Friday, April 13, 2018

[Blog Tour] Q & A with Amy Fellner Dominy + Excerpt of The Fall of Grace

The Fall of Grace by Amy Fellner Dominy, hit stores and shelves this past Tuesday. A YA about a girl in search of the truth to clear her mother's name, who is accused of bank fraud and her answers lies in the wilderness in the middle of nowhere.

Publication: April 10, 2018 by Delacorte Press
Hardcover, 304 Pages

Grace’s junior year is turning into her best year yet. She’s set to make honor roll, her print from photography class might win a national contest, and her crush just asked her to prom.

Then the bottom falls out. News breaks that the investment fund her mom runs is a scam and her mother is a thief. Now, instead of friends, the FBI is at her door. Grace is damaged goods.

Millions of dollars are unaccounted for, and everyone wants to know where all the money went. Can she find it and clear her mother’s name?

The key to repairing her shattered life seems to lie in a place deep in the wilderness, and Grace sets out, her identity hidden, determined to find it.

But she isn’t alone.

Sam Rivers, a mysterious loner from school, is on her trail and wants to know exactly what secrets she uncovers. As the pair travels into the wilds, Grace realizes she must risk everything on the dark, twisted path to the truth.

Want to learn more about The Fall of Grace? Check out the Q &A with author Amy Dominy and an exclusive excerpt below!

Q&A with Amy, author of The Fall of Grace

Introduce us to Grace and her mother, Janelle.

Grace is 17, an aspiring photographer who prides herself in finding beauty in the world. Her mother is one of her favorite subjects. Janelle Pierce is glamorous, sophisticated and ambitious—she raised Grace all by herself while building a successful financial business. Grace loves her mom more than anything, and she knows her mother loves her. A mother always loves her daughter. Doesn’t she? 

What would be your elevator pitch for The Fall of Grace?

The Fall of Grace is an adventure-suspense-survival-road-trip-romance.

What sparked the idea of writing The Fall of Grace?

It started with Bernie Madoff. I followed the story of the Ponzi scheme he ran—the biggest financial fraud ever that destroyed thousands of lives. I couldn’t imagine how someone could do that. Then I read that one of his sons committed suicide. That stuck with me—the thought of a child discovering that their parent was a monster. What would that be like? The shame. The sense of betrayal. And what about guilt by association? How would you survive that?  

Fast forward a few months.

A flash of a scene came to me: A girl getting on a bus, carrying a knife and a backpack with her father’s ashes in it. She’s desperate. She’s on a journey. She’s hated. Where is she going? What is she looking for?

That image eventually lead me to The Fall of Grace, and a first scene where a girl is at the bus station, carrying a knife and a backpack. She’s desperate. She’s on a journey. She’s hated. The issues with a father became issues with a mother who was not yet dead…but perhaps dying.

Ultimately, it became a book about family and trust. About how we go on when the people who should love us the most, betray us.

Did you do any research for this book? If so, how did you go about it and why did you feel it was necessary to do so?

As the book began to take shape, I knew I was going to have to do a lot of research.There were so many things I knew nothing about—photography, strokes and comas, the FBI, financial crimes (or financial anything.) The one thing I thought would be easy was the hiking part. Wrong! Even though I’m a hiker, I needed to be familiar with a specific hiking trail. That meant researching mountain trails. Once I settled on Blue Lakes in Colorado, I had to do the hike myself, following Grace and Sam’s path—including taking a wrong turn.

I actually like the research part because I’m learning about interesting things. I about got myself arrested taking pictures of the US Marshals office (not a good idea), but it was very cool meeting with a Federal Prosecutor. The things I learned helped shape the book and I hope that comes through on the page.  

Photography plays a crucial role in the book. Are you a photographer yourself? If not, why did you choose this particular talent for Grace—and Sam?

I’ve always loved photography though I didn’t know much about it other than “point and shoot.” Doing the research was fun but I also discovered there’s a lot of math to it. I struggled to understand f/stops and apertures.

I really wanted them to be photographers because it fit with the greater themes. Grace prides herself on seeing truth in the lens of her camera—but she doesn’t see the truth of her mother. It got me thinking about what do people hide from us—what do we hide from others? I also loved that photography is about the balance of light and shadow. It felt like a perfect fit because Grace and Sam are both dealing with the fact that this is true of people, too.

What was most challenging part of writing THE FALL OF GRACE? Why?

This book goes back and forth between two different time periods. It starts in August, when Grace is leaving town and cuts back to May, when the first news about Grace’s mother comes to light. Weaving in details from two different timelines turned out to work really well, but it was much harder than I expected. Remind me never to do that again. J

The title is perfect. Did you know what you were going to call the book immediately, or did the title come later in the process?

When I started this book, the main character’s name was Eva. I ended up having to change it because, well, I have a weird thing for vowel names. I didn’t realize it until I looked at the names of all my main characters. Ellie (OyMG); Tatum (Audition & Subtraction—this is the one book where my daughter named the character); Abby (A Matter of Heart); Emma (Die for You).  Starting to see a pattern here? So I realized I couldn’t do Eva. Even after I’d come up with Grace, I’d titled the book Half a Step from Heaven. It was my editor who suggested The Fall of Grace. (Thank you, Krista!)

Share a bit about you with us. Have you always wanted to be a writer? What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? What are your hobbies? What is your go to book/music/movie recommendation of the moment?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid—probably because I loved reading so much that I wanted to make up stories of my own. I’ll read anything if the characters draw me in—I’ve had to stop saying I don’t read Sci Fi or horror or thrillers. I read about people I care about whatever the setting and situation (and whether they’re actual people or not.)  

When I’m not writing or reading, I want to be outside. I play tennis and golf. I run, hike, and bike. Pretty much anything that doesn’t require snow or speed—I’m a wimp who is always cold.

Book of the moment: I just re-read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Amazing!

Have you been betrayed? If so, how did you come to terms with it—or the person who betrayed you?

I never thought of it as a betrayal—not until I wrote this book. But I always had an uneasy relationship with my stepmother who raised me. I had an idea in my head of what a mother-daughter relationship was supposed to be. I read about them every year on Mother’s Day when I went to buy a card at the store. And as much as I wanted a loving mom, I didn’t have that with my stepmother. It’s something I struggled with. They say writing can be therapy, and I think that’s part of what drew me to this story. Grace thinks she has a loving relationship with her mom, but discovers that perhaps she never really did. How does she come to terms with that? How do any of us handle imperfect family relationships? After all, these are the people who are supposed to love us the most. In writing this story and letting Grace and Sam work through those questions, it allowed me to do the same. Without giving away the ending, I hope this is a journey that will help readers who grapple with the same issues.

Where can readers find you online?

Instagram is my new favorite hangout: amydominy. Look for me there! I’m also on Twitter (@amydominy), Goodreads, and Facebook (amyfellnerdominyauthor.)


Is it really only Thursday? I turn off the car and flip open the visor mirror. The golf banquet must have been last night. I wonder if Cecily wore my dress. I wonder if her mother let her. I smooth my hair, spreading it over my shoulders. The deeper shades of brown will start to lighten in the next month or so—assuming I see the sun. It still feels warm from the flat iron. I double-check my makeup. Too much concealer. I rub it in, but the truth is I look like someone who hasn’t been sleeping or eating. 

Martina, who is now my favorite nurse, brings me soup from the hospital cafeteria. I’m so touched that I eat as much as I can. Yesterday, I tried to pay her and her hands flew up. For a second I thought I saw horror on her face. I assumed she must be thinking the things they were saying on TV. 

Stolen money. Dirty money. 

But she gently folded my fingers back over the ten-dollar bill and said, “It’s only soup, Grace, and not very good soup, at that.” 

A car door slams and I jump in my seat, my heart jumping with me. I’ve begun to startle at loud noises. At the sound of footsteps. At the ringer of my phone. I rub at my elbow. This morning in the hospital parking lot something hit me, sharp and sudden. I cried out, and when I spun around, a woman with gray hair and red- rimmed eyes was facing me. At my feet lay a crumpled ball of paper. 

An earnings statement for the Family Fund. 

But there’s no one behind me now. No one in the library parking lot other than a woman with a stack of books in one arm and her hand holding tight to a towheaded boy. 

It’s nice to be outside. It’s the first time I’ve left the hospital before visiting hours ended, and though it’s only been four days, I’ve forgotten how bright the sun can be. How good fresh air and warm asphalt smells. I could lie on the back of my car and nap right here. 

I’ve never been so tired in my life. I’m tired of doctors who don’t come when they say they will or who have nothing to say when they do. I’m tired of scratchy blankets and nurse rotations and terrible food. Mostly, I’m tired of being afraid all the time. Afraid of every odd beep from one of the machines attached to my mom or of the hiss of the blood pressure cuff that I hear in my sleep. Of the sound of every passing footstep, wondering if it’s the FBI. 

The accusations follow me everywhere—even to Uncle David’s house. I’ve been staying there at night, though it’s a half-hour drive from home. Uncle David insisted, worried that it isn’t safe for me alone since the FBI shuttered my mom’s business. People are scared. 

And angry. 

And maybe dangerous. 

Reporters have begun to show up at my uncle’s house, holding annual reports with my face on the cover, asking if I knew my mother was a thief. It’s been hard on my aunt Caroline especially—I knew that—but I was still shocked this morning when I interrupted a whispered conversation in the kitchen. I didn’t hear most of what my aunt and uncle were saying, only the last part, when my aunt said she doesn’t want the stain of fraud to rub off on the twins. 

“I’m not stained,” I said, surprising them at the door of the kitchen. I wanted to say more, but I was crying too hard. I left and I’m not going back. Uncle David came to the hospital a little while ago. He said “I’m sorry” and “It’s a struggle right now with the girls” and “I know you’re innocent in all this,” but he didn’t say “Come back.”

Excerpted from THE FALL OF GRACE. Copyright © 2018 by Amy Fellner Dominy. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.


Amy Fellner Dominy is the award-winning author of books for teens, tweens and toddlers. A former advertising copywriter and MFA playwright, Amy’s novels include The Fall of Grace (4/18); Die For You; A Matter of Heart; Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Picture books are Cookiesaurus Rex and Cookiesaurus Christmas (2018.) Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two children who occasionally stop by for free meals. 

*via author's website.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Outpost by W. Michael Gear

Title: Outpost
Author: W. Michael Gear
Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: Donovan # 1

Hardcover, 422 Pages
Publication: February 20, 2018  Daw Books

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


Donovan: A world of remarkable wealth, habitable, with a breathable atmosphere, water, and a salubrious climate. Call it a dream come true. A dream? Or a nightmare? Donovan's wealth comes at a price. For Donovan lies thirty light years away--a two-year journey that few survive.

When Turalon
 arrives in orbit, Supervisor Kalico Aguila discovers a failing colony, it's government overthrown, and the few colonists left now gone wild. For Kalico, Donovan offers the chance of a lifetime: one desperate spin of the wheel that will leave her the most powerful woman in the solar system. Or dead.

Planetside, Talina Perez is one the three rulers of Port Authority--the only remnant of a town on Donovan. She's the only law left, and now a Corporate ship has appeared in orbit and is demaning answers about things she's done in the name of survival. Perez is about to lose everything, including her life, when Kalico lands with her Marines. 
For Dan Wirth, Donovan is a last chance. A psychopath with a death sentence looming over his head, he can't wait to set foot on Port Authority. He will make one desperate play to grab a piece of the action. No matter who he has to corrupt, murder, or destroy.

Captain Max Taggart has been The Corporation's "go to" guy when it comes to brutal enforcement. As the situation in Port Authority deteriorates, he'll be faced with committing mass murder in order to dominate the wild Donovanians. Only Talina Perez stands in his way. Or. God forbid, is he getting squeamish in his old age?<

Just as matters spiral out of control, a ghost ship, the Freelander,appears in orbit. Missing for two years, she arrives with a crew dead of old age, and reeks of a bizarre death-cult ritual that forewarns any ship from making the return journey to Solar System.

Does anyone dare space back on Turlon with her wealth of ore, ceramic, gems, and gold? Or do they take their chances on a deadly planet that kills three out of four colonists?

And in the meantime, a brutal killer is stalking all of them, for Donovan plays its own complex and deadly game. One whose secrets are hidden in Talia Perez's very blood. A game which will change everything, forever.

Outpost is the first book in the Donovan series following four very unique characters on an alien planet. Like many civilization there is a chain of hierarchy and readers will get a in-depth look at all class of hierarchy following a captain, a right-hand enforcer/marine, a psychopath killer and a regular every day civilian shaped by the harsh terrains of Donovan. With an inhabitable earth, many folks had to seek refugee on other planets; and that is the case with Donovan. The inhabitants were flown to Donovan with the sole purpose of building a settlement but eventually found themselves left behind and forgotten. Left to their own devices they had to defend themselves from the many deadly creatures that lived alongside them. It is a killed or be killed type of environment.

The world building for Outpost was impeccably done. Grant painted a world that is both fascinating as it is terrifying. As described by the characters, Donovan is a vast planet filled with endless opportunities; you can mine gold, gem, oil, and so much more. The ecosystem is varied in both species and its weather and yet there were still so much that was unexplored and a smystery to those born three generations later. I always stated this, but character driven novel is what I’m all about. The plot and concept of a novel can be poor or mediocre but if it has an amazing cast and a cast that’s developed/multifaceted I’ll stick around till the end. Outpost had some pretty great characters and the world, Donovan is a character in itself for all the reasons mentioned above. And Grant has barely touch the tip of the iceberg with the world as there is still so much uncharted, undiscovered territories.

Two of the most fascinating characters in Outpost is Talina and Dan. Talina Perez is a soldier on Donovan. She is tough as nail and knows what it takes to live on a planet as dangerous as Donovan. She has the survival skills that is unmatched and what makes her more unique is that she has an alien creature, it’s essence living within her giving her a sixth sense and enables her to adapt more to the environment. Dan Wirth is a psychopath serial killer and a stowaway on Turalon. After killing and stealing another man’s identity, Dan arrives on Donovan hoping to start a new life. Not only did he hit the jackpot on getting a new life but he ends up becoming the richest and most notorious man on Donovan. Scheming, threatening, blackmailing and murdering his way to owning the majority of Donovan. We get an inside look of the mind of a killer and business man and the combination is just jarring.

I really enjoyed Outpost. The world building was complex and expertly done, the characters are interesting and well-developed and the pacing and the plot was just right. All in all, a great start to a brand new series and I can’t wait to read more of it!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Sweep in Peace by lona Andrews

Title: Sweep in Peace
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Fantasy
Series: InnKeeper Chronicles # 2

Trade Paperback, 301 pages
Publication: November 13, 2015 by Createspace

Source: Personal library.


Dina DeMille isn't your typical Bed and Breakfast owner. Her inn defies laws of physics, her dog is secretly a monster, and the only permanent guest of the inn is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. The inn needs guests to thrive and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance. Unfortunately, for Dina, bridging the gap between space vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. To make the summit a success, she must find a chef, remodel the inn, keep her guests from murdering each other, and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper… 

I’ve been on an Ilona Andrews roll! I’m a big fan of both their Kate Daniel and InnKeeper Chronicles series. After finishing Magic Breaks and Magic Stars, I stepped away from Kate and the gang to Dinah and The Gertrud Hunt with Sweep in Peace, the second novel in the Innkeeper Chronicles. The book starts off 6 months after the events of the previous book. Dinah’s only bed and breakfast occupant is none other than the infamous Caldenia, a wanted woman across the galaxy. So financially, Dinah isn’t doing so well. However, an opportunity to host a peace treaty at her Inn falls into her lap; one that will solve most of her financial troubles…there’s no way Dinah can turn it down, even though all the other Innkeeper within the area did; afraid of the chaos that is likely to ensue when three rival clans come to stay under one roof…what’s the worst that can happen, right?

It’s been awhile since I last read Clean Sweep, my memories of the first book is a bit fuzzy. But I didn’t know how much I missed these characters till I started Sweep in Peace. It feels great to immerse myself in Dinah’s world once again. There were a couple of familiar characters from the previous novel but a lot of new ones as well. My favorite new character was Orro, the red clever chef that Dinah hires. Orro was a riot! I loved his dramatics, he brought endless humor to the story. We also got to see more of Caldenia, she too was hilarious…which still trips me out because she’s supposed to be some crazy wanted murderer! Apparently the nice looking ones are the ones you gotta watch out for! 

The first book was jammed packed with action, but this time around the pacing of the book was slower and read more like a whodunit mystery. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. By stepping away from all the action sequences, Andrews focused more on the characters themselves highlighting the characters’ pain, fears, concerns, emotions they shared in common if they actually stopped and thought about it. 

Sweep in Peace was another excellent novel by Andrews and great follow-up to Clean Sweep. Many authors nowadays have branched out to self-publishing and I’ve noticed that yes, even though you may love their traditional published work it sometimes doesn’t translate to self-publishing. Whether it’s the editing, direction change in term of genre, writing style…something is usually off/different and I find myself hesitant to pick up their self-published work. But It’s not the case for Andrews. Not only did they published this online first as a serial for free but reading it, you know it’s written by Andrews with their unique signature never lost. I’m looking forward to reading the third installment, One Fell Sweep! If you haven’t read this series, you need to get on it A.S.A.P! 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy
Series: Ready Player One # 1

Paperback, 374 pages

Publication: August 16, 2011 by Broadway Books

Source: Personal library


In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape. 

Ready Player One movie adaptation comes out today. I’ve been hearing a lot about the book since movie rights and production started but didn’t pick up the book until I saw the trailer. It looked pretty interesting, so I thought why not? Plus since I wanted to see the movie, I knew I had to read the book first. Bibliophile problems, amiright? And boy, am I glad I did! Ready Player One was so much fun, coupled with video games, 80’s and pop culture reference…it’s a nerd’s dream come true!

Cline has written one of the most clever and ambitious novels I’ve read in a long time. The world building was scary plausible and mesmerizing all at the same time. I loved how he incorporated all the movies, games and 80’s reference so perfectly within the story. Talk about major nostalgia. The premise and set up was really cool. I also loved the idea of a scavenger hunt and as everyone got closer to obtaining a key and moving beyond the gate, the race became even more intense. My favorite scene was definitely towards the end when Wade was RPG-ing the Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie, that was hilarious! As for the characters, I thought they were well-written and fully developed. Although there were moments when I just wanted to reach inside the book and scold Wade. I can only take so much inner monologue of self-loathing and self-deprecating before it gets old and annoying. Artemis was supposed to be this smart, kick-ass chick but I don’t know, I never warmed up to her character. I thought she was stuck up and had an air of superiority half the time. Not my favorite traits. H was probably the best character, he was a hoot and a genuine surprise at the end. I wasn’t expecting that reveal!

I can now see why this book received so many great reviews, they’re well deserved. I thoroughly enjoyed Ready Player One and am excited to hear that Cline is writing a sequel. If you’re looking for a great throwback to the 80’s, classic games and nerdy movies…you’ll love this book! I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Title: Beneath the Haunting Sea
Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer
Genre: Fantasy
Series: N/A

Hardcover, 400 pages
Publication: January 9, 2018 by Page Street Kids

Source: I received a review copy from Saichek Publicity in exchange for a honest review.


Can't you hear it, Talia?

Can't you hear the waves singing?

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods' history--and her own--the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

 Beneath the Haunting Sea was a wonderful surprised. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and who would’ve known that this was exactly the book I needed to read. Not only was the imagery and writing beautifully detailed and written but it was also the perfect self-discovery, fantasy adventure that we need more of. Many reviewers mentioned that this was very Jane Austen-ist, and I couldn’t agree more. Beneath the Haunting Sea is in the same vein as Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride, and Stardust…so if you’ve enjoyed any of the aforementioned novels; then you’ll love Beneath the Haunting Sea.

Meyer hits the ground running with her debut young adult novel as readers are introduced to Talia, who was destined to be a future queen one minute and an exiled princess the next. After the coup d'etat, Talia found herself shipped off to Ruen-Dahr and betrothed to a boy she’s never met. It is there that she learns about her true lineage; that has her and her betroth Wen’s lives entangled. I haven’t read many novels involving sirens or sea gods/goddesses, so picking this book up was a breath of fresh air amid all the Urban Fantasy books I’ve been reading. I loved Meyer’s writing, she had me glued to the story from page one. And while I normally hate flashback scenes, Meyer expertly woven them into the story/dialogue that I found myself looking forward to hearing the tales of Rahn and the Billow Maidens.

Talia was a pretty good protagonist, most of the time. She is without a doubt independent and brave considering everything she’s been through and it is a lot. But I couldn’t help find her interaction and infatuation with Caiden vexing. On one hand, yes I know she’s just a teenager and she sees a handsome young man that she’s bound to be swooned by his charm but by when you reached the end of the book, everything was for naught. Meaning, the story line involving Talia and Caiden was pointless and brought nothing to the story except some teenage angst. This would be my only complaint because it took up a fair amount of page time which I thought could’ve been utilized better but It didn’t make me enjoy the book any less. I also really liked Wen, Talia’s betroth, he’s such a caring sweet heart. Although I felt bad for him for the majority of the book, he definitely got the short end of the stick. On a random note, can I just saw how awesome are these characters names? I thought it was perfect for each of the characters…Talia, Wen, Caiden, Blaive…love it!

Beneath the Haunting Sea is what I’d call a hidden gem of 2018. I haven’t heard much press about it until it was put on my radar for review and I glad for it! Beneath the Haunting Sea is a story about fate, love, selflessness and embracing who you are. I highly recommend Beneath the Haunting Sea to all Gothic Victorian, Fantasy, Jane Austen-lovers; this is a debut you don’t want to miss! 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Prodigy by Marie Lu

Title: Prodigy 
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Legend # 2

Trade paperback, 371 Pages
Publication: April 8, 2014 by Putnam Juvenile

Source: Personal Library

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

I can’t believe it’s been five years since I’ve read the first book in the Legend series. The first book, Legend was all about The Republic and in the sequel, readers get to see the opposing side as Day and June seek guidance and help from The Patriots. Both Day and June want revenge for what The Republic did to their families and the only way to stop The Republic is to infiltrate them from the inside. Which is why June and The Patriots concocted a plan to get her capture and pretend that she’s still loyal to get close to the new regent. As the saying goes, keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

I’m sure everyone has heard of the dreaded second book syndrome. It’s real y’all. It sadden me to say this but Prodigy definitely suffers from it. The book’s pacing was extremely slow. In some areas the book felt like it was dragging along with no action in sight. For the majority of the book, we watch as June, Day and The Patriots plan their attack…which consisted more of planning, planning and more planning. And then all that strategic planning went out the door when Day and June decided to go rouge. Even with the surprise turn of events, the climax of the story felt anticlimactic.

Bottom line, I didn’t love it as much as Legend, I think I had too high of expectations for Prodigy that I was left disappointed and underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it would’ve made a difference if I read the book at the time of its release or perhaps I’m losing interesting in the whole YA Dystopian genre; who knows. The ending of Prodigy leaves a lot of questions still, and I’m not sure how things are going to play out after learning of Day’s prognosis. I plan to finish this series and read Champion but it’s certainly not a priority.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Legacy of Orïsha # 1

Hardcover, 525 Pages
Publication: March 6, 2018 by Henry Holt BFYR

Source: Received audio-book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
Children of Blood and Bone is the most anticipated novel of 2018, and the only reason why you wouldn’t of heard about it is if you’ve been living under a rock. This book has been the talk of the blogosphere for months leading up to it’s publication earlier this March, so much so, that movie rights were acquired awhile back and last I heard that it’s actually in development; talk about fast! Children of Blood and Bone takes place in a re-imagined Africa, following three characters: Zélie, a young Divîner, Princess Amari and her brother Inan. The book alternates between their POV/narrative; enabling the readers to glimpse through their eyes and see what they were thinking. I normally prefer books with one POV, however, Adeyemi did a spectacular job in creating such a clear, distinct voice for each of her characters that I found myself enjoying all three narratives; although I found some of the characters vexing at time.

I had the pleasure of reviewing the audio-book version of Children of Blood and Bone, narrated by the talented Bahni Turpin. Turpin brought the characters and the world of Orïsha to life. I loved listening to her voice. Turpin enunciated everything very clearly and put so much emotion into her voice at all the pivotal scenes. I’m not gonna lie, there were many times I ended up tearing up in the middle of the day, while out in public because you can hear the genuine raw pain that Turpin brought forth while narrating Zélie’s chapters. While listening to the audio-book, I can vividly see as Zélie and Amari ran through the bazaar in Lagos, all the Divîners celebrating Sky Mother in their sanctuary and as Amari lead a siege on her father’s compound to rescue Zélie. It was like watching a movie in my mind. Another reason why I’m so glad I had the opportunity to listen to an audio-book version was being able to hear the correct pronunciation of the the words and the characters’ name. I am positive if I read this on my own, I would have pronounced a lot of things incorrectly. Reading a book and listening to an audio-book is a totally different experience, and if you have the chance to listen to Children of Blood and Bone; definitely do it! You’ll be glad for it! I know I was.

There were a ton of great characters in Children of Blood and Bone. Zélie never backed down from a challenge and had a fiery personality to match. But the biggest surprise and breakout star of the book in my opinion was Amari. When we first met Amari she was a timid and quiet princess, all she knew about her kingdom was minimal as she has never left the confines of the castle but with one bold choice, of defiance, her life changed. Gone was the scared princess and as the story progressed a true warrior emerged, a girl fit to be Queen. Amari like any teenager had doubts and insecurities but she pushed them down and stood up for what she believed was right. Amari was without a doubt my favorite character and it was wonderful to see her journey and character growth. Tzain and the a couple of Divîners also made quite an impression as well…like Zule, the thirteen-year-old healer that lead the group of Divîners. I can still see her in my mind, her final scene was truly devastating.

While there was a lot to love about Children of Blood and Bone, it is not without flaws. I did not like the character Inan, he was so hot and cold it drove me nuts. One moment he was all for killing every single Divîner because he truly believed that was the only way to protect Orïsha by riding the world of Magic. Then suddenly he falls for Zélie and wants to create a better Orïsha where regular folks and Divîners lived side by side. Then he gets brainwashed by his father and was back on his path of riding the world of Divîners and Magic. And there’s a secret that Inan carries which readers discovers early on, which makes this all more ridiculous in his hypocrisy! If and when you read this book, you'll know what I mean. I also wasn’t a fan of the magic system. Compared to everything else, I thought the magic system was the weakest, considering it’s a big part of the world building. There are many types of maji (when a Divîner comes into their power as an adult, at the age of thirteen); there’s the reaper like Zélie, who can see, hear and control spirits, burners, winders, connector (control the mind/dreamscape) and so forth. The idea, the magic system is pretty generic and can be seen countless of times in other fantasy series. The only difference is what it’s being called. Although I wished the magic system was better developed and more complex, it didn’t take away from the book. What makes Children of Blood and Bone great was the characters and Adeyemi delivered on that front.

All in all, Children of Blood and Bone was a wonderful debut that deserve all the hyped that it got.It is one of the best debut novel I’ve read in awhile and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. As I said before, if you’re able to listen to the audio-book version, do so, you won’t regret it. It takes the reading/listening experience to an entire new level.

*A big thank you to Macmillan for providing me with an audio-book of Children of Blood and Bone.