Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: Into the Cold Fire (Daughter's of the Moon #2)

Author: Lynne Ewing
Goodreads Rating: 3.96
Pages: 264
 Serena is being targeted by the Dark Side. Her power to read minds is what they need in order to destroy the Daughters of the Moon. And Serena has always had a rebellious side to her that may not be able to resist the seductive temptation of the Dark Side -- and Stanton, their sexy, mesmerizing leader. Set in mystical desert raves and gritty L.A. streets, this second Daughters of the Moon is a provocative and powerful read.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Review: Night Pleasure (Dark-Hunter #1)

Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Goodreads Rating: 4.23
Pages: 336
Dear Reader,

Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to be immortal? To journey through the night stalking the evil that preys on humans? To have unlimited wealth, unlimited power? That is my existence, and it is dark and dangerous. I play hero to thousands, but am known to none. And I love every minute of it.

Or so I thought until one night when I woke up handcuffed to my worst nightmare: a conservative woman in a button-down shirt. Or in Amanda's case, buttoned all the way up to her chin. She's smart, sexy, witty, and wants nothing to do with the paranormal-in other words, me.

My attraction to Amanda Devereaux goes against everything I stand for. Not to mention the last time I fell in love it cost me not only my human life, but also my very soul. Yet every time I look at her, I find myself wanting to try again. Wanting to believe that love and loyalty do exist.

Even more disturbing, I find myself wondering if there's any way a woman like Amanda can love a man whose battle scars run deep, and whose heart was damaged by a betrayal so savage that he's not sure it will ever beat again.

Kyrian of Thrace

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Review: Last Ever After (School for Good and Evil #3)

Author: Soman Chainani
Goodreads Rating: 4.40
Pages: 655
In the epic conclusion to Soman Chainani’s New York Times bestselling series, The School for Good and Evil, everything old is new again as Sophie and Agatha fight the past as well as the present to find the perfect end to their story.

As A World Without Princes closed, the end was written and former best friends Sophie and Agatha went their separate ways. Agatha was whisked back to Gavaldon with Tedros and Sophie stayed behind with the beautiful young School Master.

But as they settle into their new lives, their story begs to be re-written, and this time, theirs isn’t the only one. With the girls apart, Evil has taken over and the villains of the past have come back to change their tales and turn the world of Good and Evil upside down.

Readers around the world are eagerly awaiting the third book in The School for Good and Evil series, The Last Ever After. This extraordinary conclusion delivers more action, adventure, laughter, romance and fairy tale twists and turns than you could ever dream of!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

BLOG TOUR: The Lifeboat Clique

Author: Kathy Parks
Goodreads Rating: 3.59
Pages: 336
Format: ARC from Publisher for Blog Tour

Some people might say that Denver had a death wish. Why else would she have dared to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies, namely including her ex-BFF Abigail?

Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who was she to question this miracle of fate? Well, that wasn’t the only surprise fate had in store.

During the party a tsunami hit the coast of California, wiping out everything in its path. Denver and a handful of others escaped death by holding onto the roof of the house and were swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways was none other than Abigail, who could barely stand the sight of her.

Now that she’s floating in the ocean, stuck on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first-dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister?

A hilariously dark and twisted story that sparkles with a remarkably fresh voice, The Lifeboat Clique is Kathy Park’s irreverent yet insightful novel about how to survive in the most unthinkable circumstances.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Blog Tour: The Serpent King Guest Post

Okay, here it goes: 

My father is in prison. I don't know how many of you know this or care, but I think you should know that this truth doesn't come easily. Six years ago, I never would have said this out loud let alone even written it down. 

My dad was an incomplete figure in my life--recognizable only from his voice from phone calls and the block print that was his letters. He went away when I was seven, came out when I was fourteen and two short years later was incarcerated again (this is normal, just so you know. Most released incarcerated persons go back, especially if the offense is related to drugs).

Anyway, despite the fact that there are 2.7 million children living with a parent in prison, this experience does not often lend to fictional renderings. When I was ten, I really could have used a book not about getting my period, but a book about telling my friends that my dad wasn't a truck driver delivering cargo around the country, but an inmate, a prisoner (and in their eyes, probably, a criminal). 

I've started writing books about having a parent in prison so many times. I wanted to write a book for a kid like me who desperately needed to have her experience validated in the pages of books she loved. It wasn't easy. I never got that far. And still, I longed for books about it. To fill in the blanks that I could not (at this time) complete. 

There are more (but still too little) books about having a parent in prison now. Ruby On The Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin is a perfect middle-grade book. And now, The Serpent King. 

I'm grateful for Jeff Zentner and his team (looking at you, Cassie!) at PRH for organizing a blog tour and giving him a platform to write about this topic, that is, what it was like writing about a young adult of a parent in prison. 

If Ruby On The Outside helped validate my feelings as a little girl coping with not only my father leaving but going to jail and then prison, then Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King helped me as a young adult. Thank you for that, Jeff. 

Now, onto the post. Hopefully you'll find something you're looking for in The Serpent King (and maybe this post) too. 


Writing a character with a parent in prison in The Serpent King was definitely a case of me having to put myself in other people’s shoes and not being able to rely on my own firsthand experience. I have great parents who have decidedly never been to prison. 

To write this character, Dill, my protagonist, first I had to envision what it would be like to visit his father in prison. To do this, I visited Riverbend Prison here in Nashville (the prison where the father is incarcerated in the book) three times. I made mental notes of everything. How things looked. How things smelled. The vibe of the place. How inmates were dressed. How they interacted. I tried to view the prison through the eyes of my character. Everything that was unpleasant or oppressive about the prison, I imagined my character taking upon himself. Is this my future? he might wonder. Did I do the wrong thing by helping put my father here, in this gray and desolate place?

I tried to picture what it would be like to have the normal parent-child dynamic reversed. That is to say, generally children are the ones who find themselves in time out at the doing of the parents. But in my book, it’s Dill’s father who finds himself in prison at the doing of his son. I had to envision what that would do to a teenager’s psyche; how it would affect his sense of self-worth, destiny, and his life’s possibilities.

As I started considering what it would be like to lose a parent to prison, especially a family’s primary breadwinner, I began thinking about all of the financial repercussions. There would be legal bills. Prior obligations such as mortgages or the expense of starting a business (or church in my book’s case) wouldn’t simply disappear. The other members of the family would suddenly have to take up the financial slack. If they couldn’t afford health insurance and someone got sick or was injured, they’d slip even farther down the hole. This sort of debt, in turn, dramatically limits one’s available paths in life. The idea of taking on even more debt to go to college and get the sort of education you would need to climb out of the hole becomes unthinkable. It’s a vicious cycle. 

And then there are the social ramifications. I imagined losing a parent to prison to be in many ways like having a parent die, only worse in some respects. If a parent dies, there’s no stigma attached to it. No one will wonder if you’re somehow genetically predisposed to die also—that question has been pretty well settled. But people will wonder if you’re predestined to become a criminal like your parent, either by virtue of nature or (lack of) nurture. I imagined these social ramifications to be a thousand times worse in the cloistered, gossipy environment of a small town.

I’ve since heard from a number of people who grew up with parents in prison, and they told me that I captured the experience accurately. This is heartening to hear. I genuinely tried to honor their experiences in writing Dill. There are many children in America with parents in prison. About 700 out of every 100,000 people are incarcerated in America.  That amounts to two out of every ten people imprisoned in the world. If I can help some of the people whose lives have been upended—through no fault of their own—to feel less lonely, that’s something I’m happy to do.    


Jeff Zentner is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. In addition to writing and recording his own music, Zentner works with young musicians at Tennessee Teen Rock Camp, which inspired him to write a novel for young adults. He lives in Nashville with his wife and son. The Serpent King is his first novel. You can follow Zentner on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter at @jeffzentner.


The Serpent King Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, February 22: Jenuine Cupcakes, Kickoff Blog Tour Post
Tuesday, February 23: Book Hounds, Review
Wednesday, February 24: Mundie Moms, Review
Thursday, February 25: Curling Up With a Good Book, Review
Friday, February 26: To Read or Not to Read, Annotate a Scene Guest Post
Monday, February 29: Bookish Lifestyle, Review
Tuesday, March 1: The Book Swarm, Review
Wednesday, March 2: Katie’s Book Blog, Playlist Post
Thursday, March 3: Paperback Princess, Guest Post: Writing a Character with a Parent in Prison
Friday, March 4: Who R U, Behind the Scenes Book Secret Guest Post
Monday, March 7: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, March 8: Stories & Sweeties, Author Interview
Wednesday, March 9: LovingDemBooks, Review
Thursday, March 10: Swoony Boys Podcast, Review
Friday, March 11: Good Books And Good Wine, Review
Monday, March 14: Winter Haven Books, Review
Tuesday, March 15: Me, My Shelf and I, Review
Wednesday, March 16: Novel Novice, Review
Thursday, March 17: Lili’s Reflections, Review
Friday, March 18: A Reader of Fictions, Author “Don’t Miss” in Nashville Guest Post

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Review and Giveaway : A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

 Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Goodreads Rating: 4.10
Pages: 336 Pages
Format: ARC from HarperCollins
Summary: The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other. 

Confession time, here's what I got:

I've probably read more fanfiction than I've read books.

Also, I've begun to start every book with a feeling of dread and indifference. I kind of expect the worst, nowdays, you know? Easier to recover from being disappointed that way.

However, and this is a big however, I've also been happily surprised by a few books recently.

Namely, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE by Brittany Cavallaro. A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE was one of my most anticipated release of 2016. And as you can imagine, that worried me. My little Sherlockian heart couldn't take it if this book turned out to be anything less than amazing.

Especially since I've read so many Sherlock fanfictions that were incredible that any pastiche or adaptation might pale in comparison. And I think it's safe to say that a STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is a type of adaptation, one where the characters exist in a world where Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are real. Where their great great great grandchildren go to boarding school together and are framed for murder.

AND WHAT FOLLOWS? Nothing but pure amazing peanut butter and jelly goodness.

Just sweet and nutty and soft. And this book was sweet, a little nutty and perfect.

Did I take the metaphor too far? Nope? Aw, thanks!

Anyway, Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are a bit like peanut butter and jelly. The greatest combination. One smooth like a con artist and the other sweet. And they go together like well, peanut butter and jelly, of course!

Now, I'll let the metaphor go now to tell you all the many and varied things that I loved about this book. 

The first:

This book doesn't mess around. Charlotte Holmes is unrepentant and sassy, with a resting bitch face that may actually rival her great-great-whatever Grandfather's.

She's been exiled to America to a boarding school that she's probably too good for and definitely is not a hero in anyone's story--especially Jamie Watson.

James Watson grew up hearing the stories of his Holmesian age-mate. He dreamed of sleuthing with her, jumping from rail car to rail car as they track down a suspect on the train, chasing a lead down the back alleys of London--all the things their descendants did together.

But Holmes is determined to not live in the legacy of Sherlock and doesn't want or need to make friends with Jamie--even if he is a Watson.

It isn't until that they're framed for murder that the two realize that whether they like it (in Jamie's case) or not (Holmes' case), they may need to rely on each other and do some sleuthing after all.

Holmes is also a drug addict, though perhaps she wouldn't see herself as such. The book does not shy away from this or play around with it. Just like Holmes, it's unforgiving in that way. Holmes struggles. She's not a mini Sherlock and she's not a Mary Sue. Her flaws are real and deep.

Jamie too has his own set of flaws, although, honestly, I don't remember enough to comment. That probably makes me a bad reviewer and all that but I remember enough to admit that he was no Gary Stu either. Each characters felt as real as if I met them in high school--not boarding school because I didn't go to one-- but you get the point, I think?

If not, the point is that there was nothing cut out or taken away from this story to make it more palatable or easier to market as a YA. Holmes was as abrasive as she should be, as we could imagine her to be. It made the book all the better, knowing that it felt genuine.

The second:

I found the book positively cinematic. (I also listened to it alongside Hans Zimmer's SHERLOCK HOLMES score, so, that probably had a lot to do with it).

I'm not really one for mystery--even if I love most of the Sherlockian adaptations out right now--but I am one for character development and a lot of drama,

From the first scene, I realized how easily I could see this all play out. I was hooked from the beginning. They better adapt this for the screen. And fast.


The third:

Holmes and Watson

Duuude. Dude. These characters are so well written. They are Holmes and Watson without being Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The character development too just rocked. The progression of the characters didn't feel fictional. Holmes was a robot and then she was a cyborg and then she was human. Jamie was a sidekick and then a friend and then a hero.

I would give examples but that would just give it away. I really just love how they chipped away at each other and became the best versions of themselves. And that should be one of the many things that convince you to read it.


The fourth:


I'm pretty sure quotes were lifted from the old stories. I was giddy when I came across the references stretched across the narrative. Brittany Cavallaro has my loyalty. She's a true Sherlockian fan and is as capable as playing the game as any of the Baker Street Irregulars.


The fifth:

There's a fairly thin line between the melodramatic and high intense drama in books. Sometimes, books just take it a bit too far and I roll my eyes so many times that I should probably fear they'll get stuck. But this one has just the right amount of stuff going on to make you sit on the edge of your seat or bite all your nails off.

Brittany Cavallaro tempers this high intensity with a characterization that shines and made me care and made me swoon and all in all I didn't feel like anything was fake or false or didn't ring true. It was paced perfectly.

Verdict? Get to your nearest bookseller's site and pre-order this baby right now.


And now, giveaway time!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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