Children of Blood and Bone – Blog Tour & Giveaway (Spoiler Free)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC from Raincoast Books
Link to the author: http://www.tomiadeyemi.com/

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RATING: 5 Glowing Stars!! 

THOUGHTS:

Words cannot describe my feelings for this book! A lot of books get hype but this one deserves it and then some. The last time a book instantly made it to my favorite-books-of-all-time list, I was reading Six of Crows. Now Children of Blood and Bone joins that list. And this is a very accessible story, so even if you aren’t a fantasy junkie like myself I think you would enjoy it. I would describe it as a little bit Aladdin and a little The Last Air Bender with a lot of West-African beauty and culture.

This is not a short debut. At 600 pages you might think there would be a lull somewhere but no, the pages flew by. At one point I did some jumping jacks just to try and stay awake for a few more pages – I couldn’t put it down! Tomi delivered the history of Orisha and the Magi in easily digestible pieces and I think there will be even more to uncover in following books. (I can’t wait!) I always like to be left with more of the world to learn about and this land/faith/magic system is one I NEED more of – yesterday. It’s great balance of original and recognizable, which is what makes it so accessible. Did I mention the rideable lionaires? I want to befriend my very own Nailah right now.

The story is told from three points of view, Zelie the warrior, Amari the Princess (but don’t let that fool you) and Inan the Prince with a secret. Even though I love the world, it’s the characters that make this story 5 stars, each one was complex and morally grey. It was so refreshing to see characters on both sides doubt themselves and question their values. When Zelie is tasked with returning magic to Orisha she doesn’t just accept it with unflinching confidence like so many “chosen one”s. She doubts her abilities and tells people not to bet on her. And she is constantly evaluating her actions; what lengths is she willing to go to bring magic back without becoming like her enemy? And there is no instant mastery of magical skills here either. (Thank you Tomi!!) I can’t say much about Inan because of spoilers but he is perhaps the most conflicted character, trying to decide the best way to serve his people of Orisha. I’m really interested to see where his story goes in book two. Amari, was perhaps my favorite character? She isn’t ‘the hero’ but she undergoes the most growth throughout the story and becomes a hero in her own right. From sheltered princess to warrior Queen. The girls really run the show in Children of Blood and Bone – just another reason to love this 2018 debut.

I don’t like to gush about a book without analyzing any shortcomings because even great stories have some. If I had any criticisms, and really I don’t, I guess some (minor) things happened a little too easily/neatly? Not everything can be a struggle though, or 600 pages would have become 900.

The story is sort of wrapped up in the end but there are still so many unanswered questions. I like that I got some answers but that I could tell the world and story will only expand and appreciate in coming books. The only downside to reading an advanced copy is knowing I have to wait even longer than most to read book two!


Thank you for reading my review of Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, and also to Raincoast Books for this review opportunity. I hope you enjoyed my insights and don’t forget to head on over to my Twitter account @novelcravings for a chance to win your own copy of Children of Blood and Bone! (Open to Canadian residents only)

 

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Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman (Spoiler Free)

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman

Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher:  HMH Books for Young Readers
Source: ARC from Raincoast Books
Link to the author: http://www.embowman.com/

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Charlotte Vaughn wants to be a reporter. She’s always on the lookout for a story that will give her that big break but never expects her path will cross with the infamous Rose Kid. Reece Murphy fell in with the Rose Riders and the only way out is to find the man his boss is hunting. When a train robbery brings the two together, Reece discovers that Charlotte might have information that could win him his freedom.

RATING: 4 Stars

THOUGHTS:

I loved Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman so I had high hopes for Retribution Rails. I was a little disappointed when I found the first 100 pages to be slow and I wasn’t getting invested in the characters. Thankfully things picked up and my opinion did a 180. Vaughn was such a force! She knew her own mind and let nothing stand in her way. And Reece’s story was just so sad, he had so many regrets and had sort of given up. It was really great to see them both grow throughout the story. Vaughn learns when you should dig deeper, to discover the truth and when you should let a story go. Reece finds people who believe in him and a purpose that grants him redemption. They were constantly getting in each others way but you couldn’t help but root for them both.

Add in a couple of characters from Vengeance Road and I was 100% invested. I really love the way the two stories came together even though they are companion novels. And as always Bowman tells an amazing Western, she just has a way of completely transporting her readers. I really hope that she does another in the future, I would love a little more Reece and Charlotte. I HIGHLY recommend Retribution Rails or Vengeance Road to anyone who likes westerns, historical fiction, strong female leads or a high stakes adventure.

 

Thank you for reading my review of Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman, and also to Raincoast Books for this review opportunity. I  hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.

 

American Panda by Gloria Chao (Spoiler Free)

American Panda by Gloria Chao

 

Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster Canada

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Mei has landed a spot at MIT at the young age of sixteen and her parents couldn’t be happier. They have her whole future mapped out and so far she’s followed it to the letter. If Mei’s being honest though, germs make her squirm and biology lectures put her to sleep. Dance is her true passion but is definitely NOT a part of the future her parents have planned. Mei can follow her heart or honor her family but not both, and to choose either could have life-altering results.

RATING: 4 Stars

THOUGHTS:

I’m so glad I read American Panda, it was everything I love in a contemporary; cute, funny, and heartwarming but also hard-hitting. Asian-American’s will appreciate it even more, however, I think the struggle Mei faced to follow her heart but also make her parents proud and her journey of self-discovery is one that many teens will relate to. Even as an adult, feeling like I don’t belong while also feeling a loyalty to my family is something I struggle with. When Mei dances you can tell she is incredibly passionate about her culture, she just doesn’t want to adopt all the traditions. I really appreciated the opportunity to glimpse such a richly different culture from my own. I think anyone, of any age, from any background, would find it hard not to fall in love with this story.

American Panda also made me laugh, a lot. Mei’s mother says some really wild things in her voicemails, such as “swing your arms 3000 times a day for good health”. And Mei has such a quick wit with the kind of sarcastic sense of humor I understand. The way they grew individually and their relationship evolved was rich and beautiful. I would read so many more books about this family. Mei is the kind of girl you’re rooting for the whole time, I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know what she would do! And the romance with the nerdy, supportive, Darren didn’t hurt at all. *swoons*

Thank you for reading my review of American Panda by Gloria Chao, and also to Simon & Schuster Canada for this review opportunity. I  hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.

 

When My Heart Joins The Thousand by A. J. Steiger (Spoiler Free)

When My Heart Joins The Thousand by A. J. Steiger

Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: ARC from

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RATING: 5 Stars

 

THOUGHTS:

This is one of those books that upon finishing it, I hugged it tightly to my chest. And I know that it is undoubtably one of the best books of 2018 and I wish more people were talking about it! The author had me fall in love with her characters, care greatly for their journey and put me through every emotion possible. It was both movingly beautiful and painfully heartbreaking. If you read When My Heart Joins The Thousand, and let me be clear I recommend it to everyone, you will know what I mean.

The main character, Alvie is a foster child who lives independently while pursuing emancipation. Her fear is that she will be placed in a group home if the judge decides her Aspergers means she is incapable of being a functioning member of society. I can’t speak for the rep in this book, and there’s a lot, (mental health, abuse, disability, autism) but I think it was done well and handled respectfully. Like I said, this book makes you feel the whole rainbow of emotions. I felt love and admiration for Alvie because she never gives up despite all she’s been through. I was angry for her, at the broken system that failed her and must fail people in real life. I was disgusted actually, that society expected her to “get better” and be “normal”. But I also felt a lot of happy, especially every time Alvie did something outside her comfort zone, she is a truly inspiring character.

People with Aspergers tend to be blunt and so was the writing, in a way I think more YA should be. Teens don’t only need flowery stories of happy ever after, they need real stories that reflect the lives they live every day. Alvie doesn’t always understand sarcasm or societies way of constantly putting on a show. For example, when she has to attend court she can’t understand why a suit, instead of jeans and a t-shirt, helps prove her ability to be independent. And she’s right. I could relate to that. The characters are also very frank and honest about sex – this is so important for YA! Communication was clear, consent was there. Thank you, A J Steiger, for writing about two teens who handled sex in a very healthy way. This is what I would want my teenager to read.

Let it be known, the writing and pacing and all that important jazz were good. But I won’t talk about that in detail because more importantly, this book moved me. It is rare that a book makes me feel all the feels I did with this one AND I still think about it almost daily. I can’t tell you the last time a book impacted me like this.

I gave this book all the stars.

Go read it.

Thank you for reading my review of When My Heart Joins The Thousand by A. J. Steiger, and also to Harper Collins for this review opportunity. I  hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.