Friday, December 25, 2020

Feature Friday ARC Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

*Feature Friday ARC Review is a meme hosted by The Tattered Page to review YA books not yet released.


Publisher: 
Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: January 5, 2021
Genre: Teen & Young Adult; Fantasy Action; Greek Mythology
Pages: 576
Source: Netgalley ARC

THE STORY:
Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.

Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family's sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt's promises of eternal glory. For years she's pushed away any thought of revenge against the man--now a god--responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore's decision to bind her fate to Athena's and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost--and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.
BUY LINKS:  The Lit. Bar  Barnes & Noble  |  Amazon

RATING: 

ONE-WORD REVIEW: MYTHICAL

READING TUNE:  Afraid by No Wyld

TAG LINE:

Bind your fate to mine.

OPENING LINE:

Her mother had once told her that the only way to truly know someone was to fight them.


REVIEW

I was fortunate enough to be gifted a copy of LORE on Netgalley -- thank you Disney Hyperion! LORE is actually the first novel by Katherine Laurin I have finished. I tried to read PASSENGERS and made it at least 2/3 through but had to DNF it (which I RARELY do, like ever but I would love to give it another chance in the future). Nevertheless, LORE was a completely different experience for me, in the best possible way.

I am a big lug for Greek mythology especially retellings. While LORE isn’t a retelling per se it is heavily inspired by badass goddesses and gods of Greek mythology. To add the icing to the cake, LORE's premise also heavily resides around cool ancient fighting tactics while using New York City as its arena for the hunting of gods during the week-long Agon. During the last Agon, seven years ago, Lore's entire family was murdered in their house and her best friend died from cancer. With no one left in the world, Lore was insistent on starting a new life away from all of the death, loss, and glory. To change her fate. 

You may deny the Fates, but they will not deny you.

But on one fateful night, her past catches up with her when a legendary goddess bleeding from a mortal wound tracks her down and seeks her help. And forces Lore to deal with deep wounds and bloodthirsty desires for vengeance. I mean: COME ON! I love the premise of LORE.

For seven days, every seven years, the gods walk on earth as mortals. If you can kill one, you become a new god and take their power and immortality.

Having said that, as much as I enjoyed LORE there some adjustments could have been made to the story. It was a little hard to follow what exactly was going on in relation to making plot connections to the gods & hunters' motives and what they were searching for during the hunt. For example, it took me a bit to figure out Wrath a.k.a False Ares was searching for not one but two mythical items which explained why he was on this homicidal rampage. Also, I couldn’t understand why False Ares wanted these mythical items -- by page 275 I still was lost as to why Ares was on his search. 

It also took me a long while to figure out why goddesses and gods were being punished by Zeus via being cast out of Olympus and thrust into mortal bodies --although they were able to retain their powers--which could be killed by the Houses of mortal hunters. Moreover, I feel like all of the logic and intentions of the Hunters and gods could’ve been clearer because I was pretty much lost for at least the first third of the story -- my understanding of Agon, motives, logic, etc. felt splotchy for a while there.

As for what I enjoyed most about LORE, there are many things. The characters were well-rounded and I connected with many of them. The worldbuilding was fleshed out -- it was the perfect blend of the real world and mythical legends. As a native New Yorker, I also think Bracken captured my city really well, which is always bonus points in my book. 

I loved Bracken's play on the infamous lore of Greek gods and goddesses. But, most importantly readers were given the chance to see those gods in a different light, in an interesting and refreshing new way. As gods and goddesses, they are not required to uphold the same standards mere mortals are. Mortals are defined by their consciousness -- their conscious decisions to do right or wrong--, whereas Greek gods are not so restricted. Gods are not confined by the same moral codes of humanity. So, it was super interesting to see these unfathomable immortal beings of divinity cast into human roles, where they struggled to reconcile their divinity with flesh and blood bodies that could die, became physically fatigued, required sustenance, etc.

“You may be a god,” she told him, relishing the sight of his struggle. “But I’m the Perseides.”

The pacing was the perfect speed for the unfolding of the plot -- fast during the action-packed scenes, lulling but gutting during the emotional scenes. And let us not forget the incredible Plottwist crafted by Bracken, the goddess of Wordery. I will not spoil it here but: DAMN. It was great.

Monsters lived in the shadows. To hunt them, you couldn't be afraid to follow. And the only way to destroy them was to have the sharper teeth and the darker heart.

My favorite thread when I read is generally the romance, and Bracken -- who claims to have difficulty with romance beats -- did not disappoint! The story doesn't have the instalove trope but more of a childhood friends turned enemies (onesided) turned friends turned lovers trope going on I delighted in. I wanted to desperately squeeze and hug Castor while reading LORE. Lore and Castor had great chemistry and the tension in defining their rebuilding a connection make me swoon with its angst and sweetness.

"You confuse me," he said plainly. "It's always been this way. I want to tell you everything, but there's a part of me that's still afraid of seeming weak."

All in all, I had a great time reading LORE  and recommend it to anyone who has a sweet tooth for badass heroines, soft, warrior boyfriends, Greek Mythology, and cool fighting scenes.


CHARACTERS:

LORE PERSEIDES: Suffice it to say Loris character is my favorite archetype of heroine. She is fierce as hell, can fight tooth and nail, surly on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside, and fiercely loyal to her friends. I empathize with her character very much because I understand what it means to have to hide your heart behind hard walls in order to survive.

She slammed a fist against the front of the shield, and the roar that burst from it was deeper than thunder -- it was primordial.
It raged through the air, bellowing through the quiet streets. She struck it again, and again, until her ears rang and she heard the call echo back to her from distant buildings. The power blazed through her. She felt invincible.

CASTOR ACHILLEOUS: Castor is my favorite brand of delicious cinnamon roll boyfriends. Although he grew up in a blood-thirsty world filled with bullying, hatred, murder, and betrayal, and suffering from cancer, he still managed to be sweet, kind, loyal to his friends, and loyal to himself.

“He didn't want to let her down, because she would have lost her training partner and had to leave the program. But more than that, he always wanted to see her. He always wanted to follow her, even if it was right into trouble." 


FAVORITE QUOTES:

She had had her family. Her bloodline. Her name. Lore had borne the weight of those responsibilities from the moment she first learned the word Agon. Castor, though -- Castor had been different. It felt as if he had been given to her by the gods, and she to him.

+

"I accept your apology," he told Iro. "Thank you for helping the Achillides."
Lore blew a piece of hair out of her face. "This is why I always had to hold all of our grudges as kids. You've never had the heart for them."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alexandra Bracken is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Darkest Minds series and Passenger series. Born and raised in Arizona, she moved east to study history and English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. After working in publishing for several years, she now writes full time. Her work is available across the world in over 15 languages and has been adapted for the big screen. 

Visit her online at www.alexandrabracken.com and on Twitter and Instagram @alexbracken.

Happy Reading!



Monday, December 14, 2020

New YA Releases : Week of December 14th

Here are some upcoming releases this week. Release dates sources: 
Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.



Are any of these on your Bookish Wishlist or Pre-Order cart? Which do you look most forward to?

Happy Reading!
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Review: The Beholder by Anna Bright




*Warning: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.

Publisher
HarperTeen 
Release Date
June 4, 2019
Pages448
Source: Hardcover

THE STORY:

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.
BUY LINKS: The Lit. Bar    |    Amazon


RATING

ONE-WORD REVIEW: TORDEN

TAG LINE:


Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after.


OPENING LINE:


Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.



REVIEW:

Short Review:

Cinderella reimagined and the best of folklore. Reluctant adventures across the high seas. To strange, distant lands far from the home we ache for. To broken, naive hearts and finding the courage to be strong. To the lies told and truths unfolded. To silver-tongues and honest souls.

To Torden, who stole my heart . . .

Long Review:

Talk about a debut novel! THE BEHOLDER was easily one of my favorite reads of 2019. The pacing of THE BEHOLDER flowed well for the unfolding of the story. The writing was enticing and kept me flipping the page. The worldbuilding was magical and drew me into Selah's world. My favorite part of the story where the characters though. They were so well fleshed out, they felt real. When Sleah's stepmother played the role of the evil stepmother and her father played the role of the traitorous father who chose his new wife over this daughter, I felt Selah's hopelessness, then rage on her behalf. 

"Sometimes I'm not sure which is worse," I said. "Nightmares, or the thoughts that come to visit when. wake up alone in the dark."

My one issue with Selah's character: her lack of agency. To the point is was super frustrating. Frustrating, I understand. Super frustrating, no so much. Maybe I was frustrated because I've dealt with trying to regain the controls when dealing with family members in my very immediate personal circle or because the lack of agency was overdone? I don't know. Is self-determination a real-life issue? Of course. Is it plausible that someone with a lack of agency would Selah defy her circumstances and risk everything to go on a dangerous seafaring mission to lead her people? No, that's highly unlikely.

“I couldn't help but wonder, as we rose, how it would have been to grow up raised by a pack of wild animal boys instead of nuns and libraries. Would I be less fragile and anxious if I'd spent my earliest days being teased by brothers, more confident if I'd been conscripted into wrestling matches, taught to fight and race?"

Selah's love life in this book was a rollercoaster. Buttttt... she did meet the love of her life in the only. Torden sweet Torden -- who is reminiscent of a smarter, supportive, more serious Thor.

“It will not be easy, but we could build something good together. Something that would endure.”

All in all, I really enjoyed THE BEHOLDER and so excited to read its sequel, THE BOUNDLESS.


CHARACTERS:

SELAH: It was easy to connect with Selah's character. She was kind and intelligent but also shy and lacked purchase. I saw a lot of myself in her. I truly hope Selah becomes stronger in her self resolve.
    
“My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star.”

TORDEN: Torden stole my heart. He was fierce but sweet. Serious but considerate. And he wholly loved and respected Selah which is much more than I can say about her own father let alone her evil stepmother.

"Any excuse to kiss you, or none," he said, voice husky against my lips. "Christmas or Midsummer, under the mistletoe or at a church altar or somewhere alone in the dark. As long as you are mine, elskede, because I am yours."
His mouth was a bonfire that set my skin aglow. As Torden kissed me, warm and relentless, I wondered if it were possible for two people to fall in real love as quickly as we had thrust or hearts at one another."


FAVORITE QUOTES:

"He misses you, too. I know it." ... "I've never seen him happier, lucky bastard. So-serious Torden and the girl of his dreams."

"I was done looking for suitors. Whether or not I'd ever see Torden again, I'd already fallen in love."

“The things we like are different. The things we love are the same.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anna Bright is an indie bookseller by day and an author by night who still gets in trouble for reading when she's supposed to be doing other things. When not hiding out among books, she loves concerts, roller coasters, and adventures at home and abroad. Anna lives with her husband and cat in a charming cobblestoned neighborhood in Washington, DC, but you can find her online at www.annabrightbooks.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @brightlyanna.

***Check out Anna Bright's website for more information about her and THE BEHOLDERHERE

Happy Reading!

 
Monday, December 7, 2020

New YA Releases : Week of December 7th

Here are some upcoming releases this week. Release dates sources: 
Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.



Are any of these on your Bookish Wishlist or Pre-Order cart? Which do you look most forward to?

Happy Reading!
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Blog Tour: Pretending by Holly Bourne Review & Excerpt

 

Hiya, Booknerds! I was lucky enough to be selected for the Blog Tour of PRETENDINGAs such, I will give you some details about the interesting book as well as its lovely author. 

And you also get a BOOKISH BONUS: 

*A delightful morsel of an excerpt can be found below*


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Publisher: MIRA
Release DateNovember 17, 2020
Genre: Adult Romance
Pages: 416
Source: ARC

THE STORY:
In this hilarious and heartbreaking debut novel perfect for fans of Fleabag, a woman struggling to move on after a traumatic relationship pretends to be “the perfect girl” in an act of vengeance that goes awry when she finds herself emotionally compromised.
He said he was looking for a 'partner in crime' which everyone knows is shorthand for 'a woman who isn't real'.
April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal - yet she can't seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she's found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.
Gretel is perfect - beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She's a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.
When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun - especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?
BUY LINKS:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Apple Books
Kobo
Bookshop.org
Google Books



RATING

ONE-WORD REVIEW: RELATABLE

TAG LINE:

Why be yourself when you can be perfect?

OPENING LINE:


I hate men.


REVIEW:

I found the premise of PRETENDING interesting. Dating is hard. Like, really hard. So, it's easy to toy with the idea of pretending to be someone else, someone another person could fall for. Was April pretending to be someone she's not, to make a guy fall for her, the mature thing to do as an adult? No, not all. But, was it tempting and relatable? Absolutely.

"I hate how every single last one of them has issues with their father.

And do you know what I hate most of all?

That despite this, despite all this disdain, I still fancy men. And I still want them to fancy me, to want me, to love me. "

The pacing of PRETENDING was on point for the premise of the story. It was like reading the stream of consciousness for April. The entire book, I felt as if I was in her head. Feeling her feelings, going through the ups and downs of dating. It felt realistic.

“I got hurt and I buried the pain of it because, at that moment in time, it was all I could do. I just tried to survive. I'm trying to heal but it's taking ages and it's hard and feels impossible but I'm trying, and that's all I can do.”

As for the romance, April can't seem to make it past the 5th date. Just as soon as she thinks she may have found the one, *SCREECH*. There go the tires coming to a sudden stop. Heartbroken and frustrated she always imagines the guys crawling back to his ex-- the mythical creature, so names Gretel. Until a lightbulb goes on: Why be yourself when you can be perfect? So, she becomes every guy's dream girl, Gretel.

“He said he was looking for a ‘partner in crime’ which everyone knows is shorthand for ‘a woman who isn’t real’.

All in all, while PRETENDING is a story about learning to be comfortable with yourself, regardless if that means a guy isn't going to decide you're his Mrs. Right. This story is cynical, funny, and relatable as hell.  


CHARACTER:

APRIL: She is sarcastic, colorful, and maniac. More importantly, I think she is relatable when it comes to dating hang-ups.

“I don't want to be angry all the time, afraid all the time, I don't want to believe that every dog in the world bites, even though they all have teeth.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Holly Bourne is a bestselling UK-based YA and Adult Fiction author and is an Ambassador for Women’s Aid. In 2019, she was an Author of the Day at the London Book Fair, and was named by Elle Magazine’s weekly podcast as one of “Six Female Authors Changing the Conversation in 2019”. Pretending is her US debut.

***Check out Holly Bourne's website for more information about her and PRETENDING: https://www.hollybourne.co.uk/

Twitter: @holly_bourneYA

Instagram: @hollybourneya

Facebook: @Holly.Bourne


PRAISE FOR PRETENDING:



EXCERPT:

Chapter One

I hate men.

There, I’ve said it. I know you’re not supposed to say it. We all pretend we don’t hate them; we all tell ourselves we don’t hate them. But I’m calling it. I’m standing here on this soapbox, and I’m saying it.

I. Hate. Men.

I mean, think about it. They’re just awful. I hate how selfish they are. How they take up so much space, assuming it’s always theirs to take. How they spread out their legs on public transport, like their balls need regular airing to stop them developing damp. I hate how they basically scent mark anywhere they enter to make it work for them. Putting on the music they want to listen to the moment they arrive at any house party, and always taking the nicest chair. How they touch your stuff instead of just looking; even tweak the furniture arrangement to make it most comfortable for them. All without asking first—never asking first.

I hate how they think their interests are more important than yours—even though twice a week all most of them do is watch a bunch of strangers kick a circle around a piece of lawn and sulk if the circle doesn’t go in the right place. And how bored they look if you ever try to introduce them to a film, a band, or even a freaking YouTube clip, before you’ve even pressed Play.

I hate their endless arrogance. I hate how they interrupt you and then apologize for it but carry on talking anyway. How they ask you a question but then check your answer afterward. I hate how they can never do one piece of housework without telling you about it. I hate how they literally cannot handle being driven in a car by a woman, even if they’re terrible drivers themselves. I hate how they all think they’re fucking incredible at grilling meat on barbecues. The sun comes out and man must light fire and not let woman anywhere near the meat. Dumping blackened bits of chicken onto our plates along with the whiff of a burp from their beer breath, acting all caveman, like we’re supposed to find it cute that we may now get salmonella and that we’re going to have to do all the washing up.

I hate how I’m quite scared of them. I hate the collective noise of them when they’re in a big group. The tribal wahey-ing, like they all swap their IQs for extra testosterone when they swarm together. How, if you’re sitting alone on an empty train, they always come and deliberately sit next to you en masse, and talk extra loudly about macho nonsense, apparently to impress you. I hate the way they look at you when you walk past—automatically judging your screwability the moment they see you. Telling you to smile if you dare look anything other than delighted about living with stuff like this constantly fucking happening to you. 

I hate how hard they are to love. How many of them actually, truly, think the way to your heart is sending you a selfie of them tugging themselves, hairy ball sack very much still in shot. I hate how they have sex. How they shove their fingers into you, thinking it’s going to achieve anything. Jabbing their unwashed hands into your dry vagina, prodding about like they’re checking for prostate cancer, then wondering why you now have BV and you still haven’t come. Have none of them read a sex manual? Seriously? None of them? And I hate how they hate you a little just after they’ve finished. How even the nice ones lie there with cold eyes, pretending to cuddle, but clearly desperate to get as far away from you as possible.

I hate how it’s never equal. How they expect you to do all the emotional labor and then get upset when you’re the more stressed-out one. I hate how they never understand you, no matter how hard they try, although, let’s be honest here, they never actually try that hard. And I hate how you’re always exhausting yourself trying to explain even the most basic of your rational emotional responses to their bored face.

I hate how every single last one of them has issues with their father.

And do you know what I hate most of all?

That despite this, despite all this disdain, I still fancy men. And I still want them to fancy me, to want me, to love me. I hate myself for how much I want them. Why do I still fancy men so much? What’s wrong with me? Why are they all so broken? Am I broken for still wanting to be with one, even after everything? I should be alone. That’s the only healthy way to be. BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE. I hate men, that’s the problem. GOD I HATE THEM SO MUCH—they’re so entitled and broken and lazy and wrong and…and…

Hang on…

My phone.

HE MESSAGED BACK!!!

WITH A KISS ON THE END!

Never mind.

Forget I said anything. It’s all good.

Excerpted from Pretending by Holly Bourne, Copyright © 2020 by Holly Bourne. Published by MIRA Books. 

Happy Reading!

Monday, November 30, 2020

New YA Releases : Week of November 30th

Here are some upcoming releases this week. Release dates sources: 
Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.


Are any of these on your Bookish Wishlist or Pre-Order cart? Which do you look most forward to?

Happy Reading!
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