Hi all! Sandhya Menon's next book, Of Curses and Kisses, is out next month! Yay! I and many other bloggers/booktubers on her street team are participating on the blog tour for the book, featuring reviews, Q&A's, movie castings, and many other creative posts. The tour runs from February 4th through the 25th, so I'm posting here a schedule for the tour in advance so that come February, you'll know exactly where to go! I've linked to these bloggers' homepages, so you'll have a chance to check them out right now. Booktuber's links go to their landing pages as well. Enjoy!
*tour header by Rameela (@stars.brite on Instagram)*
Hi all! So excited to be on the Blog Tour for Spellhacker by M.K. England, an electric sophomore novel that you need on your TBR. Visit the rest of the tour here, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the page!
The Book and its Author
In Kyrkarta, magic—known as maz—was once a freely available natural resource.Then an earthquake released a magical plague, killing thousands and opening the door for a greedy corporation to make maz a commodity that’s tightly controlled—and, of course, outrageously expensive.
Which is why Diz and her three best friends run a highly lucrative, highly illegal maz siphoning gig on the side. Their next job is supposed to be their last heist ever.
But when their plan turns up a powerful new strain of maz that (literally) blows up in their faces, they’re driven to unravel a conspiracy at the very center of the spellplague—and possibly save the world.
M.K. England is an author and YA librarian who grew up on the Space Coast of Florida and now calls rural Virginia home. When they’re not writing or librarianing, MK can be found drowning in fandom, rolling dice at the gaming table, digging in the garden, or feeding their video game addiction. They love Star Wars with a desperate, heedless passion. It’s best if you never speak of Sherlock Holmes in their presence. You’ll regret it.
THE DISASTERS is their debut novel. Follow them at www.mkengland.com.
The stakes are high in this action-packed novel about a group of friends trying to save their home—and possibly the world. I loved Spellhacker’s group cast and magnetic tension in combination with the magical world it introduces.
Cast: Diz, Remi, Ania, Jaesin.
Diz: Kind of a jerk to her friends at all times, but England wrote her narration so sympathetically at all times that I couldn’t help but feel constantly sorry for her. Communication! It’s important! Especially with the friends you don’t want to leave!
Remi: Totally adorable. I just love them. Remi works with maz naturally as a spellweaver, and I loved the scenes where they got to make spells and use maz because I truly felt like I was right there, watching it come to life.
Ania: Techwitch. Rich. Mom friend. I fell so hard. She’s the one to take care of Diz, saving her in the very first scene, but also a powerful force if she’s angry.
Jaesin: I wish we got to see more of him! As Diz says, he has the most “mundie skills,” which means cooking and fighting, but he’s also fiercely protective and fun.
All of the characters are so well-rounded and wonderfully characterized! They are wonderful additions to the YA heist book canon, and I wish the book had been a little bit longer so I could have spent more time with all of them. I also wonder if switching POV’s would have been beneficial to the reading experience? We spend the whole book with Diz, and a lot of the emotions start to become repetitive as she spends most of the book in the same headspace, which can be articulated in a limited number of ways. I’d love to see what the others made of their situations, and how that would have impacted the storytelling. England is a great writer, so this definitely could have added to the book’s quality.
As much as I loved reading about the gang’s hijinx in Kyrkarta, my favorite part of Spellhacker was learning about the world. As explained in the blurb, magic (maz) is a commodity used by many citizens, but its availability is limited since the plague. I love an evil corporation, like we see in The Last Dragonslayer, one of my favorite books, and Spellhacker definitely takes us there with Maz Management. This bureaucratic realism adds a layer of ironic humor to the action.
Maz itself is an intriguing concept as well. Different strains glow different colors, and description throughout helps the reader visualize how Remi and Anya manipulate coils of it to create spells, including fun ones like playful animal replicas and dangerous ones such as firebombs. The glossary at the front of the book explains the different categories, and I found that helpful to refer back to. I liked the well-defined limits of the system, which showed the difference between the specifically digital abilities such as Diz’s hacking, and the magical abilities like Remi’s spell weaving.
Overall, I’d give Spellhacker 4/5 stars and encourage y’all to read it ASAP!
I'm back today on the Blog Tour for Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson, a new novel out this week from Harlequin Teen! Check out the other tour stops here, and stop by my Instagram to see the bookstagram tour and its participants! At the bottom of this page, after my review are my favorite quotes and a great giveaway for you to enter as well.
The Book and its Author
Adam Moynihan’s life used to be awesome. Straight As, close friends and a home life so perfect that it could have been a TV show straight out of the 50s. Then his oldest brother died. Now his fun-loving mom cries constantly, he and his remaining brother can’t talk without fighting, and the father he always admired proved himself a coward by moving out when they needed him most.
Jolene Timber’s life is nothing like the movies she loves—not the happy ones anyway. As an aspiring director, she should know, because she’s been reimagining her life as a film ever since she was a kid. With her divorced parents at each other’s throats and using her as a pawn, no amount of mental reediting will give her the love she’s starving for.
Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.
Abigail was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year round summers, and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip (in a purple spiral bound notebook that she still has)and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high school production ofCinderella, and becoming a published author.
Review and Favorite Quotes
Every Other Weekend is a romantic coming-of-age story about split families, loss, and two teens learning to love and be loved. However, the length of the book and execution of several of the plot lines irked me, which has unfortunately lowered my rating.
I want to pause here and say that although I had my difficulties with Every Other Weekend, I am rating it 3/5 stars and saying, “it’s not you, it’s me.” I believe there’s a book for everyone, and this could be yours, so give it a chance!
Aaaaaaahhh!!! I'm so excited to be on the blog tour for Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen. I've got a review for you here today, and you can click here for more stops on the blog tour. Just don't forget to enter the fabulous giveaway down below as well!
The Book and its Author
When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to studyMandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.
Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?
Abigail was born in West Virginia to a family of immigrants: Her mother is from the Philippines and her father from Indonesia, and her grandparents emigrated to those countries from Fujian and Shandong provinces in China.
Abigail grew up in Ohio and graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School. She worked in Washington DC for the Senate, as a law clerk for a federal judge, and now in Silicon Valley in venture capital and artificial intelligence. She also earned her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
In her spare time, she enjoys long walks with her husband and two boys, and hanging out with friends and over 100 family members in the Bay Area. She loves music and dances to it when no one is watching.
Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club and Inkyard Press for sharing a copy in exchange for my honest review!
“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.”
And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.
But not every student is quite what they seem:
Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.
Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.
Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.
And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.
When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.
Loveboat, Taipei is an absolutely unforgettable novel about family, friends, and how to grow up without losing touch with yourself. Everything was absolutely perfect, and I can’t wait for everyone to read this book.
Ever, our main character, was a fantastic narrator. She’s full of spirit and newfound independence (which comes back to bite her in some ways, but bolsters her in others), and she’s ready to explore Taipei and make the most of her summer program, despite wanting to enjoy her last summer back home. She is resilient, always helping her friends, and so full of forgiveness it astounds me.
Family is a big part of Ever’s life: she’s got overbearing parents who want her to go to medical school despite her queasiness around blood and dreams of being a dancer, and she plans to fulfill their expectations and make them proud. To do what her dad couldn’t and become a doctor in the United States. In talking about Ever’s family, Loveboat, Taipei explored life in an immigrant family—the unfamiliarity with a faraway homeland and culture, but still not being considered fully American and regaining any status held from one’s past. The novel hits these notes perfectly in a stirring portrait of Ever, a daughter trapped under her parents expectations.
I also loved Ever’s friendships at Chien Tan. Sophie, Rick, Xavier, and the army of side characters were each well developed and full characters of their own right. Seeing this kind of group cast in a contemporary novel is fun to read, because each character has a chance to come into their own as the main character does. Loveboat, Taipei is a novel about defying expectations and growth, which comes across clearly in each of their journeys, not only Ever’s.
The romances were so adorable as well! I didn’t love the love triangle at first, but the resolution was satisfying and I enjoyed the ending (even if the epilogue felt trite). Rick was considerate and thoughtful, always taking care of Ever. Xavier had surprising depth, which was nice—it’s always neat to see a “playboy” character not be reduced to a stereotype. Wen gave each of them importance and backstory which added to the plot outside of their relationships with Ever.
The setting in Taipei was new to me, and the descriptions and cultural outings (both program sanctioned and, *ahem*, extracurricular) helped me learn more about the city and culture. I think it’s neat that Loveboat is based on a real cultural immersion program. It gave the novel a distinct real-world connection.
Wen writes with mastery, weaving a variety of themes and creating an intricate story that will tug at the heartstrings of any reader, no matter what genre you usually prefer. 5/5 stars, and one of my favorite reads of 2019. Definitely recommend!
I'm back! And I have a fun blog tour post to share today, with my review of Across a Broken Shore by Amy Trueblood. You can follow along here to see reviews and features by other bloggers, and scroll to the bottom to read my review and enter a great giveaway as well.
The Book and its Author
The last thing eighteen-year-old Wilhelmina “Willa” MacCarthy wants is to be a nun. It’s 1936, and as the only daughter amongst four sons, her Irish–Catholic family is counting on her to take her vows—but Willa’s found another calling. Each day she sneaks away to help Doctor Katherine Winston in her medical clinic in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
Keeping secrets from her family only becomes more complicated when Willa agrees to help the doctor at a field hospital near the new bridge being built over the Golden Gate. Willa thinks she can handle her new chaotic life, but as she draws closer to a dashing young ironworker and risks grow at the bridge, she discovers that hiding from what she truly wants may be her biggest lie of all.
Amy Trueblood grew up in California only ten minutes from Disneyland which sparked an early interest in storytelling. As the youngest of five, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite books. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, she worked in entertainment in Los Angeles before returning to work in Arizona.
Fueled by good coffee and an awesome Spotify playlist, you can often find Amy blogging and writing. Nothing But Sky, a 2018 Junior Library Guild selection, is her first novel.
Thank you to Flux and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
An inspiring historical fiction novel about a girl’s exploration of 1936 San Francisco’s medical community, Across a Broken Shore is a great read for those who, like me, enjoy reading about women in STEM.
This novel was very character driven, and I enjoyed reading from Willa’s perspective. Her curiosity and drive to help her community was so honest and open-hearted. She recognized the prejudices against women in her time, and although she wanted to meet her family’s expectations, she also had no qualms about being ambitious and dedicated. Willa’s large family (four brothers, two parents) were also featured, and they each had distinct personalities and reflections on Willa’s role in the family, something that she considered often: how her family seemed to speak over her and turn her into their perception of who she should be. By meeting and working with Dr. Katherine Winston, Willa finds a place away from her home where she can make whatever she wants of herself.
A central part of the story revolves around the doctor that Willa shadows, Dr. Winston. I loved the development of their relationship, which I felt had a very natural progression. Dr. Winston was so encouraging to Willa, and taught her about the role a doctor plays in the community as well as the details of medical procedures. Women supporting and teaching younger women is a particularly special plot thread to me. I think the importance of generational recognition and sharing of knowledge can be represented in so many ways, and I’m glad that Trueblood made it a key aspect of this novel.
The main conflict for Willa was her struggle to balance her family’s dream that she take her vows as a nun, and her own desire to learn medicine and become a doctor. She values her religion strongly, and cares deeply for her family, but is also feeling massive guilt because many generations of MacCarthy women have become nuns. As the only girl in her family, she is expected to do the same, but her wish for education wars with her sense of familial obligation. Willa is admirably dedicated to her family, but we can see equal joy when she’s learning from Dr. Winston and seeing another path she could take.
I haven’t read many historical fiction books set during the Depression in the US, so the world-building in this novel was interesting for me. I liked that Willa’s story coincided with the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, tying her to a major American landmark. Through the novel, we got to read about the difficulties of building the bridge, and the risks the workers took to earn a living for their families. We also got to see a Hooverville in the city, which emphasized the extreme poverty felt by many during the Great Depression. Willa’s view of the Hooverville was unique in perspective because she didn’t view herself as well off, especially in comparison to some girls she knew, but gained new appreciation for her family's pub and livelihood once she saw how little other families had to live on. This strengthened her desire to aid her community as well, by checking up on families who needed medical attention, and bringing food to a couple of kids she’d met earlier.
There was also a sweet romance in the novel, between Willa and a bridge worker she meets. They were so cute, and I’m glad their relationship developed in the story, but I’m also glad that Willa’s journey didn’t begin to revolve around the boy.
My only problem is that at times, the plot felt repetitive. By this I mean that since most of the conflict in the novel was Willa’s choice between her two possible futures, she tended to go back and forth in her convictions every couple of chapters. There are other events in the novel, but a significant amount of page time is dedicated to Willa changing her opinion about being a doctor or being a nun. I wish her line of thinking had been a bit more linear. There’s definitely a place for indecisive characters, but in other regards Willa did not strike me as such, so I found this aspect confusing.
All in all, 4/5 stars! I am pleased to recommend Across a Broken Shore to any historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoyed The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, a notable title (and one that pops up often here!) featuring a girl exploring science in the early 20th century. Calpurnia Tate is a middle-grade novel, so perhaps readers who picked it up a couple of years ago might like to revisit similar themes in Across a Broken Shore.
It's....... SPOOKY SEASON! I'm back today with a Blog Tour post for Penguin Teen's Wicked Reads campaign, sharing the stories that go bump in the night. My book is The Haunted by Danielle Vega, and a massive thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me a copy! Below the summary, I'm sharing costume designs for the main characters! I hope you pick up this spooky ghost story in celebration of Halloween.
Hi all, I'm so excited to share this post with you for the Beyond the Black Door Blog Tour! I've got an exciting feature, along with a summary of the book and information about a fun giveaway. Follow along on the tour to see reviews and other content from FFBC bloggers!
The Book and its Author
Kamai was warned never to open the black door, but she didn't listen ...
Everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful gardens, others are frightening dungeons. Soulwalkers―like Kamai and her mother―can journey into other people's souls while they sleep.
But no matter where Kamai visits, she sees the black door. It follows her into every soul, and her mother has told her to never, ever open it.
When Kamai touches the door, it is warm and beating, like it has a pulse. When she puts her ear to it, she hears her own name whispered from the other side. And when tragedy strikes, Kamai does the unthinkable: she opens the door.
A.M. Strickland's imaginative dark fantasy features court intrigue and romance, a main character coming to terms with her asexuality, and twists and turns as a seductive mystery unfolds that endangers not just Kamai's own soul, but the entire kingdom...
AdriAnne Strickland was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before she knew what either of those words meant. She shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, her pugs, and her piles and piles of books. She loves traveling, dancing, vests, tattoos, and every shade of teal in existence, but especially the darker ones. She is the coauthor of SHADOW RUN and SHADOW CALL (Delacorte/Penguin Random House) and author of the forthcoming BEYOND THE BLACK DOOR (Imprint/Macmillan).
10 Historical Figures with Fascinating Soul Houses
Sappho – As one of the earliest known lady poets, and most famous of lesbians, I just want to get to know her better.
Siddhārtha Gautama – I have some questions about enlightenment.
Plato – Would everything be in perfect form inside or would it be a junk show?
Cleopatra VII Philopator – I mean, her soul house just has to be cool.
Leonardo DaVinci – I want his soul house to be a flying machine and I’ll be disappointed if it’s not.
Ching Shih – I have to get pirates in here somehow, and who better than the infamous pirate queen who commanded tens of thousands? Four words: PIRATE SHIP SOUL HOUSE.
Edgar Allan Poe – I’m practically obligated to say this, as a writer of dark stuff. Maybe it would be like a house of horror.
Oscar Wilde – Because I love him, and his soul would somehow be witty and charming and sad and fabulous and gay all at the same time.
Salvador Dali – I feel like this is self-explanatory … as in, I want to see some melting clocks on the walls.
Katherine Johnson – Because holy crap, this woman’s mind. Her soul must be a stunner as well.
Aaaahhh!! Incoherent screaming! I've loved Ruta Sepetys's books forever (see my recent #bookstagram post on Salt to the Sea), and I'm so thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Fountains of Silence! I have my review here today, as well as a cool moodboard for the novel.
The Book and its Author
Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography--and fate--introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War--as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.
Master storyteller Ruta Sepetys once again shines light into one of history's darkest corners in this epic, heart-wrenching novel about identity, unforgettable love, repercussions of war, and the hidden violence of silence--inspired by the true postwar struggles of Spain.
Ruta Sepetys (www.rutasepetys.com) is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Sepetys is considered a "crossover" novelist, as her books are read by both teens and adults worldwide. Her novels Between Shades of Gray, Out of the Easy, and Salt to the Sea have won or been shortlisted for more than forty book prizes, and are included on more than sixty state award lists. Between Shades of Gray was adapted into the film Ashes in the Snow, and her other novels are currently in development for TV and film. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Ruta is passionate about the power of history and literature to foster global awareness and connectivity. She has presented to NATO, to the European Parliament, in the United States Capitol, and at embassies worldwide. Ruta was born and raised in Michigan and now lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee. Follow her on Twitter @RutaSepetys and Instagram @RutaSepetysAuthor.
Thank you to Penguin Teen for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review!
The Fountains of Silence is a beautiful knockout of a novel. Ruta Sepetys has done it again. I am constantly amazed by her characters and worlds, and this novel is no exception. I knew almost nothing about Franco’s Spain going in, but by the end I felt that I had learned so much about a part of history rarely spoken of (at least in American culture). This novel portrays powerfully the traumas that Spaniards went through under Franco’s fascist regime, and also the contrast between locals in Madrid and the American tourists who traveled there unaware of the horrors perpetuated by the government.
This novel instantly sucked me in. I didn’t intend to finish it in one sitting, but Sepetys’ writing is so magnetic that I couldn’t stop reading. Most of the book is character building: I spent so much time getting to know Ana, Daniel, Rafa, Julia, and Puri that they felt incredibly real to me. The Fountains of Silence is long, but every page is worth the read. There’s also a small mystery subplot that heightens toward the end and ties all of the characters together while revealing another impactful side of Spanish history. For fear of spoilers, since I KNOW you’re going to read The Fountains of Silence, I won’t say more.
Daniel and Ana were the main characters in my opinion, and I loved their chemistry and dynamic. Daniel is the son of an American oil tycoon, and Ana works as a maid at the Hotel Castellana Hilton, where Daniel stays in Madrid. Her parents were Spanish Republicans, and they were tortured and killed because of their political views. Therefore, Ana and her siblings must work hard to be seen as loyal to Franco to avoid being linked to their parents’ ideas. Daniel knows little of life for Spaniards, but I appreciated how respectful he was of Ana and how he was willing to learn more about Spain and try to make change through his photography instead of just brushing off the struggles of the Spanish people. Daniel and Ana’s relationship was one of my favorite parts of the novel.
I also enjoyed reading about Daniel’s photography. When I was reading his POV, I was struck by the ways in which he observed the world differently: framing shots in his mind, thinking about composition, separating moments into frames, and creating a story with a picture. This allowed him to explore the unseen in Spain and look deeper into the country’s hidden truths than his society peers. These shadowy elements of life in Spain during Franco’s regime were always in the background (and sometimes frighteningly in the foreground) of the novel, and there were moments when I literally stopped breathing while reading. Sepetys portrays the fear and tension in the country masterfully, and the care that she put into her research is evident.
Sure enough, part of writing a historical fiction novel is placing the events within a larger historical context, which Sepetys did well. She included sections of letters and news excerpts from the time period relating to Franco and Spain. She also included a bibliography in the back, which I appreciate. I know I will be reading some of those works to gain a better understanding of the time period she portrayed.
The Fountains of Silence is a gripping novel, full of empathy and the power of human connection. I give it 5/5 stars, and insist that everybody pick up a copy.
Hi all! This week is such a big week for blog tours! This is the second out of three, and I'm so excited to share this post with you! The Memory Thief by Lauren Mansy is a new fantasy novel that you'll want to add to your TBRs straightaway. Follow along with the tour here, and don't forget to enter an exciting giveaway down below!
The Book and its Author
In the city of Craewick, memories reign. The power-obsessed ruler of the city, Madame, has cultivated a society in which memories are currency, citizens are divided by ability, and Gifted individuals can take memories from others through touch as they please.
Seventeen-year-old Etta Lark is desperate to live outside of the corrupt culture, but grapples with the guilt of an accident that has left her mother bedridden in the city’s asylum. When Madame threatens to put her mother up for auction, a Craewick practice in which a “criminal's" memories are sold to the highest bidder before being killed, Etta will do whatever it takes to save her. Even if it means rejoining the Shadows, the rebel group she swore off in the wake of the accident years earlier.
To prove her allegiance to the Shadows and rescue her mother, Etta must steal a memorized map of the Maze, a formidable prison created by the bloodthirsty ruler of a neighboring Realm. So she sets out on a journey in which she faces startling attacks, unexpected romance, and, above all, her own past in order to set things right in her world.
Lauren lives in the Chicago area, where she's spent years working with youth, from young children to high schoolers. When she’s not writing, Lauren is usually with her family or exploring the city to find the best deep dish pizza. The Memory Thief, which was inspired by Lauren's own journey with her mother, is her first novel.
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Thank you to Blink YA and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.
The Memory Thief is a new, expansive fantasy that follows Etta, a memory thief, as she learns about her family and grapples with guilt while attempting to remove the tyrannical ruler of her city from power. I quite liked that The Memory Thief is standalone fantasy. I think the story wrapped up well in the pages allotted, if a bit neatly. However, I would say that this novel’s strength here is also its greatest weakness. I always felt one step removed from the tale, and I was never fully immersed. I was always cognizant of the fact that I was reading a book.
Starting with the world building, which is intricate, if a bit clumsy: I was intrigued by the relationship between memory and wealth that Mansy built. Memories are used as currency, with people trading them through touch (as Gifted) or sight, (for Shifters). In this way, robbers can prey on those without the ability to transfer memories, creating an inequitable society. The Shadows, the organization that Etta has a fraught relationship with, aim to help those who can’t help themselves, providing protection to orphans and Gifted who don’t wish to join the army. There was a lot of information thrown into the first couple of chapters, but I quickly understood the general rules of the magic, and the different kingdoms. From the beginning, the reader is dropped into Etta’s world, and the action never stops.
Etta was an interesting character: throughout the novel, she dealt with the guilt she felt after her best friends died and her mother fell into a coma. She was very protective of her mother, and the novel is about her journey to saving her and preserving her memories of her childhood. Etta’s mother is in an asylum controlled by Madame (the villain), and Etta must save her or else Madame could have her killed. Etta’s feelings grief and shame change over the course of the book, and she goes on an emotional journey as she encounters old friends on her quest.
She also falls in love, which actually became a small quibble of mine. Reid and Etta started off extremely distrustful of each other, and then quickly grew to love each other, which I found sort of ludicrous. I’m never a huge fan of insta-love, and especially here when the circumstances of their meeting do not lead to a realistic relationship in my opinion.
Most of my issues with The Memory Thief stem from the length of the novel. For an introduction to a new fantasy world, the book is incredibly short: only 320 pages. This length made world building feel rushed at times, and did not allow for sufficient development of the characters and relationships. Especially towards the end, character development was sacrificed for plot. There was a massive twist that was just… not explained well, and it began to seem as though the characters were just being put through scenes to get to the planned ending, no matter whether or not it was believable. This hurt my understanding of the characters and world, and while I love standalone fantasy, I think The Memory Thief could have been taken in a different direction to form a more satisfying first book in a series.
Overall, I rate The Memory Thief 3/5 stars. Its problems impeded my enjoyment towards the end, but before that it made a delightful read. I’d recommend ordering a copy from your local library!
Hi all! So excited to be on the Blog Tour for The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey! Thank you to HarperTeen and the Fantastic Flying Book Club for sending me a copy in exchange for my review. If you'd like to follow along, click here to see other tour stops, and be sure to participate in the FFBC's giveaway (details below).
The Book and its Author
From the moment she first learned to read, literary genius Darcy Wells has spent most of her time living in the worlds of her books. There, she can avoid the crushing reality of her mother’s hoarding and pretend her life is simply ordinary. But when a new property manager becomes more active in the upkeep of their apartment complex, the only home Darcy has ever known outside of her books suddenly hangs in the balance.
While Darcy is struggling to survive beneath the weight of her mother’s compulsive shopping, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with an unexpectedly shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works…and straight into her heart. For the first time in her life, Darcy can’t seem to find the right words. Fairy tales are one thing, but real love makes her want to hide inside her carefully constructed ink-and-paper bomb shelter.
Still, after spending her whole life keeping people out, something about Asher makes Darcy want to open up. But securing her own happily-ever-after will mean she’ll need to stop hiding and start living her own truth—even if it’s messy.
Laura is a Cuban-American Californian who can be found haunting her favorite coffee shops, drooling over leather jackets, and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two superstar children.
This former teacher writes young adult novels about quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. Her debut, THE LIBRARY OF LOST THINGS will be published 10/08/19 from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. Her #ownvoices sophomore project, A CUBAN GIRL'S GUIDE TO SWEATERS AND STARS is coming fall 2020 from Atheneum Simon and Schuster.
Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club and Inkyard Press for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review!
The Library of Lost Things is a sweet romance full of self-discovery and connection. Darcy and Asher had great chemistry, and every page of this book was a treat.
The literary connections strewn throughout were the charm of the whole novel. Darcy is an avid reader, with a boundless love for words. As a reader myself, I can always appreciate a literary heroine such as Darcy. She often finds herself holding books, which Namey touches on in a humorous way. I also relate to the parts of Darcy that wish she were reading when she’s uncomfortable. The bookstore that she works in plays a significant role in the novel, and I could see any bookworm loving Darcy’s job at the Yellow Feather.
Besides her job, another major part of Darcy’s life is her best friend, Marisol. Darcy and Marisol are friendship goals, honestly. I love positive female friendships in contemporary novels, and these girls will warm your heart. Marisol’s family is so welcoming to Darcy, and I was struck by how close the girls were. Marisol, the fashion queen, is always there to support Darcy and help her with various troubles, and is a wonderful guiding friend. The supporting characters in The Library of Lost Things are amazing. They push the novel and each have unique traits and fully-developed arcs. Tess, Darcy’s Grandmother, and Mr. Winston were each a joy to read about as they went about their lives and intersected Darcy’s story.
Darcy’s arc with her mother shines in this novel. It’s an incredible story of compassion, family, and memory. It was interesting to read about Darcy balancing her love for her mother with the anger she feels about her mom’s compulsive shopping. I haven’t seen a lot of YA with complex mother-daughter relationships like this one, and I recommend reading it. Darcy talks about counseling, her and her mom’s relationship with her grandmother, and her literary coping method, all of which develop the issue of mental illness so strongly in the novel.
Of course, I couldn’t review a romance novel without actually touching on the love story. Asher, Darcy’s love interest, is a great, well-developed character who is sure to make any reader swoon. His backstory? Tragic. His adoration for Darcy? Boundless. Watching them fall in love was a highlight of my reading experience. Their whole relationship is so sweet and charming, complete with romantic gestures and surprises.
Overall, this beautiful romance is a must read! 4/5 stars.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.