Friday, October 21, 2016

Book Review: The Warrior Heir (The Heir Chronicles #1)

Release Date: March 28, 2006
Author: Cinda Williams Chima
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 426 pages
Source: Library Audio Book

Before he knew about the Roses, 16-year-old Jack lived an unremarkable life in the small Ohio town of Trinity. Only the medicine he has to take daily and the thick scar above his heart set him apart from the other high-schoolers. Then one day Jack skips his medicine. Suddenly, he is stronger, fiercer, and more confident than ever before. And it feels great-until he loses control of his own strength and nearly kills another player during soccer team tryouts.

Soon, Jack learns the startling truth about himself: He is Weirlind; part of an underground society of magical people who live among us. At the head of this magical society sit the feuding houses of the Red Rose and the White Rose, whose power is determined by playing The Game - a magical tournament in which each house sponsors a warrior to fight to the death. The winning house rules the Weir.

As if his bizarre magical heritage isn't enough, Jack finds out that he's not just another member of Weirlind-he's one of the last of the warriors - at a time when both houses are scouting for a player.



Characters: I had a tough time trying to figure out who to talk about in this section. Normally if there's a prevalent protagonist I would just talk about the one person and if there's more of an ensemble cast I'd talk about a bunch of characters, however for this book there is a very obvious protagonist, but the other characters in this story are so dynamic I wanted to talk about them as well. First off is our protagonist Jack. Jack lives a fairly normal life, but after he forgets to take his medicine one day and after a fairly eventful trip with his aunt Linda, he gets thrust into a world of magic, hierarchy, and mystery that hides in the shadows of modern day. Jack learns he's a warrior and, in this world, magical warriors are used as fodder for a barbaric tournament to determine which wizarding house rules. Jack was a fantastic narrator, he's very perceptive and whenever he gets sidelined by something it's never something that obvious to the reader or that there was a lot of foreshadowing for. He's a very tangible character who reacts to this world in a very realistic way, which is hard to find in a lot of YA series these days. Then there are the other characters, I kind of don't want to go into specifics here because I feel like if I do I'll give something away, but I love how even some of the minor characters of this story jump off the page. Every character feels realistic, every character is flawed and complex and has this aura of life to them that's hard for me to fully articulate.

Romance: So, there isn't much romance in this book, and yet the romantic relationship featured in this story is still one of the best one's I've read. I think what makes this romance so great is in fact how little attention there was to the actual romance. It's the relationship that's featured and it's not all lovey-dovey, and race to saying "I love you" but establishing a bond between these characters so that when a romance is introduced it doesn't feel rushed or forced. In fact for pretty much the entire book the romance feels very fledgling and doesn't develop very far, however, the romance isn't the star of the show, it's not why you should pick up this book, but I like that the author added it and incorporated it so well into the much grander story this book has to tell.

World Building: I have to say going into this book I was a bit hesitant, Having read Chima's Seven Realms series and loving it so much I was afraid that venturing forth into another world created by this author would end up being underwhelming, especially since this is her earliest published work. That being said I had no reason to fear. This world is incredible, it does take a moment or two to fully adjust to what's going on, but once everything is explained this world begins to suck you in and the plot begins to thicken as things are foreshadowed and the intricacy of this world begins to show. I love the political intrigue elements of this world with the different magic guilds and how one guild has found themselves on top and instead of ruling just have begun to abuse their power. The way the magic system is set up is also amazing, it's not overly complicated or too simplistic it finds a nice balance in the middle and has good checks and balances.

Predictability: Overall Cinda Williams Chima does a great job setting up twists in one of her books. There's always the right amount of foreshadowing and misdirection and one thing I really appreciate is that she never goes for the complex twist or out of nowhere surprise. In this book, there are a great deal of revelations that come out, and for me, the things that I had already predicted and the things that genuinely surprised me were about even. There is a big twist, probably the biggest twist of the book and it was something I was able to predict and the funny thing was that it wasn't because of foreshadowing or anything like that but purely because there was no other option.

Ending: Going into the ending of this book I wasn't sure what was going to happen, I had a pretty good idea at some of the big picture things, but overall I wasn't sure how things were going to go down during the final climax. That being said, what I assumed at the time was the final climax turned out to be just the beginning. The real final climax was interesting, I liked how the author was able to begin to bring this story to an end without resorting to a loophole or quick fix. There are real stakes in this ending and real consequences of the actions taken. As the story enters its final chapter there's an epilogue of sorts. This book ends in a very unique way. There's an ending to the story, but it's almost like the ending to a series where you know a spin off's coming, as if there's a calm now, but the storm is still brewing.


I loved this book and this world and these characters just come to life. I did want to say that after finishing this book, with the way it ended I wasn't chomping at the bit to continue down this series, but as more time passes since finishing this book I just want to read the second one more and more.


Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Review: The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)

Release Date: October 4, 2016
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Length: 480 pages
Source: Purchased Book

Thor's hammer is missing again.

The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon--the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn't just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands.

If Magnus Chase and his friends can't retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn.

Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer's return is the gods' worst enemy, Loki--and the price he wants is very high.



Protagonist: Magnus Chase has died, been taken to Valhalla, and stalled the Norse Apocalypse, called Ragnarok, for the time being. Now, with Thor's hammer, Mjolnir, still missing, the giants of Jotunheim are growing restless and preparing for war, the only thing that can stop them is to find the Hammer of Thor, but of course it isn't as simple as just locating the hammer. On this adventure, Magnus will make new friends, learn more about the pasts of his current ones, and with any luck save the world... again. I have to say that out of all of Riordan's protagonists Magnus is probably my favorite followed closely by the hilariously vain Apollo, and in this book he shines like never before. Now that Magnus has had some time to get acclimated to his new situation, train, and learn about what it means to be an Einherjar he's a bit more confident, but he still has a great sarcastic streak to him. Looking back over the book I tried to see if he had any really noticeable or overly significant character development, but there was nothing that conspicuously stuck out at me. Nonetheless, he's still spectacularly well-rounded character and narrator.

Romance: So Magnus doesn't really have a romance in this book, though there is some more implied romance or foreshadowing to a possible romance or I'm reading way too much into things. Anyway if what I may be reading too much into is true than Magnus does get a love interest in this book, but the romance is pretty subtle, i.e. no kissing or declarations of feelings, but (again if I'm reading the situation correctly) there's some really great chemistry that left me shipping the hopefully future couple. Romance isn't a large plot point in this series, however, it does come up here and there and one place it comes up is with Magnus's (best?) friend Sam and her betrothed, Amir. Amir has a slightly larger role to play in this story and Sam and his relationship is very compelling to read. It's easy to see how much they care for each other and even though they are a romantic pairing established prior to the start of the series, they are really easy to root for and you don't find that very often with couples who get together prior to the start of a book or series.

World-Building: Reentering the world of Norse myths I was really excited. If you've read my review of the first book in this series you know there were parts of this series' world-building that I wasn't very impressed with, i.e. there were just enough parallels to the Percy Jackson series to make me uncomfortable. The being said though I still really enjoyed this world and was excited to get back. Once again this world is steeped in Norse Mythology and this one as you may be able to guess based on the title and cover features myths about Thor and/or Loki most of all. Don't get me wrong there are shot outs to plenty of Norse tales and myths but Thor and Loki definitely take center stage. I love learning more about Norse mythology and all of the variations on tales I'd already heard. I'm by no means as knowledgeable about Norse mythology as I am with Greek or even Egyptian mythology, but I was pleasantly surprised with all of the tales I already knew.

Predictability: This book has some good, if not fantastic twists in it. Without giving too much away, or really anything if I can help it, there were a few times when I thought I knew what was going on and what would happen only for this author to throw a huge curve ball. There are of course easily predicted moments, and for the most part, it's easy to see where the story's headed with got me to notice something. This story and the story in The Sword of Summer have a lot of parallels. I'm not going to name them since I don't want to spoil anything but there are a few too many similarities between the two that, like with the first book, it made me a bit uncomfortable. Unlike with the first book, it wasn't "plot specific" details that were paralleled but the adventure itself. There were certain points in both adventures that were mirrored and once I saw the first couple it was impossible to unsee. There aren't a whole lot, but, again, like last time just enough to make me a bit uncomfortable.

Ending: Dear lord this ending was intense! Going into the final climax things were going according to plan, or well they were going the way I had expected them too, and while the ending was *mostly* predictable, there were a few moments that made up for it in the gravity of their twists. After the dust settles things are set up for the final book in this series, I'm sad that there's only one book left but Rick Riordan did throw readers a pretty big bone with one of the best, and probably most excruciating to wait, cliffhangers yet. (Excluding the one in Mark of Athena)


I loved this new adventure in the Nine worlds! Even though the two quests have so far hit similar notes in a slightly uncomfortable and seemingly unintentional way, since I enjoyed this story so much I think I'll reserve judgment to see how this trilogy comes together.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Blog Tour Book Spotlight: Useless Bay

Release Date: October 18, 2016
Author: M.J. Beaufrand
Publisher: Amulet Books
Length: 240

A gritty, psychological thriller about a mythic set of sixteen-year-old quintuplets searching for a young boy.

On Whidbey Island, the Gray quintuplets are the stuff of legend. Pixie and her brothers have always been bigger and blonder than their neighbors, as if they were birthed from the island itself. Together, they serve as an unofficial search-and-rescue team for the island, saving tourists and locals alike from the forces of wind and sea. But, when a young boy goes missing, the mysteries start to pile up. While searching for him, they find his mother’s dead body instead—and realize that something sinister is in their midst. Edgar-nominated author M. J. Beaufrand has crafted another atmospheric thriller with a touch of magical realism that fans of mystery and true crime will devour.

Buy Links:


About the Author:

Mary Jane grew up in Gresham, Oregon. She’s a graduate of Wellesley College and has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Program. Currently, she lives in Seattle with her husband, two children, and dogs. In the eighties, she had a bad perm.


Giveaway Details:
3 winners will receive a finished copy of USELESS BAY. US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:
10/10/2017- The Autumn BookshelfInterview
10/11/2017- Zach's YA ReviewsSpotlight
10/12/2017- The Alchemy of InkReview
10/13/2017- Bean's Bookshelf and Coffee Break- Review
10/14/2017- Curling Up With A Good BookInterview

Week Two:
10/17/2017- Michelle4Laughs: It's in the DetailsExcerpt
10/18/2017- In a bookish worldExcerpt
10/19/2017- The Bookworm CentralReview
10/20/2017- Eli to the nth- Review

10/21/2017- Owl Always Be ReadingExcerpt


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Book Review: The Screaming Statue (The Curiosity House #2)

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Authors: Lauren Oliver & H.C. Chester
Publisher: HarperCollins
Length: 368 pages
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

In this second book in the exceptional Curiosity House series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and shadowy recluse H. C. Chester, four extraordinary children must avenge their friend’s death, try to save their home, and unravel the secrets of their past . . . before their past unravels them.

Pippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max are happy to be out of harm’s way now that the notorious villain Nicholas Rattigan is halfway across the country in Chicago. But unfortunately their home, Dumfreys’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, is in danger of closing its doors forever.

But their troubles only get worse. The four friends are shocked when their beloved friend, famous sculptor Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered. As they investigate, they find clues that his death may be tied to the murder of a rich and powerful New York heiress, as well as to their own pasts.

This is the second book in the series and so boasts many wondrous and mysterious things inside, such as:

· Howie, the “Human Owl,” whose head turns just about all the way around
· A mean but important house cat
· Some perfectly ghastly wax sculptures
· A very thin boy named Chubby
· An awful mechanical leg

It continues not to have:

· A cautionary tale about running with scissors
· A list of time-consuming chores
· Nutritious and decidedly not delicious vegetables
· A perfectly sweet bedtime story about a wayward bunny
· Two wet kisses on the cheek from your aunt Mildred

Learn more about the series online at www.thecuriosityhouse.com.



Protagonists: After discovering their troubling roots Pippa, Max, Sam, and Thomas just want things to go back to normal at Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, but tickets aren't selling well and their only hope seems to be a new exhibit featuring the murder of a prominent New York socialite who seems by all accounts to have been killed by her husband in a jealous rage. However, before they know it their dear friend, Siegfried Eckleberger, is murdered and it seems to be connected in some way to their new exhibit. As they look deeper into this mystery everything is not quite what it appears. I have to say I really love these characters. It's very easy to get a grasp on these characters and see where they're going. Pippa's gifts are growing and yet it happens very gradually, there's no great surge of sudden power, but fleeting feelings and moments. Max becomes a bit distracted by a new member of the Dumfrey's Dime Museum family who isn't all well liked by the others. Sam, still unable to fully control his strength is full of angst, just wanting to be like everyone else, to have a pet or even open a door without risking pulling it off its hinges. Then there's Thomas, as curious as ever and in many ways the tie that binds this group. I loved seeing these characters grow and face challenges that while a bit different can still resonate with the reader.

Romance: As with the first book in this series, there isn't a lot of romance, in fact, I'm skeptical to even call some of the stuff in this book romance. That being said, though, there are some romantic feelings floating around this cast of characters. It's all very innocent stuff that wouldn't make me hesitant to use the word "crush." There's a bit of a Middle-Grade love triangle in this book as well, but it's done in such a way that makes it obvious where things may eventually go. I really enjoyed the small spatterings of romance through this story. It never detracts from the story and as I said before it's all very innocent blushes of new feelings for the kids involved and so I'm not sure where it'll go or if it will even come to anything before the series comes to a close, but either way it's so far been spectacularly done.

World Building: So I looked back at my review for the first installment in this series and I have no idea what I was thinking. In that review I said there wasn't a lot of world building, however, there's a whole lot of it in both that book and this one. I think where my mind was, was that the author wrote a fantastic 1950's-ish setting but there wasn't a lot of this unique part of this world expanded upon. The origin story of the children is a bit muddy (from what I can remember) and while the makeshift family in the Curiosity House is fantastic, it comes off a bit underwhelming. In this book a lot of those problems are still there, although the world is expanded upon, it feels very isolated to this one installment. It's been a while since I read the previous installment, so maybe there's some mention of the events and people that seem to be introduced in this installment, and if they are I take back what I am going to say, but there's a lot introduced in this book that feels like it deserves some sort of, at the very least casual, mention in the previous installment, otherwise the two stories have a weird unseen division between them. I found the further world building a bit underwhelming for the second book in a trilogy. I was expecting big surprises and twisted revelations but while there were some great twists, which I'll get to in a moment, there wasn't a whole lot of meat to this story. Don't get me wrong it's extremely entertaining, but it just feels lacking as a prominent fixture in this trilogy.

Predictability: As I said above this book does a good job to throw twists in the way of the story. There are a lot of moving parts to this story and because of that, there's a lot of possibilities for where the story can go and what the possible twists could be. That being said there's one twist that while incredibly well concealed, was a tad underwhelming. I was hoping for something more elaborate and again, while the author did do a great job at covering her tracks so the surprise would be a good one, I just wish there was something a bit more complex going on. I know this is a middle-grade book, but even so, there could have been some other facet of the story, some greater plan that could have still been accessible to a younger reading group.

Ending: As seems to be the theme of this story there's a lot to the ending that feels underwhelming, that being said though as the story comes to a close there are some fantastic little surprises that genuinely caught me off guard and helped round out this book just a tad more. The final climax of the story was very well done and had a very cinematic feel to that defining climactic moment, and the cooldown period is where things start to come together again. With a lot of the moving parts to this story out of play, things become clearer and some really interesting red herrings come to light. I did truly like how this story ended in a way that settles things down for a while and there isn't some over the top crazy cliffhanger to make readers go crazy for nearly a year.


I did really enjoy this story, it's a wonderfully written and nicely paced mystery, I just wish it wowed me more and felt a bit more cohesive. It's still a great addition to this trilogy and I'm excited to see where the story will go in the grand finale.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen (Villain Tales #1)

Release Date: August 18, 2009
Author: Serena Valentino
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 250 pages
Source: Purchased Book

The tale of the young princess and her evil stepmother, the Wicked Queen, is widely known. Despite a few variations from telling to telling, the story remains the same—the Queen was jealous of the girl’s beauty, and this jealousy culminated in the Queen’s attempt on the sweet, naive girl’s life.

Another tale far less often spoken of is the one that explains what caused the Queen to become so contemptuously vile. Still, some have attempted to guess at the reason. Perhaps the Queen’s true nature was that of a wicked hag and her beautiful, regal appearance a disguise used to fool the King. Others claim that the Queen might have hated the girl for her resemblance to the King’s first wife. Mostly, the Queen is painted as a morally abhorrent woman who never loved another being during the course of her miserable life.

In fact, the theories about exactly what cause the Queen’s obsessive vanity and jealous rage are too numerous to catalog. This book recounts a version of the story that has remained untold until now. It is a tragic tale of love and loss, and it contains a bit of magic. It is a tale of the Wicked Queen…



Protagonist: With this being a story about how the queen in Snow White becomes the deplorable envious woman she is, it's no surprise that nearly all of this book focuses on that queen. One of my biggest problems with this book is that the Queen is never given a proper name, only being called "the Queen." Now I know she doesn't have a name that's officially canonical, but if the author did, or was allowed to, give her a name it would have added a sense of realness to the story since everyone from her husband, her stepdaughter, to the friend she viewed as a sister, called her anything but a given name and that kind of bothered me quite a bit. As to her characterization, by the end of the book I understand why she's as horrible as she is, I can even see how the catalyst that drove her into her jealousy did so, but considering how sweet and loving she was for most of this book it's really hard to fit that with the character we know from the movie and the person she is by the end of this story.

World-Building: Speaking of not being able to fit two pieces together, the book and the movie were really hard for me to connect with so much of this story. There are only two major characters in this book that are also in the movie, the Queen and Snow White, however for most of the movie the Queen is a kind soul who only seeks love in her life and Snow is a small child holding no real personality traits other than being sweet and innocent. That being said for so much of this book it felt as though this could easily be another story completely if Snow White's name was changed and that story wouldn't bee all that compelling, unfortunately. The story was okay for the most part but other than learning more about the Queen's background and the circumstances that made her who she was, this world was never really fleshed out. The Queen had a husband who was constantly off defending his kingdom, but from who? Barely any of this book takes place somewhere not seen in the movie and I just wish I could feel this world more wholly. That there wasn't this vague sense of a kingdom that was barely held together by nostalgic memories of the movie.

Predictability: Another aspect of the story that I wasn't a huge fan of was how predictable it was. After a certain point, it was easy to see where the story was going and that was long before the aspects of the movie started to bleed into this story. That's not to say that there weren't some interesting surprises, there were connections to other classic Disney stories that I rather enjoyed and certain aspects of the movie were expanded upon to give it a much more realistic feeling, There was even a twist in the end that I did not see coming.

Ending: I'm not sure what to say about this ending that will give this review more substance. The ending of this book is basically the Queen's role in the Snow White movie. There are some embellishments here and there that go with this expanded story and universe, but it's not as if there was some magical twist that changed everything forever. There is an epilogue, and other than one surprising, although idealistic, twist it wasn't necessary. In fact, I almost feel as though the story would hold more power without that. Where that last official chapter ended wrapped up the moral of this story so well and really hit everything home rather well.


This book isn't a total waste of time, in fact, if you're someone who's a huge fan of the Disney Snow White movie you may even love this, but for me, it was too hard to connect with the movie and I'm sure that the author was restricted by Disney from expanding this world but I wish that she would have/could have given this world the depth and vitality that it needed.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Book Review: Beastly (Kendra Chronicles #1)

Release Date: October 2, 2007
Author: Alex Flinn
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 304 pages
Source: Purchased Book

I am a beast.

A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright—a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll stay this way forever—ruined—unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly . . . beastly.



Protagonist: Kyle Kingsbury seems to have it all. He has tons of money, good looks, and everyone at his school either wanting to be him or wanting to be with him. So when he pulls a prank on the new goth chick at school the last thing he expects is to quite literally be turned into a beast. He's told he has to look beyond the superficial and find someone who can love him despite his looks and love him in return. He has two years to do it or remain a beast forever. Now I didn't really like Kyle all that much, but the great thing is that you're not supposed to. This isn't some run of the mill protagonist who means well but has flaws, this is someone who's so glaringly flawed that you really aren't supposed to be sympathetic to him for a while. My only problem here is that in the first half or so of the book we have a Kyle who is a huge douche but has a normal modern way of speaking, but in the second half, while he's much more sympathetic, it's almost as if the author wanted such a stark contrast between before and after that his speech in the second half lost almost all identity of being a modern day teenager.

Romance: So going into this I was expecting a lot of romance. After all Beauty and the Beast, the story this was based on, is all about loving someone regardless of their appearance, plus Kyle's curse can only be broken by requited true love. That being said this book is so much more about Kyle's character development than it is about the romance. Don't get me wrong there's still some great romance in this book, but it is by no means the point of this book. That being said, I do think the author did a great job on the romance. Even if the whole how they met post-transformation part is a bit creepy, there are legitimate excuses for it and after Lindy and Kyle, then known as Adrian, get to know each other, a real bond forms. The kind of bond where even if they did say the "L" word after only half a book it would feel earned and not something shoehorned in there to make a story complete.

World Building: So, as some of you might know Beauty and the Beast, is my favorite fairy tale and I love to see it retold time and time again. Ironically this was the first B&TB retelling I'd ever heard of and I'm just now getting around to reading it for the first time. What I love about modern day retellings it seeing how things would change if this story was told today, and while there were definite inclusions of that in this book, after a while the whole modern feel melted away and other than some things here and there it melted too much into itself and lost a part of itself along the way. This happens in the second half when the writing loses it's modern feel and becomes more formal and stilted. I did, however, like how much of the original tale was included in this retelling, though at times as I said before it could be a bit too on the nose.

Predictability: Going into this book I wasn't really expecting it to be unpredictable, and it really wasn't. This is very much a familiar story and for the most part I knew where things were going, even the bigger twists, either because of the movie which I had seen a few times before going into this book, or friends who don't understand what spoilers are who told m about this book years ago and I never forgot. I think the only times that things were really ever unpredictable were when they differed from the movie too much or the source material which didn't happen too often.

Ending: Speaking of unpredictable things, the ending of this book, or really the format in which it ended was rather unpredictable. This book is split up into six parts, and the sixth and final part all takes place after the final climax of the story and acts as an extended epilogue. As many of you may know I happen to really enjoy epilogues and this one was no different. After a rather unexpected final climax, things seem to calm down quite a bit as we're led through what happens after, who gets their comeuppance, and who lives happily ever after. I really enjoyed the end of this book, but most of all I'm looking forward to learning more about a certain character in this story.


So, I thought a lot about this and I think four stars is the perfect rating for this book. The first half of the story was fantastic, but during the second half the writing, the way the characters talked, changed how I enjoyed the book, things became too formal and didn't retain the modern feel the first half instilled in the story.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Review: Crewel (Crewel World #1)

Release Date: October 16, 2012
Author: Gennifer Albin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Length: 367 pages
Source: NetGalley Review Copy

Incapable. Awkward. Artless.
That’s what the other girls whisper behind her back. But sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys has a secret: She wants to fail.

Gifted with the ability to weave time with matter, she’s exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen to work the looms is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to manipulate the very fabric of reality. But if controlling what people eat, where they live, and how many children they have is the price of having it all, Adelice isn’t interested.

Not that her feelings matter, because she slipped and used her hidden talent for a moment. Now she has one hour to eat her mom’s overcooked pot roast. One hour to listen to her sister’s academy gossip and laugh at her dad’s jokes. One hour to pretend everything’s okay. And one hour to escape.

Because tonight, they’ll come for her.



Protagonist: Adelice has spent nearly her entire life trying to pretend that she doesn't see the weave holding Arras together. Her parents made her practice to be bumbling and awkward so that no one would get suspicious and then when it was finally time to be tested she slips, and now she'll be taken away to train as a Spinster one of the women that hold Arras together and make it run smoothly. Overall I really enjoyed Adelice, she takes responsibility for what she does and her growth over the book is remarkably well done. This is a very tough independent main character who will make mistakes but will always have the best interests of everyone at heart.

Romance: If I had to say there was one downfall to this book it would be the romance. Seriously it was all over the place and there were too many stacking tropes, like the forbidden romance trope, since as a Spinster Adelice cannot have romantic relationships, the love triangle (maybe square) trope, the "one guy that likes me is probably evil trope," and there's a couple more that I won't get into because of spoilers, but it wasn't that there wasn't great romance writing in here it's just that with so many things all over the place, it was too complicated to really invest in.

World Building: I do have to say that this has one of the most interesting dystopian world buildings I've ever read. In this world, everything is held together by a tapestry or weave that is spun by women with a talent for seeing and working the weave. When I first got into this book it reminded me so wonderfully of the Fates in Greek mythology who spin, weave and cut your thread of life, only on a grander scale. In addition to this possible inspiration, there's a wonderfully corrupt government hell bent on controlling and manipulating everything in Arras. As Adelice delves deeper into the lives of Spinsters and the government of Arras the more we learn about what's really going on, and it's good too!

Predictability: I have been trying to write this section for a while now, and cannot think of how to properly articulate my feelings for this specific aspect of this book. While this story does have parts that aren't the most shocking this story does have some of the best twists I've read, or at least in terms of their shock value. While some twists were as enjoyable as they were shocking there were some twists that while they did surprise me I kind of wish the big revelation wasn't true, more for what it would mean to the story than whether or not it helped our main heroine.

Ending: Talk about your big endings. I thought for sure, especially with the title of the next book, that I thought I knew how this book was going to end. I mean everything leading up to it practically screamed where it was going, but then, at the height of the final climax something changed, the entire story changed and instead of going to the predictable place I thought, it goes somewhere even bolder and more unpredictable. I have to say, while I may not get to book two soon, it's not because this book didn't leave me wanting so much more!


So I really enjoyed this story, it was exciting, compelling, and other than a romance that I couldn't really find a way to throw myself into, I kept wanting to come back for more. P.S. Please forgive the subpar review, it's my first one in two weeks and I may even be a bit sleep deprived right now.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Hands of Time (Elementals #5)

So I've been trying to figure out what to say before this awesome cover reveal that I haven't said before. If you haven't yet read the Elementals series yet, you really should. While the first book does set up this world really well, the romance is a bit rushed. However, in the second book, there is not only some fantastic world building you'd expect from this series, but some of the things that were hard for me to love were made much more palatable. By the third book I was hooked, well technically I think I was hooked long before that, but the third book was definitely the best of the bunch so far and really showed off how far this author was willing to go. The fourth book, which comes out in just a week, Builds up the suspense even more and while I wasn't wild about the near ease in which the ending went, I am extremely pumped to see what will happen in this final installment of the series. Now without further ado, I give you the cover for Elementals 5: The Hands of Time.


Time is running out. War will be waged. Sacrifices will be made.

Months ago, Nicole Cassidy’s life was turned upside-down when she discovered that she was a witch descended from the Greek gods. She and the four other witches gifted with elemental powers fought all over the world—and in another dimension—to battle the supporters of the Titans and fight for the people they love.

Now the Elementals must stop Typhon—the most dangerous monster in the world—from rising, and seal the portal to the dangerous prison world of Kerberos. But they won’t be able to do that without facing their hardest decision yet… a sacrifice so great that it may be one they’re not willing to make.

Get ready for the stunning, action-packed conclusion to the bestselling Elementals series, with twists and turns that you’ll never see coming!

The Portal to Kerberos comes out on September 20, 2016

The adventure began in the first book in the series, Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows. To grab a copy of the first book for free, visit www.michellemadow.com or the bottom of this blog post

The Elementals series is available on Kindle Unlimited, so subscribers can read it for free!


Michelle Madow writes fast-paced YA (young adult) fiction that will leave you turning the pages wanting more!

She grew up in Baltimore, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she writes books for young adults. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle went on a cross-country road trip from Florida to California and back to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

Want all three parts of the Transcend Time Saga—Michelle’s first YA romance series—for FREE? Click here to learn about the series and claim your books

To get instant updates about Michelle’s new books, follow her on Amazon!

Author Links:

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Get Elementals 1 for FREE


Nicole Cassidy is a witch descended from the Greek gods… but she doesn’t know it until she moves to a new town and discovers a dangerous world of magic and monsters that she never knew existed.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Novella Review: Before the Snow (Stealing Snow #0.1)

Release Date: July 26, 2016
Author: Danielle Paige
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's
Length: 81 pages
Source: Library eBook

Enter a world of elemental magic, forbidden romance, and betrayal in this prequel to New York Times bestselling author Danielle Paige's upcoming Stealing Snow.

Young Nepenthe is half-princess, half-mermaid. Though she longs for the sea, her father wants her to stay on land. But only love can make a mermaid give up the water, and Nepenthe doesn't love anyone the way her mother loves her human father. She wants to live as a mermaid and become the River Witch, like her mother.

Then Nepenthe meets Prince Lazar, the son of the all-powerful Snow King of Algid, and she can't help but fall for him. After a horrible tragedy strikes, Nepenthe joins forces with a young fire witch named Ora to save Lazar and protect the kingdom. But it soon becomes clear that Ora loves Lazar just as much as Nepenthe does... And now Nepenthe must decide: inherit the power of the River Witch, or betray her friend to be with the boy she loves.

And Nepenthe's role in the prophecy is only just beginning. . . In the future, she is destined to cross paths with a girl named Snow, who will have the power to change Algid forever - for better, or for worse.



Protagonist: Nepenthe has lived her whole life with a choice hanging over her head. Born of two different worlds Nepenthe can choose to either succeed her father as the ruler of her kingdom on land or live in the water and succeed her mother as The River Witch. Nepenthe lived on the line between land and river, but after tragedy strikes her choice seems to be made for her. That is until years later she meets Prince Lazar and develops feeling for him, feelings that her best friend Ora seems to share. Now her choices are confused and she's not sure where she'll belong. I really liked Nepenthe, she's not a character who has everything worked out, and she feels such strong pulls toward land and water, and yet doesn't know quite what to do. Even though her life spirals into a bit of a mess, she's still a strong character who won't compromise her morals to get what she wants.

Romance: To say this romance is complicated is a bit of an understatement. Since this is such a short story, at least compared to most novels, there isn't all that much time to properly develop a one on one romance, let alone a love triangle, but I have to say that Paige does a pretty good job. This is mostly due to the fact that Paige doesn't pretend that any of these feelings are pure, there's always something underneath that almost corrupts these romances, something that either one or the other values above the love they claim to have. It's really interesting to read it because even though things are going fast, it still, in some small way, makes sense.

World Building: This story takes place before the official first installment in this series. In it, we're introduced to a few really interesting plot points. First is a prophecy that I'm sure we'll see a lot more of in the main series, but it does give a taste of what's to come. Also, we're introduced to a character who will, supposedly, have a role to play in the main series and will come into contact and (maybe) give some guidance to our main heroine. I have to say it was interesting getting to know this world. I was pleased to see that The Snow Queen isn't the only fairy tale that exists and is referenced in this world. Nepenthe's mother is none other than "The Little Mermaid" who apparently got a much happier ending than the one in the original Hans Christian Anderson version. I loved the magic system and the role that magic plays, not only in this story but in this fantasy world at large.

Predictability: I have to say that this story isn't really predictable. I was expecting something that fit in much more with the fairy tale retellings and other YA stories that are out there today, and while I'm sure there are quite a few that would have similar parallels to this story, it's not something that's the norm. Since I didn't quite know where the story was going, there were a variety of different twists ranging from the surprising to the utterly shocking. I'm trying to figure out if there was anything that I was correctly able to guess ahead of time, but in all honesty there probably wasn't.

Ending: I love how self-aware this story is. The author writes it in such a way that it's no secret that this isn't your classic fairy tale and the ending shows that as well. There are steep prices these characters have to pay for the choices they make as this story comes to a close and sets in motion an ancient prophecy. The final climax of this story isn't so much an epic battle as it is something where we get answers to some burning questions. Then the story flows into an ending. there isn't really a cliffhanger and yet things aren't really tied up since this story is just a precursor to the main series.


If you've been reading my reviews for a while now and couldn't tell, I'm a huge fan of fairy tale retellings and if the main novel is half as good as this novella seems to indicate it is I'm sure I'll love this fresh take on The Snow Queen.