Monday, December 11, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #92: Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

Tina's Picks
There are a few I'm pleasantly surprised. I delight in the feeling of an unexpected story that captures my interest and all I can think about is to need to finish it!


Monday Reviews: Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia
Published May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
Genres: Young Adult, Mental Health-Mental Illness, Romance, Contemporary, Fiction
Page: 428
of 5 stars
Review by: Tina


Reality is often not what you perceive it to be. Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and hallucination. Alone, she wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. Then she has her freedom, away from the watchful eyes of her parents, away from the judging looks of her classmates. 


"Real or not real?"

I've said this in Eliza and Her Monsters and I'll say this again, watch out for Francesca Zappia. She writes compelling realistic stories! Her YA contemporary romances are phenomenal. Especially the heart felt mental illness issues.


Alexandra is diagnosed for paranoia and schizophrenia after an incident that happened when she was 7 years old that her mother believed to be made up. She goes through daily routines from checking her surroundings to taking photos to examine later, constantly questioning her visual and audio hallucinations.

Her reality begins to bleed into her hallucinations when she meets her childhood friend on the first day of senior year. I love Alex meeting Miles. Two unlikely anti-social outcasts finding friendship, understanding, and love. They are so perfect for one another. And both equally flawed. I also love the squad. Charming, loyal, reliable, and funny. They make a great team for these highly functioning introverts. 

This story is unbelievably pure. I've never read anything this complex. I thought with all the modern medicine has to offer, Alex would be able to seek help and relief. But her reality is so blurred and she shatters each time she discovers what she think is real isn't. It has me questioning what are the truths in her life.

This story also throws me for a loop. Each time I think I know what's about to happen, it goes another way. Moments of joy mixed with incredulous scenes. And times when I expect a happier moment, the rug is pulled out under me. Brilliant writing. Always a joy picking up Francesca Zappia's book.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday Reviews: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Published October 3rd 2017 by HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dragons
Page: 432
Rating: 5
of 5 stars
Review by: Tina


These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.


The legend of Namsara and Iskari goes like this, "In the beginning, the Old One was lonely. He made two companions for himself, Namsara was good and full of laughter, Iskari was destruction and death. Iskari hated her nature and wanted the Old One to change her but he refused, there needs to be a balance in the world, he said. Iskari hated her brother for being beloved and hated the Old One for making her full of bloodlust. She wandered the desert alone and lost. Namasara searched for her in the desert and the sky changed seven times before he found her body in the sand. At the sight of her, dead, Namsara fell to his knees and wept."


All her life, Asha struggles between her Iskari nature and the good Namsara. She grows up believing she is the evil one, feared and hated by her people. This story is about her journey and the discovery of what happened to her and her family in the past. 

This story is so beautiful and carefully constructed. The plans that come together are breathtaking. I find myself liking dragons when I never have before. I want to hear more of their voices, more of their stories.  
Sigh... Asha and Torwin are so genuinely good. His gentle nature and kindness slays me. I'm so happy that Asha is a strong independent woman who takes control of her destiny and breaks down barriers. She wasn't as alone in her journey as she thinks and I'm so glad she has people who love and care about her. I'm intrigued by the next journey she takes.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #90: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Tina's Picks:
Newly Released Novels I'm excited to read this Winter

Some rereads I enjoy on a chilly Winter night 

Harry Potter Volumes 1-3

Monday Reviews: Roar by Cora Carmack

Roar by Cora Carmack
Published June 13th 2017 by Tor Teen
Published May 19th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy, Magic
Page: 380
Rating: 5
of 5 stars
Review by: Tina


In a land ruled and shaped by violent magical storms, power lies with those who control them. Aurora Pavan comes from one of the oldest Stormling families in existence. Long ago, the ungifted pledged fealty and service to her family in exchange for safe haven, and a kingdom was carved out from the wildlands and sustained by magic capable of repelling the world’s deadliest foes.

As the sole heir of Pavan, Aurora’s been groomed to be the perfect queen. She’s intelligent and brave and honorable. But she’s yet to show any trace of the magic she’ll need to protect her people.

To keep her secret and save her crown, Aurora’s mother arranges for her to marry a dark and brooding Stormling prince from another kingdom. At first, the prince seems like the perfect solution to all her problems. He’ll guarantee her spot as the next queen and be the champion her people need to remain safe. But the more secrets Aurora uncovers about him, the more a future with him frightens her. When she dons a disguise and sneaks out of the palace one night to spy on him, she stumbles upon a black market dealing in the very thing she lacks—storm magic. And the people selling it? They’re not Stormlings.


Kudos to Cora Carmack for tackling YA. She is Shon's fave author and she recommended me her contemporary/new adult romance fictions last year so I was both excited and surprised with the release of Roar; I didn't know she can write something so compelling and unique. 


The story begins by telling the reader that Aurora is magic-less. She comes from a long line of royal Stormlings blood but she herself has no magic. Her mother is one of the most powerful magic wielder/storm tamer and to hide Aurora's shameful secret, she is kept in seclusion most of her adolescent life. Her mother believes to save her kingdom, she must marry Aurora to one of the powerful Stormling families. Aurora is conflicted with wanting to be obedient and wanting to seek her independence.

One night, as she follows her betrothed into the darkness, she discovers an underground black market of magic for the giftless. Sheltered all her life, this is a very exciting new possibility.



Here's why. This story can take so many different directions. First of all, her situation is already bleak because she has no magic. I can already envision a life of dominance by her future husband and she hasn't told him that she carries no abilities yet, imagine the mayhem. Second, I didn't even think there is a chance of non-Stormling to carry Stormhearts, this is just too cool. Storm Hunters? Yes!! Third, she has two prospects? Whoa! I'm already liking her hot betrothed and now she has another love interest? Fourth, even though Aurora can't tame a Storm doesn't mean she might not have some other abilities. That's why I think this book is amazing. The possibilities are endless! There's so much potential and the adventures are exciting.

And the epilogue? I want to throw a tantrum very badly, I want the next book now...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday #89: Top Ten Books I'm Thankful For

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books I'm Thankful For (Happy Thanksgiving week in the USA!)

Tina's Picks
I'm thankful for the brave headstrong female protagonists in YA series. I love when awesome characters are brilliant yet innocent, manipulatively devilish yet gentle and sincere, and all around great examples of the complexity that is female.

Warcross by Marie Lu - female hacker uncovers the dark workings (terrorists?) of the virtual world.

Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol - second child citizens are raised as lowborns and treated as mindless soldiers of this dystopian society.

The Winter King by C.L. Wilson - Khamsin isn't about to sit back and let the men dictate her life. She leads her armies into the tumultuous battle of humans vs. ice demons.

Paladin by Sally Slater - Sam wants more than live a sheltered boring privileged life, she wants to become a warrior.

The Final Empire (Mistborn) by Brandon Sanderson - Vin didn't even know she holds Allomantic powers. As she was invited to join a complex thieving crew, she embraced her powers and grew to become a force to be reckon with.

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli - female dragon hunter who is more feared than her father's commander of the army. 

Roar by Cora Carmack - Aurora takes control of her destiny.

Prism by Nina Walker - wanted by her alchemy abilities, Jessa decides to become a player and change the game.


Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid - a creation to serve mankind turns more human than her creators and seeks to change the outcome of the Empire.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Monday Reviews: Prism by Nina Walker

Prism by Nina Walker
Published August 17th 2017 by Addison & Gray Press
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fic, Romance, Dystopia
Page: 388
Rating: 4
of 5 stars
Review by: Tina


What if color held the secrets to powerful magic?

Forced to move into the palace, Jessa begins training as a Color Alchemist under the direction of the kingdom's most eligible bachelor, Prince Lucas. As an alchemist, Jessa must capture and harness the color of living things. Every color has a unique purpose, except red. Red is the untapped magic no one can access—until Jessa.

Prince Lucas is running out of time. His mother is deathly ill and healing magic hasn’t worked. When Lucas suspects someone is using alchemy to control her, he sets out to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

PRISM is the first installment of a unique young adult romantic fantasy series where a dystopian world with a Victorian flair meets the dynamic magic of color! 


Thank you to Addison & Gray Press/Book Review 22 for sharing a copy of the first book in The Color Alchemist series.

The story begins in a nuclear middle-class family set in a dystopian society of normals and color alchemists. The Royal Officers are questioning the children over the discovery of a recent bloodwork done for an accident that occurred six months ago. Unable to find proof that the family are harboring color alchemists, the Royal Officers left. That night, during a Royal Ballet performance, Jessa accidentally triggers the separation of purple, the color in her ballet outfit, into blue and red. This startles the Royals and she is immediately captured.

Color alchemy doesn't manifest immediately until an event triggers the power, usually found in young children. In this case, Jessa's first reaction occurs at age sixteen. Colors from everyday life can be taken and used in intricate ways. Green, for example, is the power of healing. Blue is used to enhance listening. Orange allows the alchemist to move heavy objects. Color alchemists can access purple, blue, green, yellow, and orange, while black, red, and white are a mystery.


The story is cleverly written and the idea of using colors as a power source is very creative.

What I find fascinating is that no one is particularly innocent. Each person Jessa meets has an ulterior motive. What I find distracting is the romance blossoming between Jessa and Prince Lucas. They are each fighting for their idealism but they are unable to work symbiotically. Lucas withholding necessary information to appease Jessa's fears annoy me. And Jessa's antagonistic feelings over his protection of her also bothers me. Their interactions are frustrating to read, it seems their emotions are getting in the way of the story.

I really like the short inside look into the Resistance. Not much is revealed and they are a mystery player. It will be fascinating to see what role they play in the next book.