Thursday, February 22, 2018

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Amber Elixir by Ariella Moon

Title: The Amber Elixir
Author: Ariella Moon
Series: A Two Realms Novella, #1
Publication date: October 3rd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Viviane, the new Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon, accepts a challenge from Merlin unaware her bold actions will have tragic consequences. Two of her priestesses are turned to stone. A forbidden love deserts her. Now alone, she has six young handmaidens to train and protect.
When Morgan le Fay demands assistance with a spell that could change the balance of power in the Two Realms, Viviane refuses her. But what if Morgan’s secret knowledge could restore the stone priestesses? Will an alliance prompt Viviane’s love to return? Or will the gamble cost her all she holds dear?

I asked the lovely Ms. Moon what her top 10 Battle Weapons would be and she happily obliged! I think you can tell by this list that she has a lovely sense of humor and a love of Sci-Fi. 

Top 10 Battle Weapons
1. Light Sabers
2. Druid Spells
3. Elven- or Dwarf-crafted Swords
4. Flaming Arrows
5. Tweets
6. Giants
7. Wit
8. Dragons
9. Friends with anger management issues
10. Gossip

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman and former teen to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her series include The Two Realms Trilogy, a medieval Scotland and Fairy fantasy adventure, and The Teen Wytche Saga, a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances. Moon’s “Covert Hearts” appears in Second Chances: A Romance Writers of America Collection.
Ms. Moon spent her childhood flying to rooftops in her dreams and searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students who mistook her for a leaning post, marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child by S. Craig Zahler

Media Type: Print Book (ARC)
Title: Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child
Author: S. Craig Zahler
Publisher: Cinestate
Pages: Paperback; 264
Release Date: January 23, 2018
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy coming of age stories that are a little bit on the quirky side, but full of heart!

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
"S. Craig Zahler is certain to become one of the great imaginers of our time." ― Clive Barker

Hug Chickenpenny is an anomalous child. Born from tragedy and unknown paternity, this asymmetrical and white-haired baby inspires both ire and pity at the orphanage, until the day that an elderly eccentric adopts him as a pet. The upbeat boy's spirit is challenged in his new home and as he is exposed to prejudiced members of society in various encounters. Will Hug and his astronautical dreams survive our cruel and judgmental world?

S. Craig Zahler is an award-winning screenwriter, director, novelist, cinematographer, and musician. He wrote and directed the films Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, and is the author of several novels, including Wraiths of the Broken Land, A Congregation of Jackals, and Mean Business on North Ganson Street.

Where to begin with this book? Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anomalous Child is unlike anything that I've read before. It's a coming of age story, but with a fantasy bent that makes it completely unique. I can promise that whatever you think you're going to find in these pages you're, at most, only about half right. If you've seen Bone Tomahawk, you might have a general idea about the brilliant oddness that Zahler can create. Just go into this book with an open mind, and prepare yourself for an anomalous journey.

As a character, Hug Chickenpenny wins the award for the quickest I've ever grown attached to anyone. From the moment of Hug's unusual entry into the world, the reader is shown how much he has stacked against him. See, Hug isn't exactly a "normal" child. In the broadest sense of the word, he's quite different. Which of course then sets the stage for his rather rough, and equally intriguing, childhood. Hug's ability to see the good in people and situations, that I would be railing madly at, is really what endeared him to me. No matter how dark things became, Hug was always a ray of light and that is really the most beautiful part of this book.

In terms of plot, there's not a lot that I can say without spoiling things so I'll tread carefully. To say that Hug's story is interesting is actually somewhat of an understatement. Hug probably goes through more in the duration of this book than most of us do in a lifetime. Poor thing. I loved the characters that S. Craig Zahler brought into his path, and especially appreciated those who could see past Hug's outer "otherness". However the book started to lose me somewhere around the mid-point, when it strayed too far into the fantasy aspect of everything. I liken it to following a steady trail of breadcrumbs into a forest, only to find halfway through that it had been entirely eaten by birds. I was left wandering towards the ending, which then came rushing up too quickly. I almost felt a bit cheated overall. Especially because, in the vein of Lemony Snickett, so many sad things had happened so close together at the end. I lacked closure, and that wasn't something I enjoyed.

So, for a wholly unique plot and a character that I fell head over heels for, this book gets a solid three star rating. It's definitely outside of most of what I've read, and I adored it for that. I do warn you though, this isn't the happiest of stories. Make sure you have some tissues specifically for the ending, friends. You're going to need them.

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, February 20, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2/20/18)

Good morning, guys and gals! Yes, I know that this will post on Tuesday. I'm writing it on a Monday though, so I'm saying it counts ;).

Here's hoping that your long weekend, if you had one, was filled with good reads and lots of quiet time. I actually had a fair bit of that, and it was a nice time to recharge. Work, and life in general, have been wearing on me the last two weeks. So it was nice to have some time to step back, be calm, and just reset.

Any time you see me vanish from here for a while, you can be assured that I'm still reading. I'm probably just taking a step back. Managing anxiety is rough at the best of times, but I'm learning more and more every day about tackling it. Thanks for bearing with me!

Now, on to the books!

Moving right along on the "tackling my languishing TBR pile" goal, I finally managed to get to Ready Player One this month! Girl Unknown was for a blog tour, and ended up being a pretty solid thriller read. Wildfire was an impulse read because I knew it'd make me happy (it did) and I love some Mad Rogan!

My current read, a.k.a. the read I'm actually focusing on, is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I LOVE Flavia De Luce. She's so mischievous, and smart beyond belief! Following her through a story is always a good choice!

Next in line is The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg. I got sent this as a review copy, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't completely intrigued. Just look at this cover! Expect a review very soon!

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

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, bookish guys and gals!

Here's hoping that, whether you're a solo celebrator or part of a couple,  you got to do something nice today! You know... like buy books. Lots of books. Get that TBR going.

Also, non-bookish people out there, you know what the best gift ever is?

Quiet Reading Time.

Yup, it's free, and it's amazing. Just saying.

We love you all bunches!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review: Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Girl Unknown
Author: Karen Perry
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: Hardcover; 304
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Source: TLC Book Tours / Publisher
Genre: Thriller

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy thrillers that are slow burns.

Add it on: 

How quickly could the family we have created for ourselves unravel—and how far will we go to protect it?

David and Caroline Connolly are swimming successfully through their marriage’s middle years—raising two children; overseeing care for David’s ailing mother; leaning into their careers, both at David’s university teaching job, where he’s up for an important promotion, and at the ad agency where Caroline has recently returned to work after years away while the children were little. The recent stresses of home renovation and of a brief romantic betrayal (Caroline’s) are behind them. The Connollys know and care for each other deeply.

Then one early fall afternoon, a student of sublime, waiflike beauty appears in David’s university office and says, “I think you might be my father.” And the fact of a youthful passion that David had tried to forget comes rushing back. In the person of this intriguing young woman, the Connollys may have a chance to expand who they are and how much they can love, or they may be making themselves vulnerable to menace. They face either an opportunity or a threat—but which is which? What happens when their hard-won family happiness meets a hard-luck beautiful girl?

Girl Unknown is the first thriller that I've read this year, and I have to say that it was a nice change of pace. Although this book wasn't everything I wanted it to be, there was a lot to love. Imagine a family that is trying their best to knit their lives back together, when suddenly a bomb is dropped in their midst. A previously unknown person, an unexpected daughter, falls right into the middle of their rocky relationships. That's the premise behind Girl Unknown. How do you deal with someone who might not be exactly who they say they are?

The fact of the matter is that this book is not what I was expecting, because I was expecting more of the thriller aspect and less of the familial drama side of things. That being said, Girl Unknown is going to greatly appeal to any reader who is very into character personalities and drama that you can cut with a knife. Karen Perry uses most of this book to show us the character perspective of what Zoe is to each of them. As the story unfolds, we find out more and more about how Zoe is definitely not what she seems to be, and see why the choices that David and Caroline make are really pushing things towards their climax. If we're talking intense studies on character psyches, this book has that in droves. What it lacks though, because of this, is real forward movement.

See, the book spends so much time dealing with the slow decline of David and Caroline's relationship and Zoe's manipulation of them, that it doesn't have a lot of time to spend on the thriller portion of the story. This felt like a read that was very easy to anticipate. The plot was well formed, but it was also easy to see where Zoe's story was going next. As such, there was never that surprise or shock that usually comes along with books like this. It was interesting, well-written, and had great characters. It just didn't have any oomph to it.

So, that's why I'm on the fence about this book. Technically, it's fairly perfect. It's not a bad read, by any means, and actually flies by pretty quickly. It just didn't catch me up in its web like I expected it to. I wanted more punch, and more pizzazz. If you appreciate thrillers that are more formulaic, and take a deep dive into the the inner thoughts of the characters, you'll definitely love Girl Unknown.

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, February 5, 2018

Author Interview + Giveaway: Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay

Good morning everyone, and happy Monday!

Sorry for the lapse over the weekend, but I ended up with that evil cold that's circulating and I did a whole lot of nothing. Which, to be honest, was kind of nice. At least I get to start my week with an amazing blog tour! Today's spotlight is on Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay, and you're not going to want to miss this.

Your One and Only
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?

While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

Now, if you're like me, this probably sounds like something that you definitely need to read. Humans, clones, forbidden love, what's not to love about that? Don't worry, I'll add the links where you can track and pre-order this book below, but don't forget to keep reading on and see how Adrianne Finlay expertly answered the interview questions that I sent over!

1) Hello Adrianne, and welcome to HDB! I thought we'd start with a quick lightning round, to get to know you!

* My favorite place to read is _anywhere if I’m on vacation_____.

* I can't live without _black tea_____ to eat/drink while I write.

* One book I'd absolutely recommend right now is _The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin_____.

* One fun fact about me is _I make cold process soap that I sell at craft fairs_____.

2) What caught my eye about Your One & Only was that it delves into the idea of what makes up a human being. Would you agree, and where did the idea spring from?

Your One & Only is very much about what it means to be human. I came up with idea after reading an article about the ethical implications of cloning a Neanderthal. It talked about how, even if we had the capability, it would be morally irresponsible, because the resulting being would have no connection to our modern world—no community, no family, no culture. I was drawn to the idea of a story about a character so out of place, the only one of his kind. Instead of writing a Neanderthal clone, I imagined a future world where humanity had evolved in some fundamental way, and then that world is introduced to a 21st century human. He is seen as primitive and distinctly different from everyone else, and it becomes a way to explore our notions of what it means to be human. The clones have “evolved” away from their humanity, and we then must consider what they’ve lost, and what it is that makes Jack so different from them; I other words, what it is that makes him human.

3) Was there any part of this book that was harder to write than another? Any breakthrough moments that really thrilled you?

The writing process becomes something of a blur once it’s done, and in hindsight it feels like it went smoothly—which is of course entirely nonsense. Every step is work, focus, and patience. There were a few places in the book that I found really fun to write, but I can’t really talk about them without spoiling part of the story. I don’t generally write with an outline, so I like those moments when your own characters surprise you, and make decisions that you didn’t necessarily see coming.

4) If Your One & Only was being made into a movie, what would the tagline say?

“In 2407, humans are a thing of the past”

5) Finally, and thank you again for all the wonderful answers, what would you say to readers out there looking to pick up your books?

Thank you so much for having me! I would say to readers that I hope they enjoy reading about Jack and Althea and the clones as much as I enjoyed writing about them. I started the book because it was an idea I really wanted to read, so part of me is actually a little jealous and wishes I could have just been a reader, instead of slogging through all that drafting and revision. Is that weird? ☺

Originally from Ithaca, New York, Adrianne Finlay now lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa with her husband, the poet J. D. Schraffenberger, and their two young daughters. She received her PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University, and is an associate professor of English at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa.

She is also an avid soap maker, and sells handmade soap locally to raise money for type 1 diabetes research.

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Friday, February 2, 2018

February Reading Plans

Hi fellow bookworms! Yes, this is going to be one of those rambling posts where I just type at you and don't put a whole bunch of formatting and photos. If you want to run away now, I'll understand. Otherwise, I'm here to tell you a bit about my February reading plans!

See, I've pretty much given up on TBR lists at this point. I've let you know before that at the end of last year I was burnt out. Everything I read felt forced, it felt like a chore to finish a book, and I was feeling the drag of all that. So I promised myself that this year I wouldn't let that happen. I promised myself that I'd allow myself to hop from book to book without shame, and put things aside if I wasn't feeling them. That freedom has been great and it's working! I mean, I finished and mostly loved 11 whole books last month!

That means my reading plans for February are pretty much to keep doing what I've been doing! I'm reading Hug Chickenpenny: The Panegyric of an Anamalous Child for a review. Zenith, Sunburn and Ink, Iron and Glass are also on my review list for the month. Other than that, it'll be attacking things as they come. My goal to read one non-fiction book a month continues, but all of books are on hold at the library so we'll see what comes down the pipeline first. Hahaha.

Happy February reading all!


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