Waiting on Wednesday: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight a title we’re looking forward to reading. You can find their website here.


The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

Book Depository

Published: 11 January 2018

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Category: Fiction

Sep, Arkle, Mack, Lamb and Hadley: five friends thrown together one hot, sultry summer. When they discover an ancient stone box hidden in the forest, they decide to each make a sacrifice: something special to them, committed to the box for ever. And they make a pact: they will never return to the box at night; they’ll never visit it alone; and they’ll never take back their offerings.

Four years later, the gang have drifted apart. Then a series of strange and terrifying events take place, and Sep and his friends understand that one of them has broken the pact.

As their sacrifices haunt them with increased violence and hunger, they realise that they are not the first children to have found the box in their town’s history. And ultimately, the box may want the greatest sacrifice of all: one of them.

The title caught my eye because, right off the bat, it sounds like the title to a horror movie. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I love horror movies, especially the ones that can still scare me after having seen dozens of them and being able to anticipate the scares after all these years.

Reading the description further piqued my interest because it definitely sounds like the premise for, if not a horror film, at the very least a spooky as heck psychological thriller. This group of friends made a pact to give up something, a long time ago, and now things are going wrong because someone broke the pact. This brings up a lot of questions, chief among them: what did you make this promise on that it’s trying to kill you off because a promise got broken? What did you leave in that box? Who are you people that this sounded like a good idea in the first place? I always wonder that about people making stupid decisions in horror movies and it looks like that isn’t about to change in a book.

Luckily this is a January book baby so there won’t be long to wait. It doesn’t look like it’s on Amazon or Barnes & Noble yet, so keeps your eyes peeled for it in the wild in case it pops up like that red book in The Number 23. 🙂





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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.


This year has gone by so fast, I can’t believe it will be December on Friday. Where did the time go??

When I started the year, I set my Goodreads goal at 100 books and I’m please to say I’m about 50% past that mark at this point. I didn’t think that was going to happen, what with one thing and another, but there you go. Since I have hit my goal, I was thinking that my Winter TBR could be kind of relaxing, not worried so much about have to.

These ten books are one I’m especially looking forward to reading that I’ve either got ready to go on my Kindle or that I’m hoping to get for Christmas and read before the New Year clocks in.

SPOILERS: The summaries and I might talk about events of the first book for some of these entries. BE AWARE!



The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden (The Winternight Trilogy #2)

The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingalecontinues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.

I thoroughly enjoyed Vasya’s first adventure in The Bear and the Nightingale. The imagery, the story, it was superb! I’ve got an arc of this to read, so yes there is a little bit of “supposed to” reading here, but I am also anxious to get back to the world I left off earlier this year.


Meet Cute by Jennifer L. Armentrout, Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton, Katie Cotugno, Jocelyn Davies, Nina LaCour , Emery Lord, Katharine McGee , Kass Morgan, Meredith Russo, Sara Shepard, Nicola Yoon, Ibi Zoboi, Julie Murphy

Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.

Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner. There’s futuristic flirting from Kass Morgan and Katharine McGee, a riveting transgender heroine from Meredith Russo, a subway missed connection moment from Jocelyn Davies, and a girl determined to get out of her small town from Ibi Zoboi. Jennifer Armentrout writes a sweet story about finding love from a missing library book, Emery Lord has a heartwarming and funny tale of two girls stuck in an airport, Dhonielle Clayton takes a thoughtful, speculate approach to pre-destined love, and Julie Murphy dreams up a fun twist on reality dating show contestants.

This incredibly talented group of authors brings us a collection of stories that are at turns romantic and witty, epic and everyday, heartbreaking and real.

Aside from the fact that this short story collection features some of my favorite young adult authors, the brief descriptions of the various stories makes this collection sound like a lot of fun. Maybe it’ll be too sweet, but I have high hopes because I know the chosen authors have a lot to say and they’ve said it well in the past, so why not here?


The Continent by Keira Drake

For her sixteenth birthday, Vaela Sun receives the most coveted gift in all the Spire—a trip to the Continent. It seems an unlikely destination for a holiday: a cold, desolate land where two nations remain perpetually locked in combat. Most citizens lucky enough to tour the Continent do so to observe the spectacle and violence of battle, a thing long vanished in the peaceful realm of the Spire. For Vaela, the war holds little interest. As a smart and talented apprentice cartographer and a descendent of the Continent herself, she sees the journey as a dream come true: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve upon the maps she’s drawn of this vast, frozen land.

But Vaela’s dream all too quickly turns to nightmare as the journey brings her face-to-face with the brutal reality of a war she’s only read about. Observing from the safety of a heli-plane, Vaela is forever changed by the sight of the bloody battle being waged far beneath her. And when a tragic accident leaves her stranded on the Continent, Vaela finds herself much closer to danger than she’d ever imagined—and with an entirely new perspective as to what war truly means. Starving, alone, and lost in the middle of a war zone, Vaela must try to find a way home—but first, she must survive.

I read an earlier version of this book in the beginning of the year and had some things to say. Having become friends with the author and knowing all the work that she’s put into making this book better than it was, I want to read it again. I have an updated arc and have technically started it already. It’s already evident that things are better than the first time around and I look forward to seeing the rest of the story unfold.


The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle, Sarah Ardizzone (Translator), Sam Gordon (Translator)

In prose as magical and intricate as the tale it tells, Timothée de Fombelle delivers an unforgettable story of a first love that defines a lifetime.

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

I love the thought of fairy tales being real and Joshua’s story, taking place in the mid-twentieth century, sounds both beautiful and tragic. Will he find his way back to his story before it’s too late? What is it like, working in a marshmallow shop? What magic is left in this time and place, so close to World War II?


An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Maf and Brittney have been talking about this book so much lately on Twitter and I did buy it ages ago, so I think it’s about time I read about Laia and Elias (pay no attention to Helene I guess? *lol*).


The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Having already read Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda and really, really wanting to see the film, there’s the option of reading it again OR…reading more of Albertalli’s books. There’s only one right now, but somehow I haven’t gotten around to it. This winter, though, in anticipation of the adaptation of her first book, I’ll be tackling her sophomore novel.


The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

The Wicker King is a psychological young adult thriller that follows two friends struggling as one spirals into madness.

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

I don’t know a whole lot about this other than what can be learned from the synopsis, but it along with the cover make the book sound pretty darn fantastic. It’s going to be a strange read, I think, because I’m not 100% sure if the things that Jack is leading August toward are real or symptoms of his illness. Is it possible to weave the two together? I don’t know, but I hope to see what kind of story K. Ancrum has to tell.


Chainbreaker by Tara Sim

Clock mechanic Danny Hart knows he’s being watched. But by whom, or what, remains a mystery. To make matters worse, clock towers have begun falling in India, though time hasn’t Stopped yet. He’d hoped after reuniting with his father and exploring his relationship with Colton, he’d have some time to settle into his new life. Instead, he’s asked to investigate the attacks.

After inspecting some of the fallen Indian towers, he realizes the British occupation may be sparking more than just attacks. And as Danny and Colton unravel more secrets about their past, they find themselves on a dark and dangerous path–one from which they may never return.

I read Timekeeper earlier this year and loved the audiobook. The relationship between Danny and Colton was one of my favorites of 2017 and now there’s a sequel. What is going to happen?? Will they get to be happy or will Danny’s journey to India break them apart? It feels like such a long wait to find out! ;_;


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

One of my favorite things about audiobooks is when they’re read by the author. It gives the book a little something extra and when I listened to the clip of this one, I knew I had to read the rest. It’s a tense journey and one with so many questions, but will there be answers?


Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon – but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.

I miss reading books about Fae. I did so a lot more when I was younger. Getting back to that, I’ve got Under the Pendulum Sun on it’s way to me right now, courtesy of the Barnes & Noble Black Friday sale.

It sounds like an insane adventure, one with rescue and battle against a mad queen. Plus, that cover?? GORGEOUS!




What book are you most looking forward to reading this winter? Let me know in the comment section. 🙂






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Review: Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman


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Published: 7 November 2017

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Category: Historical Fiction/Young Adult/Westerns

When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece’s path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

An adventure right out of the past, Retribution Rails combines the excitement of Saturday afternoon cowboy movies with the rush of searching, whether it be for the truth, freedom from one’s demons, or retribution for murder.

Taking place ten years after the events of Vengeance Road, this book alternates points of view between Charlotte, an aspiring journalist, and Reece, a young man blackmailed and kidnapped into the Rose Riders, the gang whose former leader met his end in the previous novel.

As a companion novel to V.R. and not a direct sequel, I think you could enjoy this perfectly well if you missed out on the first book, as the events, while not rehashed, are gone over enough and characters reappear to continue their story in such a way that you get the gist of things.

I loved how Erin was able to make the voices of the characters come to life. I could hear them in my head while I was reading instead of their words blending together like just so much bland soup. It made the adventure they were having that much more exciting.

I wish more of, maybe most of, the book had been about Reece. Charlotte was a boring character and I had some issues with her personality and morals. She wants to be a journalist more than anything, which is what drew me to her in the first place, but I’m never given any reason to believe that she could be one.

She mentions at least a couple of times that she’d lie in print if she had to and I thought that repugnant for an aspiring journalist. She may well have been a fine writer for all I know, but if she’s so willing to play it loose with the facts, then as Reece says at one point, she ought to be writing novels. Her coming around to that idea at the end made me feel a slight bit better toward her.

The relationships in this book were many, from Kate and Jesse to Charlotte and her mother and on, but two of them struck me as notable.

The one that developed between Reece and Charlotte wasn’t one I particularly liked. It felt forced and while I wouldn’t say rushed, exactly, I’d say it felt like some turning in dimes was done on Charlotte’s part, considering the strong anti-Rose Kid/Reece feelings she had for so long.

Another one that felt strange was the one between Reece and Luther Rose, the man who marked him with the rose brand and dragged him into the gang because he could, supposedly, identify his brother’s killer. There were times when it felt like Luther was holding information back, like he had this secret information on Reece he didn’t want to share unless he had to. Reece’s conclusion at the end, that Luther was the Devil no matter which way you looked at it, was probably right for Reece, but as the reader I felt like something got left out, like there was a storyline that got partially developed and then abandoned.

The action scenes, whether it was a horse chase or a fight aboard a moving train, were thrilling. The gun battles themselves were also a good read; nothing was too simple nor too complicated. The right mix of action and in-between moments made for an interesting, fun novel.

With the book ending in a way that leaves the ultimate fate of two characters up to the reader’s imagination, will there ever be more tales from Erin Bowman and the Old West? Maybe, maybe not, but at least we have these adventures to read until such a time.




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

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Sunday Street Team: This Mortal Coil by Email Suvada – A Guest Post by the Author!

This Mortal Coil


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Published: 7 November 2017

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Category: Young Adult/Science Fiction/Dystopian

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

Emily Suvada’s new novel, This Mortal Coil, sounds like a very exciting science fiction novel. When I read the synopsis, it brought to mind some of my favorite sci-fi films and I wondered how Suvada would make this plot work. DNA fixing sounds like something right out of Gattaca, after all. Scary stuff!

In the excitement of the Sunday Street Team Blog Tour, I have the privilege of hosting Emily Suvada today for a guest post about the futuristic books and movies that are her personal favorites.



Emily Suvada: Favorite futuristic books/movies

Three of my favorite futuristic books:


Neuromancer by William Gibson

This is probably my favorite book, although it’s hard for me to choose between Neuromancer, Jurassic Park, and Twilight for my true favorite. This book was the beginning of the cyberpunk movement and genre, and has had a huge effect on my work. In Neuromancer, a hacker called Case steals from his employers, who damage his nervous system in revenge. This stops Case from being able to access the ‘Matrix’ – a virtual cyberspace. Case is recruited for a shady job that just might offer him a way back into cyberspace – if it doesn’t kill him first. The prose in this book, and the raw, organic world that Gibson creates are absolutely stunning. Reading this book changed my life. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

This is one of my absolute favorite YA series. I was so excited when my publisher, Simon Pulse, made an offer on my book – because they also published this incredible series! In Uglies, teens are given surgery when they come of age to turn them into “Pretties”. Tally, our main character, longs to be a Pretty, but also harbors suspicions about Pretty society and whether or not the government in her world has people’s best interests at heart. The future technology in this book is great, and it’s a really cinematic work. It’s a travesty that this hasn’t been adapted for screen – it would be an incredible TV series or film.


EXO by Fonda Lee

This book blew my mind, in the best possible way. It’s set in a future where crab-like aliens with exoskeletons have colonized Earth after a long and bloody battle. Only, the aliens don’t want to enslave or kill humans – they simply see Earth as a strategic outpost in their own war. Donovan is an Exo, one of the few humans who has been fitted with an alien-designed exoskeleton which enhances his strength and speed, and which makes him near-invulnerable to attacks. This book is absolutely packed full of complex moral questions – is it bad to be under alien control? What if the aliens’ enemies are worse? Are the rebel human groups right to keep fighting? There are no easy answers in this book, and it’s a fantastic read for it.

Three of my favorite futuristic movies:


The Fifth Element

This movie is incredible. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I love, but it still manages to create deep emotional moments! Korben Dallas is a hovercab driver who finds himself forced to join a desperate plan to save the world after Leeloo falls into his cab. The characters are amazing, the visuals are stunning, and it even has an amazing song! Leeloo is one of my all-time favorite kickass heroines. Her fighting scenes in this movie are top-notch. I love the clothes and dialogue, the ridiculousness… it’s just brilliant.



Hahaha, this movie is so dated now but I still love it so, so much. A young hacker, Dade, who was banned from using computers for seven years after a massive hack he did as a child, moves to a new school and begins using computers again, and finds himself in bigger trouble than ever before. This movie was so influential for me, and the characters are fantastic. I still watch it every couple of years. It’s a great mix of pop culture and cyberpunk, with a high-school setting in a big city. It’s glorious.
The Matrix

Still such an incredible movie, and so influential. A hacker, Neo, makes contact with a secretive group who show him that his reality is a lie – he’s living in a computer simulation, the Matrix. The idea behind this film, the visuals, the incredible fight scenes, the aesthetic, the kickass characters – were revolutionary, and in my opinion this film really stands the test of time almost twenty years later. The music is great, and Trinity is one of my favorite characters. This trilogy had a huge influence on my work and ideas.

So many of the the books and movies on this list were important to me because they reveled in nerd culture at a time when it wasn’t that cool to be a nerd. These stories created worlds where being smart, skilled, and dedicated to learning was a superpower. I’ve always been a huge nerd, and I’ve created a similar world in This Mortal Coil – where learning how to code DNA can make you a hero. I find this idea exciting, because anyone can learn to code, and anyone with enough interest can get really good at it – so in the world of my book, anyone can become a kickass hero, too 😀


Thanks so much to Emily for writing this guest post for The Hermit Librarian today! It’s so much fun to talk about nerdy stuff, especially movies. The Matrix is one of my favorites as well, though I have to be honest and say I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Fifth Element. Maybe I’ll fix this after reading This Mortal Coil. 😉

Stay tuned now for some info about Emily, a giveaway, and more stops on the Sunday Street Team Blog Tour for this title.

About the Author


Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

Blog  –  Twitter  –  Goodreads  –  Facebook  –  Instagram 



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Blog Tour Schedule

11/5 Tour Stops

Interview – Megan Manzano

Review  – Books N Calm

Review – Dani Reviews Things

Interview – Fly Leaf Chronicles

Unique Post – Book Stacks Amber

11/12  Tour Stops

Guest Post – Mikayla’s Bookshelf

Interview –Reading is Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open

Review – Sarcasm and Lemons

Unique Post – Downright Dystopian

Review – Here’s To Happy Endings

11/19  Tour Stops

Interview – Books, Boys, and Blogs

Review – Emily Reads Everything

Guest Post – The Book Corps

Unique Post – Life of a Literary Nerd

Review – Bay in Wonderland

11/26 Tour Stops

Review – A Gingerly Review

Review –  Pretty Deadly Blog

Interview – Library of a Book Witch

Guest Post – The Hermit Librarian







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Review: Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-in-Training by Joris Chamblain (Author), Aurélie Neyret (Illustrations)


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Published: 7 November 2017

Publisher: First Second

Category: Graphic Novel/Childrens/Mystery

Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back?

In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.

Rating:  2 Stars

Cici dreams of being a famous writer someday, a novelist maybe! To start out, though, she’s practicing by journaling like a reporter and finding mysteries in her small town.

The construction of the book was a fun amalgamation of comic book panels, handwritten journal entries, and photographs. Since this was an arc there were some panels that were harder to see than others, such as the photographs, but the general layout gave a good impression of what the book would look like in its final form. Neyret’s artwork was very bright in it’s panels, eye catching and soft around the edges. My favorite scenes were the library panels from the second story. There was a magical quality to the different sections of the library, from the children’s shelves to the history section.

As for the characters, Cici was difficult to like as a main character. As good as a spy as she thought she was, her skills of observation needed a lot of work. She wasn’t trustworthy either, constantly lying to her mother and her friends and never suffering any consequences for those actions (another thing that frustrated me – Cici never got in trouble for anything).

Erica, one of Cici’s best friends, seemed like the voice of reason in their small group. While Cici badmouthed her quite a bit, saying nearly every time she spoke about Erica that all she did was complain, Erica had good reason to say the things she did about Cici. How she kept asking them to lie, how she needed them as cover stories, things like that. I understood why she got angry at Cici and why they finally fought near the end of the book.


Cici doesn’t always have the best decision making skills. Her friendship with Ms. Flores at the onset of the book from Cici’s perspective is a close one, but in her own words she doesn’t know much about Ms. Flores, her mother doesn’t like that she hangs out with her so much, and she has to lie to her mother about the amount of time she spends at the Flores house. That struck me as really strange, especially since this book seems to take place in the present. I think the story as a whole, from the zoo in the first story onward, would have worked better in an earlier time period, perhaps in that of Kit the American Girl or Harriet the Spy. The liberties of their time periods would have melded better

There was something about Cici’s voice that I found hard to really like. The way that she communicated throughout her journal entries, the way she thought, these passages all sounded like the way an adult thought a ten-year-old child would say things or think things rather than the way such a child would actually say or think. Her voice, the writing behind it, wasn’t wholly believable. It wasn’t a painful interpretation, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Cici’s Journal might be suited to a young crowd that won’t pick at the story lines as I have or character building, but I’m not sure they’ll be wholly satisfied with the characters having little to no consequences and disregard for friendships.






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

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Thankful For


Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. You can find the prompts here.

There are a great many books to be thankful for, whether they’ve introduced me to a new subject or been a comfort in a trying time. This week I’m sharing with you the top books I could think of that have meant something to me over the years and that I’m thankful to have read. I went a little over, but whatever. *lol* 😉

I apologize for it being a day late. Work has scrambled my brain and it didn’t realize how late in the week it was. ^^;


Death by Neil Gaiman

My aunt introduced me to this comic and it’s probably one of the first Gaiman works I ever read. I didn’t realize at the time that it was a spin-off of the Sandman series, so I liked Death well enough on her own, but it also got me interested in American style comics.


The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones

I accidentally read this first of the series when it’s book four, but I don’t remember missing out on much. However, having read it and out of order to boot gave me something to talk about with someone I was quite nervous to chat with. That person had also accidentally read a book out of order (Goblet of Fire in his case). He ended up becoming my husband.


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

This is the first book I can remember my dad buying for me when I asked and I was so thankful because it meant he thought I could read it and that I was ready for bigger books. I got it quite young, though I can’t remember the exact age.


The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

This was the first book recommended to me by a person I now consider one of my best friends and I’m thankful for it because it meant we shared similar tastes in books and I wouldn’t have to chuck her for her unpopular opinions. 😉 Not that she has any or that I would, but it was a good moment when I got to gush over it with her.


Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

In this book I finally saw a character that was going through something mentally and because of a member of their family that I hadn’t quite found elsewhere. It’s a painful experience to think about, even as I cope these days and now that I’m more aware of things, but seeing it spelled out on the page made quite a difference.


Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

I don’t get to read many books about people going to conventions like this, so I was very happy when Jen Wilde wrote this one. Not only is it about three friends going to a convention very much like SDCC, but it has good bisexual and autism spectrum representation.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter books have given so much. I’ve been able to connect better with people since reading them, bonding with them even and while it’s still really hard to do, our love of Harry and his friends makes it a little bit better. I remember my grandmother giving me the first two for Christmas one year. Things haven’t been the same since then and I cannot imagine a world in which these books don’t exist.

What are some books you’re grateful for? Please let me know in the comment section. 🙂

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Waiting on Wednesday: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

New WoW

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event created by Breaking the Spine in which we highlight a title we’re looking forward to reading. You can find their website here.


Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble

Published: 10 April 2018

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

I’m feeling a list format for this week’s Waiting on Wednesday so let’s go:

  1. I got strong Gambit vibes from the card motif going on with the cover and he’s one of my favorite X-Men, so even though this book has about 0% chance of having X-Men in it, I’m curious.
  2. Where casino families reign…this sounds like a set up for an epic gangster story and I am here for that!
  3. Enne is supposed to be a proper young lady, but how many books have we had where that doesn’t mean squat? What’s her backstory? Does she have a secret she’s hiding? A better question is probably what secret is she hiding.
  4. A con man love interest. I don’t think he’s going to measure up to my personal favorite Bastard of the Barrel, but hey, I’m game. 😉
  5. If there’s not a damn good cabaret scene in here (it says illicit cabaret so…), I will riot, at least a little bit. *lol*





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Review: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 30 January 2018

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Category: Fantasy (Fairy Tales)/Young Adult/Mystery

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began―and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

Rating:  5 Stars

In an equally fantastical and horrifying debut, Melissa Albert spins a tale that will remind all its readers why you should never, ever trust fairy stories.

As much as the fairy tale ideal has been fed to us growing up (thanks a lot DISNEY!), if you go back to the source material for 99.9% of these stories, none of them end well. Or start well really. There might be some good stuff in the middle, but really, it’s all darkness and twisty motives and death. Lots of that.


Because they’re good stories. Not everyone is good and that’s the truth. Melissa Albert delivers on this with her story about Alice, her mother Ella, and the “legacy” they’re given by Althea, Alice’s grandmother and the writer of Tales from the Hinterland, a collection of fairy tales that embrace the Gothic darkness of bygone years and made her enough money to retire from the world on her estate the Hazel Wood.

Alice has been on the run from bad luck her entire life. She and her mother, no matter where they are, find themselves chased away by something. Their apartment floods. A wild cat gets in and destroys the trailer. A burglar ransacks the place but takes nothing. Weird things. Bad luck things. Relying on the kindness of others and never staying long, Alice doesn’t seem to mind this vagabond existence much because she has Ella and together, more sisters than parent/child, they have their own world, whether it’s an apartment or the front seat of an old car.

Life seems to settle down, allowing Ella to possible have a life including marriage, when a letter arrives announcing Althea’s death. Maybe the bad luck is gone. Maybe…

However, after a spat of seemingly random incidents, including the reappearance of the man that kidnapped her for a day when she was six years old, claiming to be a fan taking her to see her grandmother, Alice comes home to find her mother gone, taken by the creatures her grandmother made her name writing about. Fleeing the apartment of her stepfather, she runs to the one person who knows anything about the Hinterland, a classmate named Ellery Finch. Together they set off to find out what happened to Ella, what happened to Althea, and how much of the Hinterland is, at its core, real.

I think one of the most terrifying, underlying stories going on at the beginning of The Hazel Wood is not so much how Ella has kept Alice from Althea and from her book. There could be bad blood, some terrible falling out, okay. It was how Alice could find next to nothing about Tales from the Hinterland and when she did, any mention of it vanished upon closer inspection or when she went back for a second look. Even Ellery Finch has a creepy story to tell in this vein, of a book he barely managed to procure and that was then absurdly stolen from him. There does turn out to be an explanation, oddly enough that makes sense, but even then it’s like an art house horror movie plot line that was underlining Alice’s whole life. That kind of crafting, to keep up the eeriness, was impressive.

Albert keeps her mysterious writing up as we follow Alice on her quest to at first find out answers about her mother and then about herself. While the answers are sometimes slow to come about, you find yourself getting clues to the resolution of other threads so there’s never a moment when you’re short of action in one way or another. I read this book over the course of twenty-four hours because I simply had to know what happened next.

There’s a large case of characters in this story and on multiple levels of the story: the characters of The Hazel Wood and those of Tales from the Hinterland. A fine line divides the two and in ways I didn’t always expect. Some of my favorites were:

  • The man that kidnaps Alice as a child. That might sound like an odd thing to say, but bear with me. He means so much more to the overall plot than a reason for Ella to keep Alice moving so the crazy fans of Althea won’t find them.
  • The Spinner. She’s a cruel Arachne sort of character that was one of the definitive characters proving that you shouldn’t trust fairy tale characters. Alice broke this rule a few times in the course of the book, sure, but this was one case where she really should have been watching her back. But then how would things have turned out? It bears thinking about: if the bad things hadn’t happened, would Alice have known enough to be able to create the ending she has at the close?
  • Ellery Finch. This might be a bit of an unpopular opinion. He’s not as well developed a character as I normally like, nor is as strong a presence as you’d think, given how much help he’s meant to be to Alice, but I feel like he speaks to the readers that see themselves in stories. The ones that have wanted find themselves opening doors to other worlds or saying the right spell to tumble down a rabbit hole, no matter the consequence. His love of Tales from the Hinterland is not just a fan of fairy stories, it’s a love of reading, of losing yourself in the world of words.
  • Janet. She was quite possibly the most level headed person in the book. A woman from our world who, like Ellery, was fascinated by fairy stories, she took up field work when she found out that they were real and found herself in this world alongside Althea. When Althea betrayed her and left her behind, Janet became something of a guide for others that eventually found her way into the Hinterland when holes were made by the story spreading thinner. She helped these refugees as best she could and made a life, ultimately helping Alice find the answer she needed through her connections.


There are reasons for why Alice has bad luck. Why Althea retreated to the Hazel Wood, why Ella disappears. What the Hinterland is all about and why they kidnap Ella. These mysteries, the finding of them, had many jaw dropping moments. There were threads that at times didn’t seem to be important, but then they came back and I was shocked that I didn’t see them before.

I can’t say what it is that makes Alice’s story so important in the end because to do so would destroy the mystery you’ll enjoy reading this book but let me end the review by saying this.

Stories are both dangerous in this book and they’re a salvation. Stories are what get Althea and Ella and Alice into their respective messes, but they end up saving in the end, whether it be as the trade of the plots of Harry Potter for food or as a new weaving for spark spiders, the power of words is evident throughout The Hazel Wood. It just matters who, and for what reason, that power is wielded.











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

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

The NetGalley Tag

The NetGalley Tag

I wasn’t tagged, exactly, but I saw this on Boundless Bookaholic so I credit them for “tagging” me. Thank you! This sounds like fun. 🙂


Link back to the tag’s creator: Kourtni at Kourtni Reads.
Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
Answer the questions the best you can. If you don’t use NetGalley, you can substitute other sites or places where you get books!
Tag a few people to do this too!

AUTO-APPROVED: Who’s one author whose books you automatically want to read, regardless of what they are about?

Charlie Holmberg. I first heard about her Paper Magican series, but I ended up liking her book, The Fifth Doll, better. I’ll still read anything she writes!


REQUEST: What makes you want to request a book on NetGalley?

It’s mostly if the title is one I’m looking forward to, but if I’m browsing NetGalley on the off chance, the thing most likely to pull me in is first and foremost an interesting cover and/or title because we see those first before we click on them to get the description. The clincher is the synopsis. That has to sound good or I’ll “put it back on the shelf”, as it were.


FEEDBACK RATIO: Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?

I’ll admit that I’m behind on the books I’ve requested from NetGalley, but I do review all the books I get from the site no matter what, whether it’s a 5 star read or a DNF.


BADGES: If you could create one badge to display on your blog, what would it be for?

Genre most reviewed. I think it would be interesting if they could keep track of the genres you review most often so we could share that via badges.


WISH FOR IT: What’s one book that you are absolutely dying to read?

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marshall for sure. That cover alone looks both weird and awesome.


2017 NETGALLEY CHALLENGE: What was the last book that you received as an ARC that you reviewed? If you’ve never received an ARC, what’s the last book you reviewed?

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman is one I’m finishing up at the moment, though it wasn’t the last one I received. The last ARC I received was You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon.


I’m not sure who all uses NetGalley, so I’ll tag whomever would like to do this. Please link back so I can see your answers!






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Review: The Temptation of Adam by Dave Connis


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 21 November 2017

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Category: Contemporary/Young Adult/Fiction

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

Rating: 2 Stars

Trigger warning: destructive behavior mentions including alcoholism and self harm; also, I talk about the main character’s comments about such behavior in the course of the story in this review.

I want to preface my review of The Temptation of Adam by saying that it’s a difficult subject to tackle. Addiction is a deeply personal and variable subject, so I tried to comment on the portrayal within this book and my opinion of that portrayal respectfully. If I have inadvertently offended anyone, I most humbly apologize.

I can’t remember reading many books that deal with addiction any kind. Growing up, I think the closest ones were some Ellen Hopkins or Go Ask Alice types. Fine enough in their own right, but limited. Seeing The Temptation of Adam as a relevant title to this age of consumption, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what Dave Connis’s portrayal would be.

His portrayal of addiction, at least from my experience, had authenticity. The denial of a problem, the rejection of fault, can definitely be felt within Adam’s situation. It was a hard read sometimes because even knowing Adam had an addiction and we’re viewing the people around him through his scope, and even though I really didn’t like Adam as a person addiction or no, it was at times easy to side with him. That maybe he was being put upon by Mr. Cratcher or his dad. That balance in the writing was a shock at times when I realized what was taking place.

There were a few things that I had issues with that made this a difficult book to like, aside from the subject matter. Two of these are Adam’s indelicacy and his personal relationship with Dez.

When first meeting the Knights of Vice, Mr. Cratcher’s support group, he makes callous and inaccurate remarks about one of the members, Elliot’s, addiction to self harm, which “he saw coming with the hair”. He also calls it strange that Elliot cuts “because guys don’t cut”. I want to believe that Adam was uninformed about the subject and the author chose to portray that, albeit poorly in my opinion, but nonetheless, that passage struck me as one to look out for because it felt wrong. It didn’t feel like part of his defense of not having an addiction, his opinion that he was better than everyone there because he had his porn consumption under control. It felt extra and bad.

The relationship aspect between Adam and Dez in this book felt weird for a couple of reasons. First of which is that Adam (and I’m only mentioning him because he’s our primary window into the story) shouldn’t be focusing on that kind of thing right now when dealing with his addiction, especially a porn addiction.

Second, his choice of girlfriend. Dez is a somewhat interesting character: bold, unafraid of speaking her mind and confront Adam on his suppositions and what she calls his delusions of gender, but she’s in treatment too. Two addicts forming a relationship, an intense romantic one at that, when they’re supposed to be figuring out their own core, was more than a little troubling.

I also wasn’t comfortable with Adam’s sudden turn around and motivation for realizing he has a problem and wanting to quit his pornography addiction. It’s somewhat spoilery so I’ll just say that it felt inauthentic to the character in general and as a whole flat. I’m not saying that in real life it’s 100% impossible, but as it happened in Adam’s situation, it wasn’t believable with who Adam was as a person, so it made his journey toward redemption weak.

There was a lot of intense stuff going on in this book for a lot of people. Adam wasn’t the only one dealing with an addiction that we got to know, just the one we spent the most time seeing through. As such, I would have liked to see a better story for him. As it was, I don’t think the way his was told really worked. There were issues with his character and with his journey and there was so much potential, so much room for growth, that the climax, falling action, and “resolution” was unfulfilling.






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

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.