My First Ever Wrap-Up!

This is my first ever wrap-up! This is so exciting.

So during the month of July I read my favourite contemporary YA novel of 2015 so far, and that was All the Rage by Courtney Summers. I absolutely adore this book, and I completely feel that everyone should read this book at some time in their lives (hopefully early on! Lots of important life lessons in there).

I also read my favourite YA historical fiction of ALL TIME, which is Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman. This book comes out in August, so make sure to keep an eye out for it! Also, if you click on the link below, I’ve shared details on how to get the free prequel and about a swag pack that’s happening if you pre-order.

Also new this month (at least I think this month…) is that one of my favourite YA contemporary authors Lauren Morrill now has a PO Box. I really love snail mail. I think it’s a dying art form, and I think it makes people feel a bit more special that you’ve taken the extra time to send something. So if you’ve read her (which you definitely should), then please send her some mail! She mentioned sending out swag to people who did…

Her website with her contact information is here.

And lastly, but not least, I have a total of FOUR books on the go right now, with a few more waiting for me. I am trying to read, for only the third time in my life, a graphic novel called Alice in the Country of Hearts, and I have to say, I’m really enjoying it. It’s a refreshing change from what I normally read, and I’m excited to stretch past my usual boundaries. I also noticed that I read hardly any books written by men, so I’m going to be making a conscious effort to change that. I want to break the stereotype that women write for women and men write for men, because that’s so not true.

A final reminder as well that there is a giveaway happening. If I can reach 50 blog followers, then I will be giving away a book. So make sure to follow if you want to enter!

Books read:

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher (5 out of 5)

Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols (3 ½-4 out of 5)

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman (5 out of 5)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (4 ½ out of 5)

All the Rage by Courtney Summers (5 out of 5)

Total books read: 5

Other posts:

Giveaway…”

Blog Redesign News

How to Write a Good Book Review

Tuesday’s Track List #2

Total posts (including reviews): 9

Books currently reading:

Jackaby by William Ritter

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Alice in the Country of Hearts by QuinRose and Soumei Hoshino

Voice of Gods by Eleanor Herman

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ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

all the rage

5 out of 5

Romy’s life is divided. There’s the before and the after; the dead girl and the girl who took her place. There’s red and there’s…darkness. Romy isn’t living on one side or the other, but floating in the spaces in between, barely treading water, desperate to hold on to something good.

Nobody believes that she was raped. They all think she’s lying to get attention. Maybe it’s because her father was a drunk that they think that, but maybe it’s just because she’s a girl—a girl who liked a boy. They think that’s enough. They think that because she wanted him at one point, it was permission for him to do what he did to her. She wanted it. It’s what they all say. But she didn’t. She didn’t want it at all.

All the Rage is a breathtaking, earth-shattering novel about rape culture and what it means to be a girl. Courtney Summers has hit the nail on the head with this one, providing interesting and shockingly honest commentary on topics that people seem afraid to talk about so openly today. A darker novel with heavy themes, it was surprisingly easy to read because it is written so incredibly well.

This book is, by far, the best contemporary I’ve read this year. Every single person living should read this book. In fact, this book should be a compulsory read in all high schools everywhere. The narrative is just so raw, the writing so unique and elegant. Romy has a voice all her own, and it almost seemed like stream-of-consciousness writing that made the novel feel very personal. I felt at times like I knew Romy, like I was Romy, like I could be her. It really made me think. There are times in my real life when I have been her, and terrifying times when I could have been. And it’s true, everything Summers is saying about girls and rape culture and sexual assault. Boys don’t have it the same way and it’s horrible. Obviously, I’m not saying boys should suffer equally as much. But it’s shocking to me how often girls of any age are victims of sexual assault or unwanted attention. I have been, my friends have been. In All the Rage, Romy gives voice to those issues in a thrilling and deeply, deeply personal novel that truly raises the bar for contemporary novels and challenges how society talks about rape, sexual assault, and feminism.

My single complaint is that it ended. I wish we’d been given more of the “After” and that we knew what happened between her and Leon, but this is a very minor thing. Maybe one day we’ll have a sequel? I hope so, because I’m not ready to let go of Romy quite yet.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon, or check out your local library or indie bookstore.

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

anna and the french kiss2

4 ½ out of 5

When Anna is sent to the School of America in Paris, she doesn’t expect it to be the time of her life. She’s homesick and she is, quite literally, the only new student to be attending that year. Everyone already has their group of friends, and Anna, who doesn’t even speak French, knows she’ll have a hard time fitting in.

But when Meredith brings Anna into her group of friends, things start to change. Anna meets Josh, Rashmi, and the stunningly handsome Étienne St. Clair—an American boy with a British accent who lives in Paris and has a French first name. This group of friends, and Étienne especially, introduce Anna to Paris and, with the help of a little Canadian flag pin, help her to feel less like a foreigner and more at home. The problem? Étienne is taken.

The first of three novels that take place at the School of America, Anna and the French Kiss is an exciting story of travel and discovery, and a good introduction to Stephanie Perkins’s trilogy.

I’ll be honest—I read Isla and the Happily Ever After (Book 3) first and thought it was better [review here]. In comparison, Anna lacked the same level of steaminess and I longed for more one-on-one time between Étienne and Anna. Even still, I thought this was a really great love story and an excellent way to start off the trilogy. For those who read this book first, I’m sure they will have no complaints and enjoy the build up to the third and final novel.

Two things I loved: I loved how Anna’s dad was essentially Nicholas Sparks. It cracked me up because everything Perkins was saying about him is so true! She actually writes a really interesting commentary deeper into the book about how the character of Anna’s dad is cashing in on stories of tragedy when there are people out there who are actually living it. I guess that that’s true for most fictional stories, but I think there’s a right and wrong way to do it, and it really got me thinking. I also loved how vividly Perkins creates Paris for the reader. This book is such a great travel story. I just wish the characters had left the school more often and experienced lesser-known facets of Parisian and French culture.

As a side note, Étienne reminded me of my own boyfriend a bit, minus some of the less savoury aspects, which I think helped me to like it.

All in all, I really hope you guys liked this review and check out this book for yourselves! It was a really enjoyable read.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon, or check out your local library or indie bookstore.

**Reminder** There is a giveaway happening! Check out the post here.

Giveaway…

Hello everybody,

So as I am in the midst of redesigning the blog (it’s getting there!) I thought I’d announce a little giveaway on here…

If I can get 50 followers on the blog (30 more than what I currently have), then I will host a book giveaway. I have not yet decided what that book will be, but I promise you it will be good & in good condition. (All of my books are in good condition, just FYI.)

So share this post, encourage others to check out this blog, and keep checking in to see what the progress is! I hope to have a button soon to make stuff like this easier.

REMINDER: You must actually be following the blog to be entered; liking this post does not enter you. Thanks! 🙂

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Blog Redesign News

Hey guys,

This is just a quick post to let you know that I’m going to be redesigning Ember Book Reviews. When I first created it, I had a vision that I felt was unattainable, and things spiralled in a direction I didn’t really want them to go aesthetic-wise. Now that I’m more familiar with the blogging world, I hope to create the vision I originally had and make a much more aesthetically pleasing blog site as a result of it.

For anyone with expertise in this area, I’d love suggestions, comments, or feedback. You’re all so smart and I’m constantly impressed with your blog sites.

This process will take a little time as I narrow down templates and do some graphic design work, create buttons, a new logo, etc. Just don’t be shocked when things have suddenly changed—we’re still the same at heart.

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

LEGACY OF KINGS by Eleanor Herman & FREE Prequel!

legacy of kings

5 out of 5

[ARC provided to me in PDF format in exchange for an honest review in my work as a VIP Trendsetter for Paper Lantern Lit. You can view their website here.]

Alexander – The crippled prince regent who wants nothing more than to prove himself to his father and his people.

Cynane – The daughter of King Philip II, the half-sister of Alexander, Cynane is sick of being expected to sit idly by and is determined to not let the same fate that befell her mother befall her as well.

Kat – A feisty peasant girl who will not be at peace until she has travelled to the royal palace and avenged her mother’s murder.

Jacob – A peasant boy chosen to participate in the Blood Tournament, Jacob needs to win so that he can provide the life to Kat that she deserves. Only, things take a dark turn when Jacob suspects that Kat doesn’t want that life after all.

Zo – Lovesick and forced into a diplomatic marriage that she does not want, Zo runs away from the comforts of her palace life in search of the Persian warrior she loves so much. But something else finds her before she finds him.

Heph – As Alexander’s best friend, Heph’s past makes his position in the palace a precarious one. Pride is his weakness, along with women. When things take an unexpected turn in the Blood Tournament, he begins to doubt Alex’s friendship and his own place in the world.

Olympias – If she had been given the choice, she would have chosen a different life for herself—one with the immortal man she loves and one that leaves her free to worship the snakes. But she did not have a choice, and for that she has become bitter, seeking revenge on anyone who crosses her path.

In Eleanor Herman’s Legacy of Kings, the tales of seven characters—some factual and some fictional—intertwine to create an engrossing epic on the scale of The Iliad and Odyssey. Not in years has something so spectacular graced the publishing world, and readers both young and old will truly delight in perusing its pages. Fans of Game of Thrones and the Starcrossed trilogy by Josephine Angelini are sure to love this brilliant new novel featuring the rise of Alexander the Great and the books to follow. Legacy of Kings is truly such an amazing read.

Let me start off by saying that this book is amazing. I think it’s pretty clear based on my synopsis how in love with this book I am. I don’t think I’ve reviewed a book yet that I was this excited about, so I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you and encouraging you to buy this book at your earliest opportunity!

The world-building in this book is awesome, though at times I did wish for a tiny bit more description of the actual setting rather than the characters’ movements and thoughts. That being said, Legacy of Kings is like a travel guide through the ancient Mediterranean. I genuinely hope that the printed version comes with a map detailing the different characters’ journeys throughout the Mediterranean because it is just so fascinating to me, and I hope to all of you as well.

As I’ve said before, I’m normally not a fan of books that switch points of view, but I loved it in this book. I think it works so well because the book is told from a third-person perspective. It felt to me very much like reading The Odyssey in terms of narrative voice, which, of course, is enormously appropriate and awesome given the context of the novel.

This novel was filled with so many interesting facts and legends, as well as tidbits about the various mythologies from the periods surrounding that time (the mid to late-300s BC). Not only was the book fun to read, but I learned something as well. As a history nerd who has studied this time period many times throughout university, I really enjoyed the more historical aspects of the novel.

There were many pleasant surprises throughout the book that make it hard to guess what will happen next or how it will end. My only complaint is that Zo doesn’t have much of a role or storyline. Hopefully her journey has something to do with Book 2 (to be released September 2016). I also don’t like love triangles, so hopefully that doesn’t happen in Book 2, but it looks like it might…

As I’ve said, I absolutely loved this book and I think everyone needs to buy it/borrow it the minute it comes out on August 25th, 2015. If you like Game of Thrones or the Starcrossed trilogy by Josephine Angelini (which I posted about here), then you are going to absolutely die for this book. It truly is that amazing. My favourite read of 2015 so far, and it may just take the cake on that.

Please read this book and let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to get in touch with any of you guys and have a chat about the books we love!

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

P.S. Is it a coincidence that there is a little person referred to as “the Tyrrhian” in the novel? Game of Thrones, anybody?

You can get the prequel for FREE on Amazon.

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Pre-order this book and email ehermanlegacy@gmail.com with proof of purchase to receive a pre-order reward! Details here.

Or, wait until August 25th and check out your local indie bookstore or library. 🙂

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED by Jennifer Echols

most likely to succeed

3 ½ – 4 out of 5

[ARC provided to me in paperback format in exchange for an honest review. Date to be released: August 4, 2015. Imprint: Simon Pulse. Release information: Paperback, $9.99 US/$11.99 CAN; Hardcover, $17.99 US/$21.99 CAN.]

Kaye and Aidan have always been competing with each other to succeed. Whether it’s becoming valedictorian or getting into Columbia, this competition has driven their entire relationship. But Kaye is starting to realize that that’s really all there is to their relationship, and that in her mind, Aidan was just another credit on her résumé.

Sawyer has been trying to get Kaye’s attention for a while, and she’s noticing. It doesn’t matter whether Aidan is out of the picture yet or not: Sawyer brings a thrill to Kaye’s life that she hadn’t known could exist before. The only thing is that Sawyer is known for trouble: his dad was in jail and Sawyer has had flings with half the female population at their school. As Kaye’s attraction for him grows, she wonders if any of that is really a problem. In her last year of high school, she wouldn’t mind a little fling…

In Jennifer Echols’s Most Likely to Succeed, Kaye heads through the steamy last months before graduation trying to accomplish it all.

First off, I’m going to divide my review into two parts: my reactions for the beginning and then for the middle-onwards. I found that my opinion flipped back and forth, so this helps to set things on a more linear path.

The Beginning

My first opinion was that Kaye is immature for her age, and her emotional flipping back and forth as she tries to balance the guys in her life is annoying. In a related vein, I hate that the book starts off with Kaye essentially toying with the idea of cheating on her boyfriend, Aidan, and then acts all upset when Aidan breaks up with her (not because she’s thinking of cheating, just FYI). Aidan is a dick, yes, but I found Kaye to be a little two-faced and hypocritical. Like, in her mind, Aidan has to treat her right but she is literally all over another guy (Sawyer) while she’s with Aidan. I hated that double-standard. Also in relation to Kaye’s immaturity is that she complains about how unfair her life is because her mom puts so much pressure on her, but it just makes her sound spoiled. I really think anyone else reading this book will agree, and it actually made me laugh that Kaye had the nerve to complain about that when Sawyer’s life is so screwed up.

The conversations often jump around in a way that doesn’t make sense. For example, Kaye’s friends will say one thing to her, and she will internally come to the conclusion that they’re actually saying something else and she will answer in kind, when really, they didn’t say that at all. It’s really hard to find the connection between what they actually said and what Kaye claims they’re implying.

The Middle-Onwards

The story starts to get interesting about 7 chapters in once the plot moves away from friends and school and focuses instead on the family drama and Sawyer. The love scenes are definitely steamy, which is a plus. I’m glad that the author isn’t afraid to write about detailed sex between teens.

I don’t get why her mom’s past is such a big topic in this book. I know it’s meant to emphasize the “most likely to succeed” theme Kaye has running through her life, and the pressure her mom puts on her, but I don’t think it succeeds. It feels very random every time it is introduced. The parallels aren’t there in the way the author may have intended them to be.

I also feel like the author has tried to write deep conversations between the characters, such as the conversation covering how Sawyer became a vegan, but it’s unsuccessful; it is not very deep at all and sounds kind of silly, in my opinion.

Misc. Thoughts

I liked it, but I didn’t love it. A lot of the novel definitely could have been better.

The cover was a huge turn-off for me. It looks very middle-grade, and I actually thought, at first glance, that this book was for 13-year-olds. The cover does not match up with the mature themes running through this novel, especially the sexuality. Something steamier or a bit more romantic on the cover—while being aimed at older teens (I’m not suggesting a half-naked dude on the cover or anything)—would have made me much more receptive to the book initially.

All in all, this isn’t a book I would recommend to you guys, but if you do pick it up or have already read it, I’d love to know what you think. Comment below! 🙂

-Ember Book Reviews xxoo

Check out this book on Goodreads!

Purchase this book on Amazon, or check out your local indie bookstore.