Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blog Tour: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn {Review + Giveaway}


Release date: May 30, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Goodreads
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository | Google | iTunes | Kobo
While you were sleeping... 

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...

I told everyone I was your wife 

When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true... 

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.
I've been dying for The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband for ages. Two reasons: First, Julia Quinn has never let me down. She's never not delivered an adorable book. Second, who could resist the While You Were Sleeping angle in historical romance? And of course, Julia Quinn didn't fail me--nor did the premise!

As much as I love my historical romances set in England, it was a lot of fun to read a story set in the US, especially during the American Revolution. It's interesting to see this time from the British perspective since, being an American, we're always given stories from our side. However, the revolution itself doesn't play into the story much, aside from location. It's almost more that a war of some kind is going on, but it's not all that specific to this war. Still fun, just not integral.

What I think is so fun about Edward and Cecelia's relationship is that they actually know each other a bit before the events of the book--though they've never met in person. In letters exchanged with her brother, Cecelia and Edward have written short notes back and forth, getting information secondhand though Thomas. The content of these notes is revealed over the course of the book, and it's fun to see the original base of their relationship while they're falling in love.

The only less than fun part is Cecelia's guilt over lying to Edward. Her actions are...understandable, at the very least, but it doesn't make the situation any less awkward. Over and over again, I just wanted her to tell him! On the flip side, I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. I don't want to say what happens, but I finished the book grinning like a total fool.

If you're a fan of Julia Quinn already, it should be a no brainer to pick up The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband! If not, (first, WHY?) how could you say not to a sweet romance that takes off from a beloved romantic comedy? It's the best of both worlds!

About the author:

Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.




My Example
Manhattan Island
July 1779


His head hurt.

Correction, his head really hurt.

It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.

There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.

But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.

An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.

But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.

That war he’d mentioned... people did die.

With alarming regularity.

So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.

So he kept his eyes closed.

But he listened.

He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.

Someone was moaning in pain

Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.

He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.

And a bit like hard work.

He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.

On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.

“How is he today?”

Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.

Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.

“The same,” came the woman’s reply.

“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon...”

“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.

“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”

“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”

The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”

“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”

A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be... March? April?

No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.

But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?

“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.

But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”

The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.

“Er...” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
Her brother? Who was her brother?

“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”

Mrs. Rokesby?

“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.

Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby...

“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”

Husband?

“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”

Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?

Who was this woman?

Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?

“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.

“I... I don’t think so.”

She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.


“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”

He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?

“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.

“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.

The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.

He still breathes.

“Mrs. Rokesby...”

Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.

“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”

Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.

Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.

Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.

Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.

She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.

Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.

“You write to her,” he’d said.

So he did.

Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.

Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.

Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.

That would have been strange.

Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and...

Edward thought hard.

...and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.

He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him. “Cecilia?”




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Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Recap

Again, I'm not doing as well blogging as I'd like. HOWEVER, I'm improving! I'm just going to take things a step at a time. Just keep getting better. I'm finding balance in work/school/blogging--just in time to be done with school for a bit! I'll finish this summer class on the 20th, and finally have some time off, which I am very much looking forward to. I've done SO MUCH reading for this class, which is fun, but it keeps me from my review books and fun books, which is less fun.

What books did I get?

This is a lot of books, but I only bought one of them! (I'm actually missing a couple, but they were for class: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Undertow by Michael Buckley, and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I bought them, but they don't count!)


Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough
Finding You by Lydia Albano
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson
The Duke Can Go to the Devil by Erin Knightley
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell
My American Duchess by Eloisa James
Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale

And only one of those was bought! I got my ACOWAR from Books of Wonder so it could be signed and personalized like all my other SJM books! All the Macmillan books, Ramona Blue, and Hunting Prince Dracula were for review. I about died when I opened the package with HPD because, seriously, it's the only ARC I've wanted for months! And I've already read (and ADORED) it. :) 

Then, the wonderful Alyssa surprised me with a giant package of historical romance! We'd talked about her sending me some books a while back, but I thought we'd talk about it again before it happened, and then one day this package was at my house! It was such a sweet surprise, and I'm so pumped about everything she sent me. I LOVE the UK editions, especially!


What did I post?

I'm getting a little bit better, I swear! I'm letting myself ramp up with no pressure, and it's working. June should look even better, especially once my class ends!

April Recap
Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin {Fun Fact + Excerpt + Giveaway}

I will point out that everything but the recap was in the second half of the month, so see? Getting better... Slowly.

What did I read?


Currently reading: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn
Favorite of the month: Hunting Prince Dracula! I read a couple of really good books this month (ACOWAR, Always and Forever Lara Jean, Midwinterblood, I'm looking at y'all!) but HPD really lived up to the excitement I'd built for it in my mind--even after rereading SJTR first!--and only made me even more desperate for the third book. (ACOWAR was the biggest contender, but, as much as I enjoyed it, I still love ACOMAF more.)

What will I read?


You can tell it's summer because I picked almost all contemporaries and historical romance! I love reading fun and light stuff in the summer--plus a bunch of these are review copies coming out in July or August. And after loving Alex, Approximately, I know I HAVE to get to The Anatomical Shape of a Heart ASAP. Plus, I'm going to relieve Alyssa and try and catch up on the Maiden Lane books! That's every one that I haven't read that I own in the pile.

I believe I've only got one more book to read for this class, so once that's out of the way, my reading should start to pick up--and once class is over on the 20th, I should be able to start flying through some books! I can't wait for no homework!

What am I doing?

Well, on the no spending money thing, I'm doing pretty well! We're doing employee appreciation at work this week, where we get extra discounts, but I've not bought anything, and there's actually nothing I'm really pining for! Usually I buy a lot of books I've loved and want finished copies of during employee appreciation, but it's something I'm just going to table this time around. I need to be able to afford school and Disney more than I need more books, Maybe if I can get rid of the piles on my floor? (HA!)

Otherwise, life is school and work. I've been working a lot of weird shifts because our cafe is shorthanded (and I started in cafe when I first started working at B&N), so I've been over there a lot. Like three days a week a lot. I was mad about it at first, but I've kind of made my peace for this time around. This is mostly because people have been helping me and the kid's department out in the meantime, so I'm not swamped in work on the day or two I actually get in the department. I'm also getting tips, which I'm earmarking for bookish candles because that's my new obsession! Basically, in the cafe, you're paid your hourly wage, but while you can't keep out a tip jar or anything, you can take tips that are offered. On good days, you can make $10 in tips--which is just free money on top of your actual wages! So, mine is going in the bank so I can buy candles, which is also helping me be less salty about the cafe shifts.

I have realized that I managed to miss my blogoversary! I've been blogging for 6 years, y'all. I didn't think about it till maybe 10 pm on the night of the 29th, which is the day. Oops! I'll mull it over and see if I want to do anything for it, but it did happen! I literally had to double check to make sure it was 6 years, because it felt like too long! I can barely believe it--but the post dates don't lie!

And that's it! I feel like I had a lot to say this time around... Maybe it's just the paragraph about work. We've had some turmoil and movement in the store, so it's been kind of weird time. If you had heard me at the beginning of the month, I'd have had a lot more to say, but I've chilled with it a lot--and the shifts are getting better at this point. The most recent schedule doesn't have me in cafe at all, so the end may just be in sight. Fingers crossed!

Also, if you have bookish candle shops you love (and/or scents!), let me know! I've bought from Novelly Yours and Wick & Fable and generally been pleased, but I'd love to hear some recommendations for other shops! (Especially if you're not a rep for them? Instagram has lots of raves and pictures, but I can't fully trust a rep... You know?)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds (Stranje House #3) by Kathleen Baldwin {Fun Fact + Excerpt + Giveaway}


I'm super excited to have the blog tour for Refuge for Masterminds, which is OUT NOW, stopping by today! I've only read the first book in this series so far, but it was such fun, and I'm definitely going to be catching up as soon as I can. Today I get to share a fun fact from Kathleen, an excerpt, and a giveaway! Read on, y'all! :)

About the book:

The stakes in this game of spies are life and death.
  
Lady Jane Moore has a secret. A secret that must be kept buried. If anyone discovered the truth, her life at Stranje House would crumble. And with Napoleon Bonaparte threatening to invade England, everyone at Stranje House is already in mortal danger.

There’s a traitor in the house. Someone is sneaking information to Napoleon’s spies, Lady Daneska and Ghost. Jane is determined to find out who it is before suspicions rip apart the bonds of friendship at Stranje House. Her desperate hunt for the traitor ensnares a brash young American inventor, Alexander Sinclair, Robert Fulton’s nephew, into an ambush that puts his life in danger. Sinclair is the most maddening young man in all of Christendom, a sharp-tongued rascal with boorish manners, but Lady Jane cannot bear the thought of the golden-haired genius being harmed.

Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save Alexander, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Fans of Gail Carriger, Patricia Wrede, and Caroline Stevermer will love this Regency-era alternate history filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains.

Fun Fact #3




I am kind of a history nerd. I am crazy about doing research.

I know, I know, what kind of lunatic loves that? I mean no one enjoys doing research papers in school, do they? 

Oh, wait, yes, I do, I do! Waving hand. 

My little researcher’s heart goes absolutely crazy over authenticity. It’s an obsession. Nay, a sickness really. 

Anyway, to make certain I had the details of Ghost’s ship correct in REFUGE FOR MASTERMINDS, I needed to go aboard an honest to goodness ship from the Regency era. So, a friend and I went to a maritime museum in San Diego. We clambered down narrow stairwells into the cargo hold, the crew’s quarters (a bunch of hammocks in the hold), passenger berths, the captain’s quarters, the artillery deck, and even the kitchen.

I now know what it feels like to be aboard an old ship, and I’m grateful it was only for an hour. 

You guys, ships are so tiny! I have no idea how the sailors and passengers could live like that for months at a time. 


Super squishy.


Excerpt from
Chapter 15
Clocks and Cobras


(Wherein Alexander Sinclair, the boorish American Inventor, has come to Lady Jane for a dance lesson)

The Grand Salon at Haversmythe house is an elegant soft blue with lavish white moldings. Queen Anne chairs, upholstered in a matching blue velvet, are arranged along the walls. Two enormous chandeliers hang from the ceiling. One is lit for this evening, and it glitters with fifteen brightly glowing candles. The floor is smooth and waxed to a brilliant shine. But the most notable feature, is how perfectly this room sets off Mr. Sinclair’s features.

He is clad in his new Corinthian black coat and navy blue breeches. I will not remark on how his hair glows in the candlelight, nor how the blue walls are a perfect foil for his angelic features. The effect is somewhat marred by the fact that he is smiling at me like a roguish pickpocket.

He bows over my hand and one might almost think him a gentleman. I run through all the things I should like him to say.

I’m yours to command, Lady Jane.

You look perfectly stunning in that gown, my lady.

My dearest Jane, I’ve been counting each torturous minute until this moment.

To all these compliments, I plan to offer a ladylike laugh, and playfully scold him the way Lady Jersey would. I will say, mind your tongue Alexander Sinclair, and then smile coyly.

He rises from his bow, and I perform a slow languid curtsy.

“All right, Lady Jane, what are you up to?” He stares down his nose at me. Which, by the way, looks as if it was broken at one time or another. There is a decided knot in the fine lines of the bone. “I see cogs turning in that dangerous little head of yours.”

Dangerous. Not pretty. Of all the things he could’ve called my head, lovely, or even clever, he chooses to say dangerous. What’s worse, I am completely innocent of plotting at the moment. I was merely enjoying looking at him.

“I’m not up to anything.” I cross my arms. “Why should I be?”

“Because you always are.” He says this with a modicum of respect, as if it is not entirely an insult, even though it is. “Craftier than a mongoose chasing a cobra, you are. I never know what to expect.”

A mongoose?

Suddenly, I want to punch him. My fists are balled and I have half a mind to actually do the deed, except that would not be ladylike, and fortunately for him Captain Grey and Miss Stranje are approaching, otherwise I might fling caution to the wind and smack him properly, right there on his angelic cheek.

Mongoose, indeed.

Miss Stranje greets Mr. Sinclair, and says, “Lady Jane, we will leave you and the others to instruct Mr. Sinclair on the finer points of our English country dances. Mind you, the gentlemen have an early morning tomorrow. So, you only have an hour and a half before they must take their leave.”

Mr. Sinclair bows to her and holds out his arm to me. “I am ready for your instruction, my lady.”

“I’m surprised you would trust a mongoose.”

“With my life, your majesty.” He adds a jaunty smile. But his flippant remark, with my life, jolts me back to the cold cruel fact that his life may indeed rely on whether or not I can catch the cobra.
My fists uncurl.

Buy Refuge for Masterminds: Barnes & Noble | Amazon


Previous books in the series:


Buy A School for Unusual Girls: Barnes & Noble | Amazon
Buy Exile for Dreamers: Barnes & Noble | Amazon

About the author:

Kathleen Baldwin loves adventure in books and in real life. She taught rock climbing in the Rockies, survival camped in the desert, was stalked by a mountain lion, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, spent way too long in college, fell in love and married her very own hero.

A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS, the first book in the alternate history series for teens, was awarded Spirit of Texas in 2016, is a Junior Library Guild selection, and Kansas NEA Reading Circle gave it a starred review in their 2016 “Best of the Best” for High Schools. Ian Bryce, producer of Spiderman, Saving Private Ryan, and other notable films optioned the series for film.

REFUGE FOR MASTERMINDS, Book 3 in the Stranje House series, releases May 23rd.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure, "completely original and totally engrossing."
Find Kathleen online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads




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Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Release date: March 28, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 416
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
I'm kind of two minds about Blood Rose Rebellion. In some ways, I really enjoyed the world Eves created, where the aristocracy partially maintains their power because of their magical abilities, and liked seeing Anna come to understand the world around her. At the same time, though, I was frustrated with Anna a lot of the time, I've seen reviews that mention inaccuracies--though that's obviously not something I can speak on personally--and there were things that just didn't feel right.

First, the good. The setting is just the kind of thing I love! Not only do we start in London, but Anna visits Hungary with her grandmother, a country we don't see a lot of in YA, and it makes for a different feel, and a culture that's enjoyable to learn more about. There's also a lot that's interesting about the magic of the world, with a lot of questions to be answered later on after the events of this book. I'll be curious to see the repercussions to come in the next book. I like when folklore and fairy tales come into play in a world with magic, so all the creatures from the Binding were one of my favorite parts.

On the other hand, Anna is more than a little bit frustrating. I found her to be naive and too changeable. She didn't commit to her decisions, and she's very self-centered, unable to see how her actions will affect others until she's faced with the consequences. And while I liked the eventual romance, it weirds me out that Anna kissed at least three guys in this book. Two seems sufficient, doesn't it?

Even so, enough interesting background was set up that I'm curious for what's to come. I have hope that Anna can grow from what she's experienced, and, hey, maybe she'll only kiss one guy! So, perhaps while I can't recommend it without reservation, Blood Rose Rebellion is an interesting read and a series I will continue.

About the author:

Rosalyn Eves grew up in the Rocky Mountains, dividing her time between reading books and bossing her siblings into performing her dramatic scripts. As an adult, the telling and reading of stories is still one of her favorite things to do. When she's not reading or writing, she enjoys spending time with her chemistry professor husband and three children, watching British period pieces, or hiking through the splendid landscape of southern Utah, where she lives. She dislikes housework on principle. Her first book, BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, comes out Spring 2017 from Knopf.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Release date: September 13, 2016
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 403
Format: ARC
Source: Traded
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
What isn't written, isn't remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person's memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn't written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.
It's no secret that I looooooooove Sharon Cameron's books. I'm still obsessed with Rook, and it's been...awhile...since I read it. So, when friends told me The Forgetting was her best book so far, I was excited, and a little scared. Honestly, I don't know how something could compare to Rook for me, so The Forgetting isn't her best book in my mind--however, it is excellent.

In Nadia's world, what isn't written down didn't happen. The Forgetting happens every twelve years, so people rely on their books to tell them about their pasts. But Nadia remembers. She's only experienced one Forgetting, but she knows what happened before, and the knowing is a danger to her and her family. She wants to know why they forget and why they have walls, just what they are hiding from.

Finding out these whys and whats alongside Nadia is a treat. Being in her head is fascinating, because Nadia is racing against the clock, fighting for the people she loves. She knows her world could emerge completely different after the Forgetting, and she's unwilling to let that happen. And the answers we get? COOL. It's not something you expect, and even once we know, there's more! You'll be guessing all the way through.

And it's not a Sharon Cameron book if I didn't love the romance! Gray is a bit of a mystery at first, but as he and Nadia get to know one another, their romance is a pleasure to read.

Don't take my saying The Forgetting is not my new favorite Sharon Cameron book as a negative! (I'm really thinking it's more genre-related than anything. I can't resist a retelling of a classic, especially one set in a world than feels like it's from the past but it's really the future!) That doesn't discount that The Forgetting is a truly excellent science fiction novel that'll keep you guessing till the end.


About the author:

Sharon Cameron was awarded the 2009 Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators for her debut novel, The Dark Unwinding. When not writing Sharon can be found thumbing dusty tomes, shooting her longbow, or indulging in her lifelong search for secret passages. She lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

April Recap

I did slightly better this month! Not well, but better. I'm gonna take the win. I'm still reading quite a bit, though, so I'm going to be happy enough with this.

What books did I get?

I did okay with this, but I always manage to download too many egalleys. Without fail.


If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (signed and personalized!)
Rebels Rising by Shanna Swendson

Not the greatest job not buying books, but not terrible either. Hopefully next month will be better. Only thing I didn't buy was Rebel, which I traded for--and about DIED in excitement to get. My collection is perfect. Flora & Ulysses is for my class this summer. And I desperately wanted to go to the launch for Defy the Stars, but timing didn't work out. I did, however, order a signed copy from the event and picked it up, which made it a little better.

As for the egalleys, this may include a couple I got in March, because I didn't feature any in the last recap, but I can't remember exactly when I got all of them.




What did I post?

This is the same number of I posts from my last recap. However, the last recap was for two months! Double the posts!


I'm calling this a win for me, but I'm trying to do better!

What did I read?

Again, not embarrassing!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Perfect (Flawed #2) by Cecelia Ahern
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
The School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

See? I've been reading more than I thought I would, and have quite the backlog of books to review.

Currently reading: When Dimple Met Rishi (though I'll be done by the time this posts!)
Favorite of the month: I think I have to go with Alex, Approximately! I LOVED The Upside of Unrequited, but not as much as Simon, and I loved Born a Crime, but it's so different from my normal stuff, so I guess I'm counting it differently. I dunno. Why do I have to love so many books that I read?

What will I read?


I'm planning on reading heavily from my physical books this month, since I focused on ebooks last month. I didn't do the best with that, but that's okay. If you've seen my TBRs from before, you'll see a few holdovers. I'm really trying to get to them! 

What am I doing?

Well, I've finished my second semester of grad school! I haven't gotten my final grade back yet, but it looks like I'll have a 99 in one class and pass the other--which is a pass/fail pre-requisite--so I'm pleased! I also got to write a giant annotated bibliography on Disney attractions, which was a lot of fun.

I turned 25! I'm still a little salty about it, and kept asking if I could just turn 24 again, but no one told me I could. 

I will be starting summer classes pretty soon, but I'm only taking one. I'll have class through the middle of June and be freeeeee for a little while! I'm taking a class called Materials for Youth, so it shouldn't be too difficult--but it will be work intensive. Looks like we have pretty big assignments that involve reading a book due every 4 or 5 days, so I may...not be the best here. We'll see, I guess.

I'm also trying--again--not to spend money! I need to put it down in writing, and remind myself that I'm saving for school and Disney. Yes, I'm going to Disney World again in September. I might have a problem, but that's alright.


That's it! I'm crossing my fingers I'll be able to get more posts up this month, but we'll see! School has to come first, you know? (I do have at least one blog tour stop scheduled, so that'll happen for sure!)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Review: Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Release date: March 14, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?
Though I love the Starbound series Meagan writes with Amie Kaufman, I haven't read any of her solo books, so I didn't quite know what to expect coming into Hunted. However, I'd seen a few friends raving and Beauty and the Beast is my favorite, so I was excited to try Meagan's adaptation. I'm even more excited to say that I loved it!

Hunted reminded me of one of my favorite author's Beauty and the Beast retellings: Robin McKinley. She has two: Beauty and Rose Daughter. I love them because they're lyrical, dark (more so in the case of Rose Daughter), and compelling. Hunted evokes a lot of the same moodiness, and it works more in the vein of the traditional fairy tales, hitting more complicated notes and emotions, giving the reader more to interpret and less to be told. While I don't always prefer my retellings this way, I do find the ones that strike those chords to be more resonant and stay with me longer.

Yeva is just the kind of girl we can get behind. She wants more from her life than what she's been offered, but she recognizes her duty to her family. She's actually happier in many ways when her father loses his fortune and her family is forced to live in a hunting cabin in the middle of nowhere. Her being different isn't as noticeable, and she can hunt. Her desire to hunt the Beast is understandable, and when she finally understands him and begins to soften, it makes sense.

However, Hunted isn't going to read like I think many people want from a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It's not overly romantic, there's no dancing, and our Beast is often more beastly that we're used to in our recent retellings. For me, this works, but I don't think it will work for everyone. Hunted reads more like an adult high fantasy in a lot of ways, so it's not going to appeal to every YA reader.

From the beginning of Hunted, I was entranced by the gorgeous writing and new yet familiar take on my favorite fairy tale. I was rewarded with a thoroughly beautiful story that reminded me of some of my favorite books, and a new hope that Meagan Spooner will write more books like this! (I'm happy with her sci-fi, but more fantasy, please?)


About the author:

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

Release date: February 14, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
As soon as I read the synopsis for Gilded Cage, I was excited. Even as it sounded a bit like all the dystopian books that came out a few years ago, I loved the idea of it being set in an alternate modern day England. However, I quickly became, honestly, kind of bored with the book.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what doesn't work, but I think the biggest thing is that almost nothing really hits you. There's a lot packed into the book. A lot of characters. A lot of points of view. A lot of things that could be really interesting, but that aren't developed enough to give them the punch they need. Part of the problem is that we're switching point of view every chapter, and we're following stories in a couple of different places. Just when moments start to gain real momentum, the chapter ends and we're shifted to another part of the story. By the time we get back to that character, the momentum is gone. You have to play catch up.

This is worst with Luke's chapters. His involvement with the rebellion quickly becomes the most interesting storyline, but his is the only point of view involved that we get. While I see why the other POVs are involved, I could have done with a book that follows only Luke and probably been happier reading. Otherwise, I think the only other character that interested me was Silyen. Because his motives are completely inscrutable, you don't know what he's going to do. Maybe give me Luke and Silyen?

The romance is also a little upsetting. Abi is a slave. Jenner, even without any powers, is her master. Romance here is just a no. It gives me the icks and I don't like it. It also feels a lot like instalove; even though a lot of time passes that I'm sure they spend a lot of time together, we see very little of it, so their "attraction" feels baseless.

I'm sad not to have liked Gilded Cage because I was so excited by the premise. I'll probably give a look to the sequel when it comes out later this year, because I'm curious, but my interest may not go any farther. I read the whole book, but it was hard to get through for me, honestly.


About the author:

Vic lives in London’s Notting Hill, but her life is more action-adventure than rom-com.

She studied History and English at Merton College, Oxford where Tolkien was once professor. Relocating to Rome, she completed her doctorate in the Vatican Secret Archives (they’re nothing like The Da Vinci Code), then spent five years living in Tokyo where she learned Japanese and worked as a journalist. She now writes full time.

Vic has scuba-dived on Easter Island, camped at Everest Base Camp, voyaged on one of the last mailboats to St Helena, hang-glided across Rio de Janeiro, and swum the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. But there’s little she loves more than lying in bed till midday with a good book and a supply of her favourite biscuits.

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Recap (and a Little of February?)

Weeeeeell, I fell off the face of the earth again! I may not be doing the best with the whole working/school/blogging thing... I do try, but I find it hard at times to muster enthusiasm for getting on the computer and typing things up, especially after I've just finished an assignment. I'm reading, yet I'm not reviewing. So this should be an interesting recap!

What books did I get?

Considering this is two months, I feel no shame! I actually did buy a couple more Saturday, but that was the 1st of April, so that'll go in next month's. Muahahahaha.


Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts
Vanguard by Ann Aguirre
Wesley James Ruined My Life by Jennifer Honeybourn
The End of Our Story by Meg Haston

These are my review books! And all but one came in February,  I believe. I have a coworker I'll be passing Mutant Mantis Lunch Ladies to, because she has a son who I think would enjoy it, and it's just not my style.


Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This is ALL I purchased, y'all! I had the benefit of a Disney trip looming, so I could hold myself back in buying books. I've literally already bought this many books in the month of April, so the next recap won't show such restraint.


Also, my copies of Caraval and A Million Worlds With You are from the Stephanie Garber signing in New Orleans I went to on Valentine's Day! She was so sweet and charming, and it was a really fun signing. I happened to see Claudia Gray tweet about being at the signing, so I brought a couple of her books I hadn't had signed yet and actually bought this last one at the bookstore, was totally creepy, and asked her to sign them for me! She was SO nice and seemed happy to do so. I was kind of sad that the only copy they had had been signed already, but I got it personalized, so that's okay. :)



And finally, books I won! I so rarely win things, so I was excited, and I've been interested in these books from the get-go. Plus, I won them from Becky! :D

What did I post?

This is going to be amusing, since this is representative of two months...


I said I did badly in my January recap, but I think this one wins. 

What did I read?

This is less embarrassing!

The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries
Gilded Cage by Vic James
A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray
Starfall by Melissa Landers
Hunted by Meagan Spooner
The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
The Truth Above Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke

Currently reading: Perfect by Cecelia Ahern
Favorite of February: Tie between Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and Devil in Spring, but I also really loved The Dark Days Pact!
Favorite of March: Hunted

What will I read?

I didn't put together a picture for my TBR this month, because I'm planning on getting through a bunch of eARCs, if possible. Once my copy of Rebels Rising comes, I'll read that for sure, but otherwise, I'm going to focus on digital books because there are SO many backed up. Here are a few I'd like to get to, though:



What am I doing?

School and work. School and work. School and work. That's pretty much it! In February, we did take our trip to Disney World that I'd been so looking forward to. However, I got sick the second day we were there and it really put a damper on the trip. I kept going but... I definitely puked a lot.

I have seen Beauty and the Beast a total of 5 times at this point, so I've spent my fair share of time seeing that. I really love the adaptation!

It's my birthday this month! I'm excited because I love my birthday, but I'm not excited about turning 25. I think I wanted to be somewhere else in life than I am by this point. But I'm okay with things, really, especially being in grad school.


That's it for now! I'm going to go actually schedule some reviews now, so we'll have some real content this month!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Review: How to Break a Boy by Laurie Devore

Release date: January 31, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter
Publisher: Imprint
Pages: 342
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.

Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.

After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.

Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.

And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.
You know, How to Break a Boy was an interesting read. I expected something different from what it was, certainly something lighter and more straightforward, but I can't say it's not worthwhile.

At times, How to Break a Boy is actually hard to read. There are moments when Olivia is making the worst choices I could imagine, and I just wanted to smack her. It's hard to read about a character who is so different and who you know is making the wrong decision, but who believes she's making the right one. It's not that she's unlikable, especially by the end of the book, but Olivia truly doesn't know who she is--and I think that's what makes it worthwhile.

By the end of the book, Olivia still doesn't know who she is, but she's working on it. She's done so much to hurt people, but she's figuring it out--and that's why I think How to Break a Boy is interesting. It's the story of a girl who realizes her life is far from what she thought it was, and she breaks down in that realization. It's kind of like watching a train wreck, because you can't look away yet it's hard to endure.

But I really liked the romance! Whit really is exactly what Olivia needs, and you hate to see him get hurt. Moments between them are hard to read as well, because I just wanted Olivia to really open up and just give up on her vendetta against Adrienne.

Problem is, I think there are people who won't like the "mean girl" aspect of it. Olivia and Adrienne are truly awful to others and one another. The book doesn't make excuses for them, but it's hard to imagine they--Adrienne especially--have a good understanding of just what they're doing.

How to Break a Boy is a fascinating read. It's one I don't think will be for everyone, but it's a great character study of Olivia, warts and all. I'll definitely be looking for more from Laurie Devore.


About the author:

Laurie Devore was born and raised in small town South Carolina and graduated from Clemson University. She now lives and works in Chicago, where she misses the charms and contradictions of the south every day. In her spare time, she reluctantly runs marathons, watches too much TV,  and works a “y’all” into every conversation. How to Break a Boy is her first novel.