Format:eARC
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THE LIBRARIAN Digital Assets

Title: THE LIBRARIAN

Author: Christy Sloat

Pub. Date: June 17, 2017

Publisher: CHBB Publishing

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 230

Find it: Amazon, B&N, Goodreads

 

He’s from 1892 England, she’s in a small library in 2017. And that’s just the start of their troubles.

Emme never meant to stay in Maine. She’d come only to find a librarian for her Gram’s library, a custodian for the collection of mysterious books she’d promised to protect. On a dark, wintery night, alone in the library, she takes her first glance into one of the antique novels and finds herself transported to 1892 England staring into the eyes of handsome and dashing hero Jack Ridgewell. As each chapter passes she learns you can truly fall in love with a character in a book, that book boyfriends are real and Emme must choose between the real world, and his.

When the last page is read he’s gone and Emme feels the cold loneliness of lost love. Will she find Jack again, or will their love be forever lost? The answer lies within the pages…

This book is for 21st century romantics who still believe in the magic of libraries to change lives and to transport them to different worlds. I recommend that readers who enjoyed Outlander, Lost in Austen, or The Librarians treat themselves to Christy Sloat’s novel the next time they have the pleasure of reading an afternoon away. The Librarian is a fast, absorbing, and atmospheric read that you will want to share with all of your bibliophile friends.

This book is full of all of those satisfying little things that make it unbearable to put a book down: family secrets, hidden rooms, dusty books, girl talk, and smoldering romance.

I enjoyed the back and forth between continents and time periods. The two main characters, Emme and Jack, were entertaining and intelligent depictions of a man and a woman from two different countries and time periods falling in love (or should I say lust) with each other. In fact, my only complaint is that this book was too short. I would have loved to experience the sparks between Emme and Jack smolder for a little longer.

I love the whole concept of this book. The plot, the title, the cover-everything is gorgeous and I highly recommend it. It is like the perfect literary shot of espresso for a lazy afternoon.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will win a THE LIBRRAIAN Tote bag and swag , US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Christy: 

I am Southern California native, now living in New Jersey! How did that happen? I am married and have  two beautiful little girls who love to read just like Mommy. I have had a passion for books since I was a little girl and an imagination for just as long. I hope my books can inspire others to read and to write too.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

 

 

 

 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/12/2017- Lost in Ever After– Interview

6/13/2017- Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf– Review

6/14/2017- Fire and Ice– Excerpt

6/15/2017- MEREADALOT– Review

6/16/2017- YA and Wine Interview

Week Two:

6/19/2017- Nerdophiles – Review

6/20/2017- BookHounds YA– Guest Post

6/21/2017- Kindle and Me– Review

6/22/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview

6/23/2017- Page Turners Blog– Review

 

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What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss: Book Review + ASMR Librarian Role Play

by Karina Bliss
Published by Harlequin Super Romance on March 2012
Pages: 249
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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When the librarian met the rock star...

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out firsthand just how "bad" he really is. Because her secret -- and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption -- depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.

“She’s got a secret that’s long overdue.”

Related image
This scene from Atonement was, of course, one of the first things that came to mind when I saw the cover of What the Librarian Did. But, to my dismay, the author does not utilize this fantastically cliche scene. Nevertheless, this book is hot.

I am blushing as I type this review post; but YES, I read a Harlequin Super Romance. As I went through one of the handy self-checkout stations at my local library, I convinced myself that this romance novel was probably going to be a DNFer. The synopsis did not sound especially intriguing to me, but the cover and the title were enough to make me risk my prudish and professional public reputation in order to check it out.

In spite of my reservations about reading a novel one would typically find in a grocery store check-out aisle, I really enjoyed the book. Interestingly enough, it was the un-romantic aspects of the novel that I liked best. For a 249 page book the characters were thoroughly developed, and the plot was emotionally engaging and intellectually satisfying.

The story of the librarian and the rock star unfolds in an academic library located off the coast of a suburban New Zealand town. The two MCs are in their mid-thirties and both are experiencing an early mid-life crisis when they cross paths. The author’s writing voice is concise, charming, and witty. The mix of humor, drama, and romance makes for an entertaining book that readers will want to finish in one or two sessions.

The romantic tension between the two main characters is expertly escalated in the first third of the book, but it is not all hugs and kisses and steamy sex scenes thereafter. As each character takes a turn playing hard to get, the motivations behind their actions are revealed and prove to be more complex than the thrill of a game of cat and mouse. The librarian and the rock star are both entertaining characters and proved to be more than one-dimensional stereotypes on the page.

A long story short, this sweet and steamy romance successfully achieved its thematic goal: never judge a book-or a person-by the cover.

Just For FUN:

I love ALL THINGS LIBRARY so, naturally, when I see anything that thematically falls into library culture, I must indulge myself. A few months ago on the blog, I revealed my dirty little ASMR secret here, and wouldn’t you know it? Library themed ASMR videos are all over You Tube. LIFE IS GOOD.  Below, I have linked to some of my favorite and some of the quirkiest ASMR Library videos. Enjoy!

Lets start with the CRAY:

Next up, old school:

Time for typing and tingles:

And how could anyone pass up the MEDIEVAL LIBRARY:

Are you a fan of ASMR videos? If so, link me up to your favorites!

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The Gentleman by Forrest LeoThe Gentleman by Forrest Leo
Published by Penguin Press Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Kobo
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When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him.

Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil -- the polite "Gentleman" of the title -- who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party's over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord.

Newly in love with Vivien, Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage's spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a "dalliance." Throughout, his cousin's quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana.

Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé's beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

“A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil–then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her.”

This is a short and sweet book review.

I read this book back in February because I was planning on reviewing it for National Poetry Month (in April), but April was busier than I anticipated. Thus, I am reviewing it now, even though its hilarity and cleverness are not freshly imprinted on my brain.

This witty and entertaining Victorian era novel is true to form and unfolds in 19th century dialect. The Gentleman is not a fast read because of the period syntax, but it is oh, so enjoyable. Period detail throughout is on point, and the characters are delightfully shallow. You will end up staging this book like a theatre play in your mind’s eye because it is so easy to imagine the story world and characters from the author’s exquisite attention to detail.

I just really like this cat picture…

Fans of Jane Austen’s Emma will enjoy the twists and turns and mixups that the popular poet, Lionel Savage, encounters. The story switches narration between the poet and his editor, who admits that he reluctantly published the poet’s story that readers are indulging in. (The editor regularly interjects with footnotes and quotes before the beginning of chapters.) Read the fictional editor’s note that opens the book below:

EDITOR’S NOTE.

I have been charged with editing these

pages and seeing them through to

publication, but I do not like the task.

I wish it on record that I think

it better they had been burned.

— Hubert Lancaster, Esq

The poet’s wife, Vivien, is a satisfying character that ends up stealing the show, in my opinion.

A literary comedy of errors that will enchant fans of poetry, the Victorian era, and historical mysteries, The Gentleman is as enjoyable for its form, syntax, and witticisms, as it is for its characters and plots.

 

 

 

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by Corrie Wang
Published by Disney Hyperion Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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THE TAKEDOWN, Blog Tour Digital Assets

Title: THE TAKEDOWN

Author: Corrie Wang

Pub. Date: April 11, 2017

Publisher: Freeform

Pages: 384

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

 

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

 

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

 

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

 

Let me start off by saying that I REALLY LIKED THIS STORY. I admit that I signed up for this book because I could not resist the “hooking up with hot teacher” aspect of the plot. I was only minimally interested in the future/technology/internet aspect of the story. As a historian/librarian-in-training, I always have conflicting emotions about technology and the internet. But let me tell you, this book sucked me in like a stumbled upon episode of The Kardashians at I-can’t-sleep-so-I’m-flipping-through-channels-a.m.

Part Mean Girls, part Gossip Girl- this book was so fun and so hard to put down.

The author does an amazing job at creating the near future world in which humans have become appendages to technology and not vice versa. Humans are at the mercy of their devices in this carefully crafted story world, and there is a very creepy Big Brother vibe in the story. It gave me second thoughts about bring my cell phone with me into the restroom anymore *coughs*.

The main female character, Kyle, narrates the story with complete candidness and the kind of arrogance that you hate to love.  The mix of romantic and bestie/friend drama is perfectly balanced and gave the story such a realistic current that the younger me identified with. Although the story is set in the future, it really brought back memories, LOL.

The best part of this story, besides the integrated text-speak and the nostalgic memories of 1990’s high-school films and T.V. dramas that this book ironically evoked, was the compelling mystery at the center. I did not want to put this book down. I was addicted to it like most people are addicted to their cell phones. I HAD TO KNOW WHO WAS BEHIND THE MISCHIEF. In addition to the fun and engaging plot and storyworld, I loved the diversity of the characters that Corrie Wang so vividly animated in the prep-school setting.

This book is so fitting for today’s media and technology saturated culture. It will definitely have you thinking about your relationships with your devices and how much technology has embedded itself into your existence. It will also make you think twice about who you are both in private and public spaces.

This book is a super fast and surprisingly nuanced read. FIVE STARS, hands down. Did I mention how much I love the cover and the formatting inside? FUN.

About Corrie:

Corrie Wang is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Corrie grew up in Buffalo but spent her formative years in Brooklyn, where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three-story nightclub on the Lower East Side. ​

She currently lives in Charleston, where she and her husband Shuai Wang own and operate Short Grain food truck— named one of Bon Appetit magazine’s Top 50 Best New Restaurants 2016 and a 2017 semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel.​

And fyi it’s pronounced Wong y’all.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE TAKEDOWN, US Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

4/10/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Blogger Post

4/11/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review

4/12/2017- YA and Wine– Review

4/13/2017- BookHounds YA– Blogger Post

4/14/2017- Storybook Slayers– Review

 

Week Two:

4/17/2017- Dazzled by Books– Review

4/18/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Blogger Post

4/19/2017- MEREADALOT– Review

4/20/2017- Book Briefs– Review

4/21/2017- Savings in Seconds– Review

 

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by Victoria Scott
Published by Scholastic, Scholastic Press Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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About the Book:

Title: HEAR THE WOLVES

Author: Victoria Scott

Pub. Date: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Pages: 240

Formats: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksGoodreads

 

It’s survival of the strongest in a contemporary, girl-versus-wild middle-grade début from Fire & Flood author Victoria Scott!

Sloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it’s been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight — it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she’s already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that’s tied there — their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That’s when the wolves start hunting them . . .

Who else needs a poster of this AWESOME book art!?!

Dear Readers,

Be ready to tear through this book like a wolf through its prey. Victoria’s middle-grade début novel will snatch your imagination by the throat and shake it to its core. A fast-paced and attention-grabbing read, Hear the Wolves howls with tension, drama, fright, and courage.

I could not put this book down.

The ending of each chapter left me with so much anticipation, that I devoured the book in one sitting. I admit that I had reservations going into Hear the Wolves. First, I was not sure if a middle-grade novel would hold my attention. Secondly, as a diehard animal lover, I did not know if I would make it through much less enjoy a novel with a protagonist who was a hunter; but this is where an author’s skills shine through. Victoria’s deft handling of the realities of rural Alaskan life worked like magic, subduing my reservations. The complex characters and suspenseful plot absorbed my attention and propelled me through the story.

I loved the diversity of the setting and the flawed characters. Victoria explores the world of the Alaskan wilderness through the eyes of Sloan, the female protagonist, and her fellow townsfolk. Sloan is the kind of female MC that we need in fiction today. She is flawed and perfect because of it.  Intelligent, sensitive, and courageous, Sloan’s character ARC provides a powerful narrative for girls and boys alike: Your past does not define you. Your agency and courage in the face of adversity does. YOU ARE POWERFUL.

A unique and adrenaline-spiking story, Hear the Wolves also teaches a valuable lesson about the effects that human actions have on nature and wildlife. This is a MUST read for tweens, teens, and adults. Keep scrolling, and ENTER TO WIN a FINISHED COPY of this gorgeous book! US ONLY.

About Victoria:

Victoria Scott is the author of eight novels including Titans, Fire & Flood, Salt & Stone, the Dante Walker trilogy, Hear the Wolves (March 2017), and Violet Grenade (May 2017). She is published by Scholastic and Entangled Teen, and is represented by Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties.

Victoria’s latest novel, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood has been selected as a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels have been bought and translated in fourteen foreign markets. The author currently resides in Philadelphia, and loves hearing from her readers.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of HEAR THE WOLVES, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 Tour Schedule:

Week One

3/20/2017- YA Books Central Interview

3/21/2017- Just Commonly– Review

3/22/2017- Falling For YA– Guest Post

3/23/2017- MEREADALOT– Review

3/24/2017- BookHounds YA– Interview

Week Two

3/27/2017- A Backwards Story– Review

3/28/2017- A Gingerly Review– Excerpt

3/29/2017- Book Briefs– Review

3/30/2017- Mundie Moms– Interview

3/31/2017- Library of a Book Witch– Review

 

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About Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey-Klinger Literary Agency. She’s the author of the FIRE & FLOOD series published by Scholastic, and the DANTE WALKER trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her first stand-alone young adult title, TITANS, will be published by Scholastic in spring 2016.

Victoria’s books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Israel, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. She currently lives in Dallas, and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow ( A Novel of the Brontes) by Lena Coakley

by Lena Coakley
on January 5, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been close. After all, nothing can unite four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict, spartan upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

From the Bronte Parsonage Museum

 

This is the kind of book that you want to plan a whole photo shoot for. Isn’t the cover fabulous!? Of course, the title of the book is pretty fabulous as well.

And that, my friends, is exactly why I went into this novel with a little trepidation.

Would the story be equally amazing, creating a trinity of bookish brilliance?

I should know better than to ask so much from books with beautiful covers.

While I was not blown away by the story, I was continually intrigued by it. I enjoyed what I learned about the Brontes, and I would definitely recommend this book to any fan of their writing.

Image result for Bronte sisters archives

I love the writing of the Bronte sisters. I also love reading novels set in the nineteenth century, and I have read many, so the author had her work cut out for her. I just did not adore this novel as much as I had hoped I would. I think the reason for this was mostly my fault. Reading fantasy is always a challenge for me. I found it a little difficult to keep up with the characters within the Brontes’ created worlds.

Despite my too high expectations, this book was a lot of fun. It was filled with darkness, magic, and mayhem. Sibling rivalries and deceptions abound within the walls and imaginary worlds of the Brontes’ home. Worlds of Ink and Shadow reminded me of Jumanji or Night at the Museum in some aspects.

Oh! And there is a Bronte brother! This book introduced me to Bramwell, the brother to the Bronte sisters that I did not even know existed. According to the author’s book, he was equally as creative as his female siblings.

Click on the picture to be redirected to an interesting article in Emily Bronte from The Paris Review.

Emily-Bronte-Paris-Review

The plot was slow-moving, reminiscent of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Unlike these novels, however, there is no passionate and forbidden love story. There is a thread of romantic feelings between two characters in the novel, that mirrors Heathcliff and Catherine’s in Wuthering Heights, but nothing that is ever developed to capacity.

This novel is a window into the psyches and daily lives that shaped the writing of the Brontes. The author shows how, despite their creative talents and impulses, the Brontes were forced to create alternate lives for themselves, with ink and paper, to escape the oppressive culture that only provided them with two narratives to live their lives by: become a governess spinster or marry into the cult of domesticity. While the Bronte siblings had a relatively free and rich life within their home, the real-world that they were aging into would not have allowed them the same freedoms. It is no wonder that they created such dark and magical parallel lives. The world beyond their hearth would not be as accommodating to their talents and temperaments.

To Walk Invisble: The Bronte Sisters ( A Masterpiece Original series)

The author did a wonderful job drawing from the thematic material of each Bronte sisters’ writing to shape the Gothic fantasy world that occupied and controlled the lives of the Bronte family within her novel. Themes of despair, love, loss, religion, and gendered oppression are all touched upon. The critique of women’s roles and expectations in nineteenth century England was, in fact, the most compelling part of the novel for me. Worlds of Ink and Shadow gives twenty-first century readers a glimpse into the stark reality for women during the Brontes’ lifetime. The fact that any of them found the opportunity to put pen to paper was an anomaly all its own.

Did you read Worlds of Ink and Shadow? Please leave a comment, and let me know what you thought!

And Just For FUN:

Here is a fantastic and informative promo video for the novel, narrated by the author herself:

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana MatherHow to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26, 2016
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Ummmm….An actual relative of COTTON FRIGGIN’ MATHER wrote a book about witches. How am I not going to read and like this book?!?!

Image result for cotton mather
Cotton Mather

When I started Adriana Mather’s debut novel, How to Hang a Witch, I knew I was in for a spooky-good time. My anticipation was met, and then some, by the end of the novel. Besides being historically on point, this book was a magical mash-up of some of my favorite 90s and 00’s films.

Ghost+ The Craft+ Mean Girls+The Crucible= A unique YA novel that entertains and educates to the beat of its own drum.

Image result for the craft
The Craft 1996 film

When Samantha Mather moves back to her ancestral family’s hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, old family feuds and ghostly apparitions are conjured, drawing Samantha into the dark history of her family’s past. As a descendant of the infamous Cotton Mather, Samantha immediately becomes a person of interest at school for the local ‘mean girls coven’, and she is swept up in a storm of rumors, bullying, hauntings, and black magic.

Image result for cotton mather's house salem massachusetts

Oh, and there just might be a peculiar love triangle…or quadrilateral that fits itself into the story.

I loved the setting of this book. The creepy old house, with creaking stairs and A SECRET LIBRARY, absolutely seduced me from the beginning of the book.

The antagonists in the story (there are a handful of them) are the kind you love to hate, and I was left guessing until the very end about who was truly evil and vengeful, and who was just an insecure bully.

Samantha was a smart and strong MC, and I was equally torn between the two romantic interests that complicate her life beyond witchcraft.

This book was a fast read for me because I had a hard time putting it down. Besides the fact that I love all things witches, I really enjoyed the snippets of historical insight that Mather provides in the novel, straight out of her own, personal family history.

Image result for on witchcraft cotton mather

I will say that there were times when this book felt schizophrenic. It was almost as if the author could not decided what type of creepy story she wanted to write. In the end, I decided to roll with it. It was fun, entertaining, and unique because of the author’s lineage.

Have you read How to Hang a Witch? What did you think?!

And Just for FUN:

A home video of some of the Witch Trial memorial sites introduced by a tour guide:

An interesting student-made documentary about the tourism and spectacle that surround the Witch Trials:

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue + GIVEAWAY!!!The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Published by Little Brown on September 20, 2016
Pages: 291
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

ENTER TO WIN a Hardcover copy of The Wonder below! US ONLY.

Have you read Emma Donoghue’s Room, or seen the Academy award winning film based off of that book? I haven’t indulged myself in either of these yet, but I did recently read Donoghue’s, The Wonder, and I could not put it down.

Set some years after the Crimean War, this story unfolds within the confines of a thatch-roofed home, in a small Irish village, haunted by poverty and intense religious superstition. The setting of the novel evokes an atmosphere of beauty, mysticism, and despair– a strange and compelling combination.

Image result for Ireland thatched roof house

The narrator of the story is a bold Red Cross nurse, named Lib, with brains and cynicism to spare. Trained under Florence Nightingale, Lib is called on for her special skills to determine if a nine-year-old self-proclaimed saint, who claims to survive off of ”heavenly sustenance”,  is the real thing.

The characters are concentrated doses of the culture, mannerisms, attitudes, and beliefs you would expect from late nineteenth-century Irish folk. The majority of the story is concentrated even further between the nightly conversations between Lib and Anna, and Lib and her own mental meanderings.

In short, this story is a superfast read. Each chapter begs you to continue to the next as the story plants red herrings and grows more complex by the page. It is an intimate story that forces you to ask yourself what you would do or believe in Lib’s position. Overall, I recommend this book to any historical fiction or psychological suspense fan who is looking for a story with a deep and fast hook. The only minor dislike I had was for the much too tidy ending.

Have you read The Wonder or The Room? What did you think?

Just for fun:

Here is a short video on Florence Nightingale and the advent of modern nursing:

 

And here is a fun, 1940s video aimed at women entering the workforce as nurses:

 

 

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Like many of you, I do not get around to starting my ”New Year” until the end of January. The first few weeks of the month are necessary adjustment days as I recover from the blur that is November and December. In fact, as I am writing this, the 2017 calendar I ordered online still has not arrived in my mailbox. So, I feel perfectly justified in not starting my new year’s plans until February.

With any rigorous intellectual or reading challenge I embark on, I think it is important to find an active yet relaxing way to give my eyes and brain a break at regular intervals. This year, I am going to try Yoga for Book Lovers. A colleague of mine shared this chart, and I could not resist reposting it.

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Although I am going to be insanely busy for the next four months, these are the reading challenges that I am going to attempt:

I have attempted this HF Reading Challenge for the past few years, but have never completed it. Will this year be the year I do? Probably not, but I am going to try anyway!

Take the 2017 Houston Reader Challenge and learn something about this city. Photo: Robert Wuensche Illustration / Houston Chronicle | Fotolia Bookish Illustration / Paulista - Fotolia

The second one I am going to attempt to fit into my tight schedule is the Houston Chronicle’s 2017 Reading Challenge. This one was recommended to me by someone from work, and I was intrigued. I have not delved much into Houston’s local history, so I figured this was a good place to start.

Now, of course, no matter how enthusiastic I am about beginning new challenges and sticking with them, there is always some deviation from the plans I set at the beginning of the year. I have decided that I am perfectly fine with that. I will probably give in to more than a few impulse reads, and I am not just talking about ARCs I receive from publishers. I have a whole shelf of impulse- book-buys at home calling to me, and I am ready to give in. These are just a few of the books beckoning me at home:

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What reading or book related challenges are you investing your time in this year?

 

 

 

A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan #1) by Julie McElwainA Murder in Time by Julie McElwain
Published by Pegasus Books on April 11, 2016
Pages: 498
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Beautiful and brilliant, Kendra Donovan is a rising star at the FBI. Yet her path to professional success hits a speed bump during a disastrous raid where half her team is murdered, a mole in the FBI is uncovered and she herself is severely wounded. As soon as she recovers, she goes rogue and travels to England to assassinate the man responsible for the deaths of her teammates.

While fleeing from an unexpected assassin herself, Kendra escapes into a stairwell that promises sanctuary but when she stumbles out again, she is in the same place - Aldrich Castle - but in a different time: 1815, to be exact.

Mistaken for a lady's maid hired to help with weekend guests, Kendra is forced to quickly adapt to the time period until she can figure out how she got there; and, more importantly, how to get back home. However, after the body of a girl is found on the extensive grounds of the county estate, she starts to feel there's some purpose to her bizarre circumstances. Stripped of her twenty-first century tools, Kendra must use her wits alone in order to unmask a cunning madman.

Does the cover of this book not beckon you to read it!?

Yes, I will admit, I judged this book by its cover. I am glad I read the story synopsis and thought it sounded rad as well.

This would be a great book to use that Christmas book money on or gift to your bibliophile friends who love murder mysteries, feminist fiction, Doctor Who, and Sherlock Holmes.

I think fans of Outlander are going to fall in love with the Kendra Donovan series.
I think fans of Outlander are going to fall in love with the Kendra Donovan series.

Strong female lead? Check.

Action? Check.

Time travel? Check.

History? Check!

Mystery? Check!

Who can resist a time-travelling-historical-fiction-mystery with a bad-ass female protagonist? Not me, and you will not be able to either, once you are introduced to the crime fighting, slightly messed-up world of FBI agent, Kendra Donovan. ( I really like using hyphens.)

Kendra Donovan is the twenty-something offspring of ambition-driven, cold and calculating parents.

The story of Donovan’s parents and her past sound like they were equally plucked from the early twentieth century and some time in the future. This will make sense if you read the book and are familiar with the term eugenics.

While the first third of Kendra’s story unfolds in the present, the majority of the book takes place in a castle. In nineteenth-century England. DELIGHTFUL.

It was entertaining to listen to Kendra’s thoughts as she compared and contrasted the customs and rituals of polite and lower-class society in 1815 to the customs and social class divisions of our present time. There was a fun Upstairs, Downstairs/ Downton Abbey atmosphere to the story. Unfortunately for Kendra, she was plopped “downstairs” when she travelled back in time, and there are some hilarious moments in which things just aren’t working out for her and she loses her cool.

“The accouterments of humanity may change, but its heartbeat remained the same.”

There is great blend of Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes-esque imagery and plot in the novel. It was fun to witness how the modern FBI agent had to mask her modern crime detection skills under the guise of being a uniquely educated foreigner.

I kind of ended up imagining Kendra Donovan like this in the present...
I kind of ended up imagining Kendra Donovan like this in the present…
...And like this in the 19th century, although her hair is very different as described in the book.
…And like this in the 19th century (although her hair is very different as described in the book).

The main character often references some of the most familiar historical aspects (writers, tropes, concepts, philosophies) of the time period while trying to navigate her way around society. It might come off as trite, but the reader has to remind themselves that Kendra Donovan is a brainiac, prone to encyclopedic thought-streams.

This book was darker than I anticipated. There are grisly murders and graphic autopsies, but if you are a fan of other nineteenth-century crime/mystery novels, then it is nothing too shocking. Jack the Ripper comes to mind…

If you are looking for something with the level of romance and rendezvous that the Outlander series had, then you will be a little disappointed. While there is the hint of a developing romance throughout the book, we do not see any real ”action” until the end. But I liked this aspect of the novel. I enjoyed that the novel focused on this strong and smart, liberated woman solving crimes instead of her swooning over some English heartthrob. That being said, the story ends in a way that lets us know there is definitely more romance to come in the next novel.

Overall, A Murder in Time was an action-packed, atmospheric, fun and absorbing read. I am excited to read the next novel in the series, A Twist in Time, due out this April.

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I have a guilty pleasure. It’s Sunday, and I felt the need to confess my secret to see if anyone else shares the same shame secret as me.  I really can’t believe I’m doing this…

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.

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It all started in 2015. I was on YouTube searching for some instructional videos and a wild card showed up under my recommended list. It piqued my interest, I clicked on the link, and I’ve never been the same.

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I’m addicted to ASMR videos.

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What is ASMR you ask? ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. You can read more about it HERE. Basically, they are “sounds that FEEEEEL GOOOOD”. Not feel good in a ”This song has lifted my spirits” kind of way, but in a “this makes muh bodaaaay tingley” kinda of way. You might describe it as effervescent carbonation in your veins.

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If you are a musician or someone who is sensitive to sound, ASMR can be like crack. A lot of people use ASMR video playlist on YouTube as a way to help them fall asleep. With me, I can never fall asleep while listening to them because I enjoy listening  to them TOO MUCH.

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Now, when you look at the videos that I will provide here and some of the recommendations that subsequently pop up after you view them, you might think to yourself, “This girl is freakaaay.” While, yes, some of these videos go into fetish territory, that is beside the point. The point is that THE SOUNDS GIVE YOU TINGLES LIKE CHRISTMAS IN YOUR CRANIAL NERVES.

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There. I said it……A huge weight has been lifted off my chest. Now, keep scrolling to check out some of my favorite holiday-inspired ASMR videos, and leave a comment to let me know what you think. Stop by again next Sunday to see some more of my favorite themed ASMR videos.

Have you listened to an ASMR video? Do YOU have any confessions to make??? Hmmmm???

 



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If you first fell in love with author Victoria Scott and her writing through her EntangledTEEN Dante Walker series, then you are probably just as excited as us to get your hands on a copy of her upcoming novel under the same publisher: VIOLET GRENADE. The cover was revealed on GLITTER MAGAZINE this past week, and we are officially obsessed! Check out the reveal trailer below, and then keep scrolling for a peek at the book.

Be sure to subscribe to Victoria’s Blog HERE to keep up to date with all the latest news regarding what is sure to be a bad-ass bestseller in May 2017. And grab the COUNTDOWN WIDGET for Violet Grenade after the video!

You can officially add Violet Grenade to your GOODREADS list HERE.

You can PREORDER your copy from AMAZON HERE.

DOMINO: A girl with blue hair and a demon in her mind.

CAIN: A stone giant on the brink of exploding.

MADAM KARINA: A woman who demands obedience.

WILSON: The one who will destroy them all.

When Madam Karina discovers Domino in an alleyway, she offers her a position inside her home for entertainers in secluded West Texas. Left with few alternatives and an agenda of her own, Domino accepts. It isn’t long before she is fighting her way up the ranks to gain the madam’s approval. But after suffering weeks of bullying and unearthing the madam’s secrets, Domino decides to leave. It’ll be harder than she thinks, though, because the madam doesn’t like to lose inventory. But then, Madam Karina doesn’t know about the person living inside Domino’s mind.

Madam Karina doesn’t know about Wilson.

 


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Hear The Wolves by Victoria Scott
Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pre-Order: Amazon | B&NiBooksThe Book Depository | Kobo
Goodreads: Add to your bookshelf

It’s survival of the strongest in a contemporary, girl-versus-wild middle-grade debut from Fire & Flood author Victoria Scott!

Sloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it’s been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight — it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she’s already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that’s tied there — their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That’s when the wolves start hunting them . . .

If you are reading this post, then you are in store for an EPIC GIVEAWAY. In honor of Victoria Scott’s forthcoming YA/Middle-Grade novel, I have decided to giveaway…..are you ready for this???? ONE LUCKY PERSON WILL WIN:
A signed set of The Dante Walker series
A signed set of the Fire and Flood novels
A PREORDER of Hear the Wolves
Bookmark swag
A 2017 Wolf-themed calendar
USA ONLY
(Sorry, international friends.)
*Don’t wake the neighbors up with your shouts of glee!*
First, grab this FABULOUS countdown timer for your blog or website and share in our anticipation of Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott. Then, keep scrolling to ENTER TO WIN THE AWESOME GIVEAWAY!!!

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Blog Tour: Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven + GIVEAWAY!!!

by Jennifer Niven
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, Random House Kids on October 4, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Armed with wit and humour, Niven delivers a poignant story that reads like an insta-classic. It is the “Can’t Hardly Wait” of this generation.

This novel was a fast read for me. I couldn’t put it down once I started. Alternating chapters reveal two characters that find a common heart-string among the awkwardness of high-school despite their night-and-day experiences. While the chapters were short and sweet, the characters were smart and addicting. Being inside of Libby Strout’s head was one of the best things I’ve ever done. If you are lucky, she will remind you of yourself. Or if you are lucky in a different way, she will inspire you to be more of your awesome self. Jack Masselin is pretty bad-ass as well, but Libby takes the cake. No pun intended.

Niven’s story delivers sharp and insightful commentary on the American social experience, especially for those who fall outside of the cookie cutter norm that American media sells. Although written from the perspective of Libby and Jack, a high-school boy and girl, Holding Up The Universe is sure to hold truth and relevance for a range of readers. There is magic in this book that transcends age.

This novel takes a tabloid-esqe story and pieces together the humans behind the headlines. Holding Up The Universe is an important reminder that people are more than what they look like and that everyone we come across is fighting their own battles.

Holding Up The Universe is A MUST for your holiday wish-list and book-loving friends. Enter below for a chance to read an ARC of Niven’s latest and greatest novel. US ONLY.

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The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard by Sherry Jones

by Sherry Jones
Published by Gallery Books on October 7, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God. But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever.

Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Nôtre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure.

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Sapiophiles unite. Heloise and Abelard are our heroes.

Faith. Knowledge. Friendship. Lust. CASTRATION. Thus is the story of Heloise and Abelard. A love story steeped in provocative intellectual sparring and the knowledge of forbidden fruit. If you are a fan of the great and tragic romances of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, or Tristan and Isolde, then you are a fan of Heloise and Abelard: star-crossed lovers whose characters were crucified for the love they bore each other.

If you enjoy historical fiction with strong female protagonists then you will enjoy this novel. The author has constructed her version of Abelard and Heloise from a vast array of letters and historical documents available to researchers and enthusiasts. The world of 12th century Paris is also skillfully recreated by the author and was such a pleasure to read. Through lenses of love and desire the culture and social issues of the time are examined, revealing gender inequalities and double-standards that are still, strangely (or predictably) enough, prevalent in today’s society.

The author’s writing is passionate, lyrical, and poetic. Jones has composed a literary love ballad about two historical personalities that challenged the conventions of their time, and risked everything  TO DO WHAT THEY WANTED.

If you are a fan of female historical figures such as Joan of Arc, Hildegard von Bingen, or Eleanore of Aquitaine, I think Sherry Jones’ ballad of Heloise and Abelard deserves a spot on your TBR list.

Here’s a great What You Missed in History Class podcast about Heloise and Abelard to check out to learn more about them and the culture that shaped their love story.

And Just for FUN:

lettere-amorose

The magnificent Magdalena Kozena’s album, Lettere Amorose, is a collection of 17th century Italian Baroque ”love letters” that is worth listening to on its own, but made the perfect soundtrack for reading this novel. While the music featured on this album is not from the 12th century, it still has the feel of Heloise and Abelard’s story. I used it as my reading soundtrack because Jones’ novel uses the real correspondences of H & A to construct her story, and this lovely album plays up that theme.

 

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Forget Tomorrow by Pintip DunnForget Tomorrow by Pintip Dunn
on November 3, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision―a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo―a prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes the hellish prison.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all.

Callie herself.

This review is long overdue, but that is a common theme for me as of late. Over the past year, I have used any “spare” time (between school, work, commuting, spending time with my family) to attack my leisure/TBR list. So, when I have a moment to write a review/blog during the semester, that means I’m on top of my game. Yay for me!

Check out this lovely book-look created by another fan:

Book Look: Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) By Pintip Dunn
Book Look: Forget Tomorrow (Forget Tomorrow #1) By Pintip Dunn by xmikky featuring a mini dress

When I read Pintip Dunn’s Forget Tomorrow earlier this year, it acted as the miracle brain balm to my reading romance rut. With Victoria Scott’s Dante Walker trilogy complete, J.L. Armentrout’s Lux series at an end, and Amy Engel’s The Book of Ivy duology finished, I felt at a loss for where to turn to for my next gripping teen read. Then, lo and behold, EntangledTEEN puts out the first book in another MUST READ series: Forget Tomorrow. My SciFi,YA, Romance loving heart was happy again…and completely in love with the characters and plot of Pintip Dunn’s new series.

I hesitate. Not because I don’t want to touch him, but because I do. I want to take his hand and hold it forever. […] Because five years ago, I never noticed the way his upper lip rested on his lower one, soft but assured. My breath didn’t quicken when he was near, and my stomach didn’t flip-flop whenever he touched me.

Our friendship has entered unfamiliar terrain.

Fans of the above mentioned books and others like the Divergent and UTNS series will find their next action-packed, romantic tension fix with Forget Tomorrow.

Two bad-ass characters, each carrying a secret. 17 year-old Callie is a strong, resilient, complex, and clever character that perfectly complements Logan, her childhood crush, who emanates from the page with quiet courage and a heart of gold. In other words, I’m in love.

This heart-pounding debut explores themes of family, convention and rebellion, identity, and the power of choice. I’m dropping everything to dive into the newly release sequel, Remember Yesterday, TONIGHT.

Follow me on Instagram for a chance to win a hardcover copy of Remember Yesterday in the near future.

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ARC Review: The Architect of Song  by A.G. HowardThe Architect of Song Published by self-published on August 15, 2016
Pages: 425
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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Purchase Links: Amazon
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A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower - intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

New Adult: Recommended for ages 16+.

*Sings in A minor to my Russian Blue cat using an operatic voice, “Why? Whhhhyyy didn’t I love this book- the book release of my obsession!?!?”*

When I saw the cover of A.G. Howard’s newest novel, The Architect of Song, I instantly coveted it. So, obviously, I was thrilled when I received a digital ARC for review. Despite my excitement for the novel, I made sure not to raise any ridiculous expectations that might ruin my reading experience. I have not read the author’s popular Splintered series yet, so I also did not know what to expect from her writing style.

To put it briefly, A.G. Howard’s writing is beautiful. There were sentences and descriptions in TAoS that dazzled me with their lyricism and poetic overtones. Her writing conjured images of jewel-toned velvets, Gothic architecture, and fairy-tale settings. Lovely descriptions made the story pop.

Crimson Peak is full of decadent eye candy and Howard's descriptions reminded me of the beautiful imagery from this film.
Crimson Peak is full of decadent eye candy and Howard’s descriptions reminded me of the beautiful imagery from this film.

Unfortunately, the romance at the heart of the novel fell completely flat for me. If I had rated this book on that aspect alone, it would have been 1.5 stars. I am a die-hard otherworldly lover/love triangle fan, but neither of these aspects drew me in or held my attention in TAoS. The dynamic between the characters was cheesy to me. It was like rushed lust that masqueraded as love by the end of the story. When I think of a gothic romance, I anticipate the wonderful yet torturous build up of passion and romance between the love interests. I didn’t really get this from TAoS.

Also, I feel like the title is a tad misleading. I thought music or singing was going to play a bigger role in the book, but it doesn’t. The music fan in me was disappointed by this.

I am still completely in love with the idea of this book and series, and I look forward to the next book in the Haunted Hearts Legacy to see if there has been any improvement in the development of the romantic thread.

Just for fun:

If you are into paranormal romances and Victorian era settings, than I highly recommend C.J. Archer’s Emily Chambers Spirit Medium series and The Freak House series. Both trilogies are to die for, but The Medium trilogy comes closest to TAoS. C.J. Archer does an amazing job of building up romantic tension between the human and ghost love interest, and is an absolute master of writing about the Victorian time period.

The Medium new cover

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Blog Tour Review + GIVEAWAY: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

by Jay Kristoff
Published by Thomas Dunne Books Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iBooks
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The first in a new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic—the Red Church. If she bests her fellow students in contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts, she’ll be inducted among the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the vengeance she desires. But a killer is loose within the Church’s halls, the bloody secrets of Mia’s past return to haunt her, and a plot to bring down the entire congregation is unfolding in the shadows she so loves.

Will she even survive to initiation, let alone have her revenge?

NEVERNIGHT

Don’t forget to ENTER TO WIN an awesome prize at the end of this post!

Nevernight could be classified as a pop-up book because every character and detail leaps from the pages. This book has a PRESENCE albeit a sadistic one. I found myself compelled to finish Mia’s story in as few sittings as possible.

When I first read Ann Rice’s Lasher series at the tender age of ADULT, I would hide the books in my dresser drawer at night when I went to bed. I thought the books were way evil and would possess me or my house, LOLOLOLOLOL.

Now, at the tender age of  ‘been-adulting-it-for-a-while’ , I will admit to you that Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight made me do the same thing. This book is MESSED UP…..in all the right ways. It is delightfully eeeeeeval in a STAB STAB way, not paranormal way. I have to admit, while reading Nevernight, I felt like I needed to reach out to Mr. Kristoff and offer him one of my psychoanalysis sessions, but I digress.

Sex. Violence. Assassin’s Creed. Blood. Guts. Star Wars. Opera. Harry Potter. The Godfather. All of these things came to mind while reading this brick-thick book full of delightful footnotes. (How could you not read a book that brings all the aforementioned to mind!?) As a historian-in-training, I enjoyed the footnote aspect. THAT’S WHERE THE TREASURES ARE. Take my advice and DO NOT SKIP THE FOOTNOTES. They added another fun dimension to the storyworld. And seriously, the landscaping for Nevernight was fantastic. The world building is so vivid and complete and original.

Stylistically, the novel is crass, hardcore, and abrasive. There were definitely moments where I asked myself, “Did he really just write that?!”.  There were also moments where I felt like the storyworld dimensions of Sin City and The Borgias had burst open and spilled into each other, making for a really interesting reading experience.

The characters were all well played. Everything about this book, from the settings to the dialogue to the fight scenes has ‘video gamer CRACK’ written all over it.

Don’t call the cops when I tell you this, but I totally connected with Mia’s character and could relate to her on multiple levels. She’s wonderfully conflicted and vulnerable, yet powerful beyond measure because of her shortcomings. I loved how Mia’s story taps into the powerful and seductive emotions of vengeance, despair, and unbridled hatred, and that Mr. Kristoff wasn’t timid in exploiting those emotions. But Mia’s story grows exponentially more complex by the end of Nevernight, and we see a new set of emotions disrupt her tunnel vision.

The chemistry between Mia and Tric, her love/lust interest, is the stuff that solar systems are made of.  If you are reading this book, and thinking to yourself, “Whoaaaaa, this is so not for me,” keep reading for Mia and Tric. And Mister Kindly. TRUST ME.

Side note:

After watching the wonderful book trailer for Nevernight (featured further down), I knew I was right on point with how I was imagining most of the storyworld/settings except I also got a modern feel at points. Modern like graphic novel/Sin City type modern. HA. Immediately below is the song I would have set as the book trailer soundtrack:

 

jayAbout Jay Kristoff

About Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is a New York Times and international bestselling author of science fiction and fantasy. He grew up in the second most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

 

His LOTUS WAR trilogy was critically acclaimed in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, nominated for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards and won the 2014 Aurealis Award. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller THE ILLUMINAE FILES, was co-authored with Amie Kaufman. Book 1, ILLUMINAE, became a New York Times and international bestseller, was named among the Kirkus, Amazon and YALSA Best Books of 2015 and won the 2016 Aurealis Award and an ABIA Book of the Year award. ILLUMINAE is currently slated to be published in twenty five countries, and film rights have been acquired by Brad Pitt and Plan B Entertainment.

 

Jay’s new fantasy series, THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, commences with book 1, NEVERNIGHT, from St Martins Press/Thomas Dunne Books and Harper Voyager in 2016. A new YA series, LIFEL1K3 has also been acquired by Knopf/Random House Kids, and commences publication in 2018. Jay is as surprised about all this as you are. He is represented by Josh Adams at Adams Literary.

 

Jay is 6’7 and has approximately 13,030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

 

He does not believe in happy endings.

Website | Twitter | Facebook |Instagram | Goodreads

 

Book Trailer: This is a trailer made by Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler. 

 

Giveaway Details:

5 winners will receive a finished copy of NEVERNIGHT, US Only.

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Blog Tour: The Shadow Hour by Melissa  + GIVEAWAY!!!The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight #2
Published by Delacorte Press on July 12, 2016
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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A battle has been won. But the war has only just begun.

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature—or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour.

THE SHADOW HOUR (2)

The Shadow Hour by Melissa Grey

The Shadow Hour

Author: Melissa Grey

Pub. Date: July 12, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 432

Format: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart.

Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome.

She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight.

Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature– or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground?

Welcome to the shadow hour. 

My Review:

Welcome to the bad-ass sequel of the friggin’ century. The Shadow Hour outshines The Girl at Midnight with the power of a thousand firebirds. It’s the norm for sequels to kind of suck, but I am officially wooed beak over wings for this series because of book two. I alternately had urges to watch vintage X-Men cartoons and the film Willow while reading The Shadow Hour BECAUSE THAT’S HOW EPIC IT WAS.

XMenPheonix2XMenPheonix 1

The seeds of greatness that were planted in The Girl at Midnight fully bloomed in The Shadow Hour. The story world, wherever it went, was vivid and intoxicating in description. I marked so many pages in this book because I was buzzed on its descriptive power and the potency of the emotions it evoked. Reading The Shadow Hour made me feel powerful. And that’s all I really ever want from a book. For it to make me feel awesome and swept away by its awesomeness.

Echo, the female protagonist, comes into herself and her newly acquired firebird powers in this book, and she owns it. The author captures the transition and emotional turmoil Echo experiences with such poetic beauty. There is literary magic in the way Grey tortures and empowers her characters on the page.

Light, bright and vengeful, seared Echo’s eyes as she fell out of the void, her knees landing on packed dirt and dry grass with a painful thud. Her fingers dug into the earth, capturing fistfuls of pebbles and dead leaves, as she heaved in deep, shaking breaths. The world spun and her eyes burned.

Power surged within her, fueled by anxiety. She couldn’t hold it back. It was like trying to close floodgates after a wave had already rushed through. Fire flowed from her hands, scorching the earth and rushing around her, forming a circle.

The complex relationship between Echo, Caius, and Rowan were worked out just right. I am so for love triangles, but I love how it didn’t distract from the powerful women at the center of the story.

The pacing of the story was just right for this action and mythical information packed tale. I enjoyed getting intimate views of all of the characters and their relationships from the third-person storytelling.

And I just might have fallen for a new character named Helios. His description and characterization is like liquid gold that tastes like honey. I can’t wait to get more of him in the third book.

There are more serious themes that can be teased out of this masterpiece that seem strangely relevant to the current social and political climate. Exploring the root of the hate between the Avacen and Drakharin peoples and the loss of innocent lives that result from war and the corruption of power for example.

Overall, this book was magical beyond the plot. The writing was exquisite and the humour was on point. It was a great balance between light and darkness. I think Melissa Grey crafted a rich and fantastic story that appeals to those of us who crush hard on literary fiction and geek-out on intellectual and philosophical name dropping/quoting. Thank you Melissa Grey for appealing to my emotions, my intellect, my love of pop/sub-culture, and my humanity.

And I’m sorry I’m including this “Just for Fun” tidbit in my post, but my mind is saying no, and my bodaaay is saying yesss:

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE AWESOME GIVEAWAY AT THE END OF THIS POST!

Check out this luscious Prologue Excerpt from The Shadow Hour:

Rowan could pinpoint the exact moment he fell in love. It would take him ten years to

admit it to himself, to gather the vocabulary necessary to encompass the complexity of

his emotion, but he experienced the first stirrings of affection the second Echo stepped

into his life.

That day, Rowan’s mother had sent him, armed with a basketful of freshly baked

cupcakes, to play with the Ala’s orphans. The cupcakes had gone fast, and Rowan was

lucky to have been able to snag the last one, a fluffy concoction of red velvet cake and

cream cheese frosting.

When the human girl entered the room a hush fell over the children. Her uncombed

brown hair made her look like a wild thing, and she clung to the Ala like an anchor. She

had no feathers. Her bare arms looked almost obscene compared with the down that

covered Rowan’s skin. Her big brown eyes zeroed in on the cupcake in his hand as if she

were a hawk hunting for her next kill. She was so skinny, so pale.

He extended his hand, the half-eaten cupcake cradled in his palm as if it were something

precious. And to the girl, it was. Even if he had licked off most of the frosting already.

She took it from him with a look of such awestruck gratitude that Rowan had promised

himself, at the tender age of seven, that he would devote the rest of his life to conjuring

forth that smile.

Melissa-Grey-headshot-02About Melissa:

Melissa Grey was born and raised in New York City. She wrote her first short story at the age of twelve

and hasn’t stopped writing since. After earning a degree in fine arts at Yale University, she traveled the

world, then returned to New York City where she currently works as a freelance journalist. To learn

more about Melissa, visit melissa-grey.com and follow @meligrey on Twitter.

WebsiteBlog | Twitter  | Instagram | Pinterest Goodreads

Don’t forget to check out the entertaining first book in the series, The Girl at Midnight!

TGaM COVER

Book 1 Info:

Title: THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT

Author: Melissa Grey

Pub. Date: April 28, 2015

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 368

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Find it: AmazonBarnes &  NobleKobo, Indiebound, Powell’s, Goodreads

For readers of Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone, The Girl at

Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and

magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one.

Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the

Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a

centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity

believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life

as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants … and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Praise for THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT:

“Grey’s energetic debut offers a strong protagonist…[and the] well-built world, vivid characters, and

perfect blend of action and amour should have readers eagerly seeking the sequel.” — Kirkus Reviews,

Starred

“Sparks fly…This first novel will please fans of Cassandra Clare and Game of Thrones watchers with its

remarkable world building; richly developed characters…[and] a breathtaking climax that…cannot come

soon enough!”—Booklist starred review

“Inventive, gorgeous, and epic—Grey dazzles in her debut.” — Danielle Paige, New York Times

bestselling author of Dorothy Must Die

“A stunning debut. Equal parts atmosphere and adventure … positively divine.” – Victoria Schwab,

author of A Darker Shade of Magic

 

 

Tour Schedule

Week One:

7/18/2016- a GREAT read– Interview

7/19/2016- MEREADALOT– Review

7/20/2016-Literary Meanderings– Excerpt

7/21/2016- Zach’s YA Reviews– Review

7/22/2016- Fiction Fare– Interviewhttp://exlibriskate.com/

 

Week Two:

7/25/2016- The Eater of Books– Review

7/26/2016- YA Book Madness– Excerpt

7/27/2016- Ex Libris– Review

7/28/2016- BookHounds YA– Interview

7/29/2016- The Cover Contessa– Review

ENTER TO WIN A PAPER BACK COPY OF THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. 1 WINNER. US ONLY.

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Hurricane Kiss by Deborah BlumenthalHurricane Kiss by Deborah Blumenthal
on May 1, 2016
Pages: 243
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
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For sixteen-year-old Jillian McKay, the threat of Hurricane Danielle means a long car ride with her neighbors--including River Daughtry, the former star quarterback of Harrison High. The guy who was headed to glory until suddenly he disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center. Once cocky and flirtatious, he's now silent and angry. When their evacuation route is gridlocked, River is the first to recognize the danger they're in. Together he and Jillian set out to seek shelter in their abandoned high school. As they wait out the storm, they confront the past and realize survival is about more than just staying alive--it's about fighting for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And all anyone will remember is that there were unanswered questions about the two kids who thought they could get out of a car in the middle of the freeway and survive a hurricane by running directly into it instead of getting the hell away. Two stupid kids who thought they were smarter than everyone else.

 

Hurricane season is upon us, and for those who live in coastal regions, it’s kind of a big deal.

People who live close to big bodies of water have hurricane prep rituals that mimic back to school chaos. You can never have enough supplies for the impending storm.

Hurricane Kiss
Hurricane Kiss by clockbirdstar featuring a shedrain umbrella

As a Houston native, Deborah Blumenthal’s Hurricane Kiss hit close to home for me and surfaced vivid memories of hurricane Ike, Rita, and news coverage of hurricane Katrina. If you have never experienced the fear, anticipation, and destruction that come with a hurricane than Blumenthal’s novel might feel over-the-top. But as someone who has lived through this stuff, let me tell you, she hits the nail on the head.

Hurricane Kiss is set in Houston, Texas and Blumenthal’s Friday Night Lights writing tone is pitch perfect. There is a cinematic scope to her storytelling, yet everything stays grounded in relatable experiences and events.

Hurricane Safety checklist

I loved both the male and female protagonists because they could have been my nextdoor neighbors, and because they were well fleshed out, complicated characters. Jillian and River fight for their lives during a hurricane, both weighed down and brought together by the emotional baggage they carry from past events. Events that wrought destruction on their lives long before the hurricane hit. The romantic and emotional tension sizzles like lightening between the two MCs, and I was sucked into the journey they both took during the timespan of the storm. Once I started reading Hurricane Kiss, I couldn’t put it down.

Aerial footage of Hurricane Rita evacuation:

Hurricane Rita Evacuation footage

Hurricane Kiss is a clever and imaginative love story that explores the emotional storms that can destroy us as much as any natural disaster. The story explores the resilience of the human spirit as well as that of the people who experience tragedy at the hands of Mother Nature. I’m a huge fan of Deborah Blumenthal’s work, and I recommend this book to anyone who needs a fast and entertaining read steeped in complexity and regional culture.

And Just for Fun:

Here’s a lovely cover of Bob Dylan’s Hurricane:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Girl at Midnight by Melissa GreyThe Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
Series: The Girl at Midnight
Published by Delacorte Press on April 28, 2015
Pages: 357
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Magic lives in our darkest corners.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, though if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants…and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

I am glad I read this book a year after it released. I originally wanted to read it upon release day because there was so much hype about it in the blogger world/twitterverse. But again, so glad I did not. I think I would have been monumentally disappointed if I had. Instead, I was just a little disappointed after reading it last week.

The poetic name and aesthetic appeal of the novel set the bar pretty high for what I was expecting and it is not that I was disappointed with the story itself, but in the way it was delivered.

Ran across this on Polyvore and it reminded me of TGaM cover:

New York Nights ~ Raeven Steal
New York Nights ~ Raeven Steal by sorrel-noir featuring fine jewelry

 

The Girl at Midnight came across as a mid-grade level read for me, and I was expecting something a lot darker and bad-ass in tone I guess. A lot of the dialogue came off as too cheesy/trying too hard when it came to the comic relief attempts throughout the story. Despite that, there were descriptions and sentences scattered throughout the novel that were poetic in their delivery, and I continued reading the book for those moments.

As for the plot/storyline, fans of The Mortal Instruments, The Vampire Diaries, Aladdin,  and the old-school X Men cartoons will enjoy the familiar feel that The Girl at Midnight evokes. The story still maintains an entertaining uniqueness even if some of the characters and story threads seem plucked from other popular series.

I enjoyed the dynamic between all of the characters. Echo, the main female protagonist, was easy to relate to and fall for because of her background and love of libraries, literature, and languages. I enjoyed her role throughout the story and I think I will like her even more in the next novel.

Outside view of NYPL.
Outside view of NYPL.

The story world is both in and out of this world. I think the setting(s) was probably my favorite aspect of The Girl at Midnight. I mean, who hasn’t dreamt of living in their own secret nook hidden in the New York Public Library?! I also loved that Echo was able to globetrot in search of mystical clues via the use of magic and the ”in between” .

A lovely indoor shot of the NYPL.
A lovely indoor shot of the NYPL.

Have you read The Girl at Midnight? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comment section below.

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