Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Secrets of Valhalla by Jasmine Richards

Book Summary
Two friends awaken a world of myth and magic in this clever middle grade fantasy perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Anne Ursu.

It’s not every day that you find a famous weatherwoman bound by magic to a tree deep in the woods. Or discover that the weatherwoman is in fact Sunna, the Norse Goddess of the Sun, and one of the seven day guardians who keep time in order. But that’s just what happens to new friends Buzz and Mary—and it’s only the start of their adventure.

Now, as the people of Earth are forced to repeat the same Saturday over and over again, Buzz and Mary must journey to collect the Runes of Valhalla and awaken the other day guardians, before vengeful god Loki can get to them first.

Flo's Review
Gah. I'm really not a fan when a book claims to be "for fans of X and Y." Then I go in thinking I am going to read that other book, and it influences my opinion of what I'm reading. Anyone else feel that way?

Anyway, I really enjoy reading books based on Greek mythology, as it has been a trend to publish YA novels based on these stories. But that can only be done so much, and now it looks like the trend is to turn to other cultural myths. This is my first experience (that I can recall) reading a book based on Norse mythology, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I struggled in the beginning of the book, but I understand it was necessary background and character introduction. However, I didn't really start enjoying the story until Buzz and Mary were traveling amongst realms and trying to save the world. The two kids went to the sky, to the sea, and the underworld, and all of these settings were wonderfully described. There were several plot twists in the story -- some were predictable, but some really did take me by surprise. I did have to remind myself while reading, though, that this is a middle grade story, and so wasn't as rich with some of the character depth and detail that I'm used to with young adult.

Finally, I always have to acknowledge and appreciate a beautiful standalone story when it comes along, because sometimes I like to read a book and then set it down with everything wrapped up and the world and characters in a good spot to say goodbye.

Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with an Advanced Reader's Copy in exchange for my honest review.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Book Summary
"I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next."

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

Flo's Review
This has been on my TBR for awhile, but after finishing The Heir and the Spare, I was inspired to keep going with my royal reading. For the first 100 pages or so, the two stories were almost identical. Strong, sassy American girl goes to college in England. There, she is immediately enveloped into a group of friends that includes the royal heir or spare (heir in this case, spare in case of the Emily Albright book.) Hot royal guy actually turns out to be really down-to-earth and has a great rapport with the girl, and they quickly develop strong feelings for each other.

But after that, the similarities end. While The Heir and the Spare takes place within a year, The Royal We spans about eight years of the lives of Bex, Nick, and their family and friends. The story starts in present day and then is told in flashbacks, leading up to the closing scene which again takes place in present day. The technique works well here, because the relationships I started reading about in modern day are quite different from where they started. I liked this book because it wasn't a "She met a prince, they fell in love, she married him and became queen, and they both ruled the land happily ever after." Oh no. This is real life, and I love it! It's full of high highs, low lows, betrayals, keeping up appearances, relationship fatigue, family drama, and so many other things that go wrong in a real life love story.

Unfortunately, I think it might have been a bit much, as it failed to really keep my attention. I found myself skimming the middle part and then picking back  up at the end. If this were to be adapted, it would be a good TV show as opposed to movie. Ultimately, I did enjoy it when I was reading it, but it could have perhaps moved along a bit faster to keep me turning the pages instead of jumping over them. 

I'm on a roll now! Do you have any other royal recommendations for me??

Rooms by Lauren Oliver


Jacque's Review:

I've read Lauren Oliver's Delirium series and Panic, so I am well aware of her YA books.  I knew this was an adult book when I tried to pick up a copy at BEA a couple of years ago, but I obviously forgot in the meantime.  I downloaded the audio book and started listening to it on a road trip with my ten-year-old son and quickly discovered that it is NOT appropriate for younger readers.  After a couple of "bad words" and some content he hopefully didn't understand, I had to pull the plug for the rest of that trip.  

Rooms is told from multiple character's points of view, which I found to be very entertaining.  Alice and Sandra are both ghosts who were former residents of the home they "haunt", for lack of a better word.  Richard Walker was the most recent owner of the home, but he recently passed away and his ex-wife, Caroline, teenage son Trenton and adult daughter Minna are there to settle his affairs.

Trenton and Minna haven't been to their childhood home in years, so their return stirs up a number of old memories.  In addition, Trenton was involved in a car accident prior to the start of the book that nearly killed him.  He believes it was this near death experience that is causing him to hear ghosts in the house.  Caroline, Trenton, and Minna are all battling their own demons, but hearing ghosts is even a stretch for them.

The majority of the book is an unraveling of the lives of the ghosts as well as the living.  There are a number of finely woven details that link the past with the present and several surprising revelations.  I don't think I was quite as close to the edge of my seat as I was reading Panic, but this was still an excellent ghost store and a solid debut into the world of adult fiction for Lauren.

The only negative that I perceived was the somewhat crude language that was dispersed throughout the book.  I read a lot of YA and NA, so I'm definitely not used to it.  Some adult content and language is fine, but I thought it was excessive in places and could have been toned down.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Book Summary
Children can have a cruel, absolute sense of justice. Children can kill a monster and feel quite proud of themselves. A girl can look at her brother and believe they’re destined to be a knight and a bard who battle evil. She can believe she’s found the thing she’s been made for.

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

As the world turns upside down, Hazel tries to remember her years pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?

Flo's Review
What an interesting, unique story. Holly Black does a great job of intermixing regular, modern high school drama with fairies and fantasy. I really liked the way she was able to seamlessly meld the two together. This is one of those novels where you don't know the full story up front -- as you read on, nuggets of what happened in the past are revealed to you. I am about 50/50 on that approach (sometimes it works for me and other times not), but I thought it was done well here.

Unfortunately, even with all that, the book could not hold my interest. I was listening to the audiobook and got about 2 hours in when I had to stop the first time. I believe Jacque asked me how it was and my only response was: "Weird." I gave it another two hours, and thought, "Okay." I set it aside and thought about coming back to it....but that was the last time I thought about it. If I can set a book aside and not even give it a second thought, then it's not for me. My library loan expired and I did not renew it.

Jacque's Review:
Hazel and Ben are a brother and sister who have grown up in the unusual town of Fairfold.  The locals know all of the "rules" to keep yourself safe from the monsters that live in the forest, but it is never safe for a tourist.  The faeries prey upon the unsuspecting visitors who come to visit the prince, who has been sleeping in the forest for generations.  The local high school students routinely gather around his glass casket to party, but the prince has had an even greater impact on the lives of Hazel and Ben.  While their parents were busy working, the siblings spent hours talking to the prince and pretending to kill the monsters in the forest.
One day, it is discovered that the prince is no longer in his casket.  Where did he go?  How did he escape? Is his disappearance related to the increase in violence in Fairfold?  
Holly weaves a wonderful tale that connects the human world with that of the faeries.  There is a boy named Jack, who is considered to be a "changeling".  He is an immortal faerie who has grown up with a human family in Fairfold.  Through him we are able to see how life on the other side really is.  While the faeries are known for their trickery, they aren't all bad.  There is more to the mystery of the "monster" than one can imagine and his or her true identity is not as obvious as it first appears.
The book started out a little slow for me, but it really took off about 100 pages in.  Once Hazel and Carter began working together to solve Farifold's mysteries, I simply could not put it down.  There are a couple of love stories that add an additional element of interest as well.

I haven't read Holly's Modern Faerie Tale series, but I am definitely intrigued by it now that I have completed this book.  I have added the first book in the series to my TBR list and hope to get to it soon.  Well...that is a relative term when your TBR list contains over 300 books, but I do look forward to reading it some day. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Review and Giveaway: Curio by Evangeline Denmark

Book Summary
Grey Haward has always detested the Chemists, the magicians-come-scientists who rule her small western town. But she has always followed the rules, taking the potion the Chemists ration out that helps the town’s people survive. A potion that Grey suspects she—like her grandfather and father—may not actually need.

By working at her grandfather’s repair shop, sorting the small gears and dusting the curio cabinet inside, Grey has tried to stay unnoticed—or as unnoticed as a tall, strong girl can in a town of diminutive, underdeveloped citizens. Then her best friend, Whit, is caught by the Chemists’ enforcers after trying to protect Grey one night, and after seeing the extent of his punishment, suddenly taking risks seems the only decision she can make.

But with the risk comes the reality that the Chemists know her family’s secret, and the Chemists soon decide to use her for their own purposes. Panicked, Grey retreats to the only safe place she knows—her grandfather’s shop. There, however, a larger secret confronts her when her touch unlocks the old curio cabinet in the corner and reveals a world where porcelain and clockwork people are real. There, she could find the key that may save Whit’s life and also end the Chemists’ dark rule forever.

Flo's Review...
In a world where trilogies and series are the fad, there's something to be said for a good standalone. I really like the way Evangeline was able to set up this complex and fantastical world, give us a story filled with action, and leave us with a good ending -- all in the span of one book.

I also love the concept of a Defenders and how they are triggered by standing up for or wanting to take the place for someone else.  Curio City is sooo interesting. There are "porcies" -- porcelain people who are made to be pretty and there are the functional "tocks." Then, of course, we have have Blaise, the only one who really understands Grey in Curio City. I really like Blaise and Grey together -- they are a good, equally matched pair. 

I think the only problem I had with it was that is was so intricate and so detailed, that I often found myself getting lost. It was a lot to take in, understanding the history and current state of two new worlds. And we had three story lines from three different characters (although Grey's and Blaise's were intertwined), which meant once I got a little comfortable in one spot, I was being moved along somewhere else.

These characters did a great job of making you feel. They all had distinct personalities that you either admired or or were disgusted by: Nettie, Lord Blueboy, Whit, Fantine, to name a few. Steampunk is not something I read a lot, but I think that fans of steampunk will enjoy this story. 

Curio will be released January 5, 2016.

Thank you to Blink YA books for providing me with an advance reader's copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

...and now for the GIVEAWAY
Thanks to Blink YA books, I have an extra ARC. One for me, and one for you! :) Enter via the Rafflecopter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 14, 2015

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meets Boy

Jacque's Review:

I have read several of Levithan's collaborations (Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and Invisibility) and really enjoyed them, so I decided it was time to read one of his solo books.

Boy Meets Boy tells the story of a high school boy named Paul who has known and embraced the fact that he is gay since kindergarten.  While I have lived in a very accepting area near Columbus, Ohio for sixteen years, which received a brief mention in this book, I don't think I have ever experienced a town or school like Paul's.  For example...the starting quarterback is a drag queen as well as the homecoming queen.  It seemed like most of the town was openly LGBT, or perhaps that is just the side of things that is presented from Paul's point-of-view.  Everyone seemed so supportive and accepting until we meet Tony's parents.  Tony is Paul's long time friend, but he is a sharp contrast to Paul.  His parents are very religious and believe Paul is the devil's influence on their son.  It was great to see how Tony slowly asserted his independence and stood up to his parents.

The remainder of the story is a love story.  Paul first meets Noah at a book store and quickly discovers he is a new student at his school.  It takes a few days for Paul to reconnect with Noah, but their relationship soon escalates until Paul manages to botch everything up.  Now he has to figure out how he can earn back Noah's trust.

I honestly didn't realize this book was written in 2003.  I added it to my TBR list in March 2014, so I guess I was assuming it was written shortly before then.  If that were the case, I don't think this story would have been such a far reaching piece of fiction.  With the legalization of gay marriage and other recent events, I don't think Boy Meets Boy is that far from today's reality.

Overall, this was a short and very entertaining story that kept me engaged from start to finish.  It was a very eye opening read that I will not soon forget.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blood Kiss by JR Ward

About the Book:

The legacy of the Black Dagger Brotherhood continues in a spin-off series from the #1 New York Times bestselling author…

Paradise, blooded daughter of the king’s First Advisor, is ready to break free from the restrictive life of an aristocratic female. Her strategy? Join the Black Dagger Brotherhood’s training center program and learn to fight for herself, think for herself…be herself. It’s a good plan, until everything goes wrong. The schooling is unfathomably difficult, the other recruits feel more like enemies than allies, and it’s very clear that the Brother in charge, Butch O’Neal, a.k.a. the Dhestroyer, is having serious problems in his own life.

And that’s before she falls in love with a fellow classmate. Craeg, a common civilian, is nothing her father would ever want for her, but everything she could ask for in a male. As an act of violence threatens to tear apart the entire program, and the erotic pull between them grows irresistible, Paradise is tested in ways she never anticipated—and left wondering whether she’s strong enough to claim her own power…on the field, and off.

Mary's Review:


I have been a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood for a long time, and I was a bit concerned because spin-offs can be amazing or dull as paint drying. 

This was ... AMAZING!!! I can see a whole new series begin created right before my eyes and I love it. JR Ward introduces us to a whole new crew in the Brotherhood's training program. Of course the one that stands out the most is Paradise, who we were introduced to in BDB. Plus, I can't forget to tell you about Craeg. I wasn't his biggest fan in the beginning, but there's more that meets the eye on this guy. 

The one thing I did love is JR Ward didn't forget our guys. We get to see a few of the BDB's and I'm so thankful. Of course, you can't have the BDB Training Program with the Brothers. 

Overall, this is a big 5 stars!! There's several twists in this one, and I can't wait to see what else is going to come from it. 

Best of 2015 Giveaway Hop: Seriously Wicked!

2015 was a good year! I read 130% of the books I challenged myself to read. *pats self on back* And, luckily, I enjoyed the majority of them! For this hop, I'm giving away an ARC of Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly. Remember when I did this thing?
Yep, this was Seriously Wicked. Click here to read my review. It was fun book, and I enjoyed reading it, writing my review, and even posing for this crazy picture.

Wanna win it? Enter via the Rafflecoper below. Thank you for stopping by, and may I wish you all the bookish best in 2016!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
When you're done here, please do Hop On:
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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway: This Is Where It Ends

THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS by Marieke Nijkamp
January 5, 2016; $17.99; Hardcover
9781492622468; Young Adult Fiction
Agent: Jennifer Udden, Donald Maass Literary Agency

10:00 am:       The principal of Opportunity High School in Alabama finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 am:       The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 am:       The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 am:       Someone starts shooting.

Told from four perspectives over the span of 54 harrowing minutes, terror reigns as the students at Opportunity High struggle to survive—and to understand why one boy started shooting.

“THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS is simultaneously heart pounding and heart wrenching. Every words hits frighteningly close to home and is tragically too familiar. This book will leave you asking questions that we as a society should have answered a long time ago.”
—Julie Murphy, author of DUMPLIN’
“As long as there are Newtowns and Columbines there will be a desperate need for gripping, well-written, and poignant novels like this one… Hopefully a book like THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS will make the problem more real to a generation that still has the time, energy, and willpower to do something about it."
—Todd Strasser, author of GIVE A BOY A GUN and FALLOUT

Stunning, diverse, and unforgettable, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS is a book everyone should read to better understand each other and the world around us.”
— Robin Talley, author of LIES WE TELL OURSELVES

Entirely gripping and fast-paced.”—Lucy Christopher, author of STOLEN

Marieke Nijkamp is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter, geek. She holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies, and is an executive member of We Need Diverse Books, the founder of DiversifYA, and a founding contributor to YA Misfits. She lives in the Netherlands. Visit her at

Get details on how you can get score some pre-order goodies or win a copy of HIS IS WHERE IT ENDS after the break:

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Heir and The Spare by Emily Albright

Book Summary
Family can be complicated. Especially when skeletons from the past pop up unexpectedly. For American Evie Gray, finding out her deceased mother had a secret identity, and not one of the caped crusader variety, was quite the surprise. Evie’s mom had a secret life before she was even born, one that involved tiaras.

In this modern day fairytale, Evie is on a path to figure out who her mom really was, while discovering for herself what the future will hold. Charged with her late mother’s letters, Evie embarks on a quest into her past. The first item on the list is to attend Oxford, her mom’s alma mater. There, Evie stumbles upon a real life prince charming, Edmund Stuart the second Prince of England, who is all too happy to be the counterpart to her damsel in distress.

Evie can’t resist her growing attraction to Edmund as they spend more time together trying to unravel the clues her mother left behind. But, when doubts arise as to whether or not Edmund could ever be with an untitled American, what really ends up unraveling is Evie’s heart. When Evie uncovers all the facts about her mom’s former life, she realizes her mom’s past can open doors she never dreamed possible, doors that can help her be with Edmund. But, with everything now unveiled, Evie starts to crack under the pressure of new family responsibilities and the realization that her perfect prince may want her for all the wrong reasons.

Flo's Review
I'm not sure where to start with this review. I apologize in advance -- I think it's going to be pretty disjointed. I'm just going to type stuff as I think of it. OK? OK! Here goes!

First of all, the blurb above is MUCH better than the blurb on the back cover of the book. The back cover blurb described the book, but almost too much, and not the important things? It was weird. To me it didn't read as a teaser to make you pick up the book. It read as a slightly-off summary or something. I have an ARC, so I'll be curious to see if they edit it on the actual book. 

This book flew by and had good pacing. The first time I set it down was not because I wanted to, but because I had to go to bed or something equally important. (Lol). I loved this book when I first started reading it because I really enjoy reading books that take place at college or in boarding school. Emily also did a good job with English slang (although this seemed to taper off a bit as the book went out.) Jax was quite horrible and she was a good villain, if you will. Chloe, too. I enjoyed disliking them greatly. 

The tension between Edmund and Evie was deliciously tempting! It was a touch too insta-infatuation, but not enough to be unrealistic. Evie was so stubborn and impulsive that I found myself frustrated with her a lot of times. I'd think, "Evie, what are you doing?!? Whhyyy??!" and then, of course, she'd cool down and feel remorse for what she did and I'd think, "Well, yeah, that's what you get..." 

Sorry to go back to the blurbing and all, but I also don't understand the tagline: "He's Secretly Loyal"? That makes zero sense to me. I enjoyed the ideas of the birthday letters and the quest letters. (I told you this review would be all over the place. Sorry about that!) My understanding through the letters was that Evie's Mom was giving her this information and then setting this big choice in front of her...but when the time came in the book, it wasn't really treated like it. For it being a big choice, the decision was made quickly and without pomp and circumstance. I think it either should have been presented as a big deal and then treated as big decision/dilemma for Evie, or it shouldn't have been presented as a big deal and it could be presented as it was. Does that make sense at all? I'm also trying not to come outright and say it, because I want to be cautious of spoilers. I also kind of have the same thoughts regarding another choice Evie makes at the end. It seems to come out of nowhere, she presents it to her friends who are like, "What?!" and then it's squashed in a sentence or two toward the end of the book. Also, it's mentioned on the ARC blurb and I don't think it's an important enough plot point to be mentioned there. (See? I'm kind of coming full circle!)

Speaking of her friends, I did really like them! The gang is great, and I loved reading her interactions with Preston, Suzy and the others. I also really enjoyed the views we got of London and Paris. I loved reading the fun facts that Edmund had for Evie and reading about those places made me really, really want to be there! The scene at the Eiffel Tower was perfection. *Sighs*

I guess my summary, if I can try to bring my thoughts together, is that while some of it felt a bit disjointed and off, and I didn't agree with some of the marketing text, The Heir and the Spare was a fun and delicious read! The pacing was great, and I finished this book easily within a few reading sessions. It makes for a great escape to (though the eyes of Evie) travel to London, find out you're royalty, and fall in love with a handsome prince! 

Thank you to Merit Press for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Stacking the Shelves: Week of December 6

I (Flo) decided to jump on the Stacking the Shelves train! As Tynga explainsStacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

Book Nerd Jacque also shares this over at her blog, so be sure to check that out as well! But here's what I got this week. 

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
Impostor by Jill Hathaway
I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

The first one was a gift. I bought Impostor because it was on sale and I have the Slide e-book, though I haven't read it. (Slide is the first one in the series). My wonderful #otspsecretsister got me I'll Meet You There. I have heard raves about it and have been wanting to read it!

What'd you get this week? Have you read any of the three I got?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Book Summary
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison--even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Flo's Review
Posting this now, because for some reason I reviewing it on Goodreads, but not here:

One word for this book: intense. Whoa, kids! I had to let myself decompress before writing this review. Following the theme of the series, Marissa Meyer takes a fairy tale and makes it part of this story she is telling. Scarlet is the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Scarlet is a feisty redhead who usually sports a red hoodie. When her grandmother goes missing, she will do anything to find her -- and her one lead is a guy named Wolf. Again, the way Marissa translates the fairy tale into this story is just so creative. The Wolves, you guys! Daaang. (I was trying to find another way of saying "intense"!)

Meanwhile, we are still following Cinder and Kai. We have the introduction of a new character -- Thorne. He is amazing. Thorne is so completely ridiculous that he is just a lot of fun to read. Marissa was still able to throw surprises my way, as I can think of at least one BIG thing that happened which I wasn't at all anticipating. The end of the story was quite -- wait for it -- intense, but it ended with an a definite action statement on Cinder's part. So this is what we are going to do. Onward to Cress!

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Book Summary
In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army. 

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who's only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice. 

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.

Flo's Review
So, I enjoyed Cinder. I liked Scarlet, too, though I thought it was a little intense. But, you guys, I LOVED CRESS. I loved it! Starting with Cress herself: I love that she is so smart and so creative. At the beginning of the novel she sees herself as a damsel in distress who believes in fairy tale (ha! ha! There's some irony, for ya ;-) romance and happily ever. But when she is thrust -- literally -- in a new world she is strong and resolved. She stubbornly sees the good in people. I love that she tells herself stories, like, "I am an adventurer!" to give herself courage. This leads me to Thorne.

Thorne! I can't with this guy! He is literally a "character." He always made me laugh and shake my head and, legit, I describe him to others by saying, " I can't with him!" It was nice to get into his head a bit in this book and I really liked the hints of what we saw toward the end. I am looking forward to seeing how his and Cress' story develops in Winter.

Those two were the stand out characters for me. As for plot, I love how Marissa links the story so well across the four books. Things that were just little nuggets dropped into the previous books get fleshed out in later books in the series and the connectivity blows me away every time. Finally, I have to give props to the audiobook narrator Rebecca Soler. She is so good that at times it is quite hard to believe that it is the same person voicing all the parts.

So now I'm up to Winter. I'm a bit intimidated by the whole over 800 pages and approximately 22 hours of audio thing. But of course I'm going to dive in! Thanks to The Book Addict's Guide for hosting the #TLCReadAlong and getting me into this series!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Spotlight and Giveaway: Did I Mention I Love You?

Did I Mention I Love You?
By Estelle Maskame
December 1, 2015; ISBN 9781492632153
Book Info:
Title: Did I Mention I Love You?
Author: Estelle Maskame
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire

Book Summary:
Love is everything but expected.
Eden Munro came to California for a summer of sun, sand, and celebrities- what better way to forget about the drama back home? Until she meets her new family of strangers; a dad she hasn’t seen in three years, a stepmonster, and three stepbrothers.
Eden gets her own room in her dad’s fancy house in Santa Monica. A room right next door to her oldest stepbrother. Tyler Bruce. Whom she cannot stand. He has angry blue eyes and an ego bigger than a Beverly Hills mansion. She’s never felt such intense dislike for someone. But the two are constantly thrown together as his group of friends pulls her into their world of rule-breaking, partying, and pier-hanging
And the more she tries to understand what makes Tyler burn hotter than the California sun, the more Eden finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t…
Did I Mention I Love You? is the addictive first book in Wattpad sensation Estelle Maskame’s DIMIY trilogy: three unforgettable summers of secrets, heartbreak, and forbidden romance.
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About the Author:

Estelle Maskame started writing at the age of thirteen and completed the Did I Mention I Love You?  trilogy when she was sixteen. She has built an extensive fan-base for her writing by serializing her work on Wattpad. Fitting book writing between work, Estelle has amassed followers from all over the world. She lives in Scotland. For more visit
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Read an excerpt from Did I Mention I Love You? and enter to win a copy after the page break. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Book Summary
passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them— whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are play­ing, treacherous forces threaten to sep­arate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home . . . forever

Flo's Review
First, let's hear it for some #coverlove! What a beautiful cover!!

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let's talk about Passenger. I've talked before about how I love time travel stories. What caught me right away about this story was the juicy tension between Nicholas and Etta. So hot! *fans self* I really enjoyed seeing him slowly open up to her more and more as the story progressed. 

But back to the time travel thing. This was a fun one in that the protagonists got to hop around many different years and many different countries. On a mission! How fun is that?! (Admittedly, the mission is not fun, but Etta did confess to Nicholas that she was not hating the opportunity see so many different times and places.) Alexandra Bracken did a great job of setting the scenes -- each time and place felt very unique to itself, and was filled with great detail. I had no problem picturing these different settings in my mind.

The pacing was great, and I found myself tearing through the pages with a feeling of anxious dread in my stomach. "This isn't going to end well," I  thought to myself as I read. "How are they going to do this? How is she going to...? What is he going to...?" Passenger is the first book in a series, so we left this story with a good lead into the next installment. The climax got all time travel confusing and I had to read it a few times to fully understand the loopholes, effects, and implications of what the characters did. But in the end it made sense to me, so solid props to Alexandra (and whoever helped her) puzzle through the paradoxes.

Passenger comes out January 5, 2016 and I definitely recommend picking it up!

Thank you to Disney Hyperion for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Author Interview: A DICTIONARY OF MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING by Jackie Copleton

Book Summary
When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn’t believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora’s Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

Author Interview 

What sparked your interest in a story set in Nagasaki? Of the two cities targeted by the atomic bombs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, why did you choose Nagasaki?
I’m going to have to take you back to 1993. I was 21 years old. I’d graduated from university with a degree in English and had no idea about what I wanted to do in terms of a career. As I trawled job advertisements at my parents’ home, a friend who was working at a school in Japan wrote out of the blue: “Come here. You’d love it. You can teach.”
In that weird synchronicity of life, an advert appeared in a newspaper looking for graduates to apply to GEOS, at that time one of the world’s biggest English language schools. I got the job and was allocated, at random, the city where I’d be teaching: Nagasaki. Fate, I guess, or luck, led me there. I loved my own small piece of Nagasaki: the curious ramshackle home I rented with the hole in the floor in lieu of a flushing toilet, the tatami mats and paper sliding doors in the bedroom, the tailless cats that loitered on my doorstep, the lack of street names that left me lost on my first night, the temples and shrines and foreigner cemeteries, the food, and the sheer adventure of being dropped into a world so alien I had my own “alien registration” card.
I knew I wanted to set my first book in Nagasaki but I was wary about tackling the atomic bomb. It was too big a topic, the devastation real and not imagined, the aftermath still felt by generations of families. However, every time I wrote about the city, the plot—or rather the characters—took me back to the Second World War. And so reluctantly, and cautiously, I began to feel my way towards a story about an elderly woman called Amaterasu Takahashi who had lost her daughter and grandson when Bockscar dropped Fat Man over Nagasaki—and who had lived with that loss for forty years.
During my two years living in Nagasaki, I attended the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb at Nagasaki Peace Park, alongside 30,000 more people who gathered together in the stifling heat to remember the dead. I watched a small boy eat ice cream by a fountain built to commemorate the fatally injured who had cried out for water. I stored the memory of that boy away and later he turned into Hideo Watanabe, the seven-year-old child seemingly killed on August 9, 1945.
Decades pass in the book, and a man going by the same name arrives on the doorstep of Amaterasu’s home in the US to declare he is the grandson she thought dead. The adult Hideo has a type of retrograde amnesia and I wanted his condition to reflect a certain historical amnesia that we have in the West with regards to the atomic bombs. Nagasaki was the second city hit. When we talk about nuclear war Hiroshima is more often cited. That’s quite a thing, to have second billing but to have shared the same horror.
Beyond inspiring my first novel, Nagasaki has had a huge impact on my life. It gave me my first job as a teacher, later my profession as a journalist—and wonderful memories.
On my first night in the city, a sushi restaurant owner, who also happened to be a former boxer, declared: “For as long as you live in Nagasaki I will protect you.” I feel the book is my way of repaying my debt to all the kind people who looked after me when I lived there. They protected me when I was young and a long way from home.

Read the rest of the interview after the break.