Jade War Blog Tour |In Which I Compile A Playlist & Fail to Express My Undying Love for this Series

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Title: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga #2)

Author: Fonda Lee

Date Published: July 23, 2019

Rating: 5.00/5.00

Synopsis:

Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

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Hello there allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! Have I ever mentioned that it’s all thanks to Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea for pushing me to create my own book blog and read more diverse books? Not yet? THEN YOU SHOULD GO AND FOLLOW HER ASAP OK? Give her some love pls.

I could not stress this enough but Shealea have been doing so many heavy lifting in making it possible for international book bloggers like myself to read more diversely and read actual ARCs. Which is kind of a big deal for us underprivileged folks. *laughs hysterically* Anyway, I would like to thank her for making this blog tour possible!

So today, I won’t be doing my formal review as usual (because I’m trash and totally unprepared while reading this) I will hopefully be writing a more incoherent review soon! I’m so sorry, I know thesis is not an excuse so please bear with my uneloquent ass for now.

P.S. I also did such an unorganized bullet review with Jade City so Y A S for #consistency. AHAHHAHAHA

  • Fonda Lee doesn’t know the word SOPHOMORE SLUMP because she created one of the best and elevated sequels of the century. No joke. If you think Jade City is so amazing wait for Jade War to slap all your high expectations because dang son, the pedestal you put Jade City on ain’t high enough.
  • Do you crave for well-written action scenes? Like the ones where you can actually see the whole scene playing out before your eyes while forgetting the fact that you ARE reading??? Man, well this book is for you!
  • Every fight scene may it be a minor brawl or a full fcking warzone, Fonda Lee knows all the tricks and unconventional turns! Reading about these parts dragged my heart to exhilaration and fear. IT’S JUST SO GOOD.
  • Politics! I mean, I’m not that well versed when it comes comprehending much of the scheming parts but Fonda laid it out so well where there is zero boredom present in these parts. Not only that, but she wrote it fluently and easily for my poor brain cells. It’s easily one of my favorite parts because it sets up a believable world-building and logical conflicts. It’s utterly perfect.
  •  I also love how Jade War provided a new lens on diaspora, parenthood, and the struggles of constricting gender roles. It had provided a lot of social commentaries since Jade City and it doesn’t fail to add more learnings on different topics that needed to be talked about!
  • Powerful Women on the spotlight! Not gonna divulge more, you just have to read it for yourself to see how FCKING AMAZING AND EMPOWERING IT IS TO READ ABOUT WOMEN WHO WIELD POWER IN ALL ITS FACETS.
  • WELL FLESHED OUT CHARACTERS THAT MAKES ME ALL GOOEY. I am a sucker for character-driven books compared to plot-driven ones but Jade War managed to blend these two elements efficiently! My poor heart is aching with love for this book.

In conclusion, I love this book and I can’t say anything anymore other than READ THIS!

CUSTOMIZED PLAYLIST FOR TWO OF THE KAUL SIBLINGS 

I have fashioned these playlists based on Shealea’s Fondaily Series so I know that their musical preferences are definitely canon now. I really love music mind you and I’m so excited coming up with these! (To further emphasize my love for music, I even made it my architectural thesis this year)

I particularly chose Shae and Anden because I have the same music taste as them so this would be kinda easy! Plus I want to recommend my favorite artists as well.

Shae’s Playlist

 

Anden’s Playlist

MOOD BOARD FOR JADE WAR

So because I’m channeling this sloppy trash vibe, I wasn’t able to create a fanart for Jade War. YES DISHONOR ON MY COW. (I’m so sorry) But as always, I’m going to compensate for it through mood boards which I found that I actually enjoy doing! I hope you like these as well. (Photos were taken from Unsplash)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Author (Fonda Lee)

Fonda Lee writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and teens. She is the author of the Green Bone Saga, beginning with Jade City (Orbit), which won the 2018 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, was nominated for the Nebula Award and the Locus Award, and was named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, Barnes & Noble, Syfy Wire, and others. The second book in the Green Bone Saga, Jade War, releases in the summer of 2019. Fonda’s young adult science fiction novels Zeroboxer (Flux), Exo and Cross Fire (Scholastic), have garnered numerous accolades including being named Junior Library Guild Selection, Andre Norton Award finalist, Oregon Book Award finalist, Oregon Spirit Book Award winner, and YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. In 2018, Fonda gained the distinction of winning the Aurora Award, Canada’s national science fiction and fantasy award, twice in the same year for Best Novel and Best Young Adult Novel.

Fonda wrote her first novel, about a dragon on a quest for a magic pendant, in fifth grade during the long bus ride to and from school each day. Many years later, she cast her high school classmates as characters in her second novel, a pulpy superhero saga co-written with a friend by passing a graphing calculator back and forth during biology class. Fortunately, both of these experiments are lost to the world forever.

Fonda is a former corporate strategist who has worked for or advised a number of Fortune 500 companies. She holds black belts in karate and kung fu, goes mad for smart action movies (think The Matrix, Inception, and Minority Report) and is an Eggs Benedict enthusiast. Born and raised in Calgary, Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

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  • Have you read Jade War already????
  • Did you listen to the playlists? If not, THEN DISHONOR ON YOUR COW. Loljk I really enjoyed compiling it so please do.
  • Who’s your favorite Kaul sibling?
  • How do you cope from such an amazing book? H E L P.

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My Fate According to the Butterfly Blog Tour | A Heartwarming Tale of Recovery & Rediscovery

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Title: My Fate According to the Butterfly

Author: Gail D. Villanueva

Date Published: July 30, 2019

Rating: 5.00/5.00

Synopsis:

When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her — on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.

If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears — of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom — and figure out the cause of their rift.

So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult — and dangerous — than she ever anticipated.

Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!

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Hello there allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! This is by far the most relevant book I’ve read this year that resonated so much with me (and the only MG book I’ve read!). I have to thank Cara @ The Little Miss Bookworm, Kate @ Your Tita Kate, and of course Shealea @ Shut Up, Shealea. I salute this trio for making this blog tour possible and continuing to advocate diverse and marginalized reps in the book community.

PS. YOU ARE REQUIRED TO FOLLOW THESE QUEENS

Now let me share to you the many reasons why My Fate According to the Butterfly is a relevant read not just to Filipinos but to every reader as well.

Addresses the pitfalls of toxic Filipino traits and breaks it down into digestible commentaries fit for a kid’s comprehension.

Filipino culture is overridden with toxic traits brought by 333 years of colonialization from the Spaniards and welp, just general “traditional” yet regressive takes that most of the community can’t seem to get rid of just yet (we are finally progressing though it’s pretty slow). This book was unapologetic with addressing all these root causes in such a *gaspsdidyoujustrevealthat?* yet effective way for the comprehension of a younger audience. This was really educational and I find myself pumping my fists in the air while reading every minuscule flaw that every Filipino (like me) is so sick of.

From colonial mentality, harmful stereotypes of femininity, homophobia, and even white privilege, Gail never shied away from shedding light to all of these while simultaneously making it so easy to read for children. I mean, I can’t qualify as a kid anymore obviously, but upon reading this book it made me realize how much it still stays true and important to be seen not just by kids but also to young adults AND adults alike.

How Gail managed to do this eloquently still makes my heart all gooey with gratitude.

Skirts the situation of the War on Drugs in the Philippines in a kid’s perspective

This was in fact, the main reason why I was dying to read this book. It’s not every day that you get this kind of representation which mind you, provides a necessary take and commentary on what really is happening in the Philippines’ war on drugs.

What I loved about it the most though, was how it fleshed this element out through exploring the many casualties–THE FILIPINOS. It provided a different lens yet one which so many readers could relate to. The War on Drugs isn’t an easy topic yet it amazes me how Gail managed to explain this thoroughly in a safe distance for a kid’s level of perception without glossing over it. HANDS DOWN TO OUR QUEEN!

Pinpoints the negative connotations of privilege and how one can acknowledge and use it for the better.

Sab, our MC is in fact a privileged Filipino kid who doesn’t have to worry when her next meal would arrive, or if they will get relocated again from one slum to another, and worry about school. Sab represents the middle-class Filipino kids and in a sense, I loved how Gail framed the story in her lens.

Because let’s face it, the kids who have the capacity to read this book are mostly Sabs who have the proper education and could afford reading this. My point here is that Gail somehow predicted this outcome and was armed to educate and not to shame. Privilege can somehow numb you of others’ sufferings, and this book reiterated how important it is to acknowledge all of our privileges and aim to use it for the better. Literacy is still a major problem in my country and I really love how this book aims to educate and inspire young folks to do more or just you know, be more socially aware.

Also read: The Privileged Life Of A Reader In An Already Underprivileged Third World Country

Introduces a new light in the predicaments every family have especially on separation, identity crisis, and recovery.

This book skirted on the father-daughter relationship dynamics and I have to admit guys, I shamelessly cried in public after the reading the last parts. As a 100% daddy’s girl, I can attest that this will also hit you all in all the right places. This book was such an emotional ride mind you!

My last point here is that, despite being initially an MG book, this also divulged on the difficulties of parenthood. I mean, there isn’t an existing manual for “How To Be A Good Parent” and if there is, the world would be quite a better place. But parents just have to wing it and do sacrifices for their family without the guide of any existing manual.  Not only that but it also showed how even our parents have their own problems on self concept. Reading through Sab’s father and her mom in some ways reminded me how lucky and privileged I am with my parents and that despite their flaws we are still “one big happy family”. This book reiterated how family is so crucial to an individual’s development and I am eternally grateful for Gail in creating this little book with bigger lessons to impart. THANK YOU.

EXCERPT OF MY FATE ACCORDING TO THE BUTTERFLY

If you see the Butterfly, somebody you know will die. Or has already died. my dad wasn’t clear. He just said if the Butterfly lands on something of yours, you should expect Death to come knocking at your door.


“Butterflies again?”

That’s my ate, my big sister, Nadine. She doesn’t believe in the Butterfly.

Well, Ate Nadine doesn’t believe anything Dad says.

“You’ve got this entire park to inspire you, and you pick those pesky little things,” she continues, sitting beside me. Ate Nadine tosses her silver notebook on the picnic table, “I swear, Sab. This obsession needs to stop.”

It’s a little after one in the afternoon–the time of the day when the humid, sweltering heat of Metro Manila is most unforgiving. Ate Nadine and I are wearing similar tank tops and denim shorts, but hers look fresh and clean. Mine, on the other hand, are icky with sweat and smeared with oil pastel.

“I’m not obsessed.” I flip my painting over, hiding it from her sight.

Thing is, I do love to draw and paint butterflies. But I never color them black, nor do I make them bigger than an inch or two. Okay, maybe I am obsessed with drawing other kinds of butterflies, since I can’t bring myself to draw the Butterfly.

Dad described the Butterfly as being black as the starless night sky. It’s a giant compared to your garden-variety moth–probably even bigger than my hand. Its dark, mysterious vibe is beautiful and sinister at the same time. A perfect inspiration for a newbie artist like me.

Still, I can’t get myself to create anything remotely resembling my father’s Butterfly. Call me superstitious, but no way am I making art that might bring bad luck to our family.

“Stop being so melodramatic. It’s not like I can’t un-flip your painting.” Ate Nadine rolls her eyes. “Let me see.”

I study my sister. We have the same bronze skin, flat nose, and small, dark brown eyes. But her black hair cascades on her shoulders in soft waves, and mine hangs from my head like a dull wig. I have skinny arms, and she has curves. During my bitter moments, I think of her as an upgraded version of me. On days like this one, however, I look up to Ate Nadine.

I’m pretty sure I managed to capture the view of a bug from the ground. Still, I want to know my sister’s opinion, so I push the artwork across the table.

“It’s fine, but you need to add more shadows behind the blades of grass. Right now, it looks like a picture frame of fake leaves,” Ate Nadine says in a brisk manner. She’s harsh, but I’ll take it. I’m lucky she has time to look at my work at all.

BOOKSTAGRAM POST & MOOD BOARD!

This was my first time to delve in the world of bookstagram and I was so ecstatic and scared at the same time! I even dragged two of my best friends to assist me in coming up with the compositon of the pic HAHAHAH. Nevertheless, I was so lucky to find the same blue, yellow and, pink mural that matched this cutie! Also, a million thanks to Cara for assisting me in the How To’s of book delivery BECAUSE I WAS SUCH A SHAMELESS NOOB who is now eternally grateful!!!

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Shot at Art District, Bacolod City [Follow me! @readivinee]

I wasn’t supposed to do an aesthetic mood board but I honestly forgot to highlight my favorite quotes in the book so I’ll have to compensate! ((On one hand, I read the book without ever taking any notes because I was so enthralled GAAAHH))

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Mood board for Ate Nadine–The Journalist
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Mood board for Sab–The Artist

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Gail D. Villanueva

 

 

Gail D. Villanueva is a Filipino author born and based in the Philippines. She’s also a web designer, an entrepreneur, and a graphic artist. She loves pineapple pizza, seafood, and chocolate, but not in a single dish together (eww). Gail and her husband live in the outskirts of Manila with their dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and one friendly but lonesome chicken. Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly, is coming from Scholastic Press on July 30, 2019

 

 

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  • Have you read this book? HIT ME UP WITH YOUR FEELS PLS
  • MG books leave a profound mark on us all, what are some of the notable MG books you’ve read that you still think stays relevant?

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim Blog Tour|A Multicolored Tapestry of Culture and Love + Fan Art!

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Title: Spin the Dawn

Author: Elizabeth Lim

Date Published: July 9, 2019

Rating: 4.25/5.00

Synopsis: 

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

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Hello there allies, archenemies and, everyone in between! First of all, I would like to thank Caffeine Book Tours by Shealea for hosting this massive all Asian blog tour for one of my most anticipated fantasy reads this year.

Out of almost 130+ signups I really can’t believe my luck to have gotten a spot here! Which reminds me that you can also sign up as a book tour host if you want early updates for future upcoming tours specifically on diverse books. Anyway, it’s time for me to divulge to you all the reasons why this book is worth your time!

A lyrical tale reminiscent of fairytales long gone and perfectly blends the creative process in a magical approach that compels you to read more and more.

Elizabeth Lim creates a mellifluous melody in her prose with a nice touch of multilayered weaving in her metaphors. She literally incorporates literary devices relating to the art of weaving which reinforces the importance of this theme. This makes the book a compelling neat package with how she writes it constructively and objectively. There’s also a sense of continuous rhythm in her words that makes it hard to put the book down and, which is probably the reason why I’ve read this faster than I initially thought I would!

With this in mind, it is also quite a wonder how we get to see the creative process of weaving/ tailoring be incorporated in the magic system (albeit it wasn’t a super detailed one reminiscent of Brandon Sandersons’ works). I am a sucker for this kind of element in a book and I assure you that it is so much better than how meager I describe it! The sense of vagueness it has does not dispel its charm but instead elevates the fantasy vibe here.

Not only that but this kind of story is one that ironically blends an odd feeling of nostalgia and a sense of a new beginning. It reminded me so much of the fairytales I grew up reading with, like the tale of Amaterasu (a Japanese folk tale I’ve read in high school), the tale of Eros and Psyche and, it sets up a new take on the well-trodden path of YA Fantasy. This is a unique retelling but is also an elevated form of its roots. It simply uses the familiar archetypes we love in stories like Mulan and spins a whole different picture that makes an indelible mark on us readers.

It has most of the archetypes a heroine’s tale has from the characters down to the immediate set up we usually see yet, it also gives a unique flavor with its execution that will linger in your heart.

In all honesty, Spin the Dawn for me was quite a little cliche because of the archetypes used in its storytelling that predominated YA Fantasy. We get to see Maia–our heroine that evolves from her weaknesses and be presented with situations where she has to make hard decisions. She’s a strong and resilient character but is also flawed in so many ways. We get to see the usual character development from the ones we pine for.** We get to see the usual patterns and banters that a budding romance treads.

But what sets Spin The Dawn different from all the other heroine tales is how organically it blooms in just the right time. I haven’t been reading much of YA Fantasy lately (only 4 this year including this one!) because I was quite tired of the usual roster I read. I was hoping to read more high fantasy this year but I never thought I needed to feel the familiar flutters of YA Fantasy again until I finished reading this!

**Side note: Personally, Edan was my favorite character here. I JUST FREAKING LOVE HIM AND I HAVE TO STOP MYSELF FROM BLABBING TOO MUCH SPOILERS HERE so there’s that. Just know that I love him and I hope you love him too in the same intensity that I felt.

Spin the Dawn may have some minor flaws for me like how the romance evolved in the latter part and the urgency that followed through but, this was still an amazing and fast-paced read for me. This is by far one of my favorite books of this year despite some of my qualms.

Overall this was an entertaining and beautiful tale that I will gladly reread again just to experience the fairy tale nostalgia it elicits!

Favorite Quotes

Ask me to spin the finest yarn or thread, and I can do it faster than any man—even with my eyes closed. Yet ask me to tell a lie, and I will stumble and falter to think of one.

I have never had a talent for spinning tales.

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“I dread reaching the end of my story, for it is full of knots that I haven’t had the courage to cut free. Distant drums pound. They draw closer with every second, a stirring reminder of the little time I have left to make my choice.”

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“My whole life, I’d been told what I couldn’t do because I was a girl. Well, this was my chance to find out.”

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“Day after day and night after night, she spun the dawn and unraveled the dusk.”

Excerpt of Spin The Dawn

I pondered the way the shansen’s daughter had spoken to Lord Xina—was the bitterness in her tone for her lover or for her father? Or both?

Meanwhile, Longhai capped his flask. “Did you see her fur coat? Rabbit, fox, wolf, at least three different bears. Northerners only wear what they hunt—Lady Sarnai must be quite skilled.” He heaved a sympathetic sigh. “She won’t have an easy time adjusting to life here.” He leaned closer to me, as if to share a secret. “But she does seem to enjoy aggravating His Majesty. She wore breeches to tea with the emperor and his ministers of war.”

Lady Sarnai had nerve. I didn’t know whether that made me respect her more—or less.

“I’m sure we’ll hear about it tomorrow,” Longhai said as we approached the hall.

I wished Longhai’s station were next to mine, but he was on the opposite end of the room. So I returned to my table alone, taking out my sketchbook to start designing a shawl and not bothering to greet the tailors around me. I had a feeling they resented my presence.

To my relief, they ignored me, too. But through scraps of their conversations, I gathered that I was the last tailor to arrive for the trial, which explained why I was assigned the worst table—in the middle where my work was practically on exhibit for everyone to see.

I also learned more about my rivals. Except for Longhai, none of the tailors introduced themselves to me, but I caught some names I recognized. Like Longhai, they were masters whose styles I’d grown up studying and emulating; these were men who’d been sewing since long before I was born.

Master Taraha and Master Yindi came from different schools of embroidery, but both were geniuses: Taraha specialized in flowers, Yindi in double-sided embroidery. Master Boyen was brilliant at knotting, Master Delun wove brocades unlike any others. Master Norbu was a favorite of the nobility.

And me? When we’d lived in Gangsun, Baba had asked visiting friends to teach me their regional styles and crafts, and in Port Kamalan, I’d picked up techniques from every merchant and tailor who’d speak to me.

But I was no master, and I had no reputation.

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I was relieved when he finally left me alone, and I draped the silk shawl over my arm. Silk was naturally light on the skin. That was what made it so sought after, so expensive.

I was good at painting, like Master Longhai, but embroidery was my strength, like Master Yindi and Master Taraha. I decided to paint a garden and embroider its flowers. Peonies, lilies, and chrysanthemums, with a lady holding a dragonfly on her finger. It was a scene I’d practiced dozens of times, and the paint would dry quickly. With only one day to complete the shawl, now was not the time to take an unnecessary risk.

Fan Art

And last but not the least my traditional fan art of Maia! I’m a little rusty now that I haven’t drawn that much but I’m really proud of how this turned out.

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I have little doodles here and there in her tunic!

About the Author


Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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The Heart of Stone by Ben Galley Blog Tour | A Decadent Tale of War and Conscience

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Title: The Heart of Stone

Author: Ben Galley

Date Published: March 30, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Rating: 3.70 /5.00

Synopsis: 

Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time.

Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters.

Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory. Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare

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Hello there allies, archenemies and everyone in between! Today is Day 4 of The Heart of Stone Blog Tour which is by the way just one part of this massive blog tour hosted by The Write Reads. We all get to read different books by Ben Galley!

Eloquently written peppered with the right amount of decadence.

“People don’t like the reflection of what I am to them. I may be different, all stone and dust instead of skin and blood. But they still see themselves. Copied. Faked in stone. They see their Architect’s work in something that isn’t flesh, and they can’t help but be offended by it, scared by it. Fear breeds hate”

First and foremost, Ben Galley knows how to wield his words wondrously! I was in awe with the flow of the first chapters because of his writing style. There was a compelling blend of decadence and dry wit humor in his writing that it kind of reminded me of Brian Staveley’s masterful work in Skullsworn. Reading this kind of prose reminded me of the incredible talent these authors have, not just in telling a story but in delivering it in all such an artfully manner! This just makes my heart glow aaaaahhhh.

A commentary on the human psyche from outside elements.

This is by far the strongest suit of The Heart of Stone. Task, the golem is known for his inclination to human emotions which his brethren seem to lack. He has seen so many shifts in his life, the ravages of war, the predictable patterns of greed and weaknesses in humans, yet he seems to always yearn to feel the futility of life. Reading about his perspective was both enthralling and surprising.

Ben Galley really depicted a nuanced picture of Task in all of his facets and it was amazing to read how he divulges on the human psyche through the detachment Task felt. This particular excerpt was on of my favorites!

“I feel sorry for you, Task.’
‘Don’t bother.’
‘No, not because you’ve suffered, or you’re cursed, but because you don’t realise.’
He threw her a quizzical look.
Lesky reached out a hand and placed it on his stone. He tensed, but felt nothing, just the warmth of her skin.
‘You don’t realise how human you are. All of us. Alabast, Ellia, me, Huff, even you, with a mind made out of stone. We all walk around pretendin’ we’re not broken in some way. Most spend their lives hiding it. But we are broken. And you know what? That’s fine. In fact, it’s perfect because it’s imperfect. Each crack, each blemish, each scar, whether of the skin or in the mind, they make us whole. We’re made through livin’, not by bein’ born. What we learn is what shapes us. Some choose a friendly shape, others somethin’ more jagged and sharp. That is what it means to be human, Task. We can choose. You say your master made a mistake? Made you broken? I think he made the finest golem there is. One who’s more than stone, not just some mindless machine. One who can make actually make a choice for himself. One who’s got a conscience. A heart.”

Task in a sense reveals his humanity in his flaws that unravels throughout the story. This was really a great read because of how Ben Galley fleshes out the characters especially Task!

Skirts on the emotional truths in a war.

The majority of the book’s happening takes place in the midst of war and I like the fact that we get to see and deconstruct different factions or the caste system in an army that we don’t usually get to see. It also even came to the point was war became such a trivial thing which added to the stark contrast perpetually present in the book.

Overall, this was an interesting read and I really love Ben Galley’s writing style. However, the only qualms that I have were how there are clear cut lines in the antagonist’s motivation. It was kind of anticlimactic as well despite Task’s nuanced characterization. Other than that, it was definitely a nice fantasy read.

 

About the Author

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Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new Chasing Graves Trilogy.

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The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt Blog Tour | A Homage to Every Awkward & Romance-deprived Artistic Teen

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Title: The Boy Next Story

Author: Tiffany Schmidt

Date Published: May 21, 2019

Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks

Rating: 3.75 /5.00

Synopsis:  The second book in a series where your favorite literary characters come to life, inspired by the timeless classic, Little Women!

There’s no one better than the boy next door. At least not according to Aurora Campbell, fourteen, who has been in love with Tobias May since their very first sandbox kiss. The problem is, he’s in love with her older sister, Merrilee. And Merri is already dating one of his best friends.

Rory is learning all about pining as her class reads The Great Gatsby, a book she doesn’t find “great” at all. Also not great—her GPA, something she needs to fix, quickly, if she’d like to apply for the chance to spend a week studying art with her hero in New York City over winter break. But when Ms. Gregoire assigns her to read Little Women for extra credit, Rory discovers more than she expected—both about herself and Toby. Maybe she wasn’t in love with the boy next door. . . but the boy next story.

Love is complicated, and it’s all about to get even trickier for Rory at Reginald R. Hero Prep . . . where with the help of one quirky English teacher, students’ fantasies come true, often with surprising consequences.

Add it on Goodreads | Buy it on Amazon

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Hello there allies, archenemies and everyone in between! Today is my stop for another blog tour by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. The Boy Next Story may be the second book for Bookish Boyfriends but you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this! (On that note, I think I’ll fairly like the first book)

Endearingly relatable and reminiscent of the awkward and clunky teen phase.

Just once, can’t I identify with the star? Why am I always the secondary character? The second choice? Gatsby, Amy–don’t I get to be the hero in fiction?

Delving into this book was quite daunting at first because I didn’t realize until then that the MC is 15 here. I thought that this might not appeal to me anymore and I’m scared to feel apathetic if I find the usual tropes for YA Contemporary here. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration. Well, I had the sweat part down and totally needed a new deodarant, one that was Hero High panic-proof.

Rory is awkward, an introvert, a vegan, an artist, and has a hopeless crush on her childhood friend and neighbor Toby. Cute right? I’m currently in architecture school (in my last year) and reading about Rory’s inclination to the arts and her tendencies sparked nostalgia. I mean, I’m not as amazing as Rory’s talent for drawing but, I loved how Tiffany Schmidt fleshed out the aspect of art here that reminded me so much of my creative process when I was a teen up to this day. This was quite personal for me and I can’t help but feel so elated to see my teenage self represented here.

Her fears, her doubts, her excessive overthinking, her awkward and clunky self was quite hilarious, cringy, and undoubtedly relatable and believable. I think if you look closely we all could find parts of our vulnerable selves in Rory.

It’s not just a love story. It’s a story of self-growth, self-worth and, discusses the importance of a healthy nurturing environment for an adolescent.

YA Contemporary was once notorious for the absence of family support in their storylines. However, this kind of landscape now seems to shift as the years go by and The Boy Next Story is no different in following this route. I love how this book reinforces the importance of a family and a healthy social circle to a teenager realistically and how it influences and projects their disposition in life. I could not stress this enough, but realistic representation of a family’s influence on belief systems of an individual is a must have for every coming of age book.

Does not gloss over sensitive issues and subtopics while adeptly discussing them in a simplified manner.

One thing I liked about this as well is how we get to be introduced to other interests like musical scores, the arts, sibling dynamics, high school woes, the malleable nature of friendships, the multifaceted concept of privilege and, even a commentary on vegans.

On vegans:

People assume that vegans are moralistic and when they find out I’m not one hundred percent committed…you’d think I’d gone out and slaughtered the animals myself, or that they’d just won some big victory because I ate butter.

Truth be told, I salute vegans and their lifestyles but reading a nuanced take on their choices is quite refreshing and educational.

On privileges:

We had more than a lot of people had, and I was lucky, but sometimes it was hard to keep perspective when surrounded by classmates who lived like Gatsby.

Rory’s comment on this one reminded me of the social pressures every teenager feels in a high school because let’s face it, we all experience this. (or so I think) Studying from a private high school is a privilege but as a teenager, one would usually fail to appreciate one’s own privileges when faced with so much more from others.

On friendships and love:

Maybe that’s why math and I never get along–I wanted the least balanced relationship in the world to work. I kept trying to force the variables into a solution.

I held my breath, because I wanted to be his no one. The person he had all sorts of first shares with. But more than that, I wanted to be here and hear him in this moment and not be caught up in my own daydreams and swoons that I missed the reality. I’d done that before. More and more I was realizing how often I’d done that: projected the Toby in my head onto the guy beside me instead of appreciating the flawed and fantastic person he was.

On siblings:

“Girl talk.” Merri said it like a demand. like a threat. And it sort of felt like that way, like confessions were going to be removed with a dental drill or pulled with my fingernails.

On art and music:

New York is  a combination of breatheless beauty and soul-stealing sorrow. But even its poverty and garbage can be picturesque with the right framing and backdrop. As an artist, I’m trained to look for compositions. It’s enough to make me forget for a moment that that pile of trash bags is someone’s belongings, or that that blackened toe peeking out from tattered cardboard is someone’s foot. Those are the type of reminders I need–the ones that cancel out all the promise of mystery and beauty and force me to consider things with rational thoughts. Because New York City does that–it teases you with ambition, the type that;s swept up Nick Carraway. But it also doesn’t hide the carcasses of other people’s smashed dreams. The trick is to force yourself to see them.

There were moments when the composition made my blood race with secondand suspense. Moments it slowed in sympathy for whatever sadness was being conveyed. And a moment where the music matched my own hapiness.

Reiterates (ironically) the influential powers a book possesses.

This book is about a girl finding her self through a book’s influence. What a perfect premise. I love that this effectively does that to Rory as well as to the readers!

I know you’re off for some big adventures over break, but the right book can help you stay grounded, keep you connected to home…and make things a little easier, or at least a little clearer when those you love disappoint you.

The Boy Next Story might not be appealing to some at first, but it is definitely worth a read with its wholesome message.

About the Author

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Tiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a SignBright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath (Once Upon a Crime Family book 1). She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. You can find out more about her and her books at:

Website |  Goodreads | Twitter  | Tumblr  | Instagram | Facebook

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Book Giveaway!

Win a copy of BOOKISH BOYFRIENDS: THE BOY NEXT STORY byTiffany Schmidt (US Only)

Start Date: 21stMay 2019
End Date: 4thJune 2019

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Blog Tour & Giveaway! + To Best The Boys by Mary Weber

40556417Title: To Best The Boys

Author: Mary Weber

Date Published: March 19, 2019

Synopsis:

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

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Welcome to my stop! Thanks to The Fantastic Flying Book Club and to Thomas Nelson the publisher for making this blog tour possible.

This book is great for fans of Caraval and The Madman’s Daughter.

This may just be a light fantasy novel that skirts over most of the predictable tropes and plot devices, but it’s the message it conveys which makes this book quite a compelling read. The first chapter is a great hook and I love that we already get to see a multi-faceted feisty heroine and, one that enjoys to slice open a cadaver to study! I’ve already read 4 novels that have this the same nature with our dear Rhen, and welp I just can’t get enough of these types for sure.

And while this book may lean heavily on a feminist theme riddled with your usual romance and YA dilemma, what I really find worth noting is Rhen’s relationship with her cousin Seleni. I love the fact that this addresses the stigma with our perception of womanhood. Seleni clearly wants to be a wife and a mother and, there’s no shame in wanting that kind of life, the same way that there’s no shame in Rhen wanting to pursue a career path unconventional for women.

It’s in this part of the book where I actually stopped and thought “YUP THAT’S WHAT YOU CALL TRUE FEMINISM.” Because let’s face it, most people would’ve thought that feminism equates to man-hating, which I’m so sick and tired of hearing about. It’s not a matter of dominance but rather in the acceptance of femininity which by the way we all have! Whatever your gender is we all have different doses of masculine and feminine energy. Feminism is intersectional.

This really stood out to me because I was one of those women who despised other women for being to “girly”, too “pink”,or too “frilly” before. Which by the way just means that we despise being vulnerable and viewed as too much of a “girl” for fear of being victimized. (It may not apply to you but this was how I felt when I was still a teen) If you’re like me before, then please stop rejecting your own femininity. Please stop lumping other girls into boxes with labels like “shallow” or “girly”. It’s unhealthy my friend, and quite counterproductive.

To Best The Boys may be predictable in some ways but it’s true to the heart.

P.S. If you’re a sucker for purple prose, then this book’s just made for you!

FAVORITE QUOTES

“We want you to follow your dreams, not your guilt, Rhen.”

“Rhen, people aren’t as impressed by dead bodies as you are.  You can’t just talk about them in public.”

“His full lips still have that pucker the girls liked to swoon over. The same one I wondered more than a few times if the tissue was actually formed that way, or if he was just perpetually in the mood to kiss things. I once imagined dissecting his face to find out.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Hi. I write books. I eat things. I kiss things. I believe in mermaids.
I’m also the author of the Storm Siren Trilogy, The Evaporation of Sofi Snow series, and the March 2019 release, To Best the Boys. When not working, I sing 80’s hairband songs to my three muggle children, and ogle my husband who looks strikingly like Wolverine. We live in California, which is perfect for stalking aging movie stars while wearing fanny packs and sweatpants.
For those who like to know such things (mainly my mom), Storm Siren was featured in the Scholastic Book Fair and my novels have been endorsed by such nice humans as Marissa Meyer, CJ Redwine, Shannon Messenger, and Jonathan Maberry (in fact, Marissa Meyer and I have a fun interview in the paperback of her book, CRESS). Also, Boba tea & sweatpants are life. {We can chat about life (in sweatpants over tea, obviously) in my Newsletter.

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Click this link and you’ll be directed to the giveaway raffle. Open internationally.

TOUR SCHEDULE

FEBRUARY 25th

FEBRUARY 26th

Milky way of books – Review
Kris & Vik Book Therapy Cafe – Review + Favourite Quotes
Mythical Books – Promotional Post

FEBRUARY 27th

Arzo Reads – Review + Playlist

FEBRUARY 28th

Charis Rae – Review
Saga Ek – Promotional Post

MARCH 1st

Moonlight Rendezvous – Review + Favourite Quotes
Literary Meanderings – Promotional Post

MARCH 2nd

R E A (D) I V I N E – Review + Favourite Quotes
A Court of Coffee and Books – Promotional Post

MARCH 3rd

Betwixt the Pages – Review
The Book Bratz – Review
Wishful Endings – Promotional Post
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