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 ( 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 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

Website : Twitter : Pinterest : Instagram : Facebook

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

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