Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Music Boxes by Tonja Drecker

Music Boxes is a middle grade fantasy book that was sent to me by the publisher. It comes out on March 5, 2019. Lindsey is an amazing ballerina, and has just moved to New York. Soon after arriving, she meets the mysterious Madame Destinée who offers dance classes for free in exchange for participation in a performance every night in a magical studio. However, soon Lindsey realizes that Madame has evil intentions of turning the students into music boxes and stealing their talent.

While somewhat predictable, the plotline was also fascinating and I was perfectly entertained. This is a great leisure read. I love the bond Lindsey has with her sister, and I love how she was included in the climax. This book has the perfect balance of creepiness and fun. I loved the transition between lovely to fear. Lindsey's unease flew off the pages. Extremely well written, the imagery was highly present and I could full envision their magical world.

The tale was so sweet, creative, and relatable to young girls. I love how Music Boxes teaches how there's no shortcut to success. You have to work for your dreams to come true. The mystery aspect was very cool, and I enjoyed guessing how the story was going to turn out and how she'd beat the witch. The climatic scene at the end was amazing, and my pulse was racing along with Lindsey's fear and determination. The ending was bittersweet, and wrapped up the story nicely. The cover is also very creative and highly representative.

I highly recommend this book, and I cannot wait to read it again!

Title: Music Boxes
Author: Tonja Drecker
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
Pages: 158
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

Love Letters to the Dead is a YA realistic fiction book about coping with guilt and loss. Laurel's older sister, May, fell off a bridge and died, leaving behind a broken family and a traumatized little sister who blames herself. Her English teacher gave an assignment to write a letter to a dead person, and before Laurel knows it, she has a notebook full of them, illustrating her childhood and the close bond between her and May. Through these letters and her new friendships, she discovers that only by accepting what happened can she truly forgive herself and move forward.

This is a profoundly moving tribute to grief, written with sensitivity and care. The story was heartbreaking, as well as beautiful at the same time. I applaud the author for including so many controversial topics, from suicide, abuse, and alcoholism to LGBTQ romance. Every character was deeply flawed and learning to heal from a variety of tragic experiences. Love Letters to the Dead is a journey of acceptance and forgiveness.

I love the format of this book as letters. It was easier for her to write to someone who will never read it, because she could be free to be honest to herself without judgement from others. Love Letters to the Dead is about loving and forgiving yourself, and letting go of the past.This is an extremely emotional, intense read that will leave you with tears in your eyes. Laurel largely developed as a person and I loved seeing her transform into self-love and respect.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Love Letters to the Dead
Author: Ava Dellaira
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 336
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Friday, January 18, 2019

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

Dead Ends is an inspirational YA book. Dane is a bully, and is one suspension away from being expelled. Everyone's afraid of him, except for Billy, his new next door neighbor. While he drives Dane insane, Dane has a rule not to hurt girls or people with disabilities. Billy mistakes his ignorance for friendship, and ends up dragging Dane into helping him find his dad through a series of puzzles.

It was hard to like Dane, especially in the beginning, but after awhile he grew on me. Yes, he's a bully, but he is also a human who makes mistakes. I personally love books that feature a narrator who is troubled because I get to see their internal dialogue and find out why. I love books that tackle stereotypes such as this one, because I get to see what's going on in their life, why they act a certain way because we can't see that just by looking at someone in real life. Billy kept asking Dane the same question over and over throughout the book: "Why do people hit?"

Dane thought he was doing the right thing, protecting others and hurting people who "deserved it". He didn't know that he was being a bully- and that's the most insightful part of this book. Nobody is hopeless, especially not a bully. They can learn to change their ways and be a better person. There's potential in everyone that schools and peers often miss. think that when people picture a bully, they see a monster, a tyrant, or someone to always run away from- not a human who doesn't know any better and needs help but is too scared to admit it. Most, unfortunately including myself, don't stop to ask why. Dead Ends teaches readers that everybody needs a friend.

I highly recommend this book!

Title: Dead Ends
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 336
Series: No
Rating: 5 Stars

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Shield of Nike (A War on the Gods Companion Story) by A.P. Mobley

41060182The Shield of Nike is a YA short story prequel to the War on the Gods series. This new fantasy book was sent to me by the author, and releases today. Valeria and her friend Greg were out hiking and proclaiming their love for each other when the Greek Gods attacked Earth in a violent storm. Valeria is knocked unconscious when a shield falls from the sky. Awakened by a voice in her head, she is shocked to discover that her world has been decimated and Greg is missing. She also learns that she is a demigod, the daughter of Nike, caught between a war with humanity and the Gods. In order to find Greg, she must use her newfound powers to fend off the monsters that roam and discover who she truly is.

This a quick, fun read! I loved Valeria's sarcastic, funny attitude that made her character come alive! I enjoyed her inner dialogue and internal conflict that made her character come alive! The imagery was fantastic and I could fully envision every detail. This tale was extremely fast paced and exciting. I am impressed at the quality of writing and plot development for such a short tale. I am happy with the ending and how it set the stage for The Helm of Darkness. My only complaint would be that the story felt too short, and I wanted more. 

I recommend that you read this book and this series!  I am looking forward to reading the second book in the  series, Poseidon's Trident, released in November 2019.

Read my review of the first book in this series, The Helm of Darkness!

Title: The Shield of Nike
Author: A.P. Mobley
Publisher: Sea of Ink Press
Pages: 104
Series: Yes, Prequel
Rating: 4 Stars

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten YA New Books in 2019

One of the most exciting things about a new year is new books to read! Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by That Artsy Reader Girl. If you want to participate, click here. The theme for this week is Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019. The following books are in order of release date.

1. The Last Eight by Laura Pohl
Release Date: March 1st, 2019
After aliens invade and destroy Earth, only eight people on the planet are left alive.

2. Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
When Ari Helix pulls a magic sword out of the ground, she is revealed to be a reincarnation of King Arthur and must fight evil in the galaxy and unite the people of Earth. 

3. The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Victoria is dumped in a foster home while her stepsister is left behind with their abusive father. She tries to get through senior year, but she can't forget about her past. 

4. Focused by Allison Gerber
Release Date: March 26th, 2019
Clea has been diagnosed with ADHD, and is desperately trying to find a way to focus.

5. Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd 
 Mallie enters a competition where she has to train a flying horse to defeat the monsters lurking in the mountain. If she wins she earns a life of luxury, but fighting for her life uncovers a grave mystery. 

Release Date: April 4th, 2019
Sam and his older brother are homeless, and survives by breaking into people's houses for food when they are away. One day he gets caught- but rather than call the police, this huge family takes them in. 

7. Through the White Wood by Jessica Leake
Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Katya has the power to control ice, and is banished from her village and sent to live with the Prince, who can control fire. Instead of punishment, he invites her to join forces to save their kingdom from an approaching army.

8. These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling
Release Date: May 28th, 2019
Hannah is one of the elemental witches in Salem, and if she uses her powers in front of mortals, she will lose them. She must make the ultimate sacrifice to save her town from the evil Blood Witch. 

9. Impossible Music by Sean Williams
Release Date: July 2nd, 2019
Simon, a musician, is devastated when a stroke leaves him deaf. 

10. The Year they Fell by David Kreizman
Release Date: July 30th, 2019
When Josie, Jack, Archie, Harrison, and Dayana's parents die in the same plane crash, they are left with nobody but each other to lean on.
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