Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Carve the Mark

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about the new novel from the author who inspired me to write book reviews for a blog!

Title: Carve the Mark
Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication Date: January 17, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: Carve the Mark by Veronica RothOn a planet where violence and vengeance rule, in a galaxy where some are favored by fate, everyone develops a currentgift, a unique power meant to shape the future. While most benefit from their currentgifts, Akos and Cyra do not — their gifts make them vulnerable to others’ control. Can they reclaim their gifts, their fates, and their lives, and reset the balance of power in this world?

Cyra is the sister of the brutal tyrant who rules the Shotet people. Cyra’s currentgift gives her pain and power — something her brother exploits, using her to torture his enemies. But Cyra is much more than just a blade in her brother’s hand: she is resilient, quick on her feet, and smarter than he knows.

Akos is from the peace-loving nation of Thuve, and his loyalty to his family is limitless. Though protected by his unusual currentgift, once Akos and his brother are captured by enemy Shotet soldiers, Akos is desperate to get his brother out alive — no matter what the cost. When Akos is thrust into Cyra’s world, the enmity between their countries and families seems insurmountable. They must decide to help each other to survive — or to destroy one another.

Why I'm Waiting:

It's Veronica Roth. My author wife although we are now divorced following the ending of Allegiant. Basically, this woman and Marissa Meyer are two authors whose books I will buy before I even read the synopsis.
What books are you waiting on?
Other posts you may like:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: The Architect of Song

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about an NA read from one of my favorite authors!

Title: The Architect of Song
Author: A.G. Howard
Genre: NA Paranormal 
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
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Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer: Waiting on Wednesday: The Architect of Song by A.G. HowardA lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower -- intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

Why I'm Waiting:

I love NA novels that don't focus on sex. I love A.G. Howard. I love love stories that don't quite make sense on paper. I love anything Nathalia Suellen creates and I am so happy she and Howard are working together on these novel covers. Basically, I can't find any reason to not love this release!
What are you waiting on this week?
Other posts you may like:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Book Review: Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Title: Scarlett Undercover
Author: Jennifer Latham
Genre: YA Mystery
Release Date: May 19, 2015

Source: I recieved a digital copy from Netgalley (THANK YOU and sorry it took so long to get this up)
Purchase from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer: Book Review of Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer LathamMeet Scarlett, a smart, sarcastic, kick-butt, Muslim American heroine, ready to take on crime in her hometown of Las Almas. When a new case finds the private eye caught up in a centuries-old battle of evil genies and ancient curses, Scarlett discovers that her own family secrets may have more to do with the situation than she thinks -- and that cracking the case could lead to solving her father's murder.

Jennifer Latham delivers a compelling story and a character to remember in this one-of-a-kind debut novel.

My review:

I LOVED this story! From the old school film noir narrative to Scarlett's blend of Muslim and street kid, this book is one everyone should read.

It starts off in Scarlett's office, listening to Gemma Archer explain her brother's strange behavior and the recent suicide that may have actually been murder. Scarlett takes to the streets of Las Almas to figure out the truth along with the help of various friends: Delilah the diner owner with her son Decker, Scarlett's older sister Reem, and the friendly officer Emmet, among a dozen others.

The voice, like I said before, reminds me of the black and white detective movies. From the classic lines of, "She asked if I knew what I was doing. I said I did," to the beautifully constructed similes that occured on every other page, this narrative was on point to match the old school mysteries and private investigator stories we all tried to copy in thick, cigarette-mouthed accents. It was always flawless.

Coming from Scarlett, a Muslim American trying to fight her faith, her ethereal voice was grounded in reality. She's a young woman trying to figure out what she can do after the deaths of her parents, and if not for those around her, she may have traveled down a much darker and less forgiving road. She struggles in her beliefs, but she knows her loyalties and family. I fell in love with her and would be her Watson any day.

In addition to Scarlett, all the characters played crucial roles. Every person got a name, and I loved that even if someone was only in the story for three pages, they got a name because they were a person and deserved one. I can't express enough how I connected with so many of the minor characters because of this small detail.

The plot gets heavy really quick, and while I couldn't believe everything that was happening, I realized it didn't matter. Once I looked at the situation from a detective's sharp eye, I realized that so long as innocent lives were in danger, my belief needed to be suspended. In the end, I was nodding my head along with Scarlett, satisfied with everything that happened even if I was still a little confused.

Islam plays a large role in Scarlett's character, and I think she was portrayed well. I've known women who fought the hijab, and those same women continued on to be the ones who would never be seen without it. Scarlett's views of her religion matched mine at her age, where I didn't know what to believe or why I should. I connected with her because of that. 

Overall, this story was beautiful and a super fast read that I finished in about a day. I loved it. And I already have to stop myself from rereading it so I can move with my TBR pile.

Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Other posts you may like:
  • Book Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (YA science fiction)
  • Waiting on Wednesday: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (YA retelling of Labyrinth)
  • Book Review: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski (YA fantasy)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a Japanese historical tale!

Title: Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale
Author: David Kudler
Genre: YA Historical-Fantasy
Publication Date: June 15, 2016
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary

Amber the Blonde Writer - Waiting on Wednesday: Risuko by David Kudler

Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems. 

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Why I'm Waiting

I'm not sure if this is taking on a samurai tale or not, but anything related to Asian history has me hooked. Japan has so much history and I can't wait to see how this author handles it!

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may like:

Monday, May 9, 2016

Book Review: Salt & Stone

Title: Salt & Stone
Author: Victoria Scott
Series: Fire & Flood #2
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Release Date: February 2015

Source: I borrowed a physical copy from the public library
Purchase from Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer - Book Review of Salt and Stone by Victoria ScottHow far would you go to survive?

In FIRE & FLOOD, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and a terrifying march across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't stop - and in SALT & STONE, Tella will have to face the unseen dangers of the ocean, the breathless cold of a mountain, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the beginning of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the fourth and final part of the race, just forty-one are left . . . and only one can win.

My review:

This book picked up where the first one ended. We jump back into Tella's excursion of the Brimstone Bleed and jump into the remaining two territories: sea and mountain. So much changed in this novel, and they were definitely good!

Firstly, we see Tella really come into her own. She takes charge, she challenges Guy, and she sets up emotional barriers between her and other contenders. After wanting to put down Fire & Flood because of her lack of maturity, I was pleased that she grows up and becomes a strong young woman while still maintaining her love for all things frilly and sparkly. 

Also, the romance remains innocent and PG-13 and I love it! I am a sucker for puppy love level of affection, and this book delivers. If you're someone who needs sex and messy make-out sessions to get into your fantasy or sci-fi, this story is probably not for you. I, however, like having smidges of romance in my action.

The plot thickens as more and more characters are becoming key players and the true enemies are revealed. The story ended on a major cliffhanger, and I found out the third book wasn't bought by the publisher. However, the plot still felt a little light for me, but that may be because we see everything through Tella's eyes and she doesn't take a whole lot seriously.

Overall, it was better than the first. I was so glad Tella aged up and took control of her circumstances!

Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Other posts you may like:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Caraval

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that focuses on the yet-to-be released books we're waiting for. It's hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm talking about a fantasy show that I would love to see!

Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Add to Goodreads

Goodreads summary:

Amber the Blonde Writer - Cover of Caraval by Stephanie GarberBefore you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Why I'm Waiting:

This story sounds like so much fun! I recently saw La Reve in Las Vegas and if this could be a fantastic YA version, I am definitely down!

What books are you waiting on?

Other posts you may like: