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Realm of Ruins by Hannah West

Title: Realm of Ruins (The Nissera Chronicles #2)
Author: Hannah West
Release Date: December 4th 2018
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Valory’s power is different . . . it’s dangerous, unruly, and destructive. But can she channel it to crush a cunning enemy and save the realm from chaos?

Welcome to Nissera, land of three kingdoms and home to spectacular magic.

A century after her legendary ancestors overcame a bloodthirsty tyrant, seventeen-year-old Valory Braiosa attends a training academy for elicromancers, immortal beings with magical gifts. Yet Valory’s immense power seems impossible to tame, and she faces imprisonment by the Nisseran authorities. Then a forbidden resurrection spell awakens a long-dormant evil, and Valory may be the only one who can vanquish this terrifying villain. Together with a band of allies—including an old friend; a haughty princess; and a mysterious, handsome stranger—Valory must learn to harness her power and fight back.

Weaving together her imaginative world of gritty fairytale magic with snippets from Beauty and the Beast and other classic stories, Hannah West’s dark and dangerous adventure is a gripping, immersive companion to her acclaimed debut, Kingdom of Ash and Briars. This richly packaged edition includes an illustrated family tree, detailed map, and embossed jacket with shimmering metallic effects.

I love Realm of Ruins! This is a great adventure story blended with fairytales and magic as we return to Nisseria.

I loved the plot. This is centuries after KIngdom of Ash and Briar and you do not have to read it in order to understand this story. However, there are spoilers so be warned. That doesn’t mean you can’t go back and read the first book. The characters are very different despite being in the same world. I was actually reading both books at the same time. Which made it a fun crossover. Back to the plot though. I loved how even though there a fairytales laced in, this is not a retelling of a particular tale. I was completely absorbed in the plot and I love the magic system. How interesting it is to try to find the balance of power. Each new threat addresses that. This story also deals a bit with nurture versus nature.

I loved when a cast of characters get together and go on adventure. Even more so when the cast is not necessarily what you are expecting but turn into a band that you love. I don’t want to talk about a particular character simply because I don’t want to spoil that they come along.

Valory is such a great character. Someone who has to find how to be in a world that they don’t fit in as a cookie cutter. She has to learn that making hard choices don’t always feel heroic. That sacrifices are sometimes made for the greater good and it’s a hard road. She’s not a perfect and that’s what makes her great. I liked her so much that it would was hard to not to root for her. You wanted her to find her confidence that she is more than what the water, family or the academy tells her what she is.

Mercer is also interesting. I actually kind of felt like he is the guy that is usually you really like but the MC doesn’t necessarily end up with. He’s fun and easily slides in with a group of people. He is also determined and serious about his task at hand.

Kadri is a fun character and her relationship with he betrothed is an interesting dynamic. That they are comfortable with their situation.

I liked that the romance is there but not overpowering. They know they have more important things to worry about than falling in love. I think it’s natural how their fondness grows as they are thrust into situations. It takes them being released of their worries for a short time for them to embrace it.

Completely random thought but I loved when they are packing supplies and they mention needing things for when they go to the bathroom! It made me laugh because I have Ulcerative Colitis so I always think, what would happen to me if I was dropped in a fantasy world. I loved that it’s like yep they can’t just walk for days without stopping. Even if you want them to.

I’m not ready to be done with Nisseria. I hope there are still stories to tell. Even if it’s somewhere else in the timeline. Backwards or Forwards. I think this is one of those series where you are like. Who why didn’t I read this before.

Quotes
These are taken from the ARC so they might have changed in the FC

"You have to be careful, dismissing someone's sadness, even for a short time. Most people don't realize how important a feeling it is."

"You can worry about the future all you like,Valory. But life strikes everyone with woe."

"You can do more than destory."

“All beauty is laced with darkness”

"...there will be atrocities we can't stop. They will happen to innocent people. It doesn't help to cut off one head of a many-headed serpent. You have to stab it in the heart."

"What you did matters more than what you might have done."



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AUTHOR

Hannah West is the author of Kingdom of Ash and Briars and its companion, Realm of Ruins. She's always loved writing about magic and fairytales, but her time studying abroad in Orléans, France inspired her to finally write and publish a fantasy novel. She's a freelance writer and vegetarian living in Texas with her husband and their rambunctious blue heeler.






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GIVEAWAY
Win 1 of 5 bundles of the Nissera Chronicles (US Only)
Bundle includes: 1x physical copy of Kingdom of Ash and Briars + 1x physical copy of Realm of Ruins.

Giveaway starts: 4th December 2018
Giveaway finishes: 17th December 2018


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Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Title: Girls of Paper and Fire
Author: Natasha Ngan
Published: November 6th 2018 by Jimmy Patterson Books

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

TW: violence and sexual abuse.

Girls of Paper and Fire is a very unique and interesting story. I loved the world building but I struggled a little with the main character.

I thought the world and the world building for the story were amazing. As much as I didn’t not love what being a Paper Girl meant. I felt like I had a really good grasp on what the palace looked like in my mind. I also felt like the politics were easy to follow as well. Between the different cast of Paper, Steel and Moon.

So I for some reason had a really hard time picturing the Demon people. I kept thinking of the Disney version of Robin Hood. So the idea of her being a concubine for one, seemed even creepier. The book deals with prostitution and rape. There are some scenes that definitely make your heart bleed.

I couldn’t connect with Lei and I wanted to, especially because I loved Wren so much. I kind of started to want Wren to be the main MC though. There are things I liked about Lei. I understood that she was naive in the way of many things and now had to come to the palace and be thrust into something she doesn’t fully understand. How she had never really experienced certain feelings simply because she never really had the chance/exposure to do so. She was content working in her families herb shop and would eventually get around to it. As she continues on in the palace though, I felt like she doesn’t grow or change. Her naivety starts to put people in danger and that’s what bothers me. I know the things she does are not always intentional but I don’t like how she doesn’t always seem to learn from them. I do like the fact that Lei is loyal and kind. That even though she might not agree or understand with a certain friends feelings, she is still a friend to her. I can’t really put my finger on why I didn’t connect with Lei but I just couldn’t.

I loved Wren. I thought she is such a cool character and I want to be friends with her. I love how she has the fierceness to her but she also very understanding. She grew up in a different world and so she sees things in a different light than Lei. So it gives her this perfect balance for the two of them.

Aoki and Blue are too other characters that I really enjoyed. They are both complicated in their own ways. They have different reasons for being at the palace and different feelings about it. I felt both of their stories were interesting.

Despite my mixed feelings on Lei, I did really enjoy the romance. It was such a natural progression into it. Sweet and kind with both give and take.

The story is definitely unique and interesting and I love the vivid imagery it creates in my mind.

The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson

Title: The Wren Hunt
Author: Mary Watson
Published: November 6th 2018 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens

Every Christmas, Wren is chased through the woods near her isolated village by her family's enemies—the Judges—and there’s nothing that she can do to stop it. Once her people, the Augurs, controlled a powerful magic. But now that power lies with the Judges, who are set on destroying her kind for good.

In a desperate bid to save her family, Wren takes a dangerous undercover assignment—as an intern to an influential Judge named Cassa Harkness. Cassa has spent her life researching a transformative spell, which could bring the war between the factions to its absolute end. Caught in a web of deceit, Wren must decide whether or not to gamble on the spell and seal the Augurs’ fate.


The Wren Hunt has the creepily weird, draw you in quality. It was kind of that unexpected book that I turned out to love. I really enjoyed the story and the characters. Especially all of the strange and unusual lore.

I really found the world of magic interesting in the story. There are three lines...the Judges, the Augurs and the Bards but it’s believed that the Bards are wiped out. Each sets of the these lines draw power from different things and utilize those powers in different ways. I actually found the Judges most interesting since they draw mostly from natures. The trees, plants and so forth. I also loved the old lore that is also woven in.

I really didn’t like Wren’s Augur family. I felt like they kept putting her in situations without giving her all the facts. They also all kind of seemed selfish to me but I don’t know maybe I was reading them wrong. They just kind of bothered me and I felt she could go live off in a cottage by herself and do her own thing. I guess that’s not really how being part of a Grove works. They kept secrets and when she would find out they would act like oh ya sorry about that. Just something that majorly impacts your life. They super bugged me.

I feel like about halfway through the book is when there is change. A change in Wren as well as the people around her and things start getting really weird. We finally start getting a better picture of Arabella and the traditions of both the Augurs and Judges. It’s really interesting to watch the story evolve the way it did. I definitely could not put it down.

So many great characters but of course I was most interested in Wren, Tarc and Cassa. Wren is kind of this person that doesn’t necessarily fit in perfectly anywhere. Kind of like a peg in a square hole. Whether it being that she has very different Augur powers from the rest or the fact that her mother is MIA and she doesn’t know about her father. I think of her kind of like a blowing seed trying to find a place to root.

So when she meets Tarc it seems like their chemistry as friends and more almost makes no sense and perfect sense. They are different sides of the coin but manage to find common ground. I loved seeing them together.

I also really liked her interactions with Cassa. As strange as they sometimes might be. Each time Wren spoke to her, you could tell that she is more observant and sharper than she might even get credit for. Of course she is the head of Harkness House. I just thought she was super interesting.

I truly loved The Wren Hunt and it caught me in it’s snare. Even though it left me in a good spot I still need more.

Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris Cover Reveal


Welcome to the Cover Reveal for
Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris
presented by Entangled Teen!
Be on the lookout for this upcoming Entangled Teen title!

What do you think of the cover?


Look up the word “nerd” and you’ll find Lily Cooper’s picture. She’s got one goal: first stop valedictorian, next stop Harvard. Until a stint in the hospital from too much stress lands her in the last place a klutz like her ever expected to be: salsa dance lessons.

Look up the word “popular” and you’ll find Stone Torres’s picture. His life seems perfect—star of the football team, straight-A student, lots of friends. But his family is struggling to make ends meet, so if pitching in at the Torres dance studio helps, he’ll do it.

When Lily’s dad offers Stone extra cash to volunteer as Lily’s permanent dance partner, he can’t refuse. But with each dip and turn, each moment her hand is in his, his side job starts to feel all too real. But in dance, as in life, one wrong move and someone could get hurt.
Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris
Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Teen


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Vibrant settings, witty banter, and strong relationships are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing. An admitted bookaholic and homeschool mom, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!



Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

Title: Carols and Chaos
Author: Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: October 9th 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult

A lady's maid and a valet become entangled in a yuletide counterfeiting scheme in this romantic Christmas YA adventure.

1817. The happy chaos of the Yuletide season has descended upon the country estate of Shackleford Park in full force, but lady's maid Kate Darby barely has the time to notice. Between her household duties, caring for her ailing mother, and saving up money to someday own a dress shop, her hands are quite full. Matt Harlow is also rather busy. He's performing double-duty, acting as valet for both of the Steeple brothers, two of the estate's holiday guests.

Falling in love would be a disaster for either of them. But staving off their feelings for each other becomes the least of their problems when a devious counterfeiting scheme reaches the gates of Shackleford Park, and Kate and Matt are unwittingly swept up in the intrigue. Full of sweetness, charm, and holiday shenanigans, Carols and Chaos is perfect for fans of Jane Austen and Downton Abbey.



Nothing to get you in the Yuletide spirit like a little love and mystery. Carols and Chaos is a fun YA Historical Fiction that falls in line with its predecessors for delivering that good feeling.

So for the me the plot got off on a little bit of slow start. I think we were more focused on the introduction of characters and time for Matt and Kate to become a little more acquainted. Once the mystery started to really shine through the pace picked up and I felt more into the story.

I loved that once we really get into the thick of the mystery, the story was both still suspenseful but fun. There are definitely moments where you think oh no but also has comedy weaved in throughout.

I loved Kate and Matt. They had such a natural chemistry right from the start and their exchanges were both witty and sweet. I also love how Kate is the type of character who knows who she is and just exudes awesomeness out of her pores. I really liked her. Matt is the kind of guy you want to hang out with, like ya that guy, he’s good people.

I love that it’s a historical fiction at Yuletide time. I used to work at a historical village and I loved dressing up and working in the Mansion at Christmas. We would make these awesome orange/clove ball ornaments that made my fingers bleed (pushing whole cloves into oranges is not easy) and the place would be decorated up with the greens. So it reminded me of that and it’s such a great warm feeling.

So this story is a spin-off of Suitors and Sabotage but you do not need to read that to read this. If you are looking for your comfort book for the Holiday this is definitely one I can recommend.

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

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This Mortal Coil & This Cruel Design by Emily Suavada

Title: This Cruel Design
Author: Emily Suvada
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Genre: Young Adult -- Science Fiction

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.


Review For This Mortal Coil

Wow, so This Mortal Coil is packed full of Coding, DNA, hacking, suspense, apocalyptic world, twist and turns. I both couldn’t put it down and had to take a break sometimes. It was a great story and loved how easy it was to understand the Science parts of it.

So in the world of This Mortal Coil everyone is fitted with a panel in their arm that pretty much acts like how you would picture futurist VR worlds to work. You can do everything from texting/calling to changing what you look like and downloading an app to heal yourself. Despite all of this, Mother Nature still finds it’s way in and people have retreated to underground bunkers do to a breakout of a plague called Hydra.

There is lots of talk about DNA, coding and hacking systems. I never once found any of it confusing. It was actually really interesting and written in a way that I felt was easy to understand. You might not grasp every concept perfectly but you get the jist of it enough to understand what is happening. I really loved learning about the characters and what makes them all tick. In a DNA respect and through the panels in their arms.

So the plot is very fast paced and a curvy road to get to the end. There were plot twist throughout, so much so that I don’t want to talk about anything. I’m afraid I would give something away. What we do know and that is important is that Catarina plays an important role in finding the Vaccine for Hydra.

Again I loved the characters. I thought they were all super interesting, from their background to their motivations for their actions. I can’t wait to see where they go in the future. Catarina most of all, is very cool. Really, she’s brilliant and savvy yet even though she lives for code, still keeps her compassion. She is not a robot or a slave to technology.


Review for This Cruel Design

Wow...so wow. This Cruel Design is an amazing sequel to This Mortal Coil but I almost wish I had written my review while reading. So much happens!!!!! So much!!!! Again Emily Suavada takes on a journey that is fast paced and interesting.

Crap...okay. There is no good way to talk about the book without giving away too much so I’m not going to delve into the plot too much. We pick up right where This Mortal Coil leaves off and Cat is trying to reconcile all that she has learned with all that she knows. Yet she knows there are still so many more mysteries about herself and Lachlan that she has to uncover. As well as, understanding where Jun Bei fits into everything. When it looks like the virus might not be as dead as they thought. The characters are once again on a course to save humanity as they know it.

So we do meet some new characters that bring some perspective on the past lives of the experimental children. As well as fill in some missing pieces for Cat. Again I really like how these stories explore different ideologies about merging tech into our lives. From one spectrum to the other. How far are you willing to be modified? I liked nothing was forced on you as being wrong but let you see why people chose the different ways to live. It was super interesting.

Again I love how Suavada makes what could be confusing topics, coding and DNA, and makes them easy to understand. I never felt like I was lost or confused. I could follow the thought pattern to what each person was trying to accomplish.

I love the writing and I love the story. I don’t know how I’m supposed to wait for the next book. Not after everything that has happened. I felt a little thunderstruck at the end, but in a good way. Like, wait, what?? I’m so excited to continue on.

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

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Prize: 2 copies of This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada (USA only)
Starts: 10/22/18
Ends: 10/31/18

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West by Edith Pattou

Title: West
(East #2)
Author: Edith Pattou
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 23, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

In the sequel to the beloved high fantasy East, Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge.

When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles—until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake.




So I read East and West together so I feel like I’m still stuck in the world. Ha ha. I did really enjoy the stories and I loved the way they are written. Both books are fast paced and interesting, with something always happening.

So when I started reading West, I didn’t read the description so I wasn’t even sure if it was going to be a continuation of Rose and Charles story or maybe Neddy would be more in the front row. As soon as I started to read about Charles getting on the ship, I thought, oh no Charles not again. Poor poor Charles.

So in East I had loved the lure/superstitions about the birth direction and I wished Arne could make me my own Wind Rose. In West I really loved the Wind magic. I thought it was so creative the way that it is made a part of the story. It’s the kind of magic that seems natural and makes sense. I really enjoyed it being a part of the story.

Just like East, the story is told in alternating perspectives and the way that Edith Pattou is able to keep the story moving by doing this is impressive. You are never confused and annoyed by the writing style, I think it really keeps the story going and makes it more interest. Plus Pattou’s writing just has that lyrical Fairy-Tale quality to it that makes you feel kind of dreamy while reading. I really liked the plot as well and the way there are different elements that you recognize from other stories.

I love the characters! I had a fondness for the Fairy-tale Snow White and Rose Red when I was a kid. I’m not even sure why, to be honest. So I found myself instantly being drawn to the White Bear and Rose. Rose is just so fearless, clever and kind. She’s that person that you want to be friends with. Charles is just, oh poor Charles, he’s just a good guy so you find yourself rooting for him. I enjoyed Estelle but I wasn’t as connected to her as much as Neddy and Seb. Everyone in the story has their own special personality that makes you love them.

If you like Fairy Tales this story is perfect for you. It’s not a retelling, it’s definitely it’s own thing but the way it’s written is just very magical. I had my eye on East for a very long time and I’m glad I finally read them.


Edith Pattou is the author of several fantasy novels, including East, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. She is a graduate of the Francis W. Parker School, Scripps College (B.A., English), Claremont Graduate School (M.A., English) and UCLA (M.L.I.S.). She is married to Charles Emery, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. They have one child, a daughter.

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Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Title: Shadow of the Fox
Author: Julie Kagawa
Expected publication: October 2nd 2018 by Harlequin Teen

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.




Shadow of the Fox is an amazing adventure story. I loved everything about it, I already want to read it again.

I loved every character. There was something unique about each of them but our main characters Yumeko and Tatsumi are truly fascinating.

Yumeko is half Kitsune and for some reason I love Kitsune. I think it’s just from different manga/anime I have read and watched. I like foxes more than I like dogs. So I’m not that fond of Inu. I don’t know, but it really brings this cool aspect to her character. Especially compared to Tatsumi. People who know what Yumeko is, view her differently because of her Kitsune Yokai side. They don’t always give her a chance. She grew up in a temple with monks, so she is naive but I’m not sure necessarily innocent. She knows there are bad things in the world but just hasn’t really experienced them. It’s interesting those like Tatsumi who can’t see who she is, think of her as being a sweet innocent girl. If he knew what she was, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill her. When really she is still the same sweet innocent girl too.

Tatsumi is such a complicated character!!! I mean is he bad or good. Really it depends on your definition. He does his job and he’s been taught/beaten into having no emotions because it won’t just jeopardize himself to do an unbiased job. It could also spell death for the world if the demon takes over.

I love a story that involves travel and characters collecting a party along the way. I love how different personalities can both clash and compliment others. Bringing out the best and worst of characters. Even though Kage Tatsumi and Yumeko are the heart of the story. I loved Okami, who reminds me so much of Mugen from Samurai Champloo, it made me happy. Although he is quite his own character. He brings some much needed comic relief to some very serious and sometimes a little gory run ins. Daisuke is just delightful in his own way. I also hope Reika continues to have a presence.

The other thing I really really love about this story being more on the quest side is the smaller stories built inside. Like maybe a village has a mystery to be solved or maybe some creatures need to be freed. Tatsumi and Yumeko find themselves helping people along the way, intentionally or not. Plus all of the Japanese Mythology that is weaved into the story in so many ways. I loved reading it.

That ending……..ahhhhhh I can’t wait for the next book. I wasn’t ready to stop journeying with the characters yet! I can’t wait until we can continue on and more things come to be revealed. So if you enjoy a story with an Anime/Manga vibe, filled with awesome mythology and adventure. This is the story for you.

For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig

Title: For a Muse of Fire
Author: Heidi Heilig
Publication: September 25th 2018 by Greenwillow Books

A young woman with a dangerous power she barely understands. A smuggler with secrets of his own. A country torn between a merciless colonial army, a terrifying tyrant, and a feared rebel leader. The first book in a new trilogy from Heidi Heilig.

Jetta’s family is famed as the most talented troupe of shadow players in the land. With Jetta behind the scrim, their puppets seem to move without string or stick—a trade secret, they say. In truth, Jetta can see the souls of the recently departed and bind them to the puppets with her blood. But the old ways are forbidden ever since the colonial army conquered their country, so Jetta must never show, never tell. Her skill and fame are her family’s way to earn a spot aboard the royal ship to Aquitan, where shadow plays are the latest rage, and where rumor has it the Mad King has a spring that cures his ills. Because seeing spirits is not the only thing that plagues Jetta. But as rebellion seethes and as Jetta meets a young smuggler, she will face truths and decisions that she never imagined—and safety will never seem so far away.

Heidi Heilig creates a world inspired by Asian cultures and French colonialism

For a Muse of Fire is an interesting story, that blends together political alliances and magic.

Chakra is a land in turmoil. Conquered and colonized by the Aquitans, all magic has been banned. It’s interesting because the decision to ban magic comes from a particular character Le Trépas, who as a nécromancien. He took power in Chakra wrecking his own special havoc. Most of what happens in the story is rooted in the politics of the nations. From past to present and what the choices of both sides have lead to.

Jetta is definitely a strong and independent girl, who loves her family above all else. She comes from a family known for Shadow Plays and after surviving a fire, has a unique ability. Tied to magic, she lives a life of “Never Show, Never Tell” in order to stay safe. Her family, however, is trying to find their way to a spring to specifically cure Jetta of what she refers to as her “Malheur”. This is the spring that the “Mad King” bathes in. At first I wasn’t realizing that she was talking about mental illness, I thought she was talking about her magic abilities. Which I’m still not sure if she was meaning to cure herself of both. I really enjoyed her character. She felt real to me.

I loved Leo. He is such an interesting character because of the way he deals with his strife. He is constantly propelling himself forward. Even though he has a pretty bad relationship with his father, I like how he doesn’t immediately count out his siblings. Even though it might be a thin bond. He has a great deal of compassion and love for others around him. He never felt nefarious even if he might not always be giving of information.

I felt like I wish we had gotten more of the Boy King and his motivations. I’m assuming the next book will definitely have more of what he is about in it.

The story is told in an interesting way. A combination of Jetta’s perspective and telegrams and letters. This way we are getting two different views of the events happening. Sometimes I felt a bit confused by the French words mixed in. I figure that was really just me though. I loved also that there are songs included. I kept thinking, wow these are so good, I’d love to hear them sung. I like the journey they take in order to try to reach their end goal. I enjoyed the settings and the descriptions and stories of the Shadow Plays.

I really enjoyed For A Muse of Fire and with an ending like that. I’m excited to see what the next book has in store.

Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Disney Book Group is partnering with me for a giveaway!

We love Bruce in my household so my kids were overjoyed by Santa Bruce.


Santa Bruce (Bruce #4)
By Ryan T. Higgins
In Stores September 4th, 2018
Published by Disney Book Group
Recommended for ages 3+


ruce is a lot of things. He is a bear. He is a grump. He is a pretty decent cook. And he is a mother. One thing Bruce is not? Santa Claus. But that doesn’t stop the whole forest from lining up to give him their Christmas wishes when he becomes the victim of mistaken identity—again. Kids will howl with laughter as award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins delivers another hilarious story about this bear who just can't catch a break.

Ryan T. Higgins (ryanthiggins.com) is an author and illustrator who likes the outdoors and cheese sandwiches. He is NOT a grumpy old black bear, but he DOES like making books about one—starting with the best-selling Mother Bruce, which received the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award and the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Honor. He lives in Maine with his wife and kids… and too many pets.








You could win a Santa Bruce Prize Pack
Grumpy and Grand!
One (1) winner receives:
a copy of Santa Bruce and branded ornament,
and a kids-size “Bah, humbug” sweater.

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney Book Group.
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Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release date: September 18, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery

In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passen-gers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a travel-ing troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the grue-some investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?



Escaping from Houdini is a well crafted historical mystery from Kerri Maniscalco. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down. Audrey Rose and Thomas continue to take us on an adventure that left me guessing until the end how the clues all fit together.

I love Audrey Rose and Thomas. As a team they are unstoppable but separately their quirks and intelligence make them interesting characters to read. I feel like we get a lot of Audrey Rose on her own in this story but she always comes back to Thomas her rock. I love the strong relationship they have and how much trust they put into the other. Although it is interesting to see Audrey Rose be the more aloof one and Thomas with more insecurities in their relationship. It always feels like a swap when you see that in a story. I feel like it’s often the MC who has the insecurities.

As far as the love triangle in concerned, I actually loved it. I love how natural it is and that it was more realistic. Yes you can love some with what feels like every part of your heart but we often forget how big our hearts are. There is no limit and I think the fact that Audrey Rose and Mephistopheles have a connection doesn’t make her awful. That’s when trust really comes into play.

I love the way that Kerri Maniscalco weaves prominent historical figures into her story. In a way that is not derailing history, only enhancing it. This one focused around Harry Houdini but it was really about an attraction called the Midnight Carnival. I love all things Circuses and Carnivals because it’s so easy to bring magic into it. This setting was perfect for the murder mystery taking place, as the deaths involved more theatrics. I thought it was interesting the way the clues left and although I had my suspicions about who the victims would be, I felt like the murderer really alluded me until the end. I loved how it was enough clues to keep me intrigue but also didn’t give everything away. I could enjoy the story until the reveal without going, eh I already knew. Plus the imagery was fantastic!

I loved loved this book. It’s one that is meant to be devoured quickly, with tea, darkness and a cozy blanket.



Author Interview

1. How much time do you spend on research and what sources do you use?

Honestly, the sources vary from book to book depending on the location and the crimes. For STALKING JACK THE RIPPER one of my favorite Ripper sources was casebook.org. Research is something I do heavily prior to writing a first draft and takes up the most of my time. I like to have all the facts first before I decide what to embellish. For the card tricks used in ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI I spent an embarrassingly long time watching youtube videos posted by magicians. (Same goes for researching Houdini’s tricks and illusions.) I tried practicing the tricks and was abysmal at it, but I had a lot of fun!


2. What interested you in the Historical-Fiction genre. What other genres would you like to take on?

Something I’m drawn to with historical fiction is how much it reminds me of fantasy with its lush settings. I think that’s because so many fantasy books have historical bents to them that I’ve always felt my writing tended toward that genre. From that answer it’s obvious I have a HUGE fondness for fantasy. I also adore gothic horror writers like Poe—he was a master at bringing a setting to life and making you wonder at the house you’re staying in. Before I published SJTR I’d written science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and even dabbled in a contemporary fantasy/treasure hunt.

3. How do you outline? (paper, post-its, google docs)

Oh man this is always such a hard question because I haven’t used the same method for any of the books in this series! Most authors will tell you there’s a definite difference from writing that debut novel prior to deadlines and then drafting that next book under contract.

I also faced a different sort of challenge while drafting HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA and ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI. My chronic Lyme symptoms had been at their worst—my brain fog mimicked dementia, so I had to think outside of the box to get words on the page. For EFH I wrote scenes and chapters out of order and then pieced them together. And for SJTR 4 I created a bulletin board and filled it with post-its for each character. The moral of this story? Any method is the right or best method for you, and never be afraid of testing new ones out!


4. Did you have any input into your cover?

I’m very, very lucky that I do get to take (a small) part in the cover process. With this cover I felt passionately about having it be an inky blue to match both the Moonlight Carnival theme, and the midnight ocean they’re traveling through. I also asked if Audrey Rose could be holding custom tarot cards, and Tracy (the INCREDIBLE head of the art department) worked her magic as usual!

5. What was your favorite scene or character to write?

Oh my gosh…how can I answer this?!?!? There are so many for so many different reasons! There were a lot of really hard scenes in this book, but they were so important to reaching that epic finale. I wanted both Audrey Rose and Thomas to face challenges and watch how they dealt with unexpected turbulence. Audrey Rose is always a favorite, but then again, so is Thomas. But I think for this story, I had the most fun with Mephistopheles, the enigmatic and mysterious ringmaster. I’d love to delve into his world more—uncover his secrets and see what else might be hiding up his sequined sleeves.

6. Describe your book in 5 words.

Victorian Gothic Circus From Hell.
(Hey look at that…I managed to sneak a Jack the Ripper pun into that too ;)


Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside NYC where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life’s finer points with her cats.

Her first novel in this series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. It incorporates her love of forensic science and unsolved history.

Author photo credit: Kelli Maniscalco

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Prize: One ARC of Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (USA only)
Starts: 9/12/18
Ends: 9/26/18

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Love and Other Secrets

Love and Other Secrets
Author: Christina Mandelski
Publication Date: September 3, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush

Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.
Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.
When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.
For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.
Disclaimer: This Entangled Crush contains a cocky lacrosse player in over his head with his secret best friend, unexpected midnight kisses, swoon-worthy slow dancing, and movie-night cuddling that’ll make you ache. You’re going to want an Alex of your own!



Love and Other Secrets is such a cute story!

One thing that I loved was that we start with Alex POV instead of Bailey. So it starts it off with the guy liking the girl before the girl realizing she likes him. I guess she knows but he is the one pining while she is the one who figures she should move on. I just thought that part of it was really interesting.

I really liked both characters. Bailey has set her sights on a career in film/movies and nothing is going to stop her. She has a passion for chasing her dream. Alex, the lacrosse star, has what seems like the perfect life but is kind of on his own. Seems to be more adrift with his ambitions. He’s afraid to make too big of a leap.

It was cute to see Alex fumble, even if he really messes things up at times. He has Bailey, who is his safe space, since his parents are never around. I think he both wants more with her but also is afraid to lose what he has. There was just so much cuteness with it. Plus the craziness of promposals is just funny. I couldn’t imagine doing that or having someone ask me that way.

I really liked the pacing of the book as well. When the big event happens, there isn’t a rush to the finish line after. There is time for Bailey and Alex to figure things out. It gave more umph when we finally get to the conclusion.

This is a light and fun read and definitely a little different. I really enjoyed the story.

Christina Mandelski was born in South Florida, where her love of reading was cultivated in a house full of books. Stories like The Little House series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Secret Garden, filled her imagination and fueled her dreams to be a writer. That dream came true when her first young adult novel, THE SWEETEST THING, was published in 2011, and she’s beyond thrilled about her upcoming series for Entangled Crush. Chris lives in Houston with one handsome husband, two beautiful daughters, and two freakshow cats. She has a fondness for the beach, her family and friends, and she still loves to read (especially curled up with a good cup of coffee!) She also enjoys shopping, traveling and eating, especially cake. Always cake. When she’s not doing these things, you can find her holed in a cozy spot with her laptop, writing. Visit her at www.christinamandelski.com.




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Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Title: Mirage (Book #1 in the Mirage series)
Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release date: August 28, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing po-etry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identi-cal to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfec-tion...because one wrong move could lead to her death.




Mirage is definitely a story that I wasn’t expecting but with the way my reading has been lately, I definitely needed. It is an interesting and unique plot, that moves quickly. It was easy to read this in almost one sitting. I loved the characters as well as the lush descriptions of the culture and places

The world building was interesting. I enjoyed the descriptions of the different settings from the architecture, to the foods and just the general differences between the cultures. I think the traditions that vary between the Vath and the Andalaans are so well defined and so much of the culture feels beautiful. I loved the focus on the folklore and stories. The way things are put into poetry and song. I felt like I could really feel and taste what I was reading. As far as the placement of things. I think I could have really used a map to keep it straight in my brain, but at the same time I love that there is a title page letting you know the location they are at.

Even though the story takes place on different planets and moons and at times the Vath are called Aliens. I guess since there are droids too but I wouldn’t consider this really Sci-Fi, to me it definitely flows more in the vein of Fantasy.

The thing I really liked about this book besides the fact that I do think it is a great plot, is the pacing. I love fantasy but lately I feel like the books have gotten really heavy and very involved and lot more like adult fantasy. Which again I do love but I really liked how this story is laid out. There is definitely politics at play but it did not feel overwhelming. Everything is constantly in motion and I did not feel overwhelmed with too many characters. This gave an opportunity for the main characters to be more developed and I really felt bonded with them. It was easy to see why each character is motivated into the actions that they follow.

The writing is great and of course the inclusion of the poetry. It definitely gave it that feel throughout. Plus just a great and unique plot, that is strong in the fact that it’s simple. It’s not too much and extremely easy to follow.

I loved the romance. I needed a romance like this one, sweet and natural. Two people finding solace in having an ally and partner.

I really liked Amani, Maram and Idris. I liked that my opinions of them fluxated as a I read because to me that always shows development. I might not like someone at first but as I learn more about them. I can see things from a new perspective. I also felt like how Amani is strong because she holds on to who she is. She might be striped of many things but she holds fast to her culture and who she is. It’s a deep part of her, where we see Maram often mold herself to what she needs to be.

I’m very excited for the next book. I can’t wait to see where this story takes us next.

Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s de-gree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Deter-mined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment. Mirage is her debut, and is due from Flatiron Books in 8/28/2018.

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GIVEAWAY

Prize: One finished copy of Mirage by Somaiya Daud (USA only)
Starts: 8/22/18
Ends: 8/30/18

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These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

These Rebel Waves
(Stream Raiders #1)
by Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray over-throw its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Lo-ray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.




After the magic system in Snow Like Ashes what made you decide on Magic Plants for These Rebel Waves?

Honestly, I wanted something simple. The magic in SNOW LIKE ASHES grew at an alarming rate, and by the end, I spent weeks (maybe months) trying to make sure I hadn’t broken any of my own rules. So with THESE REBEL WAVES, I thought “The plants are magic! That’s simple! Straightforward!” Ha. Hahahahaha. This magic, too, quickly got away from me, and I again had to spend weeks untangling my own rules.

Don’t write books with complex magic systems, friends.

When you create a Fantasy World how do you keep straight the rules, political system and the terrain? (ie. Maps, list, graphs?)

Ha! Funny that this question follows the last one :) I basically DON’T keep the rules straight, then have this moment of intense panic that lasts about half a year in which I bemoan ever having set out to write fantasy.

Seriously though, it does feel like that most of the time, but I am insanely organized. I have maps of every major city/country, detailed documents explaining the magic in every form, lists and pictures and notes. You name it, I have it jotted down somewhere. “Organized chaos.”

Which character did you have the most fun writing??

Vex! He’s such a sarcastic pain the butt, but oh so fun. He has this light about him that makes every situation he’s in that much more enjoyable!

When do multiple POVs, what do find is the easiest way to keep them straight. Do you ever find the characteristics of one characters accidentally bleeding into another?

When I’m first starting out, trying to get the various characters nailed down in my mind, sometimes I tend to get their voices crossed. But after a few drafts, they tend to become separate entities as I’m working on their individual scenes. I always try to stop and ask myself “Would this character really say this line like that?”

What other genres would you like to write?

I’d love to try my hand at adult fantasy! I read so much of it, it just feels like a natural move someday. On a different note, I’d love to write a noir novel? I have no idea why, really. It just seems interesting.

Of course i have to ask what is your favorite type of pirate, pirate movie or pirate character?

Fave Pirate: Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy who was this real life badass pirate captain in the Caribbean. He amassed the most ships of any pirate captain--and died before he was 30. He had a pretty intense, quick life!

Fave Pirate Movie: Well, I mean, Pirates of the Caribbean. C’mon now.

Fave Pirate Character: Jim Hawkins from basically any version of Treasure Island (tho really, the Treasure Planet Jim is def the hottest)

Describe your book in five words.

Raiders, rebels, and revolutionaries clash.

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, came out October 14, 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pic-tures.

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