Review: Daughter Of The Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

dotpkDaughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King #1)

Published by: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Publication Date: February 28th 2017

Genre: YA Fantasy

Pages: 320 pages

Format: eGalley

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 STARS)

*HUGE thanks to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Netgalley, and Tricia Levenseller for the eGalley of Daughter of the Pirate King in exchange for an honest review

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A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Debut author Tricia Levenseller blends action, adventure, romance, and a little bit of magic into a thrilling YA pirate tale.

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Daughter of the Pirate King is the story of Alosa, a 17 year old pirate captain who has been sent by the Pirate King AKA her father to find a hidden map. Alosa along with her crew of female pirates plot her own kidnapping, fully intending to allow herself to be taken by another ships captain. She downplays her physical capabilities as well as other abilities that would give her a serious advantage in any physical altercation. The objective is to be taken onto the ship in order to find the hidden map that will lead them to a Island filled with treasures. There are three important/royal pirate families descended from three well known & highly feared pirates. Alosa is descended from the Pirate King himself and they hold one of the maps needed to find the island, the other two maps can be found within the other two pirate families. Alosa successfully manages to pull off being kidnapped however, her mission turns out to be much more difficult than she had anticipated. Although she was trained by the Pirate King himself in a all manners of defense, it is keeping those skills hidden that will prove to be her biggest weapon. We get to follow Alosa on board the enemy ship as she gathers intel all the while trying not to raise suspicions. After all, no one can know that she fully intended to be captured or what she hopes to find…

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The characters in Daughter of the Pirate King remind me plenty of those in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise only I enjoyed this cast a bit more. Starting with Alosa, the daughter who wants nothing more than to make her father proud and follow in his footsteps ruling the seas. Alosa is strong physically & mentally, she is also very sharp & sarcastic which quickly made her a fave. We get a bit of background on her and how she came to be so strong. Her relationship with her father is not a positive one but Alosa is very proud & grateful for how it has molded her into a force to be reckoned with. Alosa has a crew of women on her very own ship, all of which she has handpicked herself. Each woman has their strengths & Alosa values everyone one her crew. Once on the enemy ship, we get introduced to their captain and first mate who happen to be brothers. Alosa & the first mate have some fierce chemistry and their banter throughout the book often made me laugh out loud and visibly shake my head. These two know which buttons to press to get the other one going & NOTHING is too far below the belt. There is plenty more that I LOVED about Alosa that I can’t quite say because *spoilers* but just know that she is seriously kick a**!  I got Merida from Brave/ blended with Jack Sparrow/Pirates of the Caribbean vibes & I couldn’t get enough. I haven’t had this much fun with a cast of characters like I have with Daughter of the Pirate King, in a very long time!

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Ok, the selfish bookworm in me just wants to get this out of the way…this book was way too short for me! I need more of this fantastic crew, more of this adventure/quest, more Riden! I had so much fun reading Daughter of the Pirate King that I seriously had to pace myself when I noticed that I was inhaling the book. I want to gush all about what I loved about Alosa but I know that I can’t for fear of spoilers lol. The YA Fantasy genre has been a go to for me this past year & therefore has gotten bit harder to find new story lines/characters. However, not only is Alosa a refreshing new character but she will catch you unawares. Just like she manages to keep the crew of the enemy ship in the dark, we the reader also don’t fully grasp the depth of her skills. We get introduced to a very cocky, self-assured, and brave female protagonist & then we are shown that she can back up everything that she says & thinks she is. Hands down my 1st fave female protagonist in YA Fantasy since…thinking…thinking…yea no, she simply is my favorite (the Illuminae Files girls don’t count cuz that’s more sci-fi lol). This being Tricia Levenseller’s debut fantasy series, i’d say she’s onto something here cuz who doesn’t like pirates? this book will leave you wanting to hop on the next ship out of port to your very first adventure with no care in sight. Many of the fighting scenes have a cinematic feel and overall was a ton of fun to visualize. I can’t wait for the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King, the next adventure that i’m sure will be packed with non-stop surprises 😉

Are any of my bookish peeps looking forward to meeting Alosa, Daughter of the Pirate King? What do you make of that cover? I can’t stop staring at her fierce red hair contrasted against the black & cream parchment *heart eyes*

Review: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog (Spoiler Free)

unnatural-deeds-by-cyna-balogUnnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

Published by: Sourcebooks Fire

Date of Publication: November 1st 2016

Genres: YA Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 288

Format: eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★★★ (5 Stars)

 

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Secrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.

And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.

I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Fire for approving me to receive an eGalley of Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unnatural Deeds is a YA Mystery Thriller and as expected was very plot driven with some occasional glimpses into the characters past lives. Since this book is a mystery, i’ll keep this review short for a change 😉 We meet Victoria at the beginning of the school year & she’s pretty much the new kid in the school until Z shows up. Z is a transfer student who just like this book, enjoys being one giant enigma, in fact he thrives on it. The polar opposite to Victoria who takes medication for her anxiety and doesn’t speak to any of the students in the school. The daughter of a religious family, Victoria’s only friend is her neighbor Andrew (same age as her) who suffers from Agoraphobia & has been homeschooled & sheltered. Andrew also happens to be Victoria’s boyfriend and they see each other mostly at each others homes or at their favorite spot by the fence that separates their homes. Up until the arrival of Z in Victoria’s school, Andrew was her life and she enjoyed coming home and re-counting her day at school to him & listening to him talk about his life at home. Andrew’s mother had re-married & his step-dad was physically abusive and not understanding at all of his anxiety disorder. This all changed the minute that Z noticed Victoria & chose to give her the attention that all of the popular girls in the school wanted from him. Z was charming & charismatic, the definition of a bad boy and the minute he set his sights on Victoria they both fell through the rabbit hole. Z brings out a side of Victoria she never knew she had & it was thrilling to her.

Writing/Thoughts:

This being a Thriller/Murder Mystery, I enjoyed the format Balog used where she started each chapter with the transcript of the police investigation…yes, someone is killed but I won’t say who HAHA! students and teachers are interviewed by the police & it is during these brief chapter openers that we are given a piece of the puzzle. What you think you know or have figured out is probably wrong…that’s all i’ll say about that for fear of you guessed it…spoilers! LOL. I’ve seen a ton of mixed reviews for this book because of the way Victoria worshipped Z but given her background & the fact that she suffers from anxiety, I was able to give her character some understanding. This wasn’t at all what I was expecting in reading my 1st YA thriller & that’s a very good thing, makes me want to check some more out. I don’t want to reveal more than this because this book is just one that you want to go into not knowing anything, I would definitely recommend Unnatural Deeds if you’re looking for your next YA Murder Mystery *wicked grin*

About Last Night…

My Monday started off with me trying to finish reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, a book that has been talked about & praised all over social media. It was my shameful little secret that I had not yet read this beautiful black paged book, until it was announced that Leigh Bardugo would be coming to New York City Strand Bookstore as part of her #Troublemakerstour. I could NOT put it off any longer because I’ve heard such amazing things not only about Six of Crows but the author herself. I have read the Grisha trilogy but I wasn’t too much of a fan on how that wrapped up. Six of Crows however, BLEW ME AWAY! I finished reading SOC on the train ride to the event signing for Crooked Kingdom & got off the train to immediately text Gretchen at Chicnerdreads that I had DONE IT! I had finished the book in time. I was also reeling from how it ended but nonetheless feeling pretty euphoric lol. Review for Six of Crows to come, gathering all of my thoughts & feels so that I’m not just saying I LOVED IT! over & over again lol.

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The night was made all the more special because I was also meeting Gretchen (pictured above) for the very first time after many months of communicating through social media, our blogs, gchat, text, & HILLARIOUS voice messages LOL. I met Gretchen earlier this year when she was still a booktuber, thankfully I came across her before she left Booktube & started her blog. She is actually one of the people who motivated me to start my own (4 days later to be exact haha!) & for that I am very thankful for this friendship. It should come to no surprise that a couple of bookworms decided to do a little book & comic book shopping since we arrived super early for the event…

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$18.00 for hardcover = WINNING!!! 🙂

The event was to start at 6:30pm but the crazy long line started forming by 4pm, luckily we were in the front of this line. We also happened to be standing in the exact spot where Leigh Bardugo & Jesse The Reader’s car pulled up which meant she had to cut through us…

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Gretchen took this photo because I was author struck & froze, as a matter of fact it took considerable effort to move out of Leigh’s way so that she can get through *hides face* LOL!  Leigh Bardugo arrived promptly at 6pm (early) & did not keep us waiting. We were in the first group of 20 to be let in & be seated which was great because the place quickly filled up to maximum capacity. Some artwork was brought in & placed in different corners…

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I tried unsuccessfully to take a selfie with Jesper, he is hella tall & I am nothing but a shrimp next to him. Leigh & Jesse came out shortly after we were seated & from the moment she sat down it was non stop laughter from everyone because she is one funny lady! Jesse asked her a series of pop culture questions like “if the crew of Six Of Crows were Youtubers, what would each of their channels be about?” or “which drink would each of the characters order from Starbucks?” we were also given a chance to ask questions & she answered everything with sincerity, honesty, and gave some really good advice to aspiring writers. She spoke briefly about Wonder Woman; the YA book she is writing under DC but couldn’t give away too much of course. When asked about the possibility of more books in the Grishaverse she made no promises but said there are plenty more stories to tell & she’s not quite finished with that world sOOOo *fingers crossed* 

Fact:  Leigh is also donating 10% of book sales to GEMS, a charity for young girls ages 12-24 who’ve been victims of sexual exploitation & domestic trafficking. This charity works to empower young girls/women by giving them the tools they need to leave the commercial sex industry & develop their full potential. This charity is also close to the theme in Six Of Crows. 

Can we just take a moment to admire this woman’s style?!?! Fierce! after a few rounds of questions we were then asked to form a line for the book signing & again arriving early truly makes a difference (signing expected to run till 10:30pm). We were the first 20 to line up & while we waited…smh…we realized there were other authors present for this event. We spotted Zoraida Córdova author of Labyrinth Lost (I recently reviewed & LOVED this book here), Daniel José Older author of Shadowshaper (on my TBR, probably will get a copy at Bookcon next week), and Libba Bray author of The Diviners series (I own & need to stop procrastinating). It happened again, I froze & didn’t woman up to talk to Zoraida but ummm there will be other times *cough* for sure…smh LOL. Back to Leigh Bardugo, it was finally our turn to get our books signed and take a photo  with Leigh…

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This was simply AMAZING! she struck up a convo when she saw my name on the post-it (Lilly) & told me that when she was a little girl, her parents used to call her LeeLee which is what my parents call me in Spanish. I got to pick up one of the playing cards that were face down on the table & drew Inej which YESSSSS!!! I LOVE!!!! also got a pin & a crow shaped cookie but that broke into bits so no pic lol.

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Gretchen & I ended the night by going to Chipotle since we had skipped lunch and it was around 8 or 9pm. We chatted up a bit about the event AND already prepping for next week’s BookCon @ NYC Comicon. It was a great night & I had so much fun with Gretchen that I cannot wait to do it again! Thank you Gretchen for taking the photos at the event cuz you know you had the heels/height, what would I have done without you?!?! 🙂

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Six of Crows bookmark was part of the September Owlcrate, got it just in time for Crooked Kingdom!

Review: Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Format: e-ARC (NetGalley)
Page Count: 336 pages
Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Goodreads Synopsis:

 Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent.
Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys.
As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.


I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster for approving me to receive an arc of Gemini via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This also happens to be my very 1st arc & I’m glad that it was Gemini.

Gemini turned out to be a very fast read for me, which is to say kudos to the author for the pacing which was on point. I enjoyed being given a seat at the table with Clara & Hailey; a set of conjoined twins in their last year of high school, and all of their friends. When we first meet Clara & Hailey, the author lets us know that they are polar opposites. Whilst Clara is more subdued, into the sciences, enjoys blending in as much as possible…Hailey is more of an extrovert with pink hair & black eyeliner, a very talented artist with a wanderlust soul. The girls are very much in sync in more ways than one. Although they are only attached by their lower spinal region (each has their own unattached set of legs), the twins share sensations from the torso down. If Clara were to stub her toe, both she & Hailey would feel the pain.

The setting for the most part is the twins high school in a small town where they share a group of girlfriends. Hailey & Clara’s parents are two college professors who left L.A. and relocated to the small town of Bear Pass in an attempt to give the twins a quiet & less complicated life. In the small town of Bear Pass, everyone knows each other & for the most part have gotten used to seeing and being around the twins. One of the best parts of this book had to be the twins support system within their small circle of friends. Juanita (twins’ BFF) was a Godsend, she never treated the twins any differently & was always a great listener, even when she had issues of her own to deal with. Friends like Juanita are one in a million.

Clara & Hailey are in their last year of high school & with graduation right around the bend, came a lot of anxiety over identity. The girls have an amazing bond and each one wants the other to live the life they always dreamed of yet it all seems impossible to attain. They tackled the topics of dating, college, living independently, the possibility of having the very risky surgical procedure to separate them, and lastly the financial costs. In the background we are introduced to their parents and we learn a bit about their lives before the twins & what led them to move away from a big city. Although the interactions between the twins and their dad were brief, I really enjoyed his parts and could tell that he was more open minded. The twin’s mom on the other hand, had pretty much become a master of all trades. Besides being a professor, she tailors all of Hailey & Clara’s clothing, maintains an active role/presence in their school to make sure they have everything they need and drives them to/from school in a van that accommodates them. Mom is also fixated on watching videos of unsuccessful surgical procedures of conjoined twins in an effort to reassure herself that she made the right decision when she opted to keep them together in their infancies. Their portrayal of concerned parents who have sacrificed a lot for the love & safety of their children felt authentic.

I gave this book a 3.5-star rating only because I struggled with telling the twins voices apart. The book is divided by the twins in alternating chapters & as much as they are described to be polar opposites, I couldn’t differentiate between the two and often found that I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see whose perspective I was reading from. Since I was already invested in the story & was rooting for the girls, I put in the bit of effort to look back and see whose narrative I was reading but I can see how it may affect others reading experience.

Overall, I really did enjoy this story and the fact that the ending was not made out to be some sort of happy ending but instead felt like  a new beginning for Hailey & Clara. I would recommend Gemini to a friend.

A Very Potter Date Night

Saturday night was supposed to be an ordinary night with my hubby & 2 little ones, I certainly didn’t plan any of the things we ended up doing instead of Netflix & finger-painting. Earlier in the day we had taken a trip to the city & as usual stopped by Barnes & Noble right before heading home. We walked right into B&N staff running around in high spirits decorating & re-arranging for the Harry Potter release party which we were hearing about for the 1st time. I’ve mentioned it before on my blog, but here goes one more time lol. I met my husband 7 years ago when I walked into my new job with a copy of Goblet of Fire & he a copy of Deathly Hallows…the rest is history 😉

A zillion light bulbs went off in the hubs aka Lorenzo’s head. We didn’t have a sitter but we had hope lol. After a quick call to my sister who doesn’t have the most stable schedule (life of a flight attendant), we had reserved her for the night. Like any parents who don’t get many date nights…we wanted to do it ALL!!! We caught Star Trek Beyond from 8-10pm (EPICCCC!) & then headed over across the street to B&N for the Harry Potter release party. I already had pre-ordered a copy of the Cursed Child that I probably will receive Monday afternoon BUT we were easily persuaded to pre-order another copy in-store just to be a part of this major event lol smh. After pre-ordering, we were given purple wrist bands that would place us on the 1st floor line. B&N in Union Square NYC has 4 floors & the line extended all throughout. Each floor was themed, offering face painting, balloon making, a magic show, and an arts & craft center to design your own wand. Although we missed the wand making (SooO bummed about this lol), we managed to get a few pics & videos by taking turns on the line that had formed at 10pm.


 HIGHLIGHT OF OUR NIGHT:

While waiting on line, we decided to read our e-books UNTIL I was approached by someone with a very deep voice asking “anything good?” I was sooo engrossed in my book that I was caught off guard & when I looked to see who was asking the question, I had to take a few steps back lol. In front of me stood a 7-foot-tall man dressed as Professor Snape…I mean he looked IDENTICAL to Snape! I’ll admit, I was a bit scared there for a few seconds & lost the ability to speak smh. Lorenzo found this HILLARIOUS as did everyone else standing near us lol. Snape continued to do his creep on with other customers on line who were very distracted, all very funny.

Midnight:

The 10 second countdown to midnight honestly made me a bit emotional, I have so many great memories attached to the HP world & to share that experience with Lorenzo was nice. When I finally had my copy in my hands, it was time to head home. We took the train to our car & it was insane seeing everyone in our train car reading a copy of Cursed Child. People from all walks of life, ages, young & old. I don’t really do fandoms but this is one that I’ll always take pride in being a part of <3!  ​