Monday, July 24, 2017

Opening Lines (28)


Opening Lines is a new feature here on Portrait of a Book that showcases the first lines of recent and/or upcoming releases. If you're looking for your next read, let these first lines help you decide!


SPELLBOOK OF THE LOST AND FOUND
By: Moira Fowley-Doyle
Published By: Kathy Dawson Books
Release Date: Aug. 8, 2017
Buy the Book: Amazon


IThe highly anticipated new book from the acclaimed author of The Accident Season is a gorgeous, twisty story about things gone missing, things returned from the past, and a group of teenagers, connected in ways they could never have imagined.

One stormy Irish summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hairclips and jewelry, but soon it's clear that Rose has lost something much bigger, something she won't talk about, and Olive thinks her best friend is slipping away.

Then seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing estate. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they're holding tight to painful secrets.

When they discover the spellbook, it changes everything. Damp, tattered and ancient, it's full of hand-inked charms to conjure back things that have been lost. And it just might be their chance to find what they each need to set everything back to rights.

Unless it's leading them toward things that were never meant to be found...

"That night, everybody lost something.

Not everybody noticed."


Do any of these lines and covers grab your attention? What are your favorite opening lines?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Sketch: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo


RUIN AND RISING
By: Leigh Bardugo
Published By: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: June 17, 2014
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #3
Pages: 422
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon


Goodreads Summary: The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.



First Thought After Finishing: Dear Leigh Bardugo, I love you, but I hate you. But I love you.

Final books in trilogies are always bittersweet. I always want to know how everything ends, but it’s hard to say goodbye to characters that we’ve known and loved for so long. I wasn’t sure what to expect in this book—which was par for the course with this trilogy—but it was full of adventure and surprises.

Alina is once again recovering from a battle with the Darkling, and the Apparat wants her to finally embrace her identity as the Sun Saint. Only Alina has a different destiny in mind—hunt the third amplifier and stop the Darkling once and for all. In the midst of realizing her destiny, she barely has time for love, but that does not mean that her choices aren’t there. In this final installment, Alina has tough decisions to make, and every second counts in trying to restore light to the world.

"Beauty was your armor. Fragile stuff, all show. But what's inside you? That's steel. IT's brave and unbreakable. And it doesn't need fixing."

If I haven’t said it before, I will say it now: Leigh Bardugo is brilliant. From the world to the characters, she has crafted a masterful story that will stick with you long after the final pages. It’s not easy to write characters you hate to love and love to hate, but she does. Alina went through some major changes in Siege and Storm, but here, we get to see some of her friends come into their own and start to shine. I loved getting to see all of them again, and it made me happy to know that their stories had resolutions as well. Bardugo also has tricks up her sleeve that keep changing the game with every chapter. Although there are some slower moments, the overall story is so gripping that it makes the 400+ page book fly by. I stayed up most of the night to finish it!

And about that ending. I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t read it, but I’ll just say that even two weeks later, I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it. You may not love it (there’s always that risk, right?) but I have to admit that it’s fitting for the characters. Regardless of which characters you ship, you are bound to have an emotional experience while reading this book—and you will have the full range of emotions throughout the story. I know I did!

Most Memorable Aspect: Yes. The characters, the story, the feelings—this is an epic fantasy trilogy that you won’t forget.




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (110)



I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!




"Blue light flashed in the corner of his eye; magic shivered down the side of his body. The Threadstone was now active."


Taken from pg. 133 of TRUTHWITCH
by Susan Dennard

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday


"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



This week's selection is:


THE LIBRARY OF FATES
By: Aditi Khorana
Published By: Razorbill
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Preorder the Book: Amazon


Goodreads Summary: A romantic coming-of-age fantasy tale steeped in Indian folklore, perfect for fans of The Star-Touched Queen and The Wrath and the Dawn

No one is entirely certain what brings the Emperor Sikander to Shalingar. Until now, the idyllic kingdom has been immune to his many violent conquests. To keep the visit friendly, Princess Amrita has offered herself as his bride, sacrificing everything—family, her childhood love, and her freedom—to save her people. But her offer isn't enough.

The unthinkable happens, and Amrita finds herself a fugitive, utterly alone but for an oracle named Thala, who was kept by Sikander as a slave and managed to escape amid the chaos of a palace under siege. With nothing and no one else to turn to, Amrita and Thala are forced to rely on each other. But while Amrita feels responsible for her kingdom and sets out to warn her people, the newly free Thala has no such ties. She encourages Amrita to go on a quest to find the fabled Library of All Things, where it is possible for each of them to reverse their fates. To go back to before Sikander took everything from them.

Stripped of all that she loves, caught between her rosy past and an unknown future, will Amrita be able to restore what was lost, or does another life—and another love—await?




Why it's Wanted:

First of all, how gorgeous is this cover? Add to that a fantasy story with Indian folklore, and it sounds like it has the potential to be a beautiful story. And there's a library too!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (109)



I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!




"My heart stops. Starts.
Stops again.

Warner is here."


Taken from pg. 124 of IGNITE ME
by Tahereh Mafi

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Opening Lines (27)


Opening Lines is a new feature here on Portrait of a Book that showcases the first lines of recent and/or upcoming releases. If you're looking for your next read, let these first lines help you decide!


FRAGILE LIKE US
By: Sara Barnard
Published By: Simon Pulse
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Buy the Book: Amazon


In the tradition of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson comes a pitch perfect novel about friendship and what it takes to break the bonds between friends.

Caddy and Rosie have always been inseparable. But that was before Suzanne. Now the twosome has become a triangle with constantly shifting alliances.

Caddy’s ready to be more than just the quiet one. She wants something to happen. Suzanne is trying to escape her past and be someone different, someone free. But sometimes downward spirals have a momentum of their own. And no one can break your heart like a best friend.

"I thought it was the start to a love story. Finally."


Do any of these lines and covers grab your attention? What are your favorite opening lines?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Book Sketch: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo


SIEGE AND STORM
By: Leigh Bardugo
Published By: Henry Holt and Company
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Series: The Grisha Trilogy #2
Pages: 435
Genre: Fantasy
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon


Goodreads Summary: Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.




First Thought After Finishing: I need more Nikolai!

Lately I have been kicking myself for falling off the face of the YA book earth for a couple of years! I loved (okay, had a love-hate relationship with) Shadow and Bone when it was released. Fortunately, I remembered enough of that book that I was able to pick up Siege and Storm without too much confusion. I am so glad I committed to finishing this series!

Siege and Storm picks up just after Shadow and Bone. Alina is plagued with guilt over how events unfolded when she last faced The Darkling, and for a time she finds herself at the mercy of others. However, with the help of a certain tracker and an interesting privateer (not pirate, he thanks you very much), Alina comes to realize that her strength is far more than what she wants to believe. Despite this, The Darkling is not going to give up without a fight. And in order to restore peace to Ravka, Alina must be willing to embrace a destiny far bigger than anything she ever imagined for herself.

"I tried to turn away, but he reached out and took hold of my chin, forcing me to look at him. He was so close I could feel his breath. 'There are no others like us, Alina,' he whispered. 'And there never will be.'"

Second books in trilogies can occasionally make me wary. Either they can be full of action, competing with or even outdoing the first, or they can fall short of a reader's hopes and seem to stagnate just to prolong the arrival of the third book. But an author as talented as Leigh Bardugo could never fall into that second category. This book did not develop in the way I was expecting, but that is all the better! Alina is given a chance to shine in this book. Although she is still new to her Grisha powers, she comes to use and appreciate them in a way she never did before. She learns from those around her and grows into someone worthy of being a leader and a heroine.

That is not to say that this book is all about character development without some action. Trust me, there is plenty of action--and who doesn't love a good swordfight? Or a good magic battle? Better yet, both at the same time! The fight scenes are balanced with more introspective moments, ones that do challenge the relationship between Alina and Mal. Although I know that Mal was the "first boy," I have to say that he was never my favorite. They may have been childhood friends, but sometimes life changes. I have an idea what direction this may take in the third book, but with this author, you just never know!

Then there is The Darkling. Oh, The Darkling. (Funny story...I put that in my review of Shadow and Bone as well!) Leigh Bardugo shows her skill as a writer when you can love and hate a villain at the same time. He still has his role to play, and he does so in a way as mysterious as ever. In addition to contending with him, Alina becomes embroiled in Ravkan politics. I've always found royal court life fascinating, so I enjoyed this aspect of the novel as well. All in all, there is never a dull moment, and I found myself turning page after page, eager to move deeper into the story and discover what happened next.

Most Memorable Aspect: I did mention Nikolai, yes? He intrigued me from the moment that he walked onto the page. Gotta love him!




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday


"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



This week's selection is:


I SEE LONDON, I SEE FRANCE
By: Sarah Mlynowski
Published By: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Preorder the Book: Amazon


Goodreads Summary: I see London, I see France
I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.




Why it's Wanted:

I love Sarah Mlynowski's stories. They're smart, fun, quick reads that leave you wanting more. So a story set in Europe with adventure and romance? Sign me up!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (108)



I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!




"I gasped. 'Imposs--'

'Don't say it,' muttered Mal.

Then chaos erupted."


Taken from pg. 119 of RUIN AND RISING
by Leigh Bardugo

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Sketch: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins


ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER
By: Stephanie Perkins
Published By: Dutton
Release Date: Aug. 14, 2014
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Pages: 339
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Buy the Book: Amazon


Goodreads Summary: Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.




First Thought After Finishing: Stephanie Perkins is a master of contemporary romance!

I read Stephanie Perkins’s first two books a long time ago, and I always wanted to read Isla’s story. I’m so glad that I finally picked it up! From the Paris setting once again to a romance that was both too good to be true and unflinchingly real, I devoured the pages in this book.

Isla has had a crush on Josh since her first year at School of American in Paris. She is convinced that Josh would never look at her. But one night, when she’s home over the summer and a bit loopy from pain meds, she runs into Josh at a café. After their conversation, she hopes that things might finally be different. When they’re back in school in Paris, to her complete astonishment, Isla discovers that Josh really does have feelings for her. Only her life isn’t a perfect fairy tale, and happily ever after will not come so easily. But with help from their family and friends, and a little guidance from their hearts, they might just be able to make it work.

Only Stephanie Perkins could write a novel about a couple who is already together and have it be something that I wanted to read. Isla reminded me so much of myself—quiet, keeping to only one or two close friends, dedicating most of her time to her studies. More than once, I found myself wondering what it would be like if the boy I liked in high school would have suddenly started paying attention to me. Josh is the classic guy you want to love—he has a bad-boy exterior with a teddy-bear interior and an artistic flair. I appreciated that there was a reason for them to be a couple beyond mere attraction.

"Our fingers are in each other's hair, and his breath is in the hollow of my neck, and I wish the world would swallow us here, whole, in this moment.And that's when it hits me that this--this--is falling in love."

Isla and Josh certainly have their share of troubles, which is to be expected for any teen relationship. While Josh turns to his art, Isla turns to her best friend, Kurt. I loved reading about a character with high-functioning autism who wasn’t portrayed quite as extreme as some others have been (think Sheldon). Isla also has her sisters, Genevieve and Hattie. I enjoyed seeing how their family relationship developed as well. This book was full of so many vivid emotions, and that made for an engrossing reading experience. It was bittersweet to reach the ending and realize that not only was it time to say goodbye to Isla and Josh but also to bid final farewells to Anna, St. Clair, Lola, and Cricket. These books made me fall in love with contemporary romance, and I can only hope to find more like them in the future.

Most Memorable Aspect: I loved the descriptive settings, particularly one Spanish city view. Reading books like this one helps satisfy my wanderlust!




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