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Blog Tours, Book Review, YA Fantasy

Blog Tour [Review]: Soul of Cinder

Author: Bree Barton
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Where to Buy: Barnes and Noble | Amazon | IndieBound

Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis

This is the 3rd book in the series so if you don’t want anything spoiled.

The Twisted Sisters are coming home.

Prince Quin has returned to the river kingdom, ready to spearhead a rebellion and reclaim the throne. He vows to destroy Mia, Pilar, and Angelyne if they oppose him—even if he must use his newfound magic to set the world aflame.

Across the four kingdoms, the elements have been tipped askew. Volcanoes erupt, glaciers collapse, and cities sink into the western sands. After losing Angie, Mia and Pilar journey to the glass kingdom to seek help, though soon their fragile bonds of sisterhood begin to fray. Mia’s sensations are creeping back, and with them, a deep and searing grief. Pilar, terrified of being broken, once again seeks comfort in her fists. But when they hear rumors of a misty island that promises to erase all pain, they suddenly find themselves with an answer—if they are willing to pay the cost.

As tensions mount, the sisters are drawn back to the river kingdom for a final reckoning with the boy they each loved. The shattering conclusion to Bree Barton’s Heart of Thorns trilogy challenges why we grieve, whom we love—and how to mend a broken heart.

Review

This is the third book in the series, so there may be spoilers of the first and second books.

I have to admit, I was hesitant in going into the finale of this story because the first and second books were okay reads for me. However, although not perfect, Soul of Cinder managed to wrap of Mia’s journey as well as it could. The worldbuilding was consistent, the magic system still as fabulous as ever, and there was much more character development this time around. Overall, it was decent end to a series. Soul of Cinder begins with us finding out about Mia and her sister Pilar. They are on the journey to retrieve Mia’s ability to feel emotions. Meanwhile, Quin is on another journey. Now with newfound magic and a kingdom to take back, Quin is on a mission of both revenge and the reclaiming of his rightful throne. Hurt and feeling sour about the Twisted Sisters, Quin is now a different character than we saw during Tears of Frost.

Before getting to the character, I wanted to talk about the magic system. I continued to be amazed by the birth and construction of it and it did not disappoint in Soul of Cinder. The magical backdrop world stayed consistent, which I know can sometimes be hard to do. As with the previous two books, the themes of grief, hurt, loss and healing continue to play a major role in Soul of Cinder as each character learns to heal in their own way. I enjoyed the mainstream of healing that occurred in many of the characters in this book. It gave way to have some happy ending or some sense of okay-ness for the main and supporting characters. When it came to the romance aspect of the story, I was okay with it not being a prominent part of the story and wasn’t too phased about the relationships that fizzled out throughout the story.

However, I did enjoy the complex and intriguing relationship that half-sisters Mia and Pilar were forming. It wasn’t perfect and I think that added to it feeling more real. The two were working through the emotions of finding out they were relating and while trying to build a normal foundation to work on. I was able to see this especially through their journey of helping Mia out. I may have an unpopular opinion here, but I did enjoy Quin’s character in the last book. Quin, hurt and reeling with so many emotions was handling them in the most human way he can think of. His emotions didn’t feel exaggerated or forced. It also gave way to understanding why he had the feelings about his kingdom that he did.

Overall, Soul of Cinder was a good read. The main takeaway from this story is understanding how love can be both a magical and destructive thing. Emotions are natural and many people go through it but giving those the time to heal from it is most important. While this story did not completely swoon me away, I would recommend it to readers who love morally grey characters, a feminist approach, and a journey of healing through the hurt.

About the Author

Bree Barton is a writer in Los Angeles. When she’s not lost in whimsy, she works as a ghostwriter and dance teacher to teen girls. She is on Instagram and YouTube as Speak Breely, where she posts funny videos of her melancholy dog. Bree is not a fan of corsets.

Giveaway!

Blog Tours, Book Review, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Blog Tour [Review]: Halfway to Harmony

Author: Barbara O’Connor
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG)
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Where to Buy: Barnes & Noble| Amazon

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis

A heartfelt middle-grade novel from New York Times bestselling author Barbara O’Connor about a boy whose life is upended after the loss of his older brother–timeless, classic, and whimsical.

Walter Tipple is looking for adventure. He keeps having a dream that his big brother, Tank, appears before him and says, “Let’s you and me go see my world, little man.” But Tank went to the army and never came home, and Walter doesn’t know how to see the world without him.

Then he meets Posey, the brash new girl from next door, and an eccentric man named Banjo, who’s off on a bodacious adventure of his own. What follows is a summer of taking chances, becoming braver, and making friends–and maybe Walter can learn who he wants to be without the brother he always wanted to be like.

Halfway to Harmony is an utterly charming story about change and growing up.

Review

I have to say, Middle Grade fiction is really doing it’s stuff lately. Halfway to Harmony is another Middle Grade Fiction that did not disappoint. This book will pull at your heartstrings while also giving you a light feel great read. After losing his older brother Tank, Walter is grieving for the loss of not only his brother but the void it left because Tank was also his best friend. Walter in his dreams often hears his brother Tank inviting him to be with him, but Walter awakes right before he can blow his birthday candles. Walter is such a loving character whose journey becomes finding that love lost and feeling some form of normalcy in his life.  

We then meet Posey, spunky young girl with a 3-legged dog companion. She is also Walter’s new neighborhood and the person Walter beings a friendship with. After all, he is no longer all by himself. Posey and Walter then meet Banjo, a man whose dream is to be a part of a hot air balloon race. Both Posey and Banjo are also characters you find yourself cherishing. Posey has an impeccable photographic memory and a liveliness that can brighten up a room. Oh, let’s not forget that her pup is name Porkchop, which is the absolute cutest. Banjo’s very positive and adventurous take on life adds a certain hopefulness into the story. Both Posey’s and Banjo’s personalities adds a positive nature that helps Walter get through the grief and anger he feels in relation to his brother’s death. The grief process doesn’t feel pushed aside or rushed; it feels erased organically.

Overall, this story is filled with moments of growth, laughter, joy and adventure. Banjo’s dream becomes Walter’s and Posey unforgettable summer. If you are looking for a heart-warming summer adventure full of many journeys and magical dreams, this is the book for you.

About the Author

Barbara O’Connor’s awards include the Parents Choice Gold and Silver Award, American Library Association Notable Books, IRA Notable Books for a Global Society, School Library Journal Best Books, and Kirkus Best Books. Her books have been nominated for children’s choice awards in 38 states and voted as a state favorite by children in South Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and South Dakota.

Barbara was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. She draws on her Southern roots to write award-winning books for children in grades 3 to 6.

She currently lives in Asheville, NC. Her latest book is Wish, a middle grade novel published by FSG.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway!

Enter to win one (1) finished copy of Halfway to Harmony Baraba O’Connor! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts January 11th and ends January 18th 12:00am CST

Click the pic to enter!

Follow the Tour
January 11
Turn the Page Tours – Welcome Post
January 12
Woven From Words – Book Review, Favorite Things About Halfway to Harmony
January 13
The Bookwyrm’s Den – Book Review
January 14
Belle’s Archive – Spotlight
January 15
Nat Reviews Books – Book Review
January 16
A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review
January 17
Turn the Page Tours – Book Review

Adult Fiction, Book Review, Comics

Comic Review: Harleen by Stjepan Šejić

Author: Stjepan Sejic
Imprint: DC; Illustrated edition
Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Page Count: 200

Where to Buy: Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Amazon

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis

Dr. Harleen Quinzel has a theory: mental illness is a survival mechanism. As she seeks to help the broken souls of Gotham City piece together their sanity she will become the one thing she fears the most: one of them. A bold new retelling of the tragic origin of Harley Quinn told through the eyes of the only person who knows her better than anyone: Harleen.

A young psychiatrist with a potential cure for the madness that haunts Gotham City, Dr. Harleen Quinzel must prove her revolutionary theory to a skeptical establishment by delving into the disturbed minds of Arkham Asylum’s deadliest inmates. But the more time she spends with her criminally insane subjects, the closer she is drawn to one patient in particular–and the further she falls away from reality. The birth of legendary antihero Harley Quinn and the shocking origins of her twisted romance with the Joker are revealed in Harleen, a stunning new tale of love and obsession written and illustrated by renowned comics storyteller Stjepan Šejic (Aquaman: Underworld, Sunstone).

Collects Harleen #1-3

Review

As much as Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship was toxic, Harley Quinn was always a villain that I was intrigued by. She is part psychotic mastermind, part a woman full of confidence and drive to go after the things she feels the most passion for. Harleen follows the story of Dr. Quinzel before she became the infamous Harley Quinn, working Arkham Asylum after a chance of luck removes her form a workplace that seemed pretty unprofessional. At the Asylum, Dr. Quinzel begins her research of figuring out where the most notorious villains contain empathy and whether they can be saved and rehabilitated. Through her journey, research and her multiple encounters with the Joker, Dr. Quinzel starts to question whether what the Joker is saying could be true. Could we all be monsters but only show when given the chance. Can the Joker, Poison Ivy and the rest be saved?

We see Harley Quinzel as a confident go-getter. She is passionate about her work and will go to the extreme to get the results she wants. This story focuses on more of Harley’s decision towards madness and gave more autonomy on how she choose this decision. She wasn’t forced per say, but temptation and persuasion became both her best friend and worst enemy.

Stjepan Sejic blew this story out the park. The storyline flowed effortlessly, kept me entertained and took my imagination into a dangerous, mysterious and exciting world. This was important going in because I have read Harley Quinn’s story in so many different formats, time periods, you name it and wanted to jump once again into the story without feeling like I was not repeating a well told story. But what really pulled me in was the art. Stjepan has a way of creating the most color out of the darkest scene, Each page was full of vivid details. In short, it was wrapped up beautifully and I will now go on a hunt to find more of Stjepan’s works.

<a href="http://<a href='https://www.freepik.com/vectors/heart'>Heart vector created by starline – http://www.freepik.comCard Symbols Photo Credit

Blog Tours, Book Review, YA Contemporary

Blog Tour [Review]: The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost Kiss

Click the link to follow the Blog Tour: https://www.thebookterminal.com/post/quantumweirdnesstour

Author: Amy Noelle Parks
Imprint: Amulet Books
Publication Date: January 5, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-4197-3972-9
Page Count: 368

Where to Buy: Barnes & Noble| Amazon | IndieBound

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Evie Beckham has always been too occupied with her love of math and frequent battles with anxiety to want to date. Besides, she’s always found the idea of kissing to be kind of weird. But by senior year, thanks to therapy and her friends, she’s feeling braver than before. Maybe even brave enough to enter the national math and physics competition or flirt back with the new boy. Meanwhile, Evie’s best friend, Caleb Covic, has always been a little in love with her. So he’s horrified when he is forced to witness Evie’s meet-cute with the new guy. Desperate, Caleb uses an online forum to capture Evie’s interest—and it goes a little too well. Now Evie wonders how she went from avoiding romance to having to choose between two—or is it three?—boys.

Review

I was glad that The Quantum Weirdness of the First Kiss was the first book I’ve read and finished in 2021. It is such a warm and sweet Young Adult Contemporary stories about two friends and the discovery of each others feelings. Evie and Caleb have been friends since they were children and they are inseparable. Caleb, in love with Evie has recounted all the almost kisses that occurred between him and Evie. The one time a kiss resulted, Evie was not ready to dive into those feelings and that moment was put in the back in her mind. From that moment, we are brought into the life of Evie, Caleb as they navigate school, feelings and the anticipation of finally doing something worthy for the Frontier conference.

Different from many of the books I’ve read before, Caleb is actually the first to proclaim his feelings for Evie. He is in love with her and wants to be with her but also wants to be with only if she also wants that kind of relationships. We learn early on that Evie’s hesitation is mainly due to her anxiety towards losing her friendship with Caleb. As she mentions, she doesn’t know herself without Caleb. Her eye has also caught the attention of new kid Leo who is equal parts handsome and insanely intelligent. While I enjoyed her growing relationship with Leo because it became vital in her discovering her reciprocated feelings towards Caleb, I still wanted to see more of their relationship. We get snippets here and there because the story is more focus on Caleb and Evie, but would have benefitted a bit of understanding the relationship she had with Leo. However, the growing relationship between Evie and Caleb, felt organic, unrushed and satisfactory. It wasn’t love at first sight, it was a love that took years to develop and blossomed.

Speaking of Caleb, I thought his pining over Evie was sweet. He had bouts of jealousy when seeing Evie with Leo, as many teens boys may experience, but it didn’t feel aggressive or worrying which I enjoyed. I also love how Evie described Caleb as her center, her home. She values him so much and I think that really made their friendship as strong and long lasting as it was.

When thinking about the supporting character, I was particularly fond of Bex’s personality. She is the definition of a great girl friend who will call out what needs to be called out and will be the most loyal friend you know. Bex reminded me often of my best friend from high school whom I am still very best friends with almost 15 years later.

As a whole, the story is similar to a light spring day, calm, slowly building and ending with a pretty wrapped up ending. Aside from the characters, I enjoyed how the characters were very STEM focused because we do not have many stories like this. I enjoyed the intellectual conversations the characters had surrounding their majors and passions. You could tell, especially with Evie, how passionate she was when talking about adinkras, equations, graphs and anything math/computer related. This story gave strong relationships/friendships, exploration of feelings, coping with anxieties, and discovering oneself beyond what they originally believed they were.

About the Author

Amy Noelle Parks is an associate professor at Michigan State University. When she’s not using One Direction lyrics as a writing prompt, she’s helping future teachers recover from the trauma of years of school mathematics. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two daughters.

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End of Year Reflection

Hey Everyone!

2020 is coming to a close and I am happy. 2020 was a rough year overall and I am sure many of your fought so hard through your own struggles. If you asked me back in February of this year, would I be working from home, having months long reading slumps and constantly rethinking my future, I would have looked at you like you had two heads. But I have learned so much about myself during this time that I would not have had the time to reflect on.

I enjoy working from home, but I also miss some of the things that came from working in an office of people. I’ve learned that it’s okay not to read over a hundred books a year if you are not motivated to read. I struggled with this the most because often time I felt that I was letting people and myself down. For 2021, I want to be more intentional on what I read, read the books that give me joy and be okay with not being part of the next big hyped up book craze. It’s not healthy for me and my TBR shelves would love me a little more if I choose a book sitting there waiting to be opened and read.

I’ve also realized how awesome it has been seeing people read my reviews, enjoying them and potentially adding a book I gushed about onto their ever growing TBR list. In short, thank you. You following this small blog, reading my reviews and enjoying them in any way has really helped give me the motivation to not only continue but to enjoy blogging. As I write this, I am thinking of so many ideas and topics I can bring to this blog. So again, thank you!

As we end this wild year, I want you all to know that I hope you are doing okay and taking all the self care you need and deserve. 2021 may be unpredictable, but I will make the most positive of it and will continue to bring joy through my reviews.

2020 sucked but it gave us the power to conquer 2021. Happy Early New Year!