Blog Tour - Review: True North by L.E. Sterling

Freitag, 14. April 2017

   Thank you so much to YA Reads for making me part of the blog tour for True North. When I saw the sign up post for this tour, and L.E. Sterling had tweeted me (and a few others) about it, I just knew I had to be part of it.

True North by L.E. Sterling
Published: April 4th 2017 by Entangled TEEN
Number of pages: 400 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: Yes, #2 in the True Born Trilogy

   Abandoned by her family in Plague-ridden Dominion City, eighteen-year-old Lucy Fox has no choice but to rely upon the kindness of the True Borns, a renegade group of genetically enhanced humans, to save her twin sister, Margot. But Nolan Storm, their mysterious leader, has his own agenda. When Storm backtracks on his promise to rescue Margot, Lucy takes her fate into her own hands and sets off for Russia with her True Born bodyguard and maybe-something-more, the lethal yet beautiful Jared Price. In Russia, there's been whispered rumors of Plague Cure.
   While Lucy fights her magnetic attraction to Jared, anxious that his loyalty to Storm will hurt her chances of finding her sister, they quickly discover that not all is as it appears…and discovering the secrets contained in the Fox sisters' blood before they wind up dead is just the beginning.??
   As they say in Dominion, sometimes it’s not you…it’s your DNA. (

* Thank you to Entangled TEEN and NetGalley for providing me 
with an eARC in exchange for my honest opinion *

   Ever since I read True Born last year, I was anticipating book two, curious to see how the story would continue. After reading True North I can safely say that I wasn't disappointed and that the wait was definitely worth it. Now the only problem I have is that I'd like to read book three right about now.
   Since this is a second book in a trilogy I don't want to say too much so I won't spoil anything, so I'll start off by saying that I love the cover. It's just as amazing as the cover of True Born, so I can't wait to have both books on my shelves sooner or later to show them off.
   Okay, let's go into plot and character thoughts but trying to stay spoiler free, of course.
   I loved following Lucy throughout the story once more as she tries to find Margot and figure things about with Jared. They are amazing together and their tension is off the hooks. She remains an amazing and interesting character which makes following her and her thoughts a lot of fun once more. True North is full of mysteries and also a few answers, though leaving a lot of them still unanswered and thus the reader hooked and thirsty for more and more. The world building continued to amaze me in this one, adding more details to the world L.E. Sterling created. Also the fact that we go to Russia made me happy because I love books that play there in any sort of way.
   All in all True North is a worthy successor to True Born, fast paced and amazing beginning to end. I am definitely looking forward to the final book in the series and seeing how everything ends, even if saying goodbye to this trilogy will be a sad moment.
I give True North by L.E. Sterling 5 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

   I was a voracious devotee of sci-fi and fantasy novels all through my childhood, so I suppose it doesn’t come as much of a shock that I’ve returned to the genre with a vengeance.
   For a while I turned my back on the genre in favour of ‘high-brow’ literary texts. Ironically, it was my doctoral degree that saw me circling back. There’s something about the way postmodern literature plays with the arcane that had me utterly fascinated, and it wasn’t long until I fell headlong back into my old ways and haven’t looked back since.
   My first novel, which isn’t in the Urban Fantasy or Fantasy genres, isn’t high literature, mind you, even if it tangles with some serious statements about politics and the way our western world runs. My editor described it as something between Charles Dickens and The Catcher in the Rye: Serious Fun, in other words.
   My second novel, Pluto’s Gate, is where I’ve come home to myself: it’s a contemporary retelling of the Demeter-Persephone-Pluto story from Greek mythology. Folded into the mix is a Shaman-in-training, a magical book, Underworld Gods, a world covered in ice, a three-headed dog, and one lousy ex-boyfriend.
   But I’ll tell you this much: I believe in the power of words and stories to transform our inner worlds. Whether the characters be vampires or vagabonds, a good narrative sucker punches so-called reality anyhow.

Read the first 6 chapters HERE

So this happened...

Dienstag, 21. März 2017

   I didn't think I would get to write a post like this any time soon, especially not for this particular manuscript, but here we are and I am beyond excited. But, let's start at the beginning, shall we?

   As you guys know I've been writing, as in taking writing seriously and everything, since somewhere between age 17 and 18. In those past almost six years I've completed eight manuscripts ranging between 72.000 and 112.000 words across various genres. One of them was a YA manuscript that is now known as ECHOS.
   I've written ECHOS about two years ago, queried it with marginal success getting a few partials and full, but ultimately all of it led to rejections. So, in true Alice Reeds fashion, I decided to shelf this manuscript and move on to other projects. But than #PitMad rolled around sometime September 2016. I didn't plan on pitching ECHOS but a different manuscript of mine, one that ultimately landed me a spot during Pitch Wars. But, my mother who always loved ECHOS urged me to give it a shot because what's the worst that could happen? So I did. And lo and behold, I got a request from an Entangled TEEN editor and right about died.
   Of course used to rejections upon rejections I didn't promise myself too much off of this request, but I went on and submitted it. A round of revise and resubmit later, along with some help from my brilliant friend Mia Siegert (JERKBAIT), my manuscript was accepted.

*queue the happy freakout right about now*

  Basically one of my biggest dreams came true, one of my manuscripts finding a home at one of my absolute favorite publishers. It's been over a week and I still can't believe it, still find myself occasionally wondering if it actually happened.

   So, take it from someone who's been in the query trenches for years, who wrote story after story, who received rejection after rejection, who barely got any requests during pitching events on twitter: don't give up. It might be hard to keep going at times, but if you keep going, keep writing, keep fighting for your stories, you will eventually get there. Feeling shy of participating in #PitMad or similar events because you don't think you'll get any requests? Try anyways because you can never know.
   Also don't be afraid to make some friends along the way. For years I sat in the query trenches alone until I got to know Mia and Judy (who was my Pitchs Wars mentor and is now a dear friend) and somehow everything started to feel that little bit easier. I'm basically the personification of 'someone with exactly zero social skills' and social anxiety, so if I can do this, you can, too.
   If you love writing, don't give up. Maybe your first stories will suck and, looking back at them years from now you'll want to set them on fire (at least that's how I feel about a bunch of my first manuscripts) but keep going. Practice makes perfect.

   As always this post has turned into a way longer thing than I originally planned, bravo me. Basically all I want dot say is OMG MY BOOK IS GOING TO BE PUBLISHED BY ENTANGLED TEEN AND I'M FREAKING OUT but it somehow turned deeper than anticipated. 

Everything, Everything Trailer Reaction

Mittwoch, 15. Februar 2017

Everything, Everything
In Theatres: May 19th 2017
Drama - based on Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Cast: Amandla Stenberg (Maddy Whittier)
Nick Robinson (Olly Bright)
Anika Noni Rose (Dr. Whittier)
Ana de la Reguera (Carla)

   The unlikely love story of Maddy, a smart, curious and imaginative 18-year-old who due to an illness cannot leave the protection of the hermetically sealed environment within her house, and Olly, the boy next door who won't let that stop them. (

   I want to start of this trailer reaction/review post by saying that I absolutely loved Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. It was one of my favorite books of 2015 so when I heard that it was being turned into a movie, I was excited. Then I heard that Amandla was cast as Maddie and I couldn't be happier. She fits the role amazingly.
   After waiting for over a year, here we are today with the brand new trailer for the movie. I was reluctant to watch it because, as we all know, the thing with trailers and YA book to movie adaptations is that it can go either of two ways: be a complete disaster (*cough*Divergent series*cough*) or absolutely nail-on-the-head amazing (*cough*The Fault in Our Stars*cough*). Everything, Everything falls somewhere in between those two.
   Don't get me wrong, it doesn't look bad BUT the trailer is showing way too much, like way, way too much and thus spoiling many interesting plot points that would've been much more convincing and surprising when watching the movie if we wouldn't have seen them in the first trailer.

   Disclaimer: This is very much a train of thoughts type of review since I'm re-watching the trailer as I write down my thoughts to give you my most authentic ones. Hopefully that's okay.

   Let's rewind a little and start at the beginning. I am a fan of the house and finally being able to properly visualize how it looks like and how this whole closed off system kind of thing works that is keeping Maddie away from all the bad bad things outside. It's very high tech, but not too much, so it's convincing and I like that.
   I love the opening narration that perfectly sums up Maddie's life and immediately catches your attention. Great job with that one. Then there's the shot of Maddie in her window and Olly sitting in the back of the truck, great way of telling us that he's the new kid without actually saying anything.
   Moving on, I like the on screen text messages that pop up instead of being read out loud which reminds me of The Fault in Our Stars, though this one doesn't have the fun, quirky animations which is fine. Many people don't like texts and emails being part of movies and shown on screen and all that, but i actually like it. Our lives are full of texts and such so it adds to the realism. Besides reading a couple words doesn't take away from the movie in any way.

   Then we get the scene where Olly visits Maddie and I really like it. The dialogue is funny and Maddie seems a bit shy which makes sense especially when you remember that she's never been outside and thus never really had any real life friends besides her mom and her nurse.

"You're really different than I thought you're gonna be"
"Sexier, right?"
"What would happen if you went outside?"
"Probably spontaneous combustion."

   Yes, please, more of these types of dialogues and I will be a happy person.

   And that is basically where I think we go downhill into SPOILERS territory. Olly asks Maddie where she would want to go if she could go outside and we see a shot of her in the ocean, since that's her answer. That in and of itself would be fine since it could be like a 'of I wish this is what I would be doing' type of sequence but it doesn't end there and I think that's a shame really.
   We have Maddie's mom firing her nurse, telling Maddie that she won't be able to see Olly again, and then to top it all off we have these shots of Maddie going outside. Again the latter would be fine if we'd end it here, leave it open to discussion and raise curiosity. But of course we do not.
   The trailer continues and shows us Maddie and Olly actually going to the ocean and that, my dearest reader, is that one step too far that definitely and truly moves into spoiler territory. As book reader I know it happens, they go there and everything, but as movie watcher that is something I wouldn't want to find out through the trailer. That's definitely something they should've left out to make that part of the movie more surprising and interesting. But they didn't.

   Let's talk about music. I really like the songs they've chosen for the trailer, they fit really well and make me curious if the movie soundtrack will be just as good. I am a sucker for good movie soundtracks so that's a good sign. Besides, having a Beyonce song just adds awesome points to the movie simply because it's Beyonce.

   Overall the trailer looks fine. I like the cast, the dialogues seem good, the cinematography feels YA and the music is good. I will definitely watch it, that's not a question, simply because I loved the book and I want to see how they managed to translate it into movie form. But looking at it from just a movie viewer perspective I think the trailer lacks a certain something that would truly grab your attention and make it stand out. Maybe it's because it's another YA book-to-movie adaptation, maybe it is because we already had The Fault in Our Stars starring kids with illnesses, in that case cancer, as main characters, or maybe it's neither of those but something completely different.
   I am looking forward to seeing more snippets and trailers, and in May the full movie. Hopefully it will be just as good as the book. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet them at me, @Alice_Reeds.


Triple Review #2

Mittwoch, 11. Januar 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies Louise Gornall
Published: January 3rd 2017 by Clarion Books
Number of Pages: 320 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did.
   Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up. (

* Thank you to Clarion Books for providing me with an eARC 
in exchange for my honest review *

   Under Rose-Tainted Skies is the first book centered around a character with agoraphobia, paired with OCD, that I have ever read and it was quite the experience. There is quite the difference between knowing what agoraphobia means definition and psychology wise, and experiencing it through the eyes of a character who lives with this mental illness.
   I really enjoyed reading about Norah, her life and the struggles she faced on a daily basis because of her mental illnesses. Her voice and narration came across very honest and real, fitting for someone her age, and definitely brought across how hard it is to be a teenager and not being able to do all the things other teenagers are able to do. But even when stepping out of her own front door seemed like the most daunting thing in the world, Norah wasn't giving up, she still wanted to live a life, even if said life was limited to what she could do inside the house and what her mental illness allowed her to do.
   Luke was also an interesting character and I enjoyed his interactions with Norah, the way he tried to make her feel like she is just a girl defined by her personality and not her illness. But, at the same time, I did struggle a bit to see the romance between the two. It was well written, but sometimes I found myself wishing that instead of going in a romantic direction, they would've just formed a deeper friendship and shown the importance of that instead of love.
   Another thing that I saw a few other people mention with which I agree to some extent was that this book felt strangely reminiscent of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, which also centered around a girl unable to leave the house and who feel in love with her cute new neighbor, even if these two books deal with vastly different subject matters when it comes to mental illness and illness.
   Either way I really enjoyed reading Under Rose-Tainted Skies and almost read it in a single day once I could really sit down and dive into it properly.
I give Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall 4 out of 5 stars!

* * *

A List of Cages Robin Roe
Published: January 10th 2017 by Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 320 Pages (Hardcover)
Series: No

   When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian--the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.
   Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives. (

* Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for providing me with an eARC 
in exchange for my honest review *

   A List of Cages was truly a remarkable yet very emotional read depicting a beautiful and meaningful friendship as well as dealing with very important and critical topics such as: ADHD, the effects of abuse on a child, how hard it is to recognize and escape said abuse, the meaning of family and foster care.
   Originally I was drawn to this book due to its stunning cover and beautiful title, but ultimately the plot surprised me by gripping me from page one and not letting me go until a long time after I was done reading. This definitely isn't an easy book you can just read and be done with, but rather one that will make you think and possibly even change your view on a lot of things.
   I loved both narrators, Adam and Julian. I loved how different their voices and narrations were, how vastly different their lives were and how wonderfully they slotted together as friends. Seeing Adam care so much about Julian and wanting to help him was amazing, as well as experiencing what it means to have ADHD through his narration was great. Julian on the other hand was a tragic character trapped in a life I wouldn't wish upon any child. He goes through horrible, horrible things and it's truly heartbreaking to read about.
   A List of Cages is a truly important book I think anyone should read, even if it might not necessarily seem like your cup of tea. It has beautiful writing, a realistic, raw and honest plot, and features great characters that will stay with you even after you're done reading. I cannot recommend this book enough, honestly!
I give A List of Cages by Robin Roe 5 out of 5 stars!

* * *

Throwing My Life Away by Liz Czukas
Published: December 20th 2016 by Liz Czukas
Number of Pages: 316 Pages (Paperback)
Series: No

   7 photographs, 2 weeks, an entire life to get back. No problem, right?
   After her stepfather accidentally throws away her high school mementos, sentimental Mariska is pretty sure the world is over. That is, until she comes up with a plan. She's going to recreate her past, with a little help from her friends.
   It's not easy to rally everyone into helping, especially Caine, who couldn't be less sentimental about anything if he were a park bench. But from a guerilla kite festival to convincing her ex-boyfriend to recreate her lost prom picture, Mariska is willing to do what it takes.
   With a little nudging from Caine, Mariska starts to realize she can't actually get her past back. And maybe that's okay. Because while she's so focused on the past, she's missing out on the present, where her friends are busy having the summer of their lives. And where funny, quiet Caine might just be the future she never knew she wanted. (

* Thank you to Liz Czukas for providing me with an eARC 
in exchange for my honest review *

   If I had to review this book using a single word I would choose "fun". This was the first book by Liz Czukas I've ever read, through I've had her previous books on my TBR for what seems like ages, so I was excited when Liz emailed me to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing this one.
   I really enjoyed Mariska's narration and her sentimentality and how important memories and her lost photographs were to her. As someone who rarely takes pictures with friends, I couldn't relate 100%, but it was interesting to read about Mariska and her friends trying to recreate the previously mentioned lost photographs nonetheless.
   Speaking about friends, I really liked them a lot and their friendships really came across very realistic and teen-like which I greatly appreciate. 
   Reading this book after a bunch of heavy-topic ones was definitely a very welcome change since it was relatively light and fluffy. It definitely made me want to check out Liz other books more, now that I know that I like her writing style and such. Hopefully I will get around to that soon!
I give Throwing My Life Away by Liz Czukas 4 out of 5 stars.