Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Review: The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1) by Adrienne Kress

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: The Door in the Alley (The Explorers #1)
Author: Adrienne Kress
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 320
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy smart, fast-paced stories with fascinating characters!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, "The Explorers: The Door in the Alley" is the first book in a new series for fans of "The Name of This Book Is a Secret" and "The Mysterious Benedict Society. "Knock once if you can find it but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It s not the one you re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.) 

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and there is a girl looking for help that only uninquisitive boys can offer.

"The Explorers: The Door in the Alley" is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone."

So much fun! That was the first coherent thought that raced through my brain as I crossed the finish line of The Door in the Alley. Everyone knows that I love a good middle grade book. Coincidentally, my favorite type of middle grade book though, is the kind that doesn't talk down to its readers. The kind that is smart, funny, and filled with adventure. That, my friends, is exactly what The Door in the Alley is. It is a wonderful ride!

Our story begins with Sebastian, a studious and mild mannered boy who loves to stick to the rules. So, of course, when his path is crossed by a pig in a teeny hat, he's not sure what to make of it. When that same pig then leads him into an adventure that he never expected, that's where things really take off! I loved watching poor Sebastian, with his rigid ideas of the way the world worked, suddenly thrown into the madness that was The Explorer's Society. His personality was the perfect contrast to such an imaginative place, and looking at this new world through his eyes was fascinating.

Then Evie entered the picture, and things got even more exciting. Imagine finding out that you've actually been part of a grand cover up your entire life. That you've always felt that you were ignored, and are now the most important person in the story! That's exactly what happened to Evie, and I warmed to her instantly. She's the type of character who I love, because she isn't quite sure of herself and yet does what needs to be done anyway.

Oh, and the adventure! If you have a young reader (or, like me, are just a young reader at heart) who loves books like A Series of Unfortunate Events, this is the book for you. It's funny, a bit worrisome at times, and full to the brim with courageousness and growth. Both Evie and Sebastian, although completely different in personalities, were absolute perfection in this story. You'll giggle, you'll gasp, and you'll love every minute of it. Pick this up! It's well worth your time. Meanwhile I'll be sitting here, eagerly awaiting their next adventure.

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.

Monday, May 15, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (5/15/17)

I hope all our bookish mommies out there had a fabulous Mother's Day! At the very least, I hope that you had some time to sit around, relax, and read. That, right there, seems like a pretty good gift to me.

I spent my weekend, once again, playing catch up. The good news is that I had some time to write some of my backlog reviews down, so you'll get more content this week! I'm really trying to get more organized again, so I don't leave you with long bouts of radio silence.

Here's how my reading has been shaping up so far this week.

As I mentioned last week, I've been powering through books lately. So quickly, in fact, that I haven't had the time to write reviews for them. Which, honestly, hasn't been all that bad. With the exception of 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior, the other two books above were things I chose to read instead of reading to review. It's been nice! My re-read of The Demon King was especially enjoyable because I forgot how much I missed this series.

One of my bookstagram friends finally pushed me to read Sleeping Giants, and I'm so glad that she did! It's been excellent so far, especially because I'm listening to a full cast audio book and they're really bringing it to life! I'm also re-reading The Voyage to Magical North in anticipation of reading Journey to Dragon Island, the sequel!

I actually started The Deathday Letter, but put it aside for a while. I've been on a Shaun David Hutchinson kick, but I needed a break from sad for a while, to focus on Fantasy and Sci Fi! I'll be back though soon, to devour this and sob over it.

That's it for me! What are you reading this week?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Cover Reveal: Ever After by Aya Ling

Happy Sunday my lovely bookworms, and for all the Mother's out there in bookland, Happy Mother's Day as well! To celebrate this fabulous day, what more could you want than this stunning gem. Ever After would be a wonderful addition to your TBR list!

Ever After
Aya Ling
(Unfinished Fairy Tale Series, #3)
Publication date: May 20th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Kat has survived. She returns to Athelia as herself, Katherine Wilson. Edward, elated at learning she is alive, vows to bring her back to the palace. The obstacles, however, seem impossible to overcome. Marriage between a royal and a commoner is not recognized, not to mention that he is already legally bound to Katriona Bradshaw, who will do anything to keep her position as princess.
And there’s even more to worry about. Due to an uncommonly harsh winter, the people of Athelia have been suffering from inflated food prices, and are getting irritated at supporting the small, elite group of aristocrats. An uprising in a neighboring country only adds fuel to the fire.
Can Kat and Edward finally get a happily-ever-after?
Previous books in the series:

Author Bio:
Aya is from Taiwan, where she struggles daily to contain her obsession with mouthwatering and unhealthy foods. Often she will devour a good book instead. Her favorite books include martial arts romances, fairy tale retellings, high fantasy, cozy mysteries, and manga.
She is currently working on Ever After, Book 3 in the Unfinished Fairy Tales series, to be released in 2017. For exclusive bonus scenes, giveaways, and new release info, visit ayaling.com


Friday, May 12, 2017

Graphic Novel Review: 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
   * Series: 5 Worlds #1
Author: Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: Paperback; 256
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Middle Grade readers who love action, and stories with a lot of heart.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
The #1 New York Times bestselling creator of Amulet, Kazu Kibuishi, hails this first book in this groundbreaking sci-fi/fantasy adventure series as a magical journey, as fun as it is beautiful! Think Star Wars meets Avatar: The Last Airbender! 

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there s more to themselves and more to their worlds than meets the eye. . . .

The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.

A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.

Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!

Since you are all well aware of my obsession with Middle Grade fiction at this point, let's go ahead and skip that. Can we instead please focus on the growing existence of Middle Grade graphic novels? I am so pleased that there are more and more of these out there, and I'm determined to champion all of them! Kazu Kibuishi's blurb had me from the moment I saw this book. So I was thrilled when I was asked to join the blog tour. Warning: there's some gushing ahead. Let's go ahead and get the small qualms that I had out of the way first, though. 

I think this graphic novel could definitely have benefited from a bit more action. It was heartening to see that the authors weren't afraid to bring the real idea of war alive on these pages. I love when MG readers aren't treated with kid gloves. However I think this book needed to move at a bit quicker of a pace. The illustrations are gorgeous, (I can't wait to actually see them all in color.) but some of the filler panels felt like a bit much. I wanted more of Oona's quest, more of their desperate rush to save the day, and just more tension in general. This first volume was missing that epic feeling that stories like this usually have for me.

That being said, the characters were absolutely lovely. Oona, An Tzu and Jax were all vivid, and easy to fall in love with. I loved how each of them came from a different background. The concept of race is alive and well in this book, and the idea of racism is gently touched upon as well. It makes me happy to see authors putting these things out into the world for readers of this age group to start to digest. Oona overhears people of different worlds talking badly about people of other worlds, and making mean jokes. She sees some people get upset about what others are saying. Young readers can start to get a grasp here on unity, diversity, and especially empathy. It's an amazing thing.

Add in the fact that the ending of this book has a twist I wasn't expecting, complete with a cliffhanger, and you have my complete attention. Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel have started something beautiful and magical with the 5 Worlds series. They've opened up a dialog that I think is important, in a way that is easy to digest and a lot of fun to read! Readers, young and old alike, will love this series. My only regret is that there isn't more of Oona's story to devour yet. I NEED to know what happens next.    

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.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Breaking the Radio Silence

When I logged in to my laptop tonight, for the first time in over a week I might add, I quickly realized that the last time that I posted in here was last week. Oh, dear. Sorry bookish friends! It's been a whirlwind start to the month and work has been forefront on my mind. The good news it that I've been reading like mad. The bad news is that I haven't had the time to sit down at all and write out reviews. For those of you who don't know, I stockpile them in drafts to post when it's time for them to go live. Right now my drafts are empty.

So bear with me for a bit longer! Tina has a review schedule for Wednesday, and then I have two reviews going up on Friday and Saturday! So this week will actually have more content for you. My goal this weekend is to get some backlogged books reviewed, and then they'll be more posts next week. I so love blogging, but sometimes balancing it with the rest of everyday life gets a little challenging.

We're here though! So let me get caught up this weekend, and things will be back on track. As always, thanks for sticking with us. We appreciate you!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Book Review: The Things They've Taken by Katie McElhenney

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Things They've Taken
Author: Katie McElhenney
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: Kindle; 278
Release Date: May 1, 2017
Source: YAReads Blog Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking paranormal reads that feature family bonds.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
All Lo Campbell wants is to be a normal teenager—to go to one high school, live in one place, and have one real friend. Instead, she travels the country with her mother, chasing the unknown, the “what else” that’s out there… Until one day, the “what else” chases back. Determined to rescue her mom from whatever supernatural being took her, Lo will need more help than a badly dressed demon obsessed with country music. She’s going to need a Tracker—and lucky for her, she finds one. Shaw is strong, good-looking, possibly available, and utterly infuriating. Sure, he may have secrets, and his help costs more than a brand-new car, but she’ll have to deal with him if she wants to find her mother—and get her home alive.

Argh, so on the fence about this book. On the one hand, The Things They've Taken has a lot going for it. It's equal parts creepy and humorous, the characters are well fleshed out, and the story itself will keep you reading on well into the night! On the other hand, I'm not a fan of instalove or characters who are overly indecisive. So, again, on the fence! Let me try to break it down for you.

This story starts off at a manic pace, as Lo sets out on her mission to save her mother. I was riveted as she navigated the world of the demons, and learned how to bargain with these terrifying beings. McElhenney does an excellent job of building up the tension and anxiety, even from the beginning, to a point where you're just as worried as Lo is. After all, it's her mom who is missing and she has no idea how to get her back. That in itself is a terrifying thought.

Now let's talk instalove. I know that there are plenty of readers out there who don't mind it, and so I'm here to tell you that this book is definitely well worth your time! Unfortunately, I'm the type of reader who can't stand characters who whine and pine, as I like to call it. So I was a little disappointed that Dolores went that route. She starts out as this amazing character who is tons stronger and I would ever be, in her situation. Then Shaw enters the picture, and suddenly she's an impulsive, jealous and fairly tough to love character. Why is it that hunky paranormal boys tend to do that to YA girls?

The other issue I had, and this honestly bothered me a bit more than the instalove, was the fact that this book ends without tying up all the loose ends. Admittedly, there's a pretty amazing twist towards the end that I didn't see coming, but I really wanted more closure before the story was over. I suppose this means that there will be more of Dolores' story to come, but it's a little frustrating to be left out in the cold like that. Let's hope this isn't over yet!

For the introduction of some great mythos and a paranormal story that hooked me and kept me reading to the end, I'll happily offer up a three star rating to The Things They've Taken. Fans of paranormal romance novels will love this one, and will be pleasantly surprised at how much action actually happens here! If you're a fan of broody and hunky paranormal boys, then this is the book for you.

Follow the Tour

Katie McElhenney was born in Philadelphia into a big family of curious kids and patient adults. A voracious reader and unapologetic daydreamer, she knew she wanted to become a writer someday. With the support of an amazing family, great friends, and some truly spectacular teachers she has written short stories, poems, and novels. A solar-powered human, she now lives in Los Angeles and uses the great weather for year-round trips to the beach and long runs (where the best inspiration happens).

Find out more about her at katiemcelhenney.com

Website | Facebook | Instagram 

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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.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 2017 Reading List

Can you believe that it's already May, friends? The year is officially 1/3 of the way over, and I'm a little stunned at how quickly it's flying by! 

The good news is that I've made this year a good one so far. I promised myself that I'd break out of my shell, and make memories. I've been sticking to that! Despite my exhaustion sometimes, and despite my anxiety that tries to keep me down, I've raved, run a 5K, rode roller coasters, attended book festivals, and started a penpal group. I'm determined to keep it going, and excited about what's to come!

Now that I've rambled at you, let's take a look at what I'm going to be reading for the month of May, shall we?


Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for his family. The only thing of value he has is something he can't sell—the thick silver cuffs he's worn since birth. They're clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he's never been able to get them off.

One day, Han and his clan friend, Dancer, confront three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea. Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to keep him from using it against them. Soon Han learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago. With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.

Meanwhile, Raisa ana'Marianna, princess heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight. She's just returned to court after three years of freedom in the mountains—riding, hunting, and working the famous clan markets. Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But her mother has other plans for her—including marriage to a suitor who goes against everything the queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms tremble when the lives of Hans and Raisa collide, fanning the flames of the smoldering war between clans and wizards.
So Cinda Williams Chima has started her Shattered Realms series with a vengeance, and it reminded me of how long it had been since I'd read the Seven Realms series. That meant, of course, that it was time for a re-read. I'm already in love, just after a few chapters. I missed you Han!

What do you do when you lose everything that means anything?

Nine-year old Lemonade Liberty Witt doesn’t know the answer to that question, except what her mom taught her. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But what if those lemons are so big that you forget how?

How do you make lemonade out of having to leave everything you know in San Francisco to move to the small town of Willow Creek, California and live with a grandfather you’ve never even met? In a town that smells like grass and mud and bugs. With tall pines instead of skyscrapers and dirt instead of sidewalks. Not to mention one woolly beast lurking in the woods.

That’s right, Bigfoot.

A ginormous wooden statue of the ugly thing stands right at the center of town like he’s someone real important, like the mayor or something. And the people here actually believe he’s real and hiding somewhere out in the pine filled forests.

How can anyone possibly be expected to make lemonade out those rotten lemons?

Everything is different and Lem just wants to go back home. And then she meets Tobin Sky, the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. and sole investigator for the town. He invites her to be his Assistant for the summer and she reluctantly agrees. At least until she can figure out her escape plan.

Together, Lem and Tobin try to capture a shot of the elusive beast on film and end up finding more than they ever could have even imagined.
I'm on a tour for this adorable Middle Grade book, and I honestly can't wait to dive into it. I've been on a Contemporary binge lately, and nothing makes me happier than one that falls into the MG bracket. What's not love about a girl named Lemonade and her quest to find Bigfoot?

Featuring a mysterious society, a secretive past, and a pig in a teeny hat, The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a new series for fans of The Name of This Book Is a Secret and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Knock once if you can find it—but only members are allowed inside.

This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.)

This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and also a girl on a rescue mission.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley is the first book in a series that is sure to hit young readers right in the funny bone.
You KNOW they had me at "pig in a teeny hat" right? Then I saw this cover and, well, the rest is history. I'm on a blog tour for this book as well, this month, and I cannot wait to review it! Have I mentioned that I'm addicted to MG?

The one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
This came in my LitCube box last month, and I'm actually really ready to devour this. I need something on the lighter side, to round out the month.


So that's my mini TBR for the month! I'm also planning on finally trying to read A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Upside of Unrequited. We'll see how far I get :).

Happy reading in May, y'all!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Review: The Dressmaker's Secret by Kellyn Roth

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Dressmaker's Secret
   *Series: The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy, Book I
Author: Kellyn Roth
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: Kindle; 205
Release Date: January 9, 2016
Source: Author
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are looking for a historically based read, with a little romance.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
London, England, 1870

It comes to the attention of curious eight-year-old Alice Chattoway that her father is seemingly nonexistent. After realizing that his absence is making her mother unhappy, Alice becomes determined to find him and pull her family together. But Miss Chattoway’s answers to her daughter’s questions are vague at best and Alice begins to wonder if she will ever discover her mother’s secret.
Reading more historical fiction was something that I promised myself I'd tackle this year, and so I was very pleased with Kellyn Roth asked me to read The Dressmaker's Secret. I love all things with a classic feel, and this book seemed to fall within that realm. As it stands, both the premise of the story and the mystery woven into it were wonderful. I only had a few qualms, which I'll address below.

First off, I must give credit to Kellyn Roth for excellent character building. Although I felt like there could have been a bit less characters introduced, without affecting the overall story, she did succeed quite well in making sure that all of them felt realistic. I felt like I actually knew them, by the time I'd reached the ending. As a reader who always wants to feel invested, I genuinely appreciated that. I also very much enjoyed the atmosphere of this novel.Roth pays homage to the time period excellently. The Chattoways felt perfectly placed in the story that surrounded them.

My biggest issues with this story were fairly simple, the first being the large amount of dialogue that takes place in this book. Although it definitely assisted with my getting to know the characters, I felt like it hampered forward movement. There were large portions of the middle that felt dragged on, due to the dialogue between the characters. The other issue I had was that the plot seemed to rush to resolve itself in the latter half of the book. Things were going rather well at first, but the events that lead to the ending of this book were a bit frustrating to be honest. I felt like the ending was abrupt, and possibly not the best choice for the Chattoway's story. I had enjoyed following them enough that I felt a little let down.

Despite that though, I would definitely recommend this book to readers who are looking for historical fiction that is on the lighter side. There is a good message underlying all of this and, although the time period would dictate otherwise, this book doesn't have much scandal in it at all. It's a rather clean, and quick, read overall. I think Kellyn Roth is just cutting her teeth here, and that's a hopeful thought. I'd love to see what she writes next.

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, April 23, 2017

Book Review: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill by Megan Shepard

Media Type: Audiobook
Title: The Secret Horses of Briar Hill
Author: Megan Shepard
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: October 13, 2016
Source: Library Borrow
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Young readers who enjoy magical realism and amazing characters.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital. In the mirrors that line its grand hallways, which once belonged to a princess. In those that reflect the elegant rooms, now filled with sick children. It is her secret.

One morning, when Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens, she discovers something incredible: a white horse with broken wings has left the mirror-world and entered her own. 

Tucked into the garden’s once-gleaming sundial, Emmaline finds a letter from the Horse Lord. He is hiding the wounded white horse, named Foxfire, from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep the Black Horse from finding her new friend, she must collect colorful objects with which to blind him. But where can Emmaline find color when her world is filled with gray?
Oh, this book. I borrowed this on a whim from the library, and I'm so very glad that I did. Megan Shepard has woven a beautiful tale in The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. One that manages to mix fantasy and reality in a way that is both heartbreaking and sweet. I fell in love with Emmaline from page one, and I honestly wish that her story had gone on a little longer.

The writing in this book felt so familiar. Like an old friend, that I hadn't picked up in a while. I'd most easily compare this to something like The Secret Garden, with its rambling estate and precocious young characters. There was just enough magic patchworked into this story as well, with Emmaline's winged horses taking center stage. Which was perfection, to be honest. While there are definitely sad undertones, since this takes place during wartime, the magic here helps keep things on an even keel. I don't know if Middle Grade readers will get the layers here, but even with just the winged horses it's an excellent story.

As for the audiobook, I an attest that Fiona Hardingham is the perfect narrator for Emmaline's story. She brings the otherwordly place on the other side of the mirror, with its winged inhabitants, to life. I honestly think it gave me an even better experience than I could have hoped for. If you have an older MG reader, who is in love with simple magic, this is a book that you need to put in their hands. It was a gorgeous read.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Spotlight + Playlist - Fairy Lights by Edward Lorn

He's baaaaaaaack! Yes friends, Edward Lorn is once again a feature on my blog and I honestly couldn't be more pleased about it. If you haven't already met E., as we all fondly call him, I highly recommend you check out these posts:

You can also scroll up to that review portal up there, and find his last name, for some reviews of his books! Spoiler alert, they're great and also deliciously creepy.

Anyway, I'll stop babbling and let you know that the reason E. is here this time is to promote his newest book, Fairy Lights. I'm not going to lie, I auto-bought this as soon as it popped up. Here's the synopsis.

Available online now at DarkFuse Magazine!

On Palomar Mountain, there hides a creature capable of unspeakable malice. A monster hungry for flesh. A being capable of manipulating those it allows to live.

Tony and his mother, Brenda, have plans to vacation on Palomar Mountain and intend to bring Tony’s buddy with them. The party of three ascend the mountain for three days of camping without the aid of technology. But when the boys get lost in the woods, things escalate from bad to deadly in the blink of an eye. Because they’re not alone, and the creature in the cave is not the only thing they have to worry about.
Find it on: DarkFuse | Amazon | Goodreads

Intrigued? I was too! I'll be reading and reviewing this soon. Now, before you run off to go and purchase this (as I know you will), take some time to check out the playlist that E. put together for this book!

Edward Lorn here, but you can call me E. I had no idea how hard it would be to create a playlist for a book and explain how each song connects with the story without spoilers. But I think I succeeded. 

First and foremost, many thanks to Jessica (Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile) for having me. I'm a huge fan of her reviews. Always a pleasure to see her in my inbox, so when she asked me to come over and share the playlist I concocted for my new book, Fairy Lights, with her followers, I was honored and jumped at the chance. 

Without further ado... 


Track #1: "Kowarete iku Sekai", by Girugämesh. If Fairy Lights were a movie, this would be the music playing over the opening credits. So, before you even crack the book open, give this Japanese band's best song (in my opinion, anyway) a listen.

Track #2: "Closer", by Nine Inch Nails. Let this classic piece of electronic rock play loud as hell during Chapter 2 and why I picked it should be abundantly clear.

Track #3: "Stressed Out", by Twenty One Pilots. I feel this song works best during Tony and Bobby's introductions. Getting to know these two young men and their Odd-Couple-esque friendship to this song just feel right.

Track #4: "A Little Piece of Heaven", by Avenged Sevenfold. All I'll say is, "Poor Ralph." 

Track #5: "Freak on a Leash", by Korn. This song should accompany you as Moss leads us into the Handy's cave for the first time. Not only do the lyrics fit, but the music sets the tone for the eeriness of the scene to come.

Track #6: "What If it Was Me?", by Tech N9ne. Much of the book deals with race relations and racial tensions. The book is meant to be a modern-day lost-in-the-woods parable set firmly in the horror genre. While writing it, I wanted the book would be as violent and disturbing as possible, but at the same time I wanted to tackle some important questions. I think the biggest of these questions was "Is anyone really colorblind?" If I say "I don't see color" am I ignoring the bigger problem, and by default, does that make me part of the problem? Tony's mother Brenda asks herself the same questions.

Track #7: "Wait and Bleed", by Slipknot. My reasoning for this one is simple. If Moss had an anthem, this song would be it.

Track #8: "Prison Sex", by Tool. Put this one on repeat and let it play while Blake and Charlie are checking out the observatory.

Track #9: "Heart-Shaped Box", by Nirvana. I imagine this song working best while Brenda is playing with her son's phone. I actually had this song and the next one on repeat during the writing of Fairy Lights.

Track #10: "Lucretia", by Megadeth. Probably the weirdest song on the entire list is this classic from Megadeth's fourth album, Rust in Peace. I knew this was going to be an adult version of stories like Hansel and Gretel and Snow White with modern topics and social issues but I didn't want the typical witch character. The monster in the book, without spoiling anything, is probably the closest I will ever come to writing about the type of witch that cackled through some of the best fables ever written. Every time the Handy is on the page, this song was playing. 

Track #11: The final three chapters of the book (15, 16, and 17) should be read in complete silence. And then...

Track #12: "Come on Up to the House", by Tom Waits. If Fairy Lights were a film, this would be the song that played over the ending credits. I think it speak very well to the book as a whole. 


And that's where I'll leave you. Thanks again to Jessica for having me. If you like your horror to make you think and enjoy being disturbed on a visceral level, please give my newest release Fairy Lights a try.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Forbidden Garden
Author: Ellen Herrick
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: Paperback; 400
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Source: Harper Collins / TLC Book Tours
Genre: Mystery / Contemporary

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy vividly descriptive writing, with characters who are easy to love.

Add it on: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Captivating [...] Herrick weaves a rich tapestry of family lore, dark secrets, and love.” —Brunonia Barry, New York Times bestselling author of The Lace Reader and The Fifth Petal

Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Jio, comes a lush imaginative novel that takes readers into the heart of a mysterious English country garden, waiting to spring to life.

Every garden is a story, waiting to be told…

At the nursery she runs with her sisters on the New England coast, Sorrel Sparrow has honed her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Now that reputation, and a stroke of good timing, lands Sorrel an unexpected opportunity: reviving a long-dormant Shakespearean garden on an English country estate.

Arriving at Kirkwood Hall, ancestral home of Sir Graham Kirkwood and his wife Stella, Sorrel is shocked by the desolate state of the walled garden. Generations have tried—and failed—to bring it back to glory. Sorrel senses heartbreak and betrayal here, perhaps even enchantment. Intrigued by the house’s history—especially the haunting tapestries that grace its walls—and increasingly drawn to Stella’s enigmatic brother, Sorrel sets to work. And though she knows her true home is across the sea with her sisters, instinct tells her that the English garden’s destiny is entwined with her own, if she can only unravel its secrets…

First off, let me say that The Forbidden Garden is both an absolutely enchanting and effortless read. It's the type of story that a reader can easily sink into, and wile away the hours with. To me, it would be the perfect outdoor read. Something to spend those beach days, hammock days, or even camping days with. Ellen Herrick has made something beautiful here, and it's honestly rather intoxicating.

As a reader, I tend to gravitate towards character who feel genuine. If the people I'm reading about attract me, I want to keep reading. Herrick has accomplished that handily. Sorrel and her sisters, despite the fact that I hadn't yet read the book they are featured in, stole my heart. Their love was evident, as was the heartache that Sorrel still harbored. When Sorrel, and I at the same time, met the Kirkwoods I was head over heels in love. This family, despite their secrets kept, were just delightful. The romance that bloomed between Andrew and Sorrel especially stole my heart. It felt genuine, sweet, and honest, which is hard to do.

The story itself, that is the plot portion of it, started out really strong in my opinion. The rambling estate of Kirkwood Manor was just as charming as the people in it, and as the history began to unfold I was intrigued. However, as the book neared the mid-point, I felt like everything was being rushed to the conclusion. I would have loved to see more about the research that Stella was performing into the past, and possibly more about the whole mystery itself. The ending just felt anti-climactic, after all the tension leading up to it.

For a beautifully written setting, wonderful characters, and a rather interesting plot, I'll happily offer this book three stars. As I mentioned, it was an effortless and honestly enjoyable read. If you're looking for something light and airy, with characters who will make you fall in love, this is your next read.

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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