BLOG TOUR STOP: What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka [Review + Giveaway!]

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Hi, welcome to my stop on the What I Want You to See blog tour (hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club)! I’m so psyched that I was approved to participate in this blog tour! Make sure to read the whole post if you want to learn more about this read & its author, hear my review, and enter the giveaway!


ABOUT THE BOOK

book coverWHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE

by Catherine Linka

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: February 4th, 2020

Genre: Contemporary

Age Category: Young Adult (tho technically New Adult)

Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Books | iTunes

SYNOPSIS

Winning a scholarship to California’s most prestigious art school seems like a fairy tale ending to Sabine Reye’s awful senior year. After losing both her mother and her home, Sabine longs for a place where she belongs.

But the cutthroat world of visual arts is nothing like what Sabine had imagined. Colin Krell, the renowned faculty member whom she had hoped would mentor her, seems to take merciless delight in tearing down her best work—and warns her that she’ll lose the merit-based award if she doesn’t improve.

Desperate and humiliated, Sabine doesn’t know where to turn. Then she meets Adam, a grad student who understands better than anyone the pressures of art school. He even helps Sabine get insight on Krell by showing her the modern master’s work in progress, a portrait that’s sold for a million dollars sight unseen.

Sabine is enthralled by the portrait; within those swirling, colorful layers of paint is the key to winning her inscrutable teacher’s approval. Krell did advise her to improve her craft by copying a painting she connects with . . . but what would he think of Sabine secretly painting her own version of his masterpiece? And what should she do when she accidentally becomes party to a crime so well -plotted that no one knows about it but her?

Complex and utterly original, What I Want You to See is a gripping tale of deception, attraction, and moral ambiguity.


REVIEW

This book was the perfect fun read to compliment the “Intro to Art History” class I’m currently taking (and the drawing class I took last semester!). What I Want You to See was a captivating contemporary coming-of-age story mixed with romance, mystery, and of course, art.

One of my favorite elements about this novel was that it not only followed an aspiring artist, but that it followed a protagonist going to college, which technically makes it New Adult (even though it’s being marketed as Young Adult). As a creative writing major, I could definitely relate to the protagonist’s struggle with pushing herself creatively and doubting herself as an artist. And the friendships! Making friends in college can be so hard, so I liked seeing Sabine yearn for connection and friendship. Eventually Sabine gains a couple of quality friends, and I appreciated that they were a constant thread throughout the novel, and weren’t shoved aside in favor of romance like so many YA contemporaries have a bad habit of doing. Sabine’s constantly juggling work, homework, art, friends, romance, and stress, which is honestly so accurate to college.

An aspect that took me by surprise was how much I enjoyed reading about Sabine’s character. Initially, I was a bit skeptic, but as I continued to fly through chapters, I really started to admire her portrayal. Sabine is a girl with a lot on her plate, and I mean a lot. She’s constantly torn and unsure on how to approach things, her emotions consistently making her change her decisions, and I really liked the realism in this. Teens/young adults are constantly questioning and doubting themselves (or at least it feels like I am, lol).

There was one thing that didn’t quite work for me and that was the pacing. The novel is divided into weirdly short chapters, and while I liked the shortness at times, there were definitely multiple times where I questioned the choice of chapter breaks in specific scenes. Additionally, I felt the ending was a bit…anticlimactic? It felt oddly stretched out and the climax felt pushed up too close to the end. The ending felt a bit too convenient and definitely not explored enough. I really wanted more of an aftermath.

Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable read. It wasn’t astounding, but it had a unique premise and I really appreciated reading a contemporary set in college. I would love to read more books like this one!

Trigger Warnings: loss of a parent, homelessness, grief, stealing, lying, manipulation

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I paint an intriguing picture, but I’m not quite a masterpiece.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Catherine Linka is the author of the young adult novel WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE as well as the dystopian series A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS and A GIRL UNDONE. A GIRL CALLED FEARLESS was an ABA Indie Next Pick and won the Young Adult Novel Award 2014 from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association. A frequent speaker at writing and teen conferences, Catherine received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and worked as a young adult book buyer for an independent bookstore for seven years. Prior to pursuing a career in publishing, she studied international politics at Georgetown University followed by a master’s degree in business at the University of North Carolina. Catherine is married and lives with her husband in the San Gabriel foothills. Visit her at http://www.catherlinelinka.com.

Website| Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook


GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win a finished copy of WHAT I WANT YOU TO SEE by Catherine Linka (US Only)

Start Date: January 29th, 2020

End Date: February 12th, 2020

ENTER HERE


If you want to check out other stops on this blog tour, here’s a link to the schedule!

Have any of you already read What I Want You to See? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments!

Review: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

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the storm crow coverThe Storm Crow

by Kalyn Josephson

Genre: Fantasy

Age Category: Young Adult

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Released on: July 9th, 2019

 

 

So, I kinda made a mistake of reading 80% of this book in September and leaving the last 40 pages to read till December, so my thoughts on this book are a little hazy. Regardless, I wanted to write a review of The Storm Crow because it was one of my top 3 anticipated releases for 2019!

In The Storm Crow, Princess Thia falls into a depression after the death of her mother and the magical crows that helped her kingdom function. A year later, her older sister, now the Queen, has no choice but to betroth Thia to the Illucian Prince, a boy whose Empire is slowly taking over the continent, their current target being Thia’s kingdom, Rhodaire. A spark of hope blooms inside of Thia when she finds a sole crow egg among the ruins of the rookery. Together, with her sister, friends, and the royal advisors, Thia concocts a plan to create an alliance with the other kingdoms to rebel against the Illucian Empire. But when Thia returns with her betrothed to Illucia, the path forward no longer seems clear, as she struggles with her depression, her shifting perspective on her betrothed, and her inability to hatch the crow egg.

Of course, one of the greatest elements of this novel was seeing Thia come to terms with her depression. Though the narration and portrayal of her mental illness felt a bit blunt, I loved how prominent it was throughout the story. It’s a consistent thread throughout the chapters and not merely brought up when it’s most convenient. Mental illness doesn’t make an appearance enough in fantasy novels, and I really hope more characters in similar positions to Thia’s pop up in the future.

In addition, there were a handful of other characteristics that I enjoyed. First, the world of The Storm Crow was fascinating. Josephson definitely fleshed out the cultures for each of the kingdoms (she also has an awesome guide in the back that gives you an overview of every kingdom, describing their current political state to their economy to their religion). The love triangle/romance situation was also somewhat refreshing. I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers, but essentially Josephson hints at what you would expect to be a typical love triangle and then twists it to provide a new set up (thought there was a bit of obnoxious insta-love going on). Finally, Thia’s sapphic best friend and guard, Kiva, was also a great joy to read about.

But when it came to the plot and the pacing, I wasn’t a fan. Thia’s plan to ignite a rebellion with the kingdoms felt overly simplistic and spur of the moment (e.g. I was shocked how easily her sister, the Queen, agreed to it), to the point where it seemed naïve and child-like. As a result, the plot came across as rushed in some places. Alongside this, Thia’s first-person narration was very heavy-handed in its “telling” and direct explanations to the reader, which made it harder for me to immerse myself in the novel.

Despite being an enjoyable read, The Storm Crow did not quite live up to my expectations. That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good book; I personally just didn’t love it as much as I wanted to. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves the YA crow/raven trend and/or anyone looking for more mental illness rep in their fantasy.

Trigger Warnings: Depression, grief, loss of a parent, physical torture, mental/emotional manipulation

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m a fun ride, but I wasn’t able to fly into your heart.”

BLOG TOUR STOP: The Vine Witch [Review + Favorite Quotes + Giveaway!]

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Hi, welcome to my stop on the The Vine Witch blog tour (hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club)! I’m so honored that I was approved to participate in this blog tour! Make sure to read the whole post if you want to learn more about this read & its author, hear my review & fav quotes, and enter the giveaway!


ABOUT THE BOOK

BOOK COVERTHE VINE WITCH

(Vine Witch #1)

by Luanne G. Smith

Publisher: 47North

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

Genre: Fantasy

Goodreads | Amazon |Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Books

SYNOPSIS

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.


REVIEW + FAV QUOTES

There’s nothing like spending the last 7 years as a toad, is there? Right off the bat, this book had me intrigued, eager to see where this story would take us.

How could she wish for anything else but to be part of the vineyard? Its terroir was her blood, its mist her breath, its soil her bones, its harvest her unborn child.

I adored this historical fantasy world and all the magic that it contained. I love the idea of all these different types of witches who secretly specialize in the creation of everyday products. Like, I would gladly consume witch-made wine and witch-baked pastries. There was a lot of cool magic involved and the world was abundant in detail. But while I enjoyed this world, I did find myself wanting to know more, specifically in terms of the rules of magic and the witch community.

What the eye couldn’t see, the imagination filled in. We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

But as I hinted at in the previous paragraph, while this was an interesting read, I wanted more: more worldbuilding, more character development, more pages. Don’t get me wrong: it was decent as is, but it could have been so much better fleshed out. I also found the romance completely underwhelming. The protagonists’ are quick to romanticize love, but it felt unsupported by the lack of interactions we saw between the two characters. They felt like they never moved passed infatuation.

Pain has always been the prosecutor’s handmaiden.

Overall, The Vine Witch was an interesting read, and I would definitely check out another book that explores this world. If you’re craving wine or seeking an easy witchy read, give this book a try!

Rating: 3 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m an amusing read, but I didn’t quite bewitch you.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Luanne G. Smith is the author of THE VINE WITCH, a fantasy novel about witches, wine, and revenge set in early 20th century France, and the forthcoming second book in the series, THE GLAMOURIST. She’s lucky enough to live in Colorado at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, a glass of wine at the end of the day, and finding the magic in everyday life.

Website| Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter


GIVEAWAY

Prize: Win a finished copy of THE VINE WITCH by Luanne G. Smith (US Only)

Start Date: October 1st, 2019

End Date: October 15th, 2019

ENTER HERE


If you want to check out other stops on this blog tour, here’s a link to the schedule!

Have any of you guys read The Vine Witch yet? What did you think? If not, is it on your TBR? Let me know down in the comments!

ARC Review: Shatter the Sky

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***I received a free e-ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***

shatter the sky cover

Shatter the Sky

by Rebecca Kim Wells

Release Date: July 30th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+

Age Category: Young Adult

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

 

The world needs more sapphic girls riding dragons and this book did not disappoint. I’ll take the sequel now, thank you. Also, I apologize in advance that this review is going to be kinda awkward and short. For some reason, my e-ARC copy is telling me that I no longer have access to it, so I wasn’t able refer back to the book OR my notes when I wrote this review. 😑

Shatter the Sky follows Maren as she leaves her hometown in the mountains for the first time in order to save her girlfriend, Kaia, who was kidnapped by the Aurati, prophetic representatives of the emperor. Knowing she can’t save her by herself, Maren takes a job at the fortress where dragons and the riders are trained, making plans to steal a dragon. But as Maren finds herself involved in more than she could have ever imagined, she must decide what she’s willing to risk to save Kaia.

This book was such a delightful adventure! It was so easy to read and to get sucked into. I loved the unique culture and portrayal of dragons. They use scents to train dragons, how cool is that? I also appreciated Maren as a protagonist. Maren’s a girl who’s filled with insecurity and doubt; she’s always felt like she’s been in Kaia’s shadow. I liked seeing her character development as she’s forced to break out of her shell and as she continues to compare herself to an idolized version of Kaia that she holds in her mind. The dragons and Maren made this book for me.

Even though I wanted to, I couldn’t rate this book any higher because the story felt too short and that it needed to be fleshed out more. Maren’s journey takes her all over the land, but she never stayed in one place long enough for me to get a proper feel for the world. Additionally, it seemed as though every obstacle that opposed Maren was too easily overcome—and there were a lot of them. Which again, is probably because Maren was moving around too much.

Another minor detail that bugged me was that during Maren’s journey, the buds of a love triangle appeared. Now this could either be squished in the sequel, or it could bloom, I don’t know, but the fact that it was there to begin with pissed me off. I think the author included it to make Maren question the future she’s always assumed for herself, but it seemed like an internal dilemma for a later book. A really fascinating internal dilemma, but putting it in the first book just made it feel like it muddied Maren’s motivation a bit. I don’t know if this makes any sense, but I just wanted to note this element—BUT it’s not a flaw that should discourage you from picking up this book.

Overall, I adored Shatter the Sky and I can’t wait to see how the author further develops this world and how Maren’s character will continue to develop. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for more dragon fantasy novels, though I think it could appeal more to younger readers in particular. Also, in case you needed any more incentive to give this book a try: it has BABY DRAGONS. Which gave me The Dragon Prince vibes, so just go check this book out, okay?

Trigger Warnings: Kidnapping, short glimpses of torture

Rating: 3.5 stars

“…so, are you my book?”

“I’m a delightful read, but I wasn’t quite earth (sky)-shattering for you.”