04/27/16

THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN | Blog Tour + Review

I’m incredibly honored to a part of the blog tour for The Star-Touched Queen, the beautiful debut title for Roshani Chokshi. Today I have a review and an excerpt for you from the book (!!!!). Let me know in comments what you think!

The Star-Touched Queen High ResNovel: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | Goodreads
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

The Star-Touched Queen is a lush and vivid standalone debut young adult fantasy that seamlessly weaves the Greek myth of Hades and Persephone with Indian folklore. Featuring a smart, independent anti-princess who must take her place as queen and a forbidden romance that defies the odds, debut author Roshani Chokshi pairs beautiful writing with a thrilling pace and compulsive plot, using her own Filipino and Indian heritage to create a culturally diverse and vividly imagined world.

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

From an incredibly fresh voice, Roshani Chokshi’s THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a beautifully written standalone novel that will enchant young adult and fantasy readers until the last page.


 Review

When I got The Star-Touched Queen, I screeched. Literally. Screeched.

When I finished it, I screeched again, but this time out of sheer love and adoration and a tumble of emotions.  ((I also have no coherent thoughts, so I deeply apologize for the rest of this review.))

If you love fantasy and romance and mythology, go get this book now. As a lover of all of those things, it was everything I could want in a book and more. Maya and Amar are my loves and I want them to stay together until the end of time and this book put me through the wringer. The plot broke me multiple times and had me wanting to throw the book at the wall, but also made me almost cry with beauty. The world Chokshi builds in this book is truly magical and I never wanted to leave.

I also got some intense Alice in Wonderland vibes from the book, so if you’re a fellow Alice fan, this book could definitely appeal to you. It features weird creatures, multiple worlds, falling into holes, and a STRONG imagination that I loved. While reading, I felt like my brain was stretching to comprehend the world Chokshi created, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Sadly, this book is a standalone so I won’t get more of Maya and Amar *cries* but I hear there’s a companion novel in the works, so I’m eager to see who it features.

Roshani Chokshi, you get a standing ovation from me. Just. YES.


Excerpt

Chapter 2: LESSONS IN SILENCE

The archives were cut like honeycombs and golden light clung to them, dousing every tome, painting, treatise and poem the soft gold of ghee freshly skimmed from boiling butter. I was only allowed to visit once a week—to meet with my weekly tutor before I inevitably scared him away. Every time I left the archival room, my arms brimmed with parchment paper. I loved the feeling of discovery, of not knowing how much I wanted something until I had discovered its absence.

The week before, I had lost myself in the folktales of Bharata. Stories of elephants who spun clouds, shaking tremors loose from ancient trunks gnarled with the rime of lost cyclones, whirlwinds and thunderstorms. Myths of frank-eyed naga women twisting ser- pentine, flashing smiles full of uncut gemstones. Legends of a world beneath, above, beside the one I knew—where trees bore edible gems and no one would think twice about a girl with dark skin and a darker horoscope. I wanted it to be real so badly that sometimes I thought I could see the Otherworld. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and pressed my toes into the ground, I could al- most sense them sinking into the loam of some other land, a dream demesne where the sky cleaved in two and the earth was sutured with a magic that could heal hearts, mend bones, change lives. (more…)

04/25/16

Life Update | April 2016

I don’t usually do these kinds of posts, but in the past few weeks a lot has happened.

Part One: College

The biggest thing (!!!) right now is that as I write this, I just committed to college.

I’M GOING TO BARNARD! 

Barnard College has been my dream school for two years, and when I applied I never thought I would actually get in. It was my dream school that had everything I wanted and more, and I couldn’t imagine actually going there. But in the mess that is college acceptances and having to decide between nine schools, I’m over the moon that Barnard worked out. It’s overwhelming to me that in four short months I’ll be moving into my dorm in New York City and starting a new chapter of my life.

So, I want to take this opportunity to say a massive, Earth-sized, thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way. I wrote my personal essay for college about blogging and how much it’s given me, so I couldn’t have done that without all of my readers’ support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

To my blogging beloveds: Jen, Vy, Grace, Emily, Jessica, Xan, Kaitlin, Xander, and the dozens of others who I’m forgetting in this mess of emotions, thank you. Thank you for loving and supporting me over the past five/six years that I’ve been doing this, because I couldn’t have done any of it without you.

Thank you to Jill, my favorite publishing rep (and person) who wrote me a recommendation for college. You are my queen!

And now, to Aneeqah. Aneeqah, you are my heart and my happiness and I love you with everything in me. You have become my best friend and I wouldn’t have you any other way. Thank you for staying up late to talk through everything and anything, for forcing me to write a book that has torn me to bits, for encouraging me to reach for my dreams, and for sharing this college process with me. You keep me sane, and I love you.

If you have any questions about the college process, Barnard, or anything in between, let me know in comments! I’m happy to talk about this process with any of you.

Part Two: School

The last two months of senior year are a whirlwind of memories, laughter, sleepless nights, and expenses. (Seriously. They don’t tell you how expensive being a senior in high school is.)

I’ve been trying to soak up all of the moments, like last night, which was my school’s prom. Prom at an all-girl’s school is something I adore–a night of friends and shameless dancing and crying in the middle of the dance floor when “Lean On Me” comes on and you all get in a group hug and sing the entire song together. I’ve been so lucky to have these beautiful, inspirational, and kind women in my life, and I don’t know how I’m going to leave them behind when I go to college.

Senior year is also full of stress–AP tests, surviving senioritis, and making countless decisions about your future. I’m so eager for the middle of May to come when APs are over and I can BREATHE.

So, April has been one heck of a month at school. Whew.

Part Three: Blogging + Reading + Podcast

As you all know, I’ve started A Novel Chat with Aneeqah and Emily, a podcast about YA books. (If you missed it, check us out here.) This podcast has become one of my new favorite things, and I am so proud of how it’s turning out. I’m building something that I’m really hoping to continue through college and in the coming years, and I hope you all are enjoying it as much as I am!

However, since I’ve been throwing so much of my time into ANC, my blog has been suffering a bit. I haven’t had a lot of time to read lately (see the above section for reasons) and have been simply lazy when it comes to posting. However, I’ve got some stuff coming your way, since I’ve finally had the chance to read, so get excited.

(Reading wise: I JUST READ THE WINNER’S CURSE AND THE WINNER’S CRIME AND MY BODY IS BROKEN HELP ME)


I think that’s it! That’s my life right now, and I’m so excited to bring you all along for the ride. Thanks for sticking with me in this crazy time.

All the love from me. *sends hearts into the universe*

04/21/16

Book Review: The Haters

20522640Novel: The Haters by Jesse Andrews | Goodreads
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Format: ARC
Source: BookPeople Teen Reviewing

From Jesse Andrews, author of the New York Times bestselling Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and screenwriter of the Sundance award–winning motion picture of the same name, comes a groundbreaking young adult novel about music, love, friendship, and freedom as three young musicians follow a quest to escape the law long enough to play the amazing show they hope (but also doubt) they have in them.

Inspired by the years he spent playing bass in a band himself, The Haters is Jesse Andrews’s road trip adventure about a trio of jazz-camp escapees who, against every realistic expectation, become a band.

For Wes and his best friend, Corey, jazz camp turns out to be lame. It’s pretty much all dudes talking in Jazz Voice. But then they jam with Ash, a charismatic girl with an unusual sound, and the three just click. It’s three and a half hours of pure musical magic, and Ash makes a decision: They need to hit the road. Because the road, not summer camp, is where bands get good. Before Wes and Corey know it, they’re in Ash’s SUV heading south, and The Haters Summer of Hate Tour has begun.

In his second novel, Andrews again brings his brilliant and distinctive voice to YA, in the perfect book for music lovers, fans of The Commitments and High Fidelity, or anyone who has ever loved—and hated—a song or a band. This witty, funny coming-of-age novel is contemporary fiction at its best.

 

This book was everything I needed.

In a week of crazy stress, the pressure of college decisions, and just LIFE, The Haters was a welcome relief – it had me constantly laughing out loud, and I couldn’t put it down.

From page one, I knew Wes was a character like Greg, from Me and Earl and the Dying Girlwhere his voice was incredibly distinct. From the structure of the book to the witty banter and internal thoughts, I never felt like I lost sight of the narrator or the rest of the characters. Wes has this distinct personality that I loved reading about, especially since he is SO DARN FUNNY.

The plot itself is absurd, but still engaging, and in fact I loved this part of it. This book reads like a comedy, from the dialogue to the plot to the characters themselves. The concept itself – these three kids decide to go on a tour (they’ve been a band for a day) and they tell no one. They have nowhere to play, so they go around asking venues if they can play, and unsurprisingly, have no luck. Their failures and the events that occur are hilarious, and it kept the plot fresh.

Corey and Ash, Wes’s friends, were equally as fabulous as Wes himself. Corey and Wes’s friendship and their inside jokes had me literally cackling at multiple points, and with Ash mixed in…let’s just say things got interesting. I loved their honest friendship and the way they worked through their bumps in the road. They reminded me of my own friends – if you’re looking for a good friendship book, this one is for you. It’s not a big romance but instead focuses on the development of these three friends, which I loved (I’m a big proponent of friendship-centric YA).

Andrews’s sophomore novel is truly a story about the teenage experience. From the absurd conversations to the unexpected events, The Haters is a story that will have every reader smiling from the subtle beauties of it, and in stitches with laughter.

04/16/16

Book Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

20522640Novel: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton | Goodreads
Release Date: March 27th, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

 

Emily from Forever Literary is the one that convinced me to read this book, and I am so happy I finally did. I remember when it came out and I almost picked it up, but at that point, I wasn’t very into magical realism and more “literary” YA. Now, however, I think I have a deeper appreciation of books of that nature – especially magical realism, which I used to despise.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is filled with beautiful prose and an intoxicating storyline about a girl and her family and the intricacies of life. At the beginning of the book, you learn about Ava’s grandmother, born in France and raised as an immigrant in New York City. Her grandmother’s life was filled with heartache and grief, but as the story goes on, you see her find joy in the small events of life and in her daughter, who she raises on her own after her husband dies.

Then there’s Ava’s mother, forever in love with her childhood best friend, who lives his life to appease his father, only to become him in the end. Their story is one that broke me, but was also my favorite. I loved seeing them grow up and reading as Ava’s mother tried to outgrow her love for Jack.

And Ava. Ava, born with wings and beautifully at peace with herself. Her mother keeps her from going to school for most of her life, and so Ava is raised in her house with her mute twin brother, Henry, at her side, and her best friend, who never leaves her. Then there’s Rowe, who becomes something more to her as the story progresses, and after seeing Ava’s mother and grandmother struggle to find love, you root for Ava even more.

I’ve read few generational stories, but this one is a standout. It appealed to the historical fiction lover in me, because Ava’s grandmother grows up in the late 1800s while Ava is raised in the ’50s and ’60s – a jump that Walton executes successfully. The book, despite containing little “climactic” elements, engaged me none the less. I was enthralled by the characters and their daily lives and the way at which they saw the world that I didn’t need that build-up. In fact, that lack of build-up made the climax, which occurred only 30 pages before the end, even more shocking. Somehow, Walton still managed to wrap everything up though, and left me in awe and begging for more.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one of those books that makes me love reading. It gives me that full feeling of contentment and awe that I adore – I read for that feeling. Please, please read this book. I beg of you. It’s everything I needed and I’m forever indebted to Emily for her guidance in having me read it.

04/12/16

10 Reasons to read REBEL OF THE SANDS

rebel of the sands

I read Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton recently, and loved it so much that I needed to share this with you all.

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Rebel of the Sands been incredibly hyped lately in the blogosphere, and I was a bit worried that I would be let down. However, I was pleasantly surprised – all of the hype was well worth it. The book isan absolute page-turner, filled with romance, friendship, twists and turns, and vivid imagery that made reading even more enjoyable.

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I love a good romance – that is no secret – and so for me, a good romance is the best kind. This book features a nice slow burn, but not so slow that you will be banging your head against a wall. It’s a friendship turned romance that by the end you are intensely shipping. I will go down with my ship.

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My favorite part of high fantasy are the worlds. I love the intricate details and the way you are completely removed from the world around you. Rebel of the Sands is no different. My life became Miraji and when I wasn’t reading all I could think about was getting back to Miraji. Hamilton has built a world that is all consuming and absolutely beautiful.

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I love magic, period, but well done magic? YES PLEASE. Hamilton’s world of magic is different, and I love it. Not everyone has powers, and those who do are kind of demi-gods (from my understanding) and are shunned in society. Their powers aren’t the normal run-of-the-mill ones, and I can’t wait to spend more time with these powers in the second book!

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Recently I’ve been thinking about what kind of fantasy book merits a series, because not every one does. This, though? Definitely. Rebel of the Sandswas the perfect length – not too long, not too short, and so I desperately need a second book to fill the void in my heart. I want to learn more about the world and become more versed in the magic in Miraji.

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Amani is one of those main characters who I related to from the beginning. Her tenacity and bravery made her a hero in my book, but she was also unflinchingly real. Her regrets, her anger, and how she changed her mind all made her a character who I could deeply relate to from the beginning. Amani, as well as the other female characters in the book, all played a vital role in the story and I loved them all.

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Hamilton is one heck of a writer. Her character development made me fall in love with the entire cast, and the world building (as mentioned above) made the story ten times better. I loved the way she described the setting, from the roll of the hills to the smells of the towns. I can’t wait to see how she approaches the rest of the series and where the story goes!

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For some reason, I love stories set in the desert. I have no idea why, but something about them attracts me to the story. I think it may be that I come from Texas, which is dry and hot, so I relate to the characters who live in the desert. What’s even better is the desert becomes an integral part of the story and Amani, which I thought was incredibly creative and adored.

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Just Jin.

He’s funny, sarcastic, real, and caring. He looks out for Amani from the first day they meet, but also pushes her to take risks and be herself. He pushes her to be better, just as she does him. They’re perfect together and I love them SO MUCH.

Jin = my heart.

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All. The. Feels.

All of them.

I promise.


I hope you liked this more unconventional blog post, and that it’s convinced you to go pick up Rebel of the Sands which is out now! Let me know in comments if you would like more posts like this.