How We Fall Book Blast

Hey all! I am so glad to get to share this with you today. Kate is such a talented author and when I started to read the first chapter of her upcoming book, HOW WE FALL, I couldn’t stop. After you read the first chapter below, I know you’ll be hooked too.

The #YAlaunch book party in celebration of HOW WE FALL and Nikki Urang’s THE HIT LIST is happening November 10th (today) from 6-9pm central. It will be a great opportunity to connect with other readers, hear from some great authors, get your questions answered, and possibly win one of 100 books they’re giving away! Not to mention, I’ll be there, so now you have to come 🙂


 

How We FallHow We Fall
Kate Brauning
Merit Press, F&W Media
Releasing November 11, 2014
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1440581797
ISBN-13: 978-144058179

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Praise for How We Fall:

Kirkus Reviews: “Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid…. A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.”

School Library Journal: “Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning’s characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller… this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens.”

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

How We Fall is available through:

Barnes & Noble Indie Bound Walmart.com Book-A-Million Book Depository Powell’s

Amazon.com Amazon.ca Amazon.co.uk

All book lovers are invited to attend #YAlaunch, a giant book party for How We Fall and The Hit List on Monday, November 10th, from 6-9pm central time. Broadcast live over video, the party will allow you to see, hear, and interact with the authors. 10 YA and adult authors will be discussing everything from writing a series to how they write love interests. They’ll also be playing book games with the audience, taking questions, and giving away 100 books to guests attending online. Authors attending include NYT bestsellers Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee, Kate Brauning, Nikki Urang, Kiersi Burkhart, Bethany Robison, Alex Yuschik, Blair Thornburgh, Kelly Youngblood, and Delia Moran. It will be a fun and interactive evening for anyone who loves books and wants to spend some time with great authors. For more information and to sign up to attend, please click here. We’d love to see you there!

Author Bio:www.jenniophotography.com

Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. This is her first novel. Visit her online at http://www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.

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Book Review: ALTAICA

Altaica by Tracy M. Joyce is the first in the Chronicles of Altaica series. I received this from the publisher, Odyssey Books, through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary on Goodreads

“Look at her – she’s Hill Clan. Even the Matyrani don’t like them …”

Isaura – little is known about her race, but much is whispered. Born to refugees, she grows up enduring racism and superstition within a community that fears her. She has few friends, and those she treasures. Trapped, she longs for escape to a different life. 

Escape is only the beginning of her troubles. Having fled an invading army with her friends, Isaura is faced with heinous choices in order to survive. Secrets from her past emerge to torment her and threaten to destroy all she holds dear. Her struggles forge a bond with an ancient power – a power which may transform or consume her. Old hatreds and superstitions are renewed and at her most vulnerable she learns the true nature of those around her.

Her only hope lies in a foreign land – a land rich in tradition; ruled by three powerful clans. A land with a history marked by warfare; where magic as we know it does not exist. Instead what is here, in abundance, is a more primal power.

Survival carries a high price.

Welcome to Altaica.

The Good: Everything. A brilliant, wide cast of characters, unique, rich world, and interesting, exciting plot. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and this was a nice break from the usual canned storyline. Though Isaura was a good protagonist, I found myself attached to and invested in a number of other characters–there were plenty I thought could have been the protagonists themselves. I tore through this book, page by page, and my only regret is that I read it so fast, and I have to wait so long until the next one! 

The Not-So-Good: I had a hard time with this one–there really wasn’t much I didn’t like. Only thing would be a couple of the subplots and characters felt a little juvenile, like petty teenager drama. Contrasted against a complex world and storyline, it didn’t seem to fit for me.

My Favorite Part: I love Asha’s character, and Unmiga and Pio made me laugh aloud on several occasions. The end scene was beautiful and breathtaking–I also loved the tenderness between Karan and Isaura–and I can’t see where Joyce takes this story next. 

The Verdict: Altaica left me speechless. It is a brilliant YA epic fantasy, definitely among the best I’ve read. There are many characters to love, a rich and believable world, and unique and interesting plot. If you love fantasy, you need this book in your life. 

Book Review: THE PARK SERVICE

So this one took me a while, but it was on the back burner for a bit. Now I’m finished and ready to share it with you! Here’s the pretty awesome cover:

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The Park Service by Ryan Winfield is the first of the Park Service trilogy. This book hooked me right away, but I ended up with some mixed feelings about it–though the end definitely left me wanting more.

The Jist: 16 year old Aubrey lives underground, believing that the surface of Earth is uninhabitable, until a train crash brings him above ground. He finds Earth is paradise, his life has been a lie, and someone is killing off the surviving humans on the surface.

The Good: The imagery and descriptions are very beautiful and detailed. There are some really exciting scenes as well. By the end of the prologue, I was hooked. Winfield has created a very thought-provoking, if disturbing, world. I am interested to see where he will take this next.

The Not-So-Good: I found the protagonist Aubrey a little flat. He’s not bad, just nothing to really give him life or make me attached to him–more of a plot drives character book. Also, I think this was stretched for a trilogy and there were parts where nothing interesting seemed to happen–pages of description of nature–and slow plot, and I found myself bored for most of the middle third. I pushed through though, and the end was worth it.

My Favorite Part: Aubrey’s slang-talking, wild native best friend Jimmy and their pet fox cub, Junior. I also enjoyed Hannah, the love interest, though I’d love to see her developed more.

The Verdict: There are some elements here that felt flat–another dystopian, the protagonist, and the romance–but Winfield has created an interesting, haunting post-apocalyptic Earth, and the end has me wanting the next book by yesterday.

Book Review: FROI OF THE EXILES

So I’ve been reading this one for a while (it is a long book, give me some credit) but I’m finally done! Here it is, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, or need a reminder:

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta is the second in the Lumatere Chronicles series (which I didn’t know when I bought it, and didn’t realize until I was about halfway through reading it, haha). I’ve said before that I have a love/hate relationship with this book, and after finishing it, I still do.

The Jist: An ex-street thief (Froi) is sent on a mission to a rival kingdom (and his homeland), impersonating someone who is supposed to break the curse with the half-mad princess, while he discovers ties to his past and plots to kill the king.

The Good: Wow, Melina Marchetta is a master with emotions. Some scenes were so raw and believable that it just struck me. She created some complex, dark, tortured characters that made me feel for them. I mean the feels. Even with the strange world and characters, she managed to make some realistic, relatable emotions and relationships. I think the emotions and the dynamics of the different, complex relationships were my favorite part. Unfortunately, some of the most interesting characters were side characters rather than main, and I would have liked to see more from them.

The Not-So-Good: While she’s good with emotions, I didn’t feel the same about her storytelling. Besides the overwhelming, confusing cast of characters which make things hard to keep track of (half the time I couldn’t remember who they were, so I didn’t really care) the pace is incredibly slow. Honestly, I ended up skimming a lot (blasphemy, I know). Even in the supposedly climactic scenes, or scenes with huge revelations, it would take so long to get to the point that I was just lost and bored by that time, and then sometimes would miss the huge moment. Other times felt like a huge info dump, and there was a lot of backstory that felt kind of unnecessary, confusing, and for characters I didn’t entirely care about.

Favorite Part: Definitely Froi and Quintana’s (the half-mad princess) relationship. Probably the most interesting, bizarre, but endearing love story I’ve ever read. I didn’t even find Froi particularly interesting or likeable, but every single scene with them was just brilliant. I would have loved more time with Quintana’s character period, as she was by far my favorite.

The Verdict: I don’t know what to say, honestly. The moments of brilliance were brilliant and will stay with me for a while. But I feel like I had to work so hard to get to those moments. So, for now, I will likely hold off on the next and final book until I am ready again. But these were definitely some characters that won’t leave me anytime soon. If you are a fan of epic fantasies, and don’t mind a long read or keeping track of characters, then those moments of raw, stark brilliance are absolutely worth it.

Book Review: THE FEAR TRIALS

So my friend Lindsay Cummings just released the prequel novella to her book, The Murder Complex (which comes out tomorrow! So excited!) The Fear Trials is an ebook-only release, on Kindle, Nook, and iTunes for 1.99. Here it is, for those of you who haven’t seen it:

This is her debut novel, and has already reached the top 100 on Amazon. Though she is a good friend of mine, this review is as unbiased as possible. 🙂

The Jist: Meadow trains to survive, and kill, in order to provide for her family in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birth rate.

The Good: I love the world in this, as dark and twisted as it is. This is a perfect example of a dystopian done well. It is very raw, and vivid, and I love the little details that make it feel real. It is very fast-paced and exciting, but also emotional. I think she has created some interesting, complex characters here that I can’t wait to see more of.

The Not-So-Good: It is fast-paced, and I think it reads a lot like the Hunger Games, which (obviously) a lot of people will like. I just personally appreciate a little more variation in sentences and description.

Favorite Part: SPOILER – My favorite part is when Meadow is finally able to kill someone, in order to save her sister, thus winning the Fear Trials and proving herself. – END SPOILER – I think this is the point Meadow truly becomes herself, and I’ll be interested to see how she develops over the course of The Murder Complex.

The Verdict: This is a gripping, exciting introduction to The Murder Complex series. For fans of the Hunger Games, Legend, and the movie Hanna. I would definitely recommend reading this before The Murder Complex. I mean, for 1.99, why not? As a novella it is a quick read (I finished in one sitting, over a couple hours) so it’s a quick, easy way to try out her writing, and see if you’d want to read the Murder Complex. This is a great debut, and I think Lindsay has a bright future as an author 🙂

 

Book Review: BATTLE MAGIC

Alright, so I know I’ve been reading this one forever, but things have been a little crazy around here, and I just finished it. Here it is, for those of you who aren’t familiar or have forgotten:

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As I’ve said before, Tamora Pierce was basically my author idol growing up. She was a huge inspiration for me to start writing novels, and a motivation to keep going. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of her books, so when my dad gave me this book for my birthday, I was more than ecstatic. I started reading, and I was hooked. I would have read it in one sitting, if my life didn’t have different plans. Here’s the breakdown:

The Jist: Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy (of previous Winding Circle books) are halfway across the world from their home, and must use their magic, massive epic armies, and super awesome gods, to fight back the bad emperor and keep him from destroying the peaceful kingdom of Gyongxe.

The Good: Her world-building and storytelling are amazing. It is such a rich and vivid world, complete with culture, history, religions, and politics. I can tell a lot of research went into this one, since it is clearly based on Chinese culture. I love her characterization too. So many unique people and voices, even the side characters are memorable.

The Not-So-Good: This one is hard. For me, I think that some parts can seem more juvenile or middle grade, and I think because it is geared towards a younger audience. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, just not for me. I would also say that with the vast cast of characters and rich history, though all very interesting, sometimes it can get confusing (especially with the oriental names).

Favorite Part: Evvy is such a sharp, endearing, and memorable character. She’s a little girl who grew up in the slums, is very brave and spunky, with a huge appetite and seven cats. I loved her sections, especially when (minor spoiler) she journeys into the mountains and meets the gods that live there, and befriends them. Her and Luvo’s (the “heart” of the mountain, a colorful stone bear, and I can’t get rid of the image of a talking gummy bear) dynamic and relationship is brilliant. This ancient mountain god who is very distant about humans grows to love and be fiercely protective of this brave little girl, and they become like best friends.

The Verdict: Anyone who is a fan of Tamora Pierce, or YA fantasy in general, should go read this. Even after twenty-something books, she still manages to create a unique and intriguing world full of vivid characters that won’t leave you anytime soon.

Book Review: DEFIANCE

As I said in my What’s Up Wednesday post this week, I just finished Defiance by C.J. Redwine. It is book one in the Courier’s Daughter trilogy. Here’s the cover if you don’t know what I’m talking about:

(Which by the way I totally love this cover) but as for the book itself,  it took me not even two pages of reading to instantly fall in love with C.J. Redwine’s writing voice. She is amazingly talented, and has such beautiful prose and storytelling. It painted such a vivid picture, and completely immersed me in the book. This is the first book of hers I have read, but she is definitely now one of the authors whose writing inspires me!

On the other hand, in the beginning I was a little disappointed with both the characters and the plot. Not only were the future/alternate history sci-fi main characters named Rachel Adams and Logan McEntire (yawn…but then there’s the guy named Melkin?) but they and their relationship felt flat. The beginning felt a little too much like the cliche dystopian YA–evil guy in power making their lives suck, overly stubborn and spiteful redhead hates super handsome guy but secretly attracted to him and they can’t help but fall madly in love.

Now before you dismiss the book, let me say that I actually loved it, it just took me a little while to get there. But once I got past their names and contrived relationship, I watched their characters, the story, and the plot develop. A few chapters in, I was hooked.

One thing that makes this book special to me is its girl-power themes (girls are not allowed anywhere without their male “Protectors” and cannot make their own decisions–but Rachel is brought up independent and strong-willed, and the messed up system is emphasized throughout) as well as its unique combination of sci-fi and fantasy elements. When I started the book, I pictured their world more dystopian sci-fi, but at the same time it is set in a castle, but they also have technology/inventions, and there’s a powerful magic monster that terrorizes their world, and Tree People living in the Wasteland outside their city. It sounds like an odd combination, but it completely works.

I absolutely loved the ending of this book, and am itching to get my hands on the next 🙂 Definitely worth the read!

Overall, I give this book 5 stars! (Here’s a link to my short review on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/895823331?book_show_action=false)