Friday, January 30, 2015

Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Fire and Hemlock
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 1985
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

Review:
I was pretty sure I had read every book Diana Wynne Jones had written. Over the course of a summer, during my formidable years, I read everything by her that I could get my hands on. Image my surprise when, while obsessively organizing my Goodreads shelves, I stumbled across Fire and Hemlock a Diana Wynne Jones book I had missed! I dashed to my local library and the rest is reading history.

The heroine in this novel is Polly. Polly has two sets of memories, the normal everyday memories of her parents divorce and her childhood. The other set involves Thomas Lynn and a fantastic world of made-up stories and curses.

It took me a while to get in to the story. The novel begins with Polly packing for college but quickly shifts to when she was ten years old and crashed a funeral. This funeral crashing led to her chance meeting with Mr. Lynn. Much of the novel was Polly recounting the childhood memories she thought she had forgotten. During the last fifty pages the story returns to Polly at college and she is trying to figure out how she forgot about Mr. Lynn. Needless to say, there was a lot of buildup for the ending but because much of the novel was buildup I found the ending to be rushed.

I also found the relationship between Mr. Lynn and Polly kind of strange. There wasn’t anything untoward about it. But given the fact that Polly met Mr. Lynn when she was ten and he was a divorcee quite a few years her senior, it felt weird even if it was really just Polly crushing on Mr. Lynn and Mr. Lynn being kind.

Overall, Fire and Hemlock was well written and had that signature Diana Wynne Jones magic. But the slow beginning and the rushed ending made the story feel a little lopsided. This was a good story but not my favorite from Ms. Wynne-Jones.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly


The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Publisher: Dial/Penguin
Publication Date: June 9, 2015

Synopsis:
When seventeen-year-old Minnow stumbles out of the woods one winter morning, she is haunted and handless and covered in someone else’s blood. She has just escaped the strict religious commune run by a cruel man named the Prophet. In exchange for freedom, she leaves behind her family, her home, and Jude--an outsider boy who changed everything.
But the real world isn't the sanctuary Minnow imagined. Soon, she gets arrested and placed in juvenile detention. Now, Minnow is being questioned by an FBI psychiatrist about the night she escaped, the same night the Prophet was burned to death in his own home—a murder Minnow may be responsible for.
A modern retelling of the Grimm fairy tale, "The Handless Maiden," in which the Devil orders a girl's hands cut off, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is the story of a girl growing out of the wreckage of corrupted faith.

My Thoughts: Yeah...in that synopsis you did just read that this girl is HANDLESS. I had to read it twice just to be certain, that sure has my curiosity peaked and coupled with Minnow going to juvenile detention I can't wait to read Ms. Oakes debut!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Cold Legacy Release Day Blitz + Giveaway


I am so excited that A COLD LEGACY by Megan Shepherd releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an excerpt from the book!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Megan Shepherd, be sure to check out all the details below. 

This blast also includes a giveaway for a signed copy of the book and swag courtesy of Megan and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


A COLD LEGACY
Author: Megan Shepherd
Pub. Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins
Pages: 400

After killing the men who tried to steal her father’s research, Juliet—along with Montgomery, Lucy, Balthazar, and a deathly ill Edward—has escaped to a remote estate on the Scottish moors. Owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, the mansion is full of mysteries and unexplained oddities: dead bodies in the basement, secret passages, and fortune-tellers who seem to know Juliet’s secrets. Though it appears to be a safe haven, Juliet fears new dangers may be present within the manor’s own walls.
Then Juliet uncovers the truth about the manor’s long history of scientific experimentation—and her own intended role in it—forcing her to determine where the line falls between right and wrong, life and death, magic and science, and promises and secrets. And she must decide if she’ll follow her father’s dark footsteps or her mother’s tragic ones, or whether she’ll make her own.
With inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this breathless conclusion to the Madman’s Daughter trilogy is about the things we’ll sacrifice to save those we love—even our own humanity.
A Cold Legacy Excerpt
Montgomery stopped the horses outside a tavern. He came to the carriage door, opening it just a crack to keep the rain from drenching us. “I’m going to ask directions. We can’t be far now.”

We watched him saunter over the muddy street as though he didn’t even feel the bite of freezing rain. A face appeared in the tavern window. The door opened and he spoke to a woman in a wool dress for a few moments, then stomped back through the mud. “This village is called Quick,” he told us. “The manor’s only five miles from here.”

“Did you hear that?” Lucy murmured to Edward, still stroking his hair. “We’re almost there. Just hold on. Everything will be all right once we arrive.”

Montgomery’s eyes shifted to me. Neither of us wanted to remind Lucy that the prospect of Edward’s fever breaking—and the Beast’s reappearance—was almost more frightening than the fever itself. Delirious, he was less of a threat.

“Let’s go then,” I whispered to Montgomery. “And quickly.”

He closed the door and in another moment we were moving again, passing through the rest of Quick. Then all too soon the village was nothing but fading lights. The storm grew and the road became rougher, and all the while Edward’s eyes rolled back and forth beneath shuttered lids.

Thunder struck close by, and Lucy shrieked. Montgomery whipped the horses harder, pulling us along the uneven road impossibly fast, trying to outrun the storm. I twisted in the seat to look out the back window at the pelting rain. A stone fence ran alongside us.

“We must be getting close,” I said.

“Not soon enough,” Lucy breathed. “We’re going to crash if he keeps driving like this!”

The road widened, straightening, letting us travel even faster. Lightning struck close by, blinding me. The horses bolted. Lucy screamed and covered her eyes, but I couldn’t tear mine away. The lightning had struck an enormous oak tree, twisted from centuries of wind. The oak took flame, blazing despite the rain. A smoking gash ran down the trunk—the lightning’s death mark. I watched until the rain put out most of the flames, but it still smoldered, billowing hot ash into the night.

The horses pawed the earth, and I grabbed the window to steady myself. At this wild speed, just hitting a single rock at the wrong angle would send the carriage shattering to the ground. It was madness to go so fast. Couldn’t Montgomery calm the horses?

Just when I feared the carriage would careen out of control, it stopped short, throwing me against the opposite wall. I tangled in Lucy’s limbs as the chains around Edward’s body clinked. Balthazar grunted, jerking awake at last. We scrambled in the bottom of the carriage until the door flew open.

Montgomery stood in the pelting rain. I feared he’d say we’d broken another strut or the horses had gone lame or we’d have to spend the night in the harsh storm.

But then I saw the lights behind him, and the night took shape into a turreted stone manor with bright lamps blazing and gargoyles on the roof vomiting rain into a stone courtyard.

Montgomery’s eyes met mine beneath the low brim of his hat.

“We’ve arrived,” he said.

Twitter Chat

About the Author
Hello! I’ve been many things, like a professional exchange student, park ranger in Montana, and LOST enthusiast, but what I am now is a writer.

I think it’s fair to say I was born into it. I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, raised behind the counter of my parents’ independent bookstore, Highland Books in Brevard. Ah, so many free books. But I never thought being a writer could be a real career. After college I thought I’d end up as a foreign service officer somewhere dashing and exotic, like Canada. I studied French, Spanish, German, and Russian and still speak a few of those. Then I joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Senegal, where I learned a few more languages I’ll never speak again and lived in a mud hut with no electricity or running water. You can probably imagine how that experience went, but if you’re curious, here are the dirty details

It wasn't until a chance aquaintance read something I wrote and said, "have you ever considered being a writer?" that something clicked and I realized it was possible. My husband encouraged me, and I quickly fell head-over-heels in love with writing and children's literature in particular. I started out writing articles, which have appeared in Faces, Appleseeds, and Calliope magazines, and stories for younger children. I soon realized I wasn’t sweet enough to write fiction for that age and found myself writing young adult literature instead, which doesn’t require nearly as many tender moments and includes a lot more cursing.

When I'm not writing, I can usually be found horseback riding, day dreaming at coffee shops, or hiking in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I love to hear from readers, so please drop me a line! 

I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary. Author Photo by Kristi Hedberg Photography

Website ♥ Twitter ♥ Facebook ♥ Tumblr ♥ Goodreads
Giveaway
1 winner will receive a signed copy of A COLD LEGACY and swag! US Only. Ends on February 6th at Midnight EST!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

The Winner's Curse/The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski Blog Tour + Giveaway


The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Date: March 4, 2014

Synopsis:
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
Goodreads ♥ Amazon ♥ B&N My Review

The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Frarrer, Strauss, Giroux
Publication Date: 

Synopsis: 


Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
Goodreads ♥ Amazon ♥ B&N
What is a winner's curse?
The ‘Winner’s Curse’ is an economics term that means you’ve gotten what you wanted – but at too high a price.  
What would I pay too much for?
 The problem is I'm a bargain hunter. I often pass up things I want because the price is too high. The only thing I would willingly pay too much for is my family and friends safety and happiness. If it is for them though I don't think any price is too high. 

On a lighter note I would probably pay wwaayy too much for a purse! I have the hardest time finding cute purses. If I was to find one that was both cute and functional it would be the equivalent of finding a unicorn. I couldn't pass that up!
About The Author 
Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children's literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.
Giveaway
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stacking The Shelves 131

Week In Review
Review: Mr. Kiss & Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Waiting on Wednesday: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Cover Reveal: Never, Never by Brianna Shrum
Review: Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel
New on the Shelf
Half Bad by Sally Green,"witches brew" cocoa and a travel mug! (Thanks Penguin and Big Honcho Media!)

Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Velvet by Temple West
Joyride by Anna Banks
Novice by Taran Matharu
(Thanks Macmillian for these awesome titles!)
Netgalley
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

Friday, January 23, 2015

Vivian Divine is Dead by Lauren Sabel

Vivian Divine is Dead
Author: Lauren Sabel
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Goodreads  Amazon

Review:
Vivian’s mother was murdered and after receiving a cryptic letter it looks like Vivian is next. To avoid her impending demise Vivian takes the advice of her bodyguard and heads to a safe house in Mexico but the trip isn’t without its bumps.

I really enjoyed the setting in Mexico and the inclusion of the famous Day of the Dead. It made for a very atmospheric novel that felt like bright colors and dark shadows.

I thought Vivian was a very intriguing character. She’s a teen movie star with a movie star mother and a famous director for a father. Vivian has led a charmed life so to see her on the run in Mexico was a complete about-face and I liked watching her come in to her own.

One of my favorite things about Vivian Divine is Dead was the all the twists and turns the story took. I thought everything was going one way and then things went another. Although, I was quick to catch on to what was happening it was still an enjoyable and quick paced read.

Overall, Vivian Divine is Dead was fun and atmospheric. I enjoyed that although this was a contemporary everything felt a little bit fantastical and fictional. Sometimes, you just want to lose yourself in a quirky mystery and Vivian Divine was that kind of book!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cover Reveal: Never, Never by Brianna Shrum

Never, Never
Author: Brianna Shrum
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: September 2015

Synopsis
James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up.
When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up.
But grow up he does.
And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate.
This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan.
Except one
♥ Goodreads 
About The Author
Brianna Shrum lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband, two boys, and two big, floppy hound dogs. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She'd totally love to connect with you. You can find her saying ridiculous things on Twitter @briannashrum 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday: The Devil You Know


The Devil You Know
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Gooreads 

Synopsis:
Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it's just the risk she's been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
My Thoughts: I haven't done a waiting on Wednesday post in ages but I had to share my excitement about this novel by Trish Doller. It sounds creepy and oh so perfect. Add this to your TBR piles now, I have a feeling it's going to be a summer hit!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Mr. Kiss and Tell 
Series: Veronica Mars #2
Author: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date:
Goodreads ♥ Amazon

Review: 
The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, the last Veronica Mars book, fell flat. The plot didn’t feel as well thought out as the show and the characters felt like caricatures of themselves. Luckily, in this novel Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham examined what was working and what wasn’t and made a great novel with Mr. Kiss and Tell.

This story follows a very traditional Veronica Mars path. Veronica becomes involved in a rape investigation that happens at the Neptune Grand. It should be a fairly easy solve but the victims memory is fuzzy, the attack happened months ago, and the hotel is being shady. All of these convoluted facts made the mystery all the more interesting and hard to solve.


In this novel the characters really come in to their own. Their voices felt natural and the storyline was something Veronica would champion and get involved in. I also appreciated that the writers wove in plotlines and characters from the TV show. It made it feel like I was watching an episode rather then reading a novel.

In this story we got to see more of Veronica and Logan together. These two have had to work for everything between them and while I wished it were easy for them it wouldn’t be Veronica and Logan if it was.

Overall, Mr. Kiss and Tell totally redeemed the Veronica Mars books for me. I loved the mystery and the classic Veronica Mars detective work involved in solving it. I look forward to hopefully reading more of them!

Sunday, January 18, 2015