Release Day Blitz: The Hummingbird Heart by A.G. Howard

I am so excited that THE HUMMINGBIRD HEART by A.G. Howard is available now and that I get to share the news! As a fan of her young adult series Splintered and her newest work inspired by the Phantom of the Opera RoseBlood, her New Adult series Haunted Hearts Legacy with ghosts and love opened up a whole new world of reading material.
 
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author A.G. Howard, be sure to
check out all the details below.
 
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a 5 AMAZING Prizes courtesy of A.G. and Rockstar
Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.
About The Book:
Title: THE HUMMINGBIRD HEART
Author: A.G. Howard
Pub. Date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Pages: 339
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Set 19 years after The Architect of Song:
Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions—a holiday resort in England
born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister
Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she’s determined to escape finishing school along with everyone’s efforts to make her a proper lady. The
only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?
As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life. He can’t allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family’s resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow has secretly stowed away on the same ship.
A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of them their lives.
Grab book 1!
 

Title: THE ARCHITECT OF SONG

Author: A.G. Howard
Pub. Date: August 15, 2016
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Pages: 425
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonGoodreads
 
A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower – intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the
name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as – haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts – they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

 

New Adult: Recommended for ages 17+.

Excerpt:


In the dream, Willow was a child again. With each barefooted step around the stacks of baggage in steerage, she found them taking on new shapes: pyramids of clowns, bears, horses and feathered performers, all balanced atop one another. She was back at the circus, albeit a much hazier and dimmer rendition than she remembered. She skipped along the center ring, excited to be home at last. Grit and discarded trash snagged between her little toes. A spotlight clicked on to illuminate a trunk. From within came a thumping sound, and girlish giggles.
“Tildey!” Willow cried out, racing across the distance to find her doll, her pigtails slapping her face and neck upon each bounding step. The creak of abandoned trapezes swung overhead, cutting intermittently through a thick cloud of fog. Yet it wasn’t fog. It was tobacco—a stench that seeped into her leotard, her tights, her very pores, until she could taste it coating her tongue like bile.
The spotlight shifted from the trunk to a trapeze just above her where a shape took form in the light: a graceful silhouette in a shimmery leotard and glistening tutu.
“Mama?” Willow whispered in the dream, forgetting Tildey for the chance to see her mother perform once more.
The trapeze vanished into thin air but the aerialist continued a controlled descent toward her, held in place by harnesses attached to the center pole. A face came into view, painted white like a clown, with bloody eyes and a hollow of a mouth—stretched wide on a perpetual scream. Willow yelped and squeezed her lashes shut, willing away the creature … for it was not Mama.
When she opened them again, the freakish performer exploded into a flock of hummingbirds made of ink. They skittered around Willow, buzzing wings scraping her skin and hair, imprinting tattoos everywhere they touched. She screamed and stumbled backwards, bumping into the trunk which was somehow right behind her. A tinkly, off-key lullaby drifted from inside the giant box. The lid shook and shuddered, as if something wanted out.
Whimpering, Willow tried to back away, but her feet grew heavy. She looked down and ballet shoes, covered in steel spikes, swallowed them up. The empty harness that had held the ghastly aerialist slithered toward her like a snake, coiling itself around her legs and arms to hold her in place.
On the final haunting strains of music, the trunk’s lid popped open, and out from the midst rose a hunched old man, holding Nadia’s haunted shoes upside down. Blood and water gushed out of them—a stench of copper and stagnancy—and the man laughed with a voice that gnawed into her bones like a thousand snarling wolves.
About A.G. Howard: 

 

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would’ve happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

 

When she’s not writing, A.G.’s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century
graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

Giveaway Details: All International
(1) Grand prize: Signed set of The Architect of Song & The Hummingbird Heart PB
(1) First Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart PB
(1) Second Place prize: Signed The Hummingbird Heart poster
(3) Third – Fifth Place prizes: Signed The Architect of Song
& The Hummingbird Heart swag pack sets

 

 

 

 

Ends on August
22nd at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen by David Clawson

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Published: 2 May 2017

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Category: Young Adult/LGBT+/Romance/Contemporary

Chris Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like a maid than part of the family. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love . . . with each other.

With the help of a new friend, Coco Chanel Jones, Chris learns to be comfortable in his own skin, let himself fall in love and be loved, and discovers that maybe he was wrong about his step-family all along. All it takes is one fairy godmother dressed as Diana Ross to change the course of his life.

My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues like sexuality, family and financial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments like how one rogue shoe can launch a secret, whirlwind romance and a chance meeting with a drag queen can spark magic and light in a once dark reality.

Rating: 1 Star

The concept of a drag queen fairy godmother sounded like it could be fun. Retellings are usually the type of story I can get behind. My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, however, turned out to be a disappointment.

The first 20% or so I’d say was not bad. The main characters were introduced, the supporting characters were given their roles to play, etc. It started as little things, really, that kept cropping up that made me realize this book wouldn’t end up be a happy ending for me.

Chris, the Cinderella of the story, uses some potentially problematic phrases early on when he meets Duane/Coco. I thought that perhaps this was because of his lack of experience or exposure to drag queens and could have accepted that if he’d grown and learned. This doesn’t happen, though, and is reflected when, even after Duane explains that Chris isn’t his type, Chris has some kind of internal angry flare-up about how could a drag queen not like him? If Duane doesn’t how could J.J.? He was very frustrating from here on out and I think needed a good shaking.

J.J. (read Prince Charming) felt a bit one dimensional. This may have been on purpose for a lot of his presence because he’s a closeted man whose familial obligations and political aspirations have him pretending to be someone “perfect”. I never connected with him and wondered if he and Chris were actually a good match, as they felt a bit pretentious when they were chatting about their love of classic literature, name dropping Austen and Shakespeare, Anna Karenina, and so on.

Kimberly, the stepsister, was an odd character. She definitely did things I didn’t like (slipping her mother Xanax multiple times). The woman was a social climber of the highest order, but you just don’t do that. Setting that aside for a moment, I felt bad and almost sympathetic toward her because her relationship with J.J. was entirely fake. The whole time he’s secretly dating Chris, her step brother, and while she admits she’s not in love with J.J., it’s still an enormous betrayal. Her potential hurt is never addressed because the story cuts off right after J.J. and Chris’s very public outing. I hated that she got no justice; a brief apology before he kisses Chris on camera is it.

Aside from the characters I disliked and those I felt got no justice in the end, I want to touch on the language of the book. 

Most of it is fairly subtle, but I noted more than a few homophobic comments that we’re brushed aside or excused. Chris’s step sister and brother admit to making jokes with derogatory language, but excuse it because they were trying to let him know they were okay with his sexuality. Chris and J.J. trade f** and f****t back and forth in one scene as if it’s not offensive. 

There were also instances of slut shaming (Kimberly and Duane) and fat shaming (Kimberly: explained away as being “helpful”/Chris: insulting a PR agent because she was being blunt toward Kimberly and of course that’s the best way to get your point across).

There is also a careless comment Chris makes, after his heart is broken, about taking his stepmother’s Xanax and never waking up. It smacks of a “suicide joke”; even if this wasn’t what Chris meant, I think the author was careless with their language. 

The final linguistic problem I had was an instance in which the author’s used asexual as a descriptor in a manner that felt wrong to me. The quote “It was like the asexual version of the meeting between Anna Karenina and Count Vronksy, although hopefully with happier results.” It feels as if, in context of Kiki the PR agent and Coco sharing a meaningful glance, platonic would’ve been a better choice. This may not be a problem overall or to other ace individuals, but on top of everything else in the book, it felt only right to include my uncomfortableness with this passage.

In summary, the concept of the book was a good one and could’ve been a fun, modern Cinderella story. Due to characterization, poor language, and slow pacing, sadly I don’t think it lived up to it’s potential.

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: The Perfect Game (Arlington Aces #3) by Elley Arden

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Published: 24 July 2017

Publisher: Crimson Romance

Category: Romance/Sports

Fans of TV’s Pitch will love this wrap-up to the charming world of the Arlington Aces baseball team.

Arlington Aces’ backup catcher Ian Pratt lives every day to the fullest, focusing on having fun with the three Bs: babes, booze, and baseball. Life’s too short not to go out with a smile on his face.

For Pauly Byrne, being the only female starting pitcher in professional baseball means she’s determined, deliberate, and always staying one step ahead of the naysayers. Facing a difficult choice, she must decide whether to hang up her cleats to become the first woman to coach an NCAA baseball team or hold on to the unlikely dream of becoming the first to play in the Major League. Either way, she needs to win this season’s championship.

When Pauly’s usual catcher fails a drug test going into playoffs, Ian is thrust into the starting role, where their differences—and an unlikely attraction—threaten to derail their season. Their futures are on the line, but can these two total opposites find enough common ground to win the big game and a shot at happily ever after?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Rating: 3 Stars

I’m not a big sports fan, but baseball is one of the few that I can understand pretty well without having to do a ton of research on rules, yard lines, whatever. I remember seeing the commercial for the show Pitch and when The Perfect Game was comped with that, I thought I’d like to check it out.

Pauly is a very dedicated person to baseball and it was easy to feel that throughout the book. Her knowledge of stats was amazing, as was her commitment to the sport.

Ian started out as kind of a douchebag, which was the point I think. His drinking and womanizing was a much talked about point on the team and I wasn’t sure how he and Pauly would ever work out, whether professionally or personally.

The relationship that did develop was a bit confusing, as I couldn’t really connect with it. Even though they had been teammates for a few years now, the more personal and physical relationship happened really quickly and became more serious than I’d have expected in such a short period of time.

As to side characters, the most developed one were Ian’s father, though more were introduced including other teammates and members of Pauly’s family. Ian and his father, Ray, had an intense history and the troubles they went through in The Perfect Game was interesting. It’s ending was a bit sad, but I thought the author did a well thought out job of dealing with Ray’s alcoholism and it’s effect on his life.

There were moments of tension regarding Pauly and her career, but as important as these events are, they didn’t feel like a big deal within the context of the story. What tension they brought up didn’t last long or leave much of a real mark on the story.

There were definitely some steamy scenes between Pauly and Ian, which should satisfy those looking for the romance aspect of the story. As I said before, I didn’t care for the rapid development of their relationship, but I can see that there will be reader that enjoy those scenes, as well as the happily ever after once The Perfect Game concludes.

This was a good story, if not among my favorites. There were aspects I didn’t care for, but I think other readers may well. I liked the baseball aspects, even if I wasn’t quite familiar with the set up of major league, minor league, and club teams. There’s a little of something for quite a few classes of reader and I do hope others will enjoy Pauly’s rise in the sport.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Release Week Blitz: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee

genielo

genielocover

Title: THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO
Author: F.C. Yee
Pub. Date: August 8, 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 336
Formats: Hardcover, eBook
Find it: AmazonBarnes&NobleiBooksTBDGoodreads

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie Lo’s every waking thought. But when her sleepy Bay Area town comes under siege from hell-spawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are suddenly and forcefully rearranged.

Her only guide to the demonic chaos breaking out around her is Quentin Sun, a beguiling, maddening new transfer student from overseas. Quentin assures Genie she is strong enough to fight these monsters, for she unknowingly harbors an inner power that can level the very gates of Heaven.

Genie will have to dig deep within herself to summon the otherworldly strength that Quentin keeps talking about. But as she does, she finds the secret of her true nature is entwined with his, in a way she could never have imagined…

Excerpt:

“GREETINGS,” HE SAID, HIS ACCENT THICK BUT HIS VOICE LOUD and clear. “I have arrived.”
Now, I’d done my best to describe this guy to the police. They pressed me hard for details, as apparently this wasn’t the first group mugging in recent weeks.

But I’d let Officers Davis and Rodriguez down. Nice eyes and a winning smile weren’t much to go by. I was too frazzled to notice anything before, which meant this was my first decent look at the boy without the influence of adrenaline.

So a couple of things.

One: He was short. Like, really short for a guy. I felt bad that my brain went there first, but he wasn’t even as tall as Mrs. Nanda.

Two: He was totally okay, physically. I didn’t see how anyone could be up and about after that beating, but here he was, unbruised and unblemished. I felt relieved and disturbed at the same time to see there wasn’t a scratch on him.

And his mint condition just made Point Three even more obvious.

He was . . . yeesh.

Nothing good could come of our new classmate being that handsome. It was destructive. Twisted. Weaponized. He had the cheekbones and sharp jawline of a pop star, but his thick eyebrows and wild, unkempt hair lent him an air of natural ruggedness that some pampered singer could never achieve in a million years of makeup.

“Argh, my ovaries,” Yunie mumbled. She wasn’t alone, judging by the soft intakes of breath coming from around the room.

“Arrived from where?” said Mrs. Nanda.

Quentin looked at her in amusement. “China?”

“Yes, but where in, though?” said Mrs. Nanda, trying her best to convey that she was sensitive to the
regional differences. Fujianese, Taishanese, Beijingren—she’d taught them all.

He just shrugged. “The stones,” he said.

“You mean the mountains, sweetie?” said Rachel Li, batting her eyelashes at him from the front row.

“No! I don’t misspeak.”

The class giggled at his English. But none of it was incorrect, technically speaking.

“Tell us a little about yourself,” Mrs. Nanda said.

Quentin puffed out his chest. The white button-down shirt and black pants of our school’s uniform for boys made most of them look like limo drivers. But on him, the cheap stitching just made it clearer that he was extremely well-muscled underneath.

“I am the greatest of my kind,” he said. “In this world I have no equal. I am known to thousands in faraway lands, and everyone I meet can’t help but declare me king!”

There was a moment of silence and sputtering before guffaws broke out.

“Well . . . um . . . we are all high achievers here at SF Prep,” said

Mrs. Nanda as politely as she could. “I’m sure you’ll fit right in?”

Quentin surveyed the cramped beige classroom with a cool squint. To him, the other twenty-two laughing students were merely peons on whom his important message had been lost.

“Enough wasting of time,” he snapped. “I came to these petty halls only to reclaim what is mine.”
Before anyone could stop him, he hopped onto Rachel’s desk and stepped over her to the next one, like she wasn’t even there.

“Hey! Quentin!” Mrs. Nanda said, frantically waving her hands. “Get down now!”

The new student ignored her, stalking down the column of desks. Toward mine.

Everyone in his way leaned to the side to avoid getting kicked. They were all too flabbergasted to do anything but serve as his counterweights.

He stopped on my desk and crouched down, looking me in the eye. His gaze pinned me to my seat.
I couldn’t turn away. He was so close our noses were almost touching. He smelled like wine and peaches.

“You!” he said.

“What?” I squeaked.

Quentin gave me a grin that was utterly feral. He tilted his head as if to whisper, but spoke loud enough for everyone to hear.

“You belong to me.”

About F.C.:

f.c.

F. C. Yee grew up in New Jersey and went to school in New England, but has called the San Francisco Bay Area home ever since he beat a friend at a board game and shouted “That’s how we do it in NorCal, baby!” Outside of writing, he practices capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts, and has a day job mostly involving spreadsheets.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

Giveaway Details:

5 winners will receive Genie Lo prize packs—complete with a finished copy of the book and a special Genie Lo horoscope (that doubles as a bookmark!), US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis (Author), Laura K. Horton (Illustrator)

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Published: 1 August 2017

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Category: Middle Grade/Fiction/Magical Realism

A colony of honeybees mistakes seventh-grader Zinnia’s hair for a hive ― and that’s the least of her problems. While Zinnia’s classmates are celebrating the last day of seventh grade, she’s in the vice principal’s office, serving detention. Her offense? Harmlessly yarn-bombing a statue of the school mascot. When Zinnia rushes home to commiserate with her older brother and best friend, Adam, she’s devastated to discover that he’s gone ― with no explanation. Zinnia’s day surely can’t get any worse . . . until a colony of honeybees inhabits her hive-like hair! Infused with magical realism, Danielle Davis delivers a quirky, heartfelt debut, exploring both the complex life of a young loner and a comical hive of honeybees. Together, these alternating and unexpected perspectives will touch anyone who has ever felt alone, betrayed, or misunderstood.

Rating: 4 Stars

Zinnia is a young girl whose mother is overbearing, her brother has disappeared under the pressure, and a colony of bees has made their new home in her hair! This middle grade novel has just the right amount of magical realism and teachable moments to make it a good read for not just the 9-12 year old age group, but for others as well.

The bees, normally creatures that I wouldn’t want to be near because I don’t care for insects, became sympathetic characters here. The group was formally transported from crop to orchard and so on as professional pollinators. Never having been in a wild hive or having had to fend for themselves, when a car accident sets them free they have to make the best of a bad situation. In a town with few trees, worker Bee 641 is the bee elected to find a new place to go and follow their collective dreams, taken from stories passed down from bee generation to bee generation. The bad part? That new home is Zinnia’s hair, with a smear of mint chocolate chip ice cream to attract her new “friends”.

Zinnia also has her fair share of problems. Her mom doesn’t seem to understand her or her knitting/yarn bombing tendencies, activities that she deems “non-useful”. Her brother, whose interests also lie in the arts, has left after escalating arguments with their mother about his future. Add this to the loss of her closest group of friends and her summer is looking pretty dim.

Reading Zinnia’s story, her working through her problems and her summer days, including reluctantly making friends with her neighbor’s nephew and walking her mom’s new dog, was always interesting. Zinnia has a pleasant voice, even as she was navigating a difficult time. Her interest in knitting and yarn bombing made her very relatable to me and, I think, somewhat unique. I almost never see main characters that knit like she did; artistic skills like drawing and painting seem to be more popular.

There were alternating chapters and the others not told from Zinnia’s first person perspective were told from that of the bees. That was fascinating because, as I mentioned before, I’m not a fan of insects. Reading the activity I’ve seen going on in the real world from a more personable perspective made it a unique experience. They were friendly creatures, telling the story of going from crop to crop until the day they break free and have to figure out what to do with their new found freedom. Going off “family” stories and, eventually, Zinnia’s kindness and knitting know-how, they find their place and worker Bee 641, originally mocked for her lack of hive finding abilities, redeems herself and is revealed as the voice of the bees from the beginning.

Zinnia learns a lot about grieving, about distancing herself from her friends while trying to cling too tightly to another important person, and about being true to yourself, even at the risk of losing everything. From the cover and from the description, one might not think that this novel has as much depth as I discovered it did, but rest assured that Danielle Davis did a masterful job of communicating important values while weaving a magical story.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Book Blitz: I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

Hello Readers!

We are so excited to introduce you to a new title coming February 2018 from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan!

I Stop Somwhere by T.E. Carter is described as THE LOVELY BONES meets ALL THE RAGE. Got your attention yet?

Here’s what readers have to say:

“an unputdownable mystery. Don’t miss it.”Hayley Chewins – Author

“Visceral with both rage and tenderness and impossible to put down.” – Amelinda – Goodreads Reviewer

“unapologetic and gorgeous and raw”Rachel Solomon – Author

“powerful and profound and makes you think” – Amanda Searcy – Author

Pre-order your copy today, and don’t miss out on this upcoming title from Macmillan!

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Indies | Powell’s | Macmillan

Feed your curiosity and check out the excerpt below.
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

THE LOVELY BONES meets ALL THE RAGE in a searing, heartbreaking contemporary story of a lost teenager, and the town she leaves behind.

Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But then the unthinkable happens and Ellie is trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture but also makes you slow down and think about what it is to be human.

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
Publication Date: February 27, 2017
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Nobody noticed me as I cut through the room. I made my way outside, into the cold. Spring was playing games with us. Weeks earlier, it had snuck in overnight, erasing our memory of winter in a matter of hours. When we’d gone to bed, winter had lingered in the snowbanks and in the way the trees still hunched over from the weight of it. And then suddenly, spring. We woke to birds singing, birds who appeared to have been shipped overnight on a secret train, and we remembered music.

But now, winter was trying to force a comeback. Everyone outside stood looking at the pool, wondering what happened. I was shivering, wearing a skirt and thin shirt I’d borrowed from Kate when spring was still a promise.

I saw him from the periphery. From the in-between where the people inside faded into the background, but the people outside were only figures in the night. It made sense; I was a periphery girl.

“Hey,” I said to his back.

When he turned to look at me, I swear the light from the porch surrounded him. But I think I made that up. I think I want to remember him that way. I want to believe there was something that made him special. I want to believe that loneliness doesn’t just mess with our hearts.

“Ellie! You came,” Caleb said.

“I said I would.”

“I know. I wasn’t sure, though. I worried. You’re late.”

I’d walked to the party, after telling my dad I was going to a friend’s. He wouldn’t have stopped me from going to Gina Lynn’s. I didn’t have other friends, so it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d said her name. But, for some reason, I lied. I lied and I don’t know why I did.

“Yeah, well, I was doing things.”

He laughed. “Mysterious things. Of course. I’d expect nothing less from my Elusive Ellie.”

My. I heard it. The claim he laid on me. I smiled at the word.

He moved closer and I stepped back. It was automatic. Since earlier in the week, by my locker, I hadn’t stopped thinking about the possibility. But now that he was close again, I was scared. I was afraid of the way I knew I’d hurt if he waited months to talk to me again. I didn’t want to fall for a guy just because he’d smiled at me and said my name a few times. I was afraid of what would happen if there was more to it than that, but I was also afraid of how I’d feel if there wasn’t.

“I don’t think I’m supposed to be here,” I said.

I’d always imagined being wanted. Of someone loving me. Choosing me. But here was this boy and if he kissed me, I knew I’d always worry about going back to not being wanted.

TE Carter was born in New England and has lived in New England for pretty much her entire life. Throughout her career, she’s done a lot of things, although her passion has always been writing. When she’s not writing, she can generally be found reading classic literature, obsessing over Game of Thrones (she’s one hundred percent Team Lannister), playing Xbox, organizing her comic collection, or binge watching baking competitions. She continues to live in New England with her husband and their two cats.

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Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

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Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 18 July 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Category: Thriller/Mystery

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

Rating: 3 Stars

After reading B.A. Paris’s previous book Behind Closed Doors, I was anxious to read another book by her because I found her handling of suspenseful material to be well done and continually engaging. This continued in The Breakdown, where I found myself suspicious from page one and trying to figure out what was going on.

Paris is cunning in that she leaves hints that you think will lead one way and then they may or may not end up in the place you expected. Those moments are fun because you’re not sure which are the important ones and which are the red herrings.

I won’t say that the ending was entirely satisfactory, however. I found the culprits behind Cass’s “madness” to not be very surprising, nor their motives for commiting such a crime. The murderer wasn’t who I thought it was, I’ll give the author that, but it didn’t feel like a satisfactory ending. There wasn’t a shock or interesting factor behind it, reminding me instead of something like a Lifetime movie plot.

The best parts of the books were Cass trying to deal with what she thought was her dissent into early onset dementia, something her mother had had before her death. These chapters were suspenseful and, until the discovery of a key piece of evidence, as a reader I couldn’t be sure that this wasn’t the case.

As to that bit of evidence I mentioned, it is incredibly lucky that Cass came into contact with it. If not, the rest of the book couldn’t possibly have happened. Something of a Deus ex machina, that mobile phone.

I liked the pathways the story took well enough, though I was disappointed in the ending. I hope Cass will be alright, considering the trauma she’s been through during the story and the revelations at the end. Til the next book, eh?

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Penguin Teen Game-Changers Sampler

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Penguin Teen has some really great titles coming out in the next few months, five of which were featured in this collection. I was thrilled to get to read this because it gave me a chance to see if I’d like some of these titles, two of which are attaining really big hype levels.

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Warcross by Marie Lu

Release Date: 12 September 2017

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

This is one of the most talked about books on Twitter right now. While I don’t have a full arc, I can see why it’s getting the hype. The introduction into the world of the MC, her difficult situation as bounty hunter struggling to keep a roof over her head, really pulls in the reader and their heart.

I love the idea of a world that has a game like this as a central unifier. I’ve seen it in Japanese manga titles like Sword Art Online and Accel World, loving it both times. There were some details about the game that is Warcross, but I was left wanting just enough that I know I’ll be picking it up when it’s released.

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Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Release Date: 19 September 2017

Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price.

I’ve heard good things about Kristen Cashore’s Graceling series and did start the first book. However, the sample of her next work, Jane, Unlimited, did not impress me. The perspective felt strange, like someone was both telling the story and we were hearing it from a 3rd person p.o.v. (Jane). It made reading it confusing.

Then, there was the plot itself. Reading about Jane and Kiran, there wasn’t anything to pull me in, nothing interesting that made me want to keep reading.

I won’t be picking this book up, as cool as the summary had sounded on Goodreads.

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: 26 September 2017

Scream meets YA in this hotly-anticipated new novel from the bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss.

One-by-one, the students of Osborne High are dying in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasing and grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and the hunt intensifies for the killer, the dark secrets among them must finally be confronted.

International bestselling author Stephanie Perkins returns with a fresh take on the classic teen slasher story that’s fun, quick-witted, and completely impossible to put down.

All I’ve read from Stephanie Perkins has been light contemporary stories. This feels like a real departure from her Anna and the French Kiss books, which I enjoyed, but now this, this horror movie-esque tale is a real treat.

You get immersed in a not completely safe world from chapter one and instantly you’re on guard. Anyone could be the bad guy. Everyone has a secret. Don’t get attached to the p.o.v. you’re reading from because that person might be the next victim.

This was my favorite entry in the sampler, even more so than Warcross. While I want to read that book, I really want to read this one.

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Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni

Release Date: 3 October 2017

Seventeen-year-old Tess Fowler has just dropped out of high school. She can barely function after learning of Jonah’s death. Jonah, the boy she’d traded banter with over texts and heartfelt e-mails.

Jonah, the first boy she’d told she loved and the first boy to say it back.

Jonah, the boy whose suicide she never saw coming.

Tess continues to write to Jonah, as a way of processing her grief and confusion. But for now she finds solace in perhaps the unlikeliest of ways: by helping her father with his new alternative funeral business, where his biggest client is . . . a prized racehorse?

As Tess’s involvement in her father’s business grows, both find comfort in the clients they serve and in each other. But love, loss, and life are so much more complicated than Tess ever thought. Especially after she receives a message that turns her life upside down.

This book certainly doesn’t start out on a cheery note.

“The morning after I dropped out of high school, I woke up before dawn in my father’s empty house thinking about the slow death of the universe.”

I wasn’t sure I’d like it because that is a rather heavy statement to begin with, but the more I did read, the more questions I found myself having about Tess’s story. She’s just lost a very important someone, someone she’d only met once IRL, and that kind of relationship has a lot of power, despite what people say. I’m now curious to see how she’ll deal with her grief, what her process will be for moving on, can she move on, that sort of thing.

This is going on my to-buy list.

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Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao

Release Date: 10 October 2017

A Fall 2017 Junior Library Guild Selection!

“A richly developed fantasy world coupled with an ambitious anti-heroine of complex agency, this story shines and surprises at every turn.” Marie Lu, #1 New York Times bestselling author

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress–and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins–sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute.

I am not sure what to feel about Xifeng at this point. In such a short amount of time, three or four chapters, she went from someone I felt I could sympathize with to someone that annoyed me, someone that was downtrodden to someone that was privileged and didn’t care.

The writing style and the hints at a darker future intrigue me. I want to find out more about this Serpent God that got brought up and whether Xifeng will be a heroine or an anti-heroine.

 


 

Have you read the samplers for any of the above novels? Or, better yet, have you read the full arcs for them? What do you think so far? Let me know in the comment section down below.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

#Zodiacbooks Readathon Review: Wandering Star by Romina Russell + Spotify Playlist

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Welcome to my stop on the #Zodiacbooks Readathon tour! Since Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell is coming out at the end of August (the 29th!), now is the perfect time for a reread, if you’ve read the series before, or if you’re new to the series, reading through with the rest of us and joining in on the chats and various creative posts.

I’m pleased to welcome back anyone who has read my previous review/playlist for Zodiac. This time it’s a new review and playlist, all about Wandering Star by Romina Russell, the second book in the Zodiac series.

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Amazon  –  Author’s Website  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 8 December 2015

Publisher: Razorbill

Category: Young Adult/Fantasy/Sci-Fi

A breathtaking sci-fi space saga inspired by astrology that will stun fans of the Illuminae Files and Starbound series.

Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn.

But news has spread that the Marad–an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy–could strike any House at any moment.

Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.

Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there’s much more to her Galaxy–and to herself–than she could have ever imagined.

Rating: 4 Stars

Zodiac left our main character, Tho, at odds with quite a lot. Her people, the rest of the Houses, herself. Wandering Star is the next step in her journey to find balance and, just maybe, work towards saving others from the fate she’s encountered.

Rho has a lot to process in this book. Not only has she lost her position, but there have been casualties that hit very close to home. I have to say she handled these events better than I would have expected. There were some moments through the story where I wondered whether or not she was surpressing her feelings, especially with regards to Hysan.

Aside from Rho’s personal struggle, there were other characters that presented a strong front that I liked, from Houses all over the galaxy. Seeing them working together was hopeful, even though I know there will be tough times ahead. There are two more books before the end, after all.

I really liked the pacing in this book, possibly even more so than that of Zodiac. I don’t think that Wandering Star suffered from “second book syndrome” like more than one series I’ve read has had happen. Im curious if Black Moon will have those qualities instead?

Whether it does or not, it is clear Rho has a lot more to endure before her final peace will come, if indeed it can.

Time will tell and I’ll be sure to let you know what I find out and feel after reading Black Moon. My next tour date and installment in the Zodiac playlist series is coming up quickly (August 16th). Be sure to return to see how the Cancrian girl faces off against in her next battle.

 

Spotify Playlist


There were a lot of intense moments in this nove, a lot of emotions running high. It was certainly an experience, trying to find the right songs for certain chapters.

I had fun, even if some were more difficult than others. I created this playlist to share with everyone with my choices for Wandering Star’s soundtrack.

 

Wandering Star Soundtrack

 

Below you’ll find the tracklist in case you don’t have a Spotify account.

Tracklist 

1. “Edge of Night” by Peter Hollins

2. “Ultron – Twins” by Danny Elfman

3. “Percy at the Lake” by Andrew Lockington, Nicholas Dodd

4. “Across the Stars” by John Williams, London Symphony Orchestra

5. “Arrest” by David Wingo

6. “Governments Should Be Afraid of Their People” by Dario Marianelli

7. “Shutting down Grace’s lab” by James Horner

8. “Sky Ferry” by Alexandre Desplat

9. “Flying Vessel” by Ilan Eshkeri

10. “Dumbledore’s Army” by Nicholas Hopper

11. “Who We Are” by Imagine Dragons

About the Author

243813_russell_rominaRomina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

 

SCHEDULE:

Week One:

July 17 – Bookiemoji – Book Photography

July 18 – The Book Talk – Book Photography

July 19 – The Eater of Books! – Wandering Star Mood Board

July 20 – Picture Books to YA – Review & Cookie Decorating

July 21 – The Book Nut – Galaxy Playlist

Week Two:

July 24 – In Wonderland

July 25 – The Hardcover Lover

July 27 – The Swoony Boy’s Podcast

July 28 – Rachel’s Book Reviews – Live Tweet Reading of Wandering Star

Week Three:

July 31 – The Wednesday Blog

July 31 – Feed Your Fiction Addiction

August 1 – YA and Wine – Review & Mood Board

August 2 – The Hermit Librarian – Wandering Star Playlist

August 2 – MundieMoms – Spotlight

August 3 – Pen and Parchment – YA Characters & Their Zodiac Sign

August 3 – The Biblio Life – Spotlight

August 4 – Four Violet

Twitter Chat: August 6th @ 8PM EST Hosted by @buttermybooks @ ButterMyBooks

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

GIVEAWAY LEGAL COPY: 

 

Enter for a chance to win either one (1) grand prize set of Romina Russell’s Zodiac Series in paperback, including Zodiac, Wandering Star, and Black Moon (32.97) or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive a copy of Zodiac by Romina Russell (ARV: $10.99 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on July 17th, 2017 and 12:00 AM on August 8, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about August 16, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Ten Sheep to Sleep by Nidhi Kamra

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Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Goodreads

Published: 30 June 2017

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

Category: Picture Book

Sammy Jo counts ten sheep to put her to sleep, but tonight, ten more sheep appear. The new sheep are creating a ruckus. Sammy Jo has to find a way to calm the sheep down, count twenty sheep, and ensure everyone is happy so they can get a good night’s sleep.

Suggested age range for readers: 5-8

Rating: 4 Stars

Sammy Jo, who is used to counting 10 sheep in order to get to sleep, is confused one night when 20 sheep show up! What will she do?

This book was a cute bedtime story. The art reminded me a bit of Dr. Seuss stories, which my son loves, due in part to the fact that the sheep were polka doted and striped. I personally thought it was a good dream-like style, with the drawings of Sammy Jo reminding me more than a little of the old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake. A great nostalgic touch because that was one of my favorites growing up.

Kamra’s story also has a good message about not everyone being the same. When Sammy Jo is trying to find a home for the sheep, she suggests members of her family, but they all count different things to fall asleep (superheroes, handbags, and cars!). Sammy Jo, in the end, demonstrates a good sense of problem solving. She’s a smart little girl who didn’t give up when confronted with counting big numbers. Instead, she tried different solutions until arriving at the right one.

This is a good book for bedtime reading, as I mentioned at the beginning, both as a read aloud story from parent to child, and as one for a child to learn to read themselves as they get a bit older.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.