Thursday, February 15, 2018

By a Charm and a Curse by Jamie Questell Blog Tour + Giveaway!

By a Charm and a Curse
Author: Jamie Questell
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date:
Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.
Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 
Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss. Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.
Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 
Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss. 

By a Charm and a Curse was quite the charming little book. After Emmaline King goes to a Carnival with her old, new, friend she ends up kissing a boy and becomes trapped by the charm and curse mentioned in the title of the novel.

Emmaline was kind of a sad character. She always came across so melancholy. First, because she feels out of place with her former friend and then because she’s trapped in the carnival as the Girl in the Box. It took a while for Emmaline to grow on me, but eventually she did and by the end I was rooting for her to break the curse and the charm surrounding the carnival.

While it took a while for Emmaline to grow on me I immediately liked her love interest Ben. He joined the carnival at a very young age and has been enjoying the benefits of the charm like the others. He was also just an all around good person. One of those genuinely likeable people you come across rarely but still know exist. I liked when Ben and Emma were together. They were probably my favorite part of the story.

My only criticism is that the story needed more threads. The main thing happening was Emmaline trying to find a way to be free of the curse. And that was the only thing happening. I wish there had been more subplots and other goings on around the carnival. It was a great atmosphere I don’t feel was used to it’s fullest potential.

Overall, By a Charm and a Curse was a quick, cute, read with a straightforward plot and likeable characters. If you like novels set in carnivals, or your contemporary stories with a bit of magic this is for you.
About the Author
JAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing. Currently, she lives in the suburbs with her family, one derpy dog, and one imperious cat. If she had her way, she’d have an army of corgis, like the Queen of England.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

If I'm being honest this book just wasn't memorable to me. The characters, plot, I was nearly indifferent to all of it. I had been so excited to read this book because of the hype train around it but I found myself feeling disengaged and distant from the characters.

We can blame this distance on Monty. Henry "Monty" Montague was the worst. I think he is supposed to come off as charming and a bit rough around the edges. I found him to be painfully immature, woefully out of touch, and so ungrateful I just couldn't even. I will say he does grow throughout the novel but it is too little too late. The damage to the story was already done for me. I was hoping Monty would be a character similar to Strumhound in Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone trilogy. Instead Monty was a whiny brat.

I will say I liked that this book presented a multitude of different, diverse, points of view. Monty is bisexual, his sister may be asexual, and Percy, Monty's love interest, is bi-racial with an interesting family history. I think it made the stories characters more well-rounded.

It's too bad that the plot itself dragged for me. The pacing didn't feel consistent, there seemed to be a lot of downtimes followed by surprises out of nowhere. This isn't atypical to historical novels though so if you've read extensively in this sub-genre it may not bother you as much as it did me.

Overall, I enjoyed the book enough but not enough to seek out the rest of the series. But some stellar reviews could change my mind.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Losing Brave by Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller Giveaway!

Losing Brave
Author: Bailee Madison & Stefne Miller
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: January 30, 2018

From award-winning actress Bailee Madison and Reader’s Choice Award Finalist Stefne Miller, comes Losing Brave. More than a year has passed since seventeen-year-old Payton Brave’s twin sister went missing; and Payton, in her desperate attempt to hold on to what’s left of Dylan’s memory, is starting to crack.
Lost in the mystery and turmoil of her sister’s disappearance, Payton must overcome the aftermath of being the one left behind. She’s unable to remember even the smallest piece of what happened the day Dylan vanished. When sudden and reckless outbursts throw her from the graces of popularity to the outskirts of high school society, her new status attracts a crowd of friends she never anticipated—including a troubling romance with her sister’s boyfriend, Cole.
New clues unearth about the circumstances of her disappearance when another missing girl’s body is recovered from a nearby lake, the victim’s features eerily similar to Dylan’s. The more Payton pries open the clenches of her blocked memories, yielding to her need to know what happened, the further down the path of danger she goes. The darkness around her sister’s disappearance grows and the truth becomes more and more unbearable. And what she finds might just cost her her life.

“I was on the edge of my seat with each twist and turn, and the ending blew me away. Pick up Losing Brave and prepare yourself for a late night of reading, because you won’t be able to put this book down until the very last page.”
Chloe Grace Moretz, Actress

Madison (an established actress) and Miller are able to realistically portray southern culture, especially of life in a small town. The characters--and, of course, the twist at the end--make this book one that fans of mystery and drama will definitely enjoy.

About the Authors

Bailee Madison
Bailee Madison first found success as May Belle Aarons in Disney’s film adaptation of the much-loved children’s book, Bridge to Terabithia. Two years later, she was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for her powerful work in Brothers, and in 2011, Bailee earned rave reviews from The Wall Street Journal for her work in Just Go With It. Bailee has worked with a number of the industry’s biggest stars, including Academy Award winners Marisa Tomei and Hilary Swank, multiple award winners Bette Midler and Billy Crystal, and other Hollywood powerhouses such as Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Katie Holmes, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Josh Hutcherson, and more. At only seventeen years of age, Bailee has established an impressive resume with roles in more than eighteen films and twenty-two television series, and currently stars in the Hallmark Original Series, Good Witch. Bailee has currently moved behind the camera as a producer on two family films including the newly released Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket. As a national spokesperson for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Bailee is committed to using her public platform to raise awareness for those in need and inspire others to embrace their unique gifts and use them to help change the world for the better.

Stefne Miller
In 1994, Stefne received her Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus on Political Science, Public Administration. She went on to work for Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma, as a Director of Operations and later, a Public Policy Specialist and Cabinet Liaison. In 2001, she became a Pharmaceutical Representative for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Stefne started writing in 2009, and within five years, she wrote eight novels and of those, self-published three. In 2010, based on the ratings and reviews of her first novel, Salvaged, Stefne was a Top 15 Finalist in the Reader’s Choice Awards in the category of Debut Author of 2010. Stefne has completed both the filming of Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket, and the novelization of the film. She also has two feature films in development, and film projects in development based on her novels Salvaged, Rise, and Collision. Currently, Stefne is writing the script for the next installment of Annabelle Hooper, which will be filmed in the Fall of 2016, and is co-writing the novelization of the film with Bailee. She currently lives in Edmond, OK, with her husband of twenty-two years, and their three teenaged sons.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

10 Books I Can't Believe I Read

It has been ages since I participated in the Top 10 Tuesday feature now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! I was so excited about this topic though that I HAD to post a list. Back when I was a ye new blogger I accepted a lot of requests for books. Some were great, some were not so great, and some I just can't believe I read. This list is dedicated to my early blogger days back in 2011!

1 Witch & Wizard by James Patterson
This was not good I read this at the time I was still enjoying the Maximum Ride series and thought this could be fun. It was not and now I can't believe I wasted the time reading it.
2 The Dark Heroine by Abigial Gibbs
If Witch & Wizard wasn't good this book was downright awful. It started as wattpad fan fiction and should've stayed there. I can't believe this netted the author a six figure book deal. 
3 Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James
I read the sequel. I DON'T KNOW WHY. 

4 Confessions of an English Opium Eater by Thomas de Quincy
I read this because I was trying to impress someone getting their phD in English. It wasn't worth it.
5 The Awakening by O.J. Hutchinson
The Awakening was actually pretty good! When I look at that cover though...I can't believe I agreed to review it.

6 Adrenaline Crush by Lauir Boyle Crompton
This just isn't a book I'd ever choose. I'm not sure why I read it to begin with. I don't like sports books and this is an extreme sports book/healing story. It was a 3-star read but I'm just puzzled by how it came in to my hands.
7 Greta and the Goblin King by Chole Jacobs
I read this purely because it had been hyped by so many bloggers. It was hyped by bloggers I admire and tend to agree with. The hype train was completely incorrect about this one though. 

8 Temptaion by Karen Ann Hopkins
This is a YA Amish romance. I read this? More shockingly, this wasn't bad?

9 Johnny Cash: I See Darkness by Reinhard Kleist
This graphic novel taught me way too much about Johnny Cash's life. I also found out Johnny Cash was an asshole.
10 The Devouring by Simon Holt
This was SCARY. I don't like scary! Someone recommened this as similar to Sara Rees Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon series. It wasn't like that at all!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

Mad Miss Mimic
Author: Sarah Henstra
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: January 3, 2017


I am in love with the cover of this book. I want to give the designer a round of applause. I'd have this framed in my house. That was my entire reason for picking up this book. You remember the old adage, never judge a book by it's cover? I should have listened to that, because the story inside never really matched the cover.

Instead of a girl traipsing through a meadow of beautiful flowers the reader is dropped in a Jane Austen era historical novel that reminded me of a light version of The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd.

Leo is from a wealthy family but she has a speech impediment that forces her to mimic those around her. She can do a perfect imitation of anyone's voice and can even repeat conversations she has overheard. This leads others to believe she is inhabited by spirits, doing this on purpose for attention, or worse yet trying to ruin the lives of others.

I liked Leo as a character. She could be soft-spoken, or she'd allow other voices to do the talking for her, but at the end of the day she had a lot of internal monologue going on and the reader really understood the speech issue she was coping with and how it made her feel.I couldn't say the same for the people around her. Leo is surrounded by an arsenal of people not looking out for her best interests. Her sister being the worst.

I was not a fan of the romantic subplot in Mad Miss Mimic. I didn't feel any real connection between Leo and her beau. Their relationship also verged in to eye-roll territory toward the end. It would have helped if there had been more showing of affection rather than telling. This book seemed to suffer from that trait a lot.

Overall, this was an okay historical fiction novel. I liked the overall atmosphere and Leo herself but the other characters were not fully developed and the plotline felt shoe-horned in rather than built from the ground up. But, that cover is still gorgeous. Just saying.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings

Authors: Sarah Alsberg & Lindsay Cummings
Publisher: January 16, 2018
Publication Date: Harlequin Teen


As a rule, I usually try to avoid books set in space. I don't really know why but the space setting always make me roll my eyes and lose interest. I also try to avoid science fiction for the same reason. I know what I like, and I don't really like those two things. Unfortunately, the hype machine got to me though and I requested a copy of this title from Edelweiss. So that leaves me here. Writing a review for a book that was mediocre and I don't know if it was mediocre because I dislike space and science fiction or just because it was mediocre generally.

Zenith follows Androma who is occasionally referred to as the Bloody Baroness. She is supposed to be this cutthroat badass who travels the galaxy and doesn't care about anyone. Except she does care about a lot of people and she actually isn't that badass. She's the leader of a ragtag group of girls who kind of reminded me of the Guardians of the Galaxy if they didn't need to guard the galaxy. I felt like the stakes in Zenith were very low.

The other problem I had with this book was that nothing happened. I feel like I spent the whole book waiting for the real action to start and it never did. Even the ending occurred during the middle of a scene. There were also so many characters that they became interchangeable, an amalgamous blob rather than real people. If they weren't Androma or her ex-boyfriend (maybe current boyfriend) they didn't matter. 

Still, certain parts had me entertained. At the end of the day, something made me want to keep coming back to finish this book. That leaves me feeling like this was a middle of the road read.There was something there, even if it didn't connect for me. I don't think I'll pick up the sequel though. Not because I hated this book, but because I don't feel strongly either way.  

Monday, January 22, 2018

Collide by Michelle Madow

Author: Michelle Madow
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Publication Date: February 9, 2017

Collide follows Anna after she is shot at a high school dance and transported to a parallel universe where her mother is still alive. The catch is that she is transported to a week before the dance and she will do anything to stop the shotting from happening.

I liked the idea and plot of this book. It was a cross between Before I Fall and the movie Groundhogs Day. It was fast-paced and I never felt like there were scenes that could have been omitted. I think this is a strength in Madow's writing. I always want to read more, even when the story itself is only mildly interesting, which was the case with Collide.

The reason the story was only mildly interesting for me was because the characters acted incredibly immature. Anna was so caught up in her own relationship drama that at times I don't think she was even thinking about the dance or how to stop the shooting. She was more interested in trashing her former friends' relationship, and getting her boyfriend back, than spending time with her mother. It just wasn't believable to me.

Overall, this was a decent read. It was easy to get through, fast-paced, and had an intriguing plot. There were certain aspects of the story that I found grating but at the end of the day this was a fun, easy read, and sometimes you just need one of those.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Court of Wings & Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Wings & Ruin
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: May 2, 2017


*I posted this review on Goodreads back in August and would like to now share it on the blog. It is not written in my typical format but I hope you enjoy.

I'm FINALLY finished. No joke, it's been months. The worst in this series by far. It actually made me wonder how I gave the first two books such high ratings.

This had everything I don't like. Too many characters so you never get to know them and they just become names with no soul, waiting... so much waiting for something to happen, a crappy end battle that left me rolling my eyes, and an all around sense of bordem.

I had to finish this because I did love the first two. Rhysand was once an interesting and mysterious character before he became, what I can only infer, is a caricature of the authors husband. This book was WAY too long though and way too dull. And to add insult to injury there are going to be more books in this series. Why? Oh yeah, to milk the cash cow this has become. This is going to be my last Sarah J. Maas book for a long while.

Can I also mention all the sex in the middle? I'm not a prude but it got awkward after a while. Sex scenes were all that happened in the entire middle of this book. And there was no reason for it. To demonstrate that the characters love each other? No, we had already figured that out. To show that she became pregnant in the end? No, she wasn't (That'll probably happen in the next book). So it served no point in the story. If I had shown up to read a sexy romance I would've been fine with that, but I didn't! I showed up to read an interesting high fantasy/fairytale retelling. Instead I got a romance novel jammed in to a war story.

I'm so disappointed right now.

Here are my reading updates as I progressed through this novel:

May 23, 2017 – Started Reading

June 22, 2017 – 29.0% "I'm enjoying this but all the war buildup is getting tedious." If I only knew that THIS was the entire book

July 2, 2017 – 34.0% "This book is WAY too long. I've felt this way about SJM books before. I'm usually dazzled by the endings (so I give high ratings) but I always get so bored in the middle. There is too much buildup in this story and a lot of the scenes could've been cut down or left out entirely."

July 12, 2017 – 45.0% "I'm tired of reading the same storyline over and over. How come in every book lately characters are facing an oncoming war? I'm tired of all the fighting and character struggle. Why does this have to be the plot of every YA high fantasy story? Can't I get a magical journey or something? Some mythical creatures and a shady villain they have to out smart? I want something different and this isn't it."

August 15, 2017 – 81.0% "I got a student evaluation that said "great professor, boring class". I feel that way about this book. There is nothing technically wrong. I like the writing, characters, and even the story (kind of), but I'm SO BORED."

August 21, 2017 – Finished Reading FINALLY

Friday, January 19, 2018

Mercury Rises by Scarlett Kol Cover Reveal

Hello Readers! Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Mercury Rises by Scarlett Kol!
Be on the lookout for this upcoming title from
Inkspell Publishing!

What do you think of the cover?

A girl looking for a way out.
Being the daughter of New America’s leader, Mercury Masters has everything a girl could want. A glamorous life full of beautiful people, and the power to have anything she wants, except for one thing—to escape. Because Mercury’s perfect life comes with secrets to keep. Dangerous secrets that if made public would destroy her, her family, and her father’s reign. Then she meets Hawk.
A boy looking to be a hero.
Hawk, a handsome prep school dropout turned vigilante, has his own family secrets. Deadly secrets that have haunted him since he was fifteen. But instead of fighting the ghosts of his past, Hawk has assembled a group of misfit hackers and thieves to save the future from the corrupt government of New America and the mysterious virus that is killing off its citizens. But trying to do the right thing is tough when the person you really want to save is your enemy’s daughter.
A love that could kill them both.
Powerful forces keep them apart, but coming together could be the key to saving New America from destruction—even though it may cost both their lives.
A near-future YA biopunk retelling of Robin Hood.
Mercury Rises by Scarlett Kol Publication Date: February 13, 2018 Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Available for pre-order: Amazon | Kobo

Scarlett Kol grew up in Northern Manitoba reading books and writing stories about creatures that make you want to sleep with the lights on. As an adult, she's still a little afraid of the dark. Scarlett now lives just outside Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada with her husband and two boys, but if you need to find her she's likely freezing at the hockey rink.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking Blog Tour

Between the Blade and the Heart 
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martins

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested
Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.
As one of Odin's Valkyries, Malin's greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.

Q & A

Q: What or who was the inspiration behind Between the Blade and the Heart?
A: I have already written several books inspired by Scandinavian folklore, and I was always fascinated by Valkyries. But because I had already done in Scandinavian fantasy, I wanted to come at this one from a different angle. I imagined the Valkyries helping to police a gritty, diverse, cyberpunk metropolis, in a world filled with not just Norse figures but from many mythologies. 

Q: What are the life lessons that you want readers to glean from your book?
A: That love is a strength, not a weakness. 

Q: If you were given the chance to go on a date with one of your characters, who would you choose and what would you do together?
A: Oona. She doesn’t swing that way, but since I’m married anyway, it would be a friendship date. I think it would be fun to go to an apothecary with her and have her show me around the magic. Or maybe just veg out and watch bad movies.

Q: Would the essence of your novel change if the main protagonist were male?
A: Yes, it would be changed dramatically. For one, Valkyries are women. But I also think the book explores the relationships between mothers and daughters, and friendships between young women.
Q: What is your definition of true love in YA literature?
A: There has to be passion and desire – not necessarily anything physical, but so much of young love is about yearning. But I also think that true love is based on mutual respect and selflessness. 
About the Author
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.