books with Danielle!


Today, Danielle from Bibliosmiles is here to talk about what she's learned about children's books through her career! Danielle is a pretty cool person, if I do say so myself, and I really loved getting to learn about this!

Danielle says:


I always knew I wanted to work with books, but I wasn’t quite sure how. Through a bit of
luck and some fine resume crafting, I found myself in an internship in educational publishing. Now, out of college since 2013, I’m celebrating my first full year in a job I love: working as an editor at a children’s publishing company.

This makes sense to me: embracing the age group where I first learned to love to read. I like working on the education side of things, helping create teacher’s manuals and learning resources so teachers can share a wide array of reads with their students. I’ve learned quite a bit about reading and kids in the last year, and I think it’s pretty exciting to be “in the know” when it comes to current literary trends and needs for this crucial age group.

Here are a few cool things I’ve learned about kids this year in publishing:

1) Children respond to humor.  According to the 2014 Kids and Family Reading Report, 70% of children ages 6-17 want a book that “makes me laugh.” That’s why series like Captain Underpants, Junie B. Jones, and Wayside School are so popular. Who doesn’t like a good chuckle every once in a while when they’re reading?

8.02.2015

#SBPT15: Anticipated Reads With Sarena and Sasha!


Here for another week of the SBPT, and today, I'm hosting Sarena and Sasha of The Writing Duo! Here's what they have to say about some of their most anticipated reads! (I thought about linking them all, but...who has that kind of energy? Not me.)

Hello, all! We’re Sarena and Sasha from The Writing Duo, and we’re super excited to be featured here on Zoey’s blog for the SBPT tour! Today we’ll be discussing our most anticipated releases of
2015/2016.