Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Holding Smoke by Elle Cosimano | Review + GiveawayHolding Smoke by Elle Cosimano
Published by Hyperion on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

John "Smoke" Conlan is serving time for two murders but he wasn't the one who murdered his English teacher, and he never intended to kill the only other witness to the crime. A dangerous juvenile rehabilitation center in Denver, Colorado, known as the Y, is Smoke's new home and the only one he believes he deserves.

But, unlike his fellow inmates, Smoke is not in constant imprisonment. After a near death experience leaves him with the ability to shed his physical body at will, Smoke is able to travel freely outside the concrete walls of the Y, gathering information for himself and his fellow inmates while they're asleep in their beds. Convinced his future is only as bright as the fluorescent lights in his cell, Smoke doesn't care that the "threads" that bind his soul to his body are wearing thin-that one day he may not make it back in time. That is, until he meets Pink, a tough, resourceful girl who is sees him for who he truly is and wants to help him clear his name.

Now Smoke is on a journey to redemption he never thought possible. With Pink's help, Smoke may be able to reveal the true killer, but the closer they get to the truth, the more deadly their search becomes. The web of lies, deceit, and corruption that put Smoke behind bars is more tangled than they could have ever imagined. With both of their lives on the line, Smoke will have to decide how much he's willing to risk, and if he can envision a future worth fighting for.

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Elle Cosimano became one of my favorite authors with her Nearly duology (possibly trilogy?)  When I first heard about Holding Smoke, I was extremely excited and immediately added it to my TBR.  I got my hands on an ARC and I read it immediately.  While it was very different from her first books, I liked the new direction her writing took.

Pros:

  • Characters: Smoke stole my heart from the very start!  He comes across as a bit of a bad boy but he has a heart of gold.  His circumstances were beyond crappy.  He was not a completely innocent man but he was not as guilty as you’d first think.  He had quite a few layers to him and I never knew what side he was going to show next.  I liked that he was able to keep me guessing.  As for Pink, she was a bit of a mystery.  She came across as this badass female but she also had quite a shy, scared side.  She knew when she could handle herself and she knew when she needed help.  She and Smoke weren’t always good for each other but they worked past that.
  • Story: The story was both a pro and a con for me.  It was so unique and so twisted that I was kept guessing until the very end.  Not only could I not figure out who committed the crime Smoke was in jail for, I also couldn’t figure out the exact nature of the crime Smoke actually committed.  He was good at hiding things and Elle Cosimano is good at twisting things so much, you’ll never see it coming.
  • Romance: Smoke and Pink didn’t have a traditional romance.  For one, Smoke wasn’t actually physically there for most of their interactions.  With his ability, he came across as a ghost to Pink most of the time.  Because of that, their relationship developed mentally way before it did physically and I really liked that.  They weren’t exactly a cute couple (they got on each others nerves quite a bit) but they had their own charm.

Cons:

  • Story: Like I said, the story was both a pro and a con for me and it’s actually the only con I had with Holding Smoke.  I felt a little confused at times.  Smoke’s ability was very unique but also very odd.  I didn’t understand it all the time and some of the scenes when he was separated from his body threw me off.  I think it was how they were written and how Smoke looks at things when he’s like that.  It wasn’t bad, by any means, it just took some getting used to.

Overall, Holding Smoke isn’t my favorite from Elle Cosimano but it held up to my expectations pretty well.  Elle Cosimano is a name to know if you are a fan of YA suspense.  If you were a fan of her Nearly books, check out Holding Smoke.  I think you’ll find you enjoy it.

Giveaway

3 winners will receive copies of Holding Smoke.  US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour!

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | Review

Blood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy #1) by J.R. Ward | ReviewBlood Kiss (Black Dagger Legacy, #1) by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Legacy #1
Published by Signet on December 1st 2015
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 397
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

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I admit I wasn’t sure that I wanted to start this series.  While I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I’m already 14 books in with that one and I have a feeling the Black Dagger Legacy series will be just as long.  I don’t normally get into series that go on that long but I really liked Paradise and Craeg from The Shadows so I wanted to continue their story.  I’m happy I chose to start this series and I plan on keeping up with it as the rest of the books come out.  I don’t know why I’m surprised that J.R. Ward  has hooked me once again.

Pros:

  • Story: The story hooked me from page one.  I loved the idea of having some new members trained to join in on the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s fight against the Lessening Society.  I also loved the idea of seeing what goes into the training required to be a fighter with the Black Dagger Brotherhood.  While this was a huge part of the story, it wasn’t the whole story.  J.R. Ward is a master at weaving together multiple stories and she did a great job with everything that was included in Blood Kiss.  Craeg and Paradise’s story takes center stage and much of their story involves the training program but they aren’t the only two who have a role in Blood Kiss.  Marissa and Butch’s story is brought back to front and center when a severely wounded female is found outside Safe Place.  The mystery surrounding her circumstances not only brings in the new trainees but also brings to light some issues that Marissa and Butch have been having with their relationship.  There is so much going on in the story that you will not be able to stop reading.
  • Characters: I loved being introduced to so many new characters while still showing us all the original characters we’ve come to love from the original series.  Weaving together both Craeg and Paradise’s story with Butch and Marissa’s really worked for Blood Kiss. I didn’t feel like it was one of the original books but we still got to see glimpses of everyone else.  The trainees were a varied mix of people that I grew to love over the course of the book.  Paradise was raised to be part of the upper class but that’s not what she wanted out of her life and she was willing to do whatever it took to change her circumstances.  Craeg was a bit broody and mysterious but his story really broke my heart.  Axe, Peyton, Novo, Anslam, and the other trainee whose name I cannot remember were developed only briefly in Blood Kiss but I look forward to finding out more about all of them in the future books.
  • Pacing: While I love the original series, I felt like Blood Kiss had a bit better pacing than that series.  Things took off from page one and didn’t slow down even once.  There is no such thing as a short J.R. Ward book (which I’m perfectly happy with) but this one read a lot faster than the Black Dagger Brotherhood books and it seemed like a much shorter book.  I honestly can’t say exactly what caused that but I think readers will find that this one is actually a surprisingly quick read.

Cons:

  • Romance: While I loved Craeg and Paradise as separate characters, I wasn’t all that impressed with them as a couple.  Things between them were very back and forth and Craeg’s reactions a lot of the time got on my nerves.  Paradise was part of the trainee group because of her own merits and strengths but Craeg still looked at her like she was fragile.  He couldn’t see how he would be good for her and he kept pushing her away because of that, no matter what Paradise wanted.  Their relationship also seemed to be very physical and I would have liked to see more of the emotional side of things.

This doesn’t affect my review in any way but I felt like I should throw this out there.  If you haven’t read the original Black Dagger Brotherhood series, you can still read Blood Kiss.  You also don’t really need to read Blood Kiss to continue with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  However, I think both series’ offer more information to readers and I’d highly recommend reading both of them and reading them as they come out.  I plan on staying up to date with both series so that I don’t miss out on anything but that might just be due to my obsession with this series and all things J.R. Ward.

Overall, Blood Kiss will definitely appeal to fans of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series and if you’ve been on the fence, I suggest checking it out.  Also, if you’ve been thinking about starting the Black Dagger Brotherhood series but are intimidated by how many books there are, you could always start with Blood Kiss and see how you feel about things before starting the other series.  I guess, what I’m saying is, check out Blood Kiss if you’re a fan of the paranormal.  I can’t get enough of these vampires.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | Review

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | ReviewTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum
Published by Delacorte Press on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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I’m a huge advocate for contemporary young adult literature.  I love it and I think it doesn’t get enough recognition or love from a lot of readers.  Tell Me Three Things is probably going to the top of my list of recommendations, especially for those readers that don’t necessarily like contemporary.

Pros:

  • Characters: All of the characters in Tell Me Three Things were pretty much perfect.  Don’t get me wrong, they had their flaws but that only made them better.  Jessie was a little self-centered but she kind of deserved it.  Her whole life had been uprooted and things were not great at her new school or home.  Theo was one I wasn’t sure about at first but he grew on me quickly.  SN was so funny and clever and adorable.  Dri and Agnes were great friends to Jessie although I really wasn’t sure they would be at first.  The same goes for Scarlett.  She and Jessie may have been separated by thousands of miles but they worked past that.  Ethan and Liam were so cute.  Liam was a little airheaded and Ethan was a little closed off but I liked them both a lot.  Probably Ethan more though because of the whole reading thing.  I’m all for the nerds.
  • Romance: The romance in this one was different.  Jessie and SN start out flirting and then it becomes something so much more than that.  Jessie doesn’t even know who SN is but she’s attracted to him on an intellectual level and their conversations were so cute and so real.  Not knowing who he was allowed her to open up to him in a way she wouldn’t have in real life.  It was a little stalker like at times since he knew who she was and sometimes made comments about what she was wearing that day or doing but it was a cute stalker way.  And once I found out who SN really was, I could see how they were perfect in real life too.
  • Family: Jessie’s family is broken and put back together in a new way and it was definitely weird for her.  Her mom died (I’ll get to that next) and now she’s living in LA with her dad’s new wife and her teenage son.  Pretty much none of them (except her dad and his wife) want anything do with each other and I really wasn’t sure how it was going to work out.  I appreciate that Julie Buxbaum didn’t make it work out perfectly.  They were a broken family when the book started and they were still broken when it ended but they were working on it and that’s what I loved.
  • Grief: Julie Buxbaum did a fabulous job with her representation of grief in Tell Me Three Things.  Jessie wasn’t the only one dealing with the loss of someone.  Her dad lost his wife.  Theo lost his dad.  Theo’s mom, Rachel, lost her husband.  Ethan lost a sibling.  Each of them dealt with it differently.  There is no right way to grieve someone and I loved that Julie Buxbaum could show all the different ways.
  • Pacing: Tell Me Three Things is a fast-paced contemporary novel.  At no point does it drag.  I couldn’t stop turning the pages.  The mix of texting, IM’ing, and email messages interspersed throughout the novel also helped to move things along making it an extremely quick read.

Cons:

  • Mystery: Let’s be real, here.  I figured out who SN was pretty early on and I think most readers probably will.  It’s not that great a mystery.  It was just a little too perfect and while there were some red herrings thrown in, I never really thought they were him.  I’m not really complaining though because the mystery wasn’t what kept me reading.  The story was and knowing who SN was before the big reveal didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Overall, Tell Me Three Things might just make you change your mind about contemporary novels.  Julie Buxbaum’s young adult debut hit it out of the park and I can’t wait to see what she does next.  I hope this isn’t her only foray into the YA world.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard | Review

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard | ReviewRoses and Rot by Kat Howard
Published by Saga Press on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love in this haunting debut fantasy novel from “a remarkable young writer” (Neil Gaiman).

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

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Kat Howard’s debut novel landed on my doorstep one afternoon and, after reading the blurb from Neil Gaiman, I decided I’d give it a shot.  Roses and Rot is unlike anything I’ve ever read and seriously impressed me.

Pros:

  • The writing: Kat Howard’s writing is by far the best thing this book has going for it.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about Roses and Rot but the writing just stands out.  It’s so atmospheric and haunting and will have you stopping to savor it as you read the book.  I really can’t do justice to how gorgeous it is.  I marked so many quotes and I don’t typically mark any.
  • The sibling bond: Marin and Imogen have an odd relationship.  They were close growing up but grew apart when Imogen left for boarding school.  Now they are both at the same art program and it’s sister against sister for an amazing opportunity that could make all their dreams come true.  While it doesn’t seem to affect their relationship at first, things quickly come to a head and secret feelings start pouring out.  I loved that they had a close relationship but they could still fight.  Their bond was stronger than it first appeared and I’m not sure about Marin but Imogen was willing to do anything for her sister.
  • The setting: I don’t want to give a whole lot away but Melete wasn’t the only place the book was set.  Melete, however, sounded spectacular.  Everything was so detailed that I felt like I was there with Imogen.  The houses, the moat, the rose garden, the river, nothing was left unexplained and I could picture every stunning image in my head.  And like I said, Melete wasn’t the only setting for the book and the other main focal point of the book was also pretty spectacular in a very haunting way.
  • The friendships: Imogen and Marin went to Melete already having each other to rely on but everyone else was an outsider.  That didn’t stop them from forming some rather unlikely bonds.  Helena and Ariel were their other roommates and while it seemed like they didn’t have a whole lot in common with each other, they made up a pretty great foursome.  Ariel was outgoing and fun while Helena was more moody and introverted.  They all brought out different sides of each other and I liked the friendships they formed.

Cons:

  • The romance: Imogen and Evan start a romance relatively early on in the book and it seems to come out of nowhere.  They clearly are physically attracted to each other and they can appreciate each other’s talent but they didn’t seem to have much more in common.  Most of their interactions were physical in nature and they really just didn’t seem to be able to sustain more than a physical relationship.
  • The pacing: Roses & Rot is not an easy book to get into.  It takes quite some time for things to really take off.  While I was intrigued with the story, it wasn’t enough to really capture my attention and hold it.  I had to push myself through the first 50 pages or so until things really started going somewhere.  Even then it’s not a fast-paced book.  Just know that you won’t be able to really rush through this one and I honestly don’t think you should. It’s definitely a book to take your time with and really think about.

Overall, I clearly have much more good to say about Roses and Rot than bad.  While it is classified as an adult novel, I think it holds great crossover appeal for older young adult readers.  I look forward to seeing what Kat Howard does next and I highly recommend checking this one out.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn | Review + GiveawayHot Pterodactyl Boyfriend by Alan Cumyn
Published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Prepare to be blown away—or rather, carried away on huge muscular wings—by this blissfully outlandish, bracingly-smart, tour de force about a teen who has to come to terms with relinquishing control for the first time as she falls for the hot new…pterodactyl…at school. After all, everybody wants him!

Sheils is very pleased with her perfectly controlled life (controlling others while she’s at it). She’s smart, powerful, the Student Body Chair, and she even has a loving boyfriend. What more could a girl ask for?

But everything changes when the first-ever interspecies transfer student, a pterodactyl named Pyke, enrolls at her school. There’s something about him—something primal—that causes the students to lose control whenever he’s around. Even Sheils, the seemingly perfect self-confident girl that she is, can’t keep her mind off of him, despite her doting boyfriend and despite the fact that Pyke immediately starts dating Jocelyn, the school’s fastest runner who Sheils has always discounted as a nobody.

Pyke, hugely popular in a school whose motto is to embrace differences, is asked to join a band, and when his band plays at the Autumn Whirl dance, his preternatural shrieking music sends everyone into a literal frenzy. No one can remember what happened the next day, but Shiels learns that she danced far too long with Pyke, her nose has turned purple, and she may have done something with her boyfriend that she shouldn’t have. Who’s in control now?

Hilarious and relatable (despite the dinosaur), Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is about a teen who must come to terms with not being in control of all things at all times, break free of her mundane life, discover who her true self is, and, oh, finding out that going primal isn’t always a bad thing

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Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is probably one of the most bizarre books I’ve ever read.  I mean, just look at the title and synopsis.  You can’t really expect normal from a book about a hot pterodactyl boyfriend.  I had a feeling that it was going to be weird and entertaining and that feeling was definitely proven right.

Pros:

  • The story:  As bizarre as the story may seem, it’s actually quite relatable.  Shiels is a control freak in every aspect of her life and she’s at the point in her life where she feels like she really needs that control.  She’s applying to colleges and doing everything she can to make herself look good on those applications.  It’s a really common story except for the fact that her school now has a pterodactyl as a student and his entrance in her life throws it into complete upheaval.
  • Shiels:  I really liked Shiels.  Like I said, she wanted complete control and she was used to having it.  That all changed with Pyke.  She had to give up that control and she might have actually gone a little overboard (skipping school, hiding things from her parents) but she grew as a person when she did give up some of that control.  She started to see that maybe things didn’t have to be so orderly and maybe she didn’t always have to be the one to do everything.
  • The family aspect: I loved Shiels’ family, especially her brother.  Her parents were involved in her life but sometimes a little absent and sometimes a little overbearing.  I really just liked that they played a role in her life.  Her brother, Jonathan, was the best part.  They had the classic sibling relationship.  He reminded me a lot of my own brother and their dynamics were very similar to ours.  Maybe that won’t be a big deal to you guys but it was definitely a pro for me.

Cons:

  • Pyke:  I could not relate to Pyke and honestly, he was a little weird.  I mean, of course he’s going to be weird, he’s a freaking pterodactyl but I don’t know.  It was more than that.  He wasn’t very humanlike and so I didn’t feel like I ever got to know him.  I couldn’t understand how he evoked this attraction from everyone he met.  And it wasn’t always romantic attraction though that did happen.  It seemed like everyone wanted to be something to him, whether it was a girlfriend or a mother figure.  It was strange.
  • The writing: This one isn’t a huge con for me but the writing took some getting used to.  It is a little stilted and choppy but once I got used to that I could see how it actually moved the story along a little faster.  Take some time to get used to the style and it will get better.

Overall, Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend is one of those books that you should go into expecting something totally out of the norm.  It was hilarious at times while also being really heartfelt.  I can’t say it’s on my list of favorites but it has me eager to check out more form Alan Cumyn.

Giveaway

3 finished copies of Hot Pterodactyl Boyfriend
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour stops!

Week 1:
 
Week 2:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters | Review + GiveawayThe Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet Books on March 8th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

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The Steep and Thorny Way is my first foray into Cat Winters’ work but it won’t be my last.  While the Hamlet retelling aspect of this one was what first caught my attention, it was Cat Winters’ writing that kept it.  I’ll hold out judgment until I can read at least one more of her books but I think she may earn a place on my favorites shelf.

Pros:

  • The writing: As I said, the writing definitely got me with this one.  The Steep and Thorny Way is historical fiction with a twist and Cat’s writing is perfect for this type of story.  It’s atmospheric and haunting.  The story itself was extremely interesting and I was hooked for that aspect but the writing definitely added to my enjoyment.
  • The history: I’m a huge history buff and I loved that Cat Winters didn’t choose the typical 1920s to portray.  The Steep and Thorny Way shows a darker side of the 1920s and it’s not always easy to read.  And while it is very much fiction, Cat Winters did a great job making her story as accurate as possible.  She doesn’t shy away from the reality that would have been Hanalee’s life as a mixed race teenager in that time period.
  • Hanalee: Hanalee certainly had her flaws but I really liked her overall.  She reminded me a lot of myself in some of the things that she did.  I felt that I could relate to her, even though our situations are nothing alike.  She was strong and capable but she didn’t always think things through before acting.  I couldn’t fault her for that but sometimes I could see how things would happen because of her actions.

Cons:

  • The other characters: I was not a huge fan of any of the other characters.  While I felt like I could relate to Hanalee, she was the only one I felt that way about.  Everyone else needed to be a bit more rounded out and I felt like I never really got to know or like them.
  • The retelling aspect: I love Hamlet.  I took a Shakespeare class in high school and college and I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him but especially Hamlet.  I feel like saying this is a retelling was a little bit misleading.  There were definitely things about it that tied back to Hamlet but I would say it was more inspired by Hamlet than a retelling.

Overall, The Steep and Thorny Way really did impress me.  I love that I have found a new author that I feel can do the historical fiction genre justice.  I look forward to checking out the rest of her books and if you haven’t already, this one is definitely a good place to start.

Giveaway

5 US readers have a chance to win their own copy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

Week One:

2/29/2016- Adventures of a Book Junkie Interview
3/1/2016- The Forest of Words and Pages Review
3/2/2016- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post
3/3/2016- A Dream Within A Dream Review
3/4/2016- Stories & Sweeties– Excerpt

Week Two:

3/7/2016- Jessabella Reads Review
3/8/2016- Bookish Lifestyle– Guest Post
3/9/2016- Katie’s Book Blog- Review
3/10/2016- The Fox’s Hideaway– Interview
3/11/2016- MEREADALOT– Review

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Blog Tour: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr | Review + GiveawaySeven Black Diamonds (Untitled, #1) by Melissa Marr
Published by HarperCollins on March 1st 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

This riveting fantasy marks Melissa Marr’s return to the world of faery courts that made her Wicked Lovely series an international phenomenon.

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal—she’s half human, half fae, and since the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humans and faeries. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of the fae courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir due to the actions of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has always shielded her, but when she’s sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, she’s delivered straight into the arms of a fae sleeper cell—the Black Diamonds. The Diamonds are planted in the human world as the sons and daughters of the most influential families and tasked with destroying it from within. Against her will, Lilywhite’s been chosen to join them...and even the romantic attention of the fae rock singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the familiar world she knows.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there. The combination of ethereal fae powers, tumultuous romance, and a bloodthirsty faery queen will have longtime fans and new readers at the edge of their seats.

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It’s been a while since I’ve read a book about faeries and that’s because I’m really picky when it comes to them.  Melissa Marr has always been one of my go-to authors for these types of books and Seven Black Diamonds just proved that she’s on that list for a very good reason.

Pros:

  • Characters: I’m all about the boys but I can’t help but love a book with a strong female lead and that’s exactly what Lily is.  She takes control, she knows what she wants, and she doesn’t let others get in her way.  Yeah there are some boys in her life but they definitely are not in charge when it comes to Lily.  I have to say that it’s a little weird that she didn’t have much of a soft side (she was definitely a badass) but I didn’t really have a problem with that.  Speaking of the boys in Lily’s life, let’s start with Creed.  Not only is he fae (totally enough to grab my attention), he’s also a rock star.  Melissa Marr managed to combine two of my favorite things so I definitely loved Creed.  There was also Zephyr (not another love interest) who was the leader and had quite a few secrets.  There’s a good mix of people in the group called the Black Diamonds and I really liked that.  I don’t want to forget the other main character in Seven Black Diamonds, Eilidh (not a clue how to pronounce that one).  She is the daughter of the Fae queen and her side of the story shows the Fae world.  While she is the queen’s daughter, she isn’t necessarily all for what her mother is planning and that’s kinda where her story intersects with Lily’s.
  • Fae powers: I’m not going to say a lot about this aspect but I was totally intrigued by it.  Everyone in the Black Diamonds had a different ability that related to an element or two.  I loved seeing how they used them and I look forward to seeing how they might come in handy in the future books.
  • Romantic tension: I’ve always thought Melissa Marr did a great job with romantic tension and Seven Black Diamonds is no exception.  I don’t even know where I would start with this one.  Lily and Creed are only one of the couples that have some tension between them (as well as secrets.)  I love that as I’ve grown older, I’ve been able to stick with Marr’s books and they almost seem to have grown with me.

Cons:

  • I don’t even know how to label this one so I’m just gonna go for it.  There is a lot of info being shared in Seven Black Diamonds and it could be a bit much at times.  I get that it’s the start of a series and readers need to know these things but it was just overwhelming sometimes.  It also took away from the story and made it seem like there wasn’t a lot going on, plot wise.
  • POV: Just be warned that there are quite a few points of view and it can be a little confusing at first.  I got used to it pretty quickly but it did take me by surprise.

Overall, I definitely think Seven Black Diamonds is a promising start to this new series from Melissa Marr.  While it had it’s flaws, I look forward to seeing what happens next.

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Week One:

2/22/2016- Gone with the Words- Scavenger Hunt

2/23/2016- Katie’s Book Blog- Review

2/24/2016- YA Book Madness- Scavenger Hunt

2/25/2016- Pandora’s Books- Review

2/26/2016- Tales of the Ravenous Reader- Scavenger Hunt 

Week Two:

2/29/2016- The Best Books Ever- Review

3/1/2016- Me, My Shelf and I- Scavenger Hunt

3/2/2016- Rabid Reads- Review

3/3/2016- Once Upon a Twilight- Scavenger Hunt

3/4/2016- YA Bibliophile- Review

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blog Tour: Zero Day by Jan Gangsei | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Zero Day by Jan Gangsei | Review + Giveaway

Blog Tour: Zero Day by Jan Gangsei | Review + GiveawayZero Day by Jan Gangsei
on January 12th 2016
Genres: Suspense
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

Eight years ago, Addie Webster was the victim of the most notorious kidnapping case of the decade. Addie vanished—and her high-profile parents were forced to move on.

Mark Webster is now president of the United States, fighting to keep the oval office after a tumultuous first term. Then, the unthinkable happens: the president’s daughter resurfaces. Addie is brought back into her family’s fold, but who is this sixteen-year-old girl with a quiet, burning intelligence now living in the White House? There are those in the president’s political circle who find her timely return suspicious.

When the NSA approaches Darrow Fergusson, Addie’s childhood best friend and the son of the president’s chief of staff, he doesn't know what to think. How could this slip of a girl be a threat to national security? But at the risk of having his own secrets exposed by the powerful government agency, Darrow agrees to spy on Addie.

It soon becomes apparent that Addie is much more than the traumatized victim of a sick political fringe group. Addie has come with a mission. Will she choose to complete it? And what will happen if she does?

My Thoughts:

Zero Day is one of those books that automatically got added to my TBR when I read the synopsis.  I didn’t care about other reviews, that the author was a debut, none of that.  Suspense featuring the daughter of the President of the United States who also happens to be a kidnapping victim?  I was sold.  Jan Gangsei’s debut novel surprised me in many ways and was definitely worth the read.

Pros:

  • Suspense: The suspense in Zero Day was strong.  I grew up reading James Patterson, Harlan Coben, and many other adult crime writers that were fabulous at suspense.  I’ve only found that same caliber in a few young adult authors so I was a bit skeptical going into this one.  While I did manage to guess a few things, it was usually only right before they were about to be revealed anyway so it didn’t take away from my enjoyment.
  • Romance: I was iffy about this romance for a while.  Darrow and Addie grew up together and Darrow pretty much held himself responsible for Addie’s kidnapping.  He was also 9-years-old at the time so there really wasn’t anything he could have done but try telling him that.  When Addie is returned, he pretty much automatically has feelings for her.  I couldn’t tell if it was because of what they went through or not but he grew on me and I liked seeing him with Addie.  As for Addie’s side of the relationship, it was really hard to judge.  If you read the book you’ll understand what I mean but her personality was so odd that I had a hard time telling if she meant things or if she was attempting to play someone.  I wanted her to like Darrow and at times I felt that she did but other times I was a bit hesitant.  It was odd.
  • Characters: Where do I even begin with these characters?  I have some really mixed feelings about some of them but overall I loved the development of them and the complexities to all of them.  Just look at Addie.  She was all over the place with her feelings and thoughts.  I couldn’t tell from page to page what was coming next with her.  She obviously went through a ton of crazy stuff in the eight years that she was held captive but that wasn’t really what fascinated me about her.  I wanted to know more about what motivated her when she got home.  You will understand what I mean if you read the book.  Her parents were both good parents and bad ones.  They cared so much about public opinion and they couldn’t see how that was affecting their daughters.  Then again, they would spend private time with them and be completely wonderful.  I guess that’s how politics works.  And I won’t spoil anything about Addie’s captors but I will say that they were seriously messed up.  Very twisted.
  • Setting: I don’t know if it’s so much the setting that I loved but what comes along with the setting.  A lot of the story takes place in and around the White House and also at Addie and Darrow’s very classy high school.  Taking a peek inside the world of the offspring of high up government officials was really interesting.  I can’t tell you how accurate it is but I enjoyed it.  I love reading about the lifestyles of the rich and famous so that definitely appealed to me.

Pro/Con:

  • Story: The story had good and bad things going for it.  I loved the idea of the story but the execution left some things to be desired.  I read a majority of the book before I even realized what exactly Cerberus was hoping to gain from their terrorist attacks.  Also, once I figured it out, I couldn’t really see how what they were doing was going to achieve that goal.  It confused me.  However, the idea of someone on the inside of the White House working with terrorists really appealed to me and kept me very intrigued.  Things tied up pretty nicely at the end but I could see how there might be room for a sequel and I wouldn’t say no to reading that.

Cons:

  • Writing: The writing was a bit heavy.  I honestly can’t put my finger on what exactly about it caused the book to drag more than it should have but there was just something about it.  I was hoping that as  I read more of the book, I would get used to the style and the pace would pick up but that didn’t happen.  It’s also weird because the book features short chapters which tend to speed things along for me but that didn’t happen with Zero Day.  The story was interesting enough though that I didn’t every feel like giving up on it.

Overall, Zero Day had it’s flaws but it’s good parts far outweighed those.  It’s a great read for fans of suspense with hints of hacking and politics as well as a peek at the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  I will be keeping an eye out to see what Jan Gangsei does next.

What others are saying about Zero Day:

Bookish Babes’ review: “Zero Day by Jan Gangsei is a pulse pounding YA thriller that kept me guessing until the end.”

Kovescence of the Mind’s review: ” The strong female lead provides a refreshing addition to the realm of technology and mystery in young-adult fiction.”

Looking for something similar? Check out Nearly Gone by Elle Cosimano!

Giveaway

Enter to win one of three copies of Zero Day!

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken | Review

Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken | ReviewPassenger (Passenger, #1) by Alexandra Bracken
Series: Passenger #1
on January 5th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 496
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

passage, n.i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.ii. A journey by water; a voyage.iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

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, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he 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

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Why do I continue to do this to myself?  I swear, I think I just like torturing myself.  I knew better than to read an Alex Bracken novel without having the sequel in my greedy little hands.  Passenger is just as amazing as I’d hoped but my heart broke when I reached the end and found out I was going to have to wait another year for the sequel after that seriously major cliffhanger.  I knew better.  Really.  I did.  However, if you’re like me and just can’t wait when a favorite author has a new book out, here are the good things about Passenger.

Pros:

  • Characters: I can honestly say that every character in this book held some appeal for me.  Even the bad guys were awesome.  It’s not that I liked them all but every single character had serious depth and the ability to surprise me.  Nicholas was definitely my favorite though.  He lived through so much hardship and adversity and yet he was still such a good person.  The same could not be said for Sophia.  That girl is on my shit list.  As for Etta, she was pretty bad ass.  She was thrust into so many different time periods and places that she knew nothing about and she took it all in stride.  Not only that, she did it all under serious pressure.  She was impressive.
  • Romance: I’m a sucker for romance and Nicholas and Etta’s was adorable.  Nicholas didn’t think very highly of himself and he couldn’t have imagined a girl like Etta ever falling for him so it was tough for him to take in.  I think that made me like him even more.  He didn’t take her for granted or her interest in him.  As for Etta falling for Nicholas, I can’t blame the girl.
  • Setting:  I guess this one would be better classified as settings.  Passenger takes place over many years and in many different places.  Alexandra Bracken did an amazing job setting up each place and time.  I honestly don’t know how she managed it.  The amount of research that had to go into each setting just boggles me.  Each different place and time period was full of so much history and depth.  It’s not just that she chose amazing places but she also chose to have Nicholas and Etta be in these places during some crazy time period like London during the war.  I have to give her props for the setting above everything else.
  • Story:  I truly didn’t know how anything was going to come together but it all fit together so seamlessly.  I love time travel stories but I’m also typically scared to read them because they can come across so choppy and undeveloped.  That was not the case with the story in Passenger.  The passages, the settings, the clues; everything somehow just fit and worked for the story.  There were no extraneous details and while things were a little confusing at first, it makes sense as you read more of the story.
  • Writing:  Alexandra Bracken became one of my favorite authors because she is such a fabulous writer and Passenger really cements that.  I find that with historical novels like this one (calling it that because a lot of it takes place in the past) the writing can either make or break the story.  Alexandra Bracken’s beautiful writing made this story come to life in my head.

Cons:

  • History: I’m a history buff and I’m not afraid to say it.  However, even to me some of the history seemed a little heavy.  It was pretty much just in the beginning of the book and I feel like it maybe just felt that way because the pacing is a bit slower to start but I was a little confused at some parts.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the history that was woven into the story but when I was just trying to figure out the time travel and the plot, it added a bit more confusion for me.  Once I got past maybe the first 100 pages though it stopped feeling that way.
  • Pirates?: I can’t really say this is a terrible thing but I was hoping for a story with pirates and more ships.  Technically, Nicholas is a pirate but he’s not the kind I was thinking of.  And yes it starts out on a ship but not much of it actually takes place there.  This point is more just for me though because the cover had my hopes up.  Also, this point didn’t really take anything away from my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, Passenger is a hefty book that you will honestly wish there was more of when you finish it.  Nicholas and Etta’s story is really just beginning and I’m dying to see where it goes next in Wayfarer.  You can bet your butts I’m going to be getting that one the day it comes out.

What others are saying about Passenger:

Christina Reads YA’s review: “If you’re a The Darkest Minds fan, I do think that you’re going like Passenger; there’s a similar blend of cinematic action, romance, suspense, and emotionally charged situations.”

Caffeinated Book Reviewer’s review: “If you are looking for a brilliant adventure with a little swoon, I invite you to book your passage on the Passenger.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | Review

Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick | ReviewDangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick
Published by Simon & Schuster on November 10th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
4 Stars

A teen is forced to make a fresh start after witnessing a violent crime—but love and danger find her anyway in this novel from Becca Fitzpatrick, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hush, Hush saga.

Stella Gordon is not her real name. Thunder Basin, Nebraska, is not her real home. This is not her real life.

After witnessing a lethal crime, Stella Gordon is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own safety before she testifies against the man she saw kill her mother’s drug dealer.

But Stella was about to start her senior year with the boyfriend she loves. How can she be pulled away from the only life she knows and expected to start a new one in Nebraska? Stella chafes at her protection and is rude to everyone she meets. She’s not planning on staying long, so why be friendly? Then she meets Chet Falconer and it becomes harder to keep her guard up, even as her guilt about having to lie to him grows.

As Stella starts to feel safer, the real threat to her life increases—because her enemies are actually closer than she thinks…

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Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series put her on my radar when I first started blogging but I have to say, Dangerous Lies is the book that kept me interested in her work.  Young adult suspense novels pretty much always get added to my TBR automatically but they don’t always impress me.  I’m happy to say that I was pretty happy with Dangerous Lies, at least enough to check out her other suspense novels.

I know nothing about witness protection and I have to admit that I haven’t actually read anything or really seen anything about it.  Needless to say, I was intrigued when I read the synopsis for Dangerous Lies.  Stella’s life is turned upside down when she is forced to go into witness protection after witnessing a murder by a huge crime lord.  She has to leave everything she knows behind and take up a whole new identity in some tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  Needless to say, she’s not exactly happy about it.  She’s leaving her friends, her boyfriend (who also has to go into witness protection), and her whole existence behind.  She couldn’t care less about her mom (who got her into the whole situation) but yes, she does have to leave her behind too.

Dangerous Lies starts strong and has a pretty solid finish as well but the middle just dragged for me.  Like I said, I’m not always impressed with suspense novels and while this one is technically classified as that, it wasn’t really all that suspenseful or at least it didn’t seem that way.  I admit, towards the end there was a bit of a twist thrown in that definitely caught me by surprise.  However, that was really the only thing that caught me by surprise.  With this type of story, you know that the bad guys are going to eventually catch up to Stella.  For me, it just seemed like the middle of the book was a waiting game until they found where Stella was hiding.  That doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just a little slow at times.

The characters are what made Dangerous Lies hold up even with the slow middle.  Stella was a little bit of a bitch at first but it was kind of understandable.  Her mom was a total druggie who never paid attention to her daughter and was more upset about Stella testifying against the crime lord than about the murder that happened.  She made me so mad!  Every interaction she had with Stella just made me hate her even more.  Then there was Carmina, the total opposite of Stella’s mom.  She took Stella in (for reasons that come up later in the book and totally broke my heart) and she really came to care for her.  Carmina was harsh at first but it was what Stella needed.  She needed someone to drag her out of her funk and find a life in Thunder Basin.  That life came to include Inny, Chet, Dusty, and a few others.  I wish Inny and Dusty were more developed but I liked what I saw of them.  As for Chet, he was maybe a little too perfect but after finding out a bit about his past, I can see why he would be so perfect.

I also want to mention Reed even though readers barely find out anything about him.  He is Stella’s boyfriend who is also forced to go into witness protection and I have no clue how I feel about him.  Also, while Stella and Chet start a relationship of some kind, I don’t really consider it cheating since Reed and Stella are never expected to see each other again.  While they didn’t exactly end their relationship, there really was no future for it.  And hey, if you’ve read Dangerous Lies, did Reed’s ending bother anybody else?  I won’t say what happens but it’s pretty open ended and it’s one thing that really bothered me.

As for the setting of Thunder Basin, Nebraska; it was perfect.  Becca Fitzpatrick really captured the small town feel.  Everybody knew everybody’s business and it was impossible to keep a secret.  Maybe not the best place for someone in witness protection but I guess they figured that even if Stella’s secret got out in the town, it wouldn’t spread anywhere else.  The only problem with everybody knowing everything was that things did get around.  Especially when one person was involved: Trigger.  Trigger was a pain in the ass from the start and everything about him bothered me.  That was one person with absolutely no redeeming qualities.  He definitely caused a ton of problems for Stella and I felt terrible for her.  He seemed to be the one person who was nastier than Stella (in the beginning) and that took talent.

Overall, Dangerous Lies was an enjoyable read that will definitely have me checking out Becca Fitzpatrick’s other suspense novels.  If you want a pretty quick read that might surprise you, check this one out.

What others are saying about Dangerous Lies:

The Eater of Books’ review: “I loved this book, and I highly recommend it, especially to those who enjoy thriller/mystery/suspense types.”

My Bookish Fairy Tale’s review: “It was a thrill and I am actually upset that I finished it as quickly as I did.”