Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

I’ll be honest – I was hoping for an awesome review here, but that’s not what I’ve got. Seriously, I thought this book was going to be AMAZING. It had such a dark premise, such an interesting wealth of ideas … I loved the concept. I still love the concept. And I love the characters and the world and Kendare writes wonderfully. The problem is the plot, and how mangled it got throughout the story. Sigh. Watch for more on why I was so sad!

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Worth It Wednesday: “A Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

dsb_final_6_1Title: A Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Goodreads Description: Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Why it’s worth it: I’ll admit that I’ve had a wild relationship with these books, but–at the end of the day–I still think that this series is really worth it. For one, when Imbibliomancy did this (my pick, of course), Taylor and Michaela actually didn’t hate it. In fact, Taylor even liked my idea of reading the second one this summer.

I have a lot of issues with this blurb, because I don’t think that it adequately represents the content of this book. One, Laini Taylor is a beautiful writer who crafts prose on a whole other level that your stereotypical young adult fiction. Two, while this novel involves a star-crossed romance, it’s the kind of romance that understand that there are things more important than their “will they, won’t they” back and forth.

This became popular around the time that angels were all the rage, but this world is so much more than that. It’s one of the more unique angelic-based fantasy systems I’ve ever read. Really, every fantastical creature in this book was interesting and unique to me in a way a lot of fantasy settings aren’t.

This series has some weird ups and downs, with the second one being the strongest. I felt like the third one was a bit too bogged down by new information and characters, but it was still a fitting end to the series that was interesting if nothing else. Still very worth it, I promise!

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, angels, fantasy, strong prose, strong world building, interesting characters, unique setting, romance, magic, action, adventure, humor

From the Notebook: How My Thesis Almost Made Me Stop Blogging

Seriously. I’m not kidding. As I promised in my last Thesis Thursday, here’s an attempt at a better explanation of what happened while I was writing my third and final chapter. I know it sounds kind of depressing, but it isn’t. It’s really more about how I think I can be a better blogger, and maybe change YA literature along the way!

Interview with Kristen-Paige Madonia + Giveaway!

It’s finally here! If you caught my last From the Notebook, where I talk about exactly what I was up to during our hiatus, then you’ve probably been waiting for this for a while. Over the course of the New Voices Literary Festival, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down and interview Kristen-Paige Madonia, author of Fingerprints of You and the upcoming Invisible Fault Lines (to be released May 3). Not only was she gracious enough to talk to me for a while, but she ALSO singed a copy of Fingerprints of You that I am about to give away AND gave me some great swag! Before we get to that, though, allow me to introduce the fabulous Kristen-Paige!

downloadKristen-Paige Madonia is the author of the young adult novels Invisible Fault Lines (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016) and Fingerprints of You (Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2012). Her short stories have been published in various literary magazines including FiveChapters, the New Orleans Review, the Greensboro Review, and America Fiction: Best Previously Unpublished Stories by Emerging Authors. She has received awards or fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, VCCA, Hedgebrook, Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Key West Literary Seminar. She was the 2012 D.H. Lawrence Fellow and was awarded the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Prize in 2010. She holds an MFA in fiction from California State University, Long Beach and currently lives in Charlottesville, Va. She is a member of the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA Writing Program faculty and also teaches creative writing at the University of Virginia, James Madison University, and WriterHouse.

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The interview and giveaway are coming, but first: logistics! This interview took place verbally over the course of 15 minutes. I transcribed it into what you are about to read, editing for general speech tics and creating full sentences–that kind of thing. Initially I thought I was going to edit it into something a bit shorter but … well … Kristen-Paige said too many smart things that I agreed with not to share them all with you! It’s a great read AND there’s a giveaway at the bottom, so here we go!

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Worth It Wednesday: “Angelfire” by Courtney Allison Moulton

Worth It Wednesdays is a weekly post where I feature my favorite YA titles. Find out more about it here!

7285498Title: Angelfire

Author: Courtney Allison Moulton

Goodreads Description: First there are nightmares.
Every night Ellie is haunted by terrifying dreams of monstrous creatures that are hunting her, killing her.

Then come the memories.
When Ellie meets Will, she feels on the verge of remembering something just beyond her grasp. His attention is intense and romantic, and Ellie feels like her soul has known him for centuries. On her seventeenth birthday, on a dark street at midnight, Will awakens Ellie’s power, and she knows that she can fight the creatures that stalk her in the grim darkness. Only Will holds the key to Ellie’s memories, whole lifetimes of them, and when she looks at him, she can no longer pretend anything was just a dream.

Now she must hunt.
Ellie has power that no one can match, and her role is to hunt and kill the reapers that prey on human souls. But in order to survive the dangerous and ancient battle of the angels and the Fallen, she must also hunt for the secrets of her past lives and truths that may be too frightening to remember.

Why it’s worth it: Okay, I know what you’re thinking. That blurb sounds kind of corny. HANG IN THERE WITH ME.

I got into Angelfire kind of on a whim, back when angels were big but I was being seriously bored by a lot of the other stuff out there. I saw the sword on the cover and instantly knew that this was going to be something different, and maybe something closer to what I was looking for. I was right.

Okay, so Angelfire is a bit predictable, especially looking back on it all these years. However, what I also saw as the merits then are still serious merits now. In so many other angel books I was reading, the girl never got to be the hero. She was the human or less-that-the-guy angel who didn’t really get to do anything cool. Ellie isn’t like that at all. SHE is the warrior, and it’s up to HER to save the day. The lore fed into the angels think in a really cool, unexpected way. The books were also REALLY fast paced and action packed. In my review of the second book, Wings of the Wicked, I start off by saying that I had to read that book in one sitting because I couldn’t find a place to put it down!

The romance, while kind of cutesy, also struck me as just … good. I really believed that these guys had a connection across reincarnations and time, and I understood why they struggled because of that. Will and Ellie were partners, not one-over-the-other protectors. Will doesn’t like it when Ellie puts herself in danger, but he lets her do what she needs to because he knows that she’s strong enough to take it. They fight each other, they find each other, and they really love each other. That’s enough for me to be happy.

While I mention in my review of the last book, Shadows in the Silence, that I was a little bit iffy on the ending, the only reason is that it happened too quick. That’s not surprising, however, since these books are SO fast paced. And if that’s my only complaint, it’s still VERY MUCH worth it to read!

Read it if you’re looking for: strong female characters, swoon worthy romance, angels, mythology, action, adventure, fast pace, fantasy

From the Notebook: YA vs. Academia

Hey there guys! This video is something that is near and dear to my heart: my thoughts on how college can treat YA literature. I want to be clear: I 1000% believe that YA should be criticized. However, that’s the point. In my experience, YA is often brushed aside and treated as something that is always bad, therefore telling people that YA can be and should be bad. I really, really wanted to change that.

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Betwixt the Books Discuss! Genre Hierarchy and Literary Snobbery

Technically, this livestream happened last night. Sorry guys! It ended up happening after my roommate went to sleep and I didn’t want to bother her anymore than I had to, so this is coming at you this morning. It happens! (This is why you should follow us on YouTube or Michaela’s Twitter. The links always go out automatically there.) Anyways, Michaela and I discussed the differing hierarchies of genres and literature and where certain kinds of genre snobbery come from. We were both so into this topic that it’ll probably spill out into my From the Notebook this Monday, at least, and probably beyond!