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.

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 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.

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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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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Midnight in Berlin by James MacManusMidnight in Berlin by James MacManus
on April 19, 2016
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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In 1939, British Colonel Noel Macrae, stationed in Berlin and witness to the rise of the Reich, decides that he might be the only Englishman with the opportunity to avert war. As he attempts to convince the British government of his mission, the colonel becomes torn between his government's orders and his own personal beliefs, especially as he falls in love with a German-Jewish woman. Blackmailed by the Nazis, the woman and her family have faced unspeakable horrors, and the colonel must do whatever it takes to help her escape.

But the colonel doesn't know that the Gestapo have formed a plan of their own. Aware of the colonel's intense hatred of the Nazi regime, the Gestapo work to draw him into a fabricated plot against Hitler. As the colonel finds himself caught up in a tangled web of shifting loyalties, corruption, and shocking indifference, he soon realizes he must find a way to hold on to his sense of humanity to save not only the woman he loves but also himself.

Inspired by true events and characters, James MacManus's Midnight in Berlin is a love story set against a world on the brink of war that will leave you in awe of the human capacity for self-sacrifice and resilience.

This book goes beyond capturing the music, fashion, and style of the WWII era and paints a picture of the chaotic attitudes, theories, failed diplomacy, and missed connections that contributed to the start of the world’s bloodiest war to date. The tone of the novel is serious and the author does an excellent job of capturing the psychosis and sexism of not only the Nazi party but the culture in general. Pre-Nazi party, Berlin was actually a safe haven with an incredibly liberal climate under the Weimar Republic. Many African American entertainers moved to Berlin to escape the deeply rooted racism in America. But things changed in dramatic fashion after Hitler seized power, and the author does a great job at capturing the grey areas that still lingered after this dramatic shift in social and political climate.

Mid in Berlin photo

Set in Berlin, the story world is as deftly crafted as the characters, and I felt absorbed by the novel, if not a little overwhelmed as well. There is a lot of interesting internal dialogue and information to keep straight in this book, so I suggest reading it free of any kind of distractions.

Both the male and female protagonist of the story were likeable in a tense way, if that makes any sense. They are characters that had to make decisions outside of their own character in order to survive the times and plots they found themselves tangled in.

Like with any novel that has a well developed story world and well fleshed out characters, the pacing was slow and steady. The romance between the two MCs was both sad and exciting as only forbidden love can be set against a backdrop of war and racism.

I would recommend this book to those historical fiction fans that are interested in the diplomatic and psychological aspects that contributed to the start of WWII. It’s a heavier read that was incredibly insightful about the actual events leading up to the war and completely engaging on an intellectual and emotional level.

Have you read Midnight in Berlin? I’d love to know your thoughts on it.

Setting the Mood:

Fred and Ginger were famous the world over and Germans were still enjoying their music and films, as well as other American entertainment, at the onset of the war.

 

Just for fun:

Here’s a Donald Duck American anti-Nazi propaganda cartoon that would have been showed in theaters around America at the time.

 

 

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Blog Tour: With Malice by Eileen Cook + GIVEAWAY!!!With Malice by Eileen Cook
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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A read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend--only what if the accident wasn't an accident?

Eighteen-year-old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer. And a press team. Because maybe the accident...wasn't an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

WITH MALICE

A read about a teenage girl who wakes up in a hospital bed and cannot remember the last six weeks of her life, including the accident that killed her best friend– only what if the accident wasn’t an accident?

(REMEMBER TO SCROLL TO THE END FOR THE AWESOME GIVEAWAY! US ONLY.)

with malice_hres

About the Book

Title: WITH MALICE

Author: Eileen Cook

Pub. Date: June 7, 2016

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Format: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook

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

Eighteen-year- old Jill Charron wakes up in a hospital room, leg in a cast, stitches in her face and a big blank canvas where the last 6 weeks should be. She comes to discover she was involved in a fatal accident while on a school trip in Italy three days previous but was jetted home by her affluent father in order to receive quality care. Care that includes a lawyer.  And a press team. Because maybe the accident…wasn’t an accident. Wondering not just what happened but what she did, Jill tries to piece together the events of the past six weeks before she loses her thin hold on her once-perfect life.

Montepulcian, Tuscany, Italia
Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italia

With Malice is the perfect beach/vacay/rum and coke night/in Broadchurch binge-watch withdrawals kind of read.

When I read the synopsis of this book, the first thing that popped into my head was the Amanda Knox murder trial. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the REALLY SHORT VERSION: Amanda Knox, an American study abroad student, and her Italian boyfriend were convicted of murdering Amanda’s British roommate in a scandalous sexcapade gone wrong. Their conviction was later overturned after the incompetency of the Italian police was exposed and evidence was mishandled. I’m not one to get caught up into news stories, but man, oh man. This one pulled me in. With Malice hooked and reeled me in the same way.

With Malice had all the drama and spectacle of an Italian opera; a captivating psychological thriller that examines the most base of  human emotions and motivations. The author did an excellent job of working in a few relevant social issues and planting red herrings. The story did an excellent job of examining the influence the media and new technology of the last decade has on high-profile trials, and even puts social media on trial itself. All of this is executed in a masterful way, never moralizing or trite. The author pulls off these similar cultural/social questions as effortlessly as the writers of Broadchurch did.

Bellini’s opera, Norma, is all about love triangles and being stabbed in the back. I think Maria Callas’ 1955 rendition of Casta Diva, the most famous aria from Norma, would be the perfect soundtrack for a book trailer of With Malice. The scratchiness of the un-remastered recording gives it just the right amount of creepiness.

The story world moves back and forth between Italy and a hospital in the States. I really savored the scenes that played out in Italy because the author captures the UGH-ness of hospital life so well in the others.

I was on the fence about the main character, Jill, for the whole book. One minute I was thinking she was a cool, level-headed chick. The next minute I was thinking that she was a biatch, lol. But this was purposeful in order to build the ” I have no idea what to think” frustration-feels for the reader.

The pace of the story is a really slow burn, and I will be honest about the ending. It kind of pissed me off. I felt like stabbing something when all the pieces finally came together. That probably means the story did its job. 😉

Brava to the author for cooking up (sorry, I couldn’t resist) such a wonderfully frustrating and captivating thriller. This book hit the spot after a long and agonizing week of Broadchurch withdrawals I was experiencing. I can’t wait to read what Eileen Cook writes next. ENTER BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN 1 OF 3 COPIES of WITH MALICE, US ONLY!

The below video will totally make sense after reading the book. One of my greatest fears about  visiting Italy is driving around on the psycho-roads. Oh, the video also has some pretty pics of towns and other Italian splendor. A vacation for the eyes. 🙂

 

EileenAbout Eileen:

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages.

Her books have been optioned for film and TV.  She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her newest book, WITH MALICE, will be out in June 2016. She’s an instructor/mentor with the Simon Fraser University Writer’s Studio Program.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny

at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two very naughty dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Instagram

Tour Schedule

Week One:

5/30/2016- The Cover Contessa- Interview

5/31/2016- MEREADALOT- Review

6/1/2016- Such a Novel Idea- Guest Post

6/2/2016- A Gingerly Review- Review

6/3/2016- Twinning for Books- Interview

Week Two:

6/6/2016- Just Commonly- Review

6/7/2016- Novel Novice- Guest Post

6/8/2016- Wandering Bark Books- Review

6/9/2016- Literary Meanderings – Interview

6/10/2016- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive finished copies of WITH MALICE, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Tsarina’s Legacy by Jennifer Laam

by Jennifer Laam
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on April 5, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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Then...Grigory "Grisha" Potemkin has had a successful long association with the powerful Empress Catherine of Russia. But Catherine and Grisha are older now and face new threats, both from powers outside of Russia and from those close to them. Haunted by the horrors of his campaign against the Muslim Turks, Grisha hopes to construct a mosque in the heart of the empire. Unfortunately, Catherine's much younger new lover, the ambitious Platon Zubov, stands in his way. Grisha determines that to preserve Catherine's legacy he must save her from Zubov's dangerous influence and win back her heart.

Now...When she learns she is the lost heiress to the Romanov throne, Veronica Herrera's life turns upside down. Dmitry Potemkin, one of Grisha's descendants, invites Veronica to Russia to accept a ceremonial position as Russia's new tsarina. Seeking purpose, Veronica agrees to act as an advocate to free a Russian artist sentenced to prison for displaying paintings critical of the church and government. Veronica is both celebrated and chastised. As her political role comes under fire, Veronica is forced to decide between the glamorous perks of European royalty and staying true to herself.

In Jennifer Laam's The Tsarina's Legacy, unexpected connections between Grisha and Veronica are revealed as they struggle to make peace with the ghosts of their past and help secure a better future for themselves and the country they both love.

Check out my review of Jennifer Laam’s The Secret Daughter of the Tsar HERE.

catherine-the-great-1995

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Catherine the Great 1995

St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg

I enjoyed Laam’s debut, The Secret Daughter of the Tsar, and this follow up did not disappoint. Straddling the worlds of 18th century and 21st century Russia, the author bravely tackles some complex political and cultural issues that very much resonate with topics that are flooding American headlines today. It was absolutely genius how Laam weaved two narratives, three centuries apart, into a tapestry rich with cinematic appeal. Reading the book was like watching a Mission Impossible/Princess Diaries film in my mind. I loved it.

There were moments in where I was utterly frustrated with the two main romantic interests in both time periods, but a certain degree of romantic tension and indecision in a book only makes it better. The main character, Veronica, who goes to Russia to claim her title as a Romanov heir, is the perfect blend of bravery and intelligence, and incompetency and vulnerability, LOL. My favorite kind of character.

This novel is a heavier read than the first book and one that will make you ponder current affairs. Like the writing and subject matter, the pacing of the story was also cinematic. Laam does a great job of alternating between two worlds steeped in political unrest. This book casts a wide net as far as literary tastes go. Those who love historical novels, Russian history, and contemporary novels will enjoy The Tsarina’s Legacy.

Just For FUN: I loved how the novel name dropped Mozart and some of his most popular works during the chapters that cover the 18th century characters in Russia. It was a great way to set the intellectual and cultural mood for the times, especially in royal courts. It also plays nicely into the broader story line between all the main characters of the novel. Keep scrolling for a Cosi Fan Tutte soundtrack and link to the film Catherine the Great starring Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Cosi_fan_tutte_-_first_performance

 

 

Here is the movie of Catherine the Great starring Zeta-Jones FREE TO WATCH on YouTube:

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Blog Tour: The Darkest Corners by Kara ThomasThe Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
Published by Delecorte on April 19, 2016
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

GIVE IN TO THE BIIIIIINGE!

IMG_20160311_162235

The Darkest Corners is a gripping psychological thriller. Once you read the first few pages of this book, be ready to give in to the binge-reading urge that will overcome you.

makingamurderer

Once-upon-a-time there was some television-crack called the O.J. Simpson trial, the Casey Anthony trial, and most recently, Making A Murderer. The dark and addictive pull of these trials has been wonderfully crystallized in The Darkest Corners.

This book could not have come out at a better time. With the wave of murder-mystery hungry people the documentary Making A Murder left in its wake, The Darkest Corners is the perfect novel to follow-up with.

The main character, Tessa, is meticulously constructed as well as the main supporting characters in this story. Peering into Tessa’s mind and the memories that make up her sketchy past were as enthralling as the whodunnit trails the author leads us down through Tessa’s narrative. Everyone has an incriminating past and exploring them through random connections was like a dopamine hit every time.

The story world is vividly depicted and has all the creeptatistic appeal of a former industrial town with forests occupied by squatting meth addicts.

There were some truly shocking twists and turns to the story that completely busted my original theories about the murders going into this book, and that’s something I can appreciate.

I had not read a book this compelling in a loooong time and I highly recommend The Darkest Corners to those who obsessively watched Making A Murderer, or to those who enjoy a clever thriller with deep central character development. In this book, the most prominent characters were just as important as the plot making for a satisfying read.

This is how I got my binge-read on:

How will YOU get your The Darkest Corners binge-read on once the book releases? PRE-ORDER NOW so you can start planning. 🙂

 

Kara is the author of THE DARKEST CORNERS, coming from Penguin Random House/Delacorte Press in Spring 2016. She also wrote the Prep School Confidential series (St. Martin’s Press) and the pilot The Revengers for the CW under the pen name Kara Taylor. She’s represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media. You can find her on TwitterInstagram, or on the couch with her rescue cat, Felix.

Official Website : TheDarkestCornersBook.com

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

Blog Tour

3/14 Fresh Fiction 3/27 The Eater of Books! 4/9 Reading Nook Reviews
3/15 Jessabella Reads 3/28 Reading Teen 4/10 Downright Dystopian
3/16 Book Addict Confessions 3/29 Chapter by Chapter 4/11 Such A Novel Idea
3/17 Hollywood News Source 3/30 Winter Haven Books 4/12 Across the Words
3/18 Undeniably (Book) Nerdy 3/31 Once Upon A Twilight 4/13 Reviews From a Bookworm
3/19 Curling Up with a Good Book 4/1 Intellectual Recreation 4/14 Itching For Books
3/20 Out of Time 4/2 The Hiding Spot 4/15 Waste Paper Prose
3/21 Supernatural Snark 4/3 Carina Books 4/16 The Irish Banana
3/22 Live to Read, review 4/4 Cover Contessa 4/17 The Book Rat
3/23 Dark Faerie Tales 4/5 Me Read A Lot 4/18 YA Reads
3/24 Ex Libris 4/6 The Writer Diaries 4/19 No BS Book Review
3/25 Reading with Cupcakes 4/7 Whimsically Yours 4/20 Serenity’s Lovely Reads
3/26 The Reader Bee 4/8 Hook of a Book 4/21 Pandora’s Books
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Blog Tour: The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh JohnsonThe Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2016
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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From Jaleigh Johnson, the acclaimed author of The Mark of the Dragonfly, comes another thrilling adventure in the magical world of Solace.
Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.
Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.
And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.
Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.

A fantastic and fun middle-grade fantasy. The Secrets of Solace will inspire those who read it to observe the world around them with curious and magical minds. 

The Secrets of Solace Map

I wish I would have reviewed this book before Easter so I could have shared this piece of advice: This is the PERFECT book to add to your child’s or favorite friend’s Easter Basket. It’s such a fun book about finding cultural treasures and preserving them. It’s also about personal discovery and cultivating relationships and character. This book is a gift worth giving to the imaginative people in your life or to the ones who need a little inspired imagination of their own.

This may be the image that you pull from your brain catalog when you hear the word ”archives”, but the archives in The Secrets of Solace are not your typical dusty stacks. 

library archives

The Secrets of Solace is a wonderfully imaginative story filled with the universal themes of family, friendship, loss, love, and war. An archivist in training, Lina is a spirited, clever, and inspiring protagonist who isn’t afraid to mess up her hair or get her hands dirty for the sake of archiving.

The story unfolds amid the cavernous tunnels of the Archivist’s stronghold which is filled with strange natural and cultural wonders that have fallen from the cosmos. As an apprentice, Lina must follow strict protocol, but she has her own secret side-project that drives the story forward and adds a hint of mystery.

The story world is vividly executed and the supporting characters and story threads make for an exciting and poignant novel. This novel read like a fun mix of fantasy and science-fiction and was deeper in its subject matter than I was expecting, making for a completely engaging read. The Secrets of Solace was a joy to read and will be a go-to book on my book-giving gift list.

And JUST FOR FUN:

Here’s a little inspiration board inspired by the book.

The Secrets of Solace

 

The Secrets of Solace by clockbirdstar on Polyvore

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The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa PalomboThe Violinist of Venice by Alyssa Polombo
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, St. Martin's Press on December 15, 2015
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.

 

 

 

“Playing the violin again ignited a permanent glow that I carried inside me, which burned gently and steadily just beneath my breast bone. Before I left Maestro Vivaldi’s house, we agreed I should return at noon in three days’ time, but I knew my frequent comings and goings would not go unremarked upon for long. I was tempting il destino, but I couldn’t stop.”

The man, the myth, the legend:

Antonio Vivaldi
            Antonio Vivaldi

Most ears are familiar with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and think of him as the Italian Violin Master with no recollection of the exact period he was from, or with any idea that he was even a priest. While the maestro was, indeed, a priest, he was also an 18th century playboy by way of his rock star status. Yes, even 18th century Venice had rock stars. Vivaldi’s skill at playing the violin and at composition thrusted an aura of virtuoso virility around him that the ladies found hard to resist. Especially his virginal music pupils.

Original Vivaldi score auctioned at Sotheby's.
Original Vivaldi score auctioned at Sotheby’s.

The Violinist of Venice reads with the alternating tempos of adagio and vivace. It is an ambitious book that does a lovely job of capturing the culture and landscape of the times it is set in. I went into this book expecting the author to completely demonize and generalize Vivaldi’s character, but was pleasantly surprised when she didn’t. She composed his character with as much thought and dimension as Adriana, the female lead.

Adriana is a strong and rebellious character who embodies what I would hope to have been like had I been alive in 18th century Venice. The author does a great job at capturing the suffocating patriarchy that made women the property of their fathers or husbands in this era and dictated what they could and could not do. For a girl like Adriana, pursuing her musical aspirations was literally gambling with her life.

Carnivale Boat Venice

Carnivale! Venice, Italy.

Lush settings, including a few delicious scenes at Carnivale, and historically accurate social climates made this book an enthralling read. I loved the thematic elements such as the divisions of sections and chapter titles that made this book like reading a musical score. The Violinist of Venice was a smart and entertaining window into Vivaldi’s lifetime and that of the women who met his hypnotic and inspiring charms. Musician and non-musician alike will enjoy this emotionally engaging and epic love story that doesn’t play out as one would expect. I can’t wait to read the next novel by Alyssa Palombo.

Setting the mood:

Although Paganini came to fame a while after Vivaldi, the rock star aura of this talented violinist/composer drove women crazy in the same way. It’s not hard to see why in the film The Devil’s Violinist which tells the tumultuous story of Paginini during the height of his fame. This is a great film to watch before reading The Violinist of Venice to help paint a picture of how musicians like this were received in society, and a great film to follow-up with is The Red Violin which tells the story of a violin spanning over 3 centuries, all the way back to its creation in 17th century Italy.

And just for fun:

Everyone knows Vivaldi composed moving violin pieces, but not very many know that he also composed arias and other vocal pieces. Simone Kermes is one of my favorite contemporary Baroque vocalists, and I have included a Spotify playlist of her Viva! Vivaldi album for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

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Blog Tour: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters Review + GIVEAWAY!

by Cat Winters
Published by ABRAMS, Amulet Books Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

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

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

THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY

Cat Winters takes a brave look into the under belly of the post WWI cultural climate in America and teaches you about all of the things you never learned in history class.

History buffs and Shakespeare fanatics will want to add a “Cat Winters Collection” space to their bookshelves.

SteepAndThornyWay_CV

Title: THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY

Author: Cat Winters

Pub. Date: March 8, 2016

Publisher: Amulet Books

Format: Hardcover, eBook

Find it: Amazon Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a

murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman

and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear

and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago,

hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he

claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by

the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

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

wandering the roads at night.

Ford Model T

Cat Winters tells a story that is both heartbreaking and heroic; bold in its complicated subject matter and beautiful in the simplicity of its telling.

I loved that the plot of Hamlet was used as a vehicle for this story about a little talked about time in American history. Cat Winters does an excellent job embodying the atmosphere of the era both in her world building and characterization. She brings in all of the popular aspects that made the late teens/early twenties of the 20th century so appealing as well as all the aspects that made it so horrifying.

Setting the mood with Henry Burr: Faded Love Letters. Creepy, eh?

The story unfolds at a pace that lets suspense slowly simmer while details pointing to the murderer of Hanalee’s father unfold in bits and pieces. The characters are exactly what you would expect to see in a movie from the twenties. The author does a superb job at capturing that sepia toned feel you see in antique photographs and translating that strange and exciting eeriness to her writing.

History is brought to life in this novel in a way that both entertains and educates at the same time. This is a book not to be missed (Like all the rest of Cat Winters’ novels).

Flip through the pages of Motion Picture magazine to get a taste of the 1918/20s.

Giveaway Details:

5 winners will receive a finished copy of THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CatBW

About Cat:

Cat Winters’s critically acclaimed debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds, was named a 2014

Morris Award Finalist, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, a 2013 Bram Stoker Award

Nominee, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Her upcoming novels include The

Cure for Dreaming (Amulet Books/Oct. 2014) and The Uninvited (William Morrow/2015), and

she’s a contributor to the 2015 YA horror anthology Slasher Girls & Monster Boys. She lives

in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at www.catwinters.com.

Photo by Tara Kelly

Find Cat Online:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest

 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

2/29/2016- Adventures of a Book Junkie- Interview

3/1/2016- The Forest of Words and Pages- Review

3/2/2016- Two Chicks on Books- Guest Post

3/3/2016- A Dream Within A Dream- Review

3/4/2016- Stories &

 

Week Two:

3/7/2016- Jessabella Reads- Review

3/8/2016- Bookish Lifestyle-

3/9/2016- Katie’s Book Blog- Review

3/10/2016- The Fox’s

3/11/2016- MEREADALOT- Review

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#PastPostingDate: RE JANE by Patricia ParkRE JANE by Patricia Park
Published by Pamela Dorman Books, Viking Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle’s grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she’s thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer’s feminist lectures and Ed Farley’s very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed’s blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.

Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is.

Bookmark Blog Pic 2

Yeaaaaah, I was supposed to post a review about this AMAZING book (more than) a few months ago but lets move on, shall we? *clears throat*

The thing is, I enjoyed this re-telling of Jane Eyre so much that I was waiting for my intellect to catch up. RE JANE was incredibly clever, insightful, poignant, and funny. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with the words to review such a smart book. I bow down to the author’s character-constructing prowess and now forge ahead with my inadequate assessment.

I loved this book in the same way that I LOVE the Bridget Jones’s Diary films. It has all the same quirky and entertaining elements paired with more thoughtful and contemplative underlying themes that address topics such as adultery, relationships, boundaries, intersectionality, personal growth, and unconditional love.

Patricia Park’s depiction of Jane’s struggle against the ties that bind her to family, cultural custom, and Korean traditions- and her outgrowth of some of these suffocating expectations- made for a completely engaging read. I loved this MC. She perfectly captured the conflicting duality in all of us (especially women) as we enter into the confusing adulthood of our twenties. Jane was at once vulnerable, scared, and shy, and curious, courageous, and strong. It was rewarding to see/read Jane’s heart/head struggles. And of course, all the accompanying characters that depict Jane’s family, employers, and friends were constructed just as meticulously and entertainingly.

The writing and construction of Jane’s thoughts and experiences was just so on point in this novel. Truly a literature and contemporary fiction lover’s dream. A lovely balance between heavier themes and the kind of fluffy subject matter that can typify the twenty-something female experience was achieved in Re Jane.

[…] The rest of the family was just upstairs, yet in that moment they seemed so far away.

Ed inched closer, running his fingers over my cheek and tucking strands of hair behind my ears. I grew self-conscious […] And suddenly Ed was pulling away. “Good night, Jane.” His tone had gone chilly. He bit his lip. Abruptly he left me […] Rejection was a numbing quality. I sat like that on the wicker love seat for a minute, an hour, I couldn’t tell you how long.

And then it was dawn. […]

A little later that morning, I awoke from a rum-and -Coke induced haze- in my own bed- to the sound of the upstairs telephone ringing. I tripped from the tangle of sheets and out the door. When I picked up, a familiar voice blasted through the receiver.

“You come home right now. Grandpa coming from Korea. Not look good, you living outside house.”

I tried to hide the sleepy mumble from my voice. “I have a job, Uncle. With responsibilities.”

“What exactly you do all day?”

To reiterate, I really, really, really enjoyed this book and think it deserves a spot among the beloved books on your shelf. It’s a contemporary classic that begs to be read more than once.

Have you read RE JANE? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. I’d love to know if you enjoyed the book as much as I did.

 

 

 

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Midnight in St. Petersburg by Vanora BennettMidnight St. Petersburg by Vanora Bennett
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Thomas Dunne Books on January 19, 2016
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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St. Petersburg, 1911: Inna Feldman has fled the pogroms of the south to take refuge with distant relatives in Russia's capital city. Welcomed by the flamboyant Leman family, she is apprenticed into their violin-making workshop. She feels instantly at home in their bohemian circle, but revolution is in the air, and as society begins to fracture, she is forced to choose between her heart and her head. She loves her brooding cousin, Yasha, but he is wild, destructive and devoted to revolution; Horace Wallick, an Englishman who makes precious Faberge creations, is older and promises security and respectability. And, like many others, she is drawn to the mysterious, charismatic figure beginning to make a name for himself in the city: Rasputin.

As the rebellion descends into anarchy and bloodshed, a commission to repair a priceless Stradivarius violin offers Inna a means of escape. But which man will she choose to take with her? And is it already too late? A magical and passionate story steeped in history and intrigue, Midnight in St. Petersburg is an extraordinary novel of music, politics, and the toll that revolution exacts on the human heart.

“Bennett’s sophisticated grasp of historical realities and psychological complexity gives power and depth to what might easily have been a clichéd romance.” – Sunday Times

St. Petersburg

First, let me help you set the mood before starting this sweeping story of revolution, music, and romance. Do yourself a favor and Spotify or buy Anna Netrebko’s Russian Album to steep this reading experience in even more magic. Netrebko brings such rich, velvety tones and mastery of subject matter to the Russian arias on the album, reflecting the same qualities in Vanora Bennett’s novel.

Russian Album

Fans of Doctor Zhivago, both the novel and film adaptations, will love Midnight in St. Petersburg. Midnight in St. Petersburg unfolds at a similar pace to Zhivago and addresses a lot of the same emotional and psychological complexities that drive and sustain people during turbulent times. Fans of classics such as Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, etc. will enjoy the intricacy of thoughts and subject matter in this third-person narrative.

Doctor Zhivago Movie Poster

The story explores the lives of those who are passively and actively experiencing the Russian Revolution making for a rich historical and psychological experience. I liked how the author delved into the circles of the artists and intellectuals of the time and how their roles contributed to the revolution.

The female protagonist at the center of the story, Inna, is a talented violinist who has to make her own luck until she enters the world of two men who help shape her destiny, both whom she becomes romantically ensnared with.

“Inna began with a quiet, disciplined G major scale, a fluid run of quavers from the bottom to the top of the violin and back […] Her playing got gradually louder over the next few scales, up through D to E-flat. She’s not joining in, he thought, with disappointment. She’s just drowning me out. Using music as a weapon. Making war.”

The three main characters were deep and represented three unique viewpoints on the Russian Revolution. Inna is a lovely combination of strength and vulnerability that made me immediately empathize and identify with her character.

I also enjoyed the perspective on Rasputin’s character throughout the story. Like many other Russian Historical Fiction novels I have read, Rasputin is cast in a sympathetic light and demystified at the same time.

The story world was lush and developed with loving attention to detail. After reading Midnight in St.Petersburg, I could not shake the impression it left on me and I wanted to continue the atmospheric experience by listening to some Tchaikovsky or watching a film based on Russian literature.

Here are some great films to watch after reading Midnight in St.Petersburg:

Dr Z Keira KnightlyThe Last Station movie coverAnna Karenina Knightly

I love Russian history, music, literature, poetry, and films so this book was a real treat for me. Those who are interested in the people that made up Russia during the revolutionary period as much as the events that created it, will love this book.

Here’s a short and fun video on Russia that will help understand how the Russian people’s culture and identity has been shaped over the centuries:

If you liked J. Nell Patrick’s Tsarina, you will also enjoy the more dramatic Midnight in St. Petersburg.

Tsarina

And just for fun:

Here is a nice preview with Russian scenery of Netrebko’s Russian Album and following that video is the best of Shostakovich, a revolutionary era composer, for your listening pleasure:

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Avelynn by Marissa Campbell

by Marissa Campbell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 8, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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One extraordinary Saxon noblewoman and one fearless Viking warrior find passion and danger in this dazzling and sensuous debut

Marissa Campbell's debut novel is a winning combination of romance, history, and adventure sure to appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon.

It is 869. For eighteen years, Avelynn, the beautiful and secretly pagan daughter of the Eadlorman of Somerset has lived in an environment of love and acceptance. She hasn't yet found a man to make her heart race, but her father has not pressured her to get married. Until now. With whispers of war threatening their land, her father forces Avelynn into a betrothal with Demas, a man who only covets her wealth and status. The dreaded marriage looming, she turns to her faith, searching for answers in an ancient ritual along the coast, only to find Alrik the Blood-Axe and sixty Viking berserkers have landed.

Alrik is unlike any man she has ever known, strong and intriguing. Likewise, he instantly falls for her beauty and courage. The two stumble into a passionate love affair, but it's more than just a greedy suitor who will try to keep them apart.

As the Saxons and Vikings go to war, Avelynn and Alrik find themselves caught in the throes of fate. Can they be true to their people as well as to each other?

ATTENTION FANS OF History channel’s VIKINGS: This is the book you have been waiting for. 

Vikings-TV-Show-Images

 

And now for the funny part. I couldn’t handle The Vikings show and unfortunately, Avelynn just wasn’t the book for me. That being said, I think a ton of people will really enjoy this book. It has a powerful female lead and there are strong feminist currents to the novel, which I loved, but I just couldn’t get into the romance. It almost seems like men were the author’s target audience, which is odd considering the strong female lead, and that may be why I didn’t connect with the characters and the romance. However, the lusty scenes between Avelynn and the mysterious Viking she meets on a moonlit night will set ships sailing into the sunset for many a reader.

I liked the general story even if it was a bit predictable, and the historical setting was successful at transporting me to the 9th century. The biggest win for me with this book was the way the main female character (who is secretly Pagan) basically tells the newly patriarchal and ”Christian” men in her tribe to shove it. The analysis of how the transition from the Pagan faith to the Christian faith effected men and woman differently was really intriguing.

So, if you like steamy romance set among stolen moments in the woods and the feelings of rage and anxiety that come along with war among ancient peoples where women were often used as pawns or as the spoils of war, then this book is definitely for you. Oh, and of course, like I said earlier. If you dig the Vikings show, you will love this book.

And just for fun:

Here’s the Vikings season one trailer to put you in the mood:

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ARC Review: The Last Midwife by Sandra DallasThe Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas
Published by St. Martin's Press on September 29, 2015
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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It is 1880 and Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in a small Colorado mining town where she has delivered hundreds, maybe thousands, of babies in her lifetime. The women of Swandyke trust and depend on Gracy, and most couldn't imagine getting through pregnancy and labor without her by their sides.

But everything changes when a baby is found dead...and the evidence points to Gracy as the murderer.

She didn't commit the crime, but clearing her name isn't so easy when her innocence is not quite as simple, either. She knows things, and that's dangerous. Invited into her neighbors' homes during their most intimate and vulnerable times, she can't help what she sees and hears. A woman sometimes says things in the birthing bed, when life and death seem suspended within the same moment. Gracy has always tucked those revelations away, even the confessions that have cast shadows on her heart.

With her friends taking sides and a trial looming, Gracy must decide whether it's worth risking everything to prove her innocence. And she knows that her years of discretion may simply demand too high a price now...especially since she's been keeping more than a few dark secrets of her own.

With Sandra Dallas's incomparable gift for creating a sense of time and place and characters that capture your heart, The Last Midwife tells the story of family, community, and the secrets that can destroy and unite them.

The Last Midwife was the most scandalous Western Mystery I have ever read. I LOVED it.

By the late 19th century, women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were making a name for themselves in the first Women’s Suffrage movement and Gynecology had just been professionalized. Where women’s care and the delivery of their babies had previously been left up to midwives, the culture was changing as men crowned themselves Gynecologists and cursed the tried-and-true midwives as ”witch doctors” or superstitious crows. Men were pushing women out of midwifery and we see an example of this in the novel. But despite men’s insistence on taking over this birthing role, tradition and modesty kept many a midwife around especially in more rural areas. Sandra Dallas offers a compelling gender and cultural study in The Last Midwife where the Midwest is slowly catching up to the new medical ”advances” and cultural shifts of the time.

A Midwife wrapping her kit, preparing to leave for a delivery.
A Midwife wrapping her kit, preparing to leave for a delivery.

This novel was simply captivating. The first hundred pages or so move along at a slower pace as the story world is being set up and the main characters are being introduced, but good God I couldn’t put this book down afterwards.

Set in a Colorado mining town in the 1880s (think post-Civil War/Reconstruction) Sandra Dallas paints a thought-provoking story of the culture of the American Midwest while divulging the secret lives of its inhabitants through the eyes of Gracy Brookens, the main character.

There are some truly scandalous scenarios relayed as Gracy remembers all of the women she has served and the babies she has delivered. It was such a clever point of view to tell this story from. Despite the era and culture Gracy has come to age in, she is a strong and independent woman. There is a story that unfolds in the background about Gracy and her husband and her son that once completely revealed, squeezed my voice box with emotion.

This was the first book I had the pleasure of reading by Sandra Dallas and I will definitely be checking out the rest of her work. If you like historical snapshots of time periods that study gender roles and cultural climates, then you will love this book. The mystery was an added bonus to the execution of this historically vivid and accurate picture of life in the 1880s, and the twist ending didn’t disappoint.

Just for fun:

If you are interested in a more modern look at Midwifery or, professionalized midwifery, take a look at the great PBS/BBC series Call the Midwife.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVfdZevxf_o

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Blog Tour: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah BobetAn Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on October 6, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family farm.

When Hallie hires a veteran to help them, the war comes home in ways no one could have imagined, and soon Hallie is taking dangerous risks—and keeping desperate secrets. But even as she slowly learns more about the war and the men who fought it, ugly truths about Hallie’s own family are emerging. And while monsters and armies are converging on the small farm, the greatest threat to her home may be Hallie herself.

INHERITANCEOFASHS

 

(WARNING: To my Southern friends- I may use a couple of Northern slang words in place of ”awesome” or ”super cool”. I don’t know why. Can you spot them?)

I’m not really a Fantasy fan but damn, this book was wicked good.

An Inheritance of Ashes is one of the BEST BOOKS I’ve read so far this year. I was completely taken by the atmospheric story world and the haunting characters. Hallie, the female protagonist, is fantastically developed and I was addicted to her internal monologue. The supporting characters are equally stellar and they all fit together like a technicolor cast from an old Western television show with a couple unexpected character dynamics.

There’s a wee bit of romance that satisfied my sweet tooth for it and added another interesting layer to the main character’s already complicated life. I always find it interesting to see how characters/people handle something like romantic feelings or romantic relationships in the midst of life and death crisis.

“Tyler’s lips moved, weird and living, against mine; small, infinitesimal spaces meeting and parting. His fingers leafed lightly along my cheek, warm in their knit woolen gloves. I fought the sudden urge to lean against them; fought and equal urge to pull away and run. My mouth flooded with the taste of him: soup-sweet and faintly metallic with fear. The world shrank to fingertip details, and then he broke and stepped away from me.”

The dialect, mannerisms and story world painted a picture of the Civil War era with dystopian overtones. The strange, fantasy like elements start to seep into the story quickly and it is such a satisfying and smart juxtaposition the author works throughout the novel.

There were a couple of aspects of this story that reminded me of Stephen King’s The Mist. SCORE!

The pace of the novel breeds the perfect levels of anticipation and curiosity. I didn’t want to put this book down. The story progresses with the same kind of delicious intensity and suspense of a Stephen King novel.

Leah Bobet’s writing voice was sick. There’s this musical, poetic rhythm to her writing that forced me to read out loud on more than one occasion so I could feel the magical sentences on my lips.

“White stains roped around the sides of the tree, and where they spread, the wood buckled and fissured deep. There were strange flowers growing through those cracks: moon-bright, delicate white, their striped petals warm and glowing. They’d brought the tree into leaf out of season: a full head of brilliant green glittered on the branches, each leaf half uncurled when it had frozen solid. It was an incandescent nightmare, awful and beautiful, begging to be touched.”

 An Inheritance of Ashes really set the “October” mood for me with its creepiness and bad-ass syntax. Definitely one of the best fiction books I’ve read this year and one of those books that I will force the hubs to read because it’s so dang good. ENTER TO WIN a finished copy of An Inheritance of Ashes BELOW!

3 winners will receive a finished copy of AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES. US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And just for fun:

The whole feel of An Inheritance of Ashes was like the theme song for AMC’s TURN: Washington’s Spies and a couple of other songs by The Civil Wars, Laura Marling and Johnny Cash. I listened to these artists while reading the book because it really set the mood for me. You can have a listen of the more instrumental version of TURN’s theme song below and some of the other songs from my reading soundtrack.

 

Leah

About Leah:

Leah Bobet is a bookseller, publisher, and editor as well as a Pushcart-Prize nominated author.

She lives in Toronto.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads

 

 

 

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

9/28/2015- Literary Meanderings- Interview

9/29/2015-

9/30/2015- Moonlight Gleam Reviews- Guest Post

10/1/2015-

10/2/2015- Stories & Sweeties- Excerpt

Week Two:

10/5/2015- Falling For YA- Review

10/6/2015- A Dream Within A Dream- Guest Post

10/7/2015- Head Stuck In A

10/8/2015- Once Upon a

10/9/2015- Book Briefs- Review

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Dark Metropolis (Dark Metropolis #1) by Jaclyn DolamoreDark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore
Series: Dark Metropolis #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 17, 2014
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.

Sixteen-year-old Thea Holder's mother is cursed with a spell that's driving her mad, and whenever they touch, Thea is chilled by the magic, too. With no one else to contribute, Thea must make a living for both of them in a sinister city, where danger lurks and greed rules.
Thea spends her nights waitressing at the decadent Telephone Club attending to the glitzy clientele. But when her best friend, Nan, vanishes, Thea is compelled to find her. She meets Freddy, a young, magnetic patron at the club, and he agrees to help her uncover the city's secrets-even while he hides secrets of his own.

Together, they find a whole new side of the city. Unrest is brewing behind closed doors as whispers of a gruesome magic spread. And if they're not careful, the heartless masterminds behind the growing disappearances will be after them, too.

Perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, this is a chilling thriller with a touch of magic where the dead don't always seem to stay that way.

“Cabaret meets Cassandra Clare-a haunting magical thriller set in a riveting 1930s-esque world.”

When I was 16, there was this movie that came out called Dark City. The trailer looked so nouveau-weird and mysterious. It looked like the coolest kind of psychological thriller. I went to see the movie and felt more than a little confused but still thought the film was a cool concept. That’s what Dark Metropolis reminded me of. Both have the same vibe and mind-bending quality to them. Check out the trailer below to see what I mean:

I really liked the idea of this story and was intrigued by the above quote. The “1930s-esque world” is what caught my attention.

While I definitely got the feel of the 1930s, I also got the feel of post-revolutionary Russia, The Great War and Victorian and Medieval England. There were moments that I had no idea how to imagine the story world and I was a little frustrated and a little distracted by that. But I thought the plot was creative and that the story line was unique. Ultimately, that’s what made me finish the book.

I felt like the pacing could have been given a little shove to keep momentum going throughout the main character’s, Thea’s story arc and that being said, I had a hard time following exactly who the MC was. There is a good chunk of time divided between Thea’s, our understood MC’s, arc and a couple of other characters.

I definitely think the book is worth a read and I’m curious about Glittering Shadows (Dark Metropolis #2). Have you read Dark Metropolis? What were your thoughts?

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ARC Review: Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula BrackstonLamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Thomas Dunne Books on August 4, 2015
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Artist Laura Matthews finds her new home in the Welsh mountains to be a place so charged with tales and legends that she is able to reach through the gossamer-fine veil that separates her own world from that of myth and fable.

She and her husband Dan have given up their city life and moved to Blaencwm, an ancient longhouse high in the hills. Here she hopes that the wild beauty will inspire her to produce her best art and will give her the baby they have longed for. But this high valley is also home to others, such as Rhys the charismatic loner who pursues Laura with fervor. And Anwen, the wise old woman from the neighboring farm who seems to know so much but talks in riddles. And then there is Merlin.

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey tells both Laura's story and Merlin's. For once he too walked these hills, with his faithful grey wolf at his heel. It was here he fell in love with Megan, nurse-maid to the children of the hated local noble, Lord Geraint. Merlin was young, at the start of his renowned career as a magician, but when he refuses to help Lord Geraint it is Megan who may pay the price.

In the latest from Paula Brackston, a young artist goes to the Welsh mountains in search of love, but is faced with ancient legends and a mysterious man from the past – Merlin himself.

You can find my reviews of other Paula Brackston novels HERE.

All I have to do is see Paula Brackston’s name on a novel and know that I’m going to love it. Her writing is so rich and engrossing, and as Kirkus Reviews aptly puts it, “full-blooded”. The other books I’ve read by Paula revolve around the lives of female witches, but Lamp Black, Wolf Grey doesn’t have the same ”witch-y” elements as her other novels and instead revolves around a woman in her child-bearing prime and the legendary Merlin.

Growing up, I was obsessed with Arthurian legends and Mary Stuart’s Merlin trilogy was one of my favorites so I was equal parts excited and skeptical going into this novel because of the Merlin aspect. All read and done, LAMP BLACK, WOLF GREY IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PAULA BRACKSTON NOVELS YET.

This one was a page turner. Every time I set the book down, the suspenseful plot called to me like German chocolate cake. I had no choice but to put everything else on hold and dive back in. This book hooked me like the 2000 film What Lies Beneath starring Michelle Pfeiffer. LB,WG has the same delicious elements (ghost story, revenge, romantic suspense, atmospheric, etc.) that left me feeling completely satisfied after reading it.

The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones
The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones

The Merlin aspect is brilliant. What I feared could turn into something cheesy ended up being something completely creative and clever. I really enjoyed how the legend of this ancient warlock tied into the contemporary aspect of the story.

A Magical Welsh Forest.
A Magical Welsh Forest.

This was the second book I’ve read of Paula’s that was set in Wales and I absolutely love the magical way she infused the history and folklore of this region into her work. The world building was marvelous as ever; I felt like I was experiencing something far more delightful than a Thomas Kinkade painting every time I read a description of the main character’s surroundings.

I loved the deep and emotionally stirring adult themes concerning conceiving a child and marital issues that the magical realism flourishes around in the story.

Like in The Silver Witch, the author goes back and forth between an ancient and contemporary world to tell the story of two characters who’s lives are mystically linked. Paula really has a knack for this kind of story telling. This is a device that can be confusing and overwhelming at times, but it is pulled off with ease and clarity under Paula’s hand.

To sum things up, LB, WG was: Magical. Hypnotic. Suspenseful. DELICIOUS.

 

And just for fun….Here’s the trailer to What Lies Beneath. It doesn’t really have anything to do with LB,WG except that this film satisfied me in the same way that Paula’s latest novel did.

 

 

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ARC REVIEW: Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra

by Cheryl Della Pietra
Published by Touchstone Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Long after the last drink is poured and the final gunshot fired, Cheryl Della Pietra's novel inspired by her time as Hunter S. Thompson's assistant will linger in your mind.

Alley Russo is a recent college grad desperately trying to make it in the grueling world of New York publishing, but like so many who have come before her, she has no connections and has settled for an unpaid magazine internship while slinging drinks on Bleecker Street just to make ends meet. That's when she hears the infamous Walker Reade is looking for an assistant to replace the eight others who have recently quit. Hungry for a chance to get her manuscript onto the desk of an experienced editor, Alley jumps at the opportunity to help Reade finish his latest novel.

After surviving an absurd three-day trial period involving a .44 magnum, purple-pyramid acid, violent verbal outbursts, brushes with fame and the law, a bevy of peacocks, and a whole lot of cocaine, Alley is invited to stay at the compound where Reade works. For months Alley attempts to coax the novel out of Walker page-by-page, all while battling his endless procrastination, vampiric schedule, Herculean substance abuse, mounting debt, and casual gunplay. But as the job begins to take a toll on her psyche, Alley realizes she's alone in the Colorado Rockies at the mercy of a drug-addicted literary icon who may never produce another novel and her fate may already be sealed.

I went into this book with some Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas baggage. I was beyond bored and unimpressed with the film when I was in high-school and had to hide my true feelings about it so I could be cool and fit in with my friends. Every time so-and-so made a reference to the film, I just nodded in agreement about how cool it was or whatever. Kind of like in college when I pretended to know and understand all the kool kid references to The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Every time it came up in conversation at a party or study group gone rogue, I just nodded my head and was like, Oh, yeah. Of course I’ve read that! Who hasn’t?! In reality, I was like what the frug is everybody talking about?! Kool-Aid Acid whaaat? I finally looked up the author and synopsis and new in a heart beat that it wasn’t my type of lit. It was the same way I had felt about Fear and Loathing, so I was skeptical going into this fictionalized ”memoir” of a fresh-faced journalist’s live-in experience with Hunter S. Thompson.

Las Vegas

It’s good to know I’m not quite as dorky as I used to be. For the most part, I was able to read this book and understand most of the drug and pop culture references of the 90s. The author’s clever and cynical voice is where the gold is at. Honestly, I didn’t give a squirrel bum about the story line. But I was so drawn in by the author’s witty script that I couldn’t seem to put the book down…until the last fifty pages. I kind of blurred through the last fourth of the book because the scenarios were repetitive and predictable by then, and the wonderfully sarcastic style in which the narrator speaks wasn’t enough by then to keep me totally invested.

I LOLED hard at the scene below:

I make my way back to the blanket where Larry sits. “You look nice. Coming down that hill, the light behind you…”

“Yeah, like a tampon commercial for the American West.”

“You’re not one for ‘moments’, are you?”

“I am if you need someone to kill them.”

The author is marvelous at recreating the atmosphere of Hunter S. Thompson’s world in the late mid/late 90’s. There were times I thought Man, this chick is dumb while reading, but I liked the MC for the most part. I think Pietra genuinely captured the kind of feelings/thoughts/emotions that would be going through any young lady’s mind if they were thrown into Thompson’s world: Do I act cool and go along with this even if I’m scared shitless and my mother would die if she knew? 

I’m not gonna lie. Midway through the book, snorting a few lines before a breakfast of vodka tonic started to sound appealing. Hunter S. Thompson just has that effect on the junkie-life, I guess. He makes it look perfectly manageable. I will also say (as a warning to any Hunter S. Thompson idolize-rs out there) that this book fully reinforced in my mind that Thompson was an egoist, selfish, primadonna prick.

If you are a fan of Thompson’s writings and loved Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Rum Diary, then I highly recommend this book to you.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
ARC REVIEW: This Broken Wondrous World by Jon SkovronThis Broken Wondrous World by Jon Skovron
Series: Man Made Boy #2
Published by Viking Juvenille on August 4, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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“My fellow monsters,” said Moreau. “No longer will we hide in the shadows, cringing, cowardly, hiding our true potential. You see, the humans do not view us as people. We must force them to expand their view of personhood to include us. By any means necessary.”

A year ago, Boy, the son of Frankenstein’s monster, had never even met a human. Now he’s living with his human “family,” the descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, in Switzerland. That is, until the maniacal genius Dr. Moreau, long-ago banished to a remote island for his crimes against humanity, asks for Boy's help.   Moreau wants Boy to join his army of animal/human hybrid creatures and help him overthrow human society. Boy will do anything to save this broken, wondrous world from the war that threatens to split it in two. But how much will he have to give up? And is the world worth saving?

I didn’t realize this was the second book in a series when I got it for review. Otherwise, I would have read Skovron’s Man Made Boy before diving into TBWW.

Man Mad Boy cover

 

This book was like reading a graphic novel for me- something completely out of my comfort zone and my predictable preferences. The fact that I ended up enjoying this book (a lot, actually), makes me question how well I know myself.

TBWW is rife with political, cultural, and societal commentary dressed up in a wonderfully insane premise and wonderfully colorful characters who are far from human, but surprisingly humane.

Jon’s writing has a mad genius feel to it, and he regularly mixes instances of pure juvenile prose with clever, enlightening moments of eloquence. (Yes. I just said that.) I found myself reflecting on what I was reading often, trying to piece together what the author was ”really saying” beneath the gruesome and fantastical story. I even found myself staring at the cover, trying to figure out why the KEN was lighter in the word BROKEN. Now, that may just be me going overboard reading into things, but I love stories that make me do that. Stories that make me think a novel stands for something greater than the sum of its parts. And I think that’s maybe one of the things the author pieces together about our monstrous, “flesh golem”, Boy. Although quite frightening on the outside, he is often times more human in thought and emotion than those around him.

“…I have not seen your kind here in over a century.”

“My kind?”

” Ya. A giant man made from dead men.”

“The technical term is ‘flesh golem’.” Golems were people made from inanimate objects. The material could be anything- clay, stone, metal. As far as I knew, my parents and I were the only ones made from body parts.

The world building is nicely done between the different time zones visited throughout the novel, but the characters definitely steal the show over the action packed plot. At some points in the novel I found myself thinking “I’m gonna throw up in my mouth”. The Doctor Moreau thread to the story was wholly grotesque and gut- wrenching.

The-Island-Of-Dr-Moreau

While La Perricholi, a Latin American bad ass, was my favorite character in the novel, there were plenty of others to choose from, though none as show stopping as her in my opinion.

Then a slim figure dressed in black and red ran into the middle of the fight, striking out at the pig men so fast that the movements were only a blur. A moment later, the three pig men dropped to the ground and a women stood next to Henri. She looked to be in her early twenties, wore a black dress with red ruffles, and had a single red rose tucked into her long black hair.

This Broken Wondrous World takes the reader across continents and across the vast complexities of the human psyche. Fast-paced and thought-provoking, TBWW is as entertaining as a novel can get. After finishing the book, I imagined myself sitting across from an intimidating and mysterious looking Jon Skovron with a note pad in one of my hands and a pencil clutched in the other, desperately asking, “But what does it all mean?!”. And of course, he responds, “Silly girl. Trix are for kids!”.

 

Was anyone else traumatized when they were younger by The Island of Doctor Moreau movie starring Val Kilmer?!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QagEozqPZs

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Blog Tour: When My Heart Was Wicked Review+Giveaway!!!When My Heart Was Wicked Published by Scholastic Press on February 24, 2015
Pages: 198
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.
Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N
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"I used to be one of those girls. The kind who loved to deliver bad news. When I colored my hair, I imagined it seeping into my scalp, black dye pooling into my veins.

But that was the old Lacy. Now, when I cast spells, they are always for good."

16-year-old Lacy believes that magic and science can work side by side. She's a botanist who knows how to harness the healing power of plants. So when her father dies, Lacy tries to stay with her step-mother in Chico, where her magic is good and healing. She fears the darkness that her real mother, Cheyenne, brings out, stripping away everything that is light and kind.

Yet Cheyenne never stays away for long. Beautiful, bewitching, unstable Cheyenne who will stop at nothing, not even black magic, to keep control of her daughter's heart. She forces Lacy to accompany her to Sacramento, and before long, the "old" Lacy starts to resurface.

But when Lacy survives a traumatic encounter, she finds herself faced with a choice. Will she use her powers to exact revenge and spiral into the darkness forever? Or will she find the strength to embrace the light?

when_wicked

 

Check out the other stops on this Rockin’ Blog Tour:

Week Two:

3/2/2015- Two Chicks on Books– Guest Post

3/3/2015-MEREADALOT-Review

3/4/2015- paranormal book club (PBC)– Interview

3/5/2015- Bittersweet Enchantment-Review

3/6/2015- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads – Guest Post

 

Lyrical, dark, and beautifully twisted- I couldn’t put this book down. It was a refreshing piece of word-art among a market crowded with by-the-book wordsmiths. I can’t wait to read more of Tricia Stirling’s work.

What a dark and magical treat this book was.

Despite it’s brevity, this book will leave a lasting mark in my psyche because of the author’s vivid and poetic word painting. This is one of those books that you would refer to as ”a piece of art”. It’s dark, and beautiful, and abrasive, and lucid, and abstract, and heart-breaking all in one.

Tricia Stirling is a sorceress with words. She spins them all lyrical and heady like they’re crafted from moonlight. Her character-heavy tale tells the journey of a girl who must find herself in between all of the bad and good experiences that have shaped her life and her idea of herself.

There isn’t really a plot to this book, just a hint of macabre mystery and some dark secrets that unravel themselves by the end. The pacing and over all tone and flow of the story reminded me of another book I really enjoyed called All Our Pretty Songs.

Beautifully imagined and crafted phrases that were so raw and powerful are scattered like stars against midnight. The subject matter is intense and veers towards mature young-adult, and all I could think after finishing this book was: I really want to pick this author’s brain.

A little bit Practical Magic, a little bit The Craft, and a whole lot better than both of those, this book was a delight to read and will stick with me like a new favorite song.

 

ENTER TO WIN  a finished copy of When My Hear Was Wicked: US Only

 

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About Tricia:

TriciaI am a writer. I am also a mother, daughter, wife, sometimes crafter, and voracious reader. I’m

outdoorsy and kind of shy. As a child, I was kicked out of girlscouts. I love cheese and bread. I love

Anthopologie and Mary Margaret’s apartment in Once Upon a Time. I’m a sloppy dogloving person, but

I admire the sleek cool of cats. My favorite writers include Alice Hoffman, Janet Fitch, Donna Tarte, and

Aimee Bender. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were also good.

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