Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Blitz: Bookburners by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery

It's time for another book spotlight, and I guarantee that this one is going to snag a place on your TBR. Did you challenge yourself to read Urban Fantasy this year? Perhaps more collaborative fiction? Well friends, Bookburners is the book you'll need. 

The critically acclaimed urban fantasy about a secret team of agents that hunts down dangerous books containing deadly magic—previously released serially online by Serial Box, now available in print for the first time!

Magic is real, and hungry. It’s trapped in ancient texts and artifacts, and only a few who discover it survive to fight back. Detective Sal Brooks is a survivor. She joins a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad—Team Three of the Societas Librorum Occultorum—and together they stand between humanity and the magical apocalypse. Some call them the Bookburners. They don’t like the label.

Supernatural meets The Da Vinci Code in a fast-paced, kickass character driven novel chock-full of magic, mystery, and mayhem, written collaboratively by a team of some of the best writers working in fantasy.
This book released January 10, 2017 and is out now!

An Excerpt from Bookburners Episode 1: Badge, Book, and Candle

He set his hand on the book’s cover. Sal hadn’t noticed before how the leather was discolored: most of it matched Perry’s skin, but a crimson bloom spread beneath his fingers. She heard a sound she couldn’t name: a footfall, maybe, or a whisper, very soft. Goose bumps chased goose bumps up her arms.
“Perry, who are the Bookburners? Do you think someone’s following you?”
“I thought you didn’t want to know.”
 She leaned over the couch, over his shoulder, and checked through the blinds. Street still bare. Red Toyota pickup. Honda Civic. Garbage. E-Z Carpet Cleaner van.
“Please, Sal. They would have nabbed me on the way. They did not. Ergo, I wasn’t followed.”
“What the hell is going on?”
Someone knocked on her door.
“Shit,” Perry said.
“Jesus Christ, Perry.” She grabbed her phone off the living room table. “Who is that?”
 “Aiden. Probably.”
 “Mister Brooks?” The man on the other side of the door was unquestionably not Aiden—too old, too sure, too calm. An accent Sal couldn’t place twined through his words. “Mister Brooks, we’re not here to hurt you. We want to talk.”
“Shit,” Perry repeated, for emphasis.
Sal ran to her bedroom and returned with her gun. “Who are you?”
“I’m looking for Mister Brooks. I know he’s in there.”
“If he is, I doubt he’d want to see you.”
“I must talk with him.”
“Sir, I’m a police officer, and I’m armed. Please step away from the door.”
“Has he opened the book?”
 “What?” She looked into the living room. Perry was standing now, holding the book, fingers clenched around the cover like she’d seen men at bay clutch the handles of knives. “Sir, please leave. I’m calling 9-1-1 now.” She pressed the autodial. The line clicked.
“Stop him from opening the book,” the man said. “Please. If he means anything to you, stop him.”
 “Hello. This is Detective Sally Brooks,” and she rattled off her badge number and address. “I have a man outside my apartment who is refusing to leave—”
Something heavy struck the door. Doorjamb timbers splintered. Sally stumbled back, dropped the phone, both hands on the pistol. She took aim.
The door burst free of the jamb and struck the wall. A human wind blew through.
Later, Sal remembered slivers: a stinging blow to her wrist, her gun knocked back against the wall. A woman’s face—Chinese, she thought. Bob haircut. Her knee slammed into Sal’s solar plexus and she fell, gasping, to the splinter-strewn carpet. The woman turned, in slow-motion almost, to the living room where Perry stood.
He held the open book.
His eyes wept tears of blood, and his smile bared sharp teeth.
He spoke a word that was too big for her mind. She heard the woman roar, and glass break. Then darkness closed around her like a mouth.

© 2017 Max Gladstone, with permission from Saga Press

(Or in this case, authors!)

MAX GLADSTONE has been thrown from a horse in Mongolia, drank almond milk with monks on Wudang Shan, and wrecked a bicycle in Angkor Wat. Max is also the author of the Craft Sequence of books about undead gods and skeletal law wizards—Full Fathom Five, Three Parts Dead, Two Serpents Rise, and Last First Snow. Max fools everyone by actually writing novels in the coffee shops of Davis Square in Somerville, MA. His dreams are much nicer than you’d expect. He tweets as @maxgladstone

Before joining the Bookburners, MARGARET DUNLAP wrote for ABC Family’s cult-hit The Middleman in addition to working on SyFy’s Eureka. Most recently, she was a writer and co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning transmedia series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and co-created its sequel Welcome to Sanditon. Her short fiction has previously appeared in Shimmer Magazine. Margaret lives in Los Angeles where she taunts the rest of the team with local weather reports and waits for the earthquake that will finally turn Burbank into oceanfront property. She tweets as @spyscribe.

MUR LAFFERTY is the author of The Shambling Guides series from Orbit, including the Netfix-optioned The Shambling Guide to New York City and Ghost Train to New Orleans. She has been a podcaster for over 10 years, running award-winning shows such as I Should Be Writing and novellas published via podcast. She has written for RPGs, video games, and short animation. She lives in Durham, NC where she attends Durham Bulls baseball games and regularly pets two dogs. Her family regrets her Dragon Age addiction and wishes for her to get help. She tweets as @mightymur.

BRIAN FRANCIS SLATTERY is the author of Spaceman Blues, Liberation, Lost Everything, and The Family Hightower. Lost Everything won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2012. He’s the arts and culture editor for the New Haven Independent, an editor for the New Haven Review, and a freelance editor for a few not-so-secret public policy think tanks. He also plays music constantly with a few different groups in a bunch of different genres. He has settled with his family just outside of New Haven and admits that elevation above sea level was one of the factors he took into account. For one week out of every year, he enjoys living completely without electricity.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Book Review: Lifers by M.A. Griffin

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Lifers
Author: M.A. Griffin
Publisher: Chicken House (Scholastic)
Pages: Paperback; 288
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Source: Rockstar Book Tours / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy mysteries that challenge their view of the world.

Add it on: Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Audible | Goodreads
Fear haunts the streets of Manchester: a schoolgirl has disappeared. Preston is drawn to investigate, exploring the city in the hunt for his missing friend. Deep in the bowels of a secret scientific institute, he discovers a sinister machine. Captured and condemned to a cavernous space filled with problematic teens, Preston is determined to escape - but this is no ordinary jail. Friendships are forged and lives lost in a reckless battle for freedom, revenge - and revolution.

It's tough to pinpoint exactly what type of book Lifers actually is. I lean towards a mystery or thriller, but in fact this book is kind of a genre mash-up. Take a bit of dystopia, some science fiction, a dash of mystery, shake it all up and you'll have Lifers at the end. This story defies categorization, and it was honestly kind of refreshing in a way.

Now, I feel it only fair to let all readers out there know that this book is written in third person. After much practice, I've learned to connect better with this type of writing. I do know that it is difficult for some people to feel fully immersed though. The saving grace is that Griffin does an excellent job of putting you right inside Preston's head. From the very first moment that he stumbles upon the mystery surrounding Alice's disappearance, it's easy to follow along with him. Despite anything else, Preston's ability to problem solve and keep calm under pressure is a constant.

As for the story itself, I was actually quite impressed with the way it was laid out. It's tough to share too much without spoilers, but there's a really clever basis to all the madness that Preston gets wrapped up in. I was intrigued by the science fiction portion of this story. The idea of being lost somewhere beyond. The concept of being so far from any type of help that it feels hopeless. I would have definitely liked to see more character build up, but the story kept me rapt.

If the beginning of this book seems a little slow, keep at it. Once I reached the middle, I was so wholly impressed with the way that things were being strategically laid out, and the build up to the ending honestly had me breathless with anticipation. Preston's wild misadventure ended up being something that I wasn't expecting, but was really glad I read. If you're looking for the type of story that doesn't fit nicely into a genre, and will challenge your mind, this is what you're looking for.

Follow the tour

I'm a writer of children's fiction, represented by Ben Illis at the B.I.A., available for workshops and school visits when I'm not chained to a laptop cursing my lack of progress and/or poverty of imagination. 

My debut novel, The Poison Boy, was written as Fletcher Moss. My second novel, Lifers, is my first for teen readers. It arrives April 2016.

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LIFERS, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 29, 2017

Book Review: The Ninth Birthday Wish by Bruce E. Arrington and Florence Jayne

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Ninth Birthday Wish
Author: Bruce E. Arrington
Illustrator: Florence Jayne
Publisher: Pipe Dream Books
Pages: Paperback; 52
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Recommended Grade Level: K-3
Source: Author

Birthday wishes...for twins? 

Bril and Arisa, though twins they may be,
Are so very unlike, as you will soon see.
Their wishes are different as Sea is from Land,
But watch what happens to what they had planned! 

Bruce Arrington and Florence Jayne team up to being you an unforgettable tale of twins, who each wanted their birthday wish--away from the other. But when their wishes get all mixed up, unintended consequences make for unplanned adventures.

As with all good picture books, let's start with the illustrations. Jayne's whimsical and colorful art is the cornerstone of this story. Bril and Arisa were introduced, each with their own unique personalities, and that came through excellently in the illustrations. Young readers will be pleased by the movement and the vibrancy on the pages, with pirates aplenty!

The story itself is sweet as well. Bril and Arisa, as different as night and day, are given the chance to make a wish each for their ninth birthday. When their wishes are switched, they get a lot more than they expected to out of this day. It was fun to watch them try to navigate the new places they found themselves, and I loved the idea that they each got to learn something about one another while doing it.

Small things that I want to mention. The rhyme scheme here is a little jarring. It isn't consistent, which makes for a tough read aloud. Yes, I do read all picture books allowed to check. Mainly to my puppy. She's an excellent storytime companion. Also, some of the print is a tiny bit difficult to read over the colors of the illustrations. It's entirely possible that my issue was mainly because I had a digital version, but just a heads up.

Overall though, I thought this was a very sweet story with a very important message for young readers. It's important for siblings to understand one another, and sometimes even walk in the shoes of one another. Arrington brought that to life simply and beautifully.

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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (1-25-17)

You've made it to Wednesday, bookish friends! Congratulations!

With all the madness happening lately, it's a wonder that any of us are functioning properly. I fully admit that it put a hard stop on my reading for a bit, and (as you can definitely see) on my blogging too. If I've learned anything though, it's that sharing book related items makes me happy! Thus this meme. I'm off to visit everyone after I share this book, and go add all the books to my happily overflowing TBR.

Now, on to my pick for this Wednesday!

I'm eagerly waiting on Black Bird of the Gallows by Meg Kassel.

Her love breaks his curse. But his love spells her death.

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell the mysterious new boy next door is more than he appears, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. But when a grotesque, otherworldly man tries to attack her and Reece comes to her rescue, everything changes.

Any minute, chaos could rain down on her town, on her family, on everyone she cares about. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death

What are you waiting on this week?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Review: Love, Hate, and Other Lies We Told by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Love, Hate, and other Lies We Told
Author: Deirdre Riordan Hall
Publisher: Self
Pages: Paperback; 300
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Source: Author
Genre: Romantic comedy

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy a good laugh and a story about moving on

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Let go from her job and feeling lost, Navy Carrington takes a position as coffee-girl at a publicity firm. Their newest client is Carrick Kennely, the former love of her life and her fiercest adversary. She thought she'd let go of the past by playing it safe with book boyfriends—and avoiding frustratingly sexy guys like Carrick.
When Navy's roommate finds the Boyfriend Book, a silly relic leftover from Navy's teens, it prompts a dare; Navy is to go on five dates and pick one to be her Valentine. Despite her reservations, she can't say no, especially if it means proving to herself and Carrick that she can move on.
Navy chronicles her brief romantic entanglements with the Hottie in 7G, the Man-Bun-Barista, the Gym Stud, and the Book Boyfriend who turns out to be a toad—not the kind that when kissed turns into a prince—, on The Boyfriend Book Blog. She doesn't want to let her readers or herself down, but as Valentine's Day nears, none of the guys comes close to being her one true love.
Except Carrick. He’s infuriating, attractive, confusing, catnip…and it turns out he has a secret.
With a love letter and a plane ticket in hand, Navy leaves her baggage behind and must decide between love, hate, and the lies she told to protect her fragile heart.

Everyone needs a best friend like Katya, someone who loves you enough to push you out of your comfort zone but is there to support you when things fall apart. While I enjoy Navy as a character, her relationship with Katya really made this a lovely story. While following a dare seems like a silly thing to do, I think it speaks a lot about their friendship that Navy was willing to go along with the dates to humor her best friend.

If you've ever had experience dating, you'll really enjoy the dates that Navy endures. While lots of people find "The One" eventually, it does take some work to weed out the other options. You'll get some good laughs as you live the dates with the Hottie in 7G, the Gym Stud and the others.

Don't worry my romance loving friends, this is no insta-love, Navy and Carrick have a long and sordid history. Navy has been holding onto to a lot of guilt from her past and until she can move past it, there is little hope for a real relationship. She's been pining over her fictitious book boyfriends to avoid any actual relationships.

I read a lot of romance novels and sometimes I get burnt out on the same tropes, but this story is one of complexity and I really enjoyed it. Grief can make people do crazy things, I know this from personal experience, so it was nice to be able to see that flaw in the pages of this story.

All in all I would say this book made me laugh and I would recommend it to romance readers.

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, January 17, 2017

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: The Kingmaker by Gemma Perfect

Happy Tuesday! If you had a long weekend, this Tuesday probably feels like a Monday so what better way to cheer you up than with a wonderful new fantasy book? Oh and did I mention the fabulous giveaway too? The Kingmaker is one you won't want to miss!

“I am sixteen years old and I will die on the morning of my seventeenth birthday. As tradition dictates, I will be sacrificed and my life’s blood will determine which one of my two brothers will be King. My blood will kill one and crown one. My name is Everleigh and I am the Kingmaker.”

The legend of the Kingmaker goes back millions of years. Their magic chooses the rightful King of the Realm and they all die on their seventeenth birthday.

Except this one.

Everleigh is special.

She is the Kingmaker who will live, the Kingmaker who will rule, the Kingmaker who will be Queen.

But not everyone agrees with an age old prophecy that says that a girl will rule the Realm and soon Everleigh is locked in a deadly battle for the throne.

I have been sleeping so much more than normal. I believe the dreams are sending me messages. I have such a strong feeling about this one – stronger than I have ever had before; I think she might be the one.
I know what people think when they look at me, half of them revere me and half of them fear me.
I admit I exaggerate my persona but never ever my powers. My powers are real. I know things and I see things. I see things that haven’t happened yet but will happen. I know a person’s heart – I can see greatness and badness, trust or ill will. I know if someone is cursed before they tell me. I know if a woman is with child before she does. I know the private thoughts of people. Some people. Not everyone – some people are good at hiding their true self, blocking off the signals I pick up, but for the most part I can.
My persona is something else. I do have a little fun with the chanting – not all of which is strictly necessary. I enjoy staring at someone and then letting my eyes roll back in my head as if I have been overcome with some secret thing to do with them – that trick gets everyone in a fluster.
But I’m a good woman and a useful one. I do help the King. I use my powers to advise him. I use my knowledge to guide him and I have never shown him wrong. The Realm is peaceful and prosperous and I know that I have helped with that.
But my real purpose, the reason my teacher placed me here at the castle, has eluded me thus far. Through no fault of my own, I must add.
So, the blessing is over and here I am making up a future fire to see what I can see.
I’ve gathered the wood and started the fire, the flames licking upwards and warming my room. I’ve put all the necessary ingredients in to my bowl over the fire. The liquid is swirling. I’m trying to see if my hunch is correct. If I’m right about Everleigh.
Ah, I’m fed up of this puzzle. The fire will not show me anything, but does that mean I am wrong or that the future is too uncertain?
Where is my knowledge now?
Every time a Kingmaker comes to this final countdown in their life I intervene. Everleigh is the seventh Kingmaker I have known. That may give you an idea of my age I know, and yes, I am older than anyone I have ever met.
The teacher told me I will live until my life’s purpose is completed and my life’s purpose is to find the Kingmaker who is not the Kingmaker.
Does that even make sense?
When I met my teacher, I was only a teenager. I was rebelling against my power and trying to drown out my knowledge and gift with drink. Alcohol dulled the power and the voices inside me.
My teacher helped me, guided me and allowed me to live with my power, enjoying the help it gave me and embracing it fully. He also told me that I had been chosen for a special and important purpose.
He asked me if I had heard of the Kingmaker. Of course, I had – everyone had. The Kingmaker was a sacred tradition used to choose the new King of the Realm.
The teacher had been privy to a prophecy found years ago, which told of the one Kingmaker who would not die, she instead would rule as the Queen and the greatest ruler that the Realm had ever known.
I was to learn my craft and then go to the castle and work as a wise woman to assist the King. But every time the Kingmaker feast came around, I was to secretly meet the Kingmaker and test if she was the future Queen.
I have a feeling with this one that I’ve never had before. I’m more excited than I’ve been previously to test her. I’m nervous too. The one thing the teacher never told me was what happened next. If I found the Kingmaker who should be Queen, how did I convince anyone else?
My fire has let me down. I leave it to die and decide to finish for the night. After all, if she does as I’ve asked, I will meet Everleigh at the river at sunrise, which isn’t that far away.
I lay in my bed, watching the embers of the fire flicker away, and as I do I see a crown forming in the smoke. Is it a trick of my imagination or is it a sign?
I drift off to sleep pondering.

Gemma Perfect loves to write. She’s been doing it since she was nine. After a few false starts – self publishing children’s books, and being traditionally published with her romance novella, she has finally found her feet writing young adult historical fantasy books. She is currently writing The Cursed Princess, set five years after The Kingmaker Trilogy finishes, following the adventures of Everleigh's sister, Addyson.

Gemma lives in Wales with her husband Craig and their three boys, Sam, Corey and Oliver. She is happiest when writing, day dreaming and eating smelly blue cheese.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Love and First Sight
Author: Josh Sundquist
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Pages: Hardcover; 281
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for a well-written book from the perspective of a blind protagonist.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Love is more than meets the eye.

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

I first discovered Josh Sundquist by reading his memoir, and giggling the entire way through it. I'm not generally a non-fiction reader, but I devoured that book. That meant that when I found out that Sundquist had written a YA book, I knew I had to read it. I couldn't wait to see how his wit and honesty translated to a fiction novel.

First off, I have to give credit where credit is due. It's very obvious from the first few pages of this story that Sundquist did a tremendous amount of research on visual impairment, and worked hard to make sure that he was accurately portraying Will's day to day routine. Pair that with a lovingly crafted character, complete with Sundquist's signature wit, and you have a story that is a joy to read. I fell in love with Will, and the rest was history.

When the experimental surgery came into the picture, I found myself riveted. Everything was described in intricate detail, but it never felt overbearing. Instead, I found myself in the same situation as Will. Wondering if the surgery would be worth it, cheering him on when he was doing well, and lamenting with him when things weren't going well. His parents were so wonderfully supportive, if a little over involved at times, and there was this whole aura of growth and love to this book. It was a happy place to be.

Even if the friendship turned romance hadn't been a main portion of this book, I would have still loved it. Still, I couldn't help but fall for the slow growth of Cecily and Will's relationship. Cecily's acceptance of Will, her ability to open things up for him with wonderful analogies, tugged at my heart strings. I knew that fight was imminent, and of course I was right. What is YA without teenage tension? Still, it all felt so perfect. Not a single sentence of this book felt out of place. It all worked to build up Will, and show how amazing a person he was.

I'd highly recommend this for your reading list! If it's not there already, it's well worth a second look.

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.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Book Review: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Bear and the Nightingale
Author: Katherine Arden
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: Hardcover; 336
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Source: NetGalley / Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who love a good fairy tale, complete with a strong heroine.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

Gorgeous. Stunning. Absolutely breathtaking. Any of those words and phrases barely skim the surface of how impressed I was by this well-woven tale. Fairy tales will always have a special place in my heart. I relish the feeling of being swept off into a new world or, in this case, a world that is right on the borders of our very own. Arden's tale pulls together Russian folklore into a tale that will have you breathless with equal parts excitement and fear. It's a beautiful thing.

Characters like Vasilisa have always been my favorite. Stubborn, willful, strong to a point where they actually cause others to fear their strangeness. Vasilisa is a woman on the fringes. She's a character who doesn't conform to norms, and is better because of it. In other words, she's everything I aspire to be. Arden wastes no time in pushing Vasilisa towards her ultimate fate and, to her credit, Vasilisa faces it head on. I was mesmerized by her, and it made this story fly by. I could have read many more pages following this amazing woman.

As mentioned above, the Russian folklore is really the star of the show here though. As the children sat around the fire, to hear tales of bravery and death, so did I. Arden brought to life the winter demon, his black-hearted brother, and all the household spirits that populated this story. As Vasilisa grew to know them, and love and hate them as called for, so did I. I found myself so immersed in this story, that I actually felt angry when people pulled me away from it. My one wish was to find out what became of our brave protagonist, and the family that she would do anything to protect.

The Bear and the Nightingale is my first five-starred review of 2017, and well deserving of that honor. This is the kind of book that you buy in hardcover, so that it will survive many re-reads to come. If this isn't already on your reading list, it should be. It really, really should.

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 12, 2017

Book Spotlight: The River At Night by Erica Ferencik

Bookish darlings, come closer and let me tell you about an upcoming book that I'm REALLY excited for. I may or may not actually have a copy of this that I'm reading right now. It may or may not be, thus far, absolutely stellar. Perhaps you'll find out tomorrow. Until then, stare in loving wonder at The River at Night, won't you?

A high stakes drama set against the harsh beauty of the Maine wilderness, charting the
journey of four friends as they fight to survive the aftermath of a white water rafting accident, The River at Night is a nonstop and unforgettable thriller by a stunning new voice in fiction.

Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare: A freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters, visceral prose, and pacing as ruthless as the river itself, The River at Night is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget.

I can absolutely attest to the fact that this book is suspenseful. It's also kind of heartbreaking so far, which leads me to believe that I may need plenty of chocolate to finish this. We shall see. What I'm really saying is, add this to your TBR! It's definitely one to watch.

Erica Ferencik is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing at Boston University. Her work has appeared in Salon and The Boston Globe, as well as on National Public Radio. Find out more on her website EricaFerencik.com and follow her on Twitter @EricaFerencik.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Book Review: Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Love and Other Unknown Variables
Author: Shannon Lee Alexander
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: Paperback; 352
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Source: Purchased

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy young adult romance and aren't afraid of a little sadness

Add it on: GoodreadsAmazon | Booklikes
Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).
It is a rare occasion that a book makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I really loved Charlotte's quick wit and charming sarcasm, combined with Charlie's social ineptitude it made for a winning combination.

The story is written from Charlie's point of view which gives it a really great perspective. As intelligent as he is, Charlie has a lot to learn about life, social skills and of course love. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Please don't confuse love and logic Charlie. They aren't even remotely related. “ I really enjoyed reading about Charlie's fumbling journey into realizing not everything in life can be broken down into an equation.

In addition to enjoying the budding friendship of Charlotte and Charlie, their friends and family really make this a well rounded story. Charlie's two best friends and sister are easy to relate to and aren't afraid to tell him when he's being awful. This story would not have been as strong without them.

Charlotte's sister is the idealist we all want to be. She challenges a group of high school kids to "bring it" on the very first day of class and the pranks that ensue brought a delightful chuckle in this sometimes serious story. Most of all I enjoyed that she wasn't perfect and was able to be vulnerable without being weak. That seems to be a rare talent for female characters.

I would highly recommend you pick up this well written story, but be prepared for a few tears along the way. As with life, we can't always chose our own endings. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (1/9/17)

Oh look, it's the first check in of the year!

I shied away from memes for a while there, because I didn't want to rely too much on things that weren't reviews, but I've come to realize that I really should just post what I love. As it turns out, this meme is one of those things! I really enjoy checking in, and seeing what other people are reading as well. So, this is a keeper!

This was actually a pretty amazing week of finished reads. I finally finished up Revival by Stephen King which, while it wasn't what I was expecting, was pretty good. Love And First Sight knocked my socks off. It was SO cute, and a much needed read. Expect a review of it on Wednesday, in fact. As for Superman: American Alien, this is literally the only time I've ever cared about Superman. Bravo Max Landis. Bravo.

Both of these books already have my heart, let me tell you. A Curious Beginning features Victoria Speedwell, a no-nonsense, quick on her feet, protagonist who has me giggling like mad. She's incorrigible, and I adore her for it. The Bear and the Nightingale is a beautiful set of folklore so far. I can tell that it is going to be just what I wanted to read.

Ah, yes. Poor Caraval is still stuck on my reading list. I had a set of time where I kept forgetting to take my Kindle with me, and then this book just sat patiently. So it will be read next! 
That's it for me! What are YOU reading this week? Don't forget to leave a link so I can go and visit you too!


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