All for the Game by Nora Sakavic | Book Review

10:00 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments



"It’s not the world that’s cruel. It’s the people in it. "



Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He's short, he's fast, he's got a ton of potential—and he's the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.


Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn't need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.


But Neil's not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil's new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can't walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he's finally found someone and something worth fighting for.


Before I start I want to say that this is a heavy book. It has mental and physical abuse, rape, murder, suicide thoughts, and many other heavy topics.

I started this book knowing it was about sports, but part me thought it was gonna have some form of urban fantasy. I was wrong. This is 100% about sports, Exy to exact. (Exy is like an extreme version of lacrosse that has male and females in a single team with a lot more beating each other up with a racket.) 

As well as being about sports, the story also features a bunch of college students struggling because life is not fair. Through the trilogy we follow the story of Neil, a boy who has been on the run from his father. One night he signs up to play alongside a Class I Exy team, the Palmetto State's Foxes. The lowest ranking team in the division. 

Here Neil meets a dysfunctional team of monsters (Andrew, Aaron, Kevin and Nicky) and upperclassmen (Matt, Dan, Allison, Seth and Renee ). Together they all grow as a team as Neil deals with the people he tried to run away from. 

I read the three books back to back in a span of a week. I didn't think I would get hooked, especially on a contemporary about sports. But alas, I was wrong. Neil's story is full of pain and sass, and all I wanted to do was hug him. 

"Remember this feeling. This is the moment you stop being the rabbit."


Like I said before, this book deals with some pretty heavy themes that caught me off guard. There was an assault scene in the book that left me beyond angered, it made me hate several characters (whom I later forgave a bit but not completely). This book is not for everyone, especially if certain things trigger you. I don't even think the book has any warnings, even though it should because goddamn. These characters go through some pretty heavy stuff. 

Nora Sakavic's writing is pretty straight forward. It is not overly descriptive nor lacking detail. My only complaint is that the sports scenes (the games/matches) were a bit confusing when I read them. I am not a sports fan. Sakavic explains the rules of Exy several times throughout the three books but it just did not click in my mind...so the matches were just a big "What's going on!! Whaaaat!?"

My favorite part of the whole story was watching Neil allow himself to become an important player with his team, rather than an outsider watching this group of misfits from the sidelines. He goes from Neil the outsider to Neil, #10 Fox striker. 


"Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it."


My Rating: 4/5
GoodReads: 4.9/5
Amazon: 5/5


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Author Guest Post: Carrie Ann DiRisio | SerendipiTEA tour + Giveaway

8:00 AM Ally M.G. 0 Comments



I partnered up with SerendipiTea Tour in order to help promote upcoming debut authors for 2017! I was partnered up with Ms. Carrie Ann DiRiso who has an really fun book coming up in October! Also there is super awesome giveaway going on. There is a few days left so don't forget to enter to win some free books

Check out the other blogs to learn about new upcoming books released by debut authors!




Hello! My name is Carrie Ann, and I’m the author of BROODING YOUNG ADULT HERO’S GUIDE TO ACHIEVING MAIN CHARACTER STATUS

Many of you might have heard of BroodingYAHero before. He’s my adorable, opinionated character, found over on twitter at https://twitter.com/broodingyahero. He’s the combination of every brooding boy in all your favorite books, and his tweets have made him quite popular.


As your favorite, spicy-sweet book boyfriend, the perfect tea for Broody is a CINNAMON SUNSET.
This tea is full of flavor, dramatic, and will warm you right up. Plus, we all know gazing into Broody’s eyes is as dramatic as staring into the setting sun.


I’ve enjoyed tea for years, ever since my roommate in college introduced me to the magic of an electric kettle. I love sipping on tea as I write, starting with high-caf teas in the morning, and mellowing out with a nice herbal tea at night. What’s your favorite?


BROODING YOUNG ADULT HERO’S GUIDE TO ACHIEVING MAIN CHARACTER STATUS was a really exciting book for me to write. It’s both a “How To” book, explaining all the attributes the best main characters have, as well as a chance for Broody to star in his very own exciting story as himself! I hope it will make you all giggle.

You can sign up for Broody’s newsletter
And add the book on Goodreads




SerendipiTea Tour Stops



 April 2nd--Ohana Reads
April 3rd--YA and Wine
April 4th--The YA Book Traveler
April 5th--YA Wednesdays
April 6th--Bibliobibuli YA
April 7th--Rattle the Pages
April 10th--lollipopsbooks
April 11th--SimplyAllyTea (Me!)
April 12--bookishfangirl
April 14th--Redd's Reads

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Caraval by Stephanie Garber | Book Review

8:44 PM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . . 



Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.


Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.


But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.


Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever

~~

Caraval was one of my anticipated reads of 2017. After interacting several times with Stephanie Garber, and seeing her kindness to her Twitter followers I decided to look into her upcoming debut novel. A story about a magical circus. 

I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but the most magical circus book I have read to date has been Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern Caraval was pitched to lovers Night Circus, and honestly that was all I need to see in order to add the Caraval into a pre-order cart for immediate purchase.

Once I finished reading the very last sentence of Caraval, I was blown away. Caraval is a masterpiece. Garber is a wonderful story-teller. She weaves her words poetically, much like V.E Schwab (one of my favorite authors). From page one, Garber’s words reach out to you and pull you into the world and story. 

 A story of friendship, love, family, self-growth, betrayal, believing in yourself, and magic.

I do not want too much about the story plot, because it is something everyone needs to experience on their own. I do want to say that I was always guessing who Legend might be, and I was always second guessing who it was. (I was also wrong in all my guesses).

The Caraval cast is vastly diverse with the majority of the cast being of Spanish decent (almost everyone had Spanish names...yay Hispanics!) and I am pretty sure the main character, Scarlett, was at least Hispanic ( I am sure of it). I hardly see any Hispanic characters in the world of English literature, especially not as a main character. All of the characters were fleshed out that you can see that Garber took her time to get to know each character and give them all the proper arcs, developments and realism. I appreciate that. Even minor characters felt real, and not just randomly written in for no reason.

I was in love with everyone. And if you pick up your own copy of Caraval you too will see yourself falling in love with everyone.

My only minor problem with the book is, why couldn’t the main character have had a Hispanic name too...

“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.” 


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Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken | Book Review

9:10 PM Ally M.G. 0 Comments



Wayfarer is the the sequel to Passenger

Passenger 


In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles, but years from home. And she's inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she's never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods-a powerful family in the Colonies-and the servitude he's known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can't escape and the family that won't let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, his passenger, can find. In order to protect her, Nick must ensure she brings it back to them-whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods' grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home forever.

Spoilers to Passenger start now!

Wayfarer


I had mixed feelings about Wayfarer. Alexandra Bracken is a spectacular writer and she know how to work imagery in such a way that I feel the world and setting being slowly constructed in my mind. Unfortunately, it took way too long to pick up and fill my mind with thoughts of wanting to know what happens next.

Etta and Nicholas got separated in timelines at the end of Passenger, and we were able to see them continue to grow without each other.

Unfortunately, their separation made Nicholas way too ugh for my case. Whenever I would reach a chapter that was told in his perspective I found my groaning and rolling my eyes. It is great and annoying. Great because it means Bracken knows how to properly express Nicholas’ feelings of desperation and foolishness through written word. It was annoying, because I wanted to slap Nicholas for some of his actions. 

On the other hand, I felt that Etta grew as she followed her own sense of rightness instead of embarking on a adventure based on just saving a mother who didn’t want to be found. Etta’s vision upon and she became selfish, and made actions on her own terms. (*clap clap clap*)

Wayfarer was more fleshed out than Passenger, but the lack of fleshing in Passenger makes sense after Wayfarer. In Wayfarer the reader can finally connect all the mysterious mystery things from book one. LIKE THE SHADOWS and ROSE WHAT IS YOUR MASTER PLAN EXPLAIN WHY YOU DOING THIS.

My other small complaint is that the shadows were mentioned and slightly explain in the passing, but I wish it could have been more dominant in the story. The Shadows were the key force behind all the occurrence in the time traveler’s lives and I felt like it was barely scraped. It kinda felt like: Look the Shadows, they are this and came from that! There they are again, and now they are gone BYE.

Alexandra Bracken also included more diverse characters into the Passenger/Wayfarer crew. Including a Chinese character, soft natured boys, and gay women.

“Because one moment in life does not define a person…Without mistakes and misjudgments we would stagnate. It is no shameful thing to be beaten when outnumbered, not when you are brave enough to try.”


My Ratings
Passenger 4/5
Wayfarer 4.5/5





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Anticipated Reads of 2017

4:05 PM Ally M.G. 0 Comments

When a new year comes into existence...new books are published. There are many books in 2017 that are being published, but there are the ones that have me screaming on top of my longs. These are the books I am dying to get my hands on! And you should too. Some are sequels, but there are new books, and new books by debut authors that will be appearing in bookshelves in your local bookstore!

Caraval by Stephanie Garber


Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . . 

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Wire & Nerve by Marissa Meyer


In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new,action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold.When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, Winter, and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.


King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard


In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl's spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?
Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother's web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare's heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.


A Conjuring of Light by V.E Schwab


Londons fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire, and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes struggle. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees the newly minted New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab reach a thrilling conclusion concerning the fate of beloved protagonists--and old foes.


Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo


She will become one of the world's greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .
 
Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.
 
Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn't know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.
 
Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

The Trials of Apollo: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordian


Zeus has punished his son Apollo--god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more--by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo/Lester do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous--and frankly, humiliating--trials at Camp Half-Blood, Lester must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Somewhere in the American Midwest, he and his companions must find the most dangerous Oracle from ancient times: a haunted cave that may hold answers for Apollo in his quest to become a god again--if it doesn't kill him or drive him insane first. Standing in Apollo's way is the second member of the evil Triumvirate, a Roman emperor whose love of bloodshed and spectacle makes even Nero look tame. To survive the encounter, Apollo will need the help of son of Hephaestus Leo Valdez, the now-mortal sorceress Calypso, the bronze dragon Festus, and other unexpected allies--some familiar, some new--from the world of demigods. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride

Magnus Chase: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordian


In the third book in Rick Riordan's epic Norse mythology series, Magnus and his friends take a boat trip to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard's greatest threat. Life preservers are mandatory for this wet, wild, and wondrous adventure.

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Tamora Pierce.
 
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
     Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Throne of Glass 6 by Sarah J. Mass


Book 6 of the Throne of Glass series

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Mass


Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin's maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.
As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.
In this thrilling third book in the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series from Sarah J. Maas, the earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest


A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining. 
So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa's heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else. 
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother's legacy. But she soon realizes that the University, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.


Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab


The sequel—and conclusion—to Victoria Schwab’s instant #1 New York Times bestseller, This Savage Song.
Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.
A gorgeously written dark fantasy from New York Times-bestselling author Victoria Schwab, and one to hand to fans of Holly Black, Laini Taylor, and Maggie Stiefvater.

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The Iron Trial by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare | Book Review

3:06 PM Ally M.G. 0 Comments


“Fire wants to burn
Water wants to flow
Air wants to rise
Earth wants to bind
Chaos wants to devour
Cal wants to live” 


Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial.

Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail.

All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.

So he tries his best to do his worst - and fails at failing.

Now the Magisterium awaits him. It's a place that's both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come . . .

---

I have been cured from my massive reading slump! Thanks to this book that brought back the joy I felt when I first read Harry Potter!

We follow the story of Callum Hunt, a regular old 12-year-old kid with a messed up leg. He has pretty much been an outcast at his school, because of his overall strangeness and snarky remarks. He is special though, his dad is a mage and so was his mom...but Call's dad wants him to flunk the mage school entrance exam.

Magisterium is a school for mages, where children begin at the age of 12 and continue their studies for a total of five years in order to become a graduated mage.

In an attempt to purposely fail the Magisterium entrance exam, Call ends up being accepted...to study with the most famous Master (professor) in the school. Image the shock Call and his dad got.

Call is forced to attend his first year at the Magisterium and while studying there, Call learns that Magisterium was not the horror filled place his dad use to claim.

This book was amazing, I finished it in about 24 hours and it was magical. There is something about middle-grade reads that make everything so pure and I loved it. I think the main reason I was stuck in a massive slump because I did not want to read a Young Adult novel, because it has its typical inserted romance.

Now, something I was totally aware of was how similar it was to Harry Potter, and while I saw some negative reviews about this on Goodreads....I felt that it's similarity with Harry Potter was what got me hooked and in love.

There is a magic boarding school, mages in training, division of students, mysterious magic magicness, mythical creatures, cool magicfilled professors, and a mysterious Enemy.

While The Iron Trial does share those similarities with Harry Potter, it also had a powerful story that made it unique from HP. I do not want to give too much away, because it might ruin the story but the "chosen one" is not who you think it is, and Call as a dog (which is great).

A simple way to describe The Iron Trial (Magisterium Series) is:

 the magical misadventures of preteen Voldermort, Human Labrador, rule breaking Hermoine and their pet demon puppy.


Did I mention that Call is disable? Because he is, and the world of literature hardly ever had disable characters and I think it is important that we have those characters...especially when they are children stories. While Call's disability defines his way of life it does not define how he lives his life (AND IT IS FANTASTIC)..

I have never read anything by Holly Black and I read the first three books of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series abut seven years ago. So I cannot compare how their writing has changed from this middle-grade book to their popular stuff. As a description heavy lover, I was pleased with the detail in the story. Detail about the school, the people and the scenery was nice, I would have liked a bit more (but that is just me).

I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to relive the magic and giddiness gave on the first read. It is a series of five books and I have already started book two!

My Rating: 5/5



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