*ARC Review* You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

YAFPTitle: You Asked for Perfect

Author: Laura Silverman

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Page Count: 288 pages

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT

Summary: 

Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray.

Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options.

Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.


My Review

Have you ever felt the need to be perfect in something? A sport? Your job? What about in school? Whether you’re in school now or not, was there ever a point where you needed a perfect grade, a perfect test score, a perfect something? Do you remember dealing with the constant stress and increased anxiety levels to live up to the standards that others, or even yourself, hold you up to?

I’m one of those people that answered yes to each of those questions. In school, I struggled to maintain good grades, a social life, my family life, and my extra-curricular activities. I struggled so much that I would constantly break down because of the stress and anxiety bearing down on my shoulders and my mind. It wasn’t healthy.

And this beautiful, emotionally relatable book, You Asked for Perfect, sums up exactly what it feels like to deal with those overbearing pressures. This book is what I wished for in high school and I am so glad (so unbelievably thankful) that I had the chance to read an early copy. If you’re in middle school, high school, college, or just feeling the pressure to be perfect at something, you need to read this book. You need this book in your life right now. Trust me. Stress and anxiety take such a toll on one’s body that you may not even notice it until you wind up getting sick or worse.

“The calculus test is Friday. If I fail, it will literally be impossible to get an A in the class. If I don’t get an A in the class, I won’t have a perfect record. If I don’t have a perfect record, I’ll be a less appealing applicant for Harvard. If I’m a less appealing applicant for Harvard, I won’t get in. If I don’t get in…”

You Asked for Perfect centers on senior Ariel Stone, who struggles with academic pressure. He feels he must maintain his perfect grades, his first spot for Valedictorian, his first chair violin spot, and somehow squeeze in time to have a social life. Like most kids in school, he works exceptionally hard to maintain his perfect status. So a failed Calculus quiz is not acceptable in his perfect world. The readers see first hand what its like to struggle with the idea of being perfect, and what one failed quiz can do to someone who never fails in the academic field. Ariel puts too much on his plate, and because of that, his health starts to deteriorate, without him even noticing. He starts to swap out hours of sleep for studying when his grades start to slip. And though he gets a tutor, he doesn’t want anyone to know, especially the girl he’s up against for Valedictorian. Ariel doesn’t want anyone to see him as weak, not even his family. So, he works to maintain his perfect image in school and with his family and best friend.

Besides the emotional rollercoaster this book gives its readers, I thought the development with Ariel’s family and close friends was well put together. His sister is similar to Ariel, in the sense that she has to be perfect and puts an exceptional amount of pressure on herself for such a young age. And the worst part? Not even their parents notice what their kids are going through. It’s the aspect of being blind when your eyes can fully see: you don’t see the signs that are right in front of you. And so many kids in today’s world struggle with this, which is why this book is so vastly important. Ariel’s parents are wonderful people in this book, they really are, but like most parents, they don’t see the problems unless their kids bring it up to them. Or in Ariel’s case, unless you get really good at hiding your struggles. And then there’s Ariel’s best friend, who he somehow finds time to help her with her band. Ariel doesn’t want to disappoint his best friend, so even though he is struggling, he helps her out and doesn’t let her in on the problems he is facing.

And, of course, there’s Ariel’s tutor, Amir, who is such a loving guy, but who also happens to put a spin on Ariel’s life. Ariel swore off relationships until after high school, but could Amir possibly change that? And even so, it’s just another pressure Ariel puts on his shoulders; so, his struggle is not just with school, but with everyone in his life.

But the one pressure that Ariel needs to fix is the pressure he puts on himself. That’s the worst pressure of all. He holds himself up to a standard because he doesn’t want to disappoint those around him. And he really wants to get into Harvard, so a failed Calculus quiz is not in the cards. But his pressures and the standard he holds himself up to are issues that so many kids deal with. And that’s one of the reasons why I stress how important this book is.

I could keep going on and on about this incredible book (I could probably create a whole presentation on it), but there’s only one thing I can say at this point: You Need This Book. Even if you’re not currently struggling with anything, get this book because there will come a time that you will need it and, trust me, you will be so thankful that you read You Asked for Perfect. Laura Silverman delivers a beautifully crafted book that you are not going to want to miss.

You Asked for Perfect comes out March 5, 2019.

All quotes are from the advanced readers copy and may not appear in the final novel.

nikole

How to Throw a Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Book Reading Party!

Are you excited for the release of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix in early November?! I definitely am! The first book, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, followed Xifeng on her journey to becoming the Evil Queen. And now Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix follows Princess Jade on her quest to usurp Empress Xifeng and take back her kingdom.

Penguin Teen is hosting a wonderfully terrifying Wicked Reads Blogger Campaign, and I am so excited to be a part of it! The candy I chose was Jolly Rancher sticks, and the fun book paired with that candy was Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! 

If you and your book friends have not read Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, then do I have a treat for you (and even if you have, this is still a treat)! You can’t read one of Julie C. Dao’s books without throwing an awesome book party! And this book party is themed after Forest of a Thousand Lanterns AND Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. 

But first, check out the synopsis of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns!


51T1VLg5CoLAn East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.


Forest of a Thousand Lanterns Book Reading Party!

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FYI, even though I list everything in steps, you can do these all in any order you would like to! 🙂 and I also apologize for some of the picture quality!

Step one: Purchase or checkout Forest of a Thousand Lanterns from your local bookstore or library.

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You can’t have a book party without the book! So this is definitely a must. Even if you have the book on your Kindle or phone, that totally works, too!


Step two: Get in the mindset and feel of reading a retelling.

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I love watching fairytale movies and retellings, so you can not go wrong with watching Snow White movies! The first movie, of course, is the Disney classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Though this movie is not as action-packed as the next two, it’s still a wonderful movie to get in the zone!

Movie two: Snow White & the Huntsman. This movie is fantastic, in my personal opinion. Charlize Theron portrays the evil queen in such a terrifying way, and this movie will for sure get you ready for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. 

Movie three: The Huntsman Winter’s War. The story before Snow White and the Huntsman that reveals more of the evilness that is the evil queen! These are not the only movies that portray the evil queen, so definitely watch other movies with evil queens! 🙂


Step three: You gotta have some props and decorations!

There’s nothing wrong with having props and decorations for a book reading party! In this case, I’ve used the following props and decorations: colorful lanterns (you can’t have a Forest of a Thousand Lanterns party without lanterns!), a stuffed dragon to represent the Dragon Lord, flowers, Jolly Rancher sticks, and a bitten apple pin. If you also have a map of Feng Lu from the Forest of a Thousand Lanterns pre order campaign, then that is a perfect prop!

*Please refer to finished photo at the beginning for some of the listed props.*


Step four: Make some deliciously-themed drinks!

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The two drinks I’ve made for this party are non-alcoholic.

The first drink resembles the cover of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. I call it the Witch’s Brew! I used apple juice, mixed with 3-4 green apple Jolly Ranchers, and 1 drop of green food coloring (it is totally fine to drink food coloring).

The second drink resembles the cover of Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix. The name of this drink is the Bleeding Heart! I used V8 Splash Berry Blend, Ginger Ale, 2 cherry Jolly Ranchers, 1 strawberry, and 1 drop of red food coloring.

Note: for both of these drinks, I did not use any measurements, just kept trying things out until I liked the flavor. 🙂


Step five: Make some yummy-themed food!

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There’s nothing wrong with having some chips, salsa, crackers, cheese, etc. But I’m all for making some themed food items to represent the book!

This first item definitely was not easy, but it was a ton of fun! I made a shortcake serpent, to represent the Serpent God from Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. He for sure looks much more nice and tastier here than how he is described in the book! If you want to make your own Serpent God, I used the recipe found here! I tweaked the recipe a little bit, to give it my own touch! And I know my snake is nothing compared to the one in the recipe’s photo, but at least I can say I tried. 🙂

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*The poor serpent lost his tongue in this photo 😦 *

The second item is poison apples, of course! I only had three apples to work with, but there’s no harm in having multiples, just in case Snow White doesn’t eat the first one. 😉 This was a lot of fun to make, as well! The recipe I used can be found here!


Step six: Get comfy and start reading!

I always recommend having book parties in either themed outfits or in your pajamas! It makes the occasion more festive! So, get comfy and enjoy your time reading!

And that’s your Forest of a Thousand Lanterns bookish-themed party! You can definitely change it up a bit, to add your own spin! But just make sure to have fun and to enjoy the wonderful tale that is Forest of a Thousand Lanterns!


Thank you, Penguin Teen, for this amazing opportunity and for this awesome Wicked Reads Campaign! And also for the wonderful Forest of a Thousand Lanterns book package!

♥Nikole

*Blog Tour + Giveaway* Dream Keeper – Amber R. Duell

DreamKeeper_cover.jpgTitle: DREAM KEEPER

Author: Amber R. Duell

Pub. Date: January 29, 2019

Publisher: The Parliament House

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 288

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, B&N

The Sandman is seventeen-year-old Nora’s closest friend and best-kept secret. He has to be, if she doesn’t want a one-way ticket back to the psychiatrist. It took her too long to learn not to mention the hooded figure in her dreams to her mother, who still watches Nora as if she’ll crack. So when Nora’s friends start mysteriously dying gruesome deaths in their sleep, she isn’t altogether surprised when the police direct their suspicion at her. The Sandman is the only one she can turn to for answers. But the truth might be more than she bargained for…

For the last five years, the Sandman has spent every night protecting Nora. When he hid the secret to the Nightmare Lord’s escape inside her dreams, he never expected to fall in love with her. Neither did he think his nemesis would find her so quickly, but there’s no mistaking his cruel handiwork. The Nightmare Lord is tired of playing by the rules and will do anything to release his deadly nightmares into the world, even if that means tormenting Nora until she breaks.

When the Nightmare Lord kidnaps Nora’s sister, Nora must enter enemy territory to save her. The Sandman is determined to help, but if Nora isn’t careful, she could lose even more than her family to the darkness.


About Amber:

AmberAmber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s constantly moving with her husband and two sons as a military wife. Before becoming published, she had a wide range of occupations including banking, bartending (though she’s never tried alcohol), and phlebotomy (though she faints with needles). She also volunteered as a re-enactor at the local Revolutionary War fort and worked near shelter cats which led to her previous crazy cat lady status.

She does her best writing in the middle of the night, surviving the daylight hours with massive amounts of caffeine. Her favorite stories are dark with a touch of romance and a villain you either love to hate or hate to love.

When not reading or writing, she enjoys snowboarding, embroidering, snuggling with her cat, and staying up way too late to research genealogy. She loves to travel and has visited more countries than states. Kissing the Blarney Stone and hand-feeding monkeys in the mountains of France will be hard to beat, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to find the next real-life adventure.

Website  | Twitter  | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest |  Goodreads


My Review

“A rendering of worlds. A distortion of nature. A binding of power.”

Dream Keeper is a wonderfully unique and enchanting tale that will charm you from the first line and leave you wishing there was more. The world is fascinating and the whole idea is wildly original. Nora, the Sandman, and the Weaver are characters that you know belong in this world. They are characters many will be able to relate to, all in different ways, as these characters have some differences from each other.

Nora is that type of protagonist that you root for from the first chapter. Though her life takes a drastic turn for the worst, she never gives up and stays strong. She doesn’t let the horrors defeat her, even when they hit home. The Sandman is just like her in that sense. He’s strong and will do anything to protect Nora and the secret Dream she holds in her mind. The Sandman is portrayed so well, and I loved his character. Duell did an incredible job with the characters, so trust me when I say that this book is not just all about the world building.

“You’ll soon find out there are worse things than death.”

Oh, lord, the Weaver is one of those villains you know is evil to the core, but someone you secretly like. That’s the case for me. He may be deadly and, you know, kill people, but he has a way with words, and I really liked that about the Weaver. He’s creepy and dangerous and interesting, but there’s this vibe with him. I was looking forward to a lot of his scenes, especially his interactions with Nora and the Sandman. He’s a well-drawn villain; he himself is a living nightmare, and it was really neat to see his story.

“For every light there was a shadow, for every dream, a nightmare.”

If you think the cover is beautiful, you need to read Duell’s world building. The world building in Dream Keeper is fresh and so unlike anything I’ve read. There’s the Day (real) world, the Dream Realm, and the Nightmare Realm. The drastic differences between the three is so distinctive and well-depicted. And how Duell brings all three together…wow. She does it so smoothly and it blends so well with the story. What also makes this story unique is how the nightmares are portrayed. There are regular nightmares, of horrors that are fiction and not real. And then there are nightmares that are real and haunt the host that could potentially lead to death. I know: scary, right? The nightmare creatures are intriguing and hauntingly creepy; they’re definitely not a creature I would want to come face-to-face with. Overall, the world building is a breath of fresh air.

If you haven’t read anything by Amber Duell yet, I highly recommend starting with Dream Keeper. That’s the case for me, and I plan on reading more of Duell’s work. I was delightfully surprised by this tale and I cannot wait for next installment! Dream Keeper comes out January 29, 2019, but you can pre-order now!

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.


Enter the Dream Keeper Giveaway!

1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card, International.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

10/22/2018- Smada’s Book Smack– Review

10/23/2018- A Court of Coffee and Books– Review

10/24/2018- Oh Hey! Books.– Excerpt

10/25/2018- BookHounds YA– Excerpt

10/26/2018- Loie Dunn– Review

Week Two:

10/29/2018- MetalPhantasmReads– Review

10/30/2018- Falling For YA– Excerpt

10/31/2018- Adventures Thru Wonderland– Review

11/1/2018- Am Kinda Busy Reading– Review

11/2/2018- Do You Dog-ear?– Review


Thank you, Rockstar Book Tours and Amber R. Duell, for this wonderful blog tour!

 

*Blog Tour* Star-Crossed – Pintip Dunn

Star-Crossed-1600pxTitle: Star-Crossed
Author: Pintip Dunn
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: October 2nd 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen

Summary:

In a world where nutrition can be transferred via a pill, and society is split into Eaters and Non-Eaters, seventeen-year-old Princess Vela has a grave dilemma. Her father, the king, is dying, and only a transplant of organs from a healthy Non-Eater boy will save him.

Vela is tasked with choosing a boy fit to die for the king, which is impossible enough. But then Carr, the boy she’s loved all her life, emerges as the best candidate in the Bittersweet Trials. And he’s determined to win, because by doing so, he can save the life of his Non-Eater sister.

Refusing to accept losing the boy she loves, Vela bends the rules and cheats. But when someone begins to sabotage the Trials, Vela must reevaluate her own integrity—and learn the true sacrifice of becoming a ruler.

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Purchase links can be found here: https://entangledpublishing.com/star-crossed.html 


About the Author

Pintip+croppedPintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B., and received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Pintip’s novel FORGET TOMORROW won the 2016 RWA RITA® for Best First Book, and SEIZE TODAY won the 2018 RITA for Best Young Adult Romance. Her books have been translated into four languages, and they have been nominated for the following awards: the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire; the Japanese Sakura Medal; the MASL Truman Award; the Tome Society It list; and the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other titles include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, THE DARKEST LIE, GIRL ON THE VERGE, and the upcoming STAR-CROSSED and MALICE.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon | Entangled Publishing


My Review

Star-Crossed takes readers to a new and unique world, where there are two different kinds of people: the Aegis and the colonists. Aegis have the ability to ingest more food than the colonists due to genetic modifications that take sixty years of their life. With that genetic modification, Aegis are able to feed everyone with nutrition pills. This itself is a unique concept. I’ve read a decent amount of YA Sci-Fi, but none had this concept where people give up sixty years of their life to feed their nation with pills. Not to mention the colonists have never tried real food. Imagine having a life where you take a nutrition pill and never know the taste of real food. It sounds quite horrible, in my opinion (both options do).

The author knows how to weave a fantastical world together. There’s enough detail to bring the story to life and make the readers feel like they are part of that world. What I found nice was that the story did not focus on heaving world building, but rather what happened to the characters. Princess Vela is the heart of the story, and the plot brings her story together wonderfully. As the reader, expect plot twists and a killer on the loose. I was able to figure out some of the plot twists, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the ones I did not figure out. In no way does this story feel like it just ends or it cuts to the chase too fast; it’s perfectly paced.

Pintip Dunn does a wonderful job with character building and differentiation. Each character has their own personality and a strong relationship with Princess Vela. Princess Vela and her sister, Princess Blanca, are so exceptionally different, and it’s fascinating to see how each tackles their assignment for who will be the next successor. Vela handles her assignment with heart and demonstrates a type of leadership she never knew she had; whereas Blanca is more headstrong and listens to the facts instead of her heart. Vela’s relationship with Astana is heartwarming and like any friendship; their friendship reminded me of the one I have with my best friend, and how I would do anything for her, just like Vela. And then there is Carr, the boy Vela has always loved. I saw the love they both had for each other, and that love only increased as the Trials continued.

Overall, I really enjoyed Star-Crossed. I liked how it was realistic enough in the sense that Princess Vela knew there were things she could not change, and things she could. Pintip blends Sci-Fi, mystery, and romance well to weave together a beautiful story. This was the first book I’ve read by Pintip Dunn, and I plan on definitely reading more by her. Star-Crossed is out now!

Recommended for readers who love sc-fi, unique plots, a little mystery, and a budding romance.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars


GIVEAWAY:

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Blog Tour Organized by:

YA Bounk Tour Button

*Cover Reveal* Blastaway by Melissa Landers

Today Melissa Landers and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for BLASTAWAY, her new Middle Grade Sci-Fi which releases Summer 2019! Check out the awesome cover and the excerpt!

On to the reveal!

Blastaway_revised-20180917_cover2Title: BLASTAWAY

Author: Melissa Landers

Pub. Date: Summer 2019

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Pages: ?

Find it: Goodreads

Summary: 

Pitched as “Home Alone in space,” a young science prodigy who runs away in his family spaceship must team up with a plucky mutant to save the Earth from destruction.

Scheduled for publication Summer 2019. 


Exclusive Excerpt!

At some point, I must have fallen asleep.

I say that for two reasons. First, my chin was wet with drool, and I hardly ever slobber on myself when I’m awake. And second, I was no longer on Earth.

I sat bolt upright and stared out the window as distant stars whizzed past in a blur. There were no planets in sight, and judging by the swirling purple nebula ahead of me, this wasn’t the way to Nana’s house. I checked the navigation screen and felt my mouth drop open. The flashing beacon that represented my ship was halfway between Earth and Fasti.

(So you see, it is totally possible to steal a spaceship on accident.)

I guess my hand hit the EXECUTE button when I fell asleep. And because it would take just as long for me to turn around and go home as it would to finish my journey, it made sense to keep going, right? Either way, my parents would ground me into the afterlife, so I might as well earn the sentence, right?

Right.

An electric thrill rushed through my veins when I thought about the possibilities that lay ahead of me. Anything could happen on this trip. Literally anything. I could discover a brand-new element. Or meet a secret race of aliens. Or invent a new energy source. Or eat so much chocolate that I puked. Either way, I had complete freedom to make this journey into whatever I wanted, and once I realized that, there was no freaking way I could turn back. It was like the universe had dropped a gift in my lap, a gift I had no intention of returning.

I wiped the drool off my chin and smiled.

“Hold onto your stars, Fasti. Here I come.” 


About Melissa:

Melissa_Author_PhotoMelissa Landers is a former teacher who left the classroom to pursue other worlds. A proud sci-fi geek, she isn’t afraid to wear her Princess Leia costume in public—just ask her kids. She lives just outside Cincinnati in the town of Loveland, “Sweetheart of Ohio.”

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

~The Page 69 Test~ Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Hi, lovely bookworms! I’ve had a wonderful week of reading so far, and I hope you have, too! For this Thursday, here is our next post of the Page 69 Test. The two paragraphs below illustrate what this post is about.

The Page 69 TestMy co-bloggers and I have started a new weekly blog post: The Page 69 Test! Have you heard of the page 69 test? If not, it’s basically where you read page 69 of a book you think you will like. If you liked reading page 69, chances are you will enjoy reading the rest of the book.

Instead of posting the full page, we will be posting the first 10-20 lines of that page, starting with the first full sentence.

The book for this week is by a very well-known and loved author, Sarah J. Maas. Most have read her Throne of Glass and/or A Court of Thorns and Roses series. But Sarah recently came out with a new book, Catwoman: Soulstealer! I absolutely love this cover and cannot wait to read this book. Catwoman: Soulstealer is the third book in the DC Icons series. Check out the start of page 69 below!

“Selina leaned against the carved oak doorframe and watched the antiquities dealer jot down another calculation on his pad of paper.

He’d been examining the Bastet statue for twenty minutes now, the golden lights of his ornate office dim save for the spotlight of the examination lamp over the statue. She’d lingered at the doorway of his office for the entirety of that time, dressed head to toe in black, her face obscured by her Death Mask and the low-hanging hood of her sweatshirt.

Such dramatics, the man had said when he let her in the back door.

She’d said nothing, opting for the power of silence and the bullwhip hanging from her side to convey any threats she might need to make.”


Synopsis of Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

CatwomanWhen the Bat’s away, the Cat will play. It’s time to see how many lives this cat really has. . . .

Two years after escaping Gotham City’s slums, Selina Kyle returns as the mysterious and wealthy Holly Vanderhees. She quickly discovers that with Batman off on a vital mission, Batwing is left to hold back the tide of notorious criminals. Gotham City is ripe for the taking.

Meanwhile, Luke Fox wants to prove he has what it takes to help people in his role as Batwing. He targets a new thief on the prowl who seems cleverer than most. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, and together they are wreaking havoc. This Catwoman may be Batwing’s undoing.

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*ARC Review* The Demon Race by Alexandria Warwick

DemonTitle: The Demon Race

Author: Alexandria Warwick

Publisher: Wolf Publishing

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:

Hidalgo meets An Ember in the Ashes in this Middle Eastern-inspired YA fantasy debut.

A race across the desert.

An unimaginable prize.

It occurs once every thousand years: the Demon Race. A test of will and strength, it is a race across the Saraj, a fight for the prize of a lifetime. And it is the key to Namali Hafshar’s freedom.

When shy, seventeen-year-old Namali learns of her arranged marriage, she flees home and enters the Demon Race for the chance to change her fate. But to compete, she must cross the Saraj on a daeva, a shadow demon that desires its own reward: to infect her soul with darkness.

Namali soon learns the desert holds more dangers than meets the eye. The only person she can trust is Sameen, a kind competitor seeking his own destiny. As her affection for him grows, however, so too does the darkness in her heart.

In this race of men and demons, only one can win. But the price of winning might be more than Namali is willing to pay.

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My Review

“Light, darkness…one cannot exist without the other, for the very definition of light is the absence of dark. They are both necessary for the balance of the world.”

Have you ever read a book that pleasantly surprised you? That was different from your initial reaction? For me, The Demon Race is one of those books. I’ve actually had The Demon Race on my radar for quite some time, so I was ecstatic when I received an email from the author to review her book. Hidalgo is one of my favorite movies; plus, a race across the desert on the back of a daeva all the while trying to prevent the demon from crawling into your mind? Count me in! The Demon Race will bring you up close to Namali’s adventure of self-discovery and worth. She will determine what it really means to be her true self in a world that has been set against her since birth. But the question arises: will Namali like the person she becomes during and after the race?

“It was true what people said: the world appeared most beautiful on the eve of death.”

Many believed the Demon Race to be a myth. A race that takes place once every one thousand years, granting the winner one wish, a wish their heart most desires. Namali knows the stories are true when she gets word of the legendary and very real race taking place in mere days. And she knows, that if she stays in her small town and marries a man she does not love, she will never become the person she wants the be. Nor will she get what she most desires: freedom. So, Namali does what hopefully any woman in her situation would do: she leaves home and enters the race.

The race is unlike anything I’ve ever read. To partake in the race, each contender must ride a daeva (a demon), all the while steering clear of the daeva’s luring capabilities. Afterall, each daeva wants a reward from each rider: to fill their souls with darkness. Namali has to constantly fight to escape the lure of the darkness. And the times she can’t help but be overtaken by the deceiving demon, she loses a piece of herself. The race not only sets her on an adventure toward a desirable prize, but also on an adventure of self-discovery.

“In order to escape alive, she must push forward with ferocity and unwavering belief. She had done it before. She could do it again.”

Namali is a girl who is strong in her religious beliefs. And that was something I really enjoyed. There’s times where she questions her faith, but she always sticks to her beliefs and I really liked that. There are times she loses her faith, loses the telltale signs of who she really is, but she never once lost sight of her religion. The Demon Race adequately describes the different religions in a way that connects wonderfully with the story. What I also liked about Namali is how strong of a character she becomes. She has a mind of her own and she knows what she wants entering the race. Namali struggles with the concept of strength, thinking it’s not something she deserves. But it’s been with her all along, and her journey is quite something to read.

“She was sinking. Sinking into warm, deep waters. They tugged her down to a murky, gray existence, where shadows twined around her leaden limbs, absorbing into her skin until they disappeared below the surface.”

The Demon Race is a book with such gorgeous prose. There were scenes where the writing was so well described and beautifully illustrated that brought the story to life. The author embellishes her stunning writing with scenes that jump off the page and words that will utterly captivate you. Alexandria Warwick has a way with words; I had pages upon pages bookmarked for quotes and it became difficult only selecting a few. Her writing is something I absolutely loved and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

“It was true what people said: the world appeared most beautiful on the eve of death.”

The Demon Race will be released on September 18, 2018.

Thank you to the author for sending an advanced e-copy for me to read and write an honest review! All quotes are from the advanced e-copy and may not appear in the final novel.

♥Nikole