Friday, March 16, 2018

Book Review: The Unsound Theory by Emilia Zeeland

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Unsound Theory
Series: Star Academy Book 1
Author: Emilia Zeeland
Publisher: Self
Pages: 251
Release Date: January 27, 2018
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy science fiction and space exploration.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon |

Yalena Russo, your STAR Academy invitation has arrived.
Unlike other teenagers across the near worlds, Yalena isn’t space-crazed. But a surprise invitation to join the exclusive STAR Academy opens a window to her unknown origins, making her ponder… What if space is where she belongs?
Mystified by the leadership trio known as the O’Donnells, as well as the reason they brought her on board, Yalena stumbles onto an alarming secret. Pulled deeper into the mystery by the commander’s son, she will find that some riddles can be hard to walk away from—especially if she is the one holding the answers.
Take a plunge into the not-so-near future, where travel is interplanetary, competition is a rush, and even the elite don’t always play by the rules.

As you may have noticed, it has been a very slow year for me reading wise. Who knew having an infant and toddler to take care of full time would leave me little "me" time. The chronic sleep deprivation hasn't helped things either, but the plus side is that the few books I have managed to get to this year have been amazing. This one is no exception.

In true YA fashion, Yalena has a cryptic past that leads her on a journey to find both her origins and herself. This being the first book in the series, there is a lot of informative information and character introductions but it's a great lead in to what is sure to be a fantastic series. Yalena is an interesting character who surprised me a bit as she found her own voice in a sea of overachievers.

I really enjoyed the world building elements that Zeeland includes. Brief history lessons that you attend with Yalena and her classmates make this space world more and more interesting. Of course, what's a good novel without some romantic interests and competitive drama to keep things interesting. STAR Academy is a college level specialty school by invitation only. It is an elite group of students expected to become the next best thing in their respective fields, no pressure there.

I highly recommend this book to science fiction fans, especially those who enjoy young adult as well. Space is the next frontier and there is so much to learn from the next generation of explorations. The Unsound Theory has a little bit of everything in it and I can't wait for the next installment of this series!
Emilia Zeeland is a Young Adult sci-fi writer and author of The STAR Academy Series. Even though she holds an international business degree and two Masters, Zeeland’s heart is full of love for speculative fiction.
Her own stories include coming-of-age tales, detailed worlds, unimaginable consequences, deep friendships, and romances that sneak up on you. She’s not afraid to push her characters to their limits and give them a depth that firmly plants them in readers’ hearts. In Zeeland’s writing, readers will be transported to another world, where they are not alone, but part of a tightly-knit, perfectly imperfect family. 
Behind the Emilia Zeeland pseudonym, Em (as her friends call her) speaks six languages, loves to try on—and, sadly, also buy—dresses, and is a bit of a foodie. She mostly dwells in Barcelona, Spain, but with those cheap flights, she often hops off to other places in Europe to visit her family. 

Find her on: Goodreads

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, March 14, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Watching You by Leslie A. Kelly

Watching You
Leslie A. Kelly
(Hollywood Heat #1)
Published by: Forever Yours
Publication date: March 13th 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
In the first book of a thrilling new romantic suspense trilogy, USA Today bestselling author Leslie A. Kelly shows just how hot – and how dangerous – Hollywood can be.
In the shadows, someone is always watching
Aspiring screenwriter Jessica Jensen grew up on movies starring heartthrob Reece Winchester, the eldest brother of a Hollywood dynasty. She never thought she’d meet the man in person, though. Actor, director, millionaire, and gorgeous mystery man-he’s every woman’s fantasy.
Reece wants Jessica the moment he sees her, and he’s a man who always gets what he wants. At first he was only after a night in her bed, but as he comes to know the smart, confident woman beneath the stunning exterior, he realizes once will never be enough.
Unfortunately, Jessica’s real-life Cinderella story is about to take a deadly turn…
Reece’s world is filled with fierce ambition and dark family secrets the Winchesters desperately want to hide. But he and his brothers aren’t the only ones who know those secrets. Someone else is out there, waiting to strike. Waiting-and always watching.
When danger finally steps out of the shadows, Reece will have to face his past. And Jessica will have to decide just how far she can trust the man she loves with her heart…and her life.

Copyright Leslie A. Kelly
Please do not reproduce without permission from the author.
Jess was so lost in thought about Reece the superstar she forgot the man was in the room, and that she’d imagined he was staring at her. Which was perhaps why she nearly dropped her glass when she felt a tall, solid form move behind her and heard a man say, “Interesting.”
Smooth voice. Deep, silky. A voice she recognized. She’d heard it on the big screen and the small one, since she had copies of every movie he’d starred in—seven from his childhood years, eight from his adult ones. Was he really talking to her?
“Yes, it is,” she murmured, all calm and collected, like she was not shaking in her consignment store shoes.
“Possibly one of the artist’s earlier efforts.”
Hmm. How had he known? “Yes,” Miss Conversational Genius repeated.
“I’m not interrupting, am I?”
The hint of confidence in the tone told her he knew the answer. Had any woman ever told him to go away because he was bothering her? Huh. Doubtful. “Not at all.”
“Good. What is it called?”
“What we’re doing? I think it’s a conversation.” Jess didn’t know where the snarky response came from, or where she’d gotten the nerve to be all quippy with the guy, but there you go. That was her, always a mouth-off away from catastrophe.
“I meant the sculpture,” he said. No laugh. No humor. Crap.
Realizing they were actually going to have a conversation, and knowing it might require face-to-face interaction, she wondered if she was ready for it. Hesitating, she licked her lips and replied, “It’s called Naked Man.”
Knowing it was rude not to face him, she took a deep breath and glanced over her shoulder. Lord have mercy.
Deep breaths might be calming in normal situations—like when one was confronted by a repo man repossessing a car. Been there, done that. But they didn’t work at all when looking into the clear amber eyes of a man every woman on the planet fantasized about. His looks made you silently gawk while you tried to figure out why the arrangement of cheek and jaw, mouth and eyes, was so arresting and unforgettable. She interacted with scruffy, shaggy-haired surf-bum types in the bar where she worked, so she’d almost forgotten how appealing a conservative haircut and a smoothly shaven face could be. Not to mention the sexiness of a perfectly tailored power suit, the charcoal color interrupted only by a splash of red in the necktie.
She finally cleared her throat and pushed a few words out. “It is from very early in the artist’s career. How did you know?”
“She draped the sex organs, as if she wasn’t quite ready to go there.”
Jess nodded, wondering if she was truly talking about men’s packages with the sexiest freaking man alive. Was this really happening, or was she hallucinating? Had that stupid bartender slipped GHB in her drink? Damn, if she woke up tomorrow with no memory of what happened, and then found videos of herself on YouTube, she would rip him a new one.

Leslie A. Kelly is a New York Times bestselling author who has written more than fifty books in various genres. She currently writes contemporary romances under the name Leslie Kelly, and dark thrillers as Leslie A. Kelly.
She is the author of the futuristic Veronica Sloan thriller series, and of the dark romantic suspense Black CATs series.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Book Review: Phoenix Fire by S.D Grimm

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Phoenix Fire
  *Series: Phoenix Cycle #1
Author: S.D. Grimm
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: Ebook; 432
Release Date: March 5, 2018
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy new takes on the fantasy genre.

Add it on: GoodreadsEntangled
After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.
Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.
Before anything else, let me say that the best thing about Phoenix Fire is that S.D. Grimm has created something solidly original here. In an otherwise saturated teen fantasy market, Phoenix Fire was like a big breath of fresh air. I loved the premise of the book. Adored the idea of multiple lives spent, all pursuing the same goal. Plus, I can't deny that I fell heavily for the idea that love and friendship trascend all time. How wonderful is that?

It was the execution of this premise that felt a little shaky, quite honestly. Grimm chooses to throw the reader directly into the fray, and allow them to uncover what's going on through the eyes of the multiple narrators. Normally I'm completely fine with this method of writing. If I can find even a small foothold in what's happening, I'll hang on tight and power through. The problem here, at least in my opinion, was that it takes quite a few chapters to really figure out who Ava really is, and how she's connected to the other voices that we're introduced to. That made it hard for me to determine why I needed to care about all these characters, and left me feeling lost.

I think this same reason is also why it took me so long to feel like I actually liked Ava as a character. At the beginning she simply felt like a disconnected, petulant teen who didn't really want a family. Not until I slowly uncovered her past, and realized what she'd been through, did I finally understand why she was so separate. My opinion of her did a quick about turn and, I can honestly say, I liked the book a lot more after that. I can stand a character who makes bad decisions, because we're all human. What I can't stand is a character who I don't understand enough to know why they made those decisions.

However, once I did have a better grasp on the narrators and who they were as people, I actually really enjoyed myself. As I mentioned above, this is a wholly original premise to me. There was plenty of action, some great monsters, and the kind of teamwork that makes my heart sing. I also thrilled as Ava began to remember herself and really come into her own. Her character grew so much in the second half of the book, and watching her handle things made me smile. I'm glad I stuck things out, because by the end I was more than ready to continue on for many more pages.

So, I'll give Phoenix Fire a solid three stars without a second thought. This first installment could have used a little bit of work but, quite truthfully, there's so much goodness wrapped up in here that it's hard not to love this story. I know that there is more coming down the line, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

About the Author:
S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.You can learn more about her upcoming novels at
Find her: Website | Twitter | FB | Instagram

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.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Book Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Media Type: Ebook
Title: The Cruel Prince
   *Series: The Folk of the Air #1
Author: Holly Black
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: Kindle; 384
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Source: Library Borrow
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers looking for a layered and excellently rendered story revolving around the Fae.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

After months upon months of ignoring new releases, and trying to stay away from the hype, I finally gave in and picked up The Cruel Prince. Okay, more accurately, it actually popped up on my library loan list and I went "Oh, that's right! I put myself on the waitlist for this!", and then proceeded to devour it. I knew I wanted to read this from the moment that I saw Holly Black's name across the cover. If anyone knows Fae, it's Holly Black. I had high hopes for this one and, I'm glad to report, I wasn't disappointed in the least!

First off, true to form, Holly Black expertly drags the reader into the darkly glittering world of the Fae. A world where things are both beautiful and terrible. A world where humans definitely are at a disadvantage, and where they are so enchanted by it all that they don't even seem to care. What I've always liked about Black's fairy world is that it isn't always a kind a one. It's one where there is suffering, war, and hatred. It's one where beautiful beings have sharp edges and sharper knives. It's the kind of world that you love to read about, but would be terrified to visit. In other words, it's my kind of setting.

Even more impressive is the fact that every single character who graces these pages is perfectly rendered, and multi-faceted. I was stunned by how easily I fell into step with Jude. Her inability to conform, despite the fact that it would have been the easiest thing to do, made me fall in love with her character. Jude is strong as steel, and equally as intelligent. The stark contrast between her, as a protected human in a fairy world, and Vivi, as an unwilling fairy in a fairy world, was perfection. I ate up their sisterly bond, swooned over the descriptions of balls and battles, and couldn't stop myself from hating the same people that Jude found herself hating. I think what made me fall for Jude the hardest was that she was never afraid to admit that she was wrong. She was human to the core, and beautiful because of it.

Truthfully, even the plot the blew me away. It was perfectly paced, and set up in a way that I never saw the next move coming until right when Jude did. Black weaves a gorgeous web on court intrigue, filled with backstabbing and death. Even when I was absolutely sure that I knew where things were headed next, I was wrong. It was wonderful. I love a plot that keeps me on my toes. As for the ending, well, I knew going in that this was the first in a series. So I'll say that the ending is good for a first book, and satisfying enough. You'll see, after all, that I did give this a full five star rating.

If you're looking for viciously lovely Fae, more court intrigue than you can shake a stick at, and a book that will keep you reading well into the night, this is for you.

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, March 7, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi + A Giveaway!

Hey friends! It's been a long time since I posted one of these, I know. I strayed away from too many weekly memes for a while, but now I'm kind of heading back towards them because I've just been too busy to write whole posts all the time. I'm in desperate need of a quiet weekend where I can draft a bunch of things to post at random times again :). My cache has been depleted.

Anyway, let's talk books! I'm so excited for Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi, and the best part is that I actually was lucky enough to receive a review copy! Better still... I have one to give away. So keep on reading friends, because I'd love to give it you.

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a cafĂ© and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
Goodreads | Amazon

So, let's be honest with one another. Are you as excited to read this book as I am? I love awkward friendships to romances, and the kind of characters who are too real at times. I honestly can't wait to dive in.

Giveaway below my sign off! Good luck!

What are you waiting on this week?

So thanks to Simon Teen and Big Honcho Media, I have a copy to share with a friend! Plus an adorable POP Pocket to match. Want to win? Enter below!

U.S. Addresses Only!
Ends 3/15/18

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 5, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (3/5/18)

Good morning lovely people! Here's your weekly reminder to kick Monday in the aft end, because it's only a day and it doesn't have any power over you ;). Here' s a further reminder that, if things get too much, escaping into a book is always an option. Isn't that such a happy thought?

My weekend was pretty uneventful. Some time with friends, some books being read, and a lot of cross stitching! I like those kinds of weekends. So worth it.

Now that I've rambled at you, on to the books!

On the finished list is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, which has jump started my journey into Flavia De Luce's stories! I ended up with the 11th book in the series at one point, and I've made it my goal to start from the beginning. Also on the list is The Final Six, which was a pretty darn good Sci Fi. Finally, rounding things out, is Sunburn by Lippman. Unsurprisingly, it's fantastic. Trust me on this one.

I'm currently trying valiantly to work my way through the rest of Ink, Iron and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare. This book has a lot of issues, and presumes a lot of things, which is making it difficult to finish. The overarching plot is great though, so I'm making time for it.

Next in line is The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg, just like last time. Hahaha. I haven't started it yet, but it's sitting and waiting for me patiently!

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

Friday, March 2, 2018

Book Review: Sunburn by Laura Lippman

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Sunburn
Author: Laura Lippman
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Release Date: February 20, 2018
Source: Harper Collins / TLC Book Tours
Genre: Mystery / Thriller

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of a mystery/thriller that features well made characters and plenty of tension!

A Bustle, Entertainment Weekly and PopSugar Most Anticipated Book of 2018. 

"Every time Laura Lippman comes out with a new book, I get chills because I know I am back in the hands of the master. She is simply a brilliant novelist, an unflinching chronicler of life in America right now, and Sunburn is her dark, gleaming noir gem. Read it." -Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl 

New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a superb novel of psychological suspense about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals—and cold-blooded murder. 

One is playing a long game. But which one? 

They meet at a local tavern in the small town of Belleville, Delaware. Polly is set on heading west. Adam says he’s also passing through. Yet she stays and he stays—drawn to this mysterious redhead whose quiet stillness both unnerves and excites him. Over the course of a punishing summer, Polly and Adam abandon themselves to a steamy, inexorable affair. Still, each holds something back from the other—dangerous, even lethal, secrets. 

Then someone dies. Was it an accident, or part of a plan? By now, Adam and Polly are so ensnared in each other’s lives and lies that neither one knows how to get away—or even if they want to. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth, or will it ultimately destroy them?

Something—or someone—has to give. Which one will it be?

Inspired by James M. Cain’s masterpieces The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and Mildred Pierce, Sunburn is a tantalizing modern noir from the incomparable Laura Lippman. 

What to say first about this book? Ah! Lippman came into my life, way back when I was a new blogger, when I ended up with the 11th book in her Tess Monaghan series for review. I remember being a little worried that I wouldn't be able to pick things up so late in the story line, but there was Lippman's exceptional writing picking me up and taking me on a journey anyway. I ended up loving that book, and I've been a fan of Lippman ever since! So imagine my excitement when I was asked to be on the tour for Sunburn. It's been long enough since I read one of her books that I was eager to see if her writing was what I remembered from before. Oh, it was. You'd best prepare for some gushing.

It's so impressive to me when a book can completely command your attention from the first few sentences, and Sunburn accomplishes that easily. Polly's story, while you don't know who she is just yet, pulls you into its web. I found myself utterly invested in this woman, and unable to look away as everything she'd planned slowly fell into place. I know that I'm being vague, and you can understand that it's a purposeful vagueness. There are just too many things that I can't give away, without ruining your enjoyment of this spiderweb of a book. Just trust me when I say that Polly's story is extremely layered, and totally worth taking the time to uncover.

Plus, while the whole plot thread is just deliciously mysterious, it's really the characters themselves who steal the show. Polly is the perfect unreliable narrator. She's easy to love and hate in equal measures, depending on what is newly being revealed to the reader about her. She's shrouded in doubt, yet with enough humanness to make her likable. Adam, on the other hand, is this rock in shifting sands. He's strong, reliable, and yet slowly being eroded by our dear Polly. As the book reaches a climax, and Adam's real plight comes to light, I'm sure you'll find yourself just as stunned as I was. There's a lot to love about how well laid out this book really is.

So why the four star rating, rather than five? I can easily pin that on the fact that the ending, while completely plausible, didn't really suit my tastes. That doesn't mean that it won't be perfect for most readers. That doesn't mean it isn't an excellent ending overall. That's just me, being my nitpicky reader self, being completely transparent with you. I didn't love the ending of this. Still, it's a totally solid and enjoyable read. The twists and turns are wonderful, and I'm still impressed. Lippman hasn't lost her edge, and I hope she never does.


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, March 1, 2018

Book Review: The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: The Final Six
Author: Alexandra Monir
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Source: HarperTeen / FFBC Tours
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy Science Fiction with diverse characters and lots of adventure.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Book Depository
When Leo, an Italian championship swimmer, and Naomi, a science genius from California, are two of the twenty-four teens drafted into the International Space Training Camp, their lives are forever altered. After erratic climate change has made Earth a dangerous place to live, the fate of the population rests on the shoulders of the final six who will be scouting a new planet. Intense training, global scrutiny, and cutthroat opponents are only a few of the hurdles the contestants must endure in this competition.

For Leo, the prospect of traveling to Europa—Jupiter’s moon—to help resettle humankind is just the sense of purpose he’s been yearning for since losing his entire family in the flooding of Rome. Naomi, after learning of a similar space mission that mysteriously failed, suspects the ISTC isn’t being up front with them about what’s at risk.

As the race to the final six advances, the tests get more challenging—even deadly. With pressure mounting, Naomi finds an unexpected friend in Leo, and the two grow closer with each mind-boggling experience they encounter. But it’s only when the finalists become fewer and their destinies grow nearer that the two can fathom the full weight of everything at stake: the world, the stars, and their lives.

First off, credit where credit is due, I have to applaud Monir for the diversity in The Final Six. It's so refreshing to not only see both a female and a male main character in this story, but the fact that Naomi and Leo, while they share a destiny, are so different is wonderful. The differences in their views about the competition, their ethnic backgrounds, and their family lives all come together to create a beautiful story about growth through the pursuit of a common goal. I loved how ambitious both of them were because, as I stated above, it's great to see strong male and female characters side by side. We need more of that. 

As for the plot, I can say that the science fiction aspects of this book were really accessible. I loved the addition of VR and AI! The Final Six easily walks that line between sharing the technology of the future and still being something that you can find yourself picturing. It helps, of course, that Monir has an uncanny ability to write beautifully descriptive scenes. The competition manages to pull the reader in quickly, and make you feel like you're part of the action. I even found myself rooting for the friendship to romance brewing between our two characters, despite the fact that I'm normally anti-romance. Could I have done without that? Probably, but the fact that I didn't dislike it was a nice surprise.

Why then, you ask, did I rate this at four stars rather than five? First there's the fact that, despite how different Naomi and Leo are in many aspects, our two main characters are pretty difficult to tell apart in their POVs. If there hadn't been headers on the chapters letting me know whose mind I was currently in, I would have been lost a lot more. My other issue was, and I know this is just the way that my particular brand of reading brain works, there were so many unexplained things that were just conveniently happening. I mentioned how perfect the descriptive writing was in relation to the competition technology. That's why I was a little baffled as to why there wasn't any explanations for how electricity works now, why Earth is being abandoned instead of fixed, and why the treatment only works on teenagers. Am I being nitpicky? Possibly. None of that took away from my overall enjoyment. Still, I have so many questions.

So, after a lot of thought, I settled on a solid four star rating. I haven't yet read a book similar to this, so I'm pretty happy with the journey I was taken on. The ending is a blatant cliffhanger, so rest assured that there's another book coming down the pipeline. Maybe that one will answer the rest of my questions? Only time will tell.

Follow the Tour!

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.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Spotlight: Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes

Today we have a special treat for you! If you haven't had a chance to dive into some historical romance lately then check out this gem by Diana Forbes.

Title: Mistress Suffragette
Author: Diana Forbes
Publisher: Penmore Press
Pages: 392
Genre: Romance/Historical Fiction/Victorian/Political/NY Gilded Age Fiction
A young woman without prospects at a ball in Gilded Age Newport, Rhode nIsland is a target for a certain kind of “suitor.” At the Memorial Day Ball during the Panic of 1893, impoverished but feisty Penelope Stanton quickly draws the unwanted advances of a villainous millionaire banker who preys on distressed women—the incorrigible Mr. Daggers. Better known as the philandering husband of the stunning socialite, Evelyn Daggers, Edgar stalks Penelope.
Skilled in the art of flirtation, Edgar is not without his charms, and Penelope is attracted to him against her better judgment. Meanwhile a special talent of Penelope’s makes her the ideal candidate for a paying job in the Suffrage Movement.
In a Movement whose leaders are supposed to lead spotless lives, Penelope’s torrid affair with Mr. Daggers is a distraction and early suffragist Amy Adams Buchanan Van Buren, herself the victim of a faithless spouse, urges Penelope to put an end to it. But can she?
Searching for sanctuary in three cities, Penelope will need to discover her hidden reserves of courage and tenacity. During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, Penelope must decide whether to compromise her principles for love.

Order Your Copy!


Tuesday, June 6, 1893, Boston, Massachusetts

As luck would have it, the speaker at Tremont House that afternoon was a woman. I use the term loosely. Her name was Verdana Jones, and her topic, “The Dangers of Irrational Dress.” I had never considered the complex maze of corsets, petticoats, and bustles “Irrational,” but apparently others of my gender did and the sentiment had blossomed into a full-fledged Movement. Some of these undergarments were encumbrances, but they were all perfectly logical. Moreover, every woman in the world wore them.
            Like me, Verdana had red hair, but she wore it cropped in a mannish fashion that was most unbecoming to her otherwise fine features. She had a square chin and large, childlike eyes, and in a Boston fog I’d be willing to bet that she was often confused with a young boy. Her outfit contributed to this confusion. It was outlandish by modern standards and excessively unladylike. She sported a loose white tunic worn over ankle-length trousers, known as “bloomers,” and big, chunky boots instead of shoes.
            A small rectangular wooden platform rimmed the front of the spare lecture hall. Twenty hard-bitten women and three scraggly men dotted the aisles. The women, many sporting bonnets, looked dour and preoccupied as if they were gearing up for a contest of who could show the least expression on their faces. Verdana clomped up to a wooden lectern to deliver her tirade. I couldn’t help feeling that, by her dress anyway, she was a poor advertisement for her cause.
            “Those who would keep women down argue that ‘ladylike dress’ symbolizes discipline, thrift, respectability, and beauty,” Verdana bellowed in her giant bloomers. Her voice sounded throaty from too many cigarettes. “But any dress that requires corsets and tight-lacing is degrading and dangerous to a woman’s health,” she boomed. “Corsets and tight-lacing are designed to make our waists look tiny and our bosoms look large. Our undergarments are crafted to make us resemble ornaments. We women, outfitted like hourglasses, are ornaments in our own homes. And we spend all day inside our homes trying to struggle into our corsets, laced petticoats, complicated boned lining, and bustles, all so that we may decorate them on the outside with frills, ribbons, and lace. We are so pampered—or are we?”
            Her voice, thick with meaning, rose a horsey octave. “Instead of fretting over whether we have twenty-inch waists, we would be better served worrying about why we must depend on men to dress us up in these outrageous, unhealthy outfits. Why can’t we earn our own keep and decide for ourselves what we should wear?”
            One or two women applauded. Others silently knitted: some knitted clothing; others knitted their brows. All in all it was a sullen group. Mother was right about this Movement. It was filled with hardened, bitter women. I didn’t want any part of it.
            After Verdana’s harangue I rose to leave, in dire need of fresh air. I had never heard so much drivel about the evils of ladylike dress and the positive attributes of horrible bloomers. But Lucinda looked up at me like a sorrowful, brown-haired puppy dog that could not be wrested from her spot anytime soon. Her dark face wrinkled into an accordion fan of disappointment. I hesitated, not wanting to let down my friend.
            “Hallo there. The lady in the bustle!” Verdana cheerily called toward my buttressed behind. Recognizing that I was one of the few women in the hall outfitted in the very clothes she’d just lambasted, I intuited that she must be talking to me.
            “Excuse me?” I asked, turning around to face her. I felt twenty pairs of women’s eyes and three pairs of men’s riveted upon my rear.
            “Yes, you,” she called out from where she still stood on the stage. “Tell us. What do you think about Rational Dress?”
            “I-I-I’m not certain you want to hear.” Where oh where was the exit?
            “Obviously she prefers Irrational dress,” Lucinda playfully called out from her seat. She cupped her hands to her mouth like a speaking trumpet. “Just look at what she’s wearing.”
            I heard laughter from the crowd directed at me, even though Lucinda’s dress was not markedly different than my own.
            “This isn’t supposed to be a lecture,” Verdana announced. “It’s supposed to be a conversation. So, instead of leaving the fold before we’ve been properly introduced, why don’t you join me up here on the dais and defend what you’re wearing to the group.”
            Everyone in the room laughed.
            “Because I hate speaking in public,” I said, to even more laughter.
            What was it that my little sister had once said in the heat of an argument? You’re quite good at boring your class to death.
            “Then, don’t think of it as public speaking,” Verdana shouted. “Just come up here, and tell me how you feel.”
            I sighed. How did I feel? I felt betrayed. I felt that my parents should not have asked me to support them. They should have protected me instead of trying to send me to New York. I missed my home and my horse. I even missed Lydia a tiny bit. I was nowhere near old enough to be living on my own in a strange city. Verdana wanted my opinion? Then very well, she would get it. I liked corsets and petticoats and bustles. They offered some support in a world that was mostly unsupportive.
            I stared at Verdana. Did I want to dress like her? Not in a lifetime of Sundays. How would I feel if corsets were forbidden? As if the last domain over which I exerted any control had been taken away from me. They could take away my home. They could take away my fiancĂ©. But I’d be damned if I’d let them take away my corsets.
            I silently prayed to God that I wouldn’t make a fool of myself. Then I took a deep breath and strode up to the small wooden platform. I opened my mouth to speak. But if I had a thought, it flew out of my head.
            My mouth hung open. No words came out. I was speechless.
            “Just speak from the heart,” Verdana urged quietly. “It’s always best. You’ll see. So, I take it you like corsets?” she asked me in a normal speaking voice.
            “Uh—yes,” I said to her.
            Verdana nodded. Under her breath she said, “Good. Now, just explain why. Pretend there’s no audience and that you’re just talking to me.”
            “Fine,” I answered, frustrated at how small my voice sounded.
            She smiled. “Believe me, it’s a knack that develops with time. Just breathe.” She continued to slowly nod her head, silently willing the reluctant words from my mouth.
            I took another deep breath and felt my lungs expand. “Hello, my name is Penelope.” I exhaled. Phew. That was hard.
            “Your last name?” she asked.
            “What is your last name, dear?” she coaxed.
            “Uh—Stanton.” I felt my face get hot. Little wisps of hair stuck to my face.
            “Any relation to Elizabeth Cady Stanton?”
            “No.” I felt like I had to think about each word, almost like a foreigner struggling to speak English.
            “Good,” she said, continuing to nod her head. “You see? It’s not so very difficult. Keep going.”
            I pushed the wet hair up off my face and turned to the crowd. “I enjoy the prevailing fashions, as you can see.” Thank God. A whole sentence.
            “I can,” she said, with a broad wink at the audience. “Tell us more.”
            I pointed to my light pink gown. I twirled around to model it for the group. Some tepid applause followed, which surprised me. Two women set aside their knitting.
            Emboldened, I continued. “But I came to Boston to escape from the advances of a particular man, not all men, and do hope that what I’m wearing today won’t prevent me from socializing with the men, or more importantly, the women of Boston.”
            A few women clapped. I thrust back my shoulders, lifted my chin, and met Lucinda’s eyes. “To me, it matters not if a woman’s waist is twenty inches, twenty-one inches, or even twenty-six inches—as long as it doesn’t prevent her from keeping her mind open.”
            A burst of light applause followed, and I only wished that my sister had been there to witness it.
            “Corsets and petticoats offer some structure,” I pressed, “in a world that unravels as I speak.” My voice was strong, and the words were coming readily. “Every day, another bank fails. Our institutions falter. As women, we can fall to pieces or we can stay strong.” I pointed to my torso and looked about the audience, meeting one woman’s eyes and then another. “Structure, shape, support. I will wear my corset proudly, as I face another day.”
            Verdana bowed her boyish head at me and stretched out her arms diagonally, one below her hip, the other high above her head. “And that, ladies and gents, is the other side of the argument,” Verdana boomed to heartfelt applause.
            “Sorry I didn’t let you finish,” she whispered, as the audience applauded. “For a novice, you were brilliant.” Verdana clapped her arm around my shoulder. “But speaking in public is also a matter of knowing when to stop. You always want to leave your audience wanting more.”
            “And do you think the audience did?”
            She squeezed my shoulder. “Of course they did. They clapped, didn’t they? Boston audiences are difficult to rouse, believe me. But you did, and now they want more.”
            I nodded. Perhaps that had been the problem with my French classes. No student had ever wanted more.
            “And how does it feel?” she pressed. “To leave them wanting more.”
            Here on stage I’d felt almost like a different person. Brave, gutsy, and confident. I wouldn’t mind feeling that way every day. What was it about this stage that had caused me to throw caution aside and just express my feelings?
            Her eyes widened as we both waited for me to put words to my emotions.
            “Liberating,” I said.
(C) 2017 Excerpt from copyrighted Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes (Penmore Press, 2017)

Diana Forbes is a 9th generation American, with ancestors on both sides of the Civil War. Diana Forbes lives and writes in Manhattan. When she is not cribbing chapters, Diana Forbes loves to explore the buildings where her 19th Century American ancestors lived, loved, survived and thrived. Prior to publication, Diana Forbes’s debut won 1st place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) Gateway to the Best Contest for Women’s Fiction. A selection from the novel was a finalist in the Wisconsin RWA “Fab Five” Contest for Women’s Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won 1st place in the Chanticleer Chatelaine Award’s Romance and Sensual category, and was shortlisted for the Somerset Award in Literary Fiction. Mistress Suffragette won Silver in the North American Book Awards and was a Winner of the Book Excellence Awards for Romance. Mistress Suffragette was also a Kirkus Best Indies Book of 2017. The author is passionate about vintage clothing, antique furniture, ancestry, and vows to master the quadrille in her lifetime. Diana Forbes is the author of New York Gilded Age historical fiction.



Related Posts with Thumbnails