Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow

The Prophecy of Shadows
Michelle Madow
(Elementals #1)
Published by: Dreamscape Publishing
Publication date: January 26th 2016
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals is the first in a new series that fans of Percy Jackson and The Secret Circle will love!

When Nicole Cassidy moves from sunny Georgia to gloomy New England, the last thing she expects is to learn that her homeroom is a cover for a secret coven of witches. Even more surprisingly … she’s apparently a witch herself. Despite doubts about her newfound abilities, Nicole is welcomed into this ancient circle of witches and is bedazzled by their powers–and, to her dismay, by Blake–the school’s notorious bad-boy.

Girls who get close to Blake wind up hurt. His girlfriend Danielle will do anything to keep them away, even if she must resort to using dark magic. But the chemistry between Blake and Nicole is undeniable, and despite wanting to protect Nicole from Danielle’s wrath, he finds it impossible to keep his distance.

When the Olympian Comet shoots through the sky for the first time in three thousand years, Nicole, Blake, Danielle, and two others in their homeroom are gifted with mysterious powers. But the comet has another effect–it opens the portal to the prison world that has contained the Titans for centuries. After an ancient monster escapes and attacks Nicole and Blake, it’s up to them and the others to follow the clues from a cryptic prophecy so that they can save their town … and possibly the world.
“Elementals is going to blow your mind!”
-Crossroad Reviews, ★★★★★

“Five glittery stars for being such a compelling read!”
-Andrea Heltsley, Goodreads Reviewer ★★★★★

“A perfect mixture of magic and mythology. An entrancing story of trust, friendship and well naughty boys. WITCHES are not the only thing walking the earth!”

– BenjaminOfTomes, BookTuber ★★★★★

Everyone stared at me, and I looked to the front of the room, where a tall, lanky man in a tweed suit stood next to a blackboard covered with the morning announcements. His gray hair shined under the light, and his wrinkled skin and warm smile reminded me more of a grandfather than a teacher.

He cleared his throat and rolled a piece of chalk in his palm. “You must be Nicole Cassidy,” he said.

“Yeah.” I nodded and looked around at the other students. There were about thirty of them, and there seemed to be an invisible line going down the middle of the room, dividing them in half. The students near the door wore jeans and sweatshirts, but the ones closer to the wall looked like they were dressed for a fashion show instead of school.

“It’s nice to meet you Nicole.” The teacher sounded sincere, like he was meeting a new friend instead of a student. “Welcome to our homeroom. I’m Mr. Faulkner, but please call me Darius.” He turned to the chalkboard, lifted his hand, and waved it from one side to the other. “You probably weren’t expecting everything to look so normal, but we have to be careful. As I’m sure you know, we can’t risk letting anyone else know what goes on in here.”

Then the board shimmered—like sunlight glimmering off the ocean—and the morning announcements changed into different letters right in front of my eyes.

Michelle Madow grew up in Baltimore, graduated Rollins College in Orlando, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She wrote her first book in her junior year of college, and has been writing novels since. Some of her favorite things are: reading, pizza, traveling, shopping, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle has toured across America 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.

Visit Michelle online at www.michellemadow.com, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter and follow her on Amazon to get instant updates on her books!

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review + Playlist: The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin



The Year We Fell Apart
by Emily Martin
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
Rate: 4 out of 5 stars
In the tradition of Sarah Dessen, this powerful debut novel is a compelling portrait of a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer as she figures out how to learn from—and fix—her past.

Few things come as naturally to Harper as epic mistakes. In the past year she was kicked off the swim team, earned a reputation as Carson High’s easiest hook-up, and officially became the black sheep of her family. But her worst mistake was destroying her relationship with her best friend, Declan.

Now, after two semesters of silence, Declan is home from boarding school for the summer. Everything about him is different—he’s taller, stronger…more handsome. Harper has changed, too, especially in the wake of her mom’s cancer diagnosis.

While Declan wants nothing to do with Harper, he’s still Declan, her Declan, and the only person she wants to talk to about what’s really going on. But he’s also the one person she’s lost the right to seek comfort from.

As their mutual friends and shared histories draw them together again, Harper and Declan must decide which parts of their past are still salvageable, and which parts they’ll have to let go of once and for all.

In this honest and affecting tale of friendship and first love, Emily Martin brings to vivid life the trials and struggles of high school and the ability to learn from past mistakes over the course of one steamy North Carolina summer.



It's been a while since I read a really well written Contemporary Young Adult book, so The Year We Fell Apart was a welcome experience. Beautiful writing, believable characters, and just enough twisty issues to make everything interesting. I have to say, Emily Martin stole my heart. I powered through this in just a few hours and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now, keep in mind that this is definitely aimed at the YA crowd. If you can't settle yourself into the headspace of a teen, with all the crazy emotions and potentially bad decisions that come along with that, you probably won't be able to get into this book. See, Harper is definitely flawed. Just like all the rest of us are. It's actually one of the things I loved most about her character. While I didn't always love her for the choices she made, it was the fact that she was ultimately human that made me smile. Hell, we've all chosen made poor choices. We've all pushed that one person away who could have built us back up. It's a part of growing up.

In fact, what impressed me most was how expertly Emily Martin navigated the pitfalls of being a teenager who is still feeling their way in the world. Harper has to face one of the scariest things highschoolers ever face, and that's a reputation. One bad decision. One case of poor judgement, and Harper is forever labeled a "slut". The fact that Martin showed the pain that Harper was suffering and where that all stemmed from, only hammered home the fact that it was ultimately Harper's decision. Wrong or not, she didn't deserved to be judged so harshly. But she was. That's high school.

When you pile on a mother with an illness, a former best friend who disappeared and might be something more, and trying to add new friends to the mix? Well, it's no surprise that this whole story is a jumble of emotions. I felt for Harper. I've been in her shoes. Lots of people have. Which is why it's easy to relate to her, even when she's being a bit over-dramatic. Again, teenage hormones. They're hell.

There were only a few things that knocked this down a star for me, the main two being that I really wanted Harper's friend Sadie to disappear and the whole romance with Declan was never really resolved. Sadie was a terrible influence. I think Sadie was there to give a possible reason why Harper may have made the choices that she did, but truth be told I really wished she'd wise up and ditch her. As for Declan, well he was ultimately hot and cold. I know not every story can have a happy ending, but I think Harper deserved one. Or, at the very least, the concept that you can go through hell and come out whole on the other side needed to be emphasized. Something, to make it all worth while.


Overall, I enjoyed this read though! I'd say that if you're a fan of Contemporary YA, you probably will too.



Here are some songs that I think absolutely fit this book. I listened to them while I read, and I'll tell you that they definitely enhanced the book!


"Heal" by Tom Odell
"Broken Ones" by Jacquie Lee
"Let It Go" by James Bay
"Dark Paradise" by Lana Del Rey
"Start Again" by Conrad Sewell
"Like We Used To" by A Rocket to the Moon


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Follow the The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.





Emily Martin lives and writes in the Greater Boston area, though she will always call Michigan home. She has a penchant for impromptu dance parties, vintage clothing, and traveling to new places. When not writing, she can be found hiking New England’s peaks, searching for the perfect cup of hot chocolate, or baking something pumpkin-flavored.

Emily’s debut young adult novel, THE YEAR WE FELL APART, comes out January 26, 2016 from Simon Pulse.

Her work is represented by Lara Perkins of Andrea Brown Literary.





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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

BookLikes Weekly Recap (1/24/16)


Well, this is going up a bit late today. My apologies, friends. I've been chugging through my buddy read of Transformers, and it's getting addictive! I spent a lot of today living in the world of Cybertron :). No regrets! It's been a blast.

Anyway, allow me to share with you what's gone up over on BookLikes this week.


Monday, January 18th

If you've been following along with this re-read at all, you'll know that the volume before this wasn't my favorite. Volume 4 redeemed this series though! It was excellent.


Thursday, January 21st

This is STILL my favorite of the two series. Oh, and this volume was amazing! I couldn't believe how much character growth took place in just one volume.

* Picture: New books!
Between my inability to keep myself from buying new books at the store, and review copies, someone needs to build me a full on library.


Saturday, January 23rd

Friends, I LOVE these comics. Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl, is just so darn lovable and amazing! What's not to love about an issue where she confronts Thanos?

I never in my life dreamed I'd be this obsessed with Transformers comics. More than that, though, is the fact that I never thought I'd like Decepticons. Oh, black and white are out the window. It's all shades of gray.


Sunday, January 24th

WHAT JUST HAPPENED? This volume was rather emotionally exhausting. The two worlds that I've been reading about separately, up until now, converged. In a horrible, horrible way.

The end of the universe? Ack. How do people read these in single issues?


Friday, January 22, 2016

Book Review: The Wednesday Group by Sylvia True


Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Wednesday Group
Author: Sylvia True
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: Paperback; 288
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Source: NetGalley
-----------------------------------------
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy richly written characters facing real life issues.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband's latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he's nine-months sober from sex with grad students. Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others.

As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands' addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.

From author Sylvia True comes The Wednesday Group, a captivating, moving novel about friendship, marriage, and the bonds that connect us all.


Oh, my poor broken heart. The Wednesday Group is Sylvia True's debut novel, but I can promise you right now that it doesn't read like one. It's stunning, and heartbreaking. I came into a story about women whose problems were far removed from my own life. My biggest worry was that I wouldn't be able to connect enough to really enjoy this story. Trust me, I shouldn't have had any doubts. True's characters came to life. They embraced me as part of their group, and I watched as they laid their hearts and their souls on the table for me to pick apart. Be warned, this isn't the happiest of stories. It is beautiful though, and so very important.

Gail, Hannah, Bridget, Lizzie and Flavia couldn't be more different from one another when the book begins. Learning each of their unique personalities was actually one of my favorites parts of this story. My heart was pulled in all directions while I slowly fell into each one of their lives. Some meek, some angry, but all stronger women then they could ever know. That is, until they came together as a group. I was so impressed at how bluntly, and yet at the same time sensitively, True tackled the concept of men with sex addiction, and how it affects their wives and families. I adored that she didn't lump all of these characters into one coping mechanism. She allowed them their own flaws, and poor decisions, which ultimately made this a much more satisfying story.

What's even more brilliant about this story is the simple fact that it's all forward movement. There's very little fluff, or filler. It's all decisions, consequences, and tons of human growth. Of course, while this was utterly satisfying to read, it also meant that it was emotionally draining as well. I ran the full gambit of emotions while I followed these women on their journey. I felt rage, despair, hope, and so much sadness that it almost overwhelmed me. If I can give credit where credit is due, Sylvia True definitely has mastered the art of pacing. It was perfection.

I can't state enough how impressed I was with The Wednesday Group. Where I started out wary that I wasn't going to feel involved enough, I ended up completely enmeshed in these women's lives. I can't recommend this enough.


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On the dreaded TBR.


Isn't this picture pretty? A shoutout to Pexels, which has some of the best free stock photos that I've seen. Some people are just expert photographers.

Anyway, today I'm here to talk about the DREADED TBR.

You know the one. You read a book, you add three books. You read ten books during a read-a-thon, and then promptly add fifteen more because all of the books everyone else read just look so amazing that you can't resist.

I think every bookworm has one of these, and I'm here to tell you one thing:
Don't feel bad about it.

Seriously, don't. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we all know that we'll never get to all the books that we want to read. Books keep coming out, we keep adding them, and there's no shame in that. What is important, beyond all else, is enjoying the books that you're reading. I've learned, after a lot of trial and error, that reading is much more enjoyable when I am not trying desperately to simply tick things off. Rather, I've gotten used to savoring a book, and not really minding if it takes me a bit longer to finish.

Truth be told, I was once crazy about my TBR. I'd power through books, to check them off, and lament if a new release sat longer than a month. Now? Well, there are definitely "new releases" that I have on my shelf... and they came out in 2015 :).

The long and the short of it is, enjoy your reading. Embrace that TBR pile. Turn it into a castle. Then snuggle inside, and just enjoy reading.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Review + Giveaway: Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace




Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: January 26th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Horror, Zombies, Fantasy, Thriller, Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery, Supernatural
Rate: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.



Every now and then I read a book that both hooks me, and completely confuses me. Shallow Graves was one of those books. While the concept was fresh, and interesting, there was always this air of unanswered questions hanging over the whole thing. Let's just say that I'm still on the fence about this one.

First off, I have a lot of love for Breezy as a character. She was honest, smart, focused, and best of all she wasn't afraid to question her existence. For a reanimated character, she had a lot of lush backstory. Specifically, I loved that she hadn't forgotten her family. It added an extra depth to the story, and made it so that she didn't completely lose all of her humanity. I actually felt for her. Which is good, since she was technically a "monster" of sorts.

The further good news is that, despite how confused I was at times, there was enough forward movement to keep me reading. If nothing else, I kept wanting to read on to see if more of Breezy's past and present would be explored. The little tidbits that were thrown in, like how she wanted to be an astronaut, and had worked so hard only to leave that behind, were amazing.

The downside of this lack of explanation, obviously, was that there were always these unanswered questions hanging around in my head as I read. I just kept desperately hoping that everything would tie up by the ending. Sadly, it really didn't. I don't mind being left in the dark, as a reader. I'll follow blindly, as long as everything is resolved at some point. Unfrotunately, that didn't happen here. It was a little disappointing.

Overall, this was a good story. It had a unique and interesting premise, it just needed a bit more in the execution department. I liked Breezy. I enjoyed watching her navigate her new and confusing existence, and I'd happily follow her into another story. Next time, I just hope there's more resolution.


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Follow the Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace Blog Tour and don't miss anything! 
Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.





Kali Wallace studied geology and geophysics before she decided she enjoyed inventing imaginary worlds as much as she liked researching the real one. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, F&SF, Asimov's, Lightspeed Magazine, and Tor.com. Her first novel will be published by Katherine Tegen Books in 2016. She lives in southern California.


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FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

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