Zenith by Sasha Alsburg and Lindsay Cummings

Zenith

Goodreads Blurb

There is darkness sweeping across the stars.

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness: a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her fearsome glass starship the Maurader, she’s just Andi, their captain and protector.

When a routine mission goes awry, the all-girl crew’s resilience is tested as they find themselves in a most unfamiliar place: at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter connected to Andi’s past and a harrowing betrayal.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The final pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship—or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles towards the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only thing certain is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

Review

I’m not much on short stories or shorter books. I purchased this book on my iBooks one day when I was sitting at my husbands college waiting for him to finish his final. I’ve met author Lindsay Cummings at one of her first books signings for The Murder Complex in Frisco and then later at a book signing/release of The Balance Keepers. She was a really friendly and quirky person and I didn’t know that much about her at first other than that The Murder Complex sounded really cool and I wanted a copy of it. But I really enjoyed her writing. I liked how The Murder Complex seemed almost a little too dark to be YA but it made the story really intense and fast-paced. Then I went on to read The Balance Keepers because I love middle grade novels too and I’m a middle school Reading teacher and I like to know about popular books that I can recommend to my kiddos.

As for Sasha Alsburg, I came across her Instagram several years ago and it led me to her Youtube channel. She’s also another fun, quirky avid reader so naturally I was drawn to her posts. I love watching booktubers talk about ARC’s they’ve received from publishers. It keeps me in the know and builds the anticipation for when they come out!

Anyway, I heard they were writing a book together that was to come out in different parts.  I’ve only read part one so far. I don’t think the second part is out yet. And I know they just released the news on Snapchat and their website that Harlequin Teen has recently decided to publish Zenith in hardback coming sometime in 2017. Eeeeeek! So excited to own a physical copy!

I was excited to read it but I wasn’t expecting too much from it since I knew it was going to be so short. It’s hard to get invested in short stories/books in my opinion. But let me tell you, I LOVED it. From the first page I was hooked. What’s really neat is that you can tell some of the characters are based off of themselves and it was fun to connect those dots. Andi is totally Lindsay. She has silver hair with purple highlights and she’s the captain. (Like how Lindsay already has some books published and Sasha is kind of, sort of a newbie to having a book published. She’s pretty much immersed in the publishing world either way.) I’m thinking Nor is Sasha. She hasn’t been in the story other than in passing but I bet one is the good guy and one is the villain.

Then there’s Dextro (or Dex). I’m pretty certain he’s based off Lindsay’s husband. I think she based Zephyr off of him too in The Murder Complex, and she was Meadow. But Dex is the ex of Androma, and he’s tall and dark. So my spidey-sense is thinking he’s her husband as a fictional character. 

I really loved all the characters in Zenith. I wasn’t sure how the all girl crew was going to go. I didn;t know if it would be a little too girly, and girl power-esque. But they’re all pretty kick ass and the plot moves quickly. 

I enjoyed the backstory with Andi befriending the heiress, or daughter of the man who is forcing her and her crew to rescue his now missing son. It was all very interesting. I wasn’t so sure about the setting at first. I think the world building was done a little too quickly but as the plot progresses it gets better. It reminded me a lot of the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, and Andi is Starlord, the kind hearted rebel-Robinhood. 

I’ll definitely be purchasing part two and the physical copy when it releases.

A Thank You for publisher Harlequin Teen…

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to Harlequin Teen too. I emailed their publicity department and explained to them how I am a middle school Reading teacher and in charge of our school book club and asked if they had any extra book posters they could send to me for my classroom and they responded almost immediately asking for my address and said they had a few picked out for me based on the age group I teach. How awesome is that? I officially love Harlequin Teen for supporting teachers. It means so much to me that they are taking time out of their work to send me those. I will forever be grateful and appreciative.  Thank you.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne Review

“You — the three of you — you shone you know? You liked each other. You had fun. I envied you those friendships more than anything else.”

-Draco Malfoy to Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

This is one of many of Draco’s very meaningful quotes in Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. I think he’s been thinking about some things… Or his wife brought out his soft side.

The Cursed Child

Goodreads Review

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

The Cursed Child 2

Review

Oh my gosh. I feel like I did after I watched the last Harry Potter movie that came out. Like my childhood is OVERRRR. This play was so good and I am so sad that it’s over. It was very nostalgic reading this one. Maybe because I was a kid when I read Harry Potter and now I’m an adult like Harry, Ron, and Hermione. It was relatable! Not that I have kids yet but I’m working on getting the whole adulting thing down.

I thought the whole going back in time with the illegal Time-Turners was awesome. I know Hermione’s fascinated me when she used hers at Hogwarts. It was really neat to see all the different realities that could have played out but sad that there was no saving Cedric. He didn’t deserve to be the spare. But it taught a good lesson to try not an dwell on the past and that everything happens for a reason.

I loved the new characters. Albus was a little self-absorbed but what teenager isn’t. Especially as the middle child who struggles with being a successful wizard. Scorpius was my favorite though. I like the fact that something good could come from Draco. Scorpius is kind and hilarious. I did think it was weird that Albus fell for Delphi, knowing she was quite a bit older than him. I don’t know why but that left a bad taste in my mouth. I guess Albus needed to be easily manipulated for his character line.

However, it was sad that Scorpius and Albus did not like Hogwarts. Hogwarts has always been my getaway happy place! How can anyone not like it??? Maybe because Hagrid wasn’t there.

It was like a walk down memory lane getting to see Dumbledore, McGonagall, Hagrid, and Snape. Although a few of their parts were enough to rip your heart out. But I think it was a nice way to give the older Harry Potter fans some closure. Poor Snape 😦 Poor Alan Rickman!  He knew he wasn’t going to make it but he was still a hero.

OH MY GOSH. And can we just talk about when his parents were killed in Godric’s Hollow and they all stayed and watched? I felt like my heart was being ripped out and stomped on. Poor Harry! No one should watch that or live through that TWICE! I don’t care how young he was that has to be traumatic.

I really wish I could go see the play in London, but alas I am in Texas. I hear they are thinking about bringing it to New York… If that’s the case I am so down. I read in the back of the book that Imogen Heap did all of the Music Production in the play! How stinking cool is that??? If you don’t know who Imogen Heap is I suggest you go to Youtube right now and type in Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek right now!

 I gave this play 5/5 of course. J.K. Rowling made my dreams come true and brought more Harry Potter into my lifeMalfoy Quote

Photo cred:  

Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George

Silver in the Blood

Goodreads Blurb

Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate… or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.

With a gorgeous Romanian setting, stunning Parisian gowns, and dark brooding young men, readers will be swept up by this epic adventure of two girls in a battle for their lives.

Review 

I first saw this book at the Texas Teen Book Festival 2015 in Austin, TX. I tried to buy it on the spot but the publishers were just doing a giveaway of ARCs. I received an ARC of Velvet by Temple West but not Silver in the Blood. Which I can’t wait to read either.

Velvet

So I was really excited when I came across Silver in the Blood by Jessica Day George in Barnes & Noble. It finally had come out! I fell in love with the cover all over again. It’s so whimsical and I love anything that looks foreign or that has aspects of fantasy in it. Like vampires, werewolves or Hobbits, Oh My!

Sadly though, I had to give this one a 2/5 star rating. While I did enjoy the setting, I was not the biggest fan of the writing style. I think this is a good post-book hangover book to read. It was a quick easy read, and I didn’t get too attached to the characters.

I didn’t understand how the characters personalities flip-flopped in this story. In the beginning, Dacia is the brave, outspoken of the two cousins. She speaks her mind and is always trying to defend her timid cousin Lou. But then Lou grows into this amazingly strong-willed person once she accepts her powers. I get that it turned her into a stronger person, but it was as if they just traded personalities and it was confusing and unbelievable.

I did enjoy the idea of the story. I read how the author was so enveloped with this story that she and her husband took a trip to Romania just to do research for this novel. I think that’s some crazy awesome dedication. I like how she decided for Dacia and Lou’s story to take place in the past versus the future. I think it romanticized the story more, in a good way. It added to the rich culture of Romania and to the Dracula folklore.

But that’s another thing… I know it was kind of a twist on Dracula but the whole vampire aspect was removed but there was a familial clan of werewolves, bats, and mist to guard the Dracula family? I think you might as well have left in the vampire story. It went hand in hand with the rest of the plot.

The story moved too quickly in my opinion. There wasn’t enough build-up and the build-up that was there was a little stale. I think the story could grow if there is a sequel to follow but I wasn’t the biggest fan. But I would be willing to give a sequel the benefit of the doubt and try it just because I love historical fiction and I love foreign places. Maybe the story line could be more developed with another addition.

Bookish Interview with Mallory!

Mallory
Hey guys, this is Mallory. A friend of mine from middle school! We both grew up in Texas and became friends when it was cool to wear jelly bracelets and listen to emo punk bands like Story if the Year and Green Day (early 2000’s). This was back when it was cool to watch The Crow and doodle “It can’t rain all the time” on all your Five Star Notebooks. Here are Mallory’s responses to my interview:
Where is your favorite place to read? 
By the pool.
What are some of your all time favorite books? 
To Kill a Mockingbird
Memoirs of a Geisha
The Divergent Series
The Notebook
What was your favorite childhood book and why?  
A Fly Went By Mike McClintock edited by Dr. Seuss
My mom read it to me all the time and I have read it to every class I have ever taught!
Who is your favorite author and why?  
I love Poe because he is so dark and disturbed. I am not sure what what says about me LOL.
I like Nicholas Sparks because I love a good love story as cheesy as that is.
Where is your favorite book setting? 
Any where in the South!
What would you say is your favorite literature genre? 
Realistic Fiction
If you could change the ending of one book, which book would it be and how would you change the ending?  
In Dear John he would not die in the end and she would be with him.
If you could choose one literary character that you identify most with, who would it be and why? 
Oh gosh, I have no idea.
Have you ever read a book that you hated? If yes, which one? 
Harry Potter, too much fantasy and I couldn’t even finish it. I will watch the movies though.
It’s dress-like-a-fictional-character day at work. What fictional character do you dress as? 
Viola Swamp ( from the children’s book Miss Nelson is Missing!) because I like to pretend to be a mean dictator teacher. hahahaha