Sunday, September 30, 2018

Book Review: Cogheart (The Cogheart Adventures #1) by Peter Bunzl

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Cogheart
   *Series: The Cogheart Adventures #1
Author: Peter Bunzl
Publisher: Usborne
Pages: Paperback; 366
Release Date: September 1, 2016
Source: NetGalley
Content Screening: Mild Violence

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Young readers who enjoy quick moving reads with plenty of twists and turns.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon
Lily’s life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends—Robert, the clockmaker’s son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox—Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart. . . .

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.
So, this is a rough one for me to review. Anyone who has been following me for any length of time knows how much I love Middle Grade books. There's something beautiful about a tough topic dealt with in a way that is consumable by young readers. Even better, there's something lovely about watching a young person conquer an unimaginable adventure. I always have high hopes for all the MG books that I read, and this was no exception.

At first, I was enchanted with the idea of a steampunk story for young readers. The idea of Lily living in a place that was populated with dirigibles and mechanical people just stole my heart. However, I soon found that this book had a few flaws. While the story moves quickly, and the plot stays on track, there's not a lot of depth here. I found myself thinking about many other books that this story is similar to, that do things just a little bit better. It's a little cookie cutter, and that made it a rough read for me.

Now, do I think that young readers would like this book? Probably! The story has plenty of twists and turns and Lily's group is plucky to a fault. As I mentioned above, the plot moves quickly and the characters are rather fun. As an adult reader though, this book just didn't hold the magic that I really wanted it to. Lily was the basic version of every young heroine I've followed on an adventure, and all of the things that happened to her felt similar to other books I've read as well. This wasn't a bad book, just not a memorable one for me.

For young readers who enjoy high flying adventures with a touch of danger, this is a book they'll love. For adult readers, I'm not so sure.

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.

Friday, September 28, 2018

On October 1st...

This blog is going to get spooky.

Guys I LOVE this time of year. I love cool weather and I love Halloween!

You know that I've been playing Halloween bingo, and so I now have a backlog of spooky and horrific books that I've read that are just itching for reviews. So expect October to be full of those, as well as a bunch of posts of my favorite horror movies.

We're doing this time of year right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Waiting on Wednesday 9/26/18

Okay, this is a VERY SPECIAL WoW post, because the release date of this book is so darn close! I've been chomping at the bit for The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy since I finished Mackenzi Lee's first book. Oh, goodness. I'm in love with Percy and I don't care who knows it! I can't wait to see what kind of mischief Felicity gets up to in her own story though.


Felicity Montague is through with pretending she prefers society parties to books about bone setting—or that she’s not smarter than most people she knows, or that she cares about anything more than her dream of becoming a doctor.

A year after an accidentally whirlwind tour of Europe, which she spent evading highwaymen and pirates with her brother Monty, Felicity has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of Callum Doyle, a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh; and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a small window of hope opens. Doctor Alexander Platt, an eccentric physician that Felicity idolizes, is looking for research assistants, and Felicity is sure that someone as forward thinking as her hero would be willing to take her on. However, Platt is in Germany, preparing to wed Felicity’s estranged childhood friend Johanna. Not only is Felicity reluctant to opening old wounds, she also has no money to make the trip.

Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid. In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that will lead her from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

This releases on October 2nd, and I have a pre-order so I'm hoping I get it over the weekend. SO EXCITED. I can't even hide it!

What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, September 24, 2018

Some Monday Ramblings

Lately I've been doing a whole lot of this:

and not so much of this:

I've been in this space where I just want to CONSUME ALL THE BOOKS, but reviews aren't coming as easily as they normally do. That might be because of what I've been reading lately. Halloween Bingo always brings out books that are outside of what I normally read and, while that's fantastic, I don't always know how to process them. I'm a Fantasy/YA/MG kinda gal. Give me a Southern Noir book, that has me bawling by the ending, and you have a babbling mess. I might just have to start writing reviews in gif format.

I've started my book journal back up though. It's mainly just a bunch of jotted down notes about what I'm reading, but it helps me put my thoughts together in a coherent enough fashion to write a review. I think my days of flying by the seat of my pants in that respect are over. I'm a planner. I've accepted it. I'll embrace it.

To my followers, do you just write like mad after you read? Or do you take notes and then use those? I'm curious!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Book Review: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Media Type: Physical Book
Title: Cross Her Heart
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: Hardcover; 341
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Source: Publisher / TLC Book Tours
Genre: Thriller / Mystery

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy slow burn thrillers with excellently executed twists.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job, and her best friend Marilyn, but when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it's time to let her terrifying secret past go. Then her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see. Lisa's world explodes, and she finds everything she has built threatened. Not knowing whom she can trust, it's up to her to face her past to save what she holds dear.
Oh, this book. Where to start? I honestly did not expect to be so addicted Cross Her Heart. My original plan was to start this, and then read it in between other books that I'm working on at the same time. Since, normally, Thriller/Mystery books take a little time to really get going. Well, scratch that idea. Sarah Pinborough's book is a slow burn sure, but one that just keeps you on your toes as every single turn. She expertly pulls you one way, then the other, never really allowing you to settle in. In short, I flew through this book. I'm really pleased about that.

It's going to be rough to say a lot about this story, because I absolutely don't want to give anything away. The joy of discovery is half of the fun of reading this book. What I can say, is that Lisa's character is perfection. Both her and her daughter are fully fleshed out people who you'll slowly finding yourself falling in step with. Even Ava's teenage petulance made me smile. There's something wonderful about reading a story like this and feeling like the characters could be your next door neighbors. In the case of a story like this, there's always something vaguely ominous about it too.

When I say that twists abound, I'm really not kidding. Cross Her Heart has a steady pace that just grabs you by the hand and tugs you along, never letting go. Even when you stop in your tracks because of what's around the next corner, it just pulls you along. I so appreciated the fact that nothing in this story felt forced. Every action, every plot point, felt expertly laid out. I felt like I was being told a real story which, like I mentioned above, added to the unease I felt while reading this book. I thought I knew where Sarah Pinborough was taking me. I was so wrong.

If you're looking for a very well written, very quick moving Thriller this is your next read.

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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book Blitz + Giveaway: Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie

Three Mages and a Margarita
Annette Marie
(The Guild Codex: Spellbound #1)
Publication date: September 14th 2018
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.
It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview—to see if I’d mesh with their “special” clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That’s the definition of fitting in, right?
I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they…offered me the job?
It turns out this place isn’t a bar. It’s aguild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I’m exactly the kind of takes-no-shit bartender this guild needs, or there’s a good reason no one else wants to work here.
So what’s a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course—with a pay raise.

Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn’t a reverse harem. It’s 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.
Add it: Goodreads / Amazon

When I gazed vacantly at her, Clara visibly paled. “Tori, what’s your class?” “My class?” She pressed her hands to the bar top, eyes wide. “Your class, what is it?” “You mean at the community college? I’m taking—”
“No, your mythic class!” She shoved my card under my nose, even more frantic. “Why doesn’t your license have a mythic identification number? You’re registered, aren’t you?”
“Registered for what? Clara, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
“Oh my god.” Panic flashed in her eyes. “I don’t believe it. You’re human.”
I blinked again. Squinted. Rubbed one ear like I might have misheard. “Beg your pardon?”
Clara dropped my ID on the bar and hid her face behind her hands. “Darius is going to kill me. Why didn’t I check your ID last night? I’m an idiot.”
“Clara,” I said, alarmed and confused in equal measure. “I swear it’s a real ID. I’m twenty-one, old enough to bartend, and—”
“That’s not the problem,” she moaned. “How did you even find out about this place? I never should have—but you were perfect. You weren’t scared of anyone—not even Aaron! I thought you were some badass mythic who wanted to bartend, but you—”
“Get over yourself, Aaron.” Kai’s angry voice rose over Clara’s. “We’re not doing this your way—not again. Your plans always end in fireballs and explosions.”
Fireballs? Explosions? I glanced at them as Aaron snapped, “What’s wrong with that?” “Tori.” Clara’s panicked tone drew my attention back to her as Kai and Aaron continued to argue. “Last
night, did you see anything?”
“Did you see anything … unusual?”
“Did I see anything unusual?” I repeated blankly. “Like what?”
“Say that again,” Aaron shouted furiously, “and I’ll toast your pale ass to a healthy crisp!”
His hand shot into the air—and fire burst from his fingers. The red flames danced across his skin, sparks raining down on the table. Curling his hand into a fist, he cocked his arm back, aiming for Kai.
“Aaron!” Clara shrieked. “Put your fire away!” He froze in mid-motion, his fist still blazing. “Clara? What’s wrong?”
“Put it out!” she yelled, her voice high with panic. “Now!”
He flicked his fingers open and the flames vanished. “Jeez, don’t get your panties in a twist. I wasn’t actually going to roast him.”
“Just—just shut up for once in your life, Aaron!” Clara pressed her hands to her head like she was trying to squeeze her brain. “This is already bad enough.”
“What’s bad?” He pushed back from the table and strode over, Kai and Ezra on his heels. “What’s going on?”
I didn’t move, my eyes fixed on his hand—his hand that had been engulfed in flames. Did that count as unusual?
“I screwed up,” Clara groaned, covering her face again like she couldn’t stand to see me. “I didn’t check her ID yesterday.”
Aaron slid my driver’s license off the bar top and read it. “Victoria Dawson? Your name is Victoria?” I shook off my shock to scowl at his sniggering tone. Kai plucked the card out of Aaron’s hand. “There’s no MID number.” “Is it a fake ID?” Aaron asked with amusement. “Did you hire a rogue, Clara?”
“Worse,” Clara whispered. “She’s human.”
The three guys stared at me, and I stared back without the slightest idea what the hell anyone was talking about. But more important than the incomprehensible conversation was the fact Aaron’s hand had been on fire, and I couldn’t figure out how it could possibly have been a trick.
“No way,” Aaron finally said. “What’s your class, Tori?” I pointed at his hand. “Was that real fire?” “Oh, shit,” Kai muttered.

Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book Review: Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Media Type: Ebook (ARC)
Title: Louisiana's Way Home
Author: Kate DiCamillo
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: October 2, 2018
Source: NetGalley/Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy real characters who face real life issues, with a touch of magic.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo comes a story of discovering who you are — and deciding who you want to be.

When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)

Called “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” by The New York Times Book Review, the heartbreakingly irresistible Louisiana Elefante was introduced to readers in Raymie Nightingale — and now, with humor and tenderness, Kate DiCamillo returns to tell her story.

Absolutely adorable, although I expected no less from the sensational Kate DiCamillo. Louisiana Elefante is a character that middle grade readers will understand and fall in love with. Coincidentally, so will adult readers if my reaction is any indication. DiCamillo writes a character who is brave and kind, while still showing her youth. She writes Louisiana in a way that makes you proud of how strong she is standing, but also remember that she still need someone to care for her. I'm telling you, I fell hard for this girl. It was inevitable.

I can't say too much more without giving something crucial away, so I'll wrap things up. This is one of those stories that toes the line of magic, but exists firmly and beautifully within our own world. It's a story made up of people are flawed,and alive. Any author that can write for young people and still manage to put real world problems in front of their readers has my heart. Kate DiCamillo continues to prove that she is more than capable of that very thing, and I love her for it.

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, September 10, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (8/10/18)

Well friends, it's Monday once again. I'm actually writing this on Sunday night, sitting in my cool room, and lamenting the fact that I have to get up early tomorrow and drag my behind to work. This weekend was HOT. So hopefully the week treats me nicer, and makes me want to function. Between the heat and a migraine, I didn't get as much done as I would have liked.

Still, I'm chugging along on Halloween Bingo. Here's where my reading stands.

My reading is so crazy all over the place right now, so my two most recently finished books are very different. The Fleshless Man was for Halloween Bingo, and although it was a little creepy it didn't hit that mark I was really hoping for. Louisiana's Way Home was, per usual Kate DiCamillo, utterly adorable. Very poignant too, since that's par for the course with this stunning author.

I'm trying to keep an even amount of review copies in the flow while I read for Halloween Bingo. That's why I'm currently reading three very different books. And Then There Were None is one of my current audio books, and I'm loving revisiting Christie's mysterious little island. The Terror is the other of my current audio books, and I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying this tome of a book. It's bleak, but also so well written that I can't look away. I'm also reading Begone the Raggedy Witches by Celine Kiernan for a review book, and loving the fairy tale aspects of this. All very different books, so far all extremely fantastic!

I don't usually read Cozy Mysteries, but Halloween Bingo is making an exception. So next up is A Murder for the Books. A cozy set in a bookstore setting? SOLD.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Children's Book Review: There's A Dragon In Your Book by Tom Fletcher

Media Type: F&G Copy
Title: There's a Dragon in Your Book
Author: Tom Fletcher
Illustrator: Greg Abbott
Publisher: Random House BFYR
Pages: Hardcover; 32
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Source: Publisher
Recommended to: Young readers who love funny and interactive stories!

Add it on: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N
First, there's an egg in your book. Then the cutest baby dragon you've ever seen hatches from it. But don't tickle its nose, and whatever you do, don't let it sneeze! ACHOO! OH MY!

Tom Fletcher's infectious read-aloud invites kids to use their powers of imagination--along with some stamping, blowing, and flapping--to save their book from an adorable little dragon's flammable sneezes! Children will be delighted to participate in this satisfying tale, a sequel to There's a Monster in Your Book.

The bestselling author of The Dinosaur That Pooped series has once again paired up with illustrator Greg Abbott to create another creature that readers will fall in love with--and want to play with--again and again! Tom Fletcher has a huge social-media presence with over a million followers on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. His videos "Buzz and the Dandelions" and "My Wedding Speech" went viral and have been viewed tens of millions of times all over the world.

Oh goodness, this book is precious! In case you didn't already know, Tom Fletcher is also the author of There's a Monster In  Your Book. I know there are many children out there who fell in love with that story and dog-eared the pages from reading it over and over. True to form, this book is just as much fun and just as repeatable. Each page is a delight, especially since Greg Abbott's illustrations are just so adorable that even I squealed a bit while reading.

My absolute favorite part about There's a Dragon In Your Book is the equal amount of pure imagination and outright movement it asks the reader to provide. You'll be imagining favorite treats, stomping out flames, and flapping as you read through this sweet little story.  If you have a reader who begs for the same story over and over until the repetition helps them learn to read it to themselves, this book should definitely be on your shelf. I guarantee that you'll find yourself enchanted too!

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, September 5, 2018

Blog Tour + Guest Post - Love and Other Secrets by Christina Mandelski

Morning everyone! Are you ready for a fabulous guest post from the wonderful Christina Mandelski? I bet you are! See, Love and Other Secrets is on tour and, as a lover of adorable romances, I feel it necessary to put this on your radar. Let's get started!

Love and Other Secrets by Christina Mandelski
Publication Date: September 3, 2018
Publisher: Entangled Teen Crush

Star lacrosse player Alex “Kov” Koviak has it all. Or so everyone thinks. He’s real good at pretending his life is perfect...until he meets Bailey. The girl challenges him and pushes him and makes him laugh like he’s never laughed before. Their friendship is their little secret, and he’s happy to keep her to himself.

Between school, two jobs, and trying to get into NYU film school, Bailey Banfield has zero time for a social life. But then she meets Alex in her express lane at the grocery store, and their secret friendship becomes the only place she can breathe. She refuses to complicate that with more. No matter how charming Alex can be.

When Bailey decides to film outrageous promposals for her NYU application, she enlists Alex’s help to plan an over-the-top, epic promposal to someone else. Too bad the only prom date Alex wants anywhere near Bailey is him.

For a guy who seems to have it all, he’s about to lose the only thing he’s ever wanted.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Crush contains a cocky lacrosse player in over his head with his secret best friend, unexpected midnight kisses, swoon-worthy slow dancing, and movie-night cuddling that’ll make you ache. You’re going to want an Alex of your own!

Purchase Links:

Doesn't this just sound like the sweetest book? *happy sigh*

Now, please enjoy a guest post from our lovely author!

If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Writing

     If I knew then what I know now about writing, I would tell twenty-two year-old college graduate me to start writing now, in 1992! I mean, jeesh, I got a degree in Creative Writing and then – crickets – for like twenty years! I was forty by the time my first novel sold. Why? I didn’t know it then, but I know it now: I was scared. That’s the truth – and it’s a problem that so many artists face.

     The thing is, I believe, now that I’m creeping up on fifty (creeping, I said! I’m not there yet!) and celebrating the release of my third published novel, that sense of fear never really goes away. So what I do now, is ignore it. I stick it in the corner next to my dusty stationary bike. I cover it with dirty laundry. I pretend it’s not there.

     No, it’s not easy. It’s freaking hard. There are days when it takes me a good two/four/six hours of wandering around the house doing this or that just to OPEN my document, and it’s all because of that sense of dread that what I write is going to be terrible, or that even if I write it and work hard and finish something and I’m lucky enough to sell it – it’s going to get stinky reviews that will leave me curled up in the fetal position with a bottle of some sort of cheap liquor in my hands.

     More truth – all of that is going to happen (though hopefully minus the liquor). Most of what is written in that first draft will likely be somewhere on the spectrum of terrible. That’s what second drafts are for, and third, and … well, you get the idea. The idea is to move up that spectrum until you’re on the ‘pretty damn good’ end of it. Then, you revise and edit and proofread and if you’re lucky, it’ll sell and then, yes, inevitably someone will skewer it in reviews. It’ll be that person who didn’t get what you were trying to do, or didn’t like your main character, didn’t think you saved enough cats, or the right kind of cats, or is just a dog person.

     That’s when you remind yourself that you can’t please everyone – no one can. Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare for God’s sake, got BAD REVIEWS! But the good news is, for everyone who hates what I’ve written, there’s someone out there who will love it. And at some point, you just have to choose to focus on that and live in delirious denial of every bad review.

     And once we do all these things, you and me, we’ll start the next project, and the next, and some will be published, and some won’t. Just keep working, telling your stories, and turning your back on the stationary bike. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but I’ll keep trying if you will!

Christina Mandelski was born in South Florida, where her love of reading was cultivated in a house full of books. Stories like The Little House series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Secret Garden, filled her imagination and fueled her dreams to be a writer. That dream came true when her first young adult novel, THE SWEETEST THING, was published in 2011, and she’s beyond thrilled about her upcoming series for Entangled Crush. Chris lives in Houston with one handsome husband, two beautiful daughters, and two freakshow cats. She has a fondness for the beach, her family and friends, and she still loves to read (especially curled up with a good cup of coffee!) She also enjoys shopping, traveling and eating, especially cake. Always cake. When she’s not doing these things, you can find her holed in a cozy spot with her laptop, writing. Visit her at

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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Is it Fall yet?

Once upon a time, I was the most summery person who ever existed. I craved sunshine, beach days, and backyard parties.

Then, I graduated from college, moved away from the beach, and now I've become a Fall and Spring girl through and through. Bring on cool mornings, chilly evenings, and drizzle to walk around in. Bring on the first open flowers, overcast afternoons, and any excuse to sip a hot cup of tea while reading a book. IS IT FALL YET?


At least my reading this month will accurately reflect the seasons that I'm eagerly waiting for. Remember, September and October are Halloween Bingo, so expect to see a lot of horror, a lot of mystery and a whole lot of thrillers. I'm getting in the spirit, even if Southern California temperatures disagree with me.


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